How To Choose Your Reaction

As much as we wish that people would always be kind, polite, and act in alignment with our own morals and values, the truth is that they don’t.  

Sometimes bosses or co-workers say things that we consider to be rude.  

Sometimes people cut us off in traffic.  

Sometimes people even lie, cheat, or steal.   

Regardless of the circumstance, when it comes to other people, there is a simple truth that I find helpful to remember:  We can’t control what other people do, but we can always control how we react.  

How Do You Want To Feel About It?  

When somebody does something that you don’t like, you can decide how you want to react by asking yourself: “How do I want to feel about this?” Because our behavior is driven by our emotions, determining how you want to feel is the first step to choosing your own reaction.  

We’re conditioned to believe that our reactions are automatic or involuntary.  For example, we often learn in childhood that reacting out of anger “just happens” because that’s how anger was modeled to us by the people around us. 

In reality, fully-functioning, mentally-healthy adults are in complete control of their behaviors and reactions at all times, even if it doesn’t feel that way.  If you slow down and notice how the emotion feels in your body, you can learn to allow the emotion you feel before reacting to it. Learning to expand the space between the stimulus and your response to it is one of the most powerful skills you can learn because it gives you complete freedom in choosing how you want to feel and thus how you will react.  

Consider The Actual Effects  

What are the actual effects of your own feelings and reactions?  Are they serving you?  For example, if a co-worker says something that you find offensive at work, consider what purpose it would serve if you choose to feel offended by that.  

If you plan to take some productive action in response to something that you find truly offensive, then the feeling of being offended might be useful to you.  For example, if the co-worker’s comment was truly egregious and inappropriate, you might want to let the person know that you find it inappropriate or even report it to HR if that’s warranted. In that case, the feeling of being offended serves the purpose calling someone out and possibly deterring similar behavior in the future.    

But if you are choosing to feel offended and then simply fume about it for the next few hours without saying anything directly to him or taking any further action, what is the actual benefit of your feeling offended?  You get to have the satisfaction of feeling righteously indignant but you are the only one who is really affected by it and it is likely to make you less productive while you’re fuming about it.  

If there is no real benefit to feeling offended, you can just decide to stop feeling that way.  For example, say someone cuts you off in traffic. How do you want to feel about it? If getting angry serves you no real purpose, you can just decide to feel neutral or curious about it instead.  

The way to do that is by choosing thoughts that would allow you to feel neutral or curious.  Thoughts like “he must be in a big hurry” or “I wonder if he has some sort of emergency, like a sick child he’s rushing to the hospital.” It might be true, it might not. It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that someone else’s behavior no longer has the power to derail your day.  You have the power to choose how to feel and respond, which feels amazing.  

But What If You Really Want To Feel Negative Emotion?  

There will be times when you really want to feel a negative emotion about what someone else does.  Even in those times, you still get to choose how to respond.

For example, say you discover that your boss is embezzling money from your company.  You probably would want to feel uncomfortable, disgusted, or angry in that situation because it’s against your own morals, values, and integrity, (not to mention illegal). In that case, those negative emotions will drive you to do something about it. To stand up and speak out, whistleblowers are driven by emotions like discomfort, anger, and disgust, as well as courage.  

But just because you want to be uncomfortable with that behavior doesn’t mean that your emotions about it need to consume you or overtake your life.  If you find yourself ruminating about someone else’s behavior after you’ve taken action, it might be time to choose a more neutral feeling, such as acceptance, curiosity, or even compassion.  

What would you need to think and believe to cultivate those feelings?  

In the case of the embezzling boss, you might decide to think “He must really be suffering to do something like.  I wonder what feelings he has that would drive him to do such a thing.”  

When you look at it like that, you can see that he is probably living in a place of deep scarcity, lack, fear, and insecurity.  People who are happy, fulfilled, and abundant don’t embezzle money from their employers, so that action must have been driven by deeply negative emotions.  So thinking “he is a human who is experiencing deeply negative emotions” helps you see that his emotions are what is driving the behavior. As a fellow human, you might even be able to relate to having negative emotions that drive behavior you don’t always like. That allows you to cultivate a sense of compassion for him, without condoning his behavior. 

In my own life, I’ve found that choosing acceptance, curiosity, and compassion rather than indignation and anger feels better.  100% of the time.  And I also like my reactions when I choose these emotions, too.  I’m more patient and forgiving.  I spend more time focused on my own circle of influence rather than on what I cannot control.  Try it for yourself and see how it feels.  

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise

What To Do If You Dread Mondays

Mondays are a great litmus test to determine if something is not working in your life and career. 

If it’s Sunday evening and you think about the week ahead and feel energized, that’s a good indicator that you’re thriving.  

But if you think about Monday and feel dread, overwhelm, or a pit in your stomach, consider that to be like an engine indicator light on your car. It’s a warning sign that something needs your attention.  

Just as like hunger or thirst indicate when our bodies need food and water, persistent dread and overwhelm are internal signals that something needs to change.   

If this is where you find yourself, here’s what to do. 

Get To The Source Of The Problem 

The first step is to begin an inquiry to figure out the real source of your distress. 

To do that, follow the feeling: Is it the actual work that you dread or just the feeling of overwhelm from the number of tasks on your plate?  Keep digging deeper at each level, always looking to be as specific as possible.  

If it’s the work itself, ask yourself what is causing the feeling of dread.  Is it interacting with your boss or a particular co-worker?  Is it that you find the work boring and uninspiring?  Is it the work environment that you dislike? 

If it’s the feeling of overwhelm that’s bothering you, figure out the exact issue: do you feel like there’s not enough time to take care of work and household tasks? Or is it because you don’t have a plan for the week?  

With every answer, continue to go deeper, as if peeling off the layers of an onion, until you finally get to the primary source of your pain. (If it’s all of the above, then focus on identifying the issue that you most dread, or that feels the most painful.)  

The Magic Question 

Once you identify the real source of your dread, write down your thoughts about the problem.  For example, if you dread your work because you hate the work, you might write down “this work is mind-numbing.”  If you feel overwhelmed and stressed about time, you might write down “I don’t have time to do everything.”

I want to offer that these optional thoughts are creating more dread and pain for you than the actual circumstances. And they are also not serving you because they’re not really helping you solve the problem and can actually be counter-productive. If you look closely, you’ll probably find that you spend a lot of extra time dwelling on the negative thoughts, rather than just getting on with the work and finishing it.

Also, as true as these thoughts feel, notice how they don’t actually help you to solve the problem. If you had already solved it with those thoughts, you wouldn’t be reading this article!   

The good news is that you can, in fact, choose different thoughts about your circumstances, which will create different feelings, which will allow you to show up differently and create different results.  

It all starts with a magic question:  How do you want to feel about it? As in, how do you want to feel about your job?  Or your to-do list?

The question presupposes that you have a choice about how you feel because you do.  It creates space in your brain to consider the possibility of another option that will allow you to feel better about your current circumstances right away. (That’s why I consider it to be magical!)

Maybe you truly do find the work you do to be boring, but you want to feel content (as opposed to miserable) in your current job while also looking for a new one.  Or maybe you just want to feel grateful that you have a job that pays the bills right now while you strategize your next move. Looking at your busy schedule, maybe you just want to feel calm about it all. These feelings are available to you now.   

Once you identify how you want to feel, ask yourself this: What thought do I need to think and believe in order to feel that way?

Brainstorm thoughts until you find a few that feel better than what you’re currently thinking. Perhaps the thought “there is enough time to do the things that are important” creates a feeling of calm for you.  Every person is different, so you need to find a thought that works for you and that you can believe now.  

Practice

Creating new thought patterns and new neural pathways takes time and practice. You might not be accustomed to practicing your thoughts, but choosing thoughts that serve you on purpose is a skill that you can learn like any other.

Once you find your new thought, deliberately practice it several times a day by reading it and saying it to yourself.  Put it at your workspace or on your phone as a reminder. Have it on hand to look at when your brain takes you back to the old thought patterns, as it inevitably will.

Each time you do this, you will notice an instant shift in your feelings. When you feel better, you’ll start taking productive action. And when you do that, you’ll get much better results. It seems almost too simple, but actually putting it into practice makes all the difference.

What results are you going to create this week?  

Have a beautiful week.  

XO,

Charise

P.S. I work with clients one-on-one to help them learn how to solve the problem of persistent dread, overwhelm, and lack of fulfillment in their careers and lives.  It all starts with a free call to see if my program and coaching are a good fit for you. Click here to schedule your one-hour call with me.  It’s an hour that could change how you think about Mondays forever.  

Changing Your Life Is Not As Frightening As It May Seem

There is one thing that I see almost every day that holds people back from taking action toward what they want is the fear of making a huge mistake.  We all do this at some point. Our brains tell us that the only way to change is to make a big leap that we might regret. FOREVER.  One HUGE decision, which (if it turns out badly) could lead to our ruin, such as ending up living under a bridge or some other dreadful worst-case scenario.

The interesting thing is that our brains aren’t telling us the truth about what is really required to create the change we want.  Where you are may feel miles apart from where you want to be, but changing your life doesn’t happen in one huge leap.  

It happens in a series of thousands of decisions and steps. And each step of the way, as you gather information and test your hypotheses, you get to reevaluate and decide if you like where you’re going.  If you don’t, then you can pivot and change direction.  

Shine A Light On Your Fear

The way our brains experience fear of the unknown is like a shadow being projected on a wall with a flashlight.  In a dark room, a shadow projected on a wall can look large and frightening, but when you turn the lights on, you can see that it’s actually very small and harmless.  

When we think we have to do something huge to get the change we want, we’re terrified of the shadow projected on the wall.  In the work I do with my clients, we flip the lights on and take a look at what change is actually required and pick the smallest possible step. 

For example, a client who wanted to start a wedding planning business recently told me that she was just too scared to take any action because she would have to quit her job and might fail publicly, which would lead to financial ruin.  Her brain was telling her there’s only one way to start a business: to take a massive, scary leap.  That felt entirely too frightening and she wasn’t taking any action whatsoever, so she wasn’t creating the result she wanted.  

When we shined a light about the next step to learning more about starting a wedding planning business, she saw that the changes she would have to make weren’t actually so scary. It could involve keeping her current job and talking to a few people she knows who do this.  She could arrange a few meetings with some wedding venues and vendors where she lives.  She could plan a smaller event for someone she already knows.  

These steps aren’t that hard and they will help her discover if she truly likes planning weddings as much as she thinks she will, without risking her family’s financial security.  

Take The Smallest Possible Next Step

I recently heard Mel Robbins say that the best way to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be is to build a bridge one brick at a time.  I could not agree more.  Action is what will help you get unstuck.  One small step after another.  

Think about a result you want to create.  What is the very smallest next step that you can take toward that result?  Now take that step and break it down into the smallest possible unit of time, such as getting started on something for three minutes. You’ll be amazed at how easy it can be.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

4 Simple Steps To Creating The Change You Want

When I practiced law as a litigator, I spent months–and in some cases years–going through evidence to support my clients’ cases at trial. Everybody knows from TV or the movies how this works: the plaintiff or prosecution (depending whether it’s a civil or criminal case) presents its case before the judge or jury and then the defense presents its evidence to contradict or poke holes in the other side’s evidence.

What we don’t usually realize is that each of us has this scenario going on in our own minds every day and throughout our lives, which has a huge impact on how we live our lives and the results we create.

Here’s what I mean. Most of us have an inner prosecutor who is keen to convict us for all of our faults, shortcomings, and mistakes. We also have a much more forgiving defense attorney who is trying to come to our rescue.

Our mind acts like the judge by considering the evidence presented and deciding what it will believe. When the inner prosecutor says things like “I’ll never figure this out” or “I’m such a mess,” the judge tends to believe that and finds evidence that those thoughts are true. (There will always be evidence for those types of thoughts because we’re all human, after all!)

But when your inner defense attorney shows evidence that you actually are capable of figuring things out or reasons why you’re actually doing pretty well, the judge can believe that, too, and can find evidence to support that belief. You’ve figured things out before.

So the question becomes: Are you going to give more weight to the evidence presented by your inner prosecutor or your inner defense counsel? If you’re like most women, you inner prosecutor is far more vocal.

One of the most life-changing things you can do is to start deliberately looking for the evidence to support positive thoughts and beliefs about yourself and your abilities. Here’s how:

  1. Identify a positive thought or belief that you want to believe but can’t yet fully embrace. For example, “I’m capable of finding work that I love” or “I’m capable of thriving in my career and in my personal life.”
  2. Ask yourself this question daily: “What are 3 ways that I’m capable of finding work that I love?” Write down different reasons everyday. Keep asking your brain to come up with new ways that that’s true for you.
  3. Track the evidence. When you watch something, it grows. Start to write down every bit of evidence that you have to support the belief you’re trying to cultivate. I recommend that you buy a small notebook that you carry around with you for this specific purpose. Call it your Belief Book.
  4. After you track the evidence from your past, create new evidence as you go. Ask yourself on a daily basis: “How can I create evidence that I am capable of this?” This question is incredibly motivating and you’ll find yourself starting to take action to support the belief that you’re the kind of person who is capable of finding work you love or thriving in your career and at home. Record the answers to this question in your Belief Book as well, and watch as the evidence grows.

As long as you stay focused on the right set of evidence, your belief and confidence will grow, which will motivate you to continue taking action and creating more results, which provide more evidence.

Putting these four simple steps into practice on a daily basis has been a life changer for me. It’s one of the fastest ways that I know to get unstuck and start taking real action toward the results you want.

What change do you want to create? What evidence do you have to support that you can do it? How can you create additional evidence to support that belief this week?

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise