Fear of Failure

Are you ready to take that step forward towards something new, untried, and adventurous? Do you find yourself imagining your desired future and then pulling back when it is time act? Why is it that some people see all the reasons why not to do something instead of all the reasons why to do something? 

To be able to embrace our future in ways different from our past, we must be ok with uncertainty, the unknown, and the untested. For a lot people however, the fear of failure is a huge barrier that holds them back from this new way of experiencing life. This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are so closely entangled with their business that their identity and ego are immersed in their venture. When things do not go as they desired, it can feel that they are broken at their core. It can be devastating, and it can be paralyzing.    

With all the uncertainty that entrepreneurs face daily, it is a wonder that they get anything done at all. I know that as an entrepreneur myself, there are days that I feel smart and able to face anything. Other daysI am convinced that my ideas are stupid, doomed to fail and that I will never succeed. I believe however, that these two parts of me both serve a positive purpose. It is when one part plays a bigger role, drowning out the other part, that I need to pay attention. It is the cocktail of anxiety and nervousness mixed with excitement and anticipation that makes the best formula for me to go forward in a balanced way.   

Beware of Low Self-Esteem 

What we need to be on the look-out for however, is low self esteem. Low self-esteem can de-rail any effort. It is the belief that regardless of how hard you work, how many hours you put in, how much risk you take, you do not deserve success. This belief needs to be overcome and the best way to do this is to be aware of any negative thoughtsstopping them as soon as they are identified and replacing them with positive self-talk. I like to have about half a dozen positive statements about myself and my success pre-written and easily accessible on my phone. When I find myself stuck in negative thinking, I either read these positive statements or listen to my stored recording of myself saying them. then repeat them few times until I feel a shift in my mood.   

That Voice is NOT You 

Most of us have a naturally critical voice in our head. What we need to be aware of is fact that the voice is most likely not our own. It is probably the voice of either a parent, grandparent, past teacher or boss. What we need to do is identify where this voice is coming from and then decide if we want to let it go. We took on these beliefs of others most likely when we were a child and we were powerless. Now that we are adults, we are free to accept or reject them, recognizing they represent the opinions of others and we are allowing these opinions to shape our lives. 

So how can you use the dance between excitement and fear of failure to your advantage? Try these five ways to reframe fear and turn it into your friend rather than your foe. 

Figure Out Why You Want the Change:   

Ask yourself what it is exactly about your current life, job, relationship and so forth that you want to change. Knowing why you want to change will keep you motivated to go forward. 

Acknowledge the Fear:   

For many, fear stops any movement forward because nobody likes the feeling of fear. If you simply allow yourself to feel the fear when it shows up, you will notice that is quickly dissipates and suddenly life feels more manageable and less scary. 

Play Out the Worst-Case Scenario:   

This is one of my favourite strategies to keep moving forward. I ask myself what is the worst possible way that this could go. If I can handle whatever it is that I imagine, then I keep moving forward.  

Remember There is no Real Failure:   

Everything we do creates a result, so ultimately, there is no failure. There may be disappointment or unhappiness with the result however, it is important to take away information that you can use going forward, even if it is what not what you will do next time. 

Look at How Far you Have Already Come:   

If you honestly look back at your life, I am sure that younger you could not have imagined how far you have already come in your life or your business. Congratulate yourself on the process.  Recognize that there is unlimited number of versions of success.   

If you are interested in getting past any negative thinking and moving forward without self-defeating fear sign up for a complimentary consultation. 

Let’s Connect 

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing! 

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation. 

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. 

To our Health and Wellbeing, 

Karen 

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Reclaiming Leisure Time

A few days ago, I was listening to a local radio station and caught an interview with a mother and her young son. They were challenging each other to go the entire weekend without engaging in any screen time. The rules of the challenge were no cell phones, no tablets, no television, no email, and most importantly, no social media from Friday evening to Monday morning. Instead, they were to engage in reading, face-to-face conversations, playing board games, going for walks together etc. I found the interview to be delightful. The interaction between the mother and son was lively and full of well-intentioned kidding.

It left me wondering however, what would I have thought of the interview if I heard it 10 years earlier? I believe that ten or so years ago, I would have thought the idea of choosing to fill down time with reading or walking as a stretch or a challenge to be crazy or ridiculous. That led me to further wonder about what has happened to our leisure time in the last decade. Do we even have free time anymore?

Filling our Time with Social Media

It seems that any spare moments or idle time is filled with being on our phones either checking emails, posting photos to our Instagram accounts, logging onto Facebook or texting friends, family or colleagues. The shrinking of our leisure time has been largely influenced by the anxiety generated due to the global recession in 2008. We have become so devoted to our work and to getting ahead that we are willing to sacrifice our free time. Our busyness has actually become our obsession and it is making it more difficult to enjoy guilt-free downtime. The real shame is that downtime is so very important for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Unplugging fully and completely and allowing our authentic selves to come forward is what we need to enjoy and contribute to our families and communities.

To add more pain to the problem, social media has become our primary outlet to show off to the world just how active and interesting we are even in our supposed free time. So, what has happened is that our free time has now become our second job! We spend so much time managing our image and feeding the pervasive mentality that being busy 24/7 is most desirable. We often forget about the benefits of real true downtime. So many people have told me that they are as anxious about managing their downtime as are about their regular, paying job.

Getting Back to the Way Weekends Used to be

Let’s not forget that weekends are supposed to be about enjoyment, relaxing and doing things without the sense of obligation or stress. How about getting back to weekends as they used to be years ago, days flowing naturally and enjoyment coming from being present in the moment fully and completely without our minds fretting to find the perfect posting photo.

I wonder how the mother and son weekend challenge went. More importantly, I wonder if they found a new way to be in leisure time together. I hope they discovered that stepping away from being connected to the outside world allowed them to enjoy being connected to each other and that making a memory was more fun and enjoyable than making a post.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

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Combating Low Self-Esteem

Do you ever wish you felt better about yourself? Would you say that you have low self-esteem? Do you feel like you are constantly bombarded by upsetting thoughts? Mostly about yourself and your inability to get anything done or even started? If you have a history with anxiety then the answers to these questions are most likely yes.

What is common amongst people with low self-esteem is that they are generally motivated to avoid disappointment as opposed to focused on achievement. As a result, they get locked in inaction.

This inaction is often rooted in perfectionism because perfectionism encourages you look at what is wrong and not at what is going well. Perfectionism is toxic. It holds back anyone who wants to make a positive impact on their life, family, community, and the world.

Low self-esteem and perfectionism both sound like this: “I can’t look for my ideal job because I don’t think I am good enough.” Or perhaps, “I can’t start online dating because I haven’t lost those last 10 pounds.”

Low self-esteem and perfectionism are rooted in conditional statements like: I can’t do/have/be “X” because I am not “Y”. 

And here is the illusion – often the “Y” is something that can never be satisfactorily reached.  This is a self-sabotaging way to approach life and it keeps you stuck in low self-esteem and not achieving what you want in your life. It keeps you from getting what it is that you want out of life. It also proves day in and day out that you are right about being not good enough.

Ask Yourself

Here are some questions to ask yourself. Are you ready to be proven wrong on your opinion that you need to be perfect to start anything? Have you given that opinion enough of your time and energy yet? What if I told you that you can be right OR happy, healthy and wealthy?

So instead of looking for what is missing and feeling bad about that, why don’t you let go of the delusion that you should (or could) have all of your ducks in a row and feel the freedom, energy and hope that this change in thinking can bring. Take this new energy and focus it on taking up endeavours that bring you a real sense of achievement and happiness. And then, enjoy the sense of positive self-esteem growing because it is no longer hooked on the belief that why start because it will never be perfect enough anyway.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

 

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Why Do We Have Problems Setting Boundaries?

You and I have made it to mid-September and for that we deserve a pat on the back.  Most likely, you have either started back to school or someone in your household did.  Maybe you started a new job or like me, a new exercise program.  Regardless, you have most likely added some activity or commitment to your life that was not there earlier in the year.

All of this new and positive activity injection means that the energy that we have needs to used wisely and deliberately because there isn’t any spare to waste.  This has made me think not only about priorities but also boundaries because I want to eliminate the risk of being two months into my new routine and feeling overwhelmed, guilty, angry, victimized or suffocated.  All of these feelings along with complaining are clear signs that no boundaries in place.  And who hasn’t found themselves exactly there?

Why Do We Have Problems Setting Boundaries?

Many times, I have walked straight into a situation without the heads-up-thinking that I needed and found myself wishing I could find the nearest exit.  These situations have come both as innocent, in-the-moment agreements to do something like “sure, I can go shopping with you all day for a new dress for you sister-in-law’s wedding”, or bigger more permanent arrangements like “why not move in?”.  In both cases, my lack of stepping back and understanding what my boundaries were around the situation caused me to experience all those ugly, previously mentioned feelings.

Why is it that so many of us have problems setting boundaries?  What is our internal dialogue that tells us that it is wrong or harmful to be clear about what we will and will not tolerate?  You wouldn’t move into a house that did not have clear delineation point between your property and your neighbour’s, so why is it that setting limits between ourselves is considered to be not be friendly or neighbourly?

We Believe We Can’t Say “No”

Most of it comes from our belief that we cannot say no because we don’t want to lose people’s approval or to risk anyone thinking badly of us. It is about feeding our sense of self through other people’s perceived opinion or us.

The result of saying yes when we mean no drives us clearly towards giving ourselves a hard time and then our inner critic does the happy dance.  We end up not having the resources we want for the things that matter to us whether it is time, money or energy.  And the boost of self-esteem that we so wanted from others thinking we are amazing now feels more like we are being taken for granted.

So, I am imagining all the things that I want to get accomplished and create in the last few remaining months of 2019 and how they will enrich my life.  I am then imagining how much smoother it will be for me if I start saying no instead of yes so that I have the resources to do what I want and the sense of self to look after myself first.  Here’s to the power of saying no!

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Balancing Life’s Priorities

Over the years, I have come to realize that multi-tasking and taking on too many duties is a direct contributor to symptoms like increased heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, difficulty with concentration, nausea and sweating.  Many times, I mistakenly attributed these physical symptoms with anxiety when in fact they were symptoms of simply not prioritizing my life. I foolishly thought that because my life was running in all directions and I was feeling frazzled that there must be something wrong with me and most likely it was anxiety.

The Busier We Get, The Quicker We Lose Sight of Our Priorities

In actuality, as I became more and more trapped in the endless cycle of work, errands and other responsibilities, I lost sight of the things that were important to me: maintaining a good emotional state and a good quality of life.  I was so consumed with meeting everyone else’s needs and wishes that I did not give myself the time to check-in to make sure I was putting my energy on what was foremost for me.  Days, weeks, months and even years would pass by. All without me ensuring that I was focused on what was genuinely important to me.  This behaviour led to sleepless nights because I could not shut off my brain. Then during the day I felt debilitated by all that was still ahead of me to do.

Today, how do I stop myself from falling into this trap of feeling those out-of-control feelings? 

I surround myself predominately with people that support me, my priorities and my values.  I make sure I have relationships that inspire me and energize me rather than only demand energy from me and hold me back.

Also, and very importantly, I frequently evaluate where I spend my time. I do this in order to discover how I can find more time for my priorities.  I track where I am spending time in the areas of work, exercise, meals, time with loved ones, time spent on hobbies, sleep, meditation – everything and anything.  Then I step back. I look at how I can change the way I am spending my time to focus on my priorities.

Take Stock of Your Relationships

In addition, I take stock of my relationships.  Who do I want to make more time for? And who do I need to let go of to be able to thrive?  I have also become okay with not everyone supporting my core values and priorities.  I have found that when I think about my relationships, some people drain my energy and harm my sense of well-being. And when I realize that my priorities have shifted, I re-evaluate who I spend most of my time with.

By holding myself accountable for my priorities and making small changes to focus on what’s really important, I feel more confident, joyful and less anxious every day.   I also remember the old adage, we are only busy with the things that we say yes to.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

It’s All In Your Imagination

Sitting in my home office and looking outside my window onto the street below I see the neighbourhood children playing. The boys are practicing their basketball skills, each imagining that they are the next Kawhi Leonard. A group of younger girls are kneeling down together as they draw a colourful game of hopscotch on the sidewalk with chalk.  Farther down the street I can see a lemonade stand being attended to by a bunch of cheerful want-to-be entrepreneurs.

Remember When We Were Children?

Taking all of this in has made me wonder, when did I stop using my imagination and why? When was the last time I imagined that I was the “star” player, an artist, or even a successful entrepreneur?

As we grow up and move into our teenage and then adult years, we begin to stop “pretending”. We begin to believe that we need to take life seriously. Many of us get repeated messaging from adults like, “get your head out of the clouds”, “quit dreaming” or “act serious”.

Imagination is a Gift

This move away from using our imagination does us a disservice in the long run for it is our imagination that keeps life interesting. It is in our imagination where new ideas flourish, we solve our problems in unique ways, and where we develop our self-confidence. Imagining ourselves successfully facing a job interview or nailing a work presentation, or even imaging ourselves enjoying a first date wires our brain with the necessary neurology to execute that act exactly as desired.

Actively using our imagination also turns on positive, super-charged chemicals in our brains and we get an immediate lift in how we feel in the moment. And the more we run the imaginary events over and over again in our brain, the better and more positive and confident we feel and the probability of the positive result actually occurring goes up exponentially. And isn’t it better to live in an imaginary world of positivity than rooted in fear or anxiety?

This gift that we have of imagination is just that, a gift for it is what separates us humans from most other forms of life on this planet. No other animal has the ability to garner imagination. Only us humans can look forward, plan, and “see” our imagined future from where we stand today.

We must stop assuming that imagination is only for children.  It is for anyone who wants to set goals, achieve results, or generally become happier in life.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Happiness Habits

In my latest blog, I wrote about how my dad chose to approach each day and how those choices, done consistently, granted him a truly happy life. Simple things like feeling and expressing appreciation every day for things and people in his life and consciously choosing to approach each day positively were how he shaped his life.

Consistency is Key

So you are probably wondering – what exactly are some other actions that you can do every day that will bring you happiness.

Research has shown that if you follow some simple, fairly mundane, and repetitive tasks day after day you can experience a significant shift towards a happier life. These are simple tasks, that if you do them persistently over a long enough period of time, you will get the results you are looking for.

The question that I would like to pose now is what other areas of your life will benefit from you being an overall happier person? Could you see your eating habits improving? How about your exercise routine? Think about your financial habits around savings or paying bills on time. Could they improve if you felt happier? Personal development, learning, and relationships – couldn’t they all be impacted positively?

What I am about to share with you are some actions that have come out of happiness research and that have shown that if you faithfully practice them for 3 weeks in a row they will become a happiness habit of yours. You will be rewiring your brain to see the world in a different way and as a result, you will become a happier person overall.

5 Behaviours That Lead to Happiness Habits

1. Make More Time for Friends

Meaningful friendships nourish us because they validate who we are and reflect back to us our worth. Good friends appreciate us and ensure that we feel supported. Make time for these connections.

2. Practice Savouring the Moment

Staying focused and centred on the present moment and finding the beauty and generosity in every situation is powerful and transformative. Keep your attention off of what has happened in the past or the concerns of the future and see what riches are in front of you right now.

3. Engage in Meaningful Activities

Find what is important to you and contribute to it. Are you motivated by the environment, social issues, safety for children or the elderly, animal rights…. It does not matter what your passion is but what does matter for you and the world is that you contribute to it with your talents.

4. Practice Forgiveness

Forgiveness is transformative. Finding a way to forgive can re-energize your life and can open up space for you to feel happiness in its place.

5. Do the Simple Act of Giving

Practicing random acts of kinds can lift up anyone’s spirits. It holds the power to make someone’s day with simple, small, selfless acts.  Seeing someone else smile due to something that you did in the moment can inject your day with a boost of happiness that can last for a long time.

You probably already know and may even be practicing your own list of happiness habits and maybe the above suggestions can be added to it. Do these simple things consistently, every day and in time you might be feeling a whole lot better – you might be a happier version of yourself.  Then you are free to enjoy how everything in your life is working out for the better as well.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

The Secret to Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy.  Just ask anyone “what do you want most in life” and they will more than likely answer, “to be happy”. What is this happiness craze all about anyway and how do we go about being happy?

My Personal Struggle with Happiness

I have found myself caught up in the happiness craze.  I have spent lots of energy in the form of either time or money in the pursuit of it.  Often times, I thought that buying another pair of shoes will bring me happiness.  Or maybe losing the 10lbs of weight that has been hanging around my hips will make me happy.  Or better yet, maybe the next relationship will do it.

I have to say that each of those achievements did bring me some happiness however it was a fleeting experience.  It lasted for only short period of time and before long, I was right back feeling the same way I was before I either purchased the item, lost the weight, or started the relationship.

My Father’s Wise Words

I have come to realize that the best lesson on how to become and stay happy was being delivered every single day by my dad when I was growing up.  Obviously, living at home allowed me to see how my dad was but I never equated his behaviour and daily habits to why he was such a happy man.  Well, not until recently.

My dad was a man that did a few things really, really well and consistently and I think it was his formula for his happiness.  First of all, he was grateful every day for things that were in his life.  Often he would say things like, “I sure am a lucky guy”!  Was he saying this because he had the latest sports car or because we  just moved into a new, upgraded home.  No.  My family lived very modestly so it wasn’t riches and possessions that he was referring to.  My dad just felt truly appreciative  for everything he had in his life even if they were simple and inexpensive.

My dad made a habit out of making the same choice every single day and he did it before he got up in the morning.  I remember him talking to me about this  when I was a young girl. I didn’t really understand what he was getting at then, however now I see the true power in it.

He told me that every morning, before he put his feet on the floor to start his day he made a conscious choice to be happy.  He said that we all have the power to choose how we will approach the upcoming day, either with positivity or negativity.  He said that he always chose the positive option because it made the day go easier for both himself and everyone else.  He also said that choosing to be positive does not guarantee the day will go well, however “it sure increases the chances that it will”.  And you can’t argue with that logic!

Choose to be Happy

My dad and how he lived his life has shown me that it isn’t success that brings happiness per se but that happiness brings success regardless of how you define it.  Following a few key daily habits like counting your blessings and consciously choosing happiness as a way of being can propel anyone towards a much happier life and none of these things cost money and we can all choose to do them starting right now.

Even when money was tight at home or problems arose, my dad always seemed to be happy and content.  I know now that he wasn’t acting or just seeming to be happy, he truly was happy because he did a few simple yet conscious things every day that propelled him towards genuine lasting happiness.

Until Next Time

Watch for my next blog where I will talk about what formal research is telling us about how to achieve happiness.  I will share more strategies that, if practiced daily can make a significant, noticeable and measurable impact on how truly happy you feel each and every day. And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Panic Attacks

What Is a Panic Attack?

If you have ever experienced one then you can probably clearly explain the body sensation of an attack. Heart palpitations, sweating, trembling and shaking, feeling nausea and dizzy are what are most common to people.  What is equally scary however is the fear of losing control and even dying.

During the years of living with my anxiety, I had a number of panic attacks. Some worse than others and some forcing me to go to the hospital convinced that I was having a heart attack. What I found out later was that due to the intensity of the symptoms that a panic attack can bring on, they tend to mimic those of heart disease and breathing disorders and that it is common for people experiencing a panic attack to be convinced they are having a life-threatening issue.

What is annoying about panic attacks is that they can occur unexpectedly. Doesn’t matter if you start out feeling calm or anxious, the attack can occur regardless. And since they are so unpleasant to experience and very frightening, you end up becoming worried about having another panic attack.

Detecting The Onset of An Attack

Through my trial and error with panic attacks I discovered that having a plan, a way to respond when one came one was the best approach for me. It reduced my ongoing worry about getting another attack because I felt more confident that I could manage myself out of one and it also reduced the length of time that I was experiencing the symptoms of the attack. Here is what I found worked for me.

What Works For Me

Firstly, I just recognize that I am feeling afraid and starting to panic.  I found it is best to not ignore the symptoms and pretend they are not happening.  I also remind myself that I am not in danger.  Usually the thought of being in danger accompanies panic attacks.   I  found that reminding myself that I am safe is very useful.  How I do this is I look around and say to myself, “See, you are fine.  You are safe.  You are secure.”

Next, I choose to not fight the feeling.  This goes against all of my instinct.  I just say to myself, “Well, it looks like I am having a panic attack right now.”  Then, I allow myself to just accept the symptoms. I see the physical sensations that I am experiencing as a logical and expected response to whatever thoughts I am having that are causing the panic. My body is functioning exactly as it should, and I know that my thoughts are creating the physical response. I thank my body for being so well-built and responsive.  This is a nice twist to what I used to do which was to worry and struggle which actually made it worse.

I then remind myself that I have been through this before and it always ended.  I remember that my last panic attack and the one before that and the one before that all came to an end and so this one will also end.

Grounding Exercises 

And lastly and most importantly, I focus on something outside of myself.  I find that getting into the present moment and focusing on something that is in my sight I can stop my imagination from making up the future stories that are negative and which are probably triggering the panic in the first place.  I stop any thinking that is accompanied by “what if….” by turning my focus on something is actually happening right in front of me.  I then work with my body by relaxing it using breath work.  Relaxing the muscles of my jaw, neck, shoulders and back really help.  I also make sure I am not standing rigid with muscles tensed and that I am NOT holding my breath.

I have found that by following these simple steps I can start making myself feel better rather quickly when a panic attack comes on.  Sometime I have to do the steps a couple of times before I start to see any results.  The important thing is to keep doing them and not give up.

You’re Not Alone

Panic is a normal response to either a real or imagined situation.  If you are like me and it is your mind making up “what if…” stories that are triggering the panic, then give the steps that I use a try and see if you can shorten the length and number of attacks you are experiencing. And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen