The Fastest Way to Achieve The Results You Want

Most of us believe that we have to take action in order to get results so that we can feel how we want to feel.  For example, if you want to lose weight, you might think that you need to diet (action) in order to get to your goal weight (result) so that you can feel proud and loving toward yourself (feeling).  If you think that sounds logical, you’re not alone.  Almost everyone on the planet would agree with you.

A Different Approach With Faster Results

But I want to suggest that a better approach is to first create the feelings that you would feel if you already had the result, and then to use those feelings to drive your actions, which will then help you create your desired result much faster. 

Let’s apply this to the weight-loss example I mentioned above. When you start to love yourself and love your body, you start to take the action of taking care of your body, and when you do that, you get your desired result.  Using this method, you get to feel the desired feeling (loving and proud) before you get the desired result, which actually helps you get that result faster.  

Could you feel highly critical of yourself and still take the actions needed to lose weight and get the same result?  Yes and no. You could probably reach your target weight, but it’s not likely to be sustainable.  And even when you actually achieve that result, you’re still likely to be critical with yourself.  Your brain will move on to other areas to criticize because you haven’t addressed the root cause of the critical feelings in the first place.

What Result Do You Want To Create?

This works for any result that you want to create, including career goals and financial goals.  If you want to find a new job because you want to feel more empowered and you think that you need to have a new job (result) before you can be empowered (feeling), it’s going to take you longer to find a job. 

If, on the other hand, you decide to proactively create the feeling of empowered for yourself now, then that feeling will drive you to take the action you need to take, like getting outside of your comfort zone and asking for informational interviews, which will allow you to get the new job faster.  

How To Create The Feeling First

You may be wondering how to create the feelings you need to propel you to take action.  Great question!  You do that by deliberately choosing and practicing thoughts that you can believe now that will create those desired feelings.  

Here are some examples: 

Desired feeling: Self-love

Thought to practice: I am worthy because I’m human

Desired feeling: Confident 

Thought to practice: I know that I am capable of figuring things out.  

This is very subjective, so if these thoughts don’t create those feelings for you, then write down another thought that does. The most important thing is that the thought has to be believable to you now. Otherwise, your brain will just reject it.

Just Try It

Do me a favor: try this out for a few weeks and see what happens.  

Think about a result that you’d love to have.

How would it feel to have that? Pick a one-word emotion that you imagine you’d have if you attained what you want.

What would you need to think and believe to feel that way today, even before you create that result? 

Practice generating that feeling by practicing that thought every day and notice what happens.  Notice how you show up.  Notice what you do.  And notice how much it helps to get the result that you really want.

Have a beautiful week!

XO,

Charise

P.S.  The blocks that keep us from achieving what we want in our professional lives are often the very same blocks that keep us from achieving the results we want in other areas, such as finances, weight loss or relationships. No matter what result you want to create for your life, I can show you how to create it. If you’re struggling with some area of your life or career, let’s talk and I will help you through your particular issue.  

How to Make Decisions That Will Help You Get What You Want

There’s a saying that goes something like this: To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. That’s absolutely true but I would argue that there’s a lot more to it than that. You’ve also got to think differently than you’ve been thinking, believe differently than you’ve been believing, and make decisions differently than you’ve made them in the past.

Decisions are really just thoughts and beliefs combined with action (or sometimes inaction).

To get different results, it’s worth taking a look at how you’re currently making your decisions.

Decision-Making From Your Past Versus From Your Future 

Once we have established ourselves in our careers, the most obvious way to make decisions is to look backwards, at what has worked or not worked in the past.  

The problem with this method is that it can be incredibly limiting when we’re trying to create something new or different. Making decisions as the person you have been, instead of the person you want to be, can leave you feeling clueless about what to do next.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative. It requires a little bit of imagination and also being open to the possibility that you can achieve what you want. It also requires using the uniquely human part of your brain that is called the prefrontal cortex. It’s what allows you to envision something that does not yet exist, create a plan, and then take action to move you forward.

Go To The Place Where You Already Have Your Desired Result 

The key to getting what you want is making decisions as the person who has already achieved your desired results.

Imagine already having exactly what you want.  

Imagine having the job, house, money, or book deal that you want.

Imagine being calm, confident, collected, organized–or however you wish you were showing up in your life.

Imagine actually being that person.  Inhabit that space for a while in your mind.  What would your days be like? What would your weeks be like?

Then ask that version of yourself:  What should I do next to get closer to that result?  

Would that version of you tell you to watch Netflix or work on your manuscript? Does she want you to avoid looking for a new job or commit to finding something you’ll love? Does she want you to avoid looking at your finances or finally take control of them?

Belief Comes Before Results 

Stepping into that next version of yourself requires you to adopt a new belief system about what’s possible for you and then take action from that place, not from where you are now.

I had a client who wanted to present her research at conferences in her field, but she was terrified of public speaking.  She had presented her ideas to peers before at conferences and had one experience of freezing up on stage that had made her want to avoid repeating the experience.  She was making the decision to avoid taking action because she was convinced that she wouldn’t be able to handle another experience like that.

But part of her knew that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her career hiding.  She had ideas and research that she wanted to share.  And she realized that not sharing was not doing anyone any favors. It was not helping others in her field or patients who could benefit from her research. And it definitely was not helping her to have the career she wanted.

During a coaching session, I invited her to step into her Future Self, the part of her that already knows how to successfully present her ideas.  What would her Future Self tell her to do?  

The answer was clear and unequivocal: “Apply to present at the conferences.  Put your work out there and share it with the world.”  This felt terrifying to her primitive brain, the part of her that wanted to stay safe from potential criticism.

But with some coaching and learning to manage her mind, she learned that she could handle the discomfort of putting herself and her work “out there”.  She allowed herself to feel the discomfort of being in the spotlight. She learned that she could do hard things and that it was worth it to create that results that she wanted.  

Had she made the decision based on her past, she would’ve stayed safe in her comfort zone.  But making the decision as her Future Self gave her what she needed to move forward.  

Try It Out For Yourself

Imagine yourself three years into the future.

What would your Future Self want you to start doing today? What would she want you to stop doing? What would she want you to continue doing?

When you’re at the store and thinking about splurging on a new outfit, imagine having that same outfit hanging in your closet three years from now. Is your Future Self glad that you bought it?

When you’re feeling unhappy at your current job and deciding whether to start a job search, imagine yourself three years from now, having a job that energizes you. Is you Future Self glad that you invested in yourself instead of staying with the status quo?

What does your Future Self want you to believe about what’s possible for your life?

Take her advice. Those actions and beliefs are the key to getting from where you are to where you want to be.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

P.S. If you’re struggling with making decisions from your past instead of from your future, I’d love to help you get unstuck and start moving forward. I offer free strategy calls to help you figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I have only a few spots for these calls each week, so schedule yours here.

Coping With Transitions

I’m going through a big transition right now.  My family and I are preparing to move back to the United States after a year in Spain. In September, my oldest son will start kindergarten at our local elementary school, and I’ll finally be in the same time zone as most of my clients.  (Yay!)  

Even though I’m excited by the move, my brain does not like transitions.  It feels anxious, overwhelmed, and restless when facing big transitions and it’s downright uncomfortable.  It tells me things like “This is why most people don’t move their families overseas!  This is hard! I don’t like hard!”

And sometimes I indulge my brain by allowing thoughts like this and feeling all the negative emotions that those thoughts create.  But I find it’s not really useful to stay in this space for a long time.  

Life is full of transitions, whether it’s a new baby in the family, a new job, or a big move.  The better you can cope with them, the more resilient you’ll be.  Here’s what I do to cope with big transitions.  

Think of The Transition as An Opportunity

My uncle climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro when he was in his late sixties.  He trained for over a year by carrying a backpack with 50 pounds of weights in it every day as he walked around his neighborhood, which was only 1200 feet above sea level.  He also wore that backpack when practicing climbing 30 flights of stairs at his office building.  When he actually went to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, he didn’t need to take a heavy backpack because he hired porters to carry his supplies.  

But training with that 50-pound pack allowed him to build the strength he needed to climb a 19,000-foot mountain.  

Operating during a transition period is like carrying a 50-pound pack on your back.  Yes, things are harder when you’re in transition. Yes, your brain will complain and want things to return to “normal.”  But if you embrace the transition and treat it as an opportunity, you’ll find that you will be stronger and more resilient than you were before.  You’ll be able to adapt to the “new normal.”  Even when it feels like there’s very little oxygen, you’ll be able to keep moving forward and summit the mountain you’re climbing.  

Be Super Nice To Yourself

A transition period is not the time to launch a new podcast (ask me how I know) or have a dinner party or take on any other project that is not absolutely necessary. 

During transitions, it’s best to allow yourself to lower your expectations to what I call your minimum baseline.  What is the absolute minimum that you need to do to keep yourself, your job, and your family going?  

Think of this like what happens during a government shutdown.  The basic services are covered but nothing new is being created or investigated and you can’t visit the National Zoo.  

Decide what your minimum baseline looks like and then stick to it.  It will be your guide and help you make decisions during tumultuous times. 

For example, your minimum baseline might be that you forego cooking and order take-out for a few weeks to make your life easier.  Or maybe you just cook a few large meals each week and eat leftovers the other nights. 

In your job, what’s the very minimum that must be done?  Finding out what deadlines at work are negotiable and which ones aren’t can be really useful during this time.  Is the Court willing to grant an extension for the filing?  Is the client able to wait an extra week for the project? Sometimes these extensions are readily granted and it can make everyone’s lives easier.  (Sometimes they’re not, but you never know unless you ask.)

You can also set a minimum baseline for taking care of your health.  For example, you can make it non-negotiable that you will get at least seven hours of sleep or that you’ll get outside for a five-minute walk at least once a day.  Transitions might feel like you’re in survival mode, but part of surviving includes getting rest, food, and moving your body. 

Let It Be Hard

We spend a tremendous amount of mental energy arguing with reality, as Byron Katie would say.  We don’t like things to be hard and we have a lot of thoughts that life shouldn’t be so hard.  

But the path of least resistance (which is the path you want to be on when you’re going through a transition) requires accepting things the way they are.  If you let the transitions be hard, then you don’t have to argue or fight against them.  You can just allow them to be hard.  

Because you can do hard things.  

You’ve done hard things before.  You’ll do them again.  Embrace and accept what is right now.  

Practice this by repeating thoughts such as: “This feels hard and that’s okay.  Nothing’s gone wrong here.  I can do hard things.”

Notice how you feel. Is it better than resisting?  Is it better than arguing?  

I thought so.  It certainly is for me.

I’ll see you on the other side of my big transition.  Until then, have a beautiful week! 

Best,

Charise   

Talk To Yourself More Than You Listen To Yourself

A Simple Yet Powerful Strategy For Success

Dr. James Gills completed a double triathlon six times when he was in his fifties.  

When asked how he did it, he said: “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself.”

He continued, “If I listen to myself I hear all the reasons why I should give up. I hear that I’m too tired-too old-too weak to make it. But if I talk to myself I can give myself the encouragement and words I need to hear to keep running and finish the race.”

Managing Your Thoughts Involves Proactively Deciding What You’ll Say To Yourself

Dr. Gill’s practice is exactly what managing your mind looks like in your daily life.  

You’ve got the old, automatic thoughts that feel true and also are your default way of thinking because you’ve been practicing them for probably most of your life.  

Then you’ve got the thoughts of the part of you who knows that your success is inevitable and that you are capable of achieving what you want.  Maybe you’ve never practiced these thoughts or maybe you used to think them but have forgotten about them.  

Regardless, you can start today by choosing thoughts that will help you feel how you’d like to feel and then deliberately saying them to yourself more than you listen to the old default thoughts.  

This Is A Skill

Just as Dr. Gills said, this is a skill that can be learned.  

Most of us are not born thinking this way, and we’re certainly not taught to think this in school or anywhere else.  But just by reminding yourself on a daily basis of the thoughts that you want to think, you’ll begin to create new neural pathways and those new thoughts will become easier over time, just like every other skill you’ve ever learned.

Does it happen overnight? Of course not.

Is it worth the effort? Definitely. 

Will the old thoughts come up on a regular basis?  You can count on it.  

Can you learn to overcome them?  Indubitably. 

Try It Out

What do you want to tell yourself today?  

Write it down on post-it notes.  Put it on your phone as an hourly reminder throughout the day.  

Those daily repetitions, one after another, are what will lead you to what you really want.  

Have a beautiful week! 

XO,

Charise 

Why Self-Care Is The Greatest Gift You Can Give To Others

Last week, I talked about self-care and the best way to practice lasting self-care in your life. But most of my clients really struggle with allowing their own health and wellbeing to be a top priority on a daily basis.

The clients who struggle with this the most are moms.  Women are socialized to take care of others and be selfless but this programming really kicks into overdrive when we become moms.  In addition to our societal programing, there is a very really mama bear instinct that kicks in when we give birth and we become solely focused on protecting our young.  

Caring for our children is a wonderful thing but allowing yourself to become depleted and exhausted while trying to be everything to everybody is not.  

When Was The Last Time You Did Something Just For You?

So many moms tell me that they don’t even remember what it was like to do something for themselves or to just do something they enjoy for the sake of doing it, that isn’t related to their children.  

Here’s the problem with this approach:  we can’t be the people we were born to be when we’re depleted.  A mother has so much more love to give to her children when she’s feeling happy and healthy.  Even if you can take care of your children’s basic needs when you’re running on fumes, it’s going to be really hard to genuinely enjoy that time with them and be the mom you really want to be.  

Build Up Your Reserves

I’m not sure about you, but my reserve of patience and understanding taps out when I’m not rested, when I don’t exercise, or when I don’t make time to do things I enjoy.  I show up as a much more loving and enthusiastic mother when my own reserve is full.  

And I suspect that’s true for pretty much all humans.  It’s hard to be the professional, partner, friend, or family member that you want to be when you feel like you’ve got nothing left.

So you accept that premise as true, it follows that taking care of others actually requires you to take care of yourself first.  The proverbial oxygen mask that you must put on yourself first if you want to be able to help your kids with their oxygen masks.

Do It For Them

If you don’t currently believe that you’re worthy of this, or deserve this, then you can work on believing that over time.  

But in the meantime, let go of trying to do it for yourself and start doing it for them. Do it for your kids, so that they can see a mother who is flourishing.  Do it for your partner or parents or friends or clients.  But above all, do it.  

You were not born to live a depleted life.  Let the world see you at your best because that’s how you can give the world the best that’s in you.   

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

P.S.  If this is something you struggle with, I can help you.  Schedule a free one-hour call with me and I will help you with your specific situation. 

The Best Kind of Self-Care

What Self-Care Really Means

When we think of self-care, we often conjure up images of luxurious, nice-to-have experiences, such as getting massages and pedicures, taking bubble baths, or going shopping.  It’s wonderful to do things that we enjoy and take care of ourselves and we should do these things.

But often, the underlying reason for doing these things is to get away from the negative feelings that we’ve been having on a regular basis, such as stress, anxiety, or overwhelm. The reason these things feel great in the moment is that they give our brains a temporary hit of dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter), which provides relief from the cortisol and other stress hormones caused by stress, anxiety, and overwhelm.  

What’s Your Reason for Self-Care? 

If your reason for spending time on self-care is that you want to be good to yourself, make your health and wellbeing a top priority, and give yourself time to rest, that’s an excellent reason!  The thoughts driving your action are clearly serving you and it makes sense to continue doing what you’re doing.  

If, on the other hand, your reason for doing them is to escape negative feelings in your everyday life, you’re going to find that the effects of your self-care are extremely short-lived, because they are not getting to the root cause of the problem.  If this is what is motivating you to engage in self-care, I’d like to suggest that there’s a better way.  

The Best Type of Self-Care

To get to the root of the problem you’ve got to practice what I believe to be the most powerful form of self-care you can do: to manage your mind.  This might not sound as relaxing or fun as getting a pedicure and reading a magazine, but the effect that it will have in your life is immeasurable. 

That’s because your thoughts are the one factor that determine how you feel, what you do, and what results you get.  They are also the one thing (of all of those things) that are the easiest to manage.  

The most important self-care action you can take is to spend five or ten minutes a day looking at your thoughts.  There are six simple steps:

  1. Write down what’s bothering you.
  2. Separate out the facts from the thoughts.  
  3. Pick one thought that is bothering you the most and notice how you feel when you think that thought.  
  4. Ask yourself: How do I want to feel about these facts or circumstances?  Write down the one-word emotion you want to have.
  5. What would you need to think in order to feel that way?  If you don’t believe that thought today, find a thought you can believe today.
  6. Finally, practice that new thought.  Say it out loud, write it down.  Direct your mind to that thought when it goes back to the old negative thoughts.  Notice how you feel. Notice that that thought is available to you 24/7.  

Super simple, portable, and quick. You can use it to unwind yourself from a tizzy or heal a past regret. You can use it to calm down when you’re stressed or overwhelmed. Yes, it requires some effort.  But it’s totally worth it.  

If you practice this daily, you may still want to go shopping or get a pedicure, but you won’t be doing it to escape anything.  You’ll be doing it for all the right reasons.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

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.

XO,

Charise 



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.  

XO,

Charise 

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.



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