How to Have a Better Day TODAY

What kind of day are you going to have today?

Often my clients tell me that they know before they even get to work that they are going to have a hard day or a bad day or a tough day. And then they tell me why. They give me all the reasons why their day will be terrible.

And you know what?

They are right.

Their day IS going to be terrible as long as that is what they are telling themselves.

But it doesn’t have to be.

It starts so innocently. You have the thought “this day is going to be awful” or “today is Monday and I hate Mondays” or something else along those lines. It’s likely a thought you think a lot. Maybe you think it every morning as you head to the clinic or hospital for work. And your brain is happy to (and very good at) finding evidence to support this belief. A LOT of evidence.

Does this make sense to you? Let’s slow it down so I can show you, step by step, how it all goes wrong.

Step 1: You think something like “today is going to be a bad day.”

Step 2: Your brain immediately starts listing all the reasons this seems true. It might use past evidence of previous bad days or just start spinning doom and gloom scenarios about whatever is on your agenda for the day: your clinic or surgeries or particular patients or meetings or difficult colleague interactions.

Step 3: And then you feel crappy. Likely at this point you will notice a familiar feeling of stress, dread, unhappiness, irritation, and/or resentment. Maybe then you’ll start wishing you didn’t have to go to work.

Step 4: All day long your brain will keep finding evidence for how today is another bad day.

Step 5: Your day will be bad.

I want you to ask yourself, what is the upside to thinking this? Really? Is there one? How does this thought make you feel? Probably not good. Probably not excited or happy to go to work. And just notice this. Notice the effects of a simple sneaky thought as it ripples through your day.

What result is this thought creating in your life? Is it helping you deal more or less effectively with the challenges that do arise in your day? Is it making you more or less productive during your day? Is it making it more or less likely that you will enjoy your day at work? Is it creating the results you want in your career or is it contributing to burnout and unhappiness as a doctor?

Here is a technique I suggest to start having a better day – every day.

The key here is to interrupt this pathway. So next time you catch yourself thinking you are going to have a bad day, stop yourself right there, and re-direct your brain. Ask your brain a better question:
How can I have a good day today?
How can I enjoy my day today?
How can I get everything done today and feel relaxed and in control the whole time?
How can I make today fun for me and my patients and staff?
And so on …

You get the idea. Want a better day? Ask your brain to figure out how and watch as it finds all sorts of answers and evidence for you. And notice how your day transforms.

New steps:

Step 1: Notice you are thinking “Today is going to be bad.”

Step 2: Interrupt that thought and ask yourself a better question like “how can I make today fun or interesting or simply have a good day at work?”

Step 3: Keep asking your brain this question all day long and notice how your day is actually fun or interesting or good.

Step 4: Repeat tomorrow.

XOXO
Sara

PS – I’d love to hear how this works for you!

PPS – If you are stuck or having a hard time shifting your thoughts about your day, please contact me for a free 30 minute mini-session and let’s solve this problem together!

 

Stop Beating Yourself Up (Please)!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the one change I have made in my life that has had the single biggest impact. And as you know, I’ve changed a lot of things in my life!  I wanted to share it with you, because I see this behavior all the time. Not just with my clients, but with friends, family, everyone. We all do it.  And for many of us, it seems so normal and maybe even helpful that we don’t even realize we are doing it.

The thing that changed it all for me was establishing a zero tolerance policy for beating myself up. No longer “trying” not to beat myself up. Just not allowing it at all.

No negative self talk. 
No self blame.
No self judgment.
No being mean to myself.

We judge ourselves all the time. We do this naturally. We do it unconsciously. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with us. I think part of us thinks it is for our own good, or will help us become a better person.

But being mean to ourselves does not make us into a better person! Check in with yourself and your own experience. Has it helped you become a better person? Really?  My guess is no.

And judging ourselves harshly, beating ourselves up, criticizing ourselves, comparing ourselves negatively to others, does not help us grow or evolve. It just makes us feel crappy. It just keeps us stuck.

The hardest part of this no tolerance policy is that when you catch yourself beating yourself up (and you will, because it’s a habit), you can’t beat yourself up for that! Kindly, gently, redirect your mind. Apologize to yourself if you want. Move on.

We all have that harsh inner critic voice. It’s a normal part of you too. It’s just trying to protect you and help you. You don’t have to be mean back to it – that’s being mean to a well meaning, if misguided part of you. You can just understand that it’s a part of your brain. A primitive scared part. You don’t have to listen to it. You don’t have to argue with it. I like to thank it for sharing and move on. ❤️

I know I used to be confused about self criticism versus self awareness. Certainly, I think there is great value in examining my actions, my behavior, my choices, my life in general, and seeing what I like and don’t like. What has worked and not worked. Where I wish I had been kinder, stronger, or done something differently. Understanding why I made the choices I did. Asking myself if I like the results. Asking how I can make better decisions in the future based on my past experiences.

Having curiosity and reflecting on oneself and one’s life is very useful. It won’t hurt. Self judgment and self criticism hurt. That’s how you know the difference. If you feel less-than, inadequate, embarrassed, ashamed, or like you’ve just slapped yourself – you’re beating yourself up. If you feel curious and interested – that’s self-awareness. See if you can make the switch.

❤️❤️❤️

XOXO

Sara

PS – Anyone else out there with this experience? What has it changed for you?

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?  Chances are, the answer is no.  It’s quite hard to be in 100% integrity and say only what you mean and mean what you say.  Plus, we think it sounds impolite.  I’m not referring to outright lies – that’s another post to come – I’m talking about using language that is unclear, muddy, vague, and dis-empowering.

I used to use “nice” language – to try to not hurt people’s feelings, and to avoid being uncomfortably direct or – god forbid – actually say what I want.  And in so doing, I was giving my power away to other people.  And then I would get irritated or pissed off or annoyed.  I thought I was irritated with the other person.  But really, I was annoyed and angry with myself for not having the courage to just speak the truth.

Do you say things like:

“I can’t” or “you can’t”

“I shouldn’t” or “you shouldn’t”

“I have to” or “You have to”

“I must” or “You must”

These phrases aren’t almost always not true.  What you typically mean (and may want to try saying) are some version of:

“I don’t want to”

“I am choosing not to”

“I want”

“I do not want”

So “I can’t quit my job” becomes “I am choosing not to quit my job.”

“You have to visit me” becomes “I want you to visit me.”

“You should text me if you’re going to be late” becomes “I want you to text me if you’re going to be late.”

There is always choice involved, in any action or inaction.  There is no “have to” or “can’t.”  I know, you’re probably rolling you’re eyes right now … but it’s generally true.  You almost always have a choice.  (Okay, I will grant exemptions for those of you in prison or being held up at gun-point!)  Start taking responsibility for your choices and use language that reflects this.  The results are pretty amazing!

I know it sounds impolite to say “No thank you, I don’t want to come” rather than “No thank you, I can’t come.”  Maybe we can start to change this?  Even if you choose not to say this, at least think it in your head.  Try to catch yourself when you are saying “can’t” or “have to.”  Whose voice is that in your head?  Who says you “have to” or “can’t” or “must” or “should”?  Your mom or dad?  Your husband or wife?  Your kids?  Your teacher?  Your boss?  What do YOU think?  What do you want?  Say that instead.  Take your power back.  Stop giving your power away.

To be honest, this is very much a work in progress for me.  But I am getting better.  And as my language gets more honest, more clear, and direct, so too does my life.

Thoughts That Used to Run My Life

Coaching is all about transformation. It’s seeing things from a new point-of-view. It’s letting go of beliefs that don’t serve you. It’s learning to dis-believe thoughts you might not even realize (or not want to admit) are running and perhaps ruining your life. It’s INCREDIBLE.

This is a list of some of the thoughts that I no longer believe. I used to believe all of them. And my life reflected that. But I no longer allow them to have power in my life. Because the life I want to create and experience is bigger than these fears and limiting beliefs.

 

1.  Work isn’t supposed to be fun.

2.  You can’t just do what you want in life.

3.  Work is supposed to be hard.

4.  I can’t afford to only do work I enjoy.

5.  I can’t just quit my job.

6.  I can’t earn money doing what I love.

7.  I’ll feel good about my body once I lose 10 more pounds.

8.  I’m too old to re-create my life, to start over, to start a new career, to get married, to have a family, to fall in love again, etc. This one goes on and on.

9.  I need to be realistic.

10.  I shouldn’t get my hopes up or I’ll just be disappointed.

 

Do you want to argue with me? Is your mind shouting “Of course you have to be realistic” or “Of course you can’t just do what you want to in life”? Then you’ve just discovered a thought you believe.

How is this thought shaping your life?

How is it making you feel?

What actions are you taking or not taking because of it?

What are some of your thoughts that are running your life? Write them down. Be honest. You don’t have to show anyone else – but you may want to at least begin the process of noticing what you think, what you believe, and how it is creating the experiences you have and the life you are leading. Here are some good ones:

It’s too late for me to ______________.

I’m too old to ___________________.

Work is _______________________.

I have to ______________________.

I can’t ________________________.

Want to change your life? Change your thoughts!

Or contact me and we’ll tackle them together!

xoxo

Sara

Ghost Ships

I’ve lived my life paralyzed by fear of making a wrong decision, choosing the wrong thing. And so I’ve let things go by that I regret. I don’t want to do that anymore.

My think of my life like one ship in a flotilla. There are many other ships sailing past—some of which look a lot more fun. These other ships represent my life if I had made different choices, taken different paths. But these are ghost ships—not my ship.

And I finally realized that every other ship except my own—every other life I think I “might have had if only…”—is an illusion.

I find a lot of peace in this. And I also find the desire and strength to go forward with my own life, and stop wishing to be on some other ghost ship that does not belong to me.

What ghost ships do you have in your life? What would it mean to you to stop wishing for a different past and step forward to fully inhabit the life you do have?

Why You Can’t Be Anyone You Want to Be

Does this blog post title bother you? Do you instinctively say—as I did—Yes I can! I CAN be anyone I want to be! When I say that, I feel like a child insisting on being right, on having things my way.

This idea is inspired by a passage and a quote in the book The Great Work of Your Life, by Stephen Cope.

Every man has a vocation to be someone:
but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfill this
vocation he can be only one person: himself.
– Thomas Merton

Each of us can only be ourselves. We can pretend to be anyone or anything we want. But it is the pretense, the striving to be what we are not, that is often so destructive in our lives. Each of us has our own secret destiny, our own gifts and talents; each of us is as individual as our fingerprints. The desire to be yourself, to live a life that feels authentically your own, is what propels each of us to expand into our full being-ness. And it is only when we embrace ourselves, when we allow ourselves to love what we love, and to get lit up by what lights us up, that we can lead a fulfilling life. A life that fulfills us.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.
– David Whyte, “All the True Vows”

Another way to think of this is like an acorn from an oak tree. It can’t be anything it wants to be – its destiny is to be an oak tree. But what shape oak? What size? Where it will grow and thrive? Who or what will seek its shade or live in the safety of its branches? It doesn’t need to know that in order to become what it is already. The oak tree it will become is in that little acorn.

If you were simply yourself, who would you be? Just be who you are. It’s all you can (and need) to be.

 

Oak Tree Santa YnezValley

What is Your Secret Destiny?

I am in the midst of reading Anam Cara, a book of Celtic wisdom, by John O’Donohue. It is at times a bit slow-going for me, as I have to pause and think about what I am reading. This is often a good thing for me! There is so much wisdom and truth in this book—I am loving it.

Right now I am almost overwhelmed by this line:

one of the greatest sins is the unlived life

How different is this point of view from how most of us think? How could our lives be different if this were instilled in us from childhood? If you took this idea to heart, how would your life be different?

Each of us has a different dream for our life. Each of us has a secret destiny, one that calls to us, beckoning. We look away, or turn away, for many reasons. Usually fear, disbelief, or even false modesty. We do not believe we can have what we dream of, wonder about, wish for.

What is your secret destiny? Your dream? What would you do today if you started looking at your unlived life as a sin and not as the norm?

Gratitude is a Decision

Gratitude is a decision. A choice. That we can make every moment, in any moment. This blew me away. This is a game changer for me.

Can I be grateful for everything? In the moment? Knowing that everything happens for me and not to me (that’s a Byron Katie-ism I think). Yes.

XO

Gratitude Sunset

 

Thoughts Today

I love quotations. I love catchy phrases. But today there is only one. One thought is going through my mind today:

IF NOT NOW—WHEN?

River Sunset