Practices to Calm Self-Doubt

Unhappy woman with many thoughtsA friend introduced me to Yoga with Adriene and I have been practicing yoga daily with her since the start of the year. This morning I did Yoga for Self-Doubt and it got me thinking how there are different paths into building self-confidence and taming self-doubt. Some are physical, some are mental and some are spiritual.

All of us have experienced self-doubt at one point or another and probably we all experience it more than we let on. Whether seemingly big or small circumstances, self-doubt can keep you from living a life of your own choosing. Sometimes you don’t even realize that self-doubt is what is making you uncomfortable. Other times self-doubt can create such great anxiety and be so overwhelming that we develop techniques to avoid rather than grapple with it.

Not surprising, avoidance never really helps with any emotion, including feelings of self-doubt. As the saying goes, the only way to the other side is through it, and that is applicable to self-doubt. And it is inevitable that things come up in life unexpectedly that might throw you into a bout of self-doubt. So the more you prepare in advance, so to speak, the better you will be able to deal with whatever you encounter. That’s where practice comes into play.

How does building a practice help? As I discussed in The Benefit Of Routine when you practice activities or behaviors often enough, they become automatic and something that you can easily draw upon when you are in a difficult situation. For instance, perhaps you are having self-doubt about negotiating a job offer or promotion. If you have been practicing building your self-confidence and understanding that your self-doubt is understandable but not insurmountable, you can draw upon your practice to calm yourself and get prepared before going into the negotiation. Perhaps your practice includes some movement, breathing and affirmations. (And don’t forget tactical methods like creating documentation of your accomplishments and skills that support your goal—in this case—the new job position.) You will be more adept at accessing your self-confidence boosting skills if you practice in times when you aren’t faced with overwhelming circumstances.

Creating a daily practice of self-supportive activities is a wonderful way to build your skills of dealing with self-doubt and anxiety. Here are some ideas to get you started. Create a plan that is customized to activities that you enjoy and then change them around if you find that some activities seem to work better for you than others. The goal again, isn’t to dance around the self-doubt. The goal is to notice the self-doubt, be curious about it, and practice different ways of exploring it with your body, mind and spirit.

Body: You might not have thought about this before, but most emotions can be located in your body. Where to do feel the sense of self-doubt in your body? Allow yourself to explore the sensations in your body. Engage in some breathing techniques, stretching or aerobic activities to allow your body to release tension. Dance or move and bring in some joy into your body. Practice yoga and other strength builders to explore feeling strong and capable.

Mind: I believe that you can create your own experience of life by aligning your thoughts with the outcomes that you desire. Visualization of positive outcomes and affirmations are wonderful approaches to practice first thing in the morning each day to remind yourself that you have tremendous mental power.

Spirit: Meditation and mindfulness techniques are very helpful for getting to know yourself and becoming aware of your mind-states. Practice recognizing your self-doubt when it arises and allow yourself to just be with that experience. Because, as with most every emotion, this too shall pass. With practice you will build less resistance and a stronger understanding that strong feelings are real but don’t have to keep you bound.

Finally, trust yourself. Trust that you are a capable human being, able to handle self-doubt when it arises. Undoubtedly you have many past difficult experiences and yet you are here today. Trust that you will continue to navigate difficult moments of self-doubt. Building practices to calm your self-doubt strengthens your capacity to engage with the world in a way that is true to you and supportive of your own personal path.

xoxo Rachel

The Benefit Of Routine

BLD024994I have always had a bit of a knee-jerk negative reaction to the concept of routine. The lack of variety of routine always struck me as boring or lacking imagination. Routine meant that you were missing out on new and interesting opportunities and different ways of doing things. Looking at the synonyms for routine, monotonous and usual are certainly consistent with the dull view of routine. However, routine needn’t be tedious and dreary. If you don’t accept routine as something to do mindlessly on autopilot to just get through the day but instead as a way to get the most out of your day, routine can be extremely beneficial.

Here’s a way to look at routine that might get you actually excited and interested. I have always loved learning a dance routine. Through repetition and practice, the steps to the dance get easier and more connected and flowing. Learning the steps in the routine takes concentration and yet once memorized, they become routine and there is a joyous feeling to doing the dance. The decision to do the routine is completely conscious and for a purpose. Although there is an automatic aspect of the dance once it is completely incorporated into your body, that level of ease of it being routine allows you to dig deeper into the moves and get more out of it.

You might not be a dancer, however that approach of creating a routine can be applied to so many things in your life. The first step is to consciously decide what actions or activities would serve you best if they were practiced over and over and scheduled into your life. The usual suspect for routine is getting daily exercise. Sure, getting into an exercise routine is absolutely a wonderful way to ensure that you are moving regularly. Yet routine can be used for so much more. What activities would you like to make a part of your everyday that would bring you greater you name it: joy, strength, calm, happiness, playfulness, community, or connection… Finding routines that incorporate actions and activities to bring greater fullness and complexity to your day is a great way to build a joyful life and is anything but dull.

Here are some ideas. On a daily basis, how about creating some routines for your body and soul? Daily meditation, walks, dancing, reading, bubble baths are all wonderful activities. A great way to create a routine around these things is to build a schedule where you string a few together and do them at the same time each day. For instance, I have been enjoying doing some cardio exercise followed by yoga followed by meditation in the morning. They flow nicely together and I enjoy that the routine combines movement and stillness. How about creating a routine around your work? Maybe that looks like getting a cup of coffee and planning your day or writing for a half hour before you check your emails and respond to outside requests. And dining routines can be very helpful whether you are busy and want an easier way to get dinner on the table, or if you are working on developing a new pattern of eating.

Routines can most definitely be created with other people too. How about creating a routine with someone you love to meet on a regular basis for an activity that is fun? Many people have weekly bowling nights or monthly book clubs or regular events of all sorts. Creating a routine with a friend or loved one is a way to guarantee that you will get together regularly. And getting into the habit of doing more of what you want in your life is the path to a fuller and more satisfying life.

xoxo Rachel

Creating From Nothing How Your Day Unfolds

Fairy. Beautiful Girl in Blowing Dress Flying. MagicI am writing to write. That is, I am sitting in front of my computer and writing to see what comes out of my head and on to the page. It is as if I am practicing that magical process of creating something from nothing. Of course, creating something from nothing is what we do each day, even if we don’t realize it. We create each moment in a day in an instant of time that didn’t exist a moment ago. There is nothing and then there is something. We wake up and decide what we are going to do. Perhaps we have a full say in what that is, or perhaps we have some say within the confines of making it to work by a certain hour or attending scheduled meetings. But much of the day we create from nothing. What will I wear today? When and what will I eat? What do I intend to do today? Who do I want to see? What music will I listen to? Or perhaps I want to have silence? What are my intentions for how I will be during the day? We are creating as we go, creating from nothing how our day will unfold.

Have you stopped to think about that? What immense choice you have? It is very common to go about the day never realizing that you have such freedom. Yet the freedom of creating your life from nothing is only accessible when you are conscious—when you are awake to each moment that reveals itself in your life. When you are aware that you have a choice, a choice of what to do, say or be, you might feel very overwhelmed by all that freedom or you might feel very serene.

How can it differ so dramatically from overwhelmed to serene? If you focus on all the myriad of choices in front of you it is easy to go into an overwhelmed state. If, however, you first go inside yourself and search for what you want in this moment temporarily ignoring external forces, then your decisions become easy and you truly do feel free. It requires that you be conscious that you have options. When you come to the realization that you can in every moment decide what you are going to do, you experience the utter beauty and freedom of creating from nothing. If you are not used to this, it can take some practice. Even if you are used to this, it can take practice in this world that sets up so many expectations for how you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to do. Allowing yourself to consciously create how your day unfolds is a gift. It is a gift that you and every person deserve in support of your free will and your creative spirit.

The beauty of creating from nothing is that there is great flexibility—what will you create? Often, however, we are asleep at the wheel. We go on autopilot and do much of your life by routines. Although routines are indeed very useful (that is for another post!) if we are always following a program without any conscious thought, we can get bored, feel purposeless and even feel like we have lost our free will. If instead we recognize the incredible autonomy we have to determine what we do in each moment, we become free.

Mindless vs. mindful—you choose. Yes, when we are mindful of our actions for each moment, we are enacting the marvelous creative force of purposeful human existence. It is truly amazing. The choice to be conscious while we decide what we will create in the moment is a privilege. Certainly I am privileged to have the time and space to exercise my own choices because of my personal circumstances. Yet even if you have tremendous responsibilities and are over scheduled, you are an independent will and can choice what you will do in those moments that are yours to choose. And perhaps you can practice the art of saying no to more things that no longer serve you and say yes more to things that you want to create. Be wide-awake and alert and allow your naturally imaginative mind to create your reality. And remain awake to fully experience each moment of your life.

xoxo Rachel

Self-Care Is Not Selfish—It Is Essential

Self-Care

Perhaps it is because I am a life coach that I am very focused on self-care. I preach it to all of my clients and I practice it religiously. Or perhaps it is because of my inherent tendency to do soothing and restorative activities for myself that I became a life coach. Either way, what I know for certain is that taking bubble baths, taking mental health days, taking time outs, taking time for self-care of any kind is critical to being successful in work and in life. As a human being, you have unlimited potential and yet you have limited resources if you do not recharge and replenish yourself.

I love the expression running on empty. It conveys a lot of information about the need to replenish. You could be running on empty physically, emotionally, intellectually or creatively. And when you are running on empty you need to refuel. Refueling is what self-care is all about. You might need to re-fuel with food, music, silence, sleep, meditation or anything that is taking care of your mind, body and soul. Self-care is treating yourself with love.

How often should you include self-care in your life? I am all for finding ways to include self-care absolutely every single day! Daily habits are a wonderful way to create lasting change. Perhaps it is simply closing your bathroom door each night for an hour with the understanding that you are not to be bothered during that time. When you have a family and responsibilities you need to set boundaries for yourself. Ultimately everyone in your family will benefit from you replenishing your resources so that you can help to take care of them. And I encourage you to share and expand this way of living with your family. Discuss the idea of everyone creating his or her own self-care habit to refuel and replenish. Oh, what an improvement that will be for your family life!

Here’s my approach to daily self-care. I have a reminder to nourish myself set on my electronic calendar for everyday at 4PM. And by nourish I mean anything including healthy snack, meditation, bubble bath, reading, stretching, walking in nature—you get the idea. Granted I work from home so I can do this at 4PM but you can do the same thing at whatever time works best for you. My energy flags at 4PM so that works really well for me. It helps to stick with the same time every day for your self-care in order to make it a habit.

If you choose to give yourself self-care and nourishment every day, you are much more likely to keep your body and mind at its best. Of course, even with excellent self-care, you can become ill. I have been sick for the past couple of weeks and I am reminded that when your body is out of sorts, so much shuts down around you. I wasn’t able to work, my holiday plans were impacted and I just couldn’t do much more than rest and occasionally read. Extreme self-care and time is what got me through the healing process. And although my 4PM routine was disrupted by my illness, I am getting back into my usual self-care routine as quickly as possible.

Beyond the daily self-care mandate, I find that blocking off time in your calendar on a weekly and monthly basis for longer stretches of time will do wonders for your productivity, mental clarity and joy. I plan days off in advance that aren’t highly scheduled with activities. You might call them free days or personal days or comfort days. I like to call them spa days even though I rarely go to a spa (though that is also a wonderful way to pamper and take care of yourself). If you can’t do an entire day, periodically set aside a Saturday or Sunday morning from 8-12 just for your self-care.

There are so many things that you can do on your free full- or half-day that will serve as your much needed self-care. Massage, or a mani-pedi or hot tub is a way to stick with the spa-theme even if it is in your home. A tea ritual or reading or visiting a museum alone might fit the bill. The main ingredient is something that you find calming and restorative and just for you. You usually can’t do this activity with someone else, unless they are of the same mind and doing the activity with them in no way cause stress to you. I like to have my self-care all by myself otherwise I am too concerned with how the other person is doing.

The other thing that is important about your free full- or half-day is that you must clear the decks to allow you to concentrate only on your self-care. Take care of anything that is usually done during that day or time in advance. And by taking care of stuff, I don’t endorse your trying to squeeze everything into the day before. That will leave you exhausted and beyond needing some simple self-care. If there are some things that must be done on the day in question, you are going to have to delegate those activities to someone who you trust will get them done. Otherwise your relaxing day will not be calm while you worry that something is being handled. You can also Just Say No to an activity or chore or obligation every once and awhile in order to take your own much needed time off. The world will continue to run smoothly even while you are absent for a little while. Ultimately you will get so much more done and will enjoy life more when you replenish yourself with regular self-care. It is not selfish. It is essential!
xoxo Rachel

La Vie En Rose

Rose SunglassesToday is Valentines Day and not surprising that has me thinking pink. Yes, I want to see the world through rose-colored glasses. I want to live la vie en rose. Much of the time I already do see the world through pink lenses. In part that is because I actually have pink objects around me (and my website is most certainly pink forward). But living la vie en rose for me is also about looking for ways to see the world with a pink softness that allows me time to soak in the natural beauty of it all so that I can be in awe of the world. I am what you might call a hopeless romantic! I love seeing the soft-pink essence of romance in movies, books and of course in real life. My mantra is peace, beauty, love.

It is so very easy to get caught up in all that you are unhappy about in life and in the world that you forget how very lucky you are to live the life you live. It is easy to take for granted all the natural beauty that surrounds you. And it is easy to stop noticing all the magnificent buildings and other amazing objects—for functional use or as art—which we humans have created. Seeing the world in rose-colored glasses is not about tricking yourself to pretend that all is rosy. Rather it is about finding the beauty and being astonished, amazed and delighted by all there is in the world and people around you. Whether natural or man-made, there is so much magic that you encounter in a day if you just look up and pay attention.

So for Valentines Day this year, why not try on some rose-colored glasses and sit around with someone you love—or just by your wonderful self—and consider the world through the perspective that it is all so very rosy. Try softening your view of others and the world as if you are viewing through a pink haze. Even if your computer went kaput, you are in real need of a haircut, or something else is getting you down, give those thoughts a rest and try on la vie en rose. Find all that is magnificent and beautiful and rosy in the world and feel the love. And stay warm and cozy and cuddled up on this cold winter day.

xoxo Rachel