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“I have a woman’s body and a child’s emotion.”

` Elizabeth Taylor

It was a week of highs and lows, ups and downs, twists and turns, offs and ons, forwards and backwards, shouting and silence, happiness and sadness, pushing and pulling, temper tantrums, jubilation and it’s still not the end of the week!

In short, it was a week of so many emotions, it was as though something came along and just kicked me out of sorts…more accurately, kicked me out of myself.  It took a while to figure out what was happening and then I realized my upstairs roommates, those voices in my head, were having all sorts of parties and fun at my expense.  Or so they thought…

As a mentor, executive coach, human performance developer, whatever label you want to throw on there, one would think, “You should know better!”  And you’d be right.  The thing is, we’re all human – even coaches, healers, and holistic practitioners.  We all have our faults, our internal struggles, emotional upheavals and just when you think you’ve got it under control, those upstairs roommates will show you just how much more work needs to be done before you find the proper tenants to lease space.

Most often, it’s easier to simply put up with all the noise upstairs and hope they’ll turn down the volume sooner rather than later.  The thing is, the more you let them go and do what they want, the harder it is to face them, and yourself.  Sooner or later, those dang raucous roommates are going to spread the noise where you really don’t want it to go…spilling out and spewing poison to those that matter most to you.

And that’s EXACTLY what happened to me this this week and WHY I’m writing about it.  You see, nothing “bad” happened…well mostly nothing “bad” happened (that’s another post for a different day), except that my attention was not where I wanted it to be.  An internal struggle was taking place that, at one point, almost consumed an entire day or three.  I fought with all I had to stay in the place I knew best – the place of love, compassion and understanding.  But, you guessed it, the upstairs tenants had different ideas.  I read and re-read books, passages, reminders, notes and quotes all in an effort to help me reign myself in.  Nothing worked, until…

I began scanning through a meditation book, 365 Yoga daily meditations, when my eyes were drawn (or should I say jerked) to a particular meditation almost immediately.  It was mediation #177.  There it was…the words that would have a profound impact such that the upstairs roommates left immediately.  What were the words that made the difference?  Keep reading.

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls.

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even

in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek

not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries

with yesterday.”

~ Khalil Gibran

And so I let go.

I remembered to breathe.

I took a wonderfully deep cleansing breath and let all the annoyances, thoughts, judgments, assumptions, and negativity leave with the exhale.

And then I took a nap.

Until next time…

Yours in Service and Growth,

P.S. — Want to let go and live in to your values?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing,

is giving up on being perfect and beginning

the work of becoming yourself.”

~ Anna Quindlen

student smiling

Knock!  Knock!

Someone’s at your door.

Curious who it is?  The only way to find out is to open the door.

Will you open the door?

Who’s there?

Opportunity is knocking at your door and she has many faces.

NOW is your time!  The kiddos are back in school embarking on their new adventures.  What about you?  Isn’t it time for an adventure of your own?

Maybe you’re having trouble keeping up with the new schedule…

Perhaps you’re afraid the entire school year is going to go by in a blur and you’ll be left in it’s dust wondering “what happened?”…

Worried that you’ll lose yourself in all the extra stuff being thrown at you?

Are you looking for real, lasting change in your life?

Whatever your reason…

If you have a burning desire to BE more, to accomplish more, to live life more fully and finally get the guidance and support to create what you want and deserve, this is your opportunity to do exactly that.

“All that is valuable in human society depends upon the

opportunity for development accorded the individual.”

~ Albert Einstein

It is part of my mission to help people, like yourself, BE who they are meant to be, reach new levels and impact their world in a big way, to experience abundance, joy and success.

It’s also part of my mission to offer scholarships annually for my Route To Success Individual Coaching Program™ to select individuals that have a deep desire and commitment to the work necessary and required to BE who they were meant to be and find themselves financially burdened at the moment.  They know and believe that coaching can make all the difference for them.

It’s quite simple.  There are no strings attached.  I’m awarding a limited number of full and partial scholarships.  The current fee for the Route to Success Individual Coaching™ is $4,597.  Several people will be given a scholarship – will you be one of them?

Here’s what you need to know to apply for a full or partial scholarship application process:

  •  If you are interested in the Route to Success Individual Coaching Program™* please click here to compete and submit an application by September 9, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. MDT.
  • You will be contacted the week of September 9, 2013 to schedule an interview to complete your scholarship application process.
  • A coaching agreement must be on file before you are eligible to participate in this program.  An agreement will be provided to you for review if you are accepted into this program as a scholarship recipient.
  • The Route to Success Individual Coaching Program™ requires a 6-month commitment.  Your program will begin the week of September 30, 2013 finishing the week of March 24, 2014. (You and I meet over the phone at predetermined recurring times.)
  • There is some financial investment for the full and partial scholarship.  Why?  It demonstrates your commitment to showing up, as well as your dedication to your growth.  Although you have a choice of applying for full or partial scholarship consideration, you may be offered a partial scholarship even though you applied for a full scholarship.
  • What are you going to do with this opportunity?  Act now!  After September 9th at 5:00 p.m. EDT, the door is closed.

Don’t want or need a coaching program?  Please give some thought to people you know that may benefit from and want an opportunity for coaching.  Forward this to them and encourage them to apply.  They won’t be able to thank you enough.

If you have questions, comments or concerns, about the scholarship opportunity or the Route To Success Individual Coaching Program™, please contact me at catherine@joshuatreecoaching.com.

Remember, you have until September 9th at 5:00 p.m. EDT to apply for the Route to Success Individual Coaching Program™ Scholarship.  You have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain!

*Current clients and past scholarship recipients are not eligible for this scholarship opportunity.

RememberAct now!  YOU can help yourself and others in the process.

Fulfill Your Purpose…Keep your eyes open for opportunities and act when those opportunities appear  – they show up in unexpected places.

P.S. – Remember – your application is due by September 9th at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  With everything else being equal, priority consideration will be given to those who get their application in first and on time.

Until next time…

Yours in Service and Growth,

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how YOU can use this scholarship opportunity to gain insights, develop your potential or grow into your job or career?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

Things I’m Learning While Cycling

…and how it relates to everything else in life.

A recent decision to take up cycling at the tender age of fifty-something has been quite inspiring and motivating and crazy!  At this point you may be asking yourself, “Why would any sane person do THAT?”  It started with wanting to ride in a three-day charity run.  So here I am with a determination and conviction to reach my goal – of a 3-day ride without waiting for the sag wagon to take me to the next point.  As I ride, I see some cycling / life parallels emerging.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Patience – sometimes the lungs work really well and help the body to keep going with minimal discomfort.  Other times, every muscle, every joint, every bone and even the hairs on my head scream for mercy.  With so much fluctuation in performance, it can be so exasperating especially not knowing what day will be “good” days and what days will be “bad” day.  Accepting myself for where I am at the moment, being kind and gentle with myself in thought is teaching me that delayed gratification is so much better than instant gratification
  • Let Go of Expectations – OK, this one smacked me right upside my head!  It was all planned out (in the secret recesses of my mind that were into chicanery) – I was going to hop on my brand new Cannondale and ride like the wind into the sunset for an entire day.  After all, when I was younger (MUCH younger) riding 25 miles in an afternoon was child’s play.  Yeah, right!  Somebody forgot to tell my body that this was the plan.  Expecting to ride 10 miles on the first outing was ridiculous, at best.  What I learned is that it’s OK to lower expectations a little (sometimes a lot) when those “voices” try to tell me otherwise.  My expectations now are realistic and in alignment with where I am and my current skill level.  As such, I knew that a 2-month quasi-training period was not enough to get me there.  My new goal is to get in shape to ride in next year’s charity event.  I readjusted.
  • Rest – I don’t need, nor do I want, to push myself beyond what I’m capable of doing (see Keeping Up with the Jones’).  Stopping every now and again to hydrate is a GOOD THING!  Or even using the excuse to stop for water is a GOOD THING.  Rest after a ride also allows your body’s muscle memory to kick in and it’s in those quiet times that I can really soak in all that I’ve accomplished on the ride.  Plus, who doesn’t like a nap every now and again?  Hmmm?
  • Keeping Up with the Jones’ (NOT!) – In a group ride, I seldom take the lead.  Oh, it’s not because I don’t like setting the pace or being in front (I have this control thing going on).  What I found is that I enjoy being at the rear and setting my own pace.  I’ve knighted myself “TP”.  LOL.  I used to be all about competing and I’ve been known to do some pretty stupid things back in the day.  These days I’m more into competing with myself.  And all those cyclists that pass me by going 100 miles an hour?  They can just keep on going – just don’t let your wind knock me over, because then I’m pretty sure I’ll catch you.
  • It’s Hard Work – Let me say it again, “Damn, it’s hard work!!”  How could such a small incline when you’re walking seem like Mt. Everest-size protrusions when you’re on a bicycle?  This simply baffles and fascinates me at the same time!  Like anything worthwhile and worth doing, there are going to be some tears involved once in a while, especially when you’re at the cusp of “blowing up”[1].  What I learned a long time ago on a motorcycle ride (yes, I was driving) from VA to FL in some of the most torrential downpours known to man is this, when asked the question what are we going to do (because it’s raining), I answered, “What am I going to do?  Cry?”  So, I put on the big girl panties, suck it up and get on with it.  Why?  Because no one is forcing this on me – I’m choosing it.
  • Rewards are Great – Those great feelings of reward come from many different things.  It can be a small accomplishment like s-l-o-w-l-y riding under the bridge up the curved hill or pushing yourself just a little further, reaching down just a bit deeper to tap those oft unused reserves or staying on the bike and pushing, grunting, groaning your way up the hill.  It can be a great sense accomplishment just going for a ride regardless of the number of miles…or feet.  And, there are many things in between – great scenery, getting yourself out of bed earlier, giving up television for a night, realizing you have more energy (energy begets more energy) to just really feeling good about yourself.  I’m all for that!mountain-biking--woman-on-bike-dolomites-italy
  • You CAN Conquer the Mountain (Fear Has No Place Here) – Seeing that mountain in front of you (OK, it’s really a hill – still feels like a mountain) and purposefully engaging in self-motivating talk – yes, talking out loud is acceptable and encouraged – gets you up that mountain.and the next…and the next!  It’s one full stroke of the pedal after another.  If you do one, you can do another.  Rinse and repeat until you’ve reached the top.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  I walk the bike and myself up the hill.
  • FUN – Call me crazy – I promise I won’t hold it against you – this cycling thing is fun.  I get to feel like a kid again!  I get to ride around with some great people where we ride a trail, stop for lunch, and ride back.  I’m having some great conversations and meeting new people – even making a new friend or two along the way.  Learning about all the different things involved in cycling, the different styles of cycling and trying out new things are all part of the fun.  The one thing that would make the experience more enjoyable is a clothespin and a playing card.  Alert the neighbors – there will be more noise on the block!
  • Falling Down is Part of the Ride (sometimes) – You know you’re going over the handlebars if you suddenly apply the front brake without assistance from the rear brake.  If you try to get “fancy” with a move here or there, you’re going down.  If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going a bit too fast for conditions and you suddenly have a case of the doubts, guaranteed road rash is in your future.  So, what do you do?  Cry?  No!  (All right, sometimes you might if it really hurts.)  You get up, assess the damage, repair it / bandage it / stop the bleeding / put the chain back on the derailer, put yourself back on the bike and keep going.  What if the bike is demolished?  You call someone to help.  You take a risk – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Thing is, you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t unless you DO it.
  • Slow is Good – I’m not out to break any speed barriers or do I want to intentionally hurt myself.  I learned that in cycling, like most all things, whether it’s the first time I’m doing something new or rediscovering something I’ve done a long time ago it’s good to take my time until I get my “balance.”  Once I’ve got that going pretty well, then I can pick up the pace a bit.  Slowing things down, taking my time, savoring the moment is an awesome experience.
  • Going Fast Can Be Scary-Good – What goes up must come down. 🙂  This is what gets me up all the mountains and hills – knowing that the ride down is going to be a blast!  There’s nothing more exhilarating than being at the crest of the climb (it definitely helps with those last few pushes of the pedals) knowing that the best part is about to happen. [Insert music here… Carly Simon’s song, “Anticipation”] For me, the feeling of flying down that hill is like nothing else in the world – scary sometimes – yet definitely good…very, very good!
  • Breathe – On occasion, I find myself holding my breath.  That usually happens when I’m feeling a bit stressed.  That stress can be something work related, in my personal life or struggling for breathe on those long climbs.  On the long climbs it’s a bit more evident – gasping for breath and feeling like there’s not enough oxygen getting in my lungs to help my muscles perform.  This is where I consciously remind myself to breathe.  If I’m fortunate enough to have a yogi with me on the ride, she’ll remind me to practice my Ujiayi breath – a controlled manner of breathing where you actively use your mind to override the feeling that you’re running out of breath.  The feeling of losing your breath can create a state of panic, which becomes cyclical.  I may not use the Ujiayi breath every time I’m stressed, yet focusing on my breath for 15-30 seconds when I’m in situations where I’m feeling a bit stressed goes a long way in reducing the stress, fear or panic I may be experiencing.

I’m sure there are many more things I’ll learn on this cycling adventure I’ve undertaken.  I can hardly wait.

Bring it on!

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about YOU can adopt and apply these lessons in your life, business or career?   Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effective ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

~ Alexander Graham Bell

Expectations that you place on yourself or others can leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed…at times leaving you feeling disappointed, exasperated or irritated.  You easily lose sight of the things that are important and when you leave what’s important for those Bright Shiny Objects (BSO’s), a.k.a. distractions of thought, emotions, interruptions or other “important” things, you can experience unnecessary worry, anxiousness, helplessness and fear.

Whether it’s shopping for last minute vacation items, getting your budget in place, deciding what event and activities to attend, financial concerns, working feverishly to meet your business quarter-end deadlines, or wanting to spend more time with loved ones, family and friends during this time of the year, all of these activities require grounded focus.

Here are 7 positive actions you can take right now to gain or maintain grounded focus:

  1. Schedule your work (work can be defined in many ways, not simply job related) and honor your schedule;
  2. Break down the large, complex tasks into “doable chewables”, a series of smaller steps;
  3. Slow down to accomplish more;
  4. Say “no” to things of lesser importance;
  5. Say “yes” to the things you really want to do and enjoy;
  6. Delegate tasks; and finally,
  7. Take five minutes once a day and focus on you – take a walk; enjoy that great cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa; step outside and just breathe; turn off all electronics and enjoy the silence…

When you’re consciously focusing on the things that matter to you – one at a time – your stress is reduced and you experience grounded focus.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about how to find your “Grounded Focus”?  Tired of being at the mercy of your BSO’s?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

You’re welcome to share this article.  When you do, include this complete blurb with it:

 “Would you like to learn more simple, effecetive ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom?  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

Joshua Tree Coaching & Consulting, LLC │ ©2012 and Beyond.  All rights reserved worldwide │ http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com

“Travel lightly my friends.  Give up your unconscious pain and habits; they weigh you down.  Accept your birthright to be joyous and free.” 

~ Anonymous

Everyone experiences cognitive distortions.  Not everyone knows they have them and of those that do acknowledge their existence, not many people do something to challenge their cognitive distortions.  Of those individuals that put in the effort and practice daily, the results changed their lives.  Experience a life change by using the exercises below to weaken your cognitive distortions.

Remember, these are not one-time “cures”.  It takes work to give up your pain and the habits that hold you back.  It’s not about giving something up as much as it is giving yourself something of greater value in return.

  1. Identify Your Cognitive Distortions – List your troublesome thoughts and match them with the list of cognitive distortions. This exercise allows you to see the distortions you favor and allows you to think about your problem, challenge or predicament in more natural, realistic ways.
  2. Examine the EvidenceExamining your experience thoroughly helps you identify the basis for your distorted thoughts.  Example:  If you are very self-critical, then you want to examine a number of experiences and situations where you experienced success.
  3. Double Standard Method – An alternative to harsh and demeaning self-talk is to talk to yourself in the same compassionate, understanding and caring way you would talk with another in a similar situation.
  4. Think in Shades of Gray – Rather than think about your problem or challenge in an either-or polarity, evaluate things on a scale of 0-100.  When a plan/goal isn’t fully realized, think about and evaluate the experience as a partial success, again, on a scale of 0-100.
  5. Survey Method – Seek the opinion of trusted friends or relatives regarding whether your thoughts and attitudes are realistic.
  6. Definitions –  What does it mean to define yourself as “a loser”, “inferior”, “a fool”, “stupid”, etc.?  Examining these and other global labels will likely reveal they more closely represent specific behaviors, or an identifiable behavior pattern instead of you as the total person.
  7. Re-attribution – Rather than automatically blaming yourself for problems and predicaments, identify external factors and other individuals that contributed to the problem/challenge.  Your energy is best utilized in the pursuit of resolutions or ways to cope.
  8. Cost-Benefit Analysis – List the advantages and disadvantages of your feelings, thoughts and/or behaviors.  The cost-benefit analysis will help you determine what you are gaining from feeling bad, distorted thinking, and inappropriate behavior.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“When your fear touches someones’ pain,
it becomes pity; when your love touches
someones’ pain, it becomes compassion. 
To train in compassion, then, is to know all
beings are the same and suffer in
similar ways, to honor all those who
suffer, and to know you are neither separate
from nor superior to anyone.” 

~ Stephen Levine

Here’s a quick review of what we talked about in Part 2 of “What Were YOu Thinking?”  You learned about Jumping to Conclusions, Emotional Reasoning, Shoulds, Labeling, and Blame.

In Part 3, here are the final 5 Cognitive Distortions (again, in no particular order)…or “What Were You Thinking?!”

5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 3)

  1. Control Fallaciesseeing ourselves as a victim (external control fallacy) or assuming the responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us (internal control fallacy).
  2. Discounting the Positivediscounting your achievements or insisting your positive actions, achievements or qualities don’t count; saying anyone could’ve done it..
  3. Fairness Fallacygoing through life applying a measuring rod against every situation judging its fairness; feeling resentful because we thing we know what is fair but others won’t agree with us.
  4. Always Being Right feeling continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct (or pointing out how wrong someone’s opinions and actions are).  Being wrong is unthinkable going to any length to demonstrate your “rightness”.
  5. Heaven’s Reward Fallacyexpecting your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, then feeling bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

What have you discovered?  What distortions do you recognize in yourself?  Where do you want to begin making changes?

You’ll have an opportunity in the next post to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

In Part 1, we looked at 5 Cognitive Distortions:  Filtering, Polarized Thinking, Over-generalization, Catastrophizing and Personalization.  What have you discovered about you and your cognitive distortions?  What, if any, resonate with you so far?

Let’s take a look at 5 more Cognitive Distortions (in no particular order or sequence).  Remember, although your thinking can affect your emotions, behaviors, actions, habits and decisions, your thinking doesn’t have to define who you are.  You can change the way you think and your thought awareness is the first step.

 5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 2)

  1. Jumping to Conclusions– making assumptions with little or no evidence to back it up.
    1. Fortune Telling – making negative predictions based on assumptions about what the future will hold.
    2. Mind Reading – making negative assumptions based about how people see you or feel about you, without factual information.
  2. Emotional Reasoning“I feel, therefore, I am.”  In other words, assuming that a feeling you have reflects the way things really are.
  3. Shoulds – having adamant rules and/or beliefs about your’s and other’s behaviors, which leads to criticism of yourself or others.  That criticism can lead to feelings of guilt, resentment, anger and/or frustration. Listen to your words when you talk about yourself or others.  Are you using words such as should, must, have to, ought to, need to?
  4. Labeling (Mislabeling)generalizing one or two qualities into a negative global, or sweeping, judgment.  The most common example of labeling is, “I didn’t share my ideas on the project.  I’m such a loser!”  A common example of mislabeling is, “She’s such a jerk!   She never stopped for that stop sign.”
  5. Blame (Personalization)holding other people responsible for your pain.  Some examples, “Stop making me feel bad about myself.” “I lost all my money at the casino because he talked me into playing poker.”

What’s jumping out at you?  Where do you want to begin making changes?

As a reminder, at the end of the series, you’ll have an opportunity to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute. ”

~ Walter Lippman

At one time or another, you’ve either thought it or said it aloud to someone, “What were you thinking?”  Most times the unspoken answer is, “Well, I wasn’t.”  Perhaps, more accurately, the answer may be “My self-limiting beliefs got in my way…again!”

This question, “What were you thinking?”, was addressed recently in a 3-part newsletter series.

Are you someone who says to themselves, “I always fail when I try something new; so, I fail at everything I try.”?  Perhaps this sounds a bit more familiar; “If only I was younger, I would’ve gotten the job.”

The language you use every day (spoken and unspoken) both represents and impacts how you experience your world.  In your attempt to capture thoughts, ideas and describe what you see around you using words, things can get “lost in the translation”.

Information is lost through “deletion” of information, “generalization” and “Cognitive Distortion”.  Distortion is where some aspects of ideas and experiences are given more weight and focus than others.  Cognitive Distortions are simply ways your mind convinces you of something that isn’t true. These inaccurate thoughts are most often used to reinforce negative thinking or emotion, telling you things that may sound rational and accurate, when in fact, they are not.  Everyone does this consciously and unconsciously.  How you process information provides pointers to your underlying beliefs about yourself, others and the world.

In Part 1, of our 3-part series, let’s take a look at 5 of 15 Cognitive Distortions.  At the end of the series, you’ll have an opportunity to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

 5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 1)

  1. Filtering – taking the negative details and magnifying them while filtering out any or all positive aspects of a situation.  For example:  You have a great evening with friends dining at a restaurant, but your steak was overcooked and that ruined the whole evening.
  2. Polarized Thinking (All or Nothing, Black or White) – seeing things as right or wrong, black or white, all or nothing, this way or that way with nothing in between – no middle ground.  If your performance falls short of perfect, then you see yourself as a total failure.  For example:  “I didn’t finish writing that paper so it was a complete waste of time.”
  3. Over-generalization – coming to a general conclusion based on a single incident or single piece of evidence.  If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.  For example:  She always does that.
  4. Catastrophizing – expecting disasters to strike, no matter what.  This is where you “magnify or minimize”  and use what ifs (what if this happens to me?).  You see things more dramatically or less important than what they actually are.  For example:  “I forgot to send that e-mail!  Now my boss won’t trust me anymore, and I’ll never get that raise and I’ll probably get fired.”
  5. Personalization (Blame) – believing that everything others do or say is some sort of direct, personal reaction to the person.  You may also compare yourself to others to determine who is smarter, better dressed, etc.  For example:  “If only my boss hadn’t yelled at me, I wouldn’t have been so angry and would not have had that fender-bender.”

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires.”

~ Orison Swett Marsden

Allow me to give you the definition of “elevate”.

elevate – \ˈe-lə-ˌvāt\ – verb

  1. To raise to a higher place or position; lift up.
  2. To increase the amplitude; intensity, or volume of.
  3. To promote to higher rank.
  4. To raise to a higher moral, cultural, or intellectual level.*
  5. To lift the spirits of; elate.

I believe the choice of the word “elevate” as a verb, to put into action, is in complete alignment with understanding your thought processes and what you will want to do differently in order to create new habits of mind, new habits of thought, for you to continue to have a life that is filled with unlimited opportunities and untold success.  Even in these challenging economic times – the challenge is in how you think and respond to what’s happening in the financial markets today.

What better place and time to begin than by discussing those mental thought processes that can be constructive and destructive.  Let’s take a look at one in particular, but before we do, please consider the following questions and what your first thought, first answer is:

  • What impact is the current economy (rapidly rising gas costs, steadily increasing food prices, etc.) having on you in your personal life, your career, your job, and/or business life?
  • What’s going to happen if it stays the same or gets even worse in the next month?  The next quarter?
  • What options have you considered?
  • Are you open to possibilities?
  • Did you answer one, or any, question with a worse-case scenario?  Perhaps even thinking to yourself, it’s never going to get better?
  • Do you have difficulty reading the newspapers or magazines because of all the bad news?
  • Do you find yourself constantly being drawn in to the negativity and drama?
  • Do you grimace and moan when you listen to or watch the news reports on radio or television?
  • Are you losing sleep because of the worry and fear?
  • Have you ever wished you could just tune it all out and forget what’s going on in the world?  In your life?
  • Ever just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head instead of jumping out of bed and embracing the day?

This destructive mental process is catastrophizing, or imagined catastrophe.  Catastrophizing can be an habitual thought and occurs when we create worse-case scenarios and obsessively worry, even tormenting ourselves, over events that may or may not ever come to pass.  Mired in this destructive thought process, it can become difficult to even believe there’s another way to look at your situation or circumstance.  And the possibility of even a hint of having a possible solution may be simply laughable, sending you into a further downward spiral of fear, worry, anxiety and stress.

  • While your so caught up in worry, fear, anxiety and stress – catastrophizing – how many opportunities do you miss?
  • How many moments with your family, friends, and co-workers do you let go by because of the worry and fear?
  • How many times have you unintentionally ignored your loved ones because of stress?
  • How difficult is it for you to meet work deadlines because of anxieties?
  • When you’re barely making the deadlines, what is happening to the quality of your work?

What if you knew you could “elevate your mind” by changing the way you think about things?  Not solely through positive thought – by incorporating positive action.  Instead of wanting to run and hide and complain about the economic state, or any “state”, ask yourself what YOU can do to change the way you’re feeling about the situation, reacting to every piece of news or information you hear or read.  What opportunities can you see for YOU?  Can this time be used to get back in touch with the things that you value?  Spending more time with your family?  Turning off the television, the video games, computers, iPodsPads, mobile phones?  Plan special nights with family and friends – an old-fashioned game night or a pot-luck-themed supper?

Positive action or catastrophizing – what will YOU choose?  Are your habits of thought in alignment with your desires?

Begin to elevate your mind by choosing positive action.

Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:

  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time.
  • Write and mail those thank-you notes.
  • Clear your office of the clutter – simply start with a desk corner.

What others can YOU think of?

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to know more on how you can practice positive action in all situations?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

P.P.S. —You’re welcome to share this article. When you do, include this complete blurb and the end of the article it:

“Would you like to learn more simple ways to bring more balance into your professional or personal life and create more money, time, and freedom  Check out my web site, http://www.JoshuaTreeCoaching.com and sign up to receive our regular publications, which include complimentary reports, resources and other helpful tools.”

How to Be Assertive Without Alienating Your Relationships

Asking for what you want—and setting boundaries around what you don’t want—is a key life skill.  However, sometimes in our enthusiasm to practice this skill, we over-do our own assertiveness and end up with someone (partner, friend, peer, customer, client, etc.) who shuts down, gets angry or feels resentful.  Here are four tips for developing your assertiveness in a way that will actually strengthen, deepen and enrich your relationships—thus avoiding the “alienation trap”:

1.     Get Clear.

Being assertive starts with knowing what you are—and aren’t—willing to be, do, or have.  For many of us, coming to this knowledge is a real task unto itself.  Here, it may be useful to ask: “In an ideal world, what would I like to happen?”  Focusing on an ideal, reasonable and realistic outcome opens our minds, prevents us from falling into passivity or “victim-thinking,” and helps us get really clear on what we want and don’t want.

2.     Set Boundaries.

Once you know what outcome you desire, share it with that person in your life.  Pay attention to the way stating your boundary feels in your body.  With practice, you can actually sense when you’re hitting the “sweet spot.”  It can feel really pleasant, even exhilarating, to express your needs or desires out loud.  Phrases like “such and such doesn’t work for me” are simple ways of being assertive while maintaining connection with the other person.

3.     Make a Regular Habit of Stating Your Needs and Desires.

You can build your assertiveness the same way you build any muscle: exercise.  Practice speaking up about your needs, big or small, on a daily basis.  When you speak up about things that are less controversial—such as where to go to dinner, requesting help with a task or what TV program to watch—both you and the other person get used to your assertiveness.  It becomes easier for you to practice and for another to hear.  Also, when bigger issues come along, you will have a healthy process in place for dealing with differences in needs, and you’ll have greater confidence in the resilience of your relationship.

4.     Give as Much as You Get.

Assertiveness is a two-way street.  If you want your boundaries to be respected, you must return the courtesy to others in your life.  If your partner doesn’t want you to interrupt her while she’s talking on the phone (unless it’s an emergency), don’t.  If your co-worker asks you to give him fifteen minutes before an unscheduled meeting before you talk and connect, respect that.  When it comes to following through on another’s reasonable request, actions really do speak louder than words.

If someone in your life isn’t respecting your boundaries even though you’ve set them clearly, it may be time for professional help for you and/or your relationship.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn to be more assertive in you job, business or in general?  Schedule your complimentary coaching session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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