The Importance of Allowing Yourself To Feel Any Emotion

Has Anything Really Gone “Wrong”?  

On my first day of school of the first grade, I remember the mother of one of my new classmates sobbing as she dropped off her daughter from school.  I remember thinking, “what’s wrong with that lady?” because the first day of school had been presented to me as a very exciting day and something to celebrate. 

Now that I have children, I understand exactly where that mother was coming from.  Last week, I attended a party for my older son’s last day of pre-school.  As I was driving to the pre-school for the last time, I had the thought “this is the last time he’ll be in pre-school” and just like that, an overwhelming feeling of grief washed over me, causing me to tear up through most of the party.  

I remember going through the exact same thing several years ago when he started daycare and then again when he started pre-school.  

But this time, it felt better than it did a few years ago.  This time, I knew the source of my own emotions and I also knew how to allow them in a way that felt natural and healthy.  

The Case For Choosing To Feel Negative Emotion

Now that I have the tools I’ve learned from coaching, I know how to allow myself to feel negative emotion while also knowing that nothing had gone “wrong”.  Yes, our emotions are created by our thoughts, but that doesn’t mean that we always want to think positive thoughts that make us feel happy. 

Negative emotions are part of life and now I understand that opening up to feeling them is one of the most powerful things I can do because it gives me complete freedom.  It opens me up to the full experience of life.   

In my case, I am fully cognizant that my feeling of sadness is not the result of the circumstance of my son’s leaving pre-school.  It’s the direct result of my thought “I don’t want my little boy to grow up.”  Of course, I really do want him to grow up, but I’ve so enjoyed his being a little boy and his sweet innocence during this phase that I also grieve its passing as he grows into a new, older version of himself.   

Even though I know that the feeling is coming from my thought, I want to feel sad about it. I want to grieve this passage from the small private pre-school to the larger elementary school with “big kids.” I want to move through this grief and truly feel it, knowing that I can handle it and nothing’s gone wrong.  This is part of a life, a part that I’m choosing to embrace rather than resist or avoid.  

What I’ve noticed as I’ve embraced this emotion is that when I just allow it, it doesn’t feel so bad. Knowing that it’s supposed to be here, that nothing’s gone wrong, and that I can handle it lessens its hold over me and allows me to process it in a way that feels purifying and even strengthening.  

This is called “clean pain” – allowing painful emotions that are just part of life, knowing that nothing’s gone wrong.  What I felt previously was called “dirty pain”, which is the added emotional pain that’s created from resisting or avoiding the natural negative emotions that arise in our lives, or for judging ourselves for having those emotions in the first place.  Clean pain is pretty much inevitable if you’re human.  Dirty pain is 100% optional and also unnecessary.  

When You Open Yourself Up To Allowing Negative Emotions, You Become Unstoppable. 

Our fear of experiencing negative emotion stops us in our tracks more than anything else.  It’s the biggest dream-stealer on the planet.  But when you allow yourself to feel any emotion and you realize there’s no emotion you can’t handle, then you’ll be willing to go after anything.  

Think about it.  Is there something that you’re afraid to feel? Do you resist or avoid that feeling? What do you do to try to distract yourself from it or numb it?  Is that serving you?  

If what you’re doing isn’t working, I invite you to try allowing the emotion that you’re resisting for small increments of time.  Setting a timer for just three minutes and really feeling that emotion can provide a safe space to begin to feel emotions that you’ve been avoiding.  Notice where the emotion shows up in your body and practice really feeling what it’s like.  Notice how you survive, even if it feels unpleasant.

Another way to embrace the emotion is to try on the thought: “I’m feeling _____ and that’s okay. Nothing’s gone wrong here.”

It’s really true that nothing’s gone wrong.  Negative emotions are part of our humanness and the more open we are to feeling them, the more we’ll be willing to go after what our hearts truly desire and have a full experience of this human life.  

Have a beautiful week. 



How To Get The Most Of Your Summer Vacation

It’s that time of year that we all love: summer, otherwise known as vacation season. Often we spend hours upon hours searching for just the right hotels, planning our itineraries, buying things we’ll need for the trip, packing and getting everything “just right” for the big trip.  We plan every last detail of the trip in excited anticipation for how great it’s going to be.

Vacations are opportunities to create lasting memories, when we can let go of our busy lives and to-do lists and just let ourselves relax. But if you’re not happy about the life you’ll return to after your vacation, the second half of your vacation is just not going to be as fun.

Most people put more time, money, and energy into planning their vacations than they do in planning their lives, which can make for a rough return to reality after the vacation glow wears off.

To avoid this, I’d like to suggest that you invest at least as much in designing and planning your everyday life as you do in planning your vacation.  

  • What would your workweek look like if you spent some time each week deliberately planning and thinking about what you want to accomplish and how to do that?  
  • What would your days look like if you spent 15 minutes each day examining your own thoughts about your current circumstances and deciding how you want to think, feel, and act in those circumstances?  
  • What would your life look like if you sat down with someone else and spent an hour intensely focusing on what results you want and how to get there? 

I can tell you from my own experience that I’ve been able to 10x my results by doing these things.  

  • When I take the time to plan my weeks, my weeks go better.  
  • When I intentionally look at what results I want to create each day and what feelings are keeping me from accomplishing those results, I get much better results.  
  • And when I sit down with another person to really examine what’s not working, I have powerful breakthroughs that allow me to move past my limiting beliefs and create better results.   

We’re not taught to invest in ourselves. We’re taught to invest in our vacations, which can act like a band-aid if the rest of your life isn’t working. But vacations don’t really fix anything. They’re not supposed to. That’s not their job.

The way to fix something that isn’t working is by “looking under the hood” of your own mind, getting to the root of the problem, and learning how to get your brain to work for you, rather than against you.

Before you go on vacation this summer, ask yourself this: What do I want my life to look like when I get back from my vacation? 

  • Do I want my house to be more organized?  
  • Do I want to have a plan for the basics, like meals and laundry, so that I don’t miss a beat when we get back?  
  • Do I want to have systems in place to help me manage my to-do lists, avoid overwhelm, and take care of my own health?  
  • Do I want to have a job that I love returning to, without stress or guilt? 
  • Do I want to return to a life that is in alignment with what really matters most to me?

All of this is available to you, but you have to deliberately plan for it by investing in yourself.  

Think about what you want for your life and ask yourself what’s getting in the way and what you can do about it.

Often, it’s just simply to change the thought “I don’t have enough time” to the thought “I can figure out how to make time for what’s important to me.”

Whatever your circumstance may be, it’s always possible to find a solution if you’re willing to open yourself up to that possibility. “I don’t know how” can become “I’m going to figure out how.”

Just like you found the time to design and plan the vacation, you can find time to design and plan your life.  When you do that, you’ll be thrilled at the life you return to after your vacation. And knowing that you’re returning to a life you love will make your vacation that much sweeter. 

Have a beautiful week.



How To Know When To Make A Change

People often put off their own goals because it never seems like the right time.  And it’s understandable.  I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out when to make a change in my career, but it never felt like the right time.  Even before I had kids, life felt too busy.  After I had kids, it felt impossibly hectic.  It was never the right time.  

But I eventually reached a decision point, in which I realized that if I didn’t make a significant change, I was going to end up at a dead end.  It was not a good or convenient time to make that decision.  It didn’t feel like the right time at all.  We were overwhelmed with juggling two kids who were both in diapers, my husband was traveling a lot for his job, and I was preparing for a major trial in my own job.  

And yet, in the midst of all of that, I committed to making a change.  I started by working with a coach to clarify what I wanted.  Approaching my situation with a different mindset allowed me to get unstuck and we created a strategy so that I could begin to work towards my goal.  

That strategy would take almost two years to fully implement, but with a clear goal in mind, I started by taking small, consistent steps that led me to achieve it.  

Small Steps Forward Are The Key To Change

Since I had precious little free time, I started with the smallest possible steps. I knew I wanted to help people figure out what to do with their lives, so I began reading and listening to personal development books on my daily commute and while running errands.  

Then, I began researching coach training programs and found one that was compatible with my schedule.  I began coaching a few clients for free and confirmed that I did indeed love coaching and my clients told me that I was “a natural.” This allowed me to test out my idea and continue to pursue it with even greater certainty.

I continued learning everything I could about coaching in my spare time and then I found a coaching method that ended up changing my life.  I got certified in that method and took on more clients to perfect my skills.

Beginning The Journey Will Transform You Into The Person You Want To Be

What I did not expect when I started out on this journey was that taking action to change my career would end up benefitting every area of my life, long before I reached my ultimate goal.

I begin applying the coaching tools that I was learning to my own life and started getting amazing results. My health and relationships improved.  The way I showed up at work improved.  I started becoming more confident and asking for feedback at work so that I could improve even more.  

I became much more conscious of how I spent my time and learned how to be more productive and efficient at juggling demands both at work and in my personal life. Although I previously thought that I didn’t have time for anything, I learned how to manage my thinking around my time and ended up finding that I had more time than I ever realized. I even started learning to play the guitar, for just 15 minutes a day.

Above all, I started asking myself: “Am I taking full ownership of every area of my life?”  The answer was clearly “no” so I began to change that. When you start taking ownership, you begin to really understand the power you have to change things and to take control of your life and your career. 

Over that two-year period, those small steps that I began to take changed my life completely and everything got so much better, even though my circumstances hadn’t yet changed at all. I was still at the same job and had the same demands.  Yet, I was happier and more energized than ever before.

The Trap Of Waiting

Had I waited for the “right” time, I would probably still be in the same place.  I wish I would have realized earlier that there is never going be a “right” time to go after what you want and that I had the power to decide that the present moment was the right time all along.  I would have gotten to where I wanted to be a lot sooner.

In her book The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware says that the thing people regret most is not taking action and going after what they really wanted.  They waited until the right time, which never came, and their dreams remained unfulfilled. She writes “it is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

You Can Make Today “The” Day

You have time now, but time is finite.  What are you going to do with it?  

Is there something that you want that you’re putting off until the “right” time?   

What if the right time were right now?  

What if you could begin to take small, incremental changes to move in the direction you want?  

All it takes is one decision, which you can make today.  

Decide that you’re going to go after what you want.  Commit to taking action, even if it just means taking small steps.  And then begin.  

I can’t wait to see where you go.  



P.S. If you need some help figuring out how to begin taking action in your specific situation, I can help you create a plan. Change can actually be simple when you have a solid strategy in place.