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Newmarket Chamber Women in Business Luncheon

It was an honour to be chosen to be a co- panelist at this year’s Newmarket Chamber Women in Business Luncheon, along with Erin Cerenzia from Magna Neighbourhood Network and Jennifer Walker from Carruthers Financial. Both women had inspirational messages about corporate social responsibility and personal financial management. I led a discussion on living with anxiety and gave some insights and learnings from my own personal life experiences.

Living with Anxiety

Some of the key points outlined in my talk were:

  • Anxiety is our natural response to a perceived direct threat to our wellbeing. Whenever we sense a threat to our wellbeing our natural flight or fight response kicks in. This triggers our sympathetic nervous system and releases a cascade of hormones into our body such as adrenaline and epinephrine. These hormones cause a change in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and eyesight.
  • Anxiety becomes a problem when our flight or fight response is triggered by cues that are not threatening at all – either physically or otherwise. This is called an imagined threat as opposed to a real threat. This is known a maladaptive anxiety.
  • Maladaptive anxiety sets off “what if”, worse-case scenario thinking.
  • Maladaptive anxiety can also trigger a core negative belief(s) that is based in our unconscious thinking about ourselves.
  • This maladaptive anxiety is causing the same body response as adaptive anxiety that is caused by a real threat.
  • One of the key differences between maladaptive and adaptive anxiety is that unlike adaptive anxiety, maladaptive is not founded in reality or truth. It is chronic and never ending.
  • The key to reducing the experience of maladaptive anxiety and experiencing relief from the feeling of it in our body is to address the core negative beliefs that are deep in our unconscious thinking.
  • Addressing these negative core beliefs can be done through a number of approaches, one of them being through the recognized somatic treatment offered by NLP.

Let’s Connect

If you are interested in knowing how my coaching can help you manage your emotional state so that you are experiencing more joy and less fear, 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

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy

Living with Anxiety

Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, business presentation or first date. Stress in this type of situation is normal and it is a proportional reaction to an external pressure. Most people will experience some form of anxiousness in their lives and for the majority, the feelings of nervousness and worry disappear as soon as the event has passed.

Anxiety Disorders

Having an anxiety disorder however is usually diagnosed when the cause that is triggering the person to feel frightened, distressed and uneasy has no apparent reason. New research shows that anxiety disorders can run in families and that they can have a biological basis much like allergies or diabetes. Anxiety disorders may also develop from a complex set of risk factors including personality and life events.

Anxiety dramatically reduces a person’s productivity and quality of life. For these reasons alone, it is imperative that the person struggling with these feelings seek help sooner rather than later.

Symptoms of Anxiety

If you are experiencing anxiety you are not alone. Over 20% of adults have expressed some degree of experience with anxiety. Some of the more common symptoms experienced are:

  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain, tightness or soreness
  • Difficulty sleeping (both falling asleep or staying asleep)

Anxiety is all about worry and fear. Worry and fear happens when something causes you to learn to be scared and worried. This learning process affects your thoughts and your body, for example by causing your heart to race or excessive sweating. You can address your anxiety by examining your thoughts and physical reactions that are happening in your mind and body. For example, you can re-learn how to be around the thing that scares you and NOT react with fear.  This is done by reprogramming your thinking and behavioural habits.

How to Address Anxiety

Some examples of how to address anxiety are:

Coaching or Therapy: There are many different types of coaching as well as therapy options. It can be a great way to change behaviours, gain confidence, learn new skills and talk with someone openly and honestly.

Support Groups: Support groups are made up of individuals with similar experiences who meet regularly to discuss their experiences. Talking to people who are also going through the same experience can make you feel less alone and more connected. It also creates a space where people can share what has worked for them.

Medication: Medications prevent your body from reacting in a fearful way. They create a sense of calmness by slowing down your brain activity.

Lifestyle Changes: Research has shown that exercise, meditation and yoga can all improve mood and overall well-being. Research also shows the importance of nutrition and certain supplements in supporting brain and mood. Other things like taking time to take care of yourself, trying activities you enjoy, and spending time with people or environments where you feel supported can help as well.

While there is no specific answer, there are many options and combinations of options that can all address living with anxiety. It can take some time to find what works for you and sometimes just knowing that there are approaches to try can be all that we need in this moment to feel calm.

Watch for my next blog where I discuss the best stress reduction techniques.

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

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy

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 

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy 

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

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy

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

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

Get Past Your Fear of Change

My last blog discussed why people are afraid of change. Why they opt to stay stuck, rather than push forward toward a new version of themselves. Feelings of discomfort, uncertainty, fear of criticism or failure were the main culprits. Now that we recognize why we resist change so much, the next question is how do we get past those feelings and start moving forward differently?

I have had some major times in my life where I knew that I needed to change, and change BIG, in order to get out of the mess I was in and to get to some place better. But I was scared of making those changes. I didn’t jump into the sea of change right away. I dodged and darted, avoiding what my intuition was telling me for months, even years. It was only when my life got so unhappy and unbearable that I accepted the challenge to make changes. I highly recommend not waiting to embrace change until life gets overwhelming like I did. It leads to chaos, many sleepless nights, and unrelenting anxiety.

I realize that choosing to stay right where you are, doing exactly what you’ve been doing, can provide temporary relief. You won’t need to worry about all of the “what-if…” scenarios. You won’t have the unknown future staring you in the face. But, if you never embrace change, especially the changes you know deep in your heart you need to make, then you will never know what might have been. And isn’t that scarier than the fear of change?

I have listed below six steps that will help you face change more easily in your life.

Embrace Risk

If you spend your life playing it safe, sticking to what you know, then your future will simply replay your past. Your future will be predictable and repeating. If, however, you dream of better or different, then see the risk as something that will enhance  your life. This different perspective can be hugely motivating and exhilarating. It can even open up space for change in your life.

Establish a Strategy

All good plans need a strategy. A strategy will make you feel comfortable about the course that you have chosen. Being prepared is necessary for all success in life.

Seek Advice (From the Right People!)

Find someone who has made changes in their life, especially if they are similar changes (ie. career changes, relationship changes). Ask them specifically why they made the change, how they did it, and how it made them feel. And then for the big question – ask them what they would they have done differently?

Put Your Supports in Place

One of the best ways to overcome the fear of change is to surround yourself with cheerleaders. People that are positive, inspiring and empowering. Reduce your time with the naysayers and Negative Nellies. To be successful, positive reinforcement and people who are authentically excited to hear about your journey can go a long way.

For Goodness Sake Don’t Look Back!

You are using your energy to build a new reality, looking back at how things used to be, does not allow for that muscle to develop. Looking back leads to second guessing and feelings of uncertainty. Stay away from analyzing what was. Focus on the goal of what you want and what will be.

Patience is a Virtue

Sometimes we want everything right away. Recognize that growth is an evolution, and it doesn’t happen overnight.

I have learned in my life that we are not dropped onto the perfect path. Sometimes we need to find our own way. The growth that comes from that journey and search can be the biggest reward ever. Combating the fear of change can be difficult. But don’t let that fear be the thing that holds you back from a life better than you could ever imagine.

I invite you to share your experience of overcoming the fear of change in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

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