Bedtime Solutions: Change This One Thought At Your Child’s Bedtime and You Could Reclaim Hours Each Day

Without going into great detail, I will share that my almost-3-year-old son had some difficulty going to bed during our family vacation, and for several weeks before our trip. More accurately stated, he had taken anywhere between 30-60 minutes after reading books to fall asleep when I was the one to put him to sleep. Maybe there had been some contribution from him going through a developmental change or the scariness of being in a new place without all of his toys or usual routines. Despite this, my husband pointed out that I might have had some role in the matter (surprise!) He didn’t mean that I did anything to cause the problem, but rather that I was failing to do something to make it better. 
I am a life coach, and I am also a human being. My mind still presents me with mental drama that many others experience. Through what I have learned, I think that I have developed awareness of myself, but sometimes I have needed an outside observer to point out the obvious. Sometimes we are too close to the problem to see what is happening. In this case, my husband was the necessary neutral observer, but my personal coach has also served this role for me.
Regardless of how I achieve the awareness, one great lesson I have learned in general is to let go of having to be right, to have acceptance for my imperfections, and to consider another perspective – knowing that my current perspective is a choice. So, in this situation with my son’s sleep, even when my mind was throwing an all-out temper-tantrum about how he just wouldn’t go to bed and how it was impossible for me to make him change – with awareness of my role in the situation, I was willing to learn better ways of getting him to go to bed.
In each and every problem that is being negotiated, there are at least two parties. In the case of the nap and nighttime sleep routines in our home, the two parties were me and my son. For all of these weeks, I have been under the impression that I was chosen as the parent who would have difficulty in putting him to sleep – that only with me he would negotiate bathroom breaks, multiple sips of water, an extra book (or two or three), time sitting in my lap, and transfers back and forth between my husband and me. Without even realizing it, I interpreted this as an unhchangable situation. I assumed my son was in control and that I was the victim of his manipulations. This almost-3-year-old had complete control over me, or so I thought.
Actually, he didn’t have control. What had complete control over me were my thoughts of, “I can’t get him to sleep. He won’t fall asleep with me putting him to bed.”
These thoughts became my reality as I subconsciously repeated them again and again. As I predefined my reality through my thoughts, I failed to pause to think of ways that I could make the situation better. 
The tactics here of how I will get my son to bed are not the key, because each child and parent-child relationship is unique and needs its own consideration. What’s important here is the fact that I saw that I had more control that I had given myself credit. This doesn’t take away that there are factors related to my son that are beyond my control. Maybe he likes to talk through the day’s events and put away his toys a certain way before going to bed. But if I take these as circumstance, I can remind myself how I want to think of them and view myself in relation to him. I can decide how I will show up and serve my son’s needs by thinking, “I am his mom and I know I can help him.”
So, I ask you, is there any challenge in your life that you may be too close to, to take a neutral observer role? If so, ask someone for some honest, neutral feedback. Be open to accepting your contribution to the situation and work to make a change that seems realistic and meaningful. You will feel more in control, and I bet things will be better in the end too. 
Lesson: We each have a role in every situation we are in. The contributions we make in comparison to those of outside factors or people may or may not be equal, but when we can take responsibility for our contributions, we can potentially make a bad situation better, or at best find a solution ourselves.
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P.S. If you want a neutral observer to help you see something more clearly, CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 25-minute consultationwith me to help you discover how you can transform your life. 
I help early-career physician moms learn how to make confident decisions about how they spend their time at work and at home, because I get it –7+ years after starting the medical career journey, and after having kids, your perspectives and priorities change. This stage of life requires an honest reassessment so you can have the most joyful, regret-free life moving forward, and I’m happy to help you develop the self-confidence and clarity needed to get there. Let me show you how. It all starts with a single call.

Start Doing These 3 Things Each Day To Ignite the Self-Confidence You’ve Always Wanted

You’re sitting with one of your patients during an office visit and you’ve just finished creating a plan for their new dyspnea, when you realize that you are 40 minutes behind schedule and that they’re indicating that they have a few more things they wanted to talk about. You have two options – ask them to come back another time to discuss, or take care of things right then and there even though you will be further behind. You choose the latter, even though deep inside you were wishing you had the self-confidence to ask them, kindly and tactfully, to schedule another appointment. You’re also wishing that you wouldn’t be left afraid that you could’ve missed something.
You’re working in the hospital and you hear a Code Blue called overhead. You’re the hospitalist on call and you’ve done this so many times before, but you’re wondering why then you still get this pit in your stomach when you hear the page overhead. Things always go okay, and you’re comfortable applying the ACLS algorithms, but you wish that you had the self-confidence to run into each code feeling more in control.
It’s 2AM. Your 5-year-old has been up all night with a fever. He’s complaining of mild abdominal pain that started just before he went up for bed. You think to yourself that he probably just has a GI bug, but then realize you know too much just to stop there. Your mind races through all the worst possibilities. You think of calling your pediatrician but then don’t want to seem like you are overreacting. You go through all the symptoms and signs and possibilities in your mind. You try to convince yourself that he’s okay, but something tells you that there may be something more there. It’s hard to be objective, and you feel stuck. You feel palpitations as you call your pediatricians’ office for help, knowing it is the right thing to do and that there is no problem in calling, but feel guilty for doing so. You think, “I’m bothering them. I should know what to do. What will they think?” You wish you could just do what you needed to do and not feel so horrible about it.

What is the common theme here? What might have been part of the solution?

Placing yourself in these situations, you may have already sensed that having more self-confidence in each of these scenarios could have helped you to take a more appropriate action, catalyze more powerful actions, or alleviate unnecessary suffering. 

What is Self-Confidence?

Self-confidence is a feeling of confidence that comes from how you think about yourself.
It allows you to be secure in yourself and your abilities, even when there isn’t yet evidence to support your thoughts and the success or results you are aiming for. It indicates that you trust yourself, trust that you will consistently take care of yourself and keep your word to yourself no matter what.

Self-confidence allows you to do what you need to do, even if it means others might not always be happy. When you have self-confidence, you have the ability to accept that you aren’t perfect and let go of the shame.
Self-confidence occurs when you know that you can experience any emotions, especially negative emotions that may come up naturally in life. You are better able to handle risk in life.

Self-confidence is different from arrogance, which is a situation in which you feel better about yourself by putting others down. Actually, arrogance often comes from a lack of self-confidence. When we look down on others, this is often a projection of how we feel about ourselves, as we are often trying to compensate for our own lack of confidence in ourselves.

Ultimately self-confidence is a state of being that is created by thinking thoughts that create confidence in yourself. Repeatedly thinking these thoughts, again and again, they become deep-rooted belief in yourself.

Why is Self-Confidence Important?

Looking at the scenarios above, having self-confidence in the office-visit example would allow you to set boundaries so you could stay on time and see your other patients. You would be able to set the boundaries because you would have respect for yourself (and your other patients). Also, you wouldn’t be afraid of disappointing that one person – you would be more in control of your feelings and be able to rebound better from any potential objections your patient might have to needing to come back another time to complete the visit.
In the Code Blue example, you have run these codes so many times and are confident in your ability to do what is necessary. But you are left with that pit in your stomach – maybe because you are afraid of losing a patient, or because you are afraid of not succeeding. It has happened before, where someone has died despite your best efforts, and it felt horrible. Each time, you though it was an unbearable feeling, and so you suppressed and ignored it. With having more self-confidence and experience processing that emotion, you can see that you can handle the challenging feelings of loss and grief and come out on the other side okay. Actually, you see that it makes the job of trying to save a life even easier, because then you are not so afraid to try an approach you haven’t tried before, or to be more aggressive in an approach when needed, knowing that you will have given your best and be okay even if you fail in the desired outcome of life saved.

In the example with your child, having more self-confidence would allow you to ask for help more easily. You would know that even though you are a physician, you don’t have to feel guilty or embarrassed to ask for help, especially when you aren’t being expected to act in the capacity of a physician. In having self-confidence in that situation, you would be willing to trust your instinct and ask for help, even if it meant that you might be wrong. This is because you would know that you could deal with any potential feeling of embarrassment that might come up, and know that it is okay to be wrong, especially when no real harm was done. Feeling secure in yourself and who you are, you would be less concerned about what others thought of you for calling in. 

How You Can Start to Develop More Self-Confidence

1. Notice that how you think about yourself determines whether you feel confident in yourself or not. Choose thoughts that help you to feel confident. 

Remember the Self-Coaching Model (developed by Brooke Castillo.)

Circumstance (in this case – YOURSELF)
causes
Thought
causes
Feeling
causes
Actions
cause
Results

Even when you have never done something before, you can develop confidence in yourself by practicing thoughts that create belief in yourself. You can also learn to trust yourself and that you will be emotionally resilient.

2. Be willing to be vulnerable and accept your imperfections. You may not succeed every time, and that’s okay. When you can let go of needing to be perfect, then you will be more willing to do more. 

Brené Brown describes the “wholehearted” as people who “are the most resilient to shame, who believe in their worthiness…” She states, “The Wholehearted identify vulnerability as the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection.” (Daring Greatly, pp 9-11.)

3. Seek out opportunities to do something outside of your comfort zone, where you might “fail.” Follow through! Take action and see that you will come out on the other side okay. 

Intentionally create or seek out opportunities to potentially fail. The more you do this, the more likely it is that you will take risks to grow yourself. In failing, you will learn to rebound. In doing this again and again, you will have successes and develop confidence in your abilities. Ultimately, you will be more likely to succeed in your larger goals.

3 Simple Steps to Start the Workweek with Less Stress

Have you felt anxious, overwhelmed, or nervous going into the workweek? I am going to cover with you three simple things that you can do to help yourself feel more confident and prepared to take on anything that comes your way.

 
When I was in full-time clinical practice, I worked very hard to find an effective way of preparing for and completing my weekly work. 

Interestingly, just as I created a pattern that was easy and reproducible, I decided to transition to part-time clinical practice so that I could help other physician moms through life coaching. The transition into having multiple pursuits didn’t result in a 1:1 exchange of hours in my schedule. This was no big surprise to me because I recognized that it was a new pursuit, I was learning new skills, and learning new processes – and therefore I was again working to create balance between how I dedicated time to the different areas of my life.

 
I say this to illustrate that I cannot know what specific piece of advice will work for you, because I don’t know all of the details of your life and there are many moving parts. I won’t tell you to look ahead at your schedule and prep your notes. I won’t tell you to create order sets. Some of these strategies may work and others may not. I have been given a lot of action-based advice on how to stay ahead in my clinical practice – some things have worked, other things haven’t, and some things have worked only for a period of time. It is ultimately up to you to try different things and see what works for you.

 
But here are three suggestions that you can apply in any situation that will create a positive change if you apply them regularly. You can start to see things feel easier relatively quickly. And importantly, you will be able to search for solutions less frantically, from a place of calm intention. I want to provide you with ideas that can help you manage your thinking and feelings in order to feel in control. This will put you back in control of your work week.

 
Circumstances are neutral and thoughts are just sentences in your mind.

 
If it is Sunday evening and you are already noticing that you are anticipating a busy week, notice the thoughts that make you feel anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Take a few minutes to write down these thoughts. Notice that they are just sentences in your mind and nothing more. I am not pretending that these thoughts won’t be there, but for a few minutes allow yourself the awareness to see that these are just interpretations that your mind is offering to you and that they are optional. This awareness can be important to help you make a change in your thinking when the time is right, and sometimes awareness naturally leads to a change in mindset on its own. 

 
The next piece of this exercise is to refocus your mind on the neutral facts. What is it that you are heading into this week? You might look at your schedule and notice that you have 18-20 patients scheduled each day. There may be a certain number of people on your inpatient list. There may be a couple of sick visit slots open each day. You may have meetings scheduled for certain times. Focusing on the neutrality of the circumstances can help you neutralize some of the negative feelings you are having. 

 
Some emotions will come up regularly, and that’s okay. Process those feelings and create an intention.
 
Notice that there may be some negative emotions that regularly come up for you. After years of experiencing anxiety, even now as I feel so much more in control of my day, that anxiety still shows up. I talk about it as if though it was a passenger in my car. Previously it used to speak up a lot, but now it just sits there, less vocal. I learn to just be with that feeling, to process it. 

 
Next, I create an intention for how I want to feel about the week – productive, excited, committed, or fulfilled for example. In order to feel what I want to feel, I must be intentional in my thoughts. One suggestion I have is to focus on your patients and think about how you want to help them and connect with them.
 
 
Put your highest priority items on your calendar. There is enough time to get done what needs to get done.
 
The first thing I suggest you write on your calendar is all of the things that need to happen to make life happen – laundry, cooking, bathing and dressing, paying the bills, childcare, etc. Second, carve out some time for silence, meditation, rest, or rejuvenation. You can decide how much time you want to allot to this to start, but I recommend you do this next because it is often the last thing that we try to schedule, and then never find time for it. Third, write down the top five things that must absolutely happen this week. These may be steps to reaching a goal, meetings and appointments, or other responsibilities. If there is time, you can add other items based what you want to accomplish this week. By prioritizing and constraining what you put on your calendar, you counter the common belief that there isn’t enough time. In doing so you take active steps in your thinking and actions to overcome the feelings of urgency and overwhelm.

Who Is Perfect?

Various parts of our culture have taught us that we must be perfect. 
Maybe it was our family culture, ingraining certain beliefs about what personal or physical attributes were most desirable and appreciated. 
Maybe it was our academic culture, setting standards for who would be considered “smart” or “most likely to succeed.” 
Perhaps our medical culture has had an impact, traditionally teaching us that errors are not acceptable and that physicians are infallible. 
In an even broader way, our economic culture has taught us that who we are isn’t good enough, that what we have isn’t good enough, and that we always have to acquire more to be liked and valuable. 
No matter what part of our culture you look at, the ideal of perfection has somehow become a part of the standards that are set and undoubtedly perfectionism is on the rise.
I am sure that most of you have experienced perfectionism in some form, in the past or even currently. I have been dealing with perfectionism all of my life, including now.
For me, the difference between then and now is that I have more awareness of the impact of perfectionism. With this awareness comes a power to make a change. 
I can see that my efforts to be better – when arising out of black-and-white thinking, my thoughts of “I’m not good enough”, and a desire to please others – lead to closed-mindedness, self-criticism, and stagnancy. It seems noble to improve oneself, but fueled by this energy, it is actually counterproductive. 
I can understand that my efforts to be better can be derived from a more productive energy. 
 
When intentionally fueled by broadened thinking, I will look for and find more solutions. 
When I accept my inherent value in this world as well as ability to err, I appreciate myself, my contributions, and have compassion for myself when I need it. 
When I do things from a desire to learn, love, and serve because it is a joy to do so – I stay in control of my emotional experience.
I encourage you to look at yourself and take an assessment of where perfectionism has made its way into your life. 
         What kinds of results are being created by a perfectionist mentality? 
         Is this something that you want to change? 
         If you are resistant to letting go of being a perfectionist, why?
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The Bumpy Road May Be More Fun

The other day, I drove my 2-year-old son home from daycare. Usually my husband picks him up and follows the same route home each day. My son was not happy when I chose to break the routine by taking a different road home than what he was used to driving every other day. There were tears. He was genuinely distraught by the change in pattern. 

That day, I decided that I didn’t have to force my choice of route; I was ready to follow the path that my son had chosen. Surprisingly, he redirected me back to the “bumpy road” that he was used to taking. 
At one point along the way, we reached an intersection. I reflexively flipped on my turn signal to indicate a right turn. My son immediately noticed this and said, “No Mommy, go that way,” pointing straight ahead. 
Having never taken that way home myself, I asked him if he was sure. He nodded. I told him that if we took this road, he would have to direct me home since I did not know the way. To my astonishment, turn by turn he led us home. 
After I reached home, I reflected on this drive home with my son. I thought about how we make decisions
When faced with options, we naturally think that there is a “correct” or “best” decision. We think that there is a pathway that will be better at getting us to our destination. We may even think that one destination is better than another. Why? We believe that our lives will be better because of the particular circumstances that arise from certain choices. Within these circumstances, we imagine ourselves as happier, safer, or more successful. 
In reality, there are many good ways to travel from points A to B, and there are many situations in which we can be happy. The reason that we could be happy in so many situations is because we have the power to choose to be happy in any of those situations. 
When my son offered an alternative route home, I could have thought that my way was the best way and chosen that option. I could have tried to convince him why, though it may not have been the most traditional or wise thing to do in the moment, as this would have just caused us to hold up traffic. Yet, we sometimes do this when making decisions. Our survival-oriented primitive brains believe that certain options are safer, more comfortable, and more predictable. Even though other options are abundantly available, and any of them would be okay, we find ourselves wanting to avoidthe risk of venturing into the unknown. However, simultaneously we harbor curiosity about alternative opportunities. Sometimes even, it is hard to let go of the idea of these possibilities. And so, we try to convince ourselves of the best option. Unable to commit to either scenario, we remain stuck in place, unable to move forward. Or even if we do take the next steps, we are emotionally stuck and less able to enjoy our choices. Maybe we even live in regret, wondering “What if…?”
Here is another perspective. We could have taken my route home. It would have worked, and we would have reached home. However, I saw that there was another option – one that was equally valid, and potentially a better way to get home – and chose to open my life up to something new.  My husband apparently has had similar thoughts. As we headed to a friend’s house for brunch today, my son again asked why we were taking another route. My husband responded, “Sometimes Daddy gets tired of taking the same way each time and wants to see what else might be fun.”  
“Daddy,” my son said contemplatively, “we might see squirrels, gorillas, and sloths.”
Metaphorically, he made a lot of sense. When charging into a new life adventure, any one of us may face squirrels, gorillas, and sloths. In other words, some situations we face may be familiar, and we may already know exactly how to handle them. In other cases, we may need to face our fears, handle unexpected consequences, and possibly confront real danger. And then sometimes, we may observe something exotic that we rarely encounter in our daily lives but be able to appreciate it from a distance. 
Are you someone who regularly feels stuck while making decisions? If so, and you want this to change, remember that no decision is singularly “right.” The right decision is always the one that you make, because it is what allows you to keep moving forward in your life. 

Do you want to keep doing more of the same? There is nothing wrong with this as there can be a lot of fulfilling and joyful experiences in having more of the same. However, if you have ever been curious about what else is out there, if you have even once wondered about what you haven’t yet seen…it may be fun to venture out into the unknown. Know that you can handle it, and that the life you will live will be even more fun.  


And, if you are lucky, you may have a little back seat driver guiding you home when your adventure is done. 
 
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P.S. If you are feeling stuck and need some help, sign up for my FREE 25-minute consultation to learn how you can become unstuck and live an even more amazing and adventurous life. It starts with a single call. 

Reflections: Time Isn’t the Problem

When we think that we don’t have enough time, what we are really thinking is that we aren’t getting enough time to do what we truly want. 
When we think that we don’t have enough time, what is really happening is that we aren’t claiming the time that we have and making it our own. 
Sometimes we may not realize that we have the power to choose how we spend our time, but the truth is that what we do in each and every moment is a choice. There are consequences to every action and inaction, but still, everything we think, feel, and do is a choice.
Once we realize that everything is a choice, and that time was never the real problem, we are faced with a  question:  What do we want?
We think that we want things and experiences, but what we really want is the way we feel when we have those things and those experiences.We think that we want relationships, but what we really want is the way we feel in those relationships. Remember though that these feelings don’t come from having these things, but by how we think. 
So, if we ourselves are in control of how we feel, then what is the purpose of having anything more, or doing anything in our lives? Answer:  Because life would be so much more interesting.
Barriers and Solutions
Sometimes a preference to place other individuals’ needs, or the “common good”, at a higher priority results in choosing to do things with our time that is not as important to us. 
Not believing that we can have what we want causes us to preserve the status quo, even if that means we do more of what we don’t necessarily love. Lack of belief is also the main barrier to discovering what needs to happen in order to get what we want. 
Massive action is a commitment to taking action — repeatedly doing things that work, or continually trying new things that we haven’t done before — in order to get to our end goal. 
We need self-confidence for all of this to work. Self-confidence is important in that we will know that we will be emotionally resilient no matter what. No matter how many fails we endure before getting to the goal – we will be okay. No matter if we are rejected for asking for what we want – we will be okay. Even if we keep trying, and for some reason we don’t reach our goal because it was due to a part of life that was out of our hands – we will be okay.
Self-confidence allows us to ask for and pursue exactly what we want, to create the life that we want. 

Self-Confidence – What They Don’t Tell You About the Before and After

I have been doing some focused work on my own self-confidence and have come to some profound realizations while going through a literal shift in identity and belief in my ability. I want to share my thoughts with you because I think that many people will go through life-changing transformations and tell the story of their Before and After without acknowledging the self-confidence it took to get there. 
What is Self-Confidence?
Many times, we think that self-confidence is just something that some people have, and others don’t. This isn’t true. 
Self-confidence is something that can be cultivated. It is something that you can have. It is something you can generate more of. It is something that arises from a pervasive belief in yourself, a belief that is present even when there is no external evidence to prove you right. You create the evidence for this belief internally by choosing to believe in yourself in the first place. It is a necessary part of becoming someone you haven’t been before or doing something that once seemed out of reach.
A Story from My Past
Through personal observation over the years, there are things that I thought I knew about myself. Character traits that I thought were predetermined, or abilities that I thought were fixed and absolute, became a regular part of the way I identified and told my stories. 
A common story I share is about how I was shy as a young student in elementary school, with a few good friends and a desire to belong. I remember having a new best friend each year, one friend whom I loved and could count on. However, the rest of my relationships took time to develop or related only to my accomplishments. As I entered into the transition years between life’s chapters (e.g. high school to college, med school to residency, etc.), I had developed meaningful relationships only to again say good-bye. 
I remember being admired, and made fun of, for my grades. I was one to always follow the rules and was recognized to have humanistic tendencies, and simultaneously made fun of for being a “goody two-shoes.” I wanted to be liked. So much of what I did and tried to accomplish, in hindsight, came from a desire to just be seen, as I felt the loneliness of being left out. 
I remember being invited to my first “cool kids” birthday party in third grade. I didn’t know where to stand, what to say, or how to dance. I didn’t know how I was supposed to act at school the next day. Apart from Ace of Base’s song “All That She Wants” being the highlight of the afternoon, the remainder of the details from that party are a blur to me. Yet, the physical feeling that I had at the time is still something I can recall. This is because my own brain unintentionally learned to feel small and lack self-confidence. Over time, these feelings became a part of my mental culture as my brain reinforced these thoughts again and again. My brain could only see the events in my world as confirmation of the perceived fact that I could never be good enough. I knew this feeling well. 
Even into my thirties, this feeling showed up in new disguises. No matter how much I tried to hide it, the feeling shadowed part of my identity and how others saw me. Social shyness and insecurities, thoughts that I would never be good enough, self-doubt, and self-criticism were a norm. Even when I developed expertise and demonstrated accomplishment, the confidence that came from experience and practice was engulfed by imposter syndrome, which squashed any confidence that I transiently felt. 
We Must Retell Our Stories in Order to Have Self-Confidence
I tell this story now as an illustration to demonstrate that our stories are just a collection of facts and our interpretations of those facts. These interpretations, occurring in the present moment, are thoughts that we are having about our pasts. The fact that we retell stories in a similar way each time is an indication that our interpretations are actually based in deeply rooted beliefs about ourselves and our world. 
Self-confidence is a feeling we have as a result of thoughts that we have about ourselves. Put another way, the way we choose to think about ourselves determines whether we have self-confidence or not. 
Therefore, we must note when the stories we tell about our pasts create a disempowering energy within us due to our inclusion of our negative beliefs about ourselves. Then, in order to cultivate self-confidence, we must learn to retell our stories in an empowering way – one that allows us to interpret the world such that positive beliefs about ourselves are reinforced.
Moving on to the Next Version of Myself
At the present time, there is nothing in the story I told above that defines who I am, or that I identify as real. It is simply a memory, a story of who I was for a very long time, and something that shaped me to become who I was, until I no longer chose to be that person. 
When I started being coached two years ago, I started the journey of evolving myself into a new person and taking on a new identity. This was done out of necessity, because at that time I did not find it acceptable to continue to feel the way I did, nor did I think that the energy I was expending was sustainable for my health or wellness. I learned that the beliefs that I held about myself were a choice. With that small piece of awareness, the doors of possibility were opened. 
In the last two years, I have taken control over my clinical practice. In saying this, I recognize that I have improved my efficiencies, but even more importantly I have gained a sense of control by changing the ways in which I see myself, my work, and my life. Seeing that control of myself is the ultimate control I can achieve, and in developing this skill, I have self-confidence.
For years I placed the development of my mind over the care of the body that took care of it; I have learned to appreciate and refocus on my body and have made huge strides in caring for it. I know that this is an area in which I will have to do the most work. I remain persistent in my actions to unlearn years of ingrained habit, as the personal philosophy (belief) of hard work and the culture of medicine have reinforced a pattern of neglecting one’s physical health within me. In knowing that I will reach my goals – no matter how long it takes, no matter what it takes – I have self-confidence.
My mind is less scattered, and I am less likely to resort to anger or sadness as a way of dealing with life’s circumstances. These feelings occur, but in more appropriate situations and more often by choice. I am more regularly able to pause following life events that are out of my control, and then be more in control my chosen reaction. In other words, my emotional resiliency has skyrocketed. Not only can I handle so much more of what life throws at me, but I can do so because I have such a strong belief that I can. In having this belief, I have self-confidence. 
I have created a new identity in becoming an entrepreneur, something I had not previously thought was even a remote possibility, but which is now a reality. Life does not change by taking action alone, but by first creating belief in oneself and the possibility for something new. This requires the willingness to take on a new, more productive discomfort, in order to evolve into a new version of oneself. Knowing that I can handle the discomfort that comes during a journey into something I’ve never done before has built my self-confidence. 
I look back on all that I have done and am so proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. I acknowledge that some of the choices, maybe even many of the choices I made, were done in order to be liked, or to avoid the judgement of others. It doesn’t matter now why I did what I did. All of it is still a part of me; I can own all of it and be proud of all of it. Lookingforward, I see myself as someone who knows what she wants, who knows how to decide what she wants with conviction. I set limits and boundaries so that I can preserve myself and serve only from a place of genuine joy and desire, and so I have self-confidence.
Self-confidence is all of these things. It is believing in yourself before anyone else does and before there is any reason to do so. It is knowing you can handle any emotion that comes your way, and even willingly looking for productive discomfort in order to grow yourself. It is being able to respect yourself to set limits, even when this doesn’t please others, because it will serve you and your ability to contribute more of what you were meant to in this world. It is the result of having an unwavering belief in yourself — even when attempt after attempt at reaching your goal results in a fail – because you see yourself at the finish line. 

What Are You Really Afraid Of?

When faced with a decision, how often do you say, “I don’t know”?
I will tell my clients to not say “I don’t know” and will challenge them to find their own answer to a question. Why? 
1.    I truly believe that they have an answer within them. The answer that they come up with will be the one more believable to them, and the one that will get them to take action. 
 
2.    Second, it doesn’t matter if they have the answer or not. I help them to see that any decision can be the right decision if they choose to see it that way. They just need to find an option that seems reasonable to them, and then make a decision to move forward. The more they take action, the more they learn, and the more they are able to really decide from hard evidence whether something works for them or not. 
So, you come up with an option that seems reasonable, you make a decision to choose it, and the next step is to move forward and start taking some action…but you stall. Why?
You are afraid. 
I was looking into an opportunity today to work on my public speaking and video presence, and one of the questions on the application for the program was: “What are you afraid of?” My answer was – “Nothing, I’m excited.” 
I could have sat there in uncertainty, wondering whether it was the right choice for me; whether it was worth the money; whether I would really gain anything; whether I would regret the choice; whether I would be embarrassed or rejected when I put myself out there. 
I realized that all of this work has brought me to a place where I’m not as afraid to experience those negative emotions when they come. I still anticipate the discomfort. It still holds me back at times – but I am fully aware of it, can coach myself through it, and then deliberately decide how I’m going to handle it. These days, more often than not I’m jumping right in.

When you are afraid of something, it is not really a fear of what will happen, because remember, the things that happen to us are neutral – they are circumstances. Fear occurs because we are afraid of how we will feel in a situation. Think about this. Think about any situation. What are you really afraid of?

What if you weren’t afraid of the outcome of your choices? What if you were confident in making an educated decision, and then were curious and ready to be surprised with what happens next? What if you knew that you would have always made the right choice, because you chose to see it that way? If this was the case, you could just make a choice – move forward – and then decide if it worked or didn’t work. You would do so much more and get to experience so much more of life! How exciting could that be?
Everything is not going to turn out exactly as you hoped. You may not have control of what goes on in your external world, but you do have control over how you feel internally, by choosing how you think about what’s going on in your life. This means that you will learn to embrace the good and the bad. When you are ready for it all, you can feel confident in making a decision and moving forward, ready for the adventure ahead of you. 

The First Step to Overcoming Distractions

Earlier this week I wrote about the reason that creating a schedule can be important, especially to help our minds constrain and have a focus when there are so many things that we could be doing, or want to be doing. 
However, many people don’t follow through on their exact plans, and this can be a huge point of frustration because the lack of follow-through makes it difficult to believe that we can complete what we set out to do.  
There are a lot of reasons for the absence of follow-through, but one of the most common reasons is distractions. These days, the internet and our phones are probably two big culprits (ie. social media, email, texting, browsing). Other sources of distraction could be food (ie. stress eating), alcohol, TV, or shopping. Even leisure activities, which have a role in helping us unplug and unwind, can become a distraction if they cause us to procrastinate and avoid, instead of helping to rejuvenate us to get more done.
What is the very first thing you can do to start tackling distractions? Notice how you are feeling and what you are thinking. 
You’re probably wondering how this makes any sense. 
When you are distracted, this can manifest in one of several ways:
·       You may be working on a task, and then your attention is transiently drawn elsewhere, and this interrupts your flow as a result.
·       You may be working on a task, and your mind is constantly thinking about something else.
·       While starting or working on a project, you stop mid-way and then start to do something else
·       You may be trying to multi-task.
Based on the CTFAR model then (see my first post for explanation), we are evaluating an unintended ACTION (thinking about something else, or doing something else than what we intended.)
If we can develop awareness about how we are feeling and thinking in that moment, it serves us in several ways. 
1.    Just like in meditation, we can develop the skill of letting these thoughts and feelings come and go, but not interrupt the flow of what we are doing. 
 
2.    By bringing to our consciousness the feelings and thoughts that are driving us to choose to be distracted, we can learn to manage or change these driving forces
 
Examples
·       In relation to our emotions – If it is a feeling of overwhelm or worry that is causing us to avoid what is in front of us, and rather choose to eat, or browse the internet, we can learn to process that negative emotion while simultaneously working on our tasks instead of giving into distraction (this is something I can teach you through coaching.)

·       In relation to our thoughts – If someone sends you a text message while you are working on writing a paper, and you choose to look at that text message, this may be because of a thought such as, “This may be something important.” This thought seems benign enough and reasonable, but it can be the one thing between you and getting your paper completed when you planned. Being able to consistently think something different when a text pops up, such as, “I can take care of it after I’m done with this” may make the difference. This is a simple change that makes complete sense, but sometimes, we are just not aware of how certain thoughts are causing us to continue unproductive habits. Being able to break it down with The CTFAR Model and consciously change how we are thinking allows us to more efficiently make the changes in behavior and outcomes we desire.
Sure, you could keep the phone on silent and in your bag (and maybe you should). You could also use willpower to avoid eating or going on the internet. These strategies could work for a while, and may have a role, but in the end they are often not sustainable. To see a permanent change in approach to give you the outcome you want, you need to change your thinking and be able to handle emotions differently.
These may be things that you’ve never thought about before, or maybe you’re wondering how you can develop this skill more quickly to become better at getting done what needs to get done. Give it some thought, and then some practice. If you want help, these are the things that I coach people on. I help them see and understand their thinking, and what they are feeling, because this is really what is at the root of why we have a hard time sticking to our goals. If you want one-on-one help with this and you’re interested in coaching with me, sign up for a free 25-minute consultation by CLICKING HERE

When Saying No Becomes Easier Than Saying Yes

Saying no may not be easy, especially if you are a people-pleaser. I know this because for most of my life I did things thinking it would help others to accept or like me.

I am sure many of us have been influenced to make certain choices when faced with major life decisions, thinking it would avoid hurting someone else’s feelings or disappointing them. I think that we are influenced also in the things that we say, and agree to do each day, which maybe we wouldn’t have otherwise done if we weren’t trying to control someone else’s opinion of us.

But remember, we can’t control someone else’s thoughts or feelings about us, because they are in control ultimately of what they choose to think and feel. Trying to control them through our actions, we may be successful some of the time, but it leaves us exerting extra effort on our end in order to please them, and we never really know where we stand.

The other day I was invited to attend an event as a follow-up to one that I had attended earlier this year. It sounded wonderful – they had lined up a great presenter, over fifty people were anticipated to attend, and it was going to be an opportunity to get to know more of my community. The organizer of the event was also someone who I had had coffee with, found really interesting, and I had felt that I would even want to get to know that person on a personal level. I share all of this to say that there was a lot of positive emotion floating around, enough to possibly trick me into saying yes to the invitation. 
But I chose to say no.

I caught myself wanting to say yes – both because of the fun opportunity in front of me and also for the people-pleasing reasons you may be able to imagine. (You may have experienced these yourself, in your own situations.) However, I recognized that even though there were good reasons to go, there were even more important reasons for me not to. With my work schedule the way it has been and trying to catch up after some time away recently, I have been tired and I have had very little downtime, which I need. Most importantly, as much as it would have been fun to go, I just didn’t want to, and that was reason enough. Also, what kind of participant would I be if I attended when I really didn’t want to?

By not going, I am honoring what I need to do for myself so that I can be ready to say yes the next time when I want to. I am allowing myself to feel the discomfort that still comes up for me when saying no, and to be okay with it knowing that I don’t have to feel shame (In other words, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me for feeling uncomfortable.) And importantly, I am showing others that when I say ‘yes’, I mean it. They know exactly what to expect from me and can trust my word.
In these types of situations, it may seem harder to say ‘no’, but I promise, I have learned that it is so much easier than saying ‘yes’ all the time.
We are taught all kinds of lessons from a young age. Indirectly, we may have been taught that other people’s opinions of us matter and that we have to make others happy. At the same time, we have been taught to stay confident in who we are and to ignore others’ opinions of us. The right answer, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle and dependent on the situation. The truth is, others’ opinions do matter, but only to the degree that we decide that they matter. And feeling happy – only they can make themselves feel happy. In trying to make others happy, when doing things that we don’t want to, we are making ourselves unhappy and creating a less authentic relationship. Is this what we want, and why do we accept this as okay?

Over the last several years, I have become more confident in who I am and what I want. I have learned that others’ opinions are their own, based on their own thinking about me, and not based on who I am and what I do. They are going to think what they want, and even if I slip into thinking that I can control how they feel, I know that really I can’t. This awareness has liberated me. It has allowed me to more often honor the things that I choose for myself, rather than the things that I think others would like for me to choose. It has allowed me to say yes from a more genuine place and then feel the joy and pleasure of pleasing others for the right reasons. 

When you can practice reorienting your mind in this way on a daily basis, and learn to say no when it is right to say no, you will open up more time in your day for the things that you really want and need.
 
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If you’re starting to see how coaching can make a difference in your life and want to take things to the next level, sign up for a free 25-minute mini session with me to see how you can make the changes you are looking for. It all starts with a single call.  Schedule with Ashwini Nayak, MD
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