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How to Forgive Yourself & Others

Bridge to Forgiveness

Forgiving others and ourselves just might be the hardest – and most necessary – gifts to give.

Why is forgiveness important?

When we hold grudges and judgments, it acts like a cancer in our body. It gnaws away at our happiness and holds us back from feeling completely fulfilled. When memories are triggered about someone we resent, it can often send our minds into a tizzy of rehashing the same painful moment over and over again.

If we push it off or shove it down, it inevitably resurfaces. In the wise words of Carl Jung, “What we resist, persists.”

The unhappiest people I know are those that harbor a lot of anger and resentment of others. They’re also the most prone to illness and chronic health conditions. Science today recognizes our mental and emotional states directly affect our physical health.

Who wants to live like that? (Surprisingly, a lot of us. Just look at the news. It’s filled with angry, judgmental people pointing fingers.)

I know from my own personal experience, bitterness and joy do not coexist easily together.

My mother and I had a challenging relationship. She was clinically depressed and when she put pressure on me to play the role of mother in our relationship, I resentfully obliged as the “good daughter.” Later, when she committed suicide, I didn’t want to forgive her for it. I also blamed myself for her death. (Double whammy.)

In my mind, I needed to pay a penance. I felt I deserved to suffer. And suffer I did.

I became involved in unhealthy relationships with men I knew weren’t good for me. Even going so far as to sabotage the beginnings of relationships with good men that would have allowed me to feel the love I was denying myself. At a subconscious level, I think I invited in suffering and pushed away anything that resembled joy.

Of course this all self-perpetuated because the more pain that I endured, the more resentment and anger I grasped onto. The angrier I was at myself for creating and allowing it, the more I invited it in.

It wasn’t until I could accept both her actions and mine, find compassion for each of us, was I then able to forgive. And friends, that is such a precious gift. I only wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out. Therefore, I’m passing my process along to you:

Four (not-so-simple) Steps for Forgiveness:

  1. Acceptance. The first step is to accept that shitty things happen. (Until they don’t.) We don’t have to like it, we don’t have to approve of it, and we don’t have to condone it. We merely have to accept that reality is as it is. We cannot change anyone or anything that’s already happened. Nor do we have to know why it did.
    A wonderful tool for finding acceptance is The Work™ by Byron Katie.
  2. Compassion. Once we accept reality, then we can look for compassion. We try to see from their perspective and try to understand their circumstances. Sometimes shit rolls down hill and folks do the best they can with the manure they’re given. We can’t possibly know all the information that led to the action in question. It’s most likely rooted in their own pain and suffering.

    If you’re looking for compassion toward yourself, it’s helpful to realize and accept that we all make mistakes. It’s part of the human experience. “Do your best until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

  3. Is there a reason to keep it? Ask yourself if there’s a stress-free or pain-free reason to keep your grudge. If you can come up with one, ask yourself if that truly is stress or pain-free.
  4. Forgiveness. Offering forgiveness doesn’t mean we are agreeing to more of what happened. It’s simply allowing ourselves to release the anger and resentment that doesn’t serve us, nor change what’s happened. It’s saying to yourself that you’re willing to let the past stay in the past, so that you can move forward into a happier and lighter future. It’s no longer looking for payback or penance.

    Write out, “I forgive (name) for (cause of pain).” Another helpful tool is to add, “I forgive (name) for not being who I wanted them to be.”

If you’ve done the first three steps and the last isn’t coming easily, my hunch is there’s more work to be done in the first two steps. That’s ok. Some pain takes longer to let go, especially if we’ve been holding it for a long time. It might feel foreign without it and that is sometimes uncomfortable territory.

Keep trying. Keep going back through the steps. Eventually you’ll be ready to release it. When you are, the joy that fills in the cracks feels oh-so-delicious!

****

If you’re ready to find forgiveness around a huge loss in your life, I invite you to join me and four other Master Coaches at our Bali Healing Retreat from November 26 to December 1, 2019. We’ll be focusing on healing our grief around loss, and forgiveness is a big component of that.

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4 Effective Steps for Overcoming Doubt, aka The Dream Killer

Seagull Flying Low Looking Down

Doubt, from the Latin root dubitare, which means to hesitate. Doubt is based in fear. Fear that we are incapable or unworthy to do the great things we dream of doing or becoming. That small voice that compares us to others and tells us we don’t measure up. She wants us to play small. She fears failure, especially publicly visible failure.

I’m the first to admit that I’m accustomed to long conversations and spending ample time with doubt. She’s a familiar frenemy. You know, someone who pretends to be your “friend” but in actuality she sabotages, undermines and overtly points out your flaws. That’s who doubt is to me. She is quite convincing in her argument that she’s doing me a favor by keeping me from building and creating. The truth is, it is in no one’s best interest for me to play small and hesitate.

While everyone experiences doubt, my hunch is entrepreneurs feel this more strongly. We’re more exposed. It takes time to learn and do new things. There’s no one else to blame if our dream doesn’t work out as we’d hoped. (See, there’s doubt again, pointing to the future possible failure instead of the present potential for greatness.)

Those who are daring to do things that haven’t been done before are most vulnerable to doubt. Those who are creating new processes, forging new paths, and building new technologies face self-doubt every day. The question is, will you let her lead or take a back seat? Where there is dreaming, there is uncertainty; where there is uncertainty, doubt is guaranteed to wiggle her way in. So we might as well accept doubt as a passenger.

So how do we stay in the driver seat?

The answer lies in faith and passion. Our faith in our self and our passion to create must be stronger than our fear of failure.

When doubt-filled fear starts to rise up, this is my process to dissolve it and reconnect with my faith and passion. I invite you to try it and see if it works for you too.

  1. Disprove doubt by doing The Work™ on the underlying thoughts (aka limiting beliefs). Common ones include, “I can’t do (insert big, bold thing).” OR “If I were __________ enough, ________ would be easy.” OR “Good (insert role or business) make lots of money, bad ones don’t.”
  2. Wherever you’re stuck, or whatever obstacle seems to keep you frozen, imagine it as a person, place or thing. Utilizing all your senses, experience every aspect of this symbol in your mind’s eye. Then ask yourself what you want to happen in this scenario. The answer to solving your problem lies in applying that desired action (or non-action) at the metaphoric level to your current circumstance at the literal level.
  3. Give yourself time and space for creative expression in whatever form feels yummy. That could be doodling, singing and dancing to a favorite pump-up song(s), going outside to take photos of nature, or cooking a new recipe you’ve wanted to try. Something that gets your mind off self-doubt and allows you to connect with your creativity.
  4. Post up some inspirational quotes in your work and living space. Some of my favorites that remind me I’m on the path to amazing include:

“This is the time to shine in the light of our medicine and speak our truth. The elders say we are the ones we have been waiting for. Give yourself and the world the gift of stepping into the full experience of your power, presence and magnificence.” ~ Gail Larsen, Transformational Speaking

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” ~ Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

“Great things never came from comfort zones.” ~ Neil Strauss

Overcoming doubt is an ongoing process, one that gets easier the more frequently you kick her to the back seat. Be patient and kind to yourself. What you’re doing is not easy, AND it’s worth it! Keep coming back to the tools that work and one day, you’ll see how far you’ve come!

***

If you’re still having some trouble putting Doubt in the passenger seat, let’s talk. I can help facilitate steps one and two of this process to go deeper.

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How to Tap Into the Healing Power of Nature

Nature Guides: Release & Reconnect Through Writing

Before I learned and assimilated coaching tools into my life, I looked to nature to find peace and joy. When my life felt chaotic and overwhelming, nature gave me centeredness and balance. Something as simple as taking a walk amongst trees or sitting in the sand staring off at the ocean could clear my mind and deepen my breath.

Have you ever found calming relief by immersing yourself in nature’s beauty? Do you find solace staring at clouds or rain falling? I certainly do. And then I learned to capture those beautiful moments so that when nature wasn’t close by, I could return to that space mentally and emotionally simply by looking at my pictures.

Photography was (and still is) an additional creative outlet that gives me a break from the demands of everyday life. It offers the opportunity to zoom in on the details of a caterpillar inching its way along a leaf or a hawk’s eyes as it scans a clearing for skittering mice. I find animals to be extremely fascinating subjects, especially because I can learn so much from them. And landscapes provide such serene beauty; I enjoy the peace they bring my heart.

When our mind is abuzz with mental chatter and we’re spinning, it’s often helpful to move it from our brains to a piece of paper. Getting it out of our heads makes space, and putting mindful language to it also helps us better process it internally. If you’re like me, journaling can be extremely cathartic.

Well before I had coaching, these were the tools I used to make sense of my life, my journey, where I’d been, and where I hoped to go. For that reason, I wrote a book that combines all of this together so that I could help others utilize these resources, too.

Merging my nature photography with interesting facts about the picture’s subjects, I use them as a metaphor for solving a variety of common life challenges and then ask questions similar to those I ask my clients during coaching. By answering the journal prompt questions, you can tap into your higher self and your brilliant inner wisdom.

If you love wild animals and landscapes as well as enjoy writing, I invite you to buy my book, Nature Guides, and use it as a resource to find the answers you seek.

May you be well. May you know peace. May you find joy in the pages of Nature Guides: Release & Reconnect Through Writing.

 

 

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How Fascination and Joy can Lead you to Your Purpose

From the smallest insect to the largest whale, each living being was created for a purpose and plays an integral role in the ecosystem. In an untouched and raw form, all of nature works in balance.

You, too, have been given talents, strengths, preferences and tastes that combine to create the unique you that you are. They wouldn’t be yours, and you wouldn’t be here, if you weren’t needed to serve the world in only the way you can. If everyone played the part they were born to, humanity could also be in balance.

Instead, we’ve built hierarchical power pyramids and convinced ourselves that the only way to be happy is to be at the top. Many struggle to stand on the backs of others to get just a bit higher, and higher. All the while believing if we could only reach the next level, then we’d finally be happy. Yet, upon reaching each level, we thirst for more. It’s never enough. (If this doesn’t sound even a teensy bit familiar, where do you live and can I join you?)

Why is it not enough? Because higher isn’t really what we want at our core. It doesn’t fit into the shape of our hearts, which knows our purpose and loves every aspect of it.

In ancient wisdom traditions, elders encouraged their youth to play their hearts out. Through observing what stoked the individual’s attention, fascination and imagination, they could determine how this child could eventually serve their greater community. While this practice has been lost in our current culture, everyone has an opportunity to tap back into that tradition to find their purpose.

The breadcrumbs are in what delights, fascinates, and energizes you.

Growing up, how did you love to play? What did you dream up? What imaginary problems did you solve? What topics fascinated you? What information did you soak up and remember easily?

Assuming you’re an adult, what activities cause you to lose all track of time because you are so enamored with the experience?

If you could get a free day to do whatever you wanted to do, no matter the financial cost (and within legal and moral boundaries), what would you do? (If your answer is sleep, then my hunch is you’re overworked. So what would you do after you caught up on however much sleep you need?)

There is a way to use what brings you joy to serve others. It makes you happy because it’s part of your path, it’s part of who you’re intended to be and what you’re intended to provide your community. It simply requires your imagination and problem-solving to understand how to make it your vocation.

It may not even exist as a job, business, product or service yet. You may need to create it. And while that takes work, your passion and sense of fulfillment will outweigh the trials to create it. If it doesn’t, you haven’t yet found the right fit, though you’re probably in the ballpark.

If you don’t love what you do, you’re robbing the world of your gifts. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and your community to live a joyful life that also happens to give the world exactly what it needs.

***

If you’re ready to explore what brings you joy in order to find your purpose, coaching can help. Let’s talk!

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Why Diet & Exercise Alone Won’t Work

When we reject our body for not matching magazine-cover perfection, we disassociate from our body. That disconnection numbs us from the signals our body gives us that tells us what it wants and needs. What that is will be different in each moment because it is unique to the circumstances and context we are in. What our body needs for fuel can change from meal to meal and from person to person.

When we overwork ourselves to exhaustion, and then push ourselves to work out, our body starts to create a negative association with working out.

For those of us who struggle with our body image, we have a tendency to use diets and exercise as self-inflicted punishment for doing “bad” things like eating “bad” food and being “lazy.” We shame ourselves for not doing what we believe we should. It becomes a downward demotivating spiral.

It’s no wonder we push against it like a stubborn child wanting to do the exact opposite of what a parent advises. And it’s why standard dieting and exercise programs don’t work for those of us who are caught in the body-shame-spiral.

When we learn to love our body exactly as it is, we can then reconnect with the messages it gives about food, drink, movement, and rest. When we love and accept ourselves, we connect with the motivation to be our best self.

In my mid-twenties, my boyfriend frequently, verbally criticized my body. The more he critiqued, the more I shamed myself. This caused me to eat more to fill a void and I always felt too exhausted to be active, which led to more criticism, which led to more eating and exhaustion. I told myself I was unlovable because of my weight.

At one point, I forced myself to go on an extremely restrictive diet and hit the gym every day. In two months I lost fifteen pounds. I excitedly shared this achievement with my boyfriend, who responded, “Just imagine how you’d look if you lost twenty-five more.”

I gave up and gained it all back shortly after. When we broke up, I was forty-five pounds heavier than when we had first met. Shedding that unhealthy relationship, I easily lost weight without changing my daily routine because I was so much happier.

Contrast that with my husband. When we first started dating, he was genuinely complimentary and openly affectionate. When I would body shame myself, he knew exactly what to say to pull me out of it. When I learned to see myself how he saw me, with love and admiration, I had so much more energy. That energy and desire to be active and out doing things also sparked in me a natural desire to eat more fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t because I told myself I should, I actually wanted to. I was drawn to them.

Taking a culmination of these types of life lessons with my own body-image journey and combining that with the coaching tools that work for my clients, I’ve developed an online program called Learn to Love Your Body in 30 Days. If you struggle with your body image and are tired of fad diets and exercise routines that never become a habit, I’d love for you to join me. We start June 3!  Learn more here!

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What You Want to Know About Push & Pull Energies

Magnetic Attraction

I am often asked to explain the difference between push and pull energies. It’s helpful to recognize which one you’re emitting so that you can bring toward you more of what brings you joy and less of what doesn’t.

Do you remember playing with magnets as a kid? Think of these terms as the interaction between two magnets. When you’re giving off a pull-energy, you’re drawing people and your aspirations to you quickly and easily. When you’re giving off a push-energy, you’re energetically pushing other people and your desired circumstances away.

With magnets, opposite poles attract, while like poles repel. The reason for this is the directional flow of energy comes in through the magnet’s south pole and exits the north pole. Opposite poles connect because energy is flowing in the same direction. The same poles facing each other creates a push energy and they’ll never meet, no matter how much you force it.

So how can you tell which energy you’re giving off?

I’ll give two generalized examples that may trigger memories of people you’ve engaged with before.

Example 1:

Ashley (made up name) really, really, really wants to be your best friend. She doesn’t have many and complains that people are always making excuses for why they’re too busy to accept her many invitations to hang out. She shares this with you in the hopes to pull on your compassion strings. When you agree to meet her for lunch, she spends the time lamenting over how her boss has it out for her, her coworkers never invite her to lunch and all she really wants is for them to be nice to her. She fishes for validation and compliments, and when you give them, she hangs on your words like a lifeline.

At the end of lunch, she tries to get you to commit to a day and time for your next outing, which she’d love to be dinner tomorrow. When you explain you have plans, she presses you with a bunch of other options until you run out of excuses and commit. Then she tells you that she hopes you won’t be as flakey as her other friends while giving you an uncomfortably long, tight hug like she’s going to squeeze the air out of you. You leave hoping to catch the plague so you have a legitimate excuse to cancel and be quarantined without visitors.

Example 2:

Ellie looks radiant, although there is nothing in particular about her physical characteristics that would set her apart in a crowd. She walks in a room and people naturally gravitate toward her. Strangers hold doors open for her as she approaches, hostesses make eye contact with her first amongst a crowd, and she beams with an inner joy and confidence.

You meet her for lunch and everything feels comfortable and easy. Conversation flows, you both laugh easily and frequently, and there is an equal exchange of chatting. There’s just something about her that brings out the best in you. You leave the lunch feeling light and airy, both knowing you’ll get together again soon without any need to set specific plans.

****

My hunch is you recognize that Ashley has the push energy and Ellie has the pull energy.

I invite you to recall a paste experience with your Ashley. How did you physically feel around them? What was your corresponding behavior toward them?

Ok, now shake that off and recall an experience with your Ellie. How did you physically feel around them?  What was your corresponding behavior toward them?

Congratulations, you now know viscerally what push and pull energies are.

So what specifically causes this?

Ashley believes that she needs others to be and act a certain way in order for her to be happy. The more desperately she needs and craves the approval and company of others, the more she forces it away, which only compounds her anxiety about it. She’s flustered, so she tries harder. She’s also learned that pity can temporarily get her what she wants, so she shares her victim-story liberally hoping to reel in an unsuspecting bleeding heart.

Ellie, on the other hand, accepts people and circumstances as they are without a desire to change them. She believes that only she controls whether she’s happy or sad, and she chooses joy. She knows what is in her control and what isn’t. She trusts that everything, even what others might view as a misfortune, is as it should be. Her casual approach and natural confidence sets others at ease.

What does this mean for you?

The power is yours to create. If you notice that things just aren’t going your way, especially when you really, really “need” them to…you’re probably giving off a push energy. The only way to release it is to surrender into and accept whatever is while also tuning into an abundance mindset.

Here are 5 simple steps to loosen your push and embrace your pull:

  1. Recognize that the only thing within your control is yourself, your behavior and your thoughts. The more you try to control or change others, the less likely that will happen. (This doesn’t mean we condone or approve of other’s hurtful behavior, it merely means we accept them as they are.)
  2. Recognize what you can and can’t control about your circumstances. Change what you can, let go of the rest.
  3. Adopt the mantra: “I accept things exactly as they are. Everything is as it should be because that is reality.”
  4. Acknowledge that in this very moment (right now), you have everything you need. (Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, you’d be dead or held captive in someone’s basement.)
  5. Turn your attention toward fun and relaxing activities. The more you can create the feeling states of joy and peace within yourself, the more you elevate your vibration to match a pull one.

If you aren’t able to shake a push energy with the above 5 steps, scheduling a one-on-one coaching session can allow us to dive deeper and offer you a fuller release around bigger challenges. Let’s talk!

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Why it’s Important to Test our Edges

Las Torres del Paine National Park

One of the most physically challenging experiences I have ever had was climbing to the base of the namesake towers in Las Torres del Paine National Park with my husband. My pedometer clocked 12.8 miles round trip from Hotel Las Torres at 443 feet in elevation to the base at 2,870 feet in elevation and back. It was basically like climbing a ladder straight up and then straight down for 10 hours.

We departed at sunrise and returned to the hotel right as the sun was setting. I almost didn’t make it.

In the last two miles of the ascent, it felt more like rock climbing than hiking. On a few occasions, I relied on my hands and arms because my legs were simply giving way. I stopped more and more frequently as the space between us and the members of our tour group increased.

It was in these moments, I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up. My fearful mind told me, “You’re not strong enough. You can’t do this. It’s too far. You’ll never make it.”

The other voice I heard was that of my husband’s, who said, “You can do it. You got this. Just a little farther. We can stop as often as you need to as long as we commit to continue. We came too far to give up now.”

He was right. We traveled 6,668 miles to visit Patagonia. We trained for months leading up to this trip. We looked forward to this hike and testing the edges of our capabilities.

We challenge ourselves not because we’re masochists, but because we want to stretch ourselves. We want to reach farther. We can’t know what we’re capable of if we don’t. We dream bigger and push ourselves because it brings us alive.

When I told myself that I could do it, I did. If I let myself believe I couldn’t, I would also prove myself right. It was all in my perception.

When we reached the base, my joy and sense of pride was immense (not to mention my relief)! We had done it! We made it to the top! While the view was incredible, our sense of accomplishment was even greater.

In ancient cultures, especially that of native Americans, tribe members who came of age would set out on vision quests as a rite of passage. They would be left on their own far away from their village to test their competences. Up to that point, it was merely potential. Returning to their village, they knew their edges, their personal strengths and how these contributions would best serve their community.

The next time you experience a daunting challenge, ask yourself this, “What is this trying to teach me? What am I gaining from this experience? How will I feel once I’ve overcome it?”

My hunch is, you’ll find your personal power and one more reason why you are absolutely necessary to this world.

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5 Lessons for Trusting Gut from a Recovering Rule Follower

Intuition Guiding Meerkat

Are you a rule follower that becomes frustrated when people break them? When things don’t go according to plan, does it cause anxiety? If reality doesn’t match expectations, do you get annoyed? If so, then read on!

I’m an organized planner by nature. I find comfort in structure and I love when there are rules and formalized processes so that I have a box to work within and a path to follow. It gives me a sense of stability. (Sound familiar?)

Spoiler alert: Life and people don’t operate this way.

When I get caught in the minutia of the plan, the way things are supposed to go – and more often they don’t – I have become frustrated and confused. I usually attempt to right the course and get back on track. And in my corporate career, I was paid very well for this skill. My motto was: “Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”

I once heard a coworker say, “Disappointment is expectations minus reality.” His point was to set expectations reasonably. My desire was to elevate reality and fill the delta. That meant I pushed my employees hard and myself even harder because heaven forbid that my boss could ever be disappointed in the results.

Coaching has been an interesting experiment in allowing myself to follow intuition instead of a process. Yes, the tools we’re taught have a specific formula that we practice past the point of competency into habit. I’ve noticed something interesting happening now that I have engrained these tools.

I’ve started to play with them. I’ve given myself permission to veer outside of the process. I follow that little voice inside that says, “probe here…ask this…” Pre-coaching, I’d call that “winging it.” Something I would never have attempted for fear of failure.

You know what? It works. Even better than following the process.

Recently I was given an assignment to provide feedback to a coaching peer on a particular pre-recorded session (with permission from the client). In my mind, the rule was to identify where the coach was following the process and where she strayed. Then, we were both asked to assess that feedback with six of our peers listening in. (No pressure!)

She had accepted all of it as-is. My internal monologue reaction was, “Push back. Tell me where I’m wrong.” When I probed a bit as to why, she revealed a limiting belief that perked my ears. With her permission, our feedback exchange morphed into doing The Work ™.

In that moment, the formal series of questions fell away and I felt into what wanted to be asked next. I let my intuition guide each step as we took it. Was it exactly how we were taught? Partly. Was it messy? Sometimes. Did she find insights? Yes.

I broke the rules twice. First when I veered off expectations given by our instructor to discuss feedback about feedback. Second when I remixed The Work ™. And it was fine! More than fine. Not only did the sky not fall, but it also achieved the intention for which we set out to accomplish.

If I may impart any lessons from this experience to you, it would be this:

  1. Rules are intended to be a general guide and there are always exceptions.
  2. Processes help create habits, but if followed too rigidly, they can inhibit innovation and growth.
  3. Trust your intuition. You know what to do.
  4. Let your intention be the cornerstone for action.
  5. At the end of the task or project, did it work?
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How to Avoid the Compare & Despair Trap

Long Road

It’s easy to get caught in the compare and despair trap when others appear to have more, achieved farther and look better. From this limited perspective, we can always find someone who has “figured it all out” leaving us to judge our own lives harshly in the shadow of their apparent success.

I’m not immune from this, either. I am a relatively newer entrepreneur who is hustling to grow her small business. If I’m tired and allow my mind to compare my business to the myriad of successful coaches, authors and photographers out there, my ego can find lots of proof to support why I am not as spectacular. It’s all in my thoughts and perspective.

Social media is breeding ground for the compare and despair syndrome. Most folks only share the shiny-celebrations unless they’re looking for attention for the misfortunes. Let’s take Instagram as an example. Its purpose is to perpetuate pretty pictures of perfection. Pinterest is similar with its gorgeous, professionally taken photos representing what we assume is an average Jane selling her smart, creative DIY solutions. All germinating admiration and, in extremes, jealousy for what others can do or experience that we can’t or aren’t.

As a former coaching instructor once said, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” Things aren’t always as they appear. We only have to look at celebrity suicides to recognize the picture on the outside doesn’t match the storm raging on the inside.

It’s understandable, though. Our mind is always searching for context and where we fit in the world. Our logical brain is labeling and organizing. Socially, we naturally create a pecking order. So, what should we compare ourselves to if not others?

When you start to judge yourself, my suggestion is to compare your current self to your former self. Where are you now in relation to the past? What do you know now that you didn’t know then? What growth has happened? Where are you better off than before? What skills, knowledge and experience have you gained?

When I can see myself through the lens of former versus current self, I acknowledge the many ways I’ve grown, learned and successfully moved my business forward. I appreciate my accomplishments and challenges I’ve overcome. I notice the powerful impact I’ve made in a relatively short time. I give myself permission to learn from my mistakes and travel at my own pace.

As long as we are moving forward – and everyone who is not in a coma is – then we’re doing this thing called life the right way. Each of us will have a different experience. Pitfalls and setbacks are growth opportunities. Struggles are guidance systems. Happiness is all in our perspective on how we choose to look at it.

Some of my greatest gifts were also my hardest challenges. My hunch is, if you can find a way to give yourself credit instead of tear yourself down with comparison, you’ll also find self-perpetuating motivation and strength.

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How to Find Your Driving Motivation & Why it’s Important to Achieve Your Goals

Lion Scratching Head on Bush

What we think we want is not always what we truly want. Often, there is a deeper desire hidden underneath the surface. When we connect with that driving motivation, it helps guide us more clearly.

The longer I coach and the more people I work with, I’ve realized that most often our root desire is freedom. (The others are either joy or connection. For the purpose of this blog, though, we’ll focus on the most common.)

Take any goal or desire, and ask yourself, “Why? What do I get from that?” until you can’t find another driving motivation beneath the last.

Let’s take money, for example. Often my clients come to me with a goal to make more money. When asked what more money (or a certain goal retirement amount) will get them, their response is “stability” or “security.” When asked what stability or security gives them, they usually respond with some sort of variation of, “the freedom to do whatever I want.”

If I have a client who wants to lose weight, we often find she simply wants to feel confident or accepted. At the root of that is connecting with the freedom to be herself without fearing other’s opinions. Sometimes it’s even finding freedom from her own self-judgment.

Another client wanted to be healthier. What did he think a healthy body would get him? The freedom to do all the activities, and go all the places, he enjoys.

My entrepreneurial clients, who are building their own businesses, are driven by the freedom that enables. They’re free to work on the projects they want to, work with the clients they want to, hire the people they want to, and set their own schedules. They have the freedom to work wherever they want, however they want. That autonomy is much juicier to them than the alternative of working for someone else, who would dictate their time, projects and goals.

Why do people enjoy vacations? Yes, it offers the opportunity to recharge our batteries. It is also a socially acceptable excuse to spend that time completely autonomously.

If you want to lounge all day and dance all night, you have the freedom to do so. You are free to go wherever and do whatever you want (within budget and legal constraints, of course). You are free from household chores, errands, work responsibilities and whatever burdens you carry at home. And if you’re like me, I also give myself the freedom to eat and drink whatever I want because, hey, it’s vacation!

What is it you want? Ask yourself “Why?” Dig into what that thing will give you. Keep asking until you’re at the root cause, your driving motivation. You might surprise yourself where you end up.

Once you find your driving motivation, ask yourself if there are other ways to achieve that right now. Finding that feeling state doesn’t necessarily require reaching big, far-off goals. It can often be found in simpler, quicker ways.

Use this driving motivation as your touchstone for decision making. When deciding between two paths, which one will get you closer to achieving your root desire — whether that be freedom, joy or connection?

I’m curious what you uncover. Please share your experience with this exercise in the comments!