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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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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

Are You Responding or Reacting?

Here is a question for you. In general, do you tend to respond or do you tend to react to life? At first you may say, “Aren’t they the same thing?” Actuallythey are not and how you perceive their difference can have a huge impact on how happy you areIt did for meOn my journey out of relentless anxiety, the above question about responding or reacting catapulted my transformation towards healing. 

My Journey 

When I started my journey out of anxiety, I was not even aware that every day I was choosing how I was thinking about my life. Wasn’t life just happening to me? I thought I was supposed to just respond to it in the best way I could? Wasn’t I just a helpless victim? I clearly saw my life as a random set of happenstances that I had to find a way to deal with the best I could. 

During my experience with transformational coaching, I began to see that my life was not a force outside of my control and by stepping up to the fact that I could always choose how I was going to respond to anything that was occurring, that I indeed had control of my life. In any situation, good or bad, I could always choose the most empowering response for myself. For the first time in my life, I felt both powerful and calm at the same time!  

The Hard Truth 

And then one day I was told something by my coach which was initially upsetting however it was exactly what I needed to hear, “Karen”, she said, “your life, as it exists today, is the sum total of all of the conscious and unconscious decisions you have made to date.” What? I was responsible for my shitty life! It took some time for me to accept this notion of responsibility fully and completely and when I finally did, it was liberating. As a matter of fact, it is perhaps the single most liberating thing I have ever done. I was off the hook for playing the victim. Although I didn’t like where I had directed my life to at that point, the single act of taking responsibility was empowering.    

The Responsibility is Ours 

To take full responsibility for both our past and current experiences is indeed empowering because when we blame others or situations, we are giving our power away. And when we do that, we are saying that something outside of ourselves is causing a reaction within us. When we take ownership of our response, even when others are at fault or are wrong, we control both our behaviour and our life’s direction. 

Over the years since my experience with transformational coaching, I have made a clear switch in my thinking.  Negative stuff still does happen and it happens to all of us, however it is how we respond, and how we view the circumstances and conditions that makes the difference between happiness and no happiness.    

Are you ready for happiness to show up?  And are you ready to respond and not react?  If you are, learn more about how transformational coaching can move you from victim to controller of your life. 

I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Taking The Stress Out of Self-Care 

I live just north of Toronto, a city filled with health and wellness clinics, centres, boutiques, and workshops. Even in my “smallish” hometown of Aurora, businesses that focus on wellness are popping up everywhere. From fitness gyms on every corner to massage clinics located in strip malls, the wellness industry is booming. If you are looking into wellness services there are tons to choose from. There’s yoga, Power Pilates, Zumba, running groups, drumming circles, trampolining, indoor cycling, pole-dancing, cryotherapy, Cross-Fit and everything in between. The options seem almost endless. 

Recently, I took advantage of a free drop-in yoga class to see if it was the right fit for me. While I was in the class, I realized that I was not relaxing and reaching that wonderful meditative state that yoga promotes. Instead, I was rehearsing in my mind the multitude of things that I had to do before the day was over. Thoughts about getting groceries on the way home, responding to a client, and a networking event that I recently heard about raced through my mind.  

What I didn’t like about my experience was how self-care felt like helplessness to me. That was not what I was looking for. I was certainly not looking for one more thing to feel stressed about. Tspend time on crafting excuses that I can tell my friends and family as to why I didn’t make it to the gym, or go to the class, or make my appointment.   

A Self-Care Strategy 

I decided that I needed a strategy for my selfcare. Just like I need a strategy for everything else in my life that I deem important. For example, healthy meals don’t just magically appear on the table at my house. It is a result of a systematic approach that starts with a positive intention (I want myself and my family to eat healthy). And it includes the necessary steps to make it happen. Everything from consciously choosing where I buy the groceries for a recipe, to research and selection about different foods is involved in reaching the goal of healthy eating.   

Why would I think that self-care would be any different?  It too requires a systematic approach that starts with intention and includes conscious actions. 

After much trial and error, I identified four necessary elements in order to make self-care a reality for me. Let me share them with you. 

Start with Intention 

Everything starts with an idea or an intention. Ask yourself; “What do I want from self care?” If it is to feel part of a community then choose an activity that involves others or is group based. Iit to challenge yourself? Then pick something that will do that. A trainer at a gym seems like a good choice. Is it to get some alone time? Then look into yoga or mediation. What really matters is that you do something, anything, that satisfies your basic needs. 

Figure Out Your Why 

Once we know what we are looking for, in order to make it stickwe need to understand why we are doing it. Why is self-care important for you? So you can have more energy? Timprove your health? Or maybe to look better? It doesn’t matter what your why is, just that you know it and can relate to it. 

Get Into the Groove (and that WILL take time…accept it!) 

Now it is time to develop positive habits. Set a reminder on your phone. Have an accountability partner. Give yourself a reward for achievement. Habits require 63 consecutive days to form, and that leads up to the last suggestion. 

Persevere  

Whatever you find works for you, make it mandatory for yourself and commit to doing it. Once you start doing something positive on a regular basis, you are going to feel better about yourself. These positive actions will leave you feeling more confident and happier.  

How do you work self-care into your life? Is it something you look forward to each day or is it just another thing you need to get done? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. 

To our health and wellbeing, 

Karen 

Fear of Change

We are only a few weeks away from the scariest of all nights of the year, Halloween. Although we joke and jest about Halloween, and the traditional acts of scaring others by dressing up as witches and warlocks, fear is not a joking matter for many. Fear is a real and daily demon.

Anxiety is intrinsically linked to our survival instincts. Giving it up seems inconceivable for many that suffer. Most people tell me they want to be less anxious, however when asked what they would like to do to change their anxiety, their response is, “But I hate change.”  What they are really saying is that they want the benefits of change, as long as they don’t have to make the actual changes. For them the fear of change is too great.

Change means that you have to do something new, amend your habits, develop new ways of thinking and create a new way of being. It’s about holding your own hand while you step into the unknown. There are no shortcuts or free passes.  The process requires that you get comfortable with being uncomfortable and with making sacrifices.

So why are we hardwired to be afraid of change even when we recognize that it would be good for us? Why do we fail at change over and over again?  And why do we procrastinate to make the changes that will lead us to a better, more fulfilled life?

Top Excuses that Prevent Change

Here are the top excuses I hear that keep people from moving forward with their lives:

I Will Be Uncomfortable

It is natural to fear discomfort.  It’s hardwired into us.  However, if you want change than you must recognize that you are already uncomfortable with your life, your health, your relationships, your career, or your finances. Moving towards a new way of living is simply about feeling uncomfortable in a different way, so you can get to where you truly want to be. Isn’t it more reasonable to opt for temporary uncomfortableness that will lead to positive changes versus being uncomfortable with a negative aspect of your being for the rest of your life?

I May Not Succeed

The fear of failure permeates all of our society in so many ways. It is wrapped up with feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, or awkwardness. Fear of failure keeps great ideas unfertilized and people stuck in routine and boredom. It takes courage to realize that this fear is irrational and to not bow to its pressure. Where would we be if Thomas Edison had succumbed to the fear of failure and did not attempt to invent the lightbulb over a thousand times! What great ideas are you backing away from because of your fear of failure?

It Takes Work

If you usually spend your life playing it safe and sticking within your comfort zone, you will miss all the possibilities of what could be. Risk enhances your life. However, taking risks involves effort. It takes effort to prepare for that new job interview, to learn that new skill, or to stop that unhealthy eating habit. Sometimes the biggest risk however, is making no effort to change your life at all.

Others May Criticize Me

Ignoring the criticism of others is a necessary skill to adopt, especially if you are serious about wanting to change your life. You must accept that others will laugh at you, criticize you and chastise you. The interesting fact is that the people who are doing the criticizing are often the ones who would rather sit on the sidelines. And they want you to sit on the sidelines with them. If you are serious about change, you will have to accept that comments, sometimes not nice ones, from others are inevitable.

I Don’t Know What The New Way Will Be Like

People are naturally afraid of anything that is new or different. It’s completely normal. When change feels overwhelming, it’s a good idea to recognize that there are many aspects of your life that are not changing. You will always have your trusted friends, family, abilities, talents etc. While one part of our life may be changing there are other parts that will be staying the same. Knowing this can be reassuring and may be just the foundation you need to step forward, towards your big vision.

Take a moment to honestly consider whether a fear of change is holding you back. Is there a happier, healthier, wealthier, calmer you out there waiting for you to take the necessary steps?  My next blog will address how you can overcome your fear of change so that you can truly experience how different your life can be.

I invite you to share your experience with worrying in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen