Listen, there’s a reason that “change is hard” is one of the biggest headnodders* of all time. We suck at changing our lives! This is why we continue to engage with truly terrible ideas! Here are three terrible ideas I am still engaging in on the regular:
Today is just another example of our whole lives. We know what’s up.
Said another way, we already know what we need to do differently!
So why don’t we? And why do we get so emotional when someone suggests that we could, in fact, respond differently?
Because change is hard. It’s hard, hard, hard, hard, hard.
But hard doesn’t mean impossible, or even unmanageable. Hard means effortful. We have to be strategic and understand what we are dealing with. This is where the three-part workspace model of the mind comes in.
As a reminder, the workspace of the mind has three interwoven parts, each of which can be supported to help us better manage our mind and change our lives.
Mindset: These are the lenses that fall into place and color/frame the way we interpret what’s happening to us. Fundamentally, a mindset is a pattern of beliefs. Beliefs are ingrained thoughts. And thoughts are things we can choose with effort in the moment.
Mindscape: Your brain is capable of time travel- freely moving from the past, through the present, and into the future. Your mindscape is the current (and shifting) “location” of your mind. Where in time are you choosing to spend your life? Are you choosing the present moment where your experiences are able to change, expand, contract, and adjust? Or are you projecting your mind forward in the fields of “what if” and “yeah, but” that characterizes our worries about the future? Is your mind roaming the past, worrying over painful experiences, revisiting discolored memories, and strengthening repetitive thoughts?
Mndmanager: If you’ve ever taken a cognitive development class, the mindmanager is a lot like the “central executive.” The mindmanager has a LOT to do, and most of it doesn’t involve your conscious mind. Which is to say that managing your thoughts is the least of your mindmanager’s worries. This means that when you go to enage in the effort to change your thoughts, your mindmanager is going go to resist. She will, instead, point you to familiarity.
Your brain is most fundamentally designed to keep you alive.
It does so, in the purest form, by creating and re-creating familiarity.
Ah, familiarity: When I feel safe, warm, and comfortable with something simply because it didn’t kill me last time.Bliss.
The pull of familiarity is strong. It’s strong, in large part, because it’s your mindmanager’s shortcut. “Go over there and hang out with familiarity, Amanda,” she says to me, “while I take care of all this adult business.” If your mindmanager is your parent, familiarity is Nickelodeon. Mindmanager assumes it’s safe because it’s kids tv, and you are interested enough to watch, even if you aren’t that into it.
But, familiarity has a dark side (so does Nickelodeon, btw. Have you watched any of those shows?). Lots of the things that are “always around” aren’t that great for us. The sugar, the sedentary-ness, the hours and hours of watching the news, the Facebook scroll of death…It’s familiar, so we do it again and again, even though it’s draining our life force.
Mindmanager thrives in BALANCE. When she’s out of whack she drops into default mode, relying on familiarity and habit rather than strategy and effort. There are two dimensions that need to be balanced if you want mindmanger to lend you a hand and help you change your life: one is passionate detachment, and the other is engaged retreat.
Passionate detachment is about your interest. Are you doing things that you care about? Are you “all in?” If yes, then you are experiencing “passion” and mindmanager is willing to get involved. However, this passion needs to be tempered with detachment from immediate, predictable outcomes or mind manager will get overwhelmed by the intensity of your reactions and fears and stick you back in front of the tv. The sweet spot in the middle of this dimension is passionate detachment and it marked by your enthusiastic engagement with the goals and and flexibility with outcomes and timelines.
Engaged retreat is the other dimension that needs to be balanced. Another word for engagement, when it’s gotten a little out of hand is “hustle.” Engagement is about hard work, persistence, and the grind. All good things… that will eat you alive if you aren’t careful. Engagement MUST be balanced with regular retreat- simple pleasures are best: sleeping, eating, downtime, and connection with loved ones.
Now, these aren’t continuums where your goal is to land at a particular place and stay there; these are planes of experience and your goal is to move freely around them. The key, actually, is to avoid getting stuck in one of the quadrants.
When you get stuck in a quadrant, you will experience one of the four-horsemen of the workpocalypse.
Mindmanager is willing to participate in your efforts to change your mind and pursue your goals when you orbit around the sweet spot. If you find yourself unable to gain a foothold against your own bad habits and tendencies, place yourself in the model and find your most important next step.
As I always say, your mindmanager needs to give a sh*t and be given a break.
This will help to bring your mindmanager back onto your team.
*PS- A headnodder is something people say and the rest of us need NO MORE INFORMATION before start nodding in agreement.
On Wednesday we talked about how psychologists estimate that it takes 10 compliments to counteract a single critical comment, 10 exposures to beautiful, hopeful images to neutralize the fear of seeing a scary picture. This rule of 10 dictates that fear will draw you in at 10x the power of hope, beauty, and opportunity.
In practical terms, this means you need to surround and immerse yourself in proof that the world is, in fact, beautiful.
First, what IS beauty? I’ve been thinking about this and my current definition is that beauty is the honest expression of emotion. Human history is the parade of one unprecedented thing after another that simultaneously pulls us towards each other and pushes us away from each other. The expression of how that feels IS BEAUTY.
We feel connection and beauty when our heart says “I know that feeling… despite our differences, we are the same.” And beauty isn’t all hugs and pollyanna hand-holding (though… bring it on!), it’s honesty about pain, loss, and rage as well as connection, pride, and even routine.
Here are some examples of the beauty I see:
Hope is beautiful. (The Best is Yet to Come, Sheppard)
Connection is beautiful. (Kiss You Slow, Andy Grammer)
Home is beautiful. (The Road Home, Thad Fiscella)
Forgiveness is beautiful. (It’s Quiet Uptown, Hamilton)
Parenting is beautiful. (Sara Bareilles, Everything Changes)
Anger is beautiful. (Who I am, Eminem)
Routine is beautiful. (Fiddler on the Roof)
Sadness is beautiful. (Chopin)
Observation is beautiful (Georgia O’Keeffe)
Contrast is beautiful (Joan Miro)
Detail is beautiful (My Brother)
What do you find beautiful?
Go into it, seek it out.
Immerse yourself in it and savor it.
You need beauty way more than fear right now.
But you have to choose it.
I hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll see you again on Monday.
Have you noticed how unprecedented all of this is? We’ve never had a global pandemic like this one, or a president like this one, and we’ve never been able to see into each other’s lives with the clarity the way that we can right now because of the internet. It’s all true, what we say: These are crazy, unprecedented, uncharted waters.
There’s a lot about this that feels familiar to me. We are still people, attracted to fear at 10x the force that we are attracted to light… and yet we yearn for proof of connection and compassion. We want to be seen and heard and loved… and sometimes, we want to be left alone. We want to feel agency, we want to feel important, and we want to contribute… while at the same time we want to let go, hide away and be left to our Netflix and Switch and novels. This “navigating equally matched competing forces” is one of the things that make us human, in my mind.
Being drawn by these competing forces within us usually leave us uncertain and unsure. What’s the “right” thing to do next? When we try to “get it right” and not be “too much of one or the other” we end up in a gross grey middle ground where we just worry and we don’t act:
This is why we get so upset with question that begin with “What do you want?” What do you want for your business this year? What do you want to do during your quarantine? What do you want to create? Those questions stress us out!
We think that the answer is “I don’t know!” but really the answer is “I want two opposite things and that confuses me!”
It’s always true. It’s psychological physics: you will always want two things with equal and opposing force.
You probably feel this strongly when you are offered the chance to work with a coach. You like the idea of “getting some support and growing your business” but you are also equally drawn to the idea that “it’s too crazy right now and I just can’t commit to anything.” So you stay in the grey zone, worrying; not signing up but not saying no, just waiting for the clock to run out.
And that’s probably happening on a million levels with a million things in your life… and the clock will run out. The program will close, the coach will move on. And you’ll stay where you are… but that’s the least of it.
The coronavirus will eventually run through and you’ll go back to work with or without your website rewritten.
Your kids will eventually leave home with or without the travel you wanted to do with them.
And, eventually, your time on earth will end, too; with or without the success and fun you were hoping for.
Rather than trying to balance these two forces by meeting in the gross grey middle where worry reigns supreme, what if you allowed yourself to pursue both of them? What if you committed equally to growing your business and taking care of yourself? What if you pursued connection alongside alone time?
What if you recognized that you could alternate, rather than compete?
See, it’s the model that’s wrong, not the desire.
It’s our perceptions that have us trapped and stuck, not our realities. It’s true that this is an unprecedented time AND a deeply familiar one.
Both are true.
It’s a time of opportunity AND a time of worry.
It’s a time for connection AND a time for deep personal reflection.
It’s a time for supporting others AND watching Netflix in our pajamas for 8 hours straight.
You don’t have to choose, despite how your brain wants to trap you in its maze.
You can choose the Both, And.
I’m writing this to you AND me. I want all of us to wake up again to our hopes and dreams and goals and desires right now.
All of them, even if they seem to compete.
I am sitting here every day arguing with myself about writing my book, trapped in the competing thought “there’s no time with the kids at home” and “now is always the right time.”
I’m going to work to be 100% present with the kids AND carve out time when I can write my book. Both, And.
As for you, you can grow your business AND take care of your family.
I encourage you to choose both, and right now.
Before I go, I want to touch base briefly on the other side of our promised “Both, And.” I will absolutely encourage you to build your business (one side), but I will also hold you gently to a commitment to self-care. This has been a hectic week of uncertainty, vulnerability and shifting realities, one wave crashing over us after another. If you feel like you’ve been pummeled, you’re right. It’s time to rest.
Yesterday, I slept for 2 hours and then read Percy Jackson for 2 hours in my bed. My kids played grand prix after grand prix of Mario Kart. My husband went for a run. We all ate Trolls Oreos (OMGSOGOOD- I swear, there are pop rocks inside).
It’s what we needed.
What do you need?
What would feel like absolute, unequivocal gentleness? Absolute grace and kindness?
I’m cheering for you: All of you.
Your business AND your heart.
As we’ve been launching our mastermind*, Alyssa and I have spoken to A LOT of therapists and coaches. We know that the last few weeks have been intense, stressful, and uncertain.
We are feeling it, too.
The theme we’ve heard is that everyone feels like they are in crisis mode- on their own behalf on behalf of their clients. It’s fear central: business fears collide with health fears which slam into the fear we feel for the wellbeing of our client. It feels as though our foundation has been shaken.
And yet, it is our belief that coaches and therapists are the EXACT people we need to lead right now.
That means me, and that means you.
Who else is trained to lead with calm steadiness? Who else specializes in navigating fears, staying grounded, being flexible, and managing distress? We are.
We also realize that you’ve been working REALLY HARD to grow your practices, and we don’t want fear or uncertainty to halt that progress. Turning away from business-building right now will feed that feeling of being carried away from your goals by this crisis.
We care about you, your practices, and your momentum.
So, how do we hold steady, show up with calmness and peace, serve our clients, and continue moving forward during challenging times?
We’ve got you covered.
On Wednesday we have our previously scheduled Therapist and Coach Connection Hour. The focus is on how to believe that you can have a successful private pay practice during uncertain times.
Due to concerns about groups convening in the city, we have moved this event online.
You can join from wherever you are and get some support. I’m extending the early bird ticket price right up to the day before; It’s important that we be together right now.
Pop-Up Special Edition Therapist & Coach Networking Circle (free!) The focus is on how to seamlessly transition to teletherapy & manage health anxiety.
Come to the Therapist and Coach Networking Circle and be in community with other therapists who are looking to stay calm and be sure-footed during this time. Alyssa will walk us through how to transition seamlessly to telehealth services (with zero drama), including how to talk with your patients, what questions to ask, and how to encourage people to get the help that they need. And we will do it in the drama-free zone, so you can get the support you need so you can turn around and support your clients and practice.
Finally, to offer ongoing support at a level that feels aligned to your needs, Alyssa and I are pivoting towards a lower cost model of business building support (We are postponing the Build Your Practice Accelerator until September). You must not turn away from business building right now, to do so would give into feelings of being carried away from your goals by this crisis. Instead, we want to help support you in growing your practices during this time. And we know you can’t do that alone (Neither can we!) so we will be doing this in a community of support, compassion, and grounded thought-partnership during this intense time.
The Support Lab is a community where coaches and therapists will come together to build their practices, step into being a leader by embodying calm strength, and support each other during this intense time. We’ll meet weekly for three months (virtually!) and have a Facebook group for ongoing, drama-free support.
Alyssa and I will present business-building content (in our usual no-nonsense, substance filled, straight to the point style), and we’ll facilitate emerging just-in-time discussions among our community.
For total, 100% clarity- this community is not for communal panic, judgy side-eye, or ethical shaming. There’s enough of that in the coach and therapy groups on Facebook, am I right? The foundation of this community is and always will be: the benefit of the doubt, compassionate, free-flowing support, and the push to be the best version of yourself in your private practice. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to feel anxious, nervous or wildly uncertain, but our goal as a community will be to bring you back into yourself do you can get back to the work of supporting your clients with your best, most grounded skills.
NOTE: If you are already a client of Alyssa or Amanda’s the Support Lab is yours already.
PS- Feeling like there were too many options in this email?
I feel you, everyone’s executive function is running at capacity right now.
Here, do this:
Step 2: Share both of these events in Facebook groups to spread the word. In my opinion, together is better than apart right now.
Step 3: The very minute you feel a yes in your heart, sign up for the Support Lab. Do not wait to get the support you need to feel in control and ready to lead during this time. NOTE: If you are already a client of Alyssa’s or Amanda’s the support lab is yours already.
* The Build Your Practice Accelerator is postponed until the Fall. Use Support Lab in the meantime!
I got a book deal! EXCITING! And, like all exciting things, it’s also kind of a pain in the booty. Not to write the book, because I looooooove to write… and a book about burnout? I AM SO ON IT.
But to get this book out there, it means that I have to get serious with myself about my expanded “brand.” I coach coaches and therapists about how to get more clients so they can make more money. Simple, straightforward, everyone gets it. And I’ve been taking my own advice and just talking about that on my website and social media for a long time now so I can get booked solid and establish a strong practice. And I am and have.
With this book about burnout now on the horizon, I need to be honest about the rest of me. I also have a TedX talk and a keynote that I do about procrastination. And my book is on burnout. (And, relatedly, my dissertation was about how people argue about issues of social importance like abortion and gun rights). So… when I’m being everything that I am…
Well, here’s my truth: I love to understand the hard stuff. The pain, the suffering, the failure, and the OVERCOMING.
Because honestly, life is going to be complicated, messy, sad, and overwhelming. And that’s OK. We’ve got this… in fact, as humans, this is what we are designed to do!
Check out the updated website if you are interested!
I recently did a survey of almost 50 coaches and therapists to get a pulse on what they struggle with the most when it comes to building their private practice. And do you know what they wrote again and again?
“I work and work and work and work and WORK. I write blogs, I post on Facebook, and I tweak my website… it’s nonstop, I’m never done… And NOTHING is happening. How do I know what to do, what to stop doing, and what’s really going to return on investment?”Continue reading
When I decided to dive head first into my business, I was PUMPED. I couldn’t wait to share my gifts with the world and really help people succeed. But there was one aspect of the business that really didn’t sit will with me – self-promotion.
Logically, I knew that people wouldn’t know who I was, what I could do, or how I could help them unless I gave them a gentle nudge and told them. But try as I might, I kept imagining myself as one of those people dressed up in a giant hot dog uniform handing out flyers and free samples that inevitably get tossed out into the garbage… metaphorically speaking of course.Continue reading
Originally published on Quartz on 10/24/2016 with the title: Yes, it is possible for Trump and Clinton supporters to have productive (and calm) conversations. Though the focus is on the election, the need to understand how our brain sabotages our discourse has only heightened since the inauguration of our 45th president.
The other day, a man I love and respect posted a note on his Facebook page: “Be a real American. Vote for Trump.” An instant social-media war broke out. His sisters and other women in his life rose up in retaliation, demanding that he explain how he could support someone who so clearly and maliciously objectifies women. Somewhere deep in the thread, a liberal friend-of-a-friend commented, “You can’t worry about people who are so clearly broken. Trump supporters like this man just don’t care about women.”
Last weekend I travelled to Philadelphia and took part in the festivities for my first half marathon! My excellent husband agreed to watch our kids and our friends’ son so that the three of us (my 2 friends and myself) could stay in Philadelphia overnight since the race began at 7am.
We arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon and checked into our hotel which was about a mile from the race start. As soon as we arrived we started to get excited- there were signs everywhere welcoming us to the race weekend. We were given our useless breakfast vouchers (breakfast opens at 7, even on “race weekend”) and dropped our bags into our room.