You Are Good Enough

You Are Good Enough

You Are Good Enough

You Are Good Enough: How to Feel Like It, and Overcome Imposter Syndrome

You Are Good Enough

Self-Esteem & Feeling Good Enough

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH: When someone gives you a sincere compliment do you automatically think of six reasons why you're really not good enough? Do you compare yourself to others, and imagine that they know more, have a better time, or are more successful than you? Is it hard for you to feel “good enough” no matter what you do, or how much you achieve? How about on the job? If you're in a position where others look to you for leadership or guidance, do you doubt yourself and struggle with “imposter syndrome?”

If you can relate to the “I'll never be good enough” experience: Welcome. I'm sorry you're going through this, but I'm glad you're here so that I have the chance to help you. As a Denver therapist and life coach, I so often work with clients who struggle to feel “good enough” even when everyone else (including me, their therapist) thinks they're amazing. I know how painful this life space can be: Feeling like nothing is ever good enough is an exhausting and demoralizing way to live. It takes a toll on your self-esteem, and makes it hard to enjoy your life.

I also know from my work as a Denver self-esteem therapist and life coach focused on empowerment and strength that hope and healing are possible, with the right help. On today's episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I'm going to be sharing some of the evidence-based therapy and life coaching strategies that I share with my private clients who are struggling to feel like they are good enough.

We're doing to be doing a deep dive into the causes of feeling like you're not good enough (including “imposter syndrome!”), and then discuss in-detail some actionable strategies you can use to genuinely, from the bottom of your heart, say, “Yes. I am good enough.” Because you are good enough! This episode will help you FEEL it, too.

Here's an overview of what you'll learn in today's episode:

What Do Your Circumstances Have to Do with Feeling Good Enough?

Did you know that most people who don’t feel good enough tie it to their circumstances? Your circumstances have almost no actual bearing on how you feel about yourself. Really! Even the most successful people sometimes don’t feel good enough. Remember: all these “proofs” that you’re successful can be taken away. The only thing that matters is your relationship with yourself, and learning how to feel good about yourself and your life even when you're facing challenges. I'll explain how!

How to Believe You’re Good Enough

What research into evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy shows is that getting a handle on your inner narrative and inner dialogue is the most powerful way to change your relationship with yourself. I'm sharing some strategies to help you keep from getting swept away by your automatic (even subconscious) thoughts so that you gain control over your inner experience. We'll talk about how your thoughts impact your feelings, and how to heal your heart by getting clear in your mind.

How Therapy & Coaching Help You Feel Good Enough

Therapy helps you gain self-awareness about what's going on inside of you. This self-awareness allows you to step back, and make intentional changes to the way you think and the way you feel. Effective life coaching challenges you to take positive, intentional action that helps move you towards your ideal goals. When you're in a good place and emotionally healthy, positive actions are much easier to follow through with. Then you can begin an upward spiral of wellness that supports the highest and best of your whole self. You cannot take an empowered stance when you’re at war with your thoughts.Your therapist or coach is your ally in creating a sense of self that is different from your inner narrative: That's where it all begins!

Let's Talk. Schedule a Free Consultation Today.

 

The Impostor Syndrome

Another really common aspect of feeling like you're not good enough is when you're struggling with imposter syndrome on the job. “The impostor syndrome” refers to the experience of not feeling good enough in a professional context. Even when intellectually, you know what to do, you feel like you’re faking it. The imposter syndrome leads to feelings of shame and anxiety that people will realize you don’t know what you’re doing. (Even though you do!) This can lead to paralysis, disempowerment, and even burnout. Let's not!

Impostor Syndrome vs. Growth Mindset

To help you overcome imposter syndrome on the job, I'm also speaking with career coach Dr. Lisa Orbe-Austin about where imposter syndrome comes from and what you can do to regain your trust in yourself. We talk about the difference between “growth opportunities” and imposter syndrome, and how to tell the two apart.

Why Accomplished People Still Don’t Feel Good Enough

Here are some of the imposter syndrome-busting strategies that Dr. Orbe-Austin is sharing with you:

  • How to identify the origins of your impostor syndrome as being rooted in childhood experiences.
  • People who were considered smart kids doubt their intelligence when things don’t come easy to them.
  • People who were not considered gifted growing up are the opposite. Because they had to work hard for things, they doubt they have natural talents and skills.
  • Lastly, those who had to survive without adult figures fear their success could be taken from them at any time.
  • Having codependent or narcissistic family members is also correlated to impostor syndrome.

The Impostor Cycle

  • People with impostor syndrome often get performance anxiety, and they cope by either overworking or self-sabotaging.
  • When feedback comes in, they internalize the negative and minimize the positive.
  • They get so caught up in their mistakes that the next time they perform, it’s as if they’ve never done it before. Then the cycle repeats.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Overcoming imposter syndrome, just like repairing your self esteem, is not easy work but it is essential. Here are some tips to guid you on your journey towards healthy confidence in yourself:

  • Remember that letting go of your impostor patterns is a lifelong process. Understanding your triggers is incredibly important. What are your triggers for not feeling good enough? Listen, and find out!
  • Becoming empowered means getting in control of your inner narrative: Learn how to use the skills of rational thinking and self affirmation to support yourself when imposter syndrome flares.
  • Did you know that perfectionism, imposter syndrome and low self esteem are all connected? Learn why!
  • Learn why it's so critical that you reprioritize and take care of yourself first — even when you feel like you haven't “earned it.” 
  • Having a community of support is incredibly healing when you're struggling to feel like you're good enough. It's the antidote to shame. Learn how to create a chorus of confidence in your circle that lifts you up!

Resources To Help You Feel “Good Enough!”

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“Your circumstances have almost no actual bearing on how you feel about yourself.”

“You can't flip a switch and change the way that you feel. But you can change the way you think. And when you change your thoughts—you change the script, you change the story—you will feel differently about exactly the same thing.”

“If you are still learning and growing doesn't mean that you're not competent.”

“The person that we take care of last is us . . . And so it's such an important thing to kind of reprioritize that and think about how we'd like to live and the way that we care for ourselves.” 

“It is sort of getting a community around that so that you can deal with sort of what's happening structurally to you that is real, that is attempting to make you feel invalidated.”

Enjoy The “You Are Good Enough” Episode?

Share it! Think of a person or three in your circle who could also benefit from learning about what you just did. Pay it forward by passing it on! And don't forget to subscribe to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast so that you get access to new episodes ever week — all designed to support you on your journey of growth. 

Wishing you all the very best on your journey of growth my friend!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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You Are Good Enough

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: The Kinks, “Superman”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

 

 

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You Are Good Enough

Access Episode Transcript

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you're listening to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

[Superman plays]

That is, of course the, I think, classic song, Superman, a poignant exploration of someone who is not feeling good about themselves, who is focusing on their flaws but who is also harboring this idealized fantasy of what they could be. They want to be Superman. They're not going to be Superman, but they can feel good anyway. That's what we're talking about today on the show. If this is your first time listening to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I'm so glad you're here. I am Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby I am the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching, and this podcast is all about helping you create love, happiness, and success. And thank you if you're a regular listener and have gotten in touch with me through growingself.com on Instagram at @drlisamariebobby, or of course, on Facebook.

And today, we're talking about how to feel good enough, genuinely good enough. And we're talking about this today because you have told me that this is a pain point for you. I've gotten so many messages through social media and through comments on the blog, and also even in conversations with my therapy and coaching clients here at Growing Self, and also, you know, listening to what my colleagues are doing in their work lately, and this is such a painful life space to be in. I wanted to bring you some things today that could help with this. You may remember a while back, we talked about self-esteem in depth, you might want to take a look a few podcasts ago if you'd like an overview of that. And if you're interested, you can certainly help yourself to the self-esteem quiz that I created. If you even want to pause this, take the quiz again to see where you are. You can get that by texting the word esteem, E-S-T-E-E-M to the number 55444 just to kind of get a read on where you are in terms of your overall self-esteem. 

And feeling good enough, I think, is connected to self-esteem, but it almost has like a different life of its own and can be a little bit different to shift it as opposed to like a global self-esteem kind of situation. And I want you to know that if you struggle sometimes to like, feel good enough, it can be sometimes related to what you're doing in life where self-esteem is kind of just this marinating and a sense of not feeling that great about yourself more globally. I think feeling good enough often manifests in like comparing yourself and being linked to achievements andlike what you're doing and what other people are doingthese perceptions of success and whether or not you're living up to whatever that definition is. And I have to tell you something, so as a therapist and a life coach, I work with you know, people from all walks of life, and I often speak with people who are objectively, very successful. You know, they're successful in their careers or their business owners, and like, subjectively when you look at them from the outside—or objectively—I should say, they look like they have it all going on. And it doesn't really matter that much, I mean, like even though things are working out for them, things are going as well as possible, that truth does not touch them on the inside.

And I say this because if you're like most people who are struggling to feel “good enough”, whatever that means, it can be very, very easy to tie that to whatever your circumstances are. And for, you know, normal average people like us to be looking around at our circumstances and viewing that as evidence of why we're not quite good enough, you know. So you can look around and be like, “My house is a wreck, I'm a mess,” or “I don't have as many friends as other people do,” or “I'm kind of struggling financially,” or even some people, you know, think, “I really am not…” you know, “I have a job; I don't have a career that I'm passionate about. I should,” and all of those external circumstances conspire into these like reasons why you're not quite good enough, right? 

But I am going to tell you a secret. This is a big, top secret like life-changing information that I'm going to share with you right now. Here it is. Your circumstances have almost no actual bearing on how you feel about yourself, and I know this for a fact. Here's a secret, it’s gonna tell you why. I know this for a fact because I have served as the therapist or life coach to extremely successful people, like, way more successful than I am. I mean, I have literally had clients drive to my office in a Ferrari and flop down on my couch and tell me all the reasons why they're not quite good enough. I have been in life coaching sessions where I have said things like, the words that have come out of my mouth have been, “You're the most successful real estate developer in your region of the United States. You have built hundreds of homes. You are worth millions of dollars. Really, you're not that good enough?” And the answer back is, “Well you know, I mean. Yeah, there's that. But let me tell you about all these other areas that I'm failing in.” I mean, physicians, doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, like who are multimillionaires, they vacation in Switzerland, they live in mansions, they havelike live in help, and they still feel this way. They still feel like they're not quite good enough. 

And so the punch line, the thing that I'm trying to communicate here is that whatever circumstances are going on, changing those circumstances will not change the way that you feel because the other side of this too. I have had the honor of serving as a therapist to people who are absolutely on the opposite end of the spectrum. So you know, someone who was living in their car and got food exclusively from food bank donations at one point, and they felt like a fundamentally worthwhile human being who was going through a hard time and who deserved more and who was going to be okay. It was not tied to their circumstances. The way you feel about yourself and whether or not you feel good enough comes exclusively from your relationship with yourself and the way you think about yourself, and that can be cultivated intentionally. So do not get tricked into believing that your happiness or your worthiness as a person is dependent on outside circumstances and that if you worked hard enough and you're able to create these specific set of circumstances, then you would feel differently. Because I'm telling you, as somebody who has had a front row seat to this, you will not feel differently because people who have done that don't automatically feel differently. 

The feeling good enough cannot be linked to achievements or status or any other, you know, “proof” that you've done it. It doesn't matter. And another thing to think about is that all of those circumstantial things can be taken away. You could live in a mansion and go vacationing in Switzerland and live in housekeeper—and then lose that. And then what does that mean about you? Similarly, all kinds of privileges are bestowed on people who have not earned them, they are worthless in that sense. So the only thing that matters is your relationship with yourself; everything else stems from that. If you have an abusive critical relationship with yourself who is always telling you how bad you are and how you're not quite good enough, you will feel anxious and unlovable in many different situations. You'll feel anxious and unlovable in your relationships even if you are connected to people who love you to pieces and just tell you how fantastic you are and think you're great. It  doesn't matter, you will not feel that way. If you are fundamentally harsh and judgmental with yourself, you will dismiss and devalue everything you do. 

“Yeah, I'm a published author, and yes, the book won an award, but it was like four years ago. What have I done since then?” I mean, really, it is so easy to slip into that inner dialogue. And so the key here is not just intellectually believing that you're good enough, but it is feeling the truth that you are really good enough and that comes through a growth process. And I'm going to tell you the steps. I am not even going to mess around here.

I once wandered into a Chick-fil-A, and they had a poster on the wall, it was like, “Lemonade. Here's the recipe: water, sugar, lemons. The secret is out,” and I just thought that was so cute because it's like so obvious. And I am going to give you the secrets to changing the way you feel about yourself as, hopefully, as directly as the lemonade recipe. And here it is. Super straightforward.

Step one of feeling good enough, is recognizing, first of all, that you are not the same thing as your thoughts. Your inner narrative, the one that is telling you who you are, what you are compared to what you should be, is not the objective truth. It is an opinion, and it is not you. It isn't. 

Once you've realized that, then step number two, once you’ve recognized that you are not your thoughts, is realizing that you have control over the narrative. That voice inside of yourself can be shaped intentionally, and you have the power to change it. 

Once you have embraced that truth, then step three, is recognizing and experiencing that your thoughts and whatever is going on in your head in terms of the narrative, the story, the script—that determines your feelings. Your thoughts create your feelings, your thoughts create your perceptions of reality and your experience of reality, and you can't flip a switch and change the way that you feel, but you can change the way you think. And when you change your thoughts, you change the script, you change the story, you will feel differently about exactly the same thing. And when you're able to do that, there is a sense of peace and your emotional experience of yourself changes. 

And then step four is that when you shift into that emotionally-felt experience of being good enough and the sense of like peace and fundamental worthiness, you will make better choices for yourself that stem from that fundamental worthiness, and that the things that felt difficult to do intentionally will all of a sudden feel much, much easier to do because they're coming from a place that feels true, as opposed to you trying to wrestle with yourself to do things that are incongruent with your self-concept. 

So that's it. Those are the steps. Anyone can do them—anyone can do them. I would also like to add, while we are on the subject, that the process that I've just outlined for you, just so you know, is not my opinion. I did not make this up. This is the foundation of something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which through countless hundreds, possibly thousands of clinical trials that explore what actually changes the way that people feel, think, and behave. This one wins every time. This approach is certainly useful for mental health concerns. It is also the approach of evidence-based coaching. And I think that's why I have so much—is frustration the right word?—or discomfort with approaches of therapy and personal growth that focus on other things. And not that the other things can't be important or salient, I do think that it is sometimes necessary to figure out, “Okay, who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I the way that I am?” But to be involved in a growth process that stops there and doesn't really explicitly help you change that narrative is going to be very limited in terms of its effectiveness, and you deserve that. 

So changing your thoughts is really core to changing all other aspects of your experience and feeling better; it is the most direct path. You can certainly learn these skills. There are self-help books galore. I, myself, have done an online, you know, my online happiness class is all about, it's like teaching you how to recognize thoughts and change them. And it can sometimes be very, very important, even necessary, I think, to partner with someone who can help you gain that first step of self-awareness. In my experience, the first one is the hardest, just like they say in AA, “Watch that first step. It's a witch,” right? It can be challenging, I think, if you have been marinating in the broth of your own self-concept for your entire life to begin to get the psychological distance between your thoughts and the true you. That is hard and it's also necessary because you cannot take an empowered stance towards your thoughts unless there is a you and a difference between you and what's knocking around in your head. 

So that first step is often where therapy or coaching comes in and can really be the most necessary as is. Because without that, it's like you being at war with your thoughts and trying to figure out what is true, what isn't true. And when you connect with someone who's there beside you saying, “Is that really true?” or “Where did you learn that about yourself?” or saying things like, “I know that's a story that you're telling yourself, but here's what I see about the situation.” So it's like you have an ally who can stand with you and help you see the thoughts and the inner narrative differently and begin to create a sense of yourself that is different from your thoughts because, again, it's not the same thing. So to get an ally in that change process can be really, really helpful, and from there, once you have that sense of empowerment, then you can begin to change the story and feel differently.

And it's also true that when people are struggling to feel good enough, it can show up in numerous dimensions of their lives. But for a lot of people, a real pain point comes around feeling good enough in their career or at work, and again, because that good enough feeling is so often linked to achievements or advancements or, “What am I doing compared to what other people are doing?” Professionally and occupationally, there is a lot of growth that can be done in service of feeling better about yourself when you look at how you are showing up in your career. And when it comes to looking at this experience from the mindset of a career coach, an easy way to get a handle on this is to think of the impostor syndrome. I don't know if you're familiar with that term, but the impostor syndrome refers to the experience of being in a professional role, often one where you have responsibility or you're in a position of leadership where people are looking towards you to make decisions or provide guidance, and if you don't feel good enough, you feel like an impostor. You feel like you're faking it. There's this voice in the back of your head that's like, “I don't really know what I'm doing,” and this anxiety that comes with, “Sooner or later these people are going to realize that, and they're going to know that I don't really know what I'm talking about, and that I am not good enough, and I'm going to get humiliated or criticized or even rejected and run out,” right. This is a terrible experience, and the impostor syndrome is also very common and deeply linked to that deeper experience of not quite feeling good enough.

So for the second half of this episode, we're going to be talking more specifically about the impostor syndrome experience, and for that, I have enlisted the support of an expert on this topic. We are going to be turning our attention now to a conversation with a licensed psychologist and executive coach,  Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin. She's based in New York City, and she is the co-author of a book on this exact topic. The book is Own Your Greatness: Overcome Impostor Syndrome, Beat Self-Doubt, and Succeed in Life. And she's with us for the remainder of the show to share her insights on where impostor syndrome comes from, related to the work experience and what we can do to change it. Dr. Orbé-Austin, thank you so much for joining me.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: I'm excited to talk with you about this. And so I have a number of questions prepared. But the first one, and I hope it's okay to jump in with this. But so you've written extensively on the subject of impostor syndrome, which is that experience of like feeling, not confident, worried that you don't really have mastery over the subject that people are kind of looking to you to guide them around, and so it's that experience of not feeling good enough when actually you are. 

And to begin, I am wondering how one can tell the difference between not feeling good enough when they actually are? Or are they having an experience of needing to grow and develop skills and maybe get more experience or expertise in order to really legitimately feel more competent? How can you tell if it's a confidence issue? Or if maybe you do need to develop yourself? Can we start there?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, sure. I mean, it's a great question. I think a lot of people ask me this, especially when, you know, people are coming straight out of college in their first jobs struggling with this feeling of being incompetent. Is that impostor syndrome? Well, you know, if it's about that particular domain, and you're coming out of college and it’s your first job, it’s probably not. That specific instance, it’s probably not about impostor syndrome. It's about when you have these accomplishments, skills, credentials, like you have verifiable concrete proof, you have 10 years of experience in the business, like you have like significant proof, you know, behind you that's concrete, and yet you still feel like you might be exposed as a fraud or incompetent. And it's not you know, it's the differentiation between the idea that you have to be doing something perfectly in order to be competent or excellent or expert and the idea that we have to constantly work on our growth and be in a growth mindset and constantly adding on skills, like these are not mutually exclusive. Being an expert and skilled and being at the nth degree of our careers, like those are not sort of what we're talking about, you know.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That's a great reminder, and I love that it's like, you're just reminder that if you are still learning and growing doesn't mean that you're not competent. It's a good thing to be continually learning and growing, and you're saying that’s just an easy way to figure out, is it impostor syndrome or is it actually anot just growth opportunity, but growth necessityis to look at that just like rational peace? “Have I gotten the level of training or experience that other people of kind of maybe around me have?” or, “Am I brand new into a field or a role?” then it's kind of like expected that you would be learning, figuring it out, and that's okay, too, compared to like a feeling, like you don't know enough when you actually do. I appreciate that because it's hard for some people to know.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. It’s hard to differentiate it. And I think, some people, what's interesting is that when you have impostor syndrome, sometimes you even dismiss the concrete credentials. So then as I'm working with my clients, and they've gone to like an Ivy League undergrad in an Ivy League grad school, and meanwhile, they're like, “Oh, that's nothing.” That's like they blow it off. So even a concrete credentials are sometimes hard for them to hold on to. But you know, they have to kind of work on sort of being able to recognize they are meaningful. They do mean something to—if they don't mean something to you right now, they need something to the outside world, and they are worth something. And so that can be even hard, even with the concrete things. Oftentimes, with impostor, to dismiss them as well.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. That's like, really be aware of the credentials and the expertise and the skill set that you are bringing into a situation and resist the temptation to like, “Ah, that doesn't matter, but that doesn't…” Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yes

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Right?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That's really good. Wonderful. And then, okay, so then let's dive a little bit more deeply into the experience, though. Say, you know, like so many people that you and I have both spoken wit—intelligent, accomplished, educated, experienced—all this stuff, yet struggle to feel like they really know what they're doing. What is that about? For most people in your experience, what does that even come from?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: It's about a variety of things. You know, so a lot of people say very kind of colloquially, like, “Oh, it's just about internalizing your accomplishments. And if you just say some positive affirmations, you can make it go away”.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Like it's easy.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Like it's easy. But oftentimes, there's some pretty deep rooted sort of early childhood experiences that come along with that and so one of them is sort of these ideas of these very like calcified, very narrow roles in the family, where you’re either considered the smart one, and if you were considered a smart one, it meant you didn't have to work hard at anything, everything should come easy and natural to you. So when things did come natural easy to you, you thought it was evidence of the fact that everyone was wrong, and you truly we're not as gifted or intelligent people thought you were. 

The second role is this idea of you were the one who was never naturally gifted in anything but knew how to work hard, and so everything must come hard, everything must require like an extreme level of effort and work in order for it to be successful. And in those cases, it's very hard for you to even see that you might have any natural talents or skills. 

And the third one is an experience where there weren't a lot of adults or parental figures around, and you had to survive. Your successes were about survival, they were about you know, sometimes, putting food on the table or making sure you did well in school, so you know, you could stay in the graces of somebody, or like it really sort of required you're very vigil, you have an incredible vigilance on your achievements, so that you could actually be successful, so that you could survive this all. So even for them in the C suite and still be like, “Any day this could all be gone.” You know, so.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Wow. And all of those are difficult experiences, but I'm hearing you say that there's like these internal core beliefs. And like in the case of the first two, if the experience of what it actually takes to be successful isn't in alignment with what you think it should feel like, with what success should feel like, that will create kind of confusion and damage people's confidence that it's, no, it's actually okay. And then also in that third one, certainly, it's just like being chased by wolves experience that it's like, any second now, it’s just gonna leave.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, you can’t let it down. Yeah, you can't let the guard down any time, it could all be taken from you, which is the experience that early childhood survivor experience. There's all kinds of other additional connect correlations, like codependence is correlated to, you know, having a codependent family dynamic is correlated to impostor syndrome. So is having a narcissistic family member, usually parental adult figure. A family that was focused on achievements only and nothing else, so that only your achievements got recognized as valuable, or you got seen as valuable in those moments. So, you know, families that have trouble dealing with high assets, and so there's a lot of sort of correlations to impostor syndrome.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. So many, many paths to that same destination. But you know, I had the most interesting experience. I think it was a couple of weeks ago, we, on Instagram of course because, you know, but we shared…it wasn't a story from our account, somebody else had done this little drawing, and it was a drawing of like a little stick figure and four mountains, and the stick figure had successfully scaled and come down on the other side of like three mountains and was like close to the top of the fourth and was like, “I can't do it. I'm a failure.” And you know, just like the kind of black, white, but you've done all of these, and I think like the fourth mountain was even smaller or something. And so we put this at our stories, and I seriously had like so many people, including a number of current clients of mine. Reach out to me—”I so identify with that drawing,” and I think what that kind of captures that in some ways, it's like despite all of these achievements and successes and strengths and abilities and competence, and like you have all these people who maybe perceive you as being this person who's like doing all these great things, and you haven't done all these great things, like it doesn't get in all the way emotionally.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: And it's because of the impostor cycle. Because in the impostor cycle, you have like a highly visible event or performance or something, you know, that's pretty visible or something that's new for you, then you know, you get performance anxiety, and as a result, you either overwork or you self-sabotage, and then you get the feedback. You don't internalize any of the feedback unless it's negative, and if it's negative, we blow it out.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That we let in. Blow it out of proportion, does that what you mean? 

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. It becomes even way bigger than that, and then you also internalize it, and then you don't internalize any of the positive feedback or in the positive experiences, and you get in that cycle all over again. So that idea of the four hills makes sense because once they see the hill again, it's like if they've never seen the other three hills, you know, because they haven't done any of the work to internalize all the positive feedback. The hill becomes, it's like climbing it for the first time. Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Wow. So the cycle, so big events, lots of anxiety, overworking, like killing yourself to make it good, and then what was the next phase of that cycle?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: The next phase is you get some kind of feedback after you perform. You get some feedback. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: 500 people are like, “That was amazing.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: But one person 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: One person was like, “I don't know.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. And that's the one you listen to, and that's the one that sort of gets out of the proportion. If everyone says, “It's great,” you still minimize it. You still are like, “Well,” then you get caught up in your own assessments of all the mistakes and places where you made errors, and that's what you're taking in. And then you kind of get right back into the cycle again the next time. It happens, it happens as if it never happened before.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Oh, my goodness. What a painful place to be. And so, it really, it sounds like, I mean, the thing that I'm hearing the loud and clear between the lines here is that this experience is very much one of perceptions rather than reality and perceptions that maybe have been shaped by experiences in early childhood.

And so then, and I know from your work, and what you've written about in your book, kind of walks people through beginning to reevaluate those perceptions and shift those perceptions, and I'm sure that it is a process. I mean, if you've had that sort of relationship with the world since earliest childhood, and you're not going to snap your fingers, like, “Four easy steps to…” Yeah, but so, you know, with cautioning people that it's going to sound much easier than when we talk about it than it actually has to do, right. Now, what are some of the growth moments that people need to work through in order to release this—this pattern, this dynamic?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, and I think it's good, it's great that you point out the fact that it is a long process and, you know, nobody likes to hear this, but I sort of know it is a lifelong process because I've talked about my own TED Talk that I've had impostor syndrome, and I still get triggered for, you know, on a number of occasions, I just make different choices now with the trigger. As opposed to the ones that I used to make when I was in the throes of it. And so I think, you know, one of the things we've talked about, which we were just talking about is really understanding the origin, how it uniquely got to be your story based on some of the origin issues that are sort of laid forth, how you understand them, where have you identified this in your own experience. The reason why the origin issues are so important to us is because it really helps us to understand the triggers in the here and now. So oftentimes, those triggers that we experienced in our day to day lives come from those earlier experiences, and it becomes easier to identify when you know you have vulnerability for them. And it doesn't become so surprising why these things are happening, you're like, “Oh, I get it now.” It just gives you a sort of agency and power to feel like, “This is not so mysterious anymore.” What's a piece of it, I think another piece of it is around really learning how to restore your narrative and choose the words and the ways that you tell yourself the stories around what's happening to you and really kind of examining and listening to the way that you're storing the narrative and then kind of picking and choosing different ways to tell the story. 

We also talked about sort of getting triggered for automatic negative thoughts and how to kind of rationally respond to your automatic negative thoughts, be able to identify them, categorize them, and then also be able to respond to them differently than you use to respond to them. Rather than you know, I love the Amit Ray quote like, “You are not your thoughts; you are the observer of your thoughts,” and sort of teaching people to be the observer of their thoughts and being able to kind of construct a new way of responding to them. It's also about. you know, really embedding self-care. When we have impostor syndrome, the person that we take care of last is us, which means last around our dreams, last around our self-care, last around everything. And so it's such an important thing to kind of reprioritize that and think about how we'd like to live in the way that we care for ourselves. It's also about for us, you know, building a team around you. So, you know, oftentimes we suffer in this alone, and it's beginning to kind of tell people that we struggle with it, share it, like find a team around us that really know how to help us kind of move the needle forward. 

So those are some of the things that we talk about, but you know, these are like, they're easy. Like you said, they're easy to kind of like say, but they're much harder to do, to institutionalize, to make them part of the new way that you live.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, no, I absolutely get that. And yet, they're also powerful. You know, self-awareness, being able to observe what is going on between your ears being, able to have a way of responding to that, that's healthier for you. I especially like the strategy that you brought up around building a community, and I don't know if this was true for you, but I know for me personally, I think most therapists probably have this experience. We first start seeing clients, you have this moment where you're like, “Is this okay?”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: “What am I doing here?”

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: I know.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: “Who let me do this?”

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Exactly, right. And I remember just in my cohort, my peers, you know, like to have a group of people who I perceived just being very, you know, smart and competent, probably much more so than me being like, “I feel like such a fraud right now. Like I said XYZ in my session, and they believed it, like what is going on?” and just like to have that moment of like, “Ah, it's not just me. I think it’s actually the experience.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: It's so powerful. I mean, I think, you know, when I see on my Instagram page, you know, different places where people would admit, they'll tag each other and admit that they have impostor syndrome. And there's such a powerful dynamic, you know. It happen, people say, “Oh, my god, I didn't realize you had it too.” And, you know, the stat I think is that 70% of people have experienced impostor syndrome in their life, and I just saw a new study that just came out that said 82% of people, so it seems to be going up. And so I think a lot of people have experienced, and I think oftentimes, we're hiding in this shame that if we share being that we have this that we will actually be found out as a fraud. It would be like, “You don't have impostor syndrome. You're actually an impostor.” And so I think there is a lot of like, quiet-shameful retreating into this. And I think the other thing I hear a lot is that people say, when I tell people I have impostor syndrome, they're like, “Get over yourself. You're so successful. Like, are you kidding me?” Like, you know, people dismiss it and don't recognize the pain it is to sit in that and how difficult it is to sit in that experience. So it's so important to have a community around you that really got it. I talked about it in our book, like having different people who fit different roles, like somebody who's like the cheerleader and somebody who's the grounder and somebody who's the big picture, like a variety of people who hold different types of roles for you.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That is a fantastic idea, that there's different kinds of people in your life that can help you in different ways. But that's very interesting, though I wasn't familiar with that statistic, so that 82% of people have this experience, which is basically everybody. That idea that, you know, you brought up another such important thing, which is that when we likebelieve what shame is trying to tell us, that we're like uniquely horrible somehow, it's very, like people hide that. They hide it.. They don't talk about it. What I'm hearing you say is that the most direct path to just blowing this out of the water is talking about how you feel and addressing it openly

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yep, taking the ownership of it, meeting it on head-on. Because the other thing that's weird about impostor syndrome is that people like to hold on to it because they believe in some ways the impostor syndrome has got them where they are at. So they sort of believe like, “If I let go of this or I start to admit it, I let go of it, I'm going to have nothing. Everything is going to crumble around me.” So they've come to believe the impostor syndrome is like their best friend, and so letting go is a very difficult process. And having people around, you know you're struggling with it makes it easier to kind of be like, “Don’t hold on to it. Let's do this instead,” like, you know, somebody who can really understand how to re-pivot those thoughts, you know, and in vivo.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: But that's so interesting. And, you know, I've heard of that idea, like as it relates to perfectionism, like people believing that their anxiety is what makes them be okay and to release it feels incredibly scary, and you're saying the same thing with impostor syndrome. “If I believe that maybe I actually am okay, and I am actually good enough, I will stop trying as hard as I am. And as soon as that happens, I will be the failure that I fear my else to be.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yep, that I’m always scared that I would be. You're not, I think the reason why you point to a really good, you know, an example of that is that perfection underlies impostor syndrome. So perfectionism is a piece of impostor syndrome, and it's very central to it, oftentimes. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Now, and can I just briefly, and I know we're coming up on time here, I would love to like go deeper into that 82% statistic, and I don't know if that's broken down, but like when I think about the people that I have knownyou know, of course, in addition to myselfwho have had this experience, like thinking about clients, for whom it's like a major ongoing struggle. I think that while some people—many people, most people—feel this way from time to time, for others, it's a bigger deal than it is, and it's harder for them to release these feelings. And when I think about in my own practice of people that that has been true for are, specifically, women, and I think even more specifically than that—women who are people of color or in maybe a differentwere raised in a different socioeconomic class than the one in which they are now functioning. I have certainly, you know, seen it in men as well but to a lesser degree, and I'm wondering, in your experience as a therapist but also as a black woman, do you perceive this experience being different or sometimes more challenging or internalized in a different way?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: So I think you're getting to a really bunch of interesting points. What some of the research reveals for men and women is that when men and women deal with it differently. The data around it has been quite like equivocal. It's like sometimes, it's more women, sometimes, it’s more men. They can sort of figure out whether it's more women or more men, but what they have been able to see is that, generally, women are more counterphobic. So women will face the fear, go headlong, go into it, and then just live in the constant like paralyzation of the impostor syndrome. They'll like be paralyzed internally, but they'll still go forward professionally,. Where men, tend to do a lot more saving face, and so they will underperform or be in a place where they can be top of the heap, and so that they feel less threat of their impostor syndrome. They felt less prone to it because they’re putting us in the situations where they're less at threat. 

For people of color, women, first gen, what we see is that both the internal experience of impostor syndrome and then the external experience that, “You are actually an impostor. You don't belong here.” So you get these internal messages that you're trying to shut down, and then the outside world is telling you, “No you don't belong here. No, you’re a token. No, you got in because of affirmative action. No, you got this. No, you got that.” So it's very, it's specifically harder to deal with because you don't get enough external reinforcement from the outside world that you do belong. And so what a lot of the research suggests is that you need to find community along the identity dimension that you feel like a preston. 

So if it's that you're black, it’s finding more black people in that particular field or in that particular area, both at your level and above your level, that help you to kind of navigate the waters and help you to deal with the external pressures that are coming at you. So that becomes, like we were talking about before, community becomes so important in managing the external invalidations that you're receiving, that are telling you you are an impostor. “No, you should believe that impostor syndrome. You don't belong here. Work harder. Work twice as hard. Work three times.” So it is sort of getting a community around that, so that you can deal with sort of what's happening structurally to you that is real and that is attempting to make you feel invalidated.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. That is so beautifully said and just like the challenge of doing this inner work and changing this inner dialogue in the face of external circumstances that almost like I want to agree with that negative injury in terms of that dialogue.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: I want to reinforce it 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, and how much more difficult even that is. And I could see how having a community of people who's able to kind of like be a healthy supportive chorus to kind of counterbalance all these other voices is essential, and to be isolated in the face of that is probably about the worst thing.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, that's what you don't want to let happen is become isolated, which can be happening in a lot of these circumstances, where you can feel very alone.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Well, important message. Well, thank you so much for spending time with me today. This has been a very interesting conversation, and I wish we had more time. I'm sure my listeners wish they had more time with you too. And so if you guys would like to learn more about Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin and her practice, her practice is called Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting. Her website is dynamictransitionsllp.com. And on your website you have access, of course, to your book, which is called Own Your Greatness: Overcome Impostor Syndrome, Beat Self-Doubt, and Succeed in Life. And I think I noticed an online course kind of walking people through your material as well.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, it'll be an online course. The first one will start in September, and it will be in beta. So we'll take a small cohort of people during that time before mid-September. So yeah, so people who are interested, that also is on my website. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Wonderful. Well, thank you again so much for joining me today. This has been a lot of fun.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Thank you so much for having me, Lisa. This was great.

 

.

Being Organized

Being Organized

Being Organized

Being Organized Begins Within

[social_warfare]

Being Organized

 

BEING ORGANIZED: Creating an organized life can sometimes feel like an unattainable goal, especially when it's not your natural way of being. One of the things I've learned over the years as an online life coach and Denver therapist is that being organized is more than learning about “organizational tips” or “time management skills” or a new plan for where to put stuff or reorganizing your drawers. Being organized (genuinely, sustainably organized) is actually a mindset; a way of being that cultivates order and calm. And unless you figure out how to be organized from within, all the “how to be organized” how-to's will be short term and ineffective. 

How to Organize Yourself

Now, before we go further I must be honest with you my dear reader. I'm going to step out from behind the Therapist / Life Coach “Dr. Lisa” facade for a moment to share a secret: I am not a naturally organized person. In my personal life, particularly when I was younger, I have struggled to manage time effectively, keep control of the clutter and chaos, and maintain an organized life. I didn't come from an organized family and arrived into adulthood without organizational skills in place.

I squeaked by for a while, but then when my life got harder I really needed to up my game. I could not get through graduate school or run a business without doing a better job of managing my time, energy and tasks. When I became a mom, that balance became even harder, and in order to do the things that we most important to me I really needed to work on my organizational skills. So I did!

I actually spent a lot of time figuring out how to get organized in order to do the things I wanted to do, to be the person I wanted to be, and to achieve my most important personal and professional goals. On my lifelong quest for personal organization, I have tried all the systems, all the hacks, and read all the “how to get organized” self help books there have ever been.

I am pleased to report that over the years I have grown into a reasonably organized person. I'm able to get important things done, and I usually have my act together. I still lose my keys sometimes (but not my shoes!)

How to Organize Your Life

Many people who are not good at being organized from within do have to work harder to create organizational systems, and stick to them. Many “Messies” dread these systems and will fight tooth or nail to avoid the types of routine and structure that being organized requires. But — I'm here to tell you, from the other side of this chasm — It's much, much less stressful and easier to cope with basically everything when your life is generally in order. There's less anxiety and drama. Your relationships feel easier too.

While it can feel hard to get organized and stay that way, once you do, you'll be amazed at the contrast: Being organized and living an organized life is actually much, much easier than being chronically disorganized and chaotic. (More on this subject in the marvelous interview I did with Dr. Marilyn Paul, on “How to Be Stress Free.”)

I have learned from my own process that being organized, really, genuinely organized, is not about the systems and the containers and the calendars. (Though all those tools can help). Being organized begins with a shift in mindset. Organized people actually think differently than Messies. By learning how organized people think, and cultivating an organized mindset, you too can achieve the Nirvana of feeling genuinely in control of your time, your energy, your stuff, and your life.

The Organized Mindset

I considered inviting an “organizational expert” to come on today's podcast and share their strategies for being organized, but then I had a better idea: My pal, Denver therapist and Denver psychologist Dr. Danielle Kahlo. Dr. Danielle is not a professional organizer, she's way better — a blazingly talented therapist who is also a next-level organized person. She has incredible insights into the life experience of being organized, and how to achieve it.

Let's Get Organized!

Listen to today's episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast for Dr. Danielle's down-to-earth advice for:

  • The biggest differences between an organized mindset and a disorganized one
  • Why being organized has to come from within, especially when you're working from home or managing a household
  • How being organized has a direct (positive) impact on anxiety
  • What causes procrastination, and the new ideas to nip it in the bud
  • How to achieve meaningful work / life balance and still get all the important things done
  • Ways to cultivate present-moment awareness in order to be more organized… and happier too.

I hope that this heartfelt advice on being organized is helpful to you as you juggle all the demands of your beautiful life!

With love,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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Being Organized

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Jules Gaia, “Two Steps Back”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Being Organized

Access Episode Transcript

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and you're listening to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

[Two Steps Back by Jules Gaia]

That’s Jules Gaia with the song Two Steps Back, which I felt kind of captured this sort of frenetic energy, maybe? That I’m hearing so many of you are feeling these days trying to manage all of the stuff that you have going on between working from home, parenting, homeschooling. Oh my goodness. And you know, for as quiet as our lives have become in some ways during this whole Coronavirus experience, I am hearing from so many people that you feel busier than you have ever been in your life. And that is really a daily challenge—to figure out how to manage at all. If you too, have been living this experience, today’s podcast is for you.

And I have some very special things planned. Today we are talking about not just organizational tips, we’re talking about cultivating an organized mindset. And my guest on the show today I am so thrilled to introduce to you. She is Danielle Kahlo, but she is Dr. Danielle Kahlo. She is a psychologist. However, Danielle is also a wonderful dear friend of mine. And I wanted to talk with Danielle about this because she is the real deal. She is not some organizational guru who wants to sell you an online course to learn XYZ; she lives it. I have been in this woman’s house; I have opened her silverware drawer. I have seen the truth. She is next level organized and today she’s here to talk with us about how to cultivate this inner and outer state of zen. Danielle, thank you for being here.

Dr. Danielle Kalos: It’s my pleasure. And it’s interesting that we’re just doing an audio recording because if this were video, people would just see me cackling.

Dr. Lisa Marie: She is actually rolling her eyes as I’m talking so I can confirm this. No, but it’s true. You are among the mostlike supernaturally organized people I have ever met. Well, you know, it’s important though because some people talk the talk. And they like talk this big game and then you likemeet them in real life and they don’t always live it. But you exude organization.

And so let’s just start with a couple of questions because myselfas a person who can only be kind of organized with great effortit seems like magic. So now, let’s see. You and my stepmother, Bobby, are the two most organized people I have ever met in my life, and you are both from the South originally. She’s from North Carolina, you are from Mississippi. Question one: is this a Southern thing? Is that what makes you organized?

Dr. Danielle: That’s a fascinating question. I’ve never thought about it in that way. I don’t think that’s what drives me.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay.

Dr. Danielle: It may be different for other people.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Also, common factors here—you and Bobby both, at least at one time, drink large quantities of Diet Coke. Does that have anything to do with why you’re sobecause I don’t drink Diet Coke. And I was thinking, is that what this is about?

Dr. Danielle: I genuinely do not see any correlation between Diet Coke consumption as my way of being in the world, but who knows, there are so many chemicals in that. Something may have gotten in and changed my…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. Changed your brain.

Dr. Danielle: …your own wiring.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay. Well, I'm then going to write that one down as a hypothesis to continue going into because those, those like, “What? What? What is it? How do I get it?” But okay, so it’s neither of those things probably. Well, let’s talk about other possibilities then.

Dr. Danielle: Okay.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay, so for now, so what I am really interested in digging into is… because I think like superficially, you can read books or watch a YouTube video about like, here’s how to clean out a closet, here’s where to put stuff, you know, like that kind of thing. But for people who struggle with organization, it’s always hard to maintain those systems. And I think it’s because it’s really just like a different way of thinking and like being oriented to stuff. Like there’s really an organized mindset. 

And I think it’s so important right now because people are dealing with more stuff to wrangle. And it’s been interesting because like, even people that I have talked with, like clients who are extremely successful people and who have done a lot, like I'm thinking of a client I work with who’s a physician. I mean, she is an extremely confident person. And, um, even her, like working from home, it removes the external structures that you have in place that kind of allow you to be organized. Like you don’t necessarily have to be places on time in the same way. Or you don’t have a routine that you are kind of funneled into. There’s not this external set of guide rails and or a company policy that says, “here is how to do XYZ” that we kind of follow along with.

When you’re working from home, you have to figure out how to be organized in a very self-directed way. You have to figure out your own routines and your own like procedures and processes that aren’t something that you’re being made to do. And so what I’ve experienced is even really highly competent and organized people that function very well in a workplace, when they’re working from home, there’s like this sort ofnot chaosbut it’s like they need to figure out how to organize themselves from within. And so that’s why I wanted to talk with you about the… how the thinking is differentlike that internalized organization, because you do this all the time. You do not just, you know, have your systems at work. 

And like, I don’t know if that makes, make sense or not, but what I’m hoping is like to get a sense of what the inner process is, and like, okay, let me actually ask you a coherent question. Do you feel that you were, like looking back on your life, always an organized person? Like is it just something that you’re born with? Is it a personality trait? Or do you feel like it’s something that you had to learn or cultivate or be taught or practice over the years in order to be organized? Is it? Is it nature or nurture? Is it you? Is it something that everybody else can learn? What do you think?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, that’s a great question. I certainly, you know, can remember as a kid, having a really messy, messy room and my parents having to say, “Clean up the room, clean up the room,” so I think that I…

Dr. Lisa Marie: That makes me feel so much better.

Dr. Danielle: …came out of the chute this way. Um, I do think… so I do think it can be cultivated. I think for meand I have shared this with you beforeit’s honestly, there’s a lot of anxiety management that comes with a strategy, so I feel less anxious when my surroundings are put together and in order. And I have a sort of an internal structure that helps me sort of navigate the world and feel like there are guide rails, even if they’re not being imposed from outside. But there’s a little bit of anxious temperament that I think goes into that. 

But I think I also have sort of practiced this over the years, and most of us do in school. You’ve got the structure of school, but then you’ve got all the activitiesthe homework, the assignments, the dissertationthat has to be done outside of school. And so you have to practice this. And so I think, remaining in the academic world for me, I’ve had to work remotely for years and years and years. And so there is some bit of things get very easy the more you practice it. Maybe getting started for people is the hardest part. I don't know.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, no, those are, those are interesting reflections. And but I think that maybe that what you just shared is an important takeaway. And something that would be useful for all of us is this idea that when you do have an organized and kind of serene environment and systems and sort of a, you know, inner slash outer sense of control that everything is sort of in its place, it makes you feel better emotionally. And I can certainly understand. I mean, I think, even for me, like my natural tendency is to get a little frenetic and chaotic and I don’t feel good when things are like that. I don’t know where my keys are. I can’t find stuff. I feel disorganized. And when I can kind of come back and make a plan and put things in place, it just, it feels, it feels better. And so maybe that’s one takeaway is that even though it takes time and effort to create organizational systems, there is a positive impact on… yeah.

Dr. Danielle: I think that does stick from reinforcing, yeah. When you’re cooking a meal and you know where to find the utensils the same place every time or when you’re sitting in your office and you know, you know where this stack of papers or references is all the timeit does make things go smoother in the moment. And then there’s this reinforcing sense of, “okay, that went well” and efficiency and so…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: …that is, that is a good feeling.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, yeah. And then, okay, and so now just, just for the benefit of our listeners, I can tell you that Danielleher homes are always immaculate and you have just such a wonderful sense of design. I mean, I always joke with Danielle that yes, if the psychologist thing stops working out for you, that you should definitely look into interior design because you just create the most beautiful environments.

And I’m curious to know so if you have, you know, want to share, share something for the benefit of a working mom who has like… a family dad, too, that keeps the home together. When there are a lot of people in it all the time and buzzing around and doing things and moving stuff, are there systems or practices that you have found over the years that help you kind of um, keep it together? You know, because a lived in space will always start to get messy because people you know, you take the silverware out of the drawer, you do stuff, and you cook things. Are there any things that you have found to just like make it easier to restore order or maintain order?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think two things work for me and that’s something that doesn’t work for everybody. But I think keepingyou mentioned earlier stuffa minimalist approach. And that’s not to say you can’t have any art on your walls, but a minimalist approach to stuff like when you get something new, you give something away. So you know, before I make a new clothes purchase, I make purge my closet and see what needs to go to Goodwill. So keeping stuff minimal so that it, there’s fewer things to sort of get, you know, kind of explode in the inner space. That’s one thing.

And then the other thing is, and I heard this from someone years ago, so this quote is not from me but I have subscribed to it for much of my life, “Don’t put it down; put it away.” And that philosophy really works for me because it’s just as easy to drop it on the couch when you walk in the door as it is to hang it on the coat rack. It doesn’t take any more time. And so if you put it away instead of just dropping it down, that just keeps the order throughout the day.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: So that’s kind of, those two principles really work for me.

Dr. Lisa Marie: That’s great. I like that. “Don’t put it down; put it away.” Because I, because then here is actually another question that I had for you. So, you know, you are a psychologist and as such, a keen observer of people, and you know, have a lot of contact with different personality types and ways of being and I can absolutely relate to what you just said. Like I think that that is part of my disorganized mindset when things do start to get, you know, too much. It goes in a stack and this sort of mental narrative is, “I will do this later.” Like I know that when I listen to, “I will do this later,” it creates disorder for me. And so I’m going to practice swapping out that “Don’t put it down; put it away.” But, you know, have you also observed like, when people are more chaotic or have more difficulty just kind of keeping themselves organized. Are there other differences that you have noticed in terms of the mindset or the things that they’re telling themselves that seemed, from your perspective, to be contributing to their difficulty? Because we all create our own reality, right? And whatever our world looks like, is a manifestation of whatever is going on inside of us. And so I wonder if you could eliminate this for us, around what is the thinking style or the inner story that contributes to messiness?

Dr. Danielle: Well, I think, you know, to your point, the um, one of the things that I see sometimes with people who struggle with this is a tendency or procrastination. You know, that’s a problem for future me. And I think, you know, that mental way of approaching life creates piles in our mind, in our psyche, in addition to the piles out in the world. And so, for me, procrastination has never been effective. Because the anxiety just builds as the list builds in my mind and as the stuff builds on the, on the desk. So tackling things now is sort of a similar approach to “Don’t put it down; put it away.”

Not putting things off, for me, is a really effective way to stay organized. Because I don’t think that you know, and I recognize procrastination as an anxiety management strategy of its own, but that avoidance of dealing with thing right here, right now, and putting it in a mental pile for laterI think it builds up and builds up, and then life interrupts. And this is what I see happening with clients all the time. Or students even. You know, putting things off, putting things off. And then all of a sudden, there’s some sort of crisis, or things happen or whatever else. And people didn’t bank that into their mental timetable for when they could get this project done or this activity or whatever else. And then suddenly something has to fall off and can’t get accomplished. And so for me, sort of approaching things with “just go ahead and do it now,” because I know that something out there is going to come in unpredictably and I need to have some cushion. I don’t know. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, no, it really does. That to do it now; don’t put it off; and also expect that whatever you think is going to happen in terms of the plan is not actually what is going to happen. And so to account for thatand because I think too, like when I think about my, my messy mindset, so to speak, there is this overly optimistic narrative about what I will be able to accomplish that has no basis in reality. You know what I mean? Like I can really realistically do probably 25% of whatever is on my giant list or whatever. I think I can get accomplished on a Saturday morning. So you’re saying, I don’t do that and that’s why I’m organized. I love it.

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, well, I mean, how many of us have you know, started a work day and then a supervisor, a co-worker, a client, an administrative issue pops up that we didn’t build into our work day and it’s like, “when am I going to find time to do this thing that you need me to do that’s suddenly so urgent?” And so I think expecting that, that is the reality does keep me very focused on staying on top of what I can see that I need to do in an efficient way. So that if there’s cushions, I can enjoy the cushions when it comes instead of being taken by surprise.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay, so then let’s, let’s go there for a second. So when it comes to like, routines and work days, in order to stay on top of things and do what needs to be done, and not get either blindsided or lost down a rabbit hole of whatever you know… and you have a lot of experience from working. And I should tell listeners: so in addition to being a psychologist and carrying a caseload, that DanielleI don’t want to call you Dianethat Danielle is also a professor of psychology at the University of Northern Colorado. She’s on the faculty.

And so you have a lot of plates spinning in the air. When it comes to personal routines and just like, I mean, do you, do you do like a task list? Do you like prioritize things to figure out what you're going to work on first, or what you’re going to work on second, and when you’re going to work on that? And do youdo any like formalized kind of planning things to stay on track? Or is it so deeply ingrained that you just kind of know what to do and when to do it?

Dr. Danielle: I do think some of it is muscle memory that builds over time with practice. But yeah, I certainly have, um… especially on days when the external structure is not imposed. So, you know, when we’re seeing clients back to back, then that’s just the schedule. That is what it is. But on days where there’s less external structure imposed and it has to be more internal, I absolutely have a mental list. And so for me, the list begins with certain things that have to happen at a particular time.

So you and I had this, this meeting scheduled this morning at eight and I’ve got some appointments with students scheduled this afternoon. And so I’m looking at my day and those have to happen at a particular time. And then everything else gets slotted in around that. And, and then for me, there is a prioritization. You know, which of these things can wait and which of these things is urgent? And I don’t know that, I think that’s a values-based decision. I think it’s a sense of, you know, what the world is demanding from us in different areas of our life and what takes priority. So for me, there is a, you know, “These are my values so these are the most important things. So I’m definitely going to accomplish these. And the other things can wait until tomorrow evening, if, if they need to.” So, I don’t know that that's very structured.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Well no, but, but I think what you’re talking again about the most important piece of this, which is the mindsetwhich is that you’re thinking about, “What is the most important, you know, what’s, what’s the stuff I have to do. But then what’s the most important or valuable stuff for me?” And then I think, I think you were insinuating this without saying it out loud, that you would do that important stuff before you would do the other thing. And so, so then, I mean, that seems like so natural to you. It’s probably not even a thought, but like, I talk to people all the time who like, know that I have these important things to do. And instead, they will mess around with like, low-level tasks because they’re easy. They’ll clean out their email box. They’ll mess around on Reddit for 45 minutes before they start doing stuff. Do you have… you don’t do that?

Dr. Danielle: I know.

Dr. Lisa Marie: What? Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: That’s a great, great observation. And I certainly have clients who do the same thing. I think, two things. I think some of that is avoidance, you know, when we can sort of cross easy things off the list because we know other things are bigger or require more energy. Then some of that could be, is sort of an avoidance or escapist strategylike, “I don’t want to deal with that; I’m gonna bury my head in the sand of the Reddit or the inbox.” But I think some of that is also, at least for some of the clients that I work with, that they haven’t really explored what their values are. They haven’t really explored and outlined, “This is what’s really important to me, and this is what I want to commit my time and energy to,” and made a conscious decision to focus on those things. So they’re much more easily be derailed because they haven’t outlined and committed to those things…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: …um, for themselves. Yeah, and so some values exploration is a lot of work that I do with people. “Really what matters to you? Are you aligning your life with that?”

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay, like a true life coach, like we’re gonna bring you over. But, but really though, and you know, as you’re talking, I’m reflecting on what I have seen clients do. But also personally when I have, again, I need to be much more intentional in order to be as organized and productive as you are. And when I am moving into that space, I do have to be very deliberate about what is the most important thing today, and you know, like as it attaches to bigger goals. And I think what I also probably tell myself is “Do the hardest thing first and resist the temptation to do the easiest thing first.”

Dr. Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Like I have to do the hard thing at the beginning of the day, and then the easy  pesky things in the last hour of the day because that takes less mental bandwidth. And I think I’m hearing a similar process there that the easy stuff happens when it happens.

Dr. Danielle: I think that’s right because you know, we sort of lose steam throughout the day. So when we wake up, and we’re fresh, and we tackle the hardest thingsit’s the whole “eat your vegetables” first kind of a deal. I think there’s a reason, structurally, that we teach and train kids, you know, dessert comes after you eat all the other healthy things so that you don't fill up on dessert first, right?

And so I think there is that, that of, you know, let me get these things out that will require more energy while I’m fresh. And then at the end of the day, if something comes up, if life intervenes, if I get derailed by another urgent issue, then at least I’ve done those most important things.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And the other things can fall off and wait until tomorrow. And you know, I never subscribed to that whole… I don’t know if you remember back when we were a little bit younger. We’ve known each other for 15 years, can you believe that? That’s the whole daytimer process. And you know, there was a big… But there is something there about having a list, having it on paper instead of just in my head, and then being able to prioritize. “This is an A item. This is a B. This is a C.”

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, I have to do that. I have do that.

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, but it’s helpful.

Dr. Lisa Marie: So okay, so prioritizing. When it comes also to time management, have you observed in yourself any strategies that you use that maybe are a little bit different than what you see less organized people doing that help you, you know, I’m thinking get places on time. You are also supernaturally punctual. I should, I should… but like, be able to, like schedule things.

Okay. So here’s a, here’s a more specific question. One of the things that I have observed in myself and also people who are—have of a less organized orientation is that there is a different sense of maybe how long things are going to take. Whereas, and, but this is a hypothesis; I don’t know this for sure. I mean, I’m wondering if part of being punctual and good time management is having a more, maybe realistic sense of how long things take? Or do you feel like it’s attached to something elselike your ability to get places on time and to know, “I’m going to spend this much time working on this report?” What do you think?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah. No, I think that’s right. I think that this goes back to what we were talking about a little bit earlier, which is the idea of building in a buffer that things are going to go wrong. How do I create a cushion for that? Right? So there will be an accident on Colorado Boulevard as I’m trying to get somewhere. Or you know, something, something else will, will interrupt my ability to, you know, get to this particular appointment on time.

And so building in that cushion, I think when, when I haven’t done that so well, you’re right, I have assumed that I could get somewhere or do something in a particular amount of time. And that has, I underestimated how long things would take or what would get in the way or whatever. And so, I may work on fiddly tasks up until the last minute and say, “Oh, I need to go.” And I should have stopped those fiddly tasks, you know, 10 minutes earlier and be more efficient with my time management. So I think there is a little bit of predicting that things may go wrong. And so my strategy islet’s say I’m trying to get to an appointment and the Google Maps says it’s going to take 20 minutes to get there. If I leave 35 minutes early, then I’m not panicked if there’s an accident. And if I arrive early, then I’ve got that cushion to then do whatever that was answer those emails or whatever because we can do that from anywhere now…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: …while at, while I'm waiting at that appointment. And so it’s not that I’m getting less done. It’s just that I, you know, plan the cushion, and then use that cushion when I arrive and I’m waiting for the appointment.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Got it.

Dr. Danielle: I don’t know if that makes sense.

Dr. Lisa Marie: No, that’s a fantastic strategy. And that has like, never actually occurred to me before, but I think I’m gonna start doing it, Danielle. No, but so, so like, I mean, so just out of curiosity. So Google Maps says 20 minutes, do you add 50% to that? 75% to that? Like, is there a little mental calculus that you found to be… “If I add 50% more or whatever it is, then it’s usually okay.” I’m just curious.

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, I don’t know that I’ve done the mental math and like actually calculated, “Okay, 20 minutes divided by two and then blah, blah, blah.”

Dr. Lisa Marie: 14.75 seconds. Right.

Dr. Danielle: Right. Right. Right. Right. But, but I think some of it depends on, you know, actually how far I’m going. And so there is a little bit of a ratio there, although it’s more of a gut instinct than anything else. But I think it’s a question of just building in some buffer, instead of working up to the last minute on the project that’s right before. And, and, and then slotting in some of those easier tasks that we were talking about that can sort of occur throughout the day, can then occur in those buffer windows. When I arrived to that appointment 15 minutes early, okay, let me answer those emails now instead of trying to do it before I got in the car. And so there’s a little bit of just sort of restructuring and sliding the smaller tasks in when I find that there’s a window of opportunity. So yeah, so there’s some reorganization of bigger items and then slotting in the smaller items in between.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay. Well, that’s great. So this is wonderful. And so okay, then lastly so let’s say you have your, your typical typical familywith you know, mom and dad trying to work and manage a home, but also now managing kids, and keeping them on track, and homeschooling and schedules. And just trying to make sure that everything, everything that needs to happen, happens to a degree, with the understanding that right now for many people, there’s some stuff that isn't going to happen because it can’t. So you know, while we might like to have our socks matched and in the drawer, it may be realistic to get the clean clothes out of a laundry basket that never actually gets put away because nobody has the bandwidth to do that with everything else that needs to be done. I mean, there are, there are finite limits. But do you have any last words of advice for, you know, a family in the situation with going in a zillion different directions in this contextwith not external structure, you know, child care, having to do all the stuff–that might help them begin to create a workable plan to make sure the important things at least get done?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a, that’s a great question. And I think it involves, I think, a lot of communication and a lot of sharing together——at least the adult partners in the, in the family system–saying, “Okay, what is most important to us as a family?” And putting those things first, and then coming up with a strategy for managing that together as a team.

I think one of the things that can happen is when we get stressed out and we go into our own, our own little bubblesthat can be isolating in a family system.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And when we can sort of just sort of spin off into our own little solar systems instead of really consciously coming together and saying, “Okay, what’s most important to us? And what do we value here?” Again, going back to those values. And then, and then sort of choosing, “Okay, let’s tag team this. I’m going to do this with the kids today. You’re going to do that with the house. You get that done.” That’s a good day.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And really just making a conscious effort to communicate about that and be, be working together as a team instead of spinning off into our own little zone.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. That’s fantastic advice. Okay, so to recap, I mean, if I, if I kind of just run down the big takeaways. I think the first thing, the first thing you said was just get deeply committed to, “Don’t put it down; put it away.” And you also talk about minimizing like, you maybe make it, do some curation to make it so that you do have a place for the most important things and that it’s not overwhelming sprawl. And I think that’s fantastic advice.

You also talked a lot about figuring out what your priorities are, and what is most important, and making sure that you do whatever that is first, and the lower value or less important things after that. Yup. And, and I think woven throughout this is sort of this core belief of that, you can probably do less than you think you can. And it’s probably going to take longer if it’s driving or doing a task. So maybe, I mean, is it fair to say like, lower your expectations about what is possible, and really focus on what is important? Does that kind of summarize it?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think that’s right. Having a, having a sense of buffer for anticipating that, you know, things will, you know, go wrong or take longer and, and really focusing on what matters most.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And then, and then making that explicit for yourself. And so whether that is you know, as a calendar or a list or whatever else. Getting it out of your headwhere things tend to swim around and get lostand really outlining it for yourself in a very clear way, so that you can feel like, “Okay, yeah. I'm, I'm actually, my behavior is consistent with what I’m saying matters most to me.”

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. Yeah. And then doing it now. Don’t put it away.

Dr. Danielle: And then doing it now. That’s right. That’s right. Easier said than done.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Wow, so many, so many wonderful tips. Danielle, thank you so much for spending this time with me today.

Dr. Danielle: Pleasure. Thanks for having me.

 

The Importance of Healthy Friendships

The Importance of Healthy Friendships

The Importance of Healthy Friendships

Invest in Healthy Friendships

[social_warfare]

The FRIENDSHIP CONNECTION: It’s more apparent than ever how fundamentally important our healthy friendships are to our wellbeing. As a Denver therapist and online life coach, I often speak with my online therapy clients about how empty and meaningless life can feel when they don’t have supportive friends and family with whom to share their journey, celebrate their success, and turn to for comfort and guidance in difficult times. 

Is this true for you, too? If so, developing friendships and creating a supportive, solid friendship network may be an important goal on your overall journey of creating the life you want. But even if the desire for stronger friendships exists, it can be hard to build genuinely healthy friendships — especially as an adult. Why is it so much harder to develop close friendships as an adult? The obvious answer is “because, time.” But here's a new idea: Most 30+ adults simply don't prioritize their friendships the same way they did during simpler times of life.

Let's be real: Many busy, successful professionals to put their cultivation of healthy friendships on the back burner and prioritize everything else instead. When you are juggling kids, a job, a spouse, and a house, it can feel like an indulgence to just “hang out” with friends (either virtually, or in-person). However, what emerging research into evolutionary biology, neuroscience and mental health is uncovering is that prioritizing your healthy friendships, even if it just feels like hanging out, is actually one of the single most important, impactful things you can do with your time and energy.

Fun fact: The non-productive, non-goal oriented time we spend messing around, doing nothing in particular, and simply being together with friends has — wait for it — about the same impact on your health as does quitting smoking cigarettes. But that's just the start of the avalanche of positive consequences of cultivating healthy friendships. Having friends and being a friend is actually one of the most important things you can do, if your goal is to be a happy, healthy human.

So if you, too, have bought into the idea that “it's harder to make close friends as an adult” consider this new idea: The biggest obstacle to adult friendships is lack of conscious understanding of the importance of friends. Once you get that, then it gets easier to become committed to putting the time and energy into building positive relationships. (And friendships will follow). 

Why is Healthy Friendship Important? 

Step one is building the understanding of why healthy friendships are so vital. Consider the opposite of friendship: Disconnection. When we’re disconnected from our friends and loved ones it takes a toll, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. We know from research into biology and neuro-science that healthy friendships are a core component of not just enjoying life and feeling subjectively happier, but even having a biological impact on the way our bodies function. 

Scientific facts about friendship indicate that, across the board, people who invest in their friendships experience benefits in many parts of their lives that seem unrelated. There is a measurable connection between friendship and health. For example, people who report having stronger, healthier friendships live longer, have increased immunity to disease, and are often buffered from the chronic stressors that are known to impair your health and wellness.

When we invest in healthy relationships and strong friendships, we are doing just as much to improve our health as we are by exercising, eating well, and yes, even quitting smoking. When you build relationships, you’re preventing health problems — even if it just feels like you’re hanging out and enjoying yourself. (Bonus points for exercising with your friends!)

The Role of Friends in Our Life

We often think of friends as a source of enjoyment, but the truth is that the role of healthy friendships goes much deeper. For example, in supportive, intimate friendships we find a sense of belonging. We also have people we can turn to in moments of hardship and personal stress, or when you're grieving a loss. While your friends may not be able to do anything to “fix” the situation, the experience of sharing your story with someone who cares may in itself be healing.

Having emotionally supportive people to turn to (whether or not you're actually talking about “it”) has a measurable impact on our stress levels, both physiological stress and the stress we're aware of. There is a very well established connection between chronic stress and chronic health issues. If you want to improve your health, it may be more impactful for you to spend an hour a day strengthening your positive friendships than hitting the gym by yourself. Consider it!

Friends and Mental Health

Having healthy friendships is also strongly associated with mental health, as well as physical health. People who feel isolated or lonely are more vulnerable to feelings of depression and anxiety. But even more importantly, having relationships with people who are invested in their own personal growth and mental health can be enormously inspiring for you to take steps to cultivate your own. 

Aside from the chance to talk to friends, which is an emotional buffer in itself, getting out of your comfort zone and opening up to friends increases the chance that you’ll wind up working on yourself. For example, having a good friend tell you that they, personally have found a good therapist and are enjoying therapy makes it much more likely that you will feel comfortable in seeking out your own life coach or therapist online or in person. Being connected to other people who are on a journey of personal growth and self-development lifts you up, too. 

In contrast, if you are close friends with someone who is NOT investing in their own wellness, and who is in the grips of depression or anxiety, it will bemore likely that you yourself will feel worse instead of better. 

So in addition to seeking out healthy friendships with people who are actively on a quest of self-improvement, by taking an active role in your own personal growth and self-development it will also lift your friends up too. You will become a source of inspiration and a role model for people in your friend group who may be struggling. Investing in yourself lifts everyone around you! 

How to Cultivate Relationships & Be a Good Friend

It can be difficult for busy adults to find the time and energy to create new friendships or invest in your existing friendships in order to make them stronger. A fundamental piece of healthy friendships is a cooperative, reciprocal generosity of mutual caring and support. Making new friends and investing in your old friends is definitely a commitment of time and energy. However, it’s a worthy investment that has the power to build and strengthen many aspects of your life as well as theirs. 

Having a good relationship with a friend requires mutual generosity, but cultivating a genuinely supportive social network may also involve recognizing that some of your friendships are not positive and need to be released. There are such things as unhealthy friendships, and if you’ve been in a relationship with a selfish person or someone who’s mental health issues are preventing them from being a good friend to you, it may be time to set some healthy boundaries for yourself. Your focusing on building positive relationships and your own mental and emotional wellness may, longer-term, inspire them to do the same.

Understanding Healthy Friendships, With Lydia Denworth

To support YOU in your understanding of the importance of healthy friendships, and to deepen you understanding of what it really takes to build supportive relationships in your life, I’ve invited science journalist and author Lydia Denworth to speak with me about her new book, “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond.”  (Learn more about Lyda and her work at LydaDenworth.com

She shares what her painstaking research has uncovered about why friendships are so important to us, the risks of neglecting your friendships, the impact of friendships on children and adolescents, and — perhaps most importantly — concrete strategies for how to build and nurture your friendships during social distancing.

Specifically, we’re discussing:

  • The impact of friendship on your brain and your body
  • How friendships develop
  • The importance of showing up
  • Why we need our friends in good times and in bad
  • How to help your kids develop healthy friendships
  • How to develop healthy friendships as an adult

Listen to our conversation, to learn about the importance of healthy friendship and how to build strong friendship connections.

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

[social_warfare]

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by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Feeling Trapped? How to Get Unstuck

Feeling Trapped? How to Get Unstuck

Feeling Trapped? How to Get Unstuck

Feeling Trapped By Life? Learn How to Set Yourself Free…

 

Do You Feel Trapped By Your Circumstances? If so, you're not alone. I see it all the time: People who show up for growth-oriented online therapy and life coaching often do so because they feel trapped, they feel stuck, and they do not know how to move forward.

They say, in their first online coaching session, “I feel trapped in my job,” or “I feel trapped in my marriage,” or “I feel trapped by my life.” What they're saying is, “I'm unhappy, but I do not see a path forward.” Although they desire change very much, it really feels like in every direction there is a barrier or an insurmountable obstacle. It's like they have no good options. They are paralyzed.

So they sit on my couch (if we're meeting for life coaching in Denver) or on my computer screen (if we're meeting for online life coaching), feeling beaten down, helpless, tense, and often certain in the futility of any effort to create change.

Then, we talk. And we often talk a lot about the obstacles. The many, many obstacles:

  • A career coaching client talks about how much they hate their job but can’t find a different one for various reasons. Or not one that pays as well. Or that they don't have to go back to school for. Or they'd be totally starting over.
  • A life coaching client might talk about how they want to change their habits but haven’t been successful yet so therefore they can’t ever be. Everything they try to do fails. They have stopped trusting themselves to implement changes, and do what needs to be done to create positive change. They have tried it all. Nothing works. They can't xyz and have so many reasons why. They are stuck. S T U C K
  • A relationship coaching client needs me to know their relationship feels acrimonious, toxic, not emotionally safe, and not satisfying. Communication is terrible.  They want so much to love and be loved but feel helpless because their partner won't change. But on the other side, getting divorced feels signing up for a whole new set of terrible problems. And the kids. And the money. And the heartbreak. They feel stuck in a bad relationship that they can't fix, and they can't leave.

What to Do When You're Feeling Trapped

In all of these situations — while the specific circumstances leading these folks to feel trapped are different — the result is the same: It feels like the door to their ideal path has just slammed shut and now they are facing a wall. A high, high wall.

Emotionally, they feel helpless and that their problems feel too big to overcome. Every opportunity quickly becomes a snarl of more problems and negative outcomes, and paralysis takes over.

“Being stuck” becomes a purgatory, and as you can imagine, fertile ground for depression to sink roots and wrap them up in tight black vines of hopelessness. It’s hard to go through, and even as a therapist or coach (hi), it's hard to watch.

Why does this happen? Most importantly, how do you move past feeling trapped and set yourself free?

Why You Feel Trapped: The “Black and White” Trap

The truth is that when I sit with my therapy or coaching clients, I become very, very aware that 1) their adverse circumstances are very real 2) they may not have great options, and they do have to make hard choices and — here's the important part — 3) they have more options than they think they do.

If your immediate reaction to that last part was, “NO I DO NOT!” Please, hear me out.

In my experience as a therapist and life coach, and an empathic observer of humans, I have learned that there is a very specific way of thinking that inevitably intensifies feeling of being trapped, and will always make you feel helpless and overwhelmed by obstacles: black and white thinking.

Black and white thinking severely limits available options.

If you're feeling paralyzed, stuck, or helpless there is a good chance that, at the core, and without even realizing it you might be engaging in “all or nothing” / “yes or no” / “this or that” /  black and white thinking.

When a black or white thought process is active, everything becomes an “either / or.”

“I need to get into this graduate program, but I can't afford it so I'm destined stay in this unhappy career forever.”

“I'm going out on dates but not meeting people I feel a connection with so I'm going to die alone.”

“I must feel better in order to do something differently.”

“My partner needs to change or I can't be happy.”

All options are starkly opposed in black and white, and have the power to either save or crush us completely. Words like, “Always,” “Have To,” “Can’t,” swirl inside your head. It’s exhausting.

Whenever someone gets into a stuck, helpless place its almost always because they perceive too few options. Things become polarized: Black and white, yes and no, good or bad.

They have more options than they think they do. It is actually never black or white. Even if they have to choose between two options, they still have a great deal of opportunity to cultivate differences in the way they think about those options, and the way they feel about this options.

But when people are feeling trapped, they do not see that. They can't. And we've all been there: Stuck, disempowered, and feeling trapped.

The black and white mindset that underpins feeling trapped is why people so often need the support of a great, growth oriented therapist or a dynamic life coach to get unstuck. They are not trapped so much by their own circumstances, as they are by their own mental process. However, because we are all limited by our own perceptions, the mental walls we unknowingly create are very real, and very high. It is nearly impossible to scale them alone, without outside perspective.

Great therapy or coaching can sometimes reveal different options and solutions. But what it always does is help you create inner flexibility and a fresh perspective that sets you free from the inside out.

Many decades of research into cognitive-behavioral therapy have shown that the basis for much human suffering can be found in unhelpful ways of thinking. Also, that when people can cultivate more helpful ways of thinking they feel happier, more content and more empowered, whether or not they change their circumstances. (Though often, feeling better mentally and emotionally helps people create actual change).

This is important: Psychological health and happiness is found through mental flexibility, creativity, and openness.

There is always a middle path. When you tap into your own inner power and resources, you will find it. Then, you have so many more possibilities.

How To Liberate Yourself Mentally and Emotionally, When You're Feeling Trapped

I am going to tell you a secret. I will preface this by saying I'm aware that what I'm about to say can feel impossible when you're trapped in black and white thinking. If you can't do this on your own, it's a good call to connect with a therapist or coach who can help you do this. But here it is:

If you don’t like the options you currently have, insist on more.

Whether you believe this to be true, it is: You have more options than you know. Some of your options may be a bad idea. Some options may be fantastical. Some of your options may go against your core values. Some of them may be so ridiculous they are not even worth entertaining.

But under the heap of terrible, dumb, unthinkable options, there may be a few that are worth entertaining. But you can't get to those options, unless you give yourself permission to be creative, be weird, think about things you don't usually think about, and insist on more.

This openness to any and all options is the psychological process of liberating your mind from entrapment. Only when you can set yourself free psychologically, are you able to move forward literally.

Here's an example:

Did you ever read the story when you were a kid about Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator? (It's the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I know you’ve heard of).

Anyway. At the end of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, if you remember, Willie Wonka has made Charlie the heir to his magical candy empire, and is going to take him on a tour of his new dominion.

They get into the Great Glass Elevator, which Charlie assumes, sanely, will carry them up or down to different levels of the factory. (Up or down. Black or white. Sound familiar?)

However, the wall of the elevator is covered with buttons. Strange buttons. Buttons indicating that this elevator will go not just up or down but diagonally, in circles, side to side, and more.

Willie Wonka gleefully pushes the big red “Up and Out” button which sends them crashing through the roof of the factory and into outer space. OUTER SPACE! What kind of elevator goes into outer space??

One of the characters asks this reasonable question:

“And what keeps it up?” said Grandma Josephine.

“Skyhooks,” said Mr Wonka.

Skyhooks. Skyhooks, as far as I know, are not actually a thing. Perhaps they will be (I have not personally rummaged around in Elon Musk's desk drawers to look for the notepad with the “List of Things to Think About” I'm sure he keeps.)

But the point is that you, too, get to make it all up as you go along.  We all get to design our own reality. Just like Willy Wonka, nothing exists anywhere — certainly not in your life or mine — unless we think about making it happen first.  The rules that govern our lives are largely our own construction. You have many, many options — we all do.

Getting Unstuck: Cultivate Creativity And Mental Flexibility Like it Was Your Job

Here's what getting unstuck from the outside in actually looks like, when you do it.

The next time you’re feeling trapped, try taking out a piece of paper and writing down as many alternative options as you can think of. Make them as zany and wildly unrealistic as you possibly can, just to loosen up the thin-lipped British governess that has taken up residence in your head— the one holding two alternatives out to you on a silver tray. Slap them out of her hands and get weird. Brainstorm with abandon.

“I could sell all my possessions and move to a little village in Armenia. In three years I will be mayor.”

“I could quit my job and live in a tent in my next-door neighbor’s backyard.”

“I could make [insert goal here] the sole mission of my life and number one priority every day.”

“I could stand up in the middle of my next team meeting and scream cathartically, throw a chair at my boss’s head, and walk out.” (Not advised. But you could.)

“I could apply to a different school, or change my major.”

“I could break up with this person.”

“I could read some books and learn how to do this thing that seems so impossible. Other people can do it and I can too.”

“I could make it a goal to meet four new people every week.”

“I could save x amount of money every month for the next year, and do the thing I really want to do.”

“I could get rid of my television and use all that extra time to pursue [something important that you feel you don’t have time for].”

Operant point: Start every sentence should start with “I could.”

Of course you will immediately hear the snarky voice of the uptight, uber-rational British governess telling you all the reasons that you can’t.

The correct response to her is, “Shh. Skyhooks.”

Break Free: You Are the Author Of Your Life Story

The truth is that you can actually do pretty much anything you want.

You CAN decide to take out a massive loan and spend every cent riding motorcycles around Australia for the next six months. You could simply stop paying the mortgage on your house and use the proceeds to finance a diet of nothing but the most expensive chocolate money can buy every single day.

You can. No one is stopping you.

Of course, there are consequences to every decision that you’ll have to sort through, obviously, but just getting in contact with the fact that your options are immense is enough to break through the paralysis that is choking your life and creating the stuck-ness that you’ve been feeling lately.

In addition to some foolish ideas that might very well destroy your life if you followed them, your creativity and openness to new ideas will also generate some reasonable, healthy, fresh and exciting new options for you too. Trust me.

What are the skyhooks that could lift you up-and-out of the tiny little cognitive box you’ve been stuffed into?

What could you do?

 
I know that this article and the podcast are not in any way, shape or form a substitute for working with a therapist or life coach (which is what most people who are profoundly stuck really do need). However, I hope this conversation helps you find your way forward, even if it's just to take the steps to get in touch with a great therapist or coach who can walk with you, help you break out of black and white thinking, help you brainstorm new possibilities, and cultivate the inner strength to transform your life from from the inside out.
 
That is what you deserve!
 
 
 
xoxo,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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Steps to Success

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As a Denver Therapist and Life Coach, I find that many of my clients start the new year with great intentions, big goals, and hopeful hearts for change. However, so often these same clients find that they have made a long list of life changing and bad habit breaking goals only to find that they are one or two months into their year and still haven’t made any changes. 

This can be such a discouraging feeling, and if you feel this way you’re not alone. I want to share with you the same benefits of goal setting and steps to achieve goals this year that I teach my life coaching clients.

Why Is Goal Setting Important?

Were you inspired to make new goals at the beginning of January? 
Did you see your social media flood with 2019 reviews proudly stating new goals for 2020? 
Did you read news articles explaining the newest trends for goal setting and goal keeping? 
Have you found yourself already letting go of these new habits or ambitions? 

The truth is, setting the goal is the easy part (as you know), but did you know that your goal setting activities might be failing you (and not the other way around)?

Here’s the thing, most new year resolutions are either forgotten or given up on within the first two weeks of setting them. And less than 10 percent of all new year resolution setters achieve their goals by December 31st of that same year.

While you may feel you’re not the only one struggling to be a goal achiever, you may be wondering how there are so many successful people with these odds!

This news may be really discouraging to hear! But the greatest danger I see with setting goals and falling into this common trend of giving up on them within a couple of weeks – is that instead of forming habits to succeed, we are forming habits to fail. 

Think about it. You are learning a pattern of  getting super excited and motivated only to let that motivation slip into inaction just a couple of weeks later.

We have been literally learning to give up on goals. So, instead of setting new goals—since that doesn’t seem to work—why don’t we approach this dilemma with the mindset of setting goals in a new way? 

I want to share with you my favorite approaches to setting defined goals and achieving success. I will also be highlighting the pitfalls I see most often among my life coaching clients’ good intentions but often failed attempts at seeing these intentions through.  

How To Set Goals Efficiently

How do you set your goals? Do you simply make a list of desired habits you hope to achieve by the end of the year or within a certain time frame? You may be motivated to see these goals through, however, if you are in a rut of not achieving your goals, it seems that motivation is not enough. 

Setting goals efficiently requires some goal setting tools. You may be familiar with SMART goals but I want to dive into this style of goal setting and discuss how you can implement this strategy into your daily goals in a realistic and practical way.

SMART goals (for those who may be new to the term) stand for Specific, Measured, Accountable, Realistic, and Timely goals. 

It’s likely that you are already doing many of these aspects of goal setting. In my experience with clients who are wanting to make lasting change, making specific and measured goals is a great place to begin. 

Example: If you want to exercise more, the Specific goal would be the type of exercise, and the Measured goal would be the details around when and how often you desire to accomplish it. 

A Measured goal would be saying I want to exercise 3 times a week. You can get as detailed as necessary, maybe including the time of day, and for how long you wish to exercise. 

More often though, I see my clients missing the last three pieces of SMART goal setting: Accountable, Realistic, and Timely. 

Make Your Goals Accountable

Being accountable and responsible for a goal will help partner with your motivation to accomplish it. 

Here are realistic ways to make your goals accountable:

  1. Share your goal with someone who cares about you (your spouse, a friend, a colleague, your therapist or coach) and is willing to help follow up with on your goals.
  2. Set reminders in your phone, on your agenda, or even ask Siri or Alexa to remind you to check in and keep pursuing necessary steps to achieve your goals.
  3. Join a common interest group that is pursuing the same or similar goals. You can find these groups in your local community, through Facebook, Instagram, and even instructor led classes and podcasts that offer accountability.

Following up with someone who cares about you can be a great way to maintain your new goals longer. When we feel supported, it is easier to be successful with our goals. 

Make Your Steps For Success Realistic

Making unrealistic goals is one of the most cited reasons among my life coaching clients of why they don’t achieve them. It is exciting to set new goals, but sometimes you need to take smaller steps to the big goals in order to actually achieve them. 

Ask Yourself The Right Questions

Ask yourself the following scaling question during goal setting to make more realistic goals: 

“When it is December 31st and I look back on this goal, how often do I honestly think I will achieve it on a scale from 0-100% of the time?” 

If your honest answer is 90% of the time, that sounds like a good goal that will challenge you! If your honest answer is 60% of the time, that sounds like a good time to revise your goal slightly so you can have a higher estimated success rate! 

I want to caution you that this isn’t a time to feel bad about yourself if you think you won’t accomplish it, but rather, a time to be excited that you are making goals in a NEW way that might help you succeed where you haven’t in the past. 

Revise that goal and ask the question again until you feel like you can honestly accomplish it. 

An example might look like moving your measured goal from 3 times of exercise a week down to 2 times per week. 

Eliminate Controllable, Foreseeable Obstacles

Ask yourself, “What obstacles might get in the way of me achieving this goal?” 

With exercise, it may be that you need an exercise partner. Another obstacle might be that you don’t enjoy specific types of exercise, so you end up not doing it consistently. 

If those are true for you, making realistic goals might include adding addendums like finding a gym partner, or taking the time to decide what kind of exercise you like. Take the time to make sure there are no controllable, foreseeable obstacles in the way of your goals as you try to make them realistic for you! 

Avoid The Common “Shooting For The Stars” Success Obstacle

I have a few clients who have told me at this point that they would rather keep their goals higher, even with the chance of not achieving them, so that they also have the chance of making higher goals instead of smaller ones even if they are more realistic. 

I call this the “shooting-for-the-stars” obstacle. If that is you, I will explain later how you can still have the chance to shoot for higher goals in this goal-making process, and I want to advise on why it is so important to make realistic goals. 

In my experience, making realistic goals helps you avoid discouragement, feelings of failure, and feelings of worthlessness. I’m not saying we should avoid acknowledging those feelings if they are there. I am saying that it can be helpful to avoid getting yourself to a place of feeling that way. 

I have seen so many amazing individuals become so discouraged at the idea that they failed a goal, that the guilt and shame of that failure motivates them to simply give up. If we make goals that are smaller to accomplish, then we can leave room for feelings of accomplishment, pride, and satisfaction that will continue to motivate you to accomplish your goal. 

So, once you have created a realistic goal, it is time to look at that “Timely” aspect of goal making. 

Make Your Goals Timely

Making your goals timely means scheduling a time to evaluate how you are doing on your goal. I recommend making this a weekly or monthly event. For you, this may mean evaluating all of your goals on the first Sunday of the month, as an example. 

When you evaluate your goals, see how successful you have been. If for you it was that exercise goal, ask yourself how often you kept your goal of 2-3 times a week. If the answer is close to 100 percent, way to go! 

You can recommit to continuing that goal the same way until your next evaluation, or try and increase it. This is where there is room for those who want to make sure they can achieve those “shooting for the stars” goals, while still being realistic. 

If your answer is less than satisfactory, it may be time to modify your goals to reflect a more realistic challenge for your current situation. 

Keep A Positive And Compassionate Attitude By Re-Framing

If you find yourself still getting into cycles of discouragement that make you want to give up, let’s try to reframe your negative thoughts to avoid that guilt and shame that is so detrimental! 

If you are thinking “I am a failure,” or “I will never accomplish my goals” try thinking instead: 

  • I can try again tomorrow
  • I just need to adjust them slightly
  • I just need more support
  • I can accomplish my goals in the long run, I might need to make them smaller right now
  • I am trying my best
  • I need to be patient with myself
  • Its okay if I don’t accomplish them sometimes, that doesn’t mean I am a failure
  • I am learning how to succeed
  • What obstacles are getting in the way of my goals? How can I modify? 
  • I tried my best
  • I just may need to revise my goals a little bit
  • The goal is progression and I can keep moving forward
  • I didn’t fail, I tried hard and I am getting there

In review, I’ve talked about focusing on 3 parts of SMART goal setting, these include making goals accountable, realistic, and timely.  Make sure the goals are small enough to be realistic, that you have an accountability partner, and that you make times in the future to follow up with yourself or that accountability partner on where you are at with your goals and where you want to be. 

In my experience, these steps can bridge the gap to help you succeed longer, and help you move from not accomplishing goals to a PATTERN OF ACCOMPLISHING GOALS. 

Most of all, I hope that you take the guilt out of it. Guilt and shame have a way of making goals unmet feel like bigger failures than they really are. So, remember the last goal setting tool I want to encourage you in is to stay positive by reframing! If you think, “I failed” at my goal, try reframing your thoughts to one of those ways described above. 

My hope for you is to give you both motivation to keep trying and pursuing the new things you set your mind to at the start of this whole process, and the tools to try them in a new way. 

Good luck! You got this! 
Tacy LeBaron, M.S., MFTC

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Tacy LeBaron, M.S., MFTC  is a couples counselor, family therapist, individual therapist and life coach who specializes in helping you improve your relationships, feel more connected, heal and grow through challenging life transitions, and attain your most important goals for your life.

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Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

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