Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…

“All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas Layin’ In The Sun, Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done… But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas All Ran Away And Hid From One Little Did.”

Shel Silverstein

Have you ever given much thought to your life moments when someone tries to help you think about options to an issue you are facing and they say, “Hey, maybe you should…”? Or how about when you make a hasty decision and then realize in hindsight you “should” have chosen differently?

How about when you play the game of if I were you I would, those times in our lives we imagine trading places with someone else’s chances to make better decisions, like “Oh, if only I were rich I would….”.

What about when the “I can’t” takes control where the little voice inside of you comes up with all kinds of reasons why you just can’t get something done, or volunteer, or find the time. “Well you know I would help if only I could get out of this other thing I’m doing” or “I could go with you if….”.

I think it is safe to say that we have all been through these scenarios at least once.

What if I told you there is a way, a real way, to feel more confident about how to approach these situations when they arise?

Let’s break it down:

For the most part, these 3 words, would, could, should, have top implications even though they each have a variety of definitions. For example,

SHOULD usually implies a personal obligation. “I should have been more careful.”

WOULD implies consequence. “I would lose too much time taking that other route.”

COULD indicates possibility. “I could go out with him tonight if I get my homework done now.”

When thinking about a “should” situation I have found that people are very eager and willing to help others by telling them what to do or giving them ideas about how they should go about solving their dilemma or how they should address a specific situation that crops up. I myself have used the word should a thousand times with my husband. “Hun, you should take the older chairs to Goodwill before we bring in anything new.” Or, “Well, I think you should spend time with the kids today because it’s important.”

When “should” comes along it leaves a very dictatorial presence and takes away a piece of autonomy from the person trying to figure things out. What might be obvious to you is not usually so obvious to the person with the problem. I have found that turning the should into a question gives power back to the person trying to solve the problem. The reframe sounds like this: “Hey hun, what are your thoughts about taking the chairs to Goodwill first?” or “Hey babe, what are you doing with the kids today?” Rephrasing the should implication into a question of choice leaves the person you are speaking to in charge of their own issue and more importantly their own decisions. What if the person with the problem asks you for your opinion? Should you offer up your own should? In cases like these I like to simply ask, “Well, what do you think you should do?” Sometimes it helps to be the sounding board for all the options they might offer up. Power to the people.

In the instance of “would” there is pressure to decide and be right because being wrong not only feels awful but creates doubt in oneself and doubt toward your decision-making process from others. When facing a “would” situation I have seen many times where clients choose to just not decide rather than make a wrong decision and so there is no forward movement. Again, I have used this line of thinking in my own relationships and on myself more times than I care to count. It sounds something like this: “I would consider going to that meeting but I hate driving in the dark” or “If I were you I would….”; that’s a tried and true one right there especially with my children. It almost crosses the line into “should”.

We can’t possibly ever be that other person so let’s find another way down this rabbit hole, shall we? There is an awesome technique that works just about every time I use it with my clients assuming I get their permission to try it. It is called the “if, then” game. Here is how to play:

My client presents a situation where she perceives her reputation is on the line with the decision she ultimately needs to make or she just doesn’t want to decide because she is having a hard time finding solutions. She is honestly looking for me to consult her rather than coach her and this means that I am being looked upon to give her A, B, and C options to choose from. No way says I. You, my dear decision-making client, will be creating your own best fitting option. The situation goes something like this: “I promised I would bring dessert to the meeting tomorrow night but I realize now that I really do not want to go to the meeting and I hate driving home in the dark and I do not have time to make a nice dessert and well, I just don’t want to go to the meeting.”

Let’s create an if, then option plan. “If I go to the meeting then I could…., If I don’t go to the meeting then…?”. In this creative decision-making game, the client gets to think up many options that run the gamut from crazy out there to more down to earth and realistic possibilities. The idea is that at some point the client, you, will have created an option that fits, an option he/she can live with and feel empowered by because the final decision feels right. The crazy out there options always get a laugh or two and truly relieve some pressure.

Finally, the “could” situation. This word is positive in its implication. “Could” creates possibility, is hopeful and has an air of lightness and freedom to it. The situation that creates the “could” might not be great but the outcome might turn a negative into a positive. Let’s give it a try: “I could be sitting on this highway all night if the news report is right.” Not a great situation. At this point ask yourself, what are my options? It seems obvious to me that this would be the question to ask, thinking of ways to not have to sit in traffic but I have found that when I or my clients ask the question out loud then in that moment their bodies are starting to de-stress because the brain is going into problem solving mode. Sure, you could scream and shout and curse and stay annoyed and wallow in self-pity for your rotten luck or you can get creative and think about ways to get moving. Even if there are no other roads to take at least you tried and can live with the trying.

Throughout our lifetime we are all faced with uncomfortable situations that we must get through. These situations cause us to, in hindsight, create wishful thinking feelings, things we wish we had done or said in that critical moment. By course correcting, taking a bit of time to ask ourselves some simple but key questions and/or doing a mental comparison of pros and cons we all can get a bit closer to an outcome of resolution we feel proud of.

Call to Action

Share some of your woulda, coulda, shoulda situations with me. How did you get through it?

What were the consequences of your decisions? Remember, consequences can be good and/or bad?

In what ways have you learned from each incident that has made you more aware and self-confident the next time a woulda, coulda, shoulda situation presented itself?

Who Told you That?

mirrormirror

 

“Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself – your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose – they want to keep you down.”

― Robert Greene, The 50th Law

When I was little my dad used to play at rough-housing with me and my siblings. There was a game he called “King of the Mountain” and the object of the game was to knock off whoever tried to get to the top of the pillow mountain first. We loved this game because first we got to play with dad, always a great time, then we got to make a huge mess of all the pillows we could find in the house and then make a humungous mountain as tall as we could possibly reach. I have to say that to 3, 4, and 5-year-old eyes this was the tallest structure ever created. We then would clear away all manner of hurtful hard objects and proceed to strategize as to just how to climb this monumental structure without getting caught and tackled to the ground. There was a hysterical amount of tickling involved in this game designed specifically to weaken our little bodies enough that we couldn’t find the strength to climb anything at all, all while trying to prevent dad from reaching the top of the mountain and declare himself King.

One could argue that this was a life lesson in how to overcome impossible obstacles that life will inevitably throw at us; how to overcome those demons that are designed and determined to keep us down physically and mentally, philosophically and psychologically whether in words or deeds and life lessons in how to get creative in problem solving all while laughing out loud. Blah, blah, blah; we just thought it was so fun to spend undivided time with dad. But wait, now I’m curious…..

What keeps you feeling down? What mountains are in front of you that need to be climbed? What motivates you to climb those mountains?

There are many important questions that come along in our lifetime. Questions that create angst, change, upheaval, awareness, peace, etc. Of all the questions that I have come across as a life coach, the one question that seems to have the most impact is the one question that attacks the essence of who my client is at any given moment. This question seems to evolve and keeps evolving as we learn and grow and become. This question has the potential of becoming habit forming; a reminder to always check my sources and resources in order to keep fear at bay and inner strength at the ready.

The questions I ask myself on a daily basis are, for the most part, always in helpful surrender to aid in making me the best possible version of who I strive to become. Who I am today is in no way who I will be later in life and although who I was yesterday may carry over into who I am right this moment, my “yesterday” self always has the ability to be better tomorrow. What is this incredible question?

Who told you that?

This question falls under the auspices of false beliefs or limiting beliefs and carries a tremendous amount of weight inside our heads and hearts. Most of us allow that the things we choose to believe, whether we realize it as our choice or not, are the things that hold us back from a fulfilling, productive, purposeful life. For a lot of people, believing the limiting beliefs we cling to holds a lot of fear in preventing us from exploring all kinds of fearless possibilities.

This question has been a constant companion for me for many years. It takes on many faces such as, who told you that you are not worthy of a better life, a better job, or a better outcome? Who told you that you have to compromise on what means the most to you? Who told you that if you experience happiness of any kind you are only allowed that one-time experience and then doomed to misery thereafter? Who told you that the love you have in your life is all you are allotted in one lifetime? Who told you that brown and pink don’t go well together? Who told you that if your children are not successful in their own right that means that you are not a successful parent?

More importantly when did you start believing all of this?

For as long as we live there will be life moments that test our inner strength; that make life feel as if this one time experience is the most impossible mountain to climb. Questions like this one help to keep us grounded and present and focused on being and becoming our best selves. The fear factor here might be, “what if I can’t answer this question or what if I stay stuck in my limiting beliefs?” I suggest taking time to unpack the question step by slow moving step until you come to understand how you got here.

Family therapist, author, marathon runner and professor Cami Ostman teaches an incredible workshop on how to successfully put the “Who told you that” question to the test and how to successfully answer it and use the question and answer to your advantage. When we feel stuck in our fear of not being enough and believing that we are truly not enough Ms. Ostman says that “we are not aligning with our true nature; we are not aligning with our core selves.” She goes on to say, “Our true nature, our core selves, are calm, joyful and centered. Most of our limiting beliefs start in childhood based on what we perceived as a need to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable or hurt or shameful or weak. Our true nature thrives on genuine support from others and uses 4 qualities to help us thrive.” Those 4 qualities are:

*Clarity of purpose: Who does it benefit to take the road less traveled? Who does it benefit to follow the leader?

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

*Faith: Enjoy each step along the way and know that whatever choice you make; all will be okay.

“Realize that if a door closed, it’s because what was behind it wasn’t meant for you.” Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

*Commitment to ourselves and our purposes: What is one tiny step you can take each morning to bring you closer to where you want to be?

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” John Mayer

*Sovereignty: The unshakable knowledge that we are the supreme rulers of our own minds and choices and decisions. Who has given you permission to question your own self- worth, in other words, who told you that and why are you believing it? When we truly believe that we are sovereign over our hearts, minds and bodies then we are free to come and go, to explore and choose wisely and be impactful in all we do.

“Peggy is a sovereign nation. She governs herself and those around her by her own laws.” Katlyn Charlesworth, The Patriot’s Daughter

According to Ms. Ostman, bringing forth your true nature is a practice of letting go of fear; letting go of limiting beliefs, letting go of those things that were told to you whether to protect you or to scare you to stand still. Ms. Ostman suggests respectfully thanking all the parts of us that tried to protect us from the fears that are holding us back, wishing those parts well and firmly telling those parts that it is now time to take the reins and face the fears and the adventure that awaits.

As If….

A great way to begin your journey of shedding those limiting beliefs, of shedding fear is to take these 4 qualities and start with the end in mind. Let’s play….

Kari always wanted to be an artist. Her talents have been recognized by the obvious people in her life, her art teachers, her friends, her classmates, etc. but for some reason Kari has not taken all of those accolades and turned it into the art studio/gallery that she has always imagined. Kari doesn’t believe within herself that her art work is good enough to sell or that strangers would want to buy what she is creating. She is beginning to feel like doing art of any kind is a waste of time and that she needs to start getting serious about her life and start to make a living. “It feels like there is just too much wasted time in art and I need to pay my bills and just get on with my life at this point.” Who told Kari that art is too much of wasted time? Who told Kari that being an artist isn’t a serious pursuit of making a life? Who told Kari that she isn’t good enough to make art her career? When did those limiting beliefs start to take deep roots in her heart and mind?

There are a few choices Kari can make: She can give up her art completely and get a “real” job, she can only do her artwork for her own pleasure and joy, she can give her artwork away to friends and colleagues as gifts so that at least her art will be “out there” even if it hangs in someone else’s house or office or she can imagine one last time what it would be like to have the art studio/gallery she always dreamed about.

Kari chooses to imagine one last time about her art studio. Kari chose the “as if” option and she lets her imagination run wild with the end in mind, “as if” she made her dream come true and opened her art studio and became the successful artist she always dreamed of becoming. Out loud Kari imagines it is opening night at her art studio and the walls are full of her artwork in every medium. There are lots of people at the opening tonight including people that came as guests of those that received an invitation and the biggest surprise of all is that the media are here tonight to interview Kari and get her story. Kari imagines the gorgeous outfit she is wearing and imagines that her parents are there and feel so proud of her for sticking with her dream and making it come true. Kari imagines the food and drinks being passed around, she imagines the pockets of conversation going on around her studio, she imagines the music playing in the background and how great everyone looks tonight because they came to this special event. At the end of the night Kari imagines her most sacred piece of art being sold to an art collector and Kari being commissioned to do work for businesses in and around her art studio.

The greatest take away for Kari in playing the “as if” game is that she just thought about even more ideas on how to make her studio/gallery a great success. By opening herself up to the possibilities and by letting herself feel the happiness in her core-self, by freeing her mind and heart from limiting beliefs, Kari has experienced more joy in these few minutes than in the past year of struggling to be “practical” about her future.

Call to Action

Find a friend, mentor, coach, or use your own reflection in the mirror and play the “as if” game with your dreams. No limiting beliefs allowed. Dress the part, play the music, set the scene and have at it. Notice everything, the way you look, the way you feel, the way your thoughts expand. Who told you that you can’t make this vision your reality?

One of Ms. Ostman’s most successful practices is to interview fear and listen to what comes up in that discussion. If you are interested in trying this interview with fear, please give me a call. You will be changed from this experience.

On a piece of paper make a list down one side of the paper of all the things that you believe today. On the other side of the paper make a list of how you came to have each belief; in other words, who told you that? On a new piece of paper make a list of all the new things you are now going to believe that will help move you toward the person you want to be. Keep in mind on this new list, that YOU are giving yourself permission to believe these new things, act on these new things, dream these new things and become these new things.

Write a good-bye letter to your old self letting go of the fearful things that you have told to yourself or have been told to you that you are currently believing; letting go of the limiting beliefs that are holding you back from becoming your true self. Before you end the good-bye to old self letter start to write about all the new things your new, free self will be experiencing from now on. What successful, happy, expansive experiences will you be adding to your new life? How much can you honestly feel inside of your core-self that you believe you honestly, courageously, and wholeheartedly will experience in all the amazing life moments that are destined to come to you?

Decisions, Decisions: 5 Mindsets toward Making Your Best Choice

“Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.”
J.E.B. Spredemann, An Unforgivable Secret

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I turn left or should I turn right?

Should I pick up the phone and call or should I just remain silent?

Should I stay in school or should I drop out?

Should I marry him or keep searching?

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Sometimes choices we face every day are of little consequence or so it seems and sometimes we know deep inside that the choices we make have a great impact on our lives and those around us. I believe that every time we are faced with a choice to make the decision and choice matter very much. So how do we know when and how to make the right choices?

In his book, The Travelers Gift, author Andy Andrews tells a story of the 7 decisions that determine personal success. In a nut shell here they are:

1-      “The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future.”

2-      “I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others.”

3-       “I am a person of action. I seize this moment. I choose now.”

4-      “I have a decided heart. My destiny is assured.”

5-      “Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful spirit.”

6-      “I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself.”

7-      “I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith.”

I think, for right now, the hardest item for me is number 4. I don’t yet feel like I have a decided heart about some really important issues in my life like what to do about my son not wanting to get a job and also his decision to not to go to college right now.  Ultimately I know he has to make his own choices about how to live his life but while he is living at home and affecting the lives of those he lives with I am faced with a choice to make about how to teach him what his responsibilities are for not only himself but to the people around him and the world at large. There are several choices I can make here but which one will get me/us to a good place now and in the long run? The choice I decidedly want to make is one of helping him to become a victor not a victim of his own mind.

“I find that the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.” – Steve Maraboli

There are some things that I am decided on like the fact that I love, love, love my children and they will always be what makes my day worth living, I will always leave myself in a position of learning every single day, and making G-d more of a central focus in my life grounds me. Those are the things I know for sure and am absolutely decided on. Everything else, well, not so much. Indecision is a scary nowhere place to be and I can feel deep inside a pull to get decided on things like my life relationships, my 5 year plan, and exercise. What I know for sure is that once I am decided I not only make room to expand on the depth of the decision but my sense of self-worth grows from the inside out. At times I feel so desperate to just know the choice I’ve made that I get impatient to get to the choice already. But then I take a deep breath and forgive my impatience as best I can and decide that time is my friend and it is assured that when the time is right I will be decided about many things.

“We face an endless string of choices, which leads us to feel anxiety, guilt and pangs of inadequacy that we are perhaps making the wrong ones.” –Renata Salecl

So why does it take so long to make a choice and how do we know we are even this close to making a good, right, guilt free choice/decision?

I think it’s because we have the heavy job of letting go. We need to let go of bad choices of the past and forgive ourselves.  We need to let go of the regrets and mistakes we made or think we made, we need to let go of the things we thought we wanted but didn’t get and we need to let go of the idea of being stuck. Really, what we need to do is make a choice to either hold on to the pain of the past or choose to forge ahead with enlightenment and hope for a better future based on lessons learned from previous choices.

As for me, I want to take what I have learned about old choices and use the information to make better choices going forward; whatever I would have done in actions and decisions needs to be my guidepost of what not to do the next time or at least what to consider in a better light this next time. Basically, use my heart to guide me toward the best right choice for this now moment.

“Before you can live, a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.”
Shannon L. Alder

There are concrete steps you can take toward making good choices/decisions but keep in mind that there will always be the possibility, whether now or down the road, where hindsight will make your choices even more clear. This is a good thing because decision making and choosing is a skill that needs to be honed constantly. So where to begin?

1-      Think clearly. The act of thinking clearly simply means to stay as calm as possible. If there is too much emotion revolving around a choice that needs to be made then step back, create space between your emotions and the choice to be made and wait awhile. Don’t be impulsive. Put off making any choices until you can think and see your options more clearly.

2-      Research. Collect as much information as you can about what you need to choose. Consult the internet, a trusted friend or mentor, take a poll, or whatever works for you. A rational, logical mind is what is needed to feel confident of the choices you are facing.

3-      Pros and Cons list. This is my ultimate go-to action step. I love this step. This step weighs risk and reward and lays out possible outcomes either way. Making a pro and con list for each choice needing to be made gives such clarity to not only the choice but to your heart. If you get to a point on your list where you can feel where your heart belongs then you eliminate the high risk of regret now and later. HOWEVER, try not to get too caught up in every pro and con because over-thinking things can create more problems than necessary. It really is a heart thing so listen carefully. Your heart and your gut won’t steer you wrong.

4-      Options within options. This one is really cool. Do you have a plan “b”? I was reading a book recently where the spy was giving advice to a new recruit. The advice was to always have at least 2 ways into a situation and 3 ways out. Create a plan “b” or a plan “c” or even a plan “d” if possible. You win the battle of making good choices by expanding and finding new choices to make. It’s fun and kind of like creating a safety net underneath you. It helps you feel protected and safe in whatever choice you then have to make within the options you’ve created.

5-      Be responsible. Eventually you have to make your choice. Be responsible for the choice you ultimately make. Don’t make a choice out of fear or time running out or any kind of outside pressure. Accept responsibility from the inside out when it comes time to look at the choice you made.

Call to Action

On the list of 7 decisions, what are you working tirelessly at making part of your personal success?

What is very hard for you to start working toward and how would you choose to accomplish that?

What do you think would be the hardest step to really get the hang of?

What choices are you facing now that could use a little bit of the 5 key steps toward better decision making?

Images by bing.com/lifechoicemedical.com

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

Happy YOU Year

Happy YOU Year….              

Welcome to my first mini-series blog post. In this mini-series I will be guiding you through what it means to change and why we do it, whether it is with purpose or subconsciously. There are 2 books that have inspired me to consider this topic as a mini-series. The first book is called “Changing For Good” (CFG) by Drs. James O. Prochaska, Ph.D., John Norcross, Ph.D., and Carlo C. DiClemente, Ph.D. Together these 3 brilliant minds discuss change theory and give real person examples of how the change process works.

The second book that I found to be an amazing and at times humorous and enlightening read is called “Changeology” (CO) by Dr. John Norcross, Ph.D. Both of these books take the reader through step by step processes in aiding anyone through making significant, stick-to-it changes. My hope is to break down these processes into understandable language that won’t take too long to read through. I am aiming for simplicity even though making changes on any level is anything but simple.

Change is all around us at this time of year; a new year, a new opportunity to start fresh. What does it really mean to change, to revolutionize, to become, to metamorphose?

 

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne WIlliamsom

So to get started take a moment and think about just what changes you want to make in your life. This exercise could take a lifetime to do however I am asking you to think about just one thing. It can be huge like stopping smoking or changing jobs and/or careers or it can be small like cleaning out the attic or dressing differently.

Change happens whether we change something in or about our lives with purpose or we just keep thinking about the changes we want to make but do nothing about it at all. Consider for instance a birthday or a new year or a new week. These changes happen with us or without us being mindful of them. What we do to acknowledge these changes is where the fun begins. Time is the only change that occurs whether we want it to or not. In order to feel connected to time passing we have to somehow harness the power of time. It is an illusion to think that there will always be a later on or a tomorrow. It is important to remember that all we have is this moment. When the moment is gone it is gone forever BUT each moment can be a catalyst toward the next moment. My hope is to inspire you to create your moments and not allow them to pass undetected and unrealized. My hope is to avoid, as much as possible that which creates a feeling of wasting time or of helplessness.

 

We do have some say over our behaviors, thoughts, feelings and actions and that in itself is a harness of time. Moments where we find ourselves feeling stronger, more empowered, healthier, more in tune to our bodies and minds is a way for us to use time to its best advantage.

Throughout each mini-series post I will take a look at the stages of change much like grief having its own stages and I will give you wisdom wizards that will help you think more open-mindedly and hopefully kick-start you toward taking possession of whatever changes you want to create. My wisdom wizards are carefully selected and profound words and phrases of encouragement that will be so thought provoking that hopefully you will be inspired to do just one thing every day toward becoming the person you want to be.

“It can be argued that there are few differences between therapy-change and self-change. All change is self-change and therapy is simply professionally coached self-change.”(pg. 17 CFG)

I am a personal growth professional. I believe that while I know you have the inner power to change what you want about yourself or your thoughts or your feelings, I know how uplifting and powerful it is to work with someone who is completely on your side through the changes you want to make. “When you are trying to motivate yourself appreciate the fact that you are even thinking about making a change. And as you move forward, allow yourself to be good enough.” – Alice Domar

Having that one special person completely and wholeheartedly believe in you, stand with you, hold you to your goal, guide you along the rough roads ahead, is something that is priceless and can make all the difference in making the changes stick for good. Just like a parent helps a toddler learn to walk or to ride a bike so does a life coach help his/her client understand what it will take to get to where he/she wants to be and I will stand with you and behind you every step of the way.

I have found that the one greatest obstacle toward change is that it isn’t easy. We all want everything right now, this instant. To wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and see the body we dream of having, to go to that job that is just right for us, to feel happiness throughout our bodies because we summon it to be so. “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.” – George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones

Change doesn’t work like that although I argue that the very first step in making this change process take hold is to dream and think and believe that it can happen. “Any activity that you initiate to help modify your thinking, feeling or behavior is a change process.” (pg. 25 CFG) Without that deep rooted belief nothing is possible. “Nothing really worth having is easy to get. The hard fought battles, the goals won with sacrifice, are the ones that matter.” –Aisha Tyler

So the questions that need answering are:

*How hard are you willing to work to get what you want?

*Where in your body do you start to believe that what you want is not only possible but yours for the taking?

*What are the fears you are believing right now that might be preventing you from making the changes you want to make?

As I mentioned earlier, there is great comfort in knowing that you are not alone when it comes to wanting to change something in your life. Whether you seek the help of a support group, a life coach, a close friend, a spouse, or a therapist, just knowing that you are not alone is a huge deep breath of hope.

         It Starts with the First Step

That said, here is the first change stage to start off this mini-series. There are some people that are being asked by friends or loved ones to make changes or are being alerted toward the need to change something in their lives.  Those changes are very much against the way that person wants or chooses to live. In scientific terms this is called the Pre-contemplation stage. We all know that to contemplate something is to think about that something, to reflect, to consider it. In pre-contemplation we are not even close to thinking about anything. We just go along doing what we always do without regard or care for consequences or fall out. We are not necessarily happy in what we are doing but we are certainly not looking to change what we are doing. Pre-contemplation says things like:

*I don’t have a problem.

*I have nothing I want to change in my life.

*The way I am is the way I was meant to be.

*If I have a problem then it’s because it’s in my DNA. It runs in my family. I can’t change.

Words like denial, demoralization, shame, defensive, anger, resistance, depression, low self-respect, and irrational are ways to describe the person who is not even close to being ready to change. People who are not willing to acknowledge that change is needed have an easy time of blaming others for their problems.  It becomes easy to redirect anger toward other people. Everything is someone else’s’ fault. Sometimes change is so hard to consider that the person completely blames themselves for creating the problem. The person feels defeated and low before anything positive can possibly happen. They are not always aware that there is a problem but more so they are helpless and are feeling protected by the safety they find in the self-hate.

 

“Sometimes, though, you make a pact with yourself. I’ll pretend there is nothing wrong if you pretend there is nothing wrong. It is called denial, and it is one of the strongest pacts in the world. Just ask those people who were still drinking champagne while the Titanic went down.” –Neal Shusterman, Dread Locks

Maybe your denial is filled with defiance as well.” I’ll show you, I’ll enjoy my own demise.”

How can a person facing this kind of uphill battle toward change get close to the happiness they want deep down inside? How can a loved one help a person in such denial and low self-respect?

*Increase awareness of the problem. Information is ammunition so that once the obstacles toward happiness are laid out clearly and simply the words can’t be taken back or forgotten. The evidence speaks for itself. Here is where help comes in whether it is in small articles to read, a doctor visit, groups to join or someone to talk to one on one. Choices most of all are catalysts toward awareness and change. Having options to take toward change is very important and empowering. “Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are….each time you let a new ingredient to enter your awareness.”Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life

*Be patient and kind with yourself. Try not to push someone or yourself toward change if you are not completely ready to understand and then take steps toward change. “People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.” –John Porter

“Remember to view yourself and your humanness with a kind heart.” –Elizabeth Berrien, Creative Grieving: A Hip Chick’s Path From Loss to Hope

*Don’t give up. It may take more time than you want it to take but time is your friend and by allowing the time you are helping to create awareness and a safe space to exist in and talk in and time will go a long way toward eventually taking action. “It always seems impossible until you can say, ‘I’m Possible’.” – Coach Lisa

*Build up your army of allies. Who is on your side? Who provides moral support? What foundations exist to help you? “Every success I have ever had or will have in the future comes not solely
from my own ambition and hard work, but also from those that have encouraged,
supported and challenged me. Success is never, ever a one person job.”
–T. S. Tate

“Self-help groups send out a powerful message to isolated pre-contemplators who are embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they have personal problems.” This kind of group says, “You are not the only person going through this problem; our group can help you to accept yourself as a person with an issue/problem and to do the best that you can to change it.” (pg. 101 CFG)

My Story

It took me 11 years to finally get up enough courage and fortitude and health information to stop denying that an operation I needed to have had to be done. For all of that time I spent a good portion of it blaming any outside force I could think of, especially my body, for betraying me. I was angry and in denial that the problem existed at all but in deep denial that the problem would get worse. The rest of the time I was just afraid. I was afraid of hospitals and operations and anesthesia and that feeling of being out of control.

Eleven years is a very long time to take to make a change and champion myself. I had to decide and most of all believe that not only was this operation going to be good for me physically but mentally as well. I think that it is an extreme case of time in this example but it is also a good example of just how long it can take some pre-contemplators to FINALLY get to where they need to be. I had my family and my doctor to support me but most of all I had my mind made up that this was going to be a good change. I’ll save the rest of this story for the change stage that will talk about action and outcome. Stay tuned……..

Call to Action

To help you figure out if you are a pre-contemplator or further along in the stages of change be honest in answering these questions for yourself:

1) I actively look for information to my or any problem I may have.

2) I have someone in my life that listens when I have a need to talk about my problems.

3) I find that the world around me is changing in ways that make it easier for me to change.

4) I know when I am resistant to help from anyone.

5) Whenever something negative happens to me it is rarely because of something I did to cause that negative occurrence.

These are yes and no questions but you may find that a maybe or an answer of not quite fits better. These questions are designed to help start to create awareness so try to think of specific situations that each question could apply to and write about that situation. See if you can read where you can honestly take responsibility for some of the negative fallout. Owning your part of the story of any helpless feeling is a great first step toward change.

 

Here are the 2 books that I recommend reading:

http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Good-Revolutionary-Overcoming-Positively-ebook/dp/B003GYEH2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141403&sr=1-1&keywords=changing+for+good

  www.amazon.com/Changeology-Steps-Realizing-Resolutions-Norcross/dp/B00CAYHN72/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389141450&sr=1-3&keywords=changeology

 For information about coaching, whether it is in a like-minded group atmosphere or one on one please contact lisa@journeyoncoaching.com or call 203-560-3061. For more wisdom wizards please visit her website at www.journeyoncoaching.com  or visit Lisa’s Pinterest Board at http://www.pinterest.com/lisazaccagnini/wisdom-wizards/.

**Images by Bing.com

*Call to Action questions from Changing for Good 

6 Things I know for sure about being a mom……

6 Things I know for sure about being a mom….001

“Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.”
— James Joyce

It’s not about me and it’s not about my children, it’s about the minds of the human beings I have been gifted to guide and stand with in times of trouble and triumph, laughter and rest.

In April of this year I wrote about how my older son came to me to tell me that he and his friends were going to move to Florida and make a life for themselves together, far from where they have always called home. They had no real plan other than this wild, 18 year old being impulsive, I gotta be free to be me idea. My first reaction was shock and speechlessness.

I’ve always been the kind of mom that doesn’t quickly fly off the handle until all information has settled in. Then I go a bit coo-coo if all the information doesn’t add up to logic on any level. I remember each time my kids would come home with a scraped knee and blood was everywhere and tears were everywhere I remained calm. I even caught myself each time thinking, “wow, I’m really calm right now, how am I doing that?” It was instinctual for me to behave that way. I don’t know why or where it came from it was just the way I always reacted to high stress situations regarding my children, keep them calm by remaining calm; my husband, not so much. I save all the “flying off the handle” at a moment’s notice just for him. What a lucky guy.

So I listened to what my son was saying and I decided that little by little I would throw up road signs for him to watch out for in the hopes that these signs would put enough doubt in his decision to leave and he would choose to stay home and keep going on the road he was already successfully navigating.  You know, those “what if”, “how will you”, “what will you do if” signs. Nothing deterred him and so he drained a portion of his savings account, packed his bags, quit his job and left. I deeply hoped that he would just take my advice and not put himself through all of this turmoil and hardship. For one very long month he navigated his own life, made his own decisions, experienced life on his terms and then…… he came home.

The very first thing my son said when he walked in the door was, “Well, that was quite an experience but I don’t think I want to go back. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.” Are those not the words a mother wants to hear? (Just so you know, when he left the room some time later, I did a little jig in the kitchen, twirling myself around and around with a smile on my face so big that my cheeks hurt.)

What happened next was life changing and again left me speechless. My son decided to enroll in a university not too far from home but far enough away that he would have to live there. He knew the financial implications of a decision like that but it was what he thought would be the next right move. He thought also that living at school would be a better life experience than having to navigate his life completely on his own, away from most of his other friends, and away from access to home. As a backup plan he made an appointment with the community college where is started as a freshman and decided that just in case he didn’t get in to the university he would give himself this final option and talk to an adviser there.

He picked up the mail on his way to his appointment at the community college and waited until he parked in the parking lot before opening the letter from the university. He didn’t get in. The university did not like his first year college grades.  Disappointed, he got out of the car and headed in to the community college and met with is adviser. The adviser was very honest and blunt with him telling him that if he wanted funding to be reinstated, if he wanted to attend any university after community college, and if he wanted to pursue the degree he was planning on then his grades needed to go way up and his commitment needed to be true and sure. When that ordeal was done he took himself to his old employer and asked for his job back. It wasn’t easy for him to actually take those footsteps toward this final decision. He said he was nervous and a bit shaky to have to actually go back to community college and to have to face his former boss and colleagues but he said he knew what he had to do and was glad to have the option as opposed to no option at all.  He got in to his old school and he got his old job back, both welcoming him with open arms and big smiles. Is that mature or what? Who is this kid?

When he came home to tell me what he did, I just stood there with my mouth open, again, speechless. This is becoming a pattern with him. What I noticed right away was that not one time did my son complain, or show an angry face or balk at the choices that were taken away from him or express anger in any way. His attitude was one of calm but disappointment and most of all perseverance. The disappointment came from within him. He was disappointed in how he performed at school and how that led to him not getting in to the school he wanted and the funding he desperately needed and he was disappointed that he wasted time in not working. However, he then said that he viewed this as his second chance and he wasn’t going to screw it up this time. How did the boy become such a man overnight?

What I know for sure about being a mom is this….

1)       Keep talking. Most importantly keep talking even when you see and feel like you are not getting through. Know that you are. When the words come from your heart, when you are completely engaged in your child’s well-being the words will come and they will get in. You have to trust this most of all.

2)       Keep believing. I knew deep inside of my soul that my son was capable of making good decisions and that he was just lost right now. I knew who he imagined himself to be when he “grew up”. Don’t give up what you know to be true about your children. Believe in them and they will ultimately believe in themselves.

3)       Keep being you. My children count on me to be me and all that entails. I talk too much and admit it, I cry when what I am trying to convey what touches my heart so deeply that I can’t hold back and I don’t hide my tears from them, I yell when I am at my fraying point and just so overwhelmed at their behavior, I stop talking completely when I know that I don’t have it in me to say something helpful or kind. Your honesty and authenticity is what they count on most of all. It is what sets you apart from the rest of the world and the people in their world. You become the one person they know will live in truth for them and with them.

4)       Keep the faith. I knew from my core that my son’s path was on the right track well before he decided to leave home. I believed with all of my heart that he was making a mistake but had faith that he would come to understand what I already knew. Faith is an unshakable belief in something or someone; it is confidence in that something or someone’ it is believing in something unseen. It doesn’t mean that you don’t question within yourself what you know for sure. That is natural but keep the faith anyway.

5)       Allow them to make mistakes. Each of us has free will. The greatest lessons learned are the ones that touch us from the inside out. My son couldn’t possibly understand or learn from just my words or my own experiences. He needed to feel for himself and experience for himself what I was trying to tell him. As hard as it was for me to know what he was up against I had to let go and trust enough that he would find his way. That trust alone allowed for him to create, on his own, the pathways out of his own mistakes. When he told me what he had done in terms of school and his job he was filled with self-pride. AWESOME!! It means everything that he took action to help himself out of a bad situation and it came from within himself. Now he knows what he is capable of. Now he has started the pathway to trusting himself and his own decision making processes. Now he sees and feels the difference between when things are “right” and when they are not “right”. Isn’t that what a parent wants for their children, that feeling for their child of “I did this”?

6)       Remember what it felt like when…..The greatest advice ever given to me was from my mom when my first child was born. “Lisa, remember what it felt like when you were 5,7, 10, 13, 18, 21…” etc. Staying in touch with who you were will help you better understand the roads your children will travel and navigate. Their personal experiences may not be exactly like what you went through but the life lessons are the same. Keep your heart open and your words flowing and your hugs at the ready.

bigmattThere will absolutely, guaranteed be more mistakes down the road but the fact that I now know he can learn from those mistakes and prevent them from becoming failures is uplifting and encouraging and respectful. I now have a much deeper respect for my son and I don’t see him as a boy anymore. I can now start to see him as the man he wants to be and I realize that it is going to take some getting used to in how to relate to this man I see before me. And just for a moment I allowed myself to also realize that my role as “mom” has just shifted and I allowed myself to miss the young mother of a young boy I used to be. It made me want to have another baby and start again but then I thought, no. This is right, this is the next chapter; this is how it should be. There is a time and season for everything and I welcome the time with open arms and a most grateful heart.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.”—Thich Nhat Hahn

I have to say that my son is happy. He is happy with his decisions, he is happy with his action steps and he is determined and ready to take even more control of his life and all that goes in to making his life. He has always had an idea of the man he wants to be and now he feels like he is on the right road toward becoming that man he sees in himself; and he did it all on his own. Fantastic!

Please share with me your experiences about motherhood. It would be an honor to stand beside you on your journey through this amazing experience.

Lisa has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger.

Coaching is a great vehicle to help navigate through those sticky tough, tumultuous times of parenting, career and life itself. If you would like to see how coaching can help please write to me lisa@journeyoncoaching.com and let’s chat in a judgment free, empowering, uplifting space.

 

 

Chapter 2: The College Decision

Chapter 2: The College Decision 

Congratulations! You made it! You have graduated from high school and made it through 12 to 13 years of mandatory schooling. You’ve studied hard, crammed for tests, joined clubs, performed community service, played a sport and tried to be as well rounded a student, a young adult, as you could be all in the hopes of beefing up your transcripts so that a college will choose you to represent them. Whew! That was exhausting. Can you just rest for a while?  Well, actually, no, no you can’t. If you thought these years of mandatory schooling have been hard wait until you start this next chapter of your life.

Chapter two begins with the question, to be a college student or not to be a college student? The well rounded answer is, be the college student. The realistic answer is not if you are not ready. The very first lesson to learn in the “real” world is whatever you do, be ready for it. If you are deciding to do something, do it with a full heart and full determination to succeed.

“Nothing really worth having is easy to get. The hard fought battle, the goals won with sacrifice are the ones that matter. ” –Aisha Tyler

I know, I hear the questions…..”but my grades were not good enough to get into a good college, who will accept me?”….”but I can’t afford the college I want, where can I go now?”….”but I don’t have a clue as to what I want to study, how will I possibly succeed?”….”but I’m not ready for college and my parents want me to go, what should I do?”

Relax. Take a deep breath. All the rules are different now. There is no script to follow. You are now allowed to decide for yourself what road you would like to take. Sit down, preferably on a very comfy couch and hug a pillow to your chest. These are all very good concerns, questions, doubts. Take a moment and write down your answers to these questions, and no, this is not another test to pass:

1) What is important to you right now?

2) What scares you the most about this new chapter of your life?

3) Where do you want to be, what would you like to have accomplished in 3-5 years from right now?

What I know about you is that you are creative and resourceful. Look at you. You made it through these difficult 12 years, messy as it’s been, and you have a diploma to show for all that hard, messy work. What you need to know is what you can commit to do with your life now? The easy answer is to stay a student because it’s what you know, it’s what is familiar. No matter what you do after high school you will have to learn something whether on the job training, or sitting behind a desk at school or learning hands on through vocational training and education, learning something is in your future forever. Embrace this concept, make friends with it. Once you have a solid handle in your brain that you are always a student whether in school or out of school you will be infinitely more prepared to allow the life lessons in to your soul.

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”  ~Vernon Howard

If money is the issue as to whether you should even consider a college education or if the school you want to go to is too expensive, start at community college. There are ways to make it work that won’t cost you much money if any money at all.

The one thing to know at this point is that the first two years at any college is made up of required classes. Basically it is  like cramming 4 years of high school into 2 years of college so why pay more if you don’t have to right away? All you need to do is be open to learning but most of all, be open to learning how to navigate your path, your road, your own life. It takes time to learn the ropes. Ask questions of everyone you meet. Their life story will undoubtedly help you with your life story. While you are attending community college you can work part time and start saving money to transfer to the college you want to go to for you bachelor degree. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish school now. There are no schedules to keep anymore. You design your life so be creative, take the scenic route. The path less traveled has way more adventures tied to it than the conventional path.

If the thought of more school right away is weighing you down then don’t go yet. You have the option to wait for a semester or 2 and work for a while until your thoughts become more clear and focused. Standing still with no decision should never be an option. In the words of Henry Ford, “Indecision is often worse than wrong action.” At this point everything is possible.

Where will you place your stepping stones to get to where you want to go? What adventures do you want to experience along your path to your best life? Journey on….

If you are a high school junior or senior and would like to explore how coaching can help your next life chapter be successful or if you are already in college and need more clarity on why you are there at all please contact Lisa at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com