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‘Tis The Season To Be… Present

‘Tis The Season To Be… Present

Maggie is a career coach and life coach who specializes in helping people get clarity about their life’s purpose, and teach them the skills and strategies to overcome obstacles and create a life they love. She leads our Design Your Life online career and life coaching group.

How To Get a Grip On Your Phone Use.

Reading digital detox advice on your phone is a little bit like getting weight loss tips while eating ice cream.

It’s a clear case of hilarious irony colliding with cringe-worthy guilt.

But hey, we’re only human, and all of us – every single one of us (yes, even the people you think have an iron will and appear to have everything put together on the outside) succumbs to temptation and easily slides into habits that don’t serve us.

Cue Christina Perri singing Human.

This time of year, with so many actual things going on in our lives during this busy holiday season, digital over-use can become even more apparent. This is a time to connect with others and enjoy the sights, smells, activities and rituals of the holidays.

But for many of us in this modern age, things like cookie-making with the kids or tree-decorating with the family quickly devolve into hours of Pinterest scrolling on the couch, while your kids or partner drift off into their own personal digital universe. All of you together in your aloneness.

And who among us hasn’t cursed after we picked up the phone to find a cookie recipe online and then two hours later — having missed the actual window of cookie-making opportunity — looked up and thought, “What have I been doing?! That’s two hours of my life that I can’t get back.”

Then we swear we’ll cut down. And we try. And it works. For a while. Until it doesn’t.

Whatever your flavor of choice:

  • Scrolling through Facebook (I know, I know – no one’s on FB anymore, but some people sincerely still show up there – raising my hand, tentatively)
  • Video games
  • Phone games (but they’re brain teasers so I won’t get dementia later in life, right?)
  • Porn
  • Blogs (one of my friends has a handful of sites she visits regularly that she calls “interior design porn”)
  • Those silly quizzes (yes, I really did need to know that if I were a live-action princess, I’d obviously be Cinderella)
  • News sites that feed our political divisiveness
  • Insta (okay, I know it’s called The Gram now)
  • Tumblr
  • That new favorite app (one of my clients told me about Marco Polo, and I’m restraining myself. Do. Not. Need. Another. E-toy.)

I could go on and on. The fun clearly never ends. In fact, if we consciously taper of our phone use, there’s almost a stalkerish quality to how we get reeled back in. Facebook emailed me to tell me that I had 97 notifications after I went on a hiatus for a few days. When I deleted that message, I got an email that one of my good friends had posted an update – my good friend was named and there was a teaser and link. Finally, in disgust, I logged on the FB and spent far more time than was necessary changing my email settings. Stop chasing me, FB!

And the Screen Time feature on the latest iOS. Yeah, I didn’t need that, Apple. Thanks very much anyway.

Look, here’s the thing: over-the-top phone use is like any other compulsion. What starts out seemingly innocently – in fact, often with a real purpose in mind – gradually erodes into something that becomes destructive and unhealthy.

The problem is, by the time we recognize it (or someone calls us on it), we’re in deep, and we tend to react badly:

  • We might become defensive and angry and spew rationales about why it’s important and justified
  • Maybe we berate ourselves for our weaknesses, mentally lashing ourselves for our bad habits
  • Perhaps we withdraw from others because we don’t want to be witnessed doing something that isn’t in our best interest.

Or we turn to a combination of all of these possibilities.

How to Reduce Your Phone Use

The good news is, there are several mechanisms that bring us back to strong mental health and habits that serve us. Instead of white-knuckling it and making what’s been fun all of sudden forbidden or massively restricted, it’s really helpful to look at the root of our phone use.

The first step of changing any habit is to create self-awareness around what’s really going on. When you know what is motivating you to zone out, plus get clarity around how it’s actually impacting your life, then you are empowered and motivated to change. [More on this subject: “How to Stay Motivated”]

Here’s are some examples of the types of questions I ask my life coaching clients to help them crack into what’s really going on with their phone use:

  • What is enticing you to disappear into your phone, to go unconscious, to numb out?
  • What do you want your life to look like? How much phone use feels healthy to you?
  • What needs do you have that you’re attempting to fill through your phone? Connection? Stimulation? Meaning? What would your life be like if you got those met more directly?
  • What does support and useful infrastructure look like for you as you shift your habits and create ones that you want?
  • How is your phone use affecting your relationships with your partner or children?
  • What would your life be like if you felt more connected to the here and now?
  • What would you do with all the time you’d have on your hands, if you released the grip on your phone?

Those are just a few of the questions you might ask yourself to begin making changes in this area of your life. If you’d like many of our counseling and coaching clients here at Growing Self, you might find that when you scratch the surface and turn your awareness to yourself, your feelings, your needs and your desires…. You begin to expand and grow.

When you release your grip on your phone you have time and space to begin cultivating self-awareness. You may find that phone over-use has actually been a place-holder for what you really want and need out of your life. Only then will your real journey begin: Figuring out how to design the life you want.

All to the best to you and yours this holiday season.

Maggie Graham, M.Ed., LPC, CPC

Embracing Growth: Getting Comfortable With Discomfort

Embracing Growth: Getting Comfortable With Discomfort

Want to Make a Change? You May Need to Get Uncomfortable.

As a life coach and therapist, I often talk to people who feel stuck in situations that are not ideal, especially in their careers or their relationships.

Why? Because even though they are not “in love” with their current circumstances, keeping things as-is feels safer and more comfortable than the idea of making a big change. Even though they know they can do more, or have more, they resist embracing their full potential because change can feel hard. Even scary.

Remember The Matrix? How our hero Nero / Keanu had to make a choice between staying in the comfort of the life he knew, or waking up to the uncomfortable truth of what was actually happening?




Do you stay comfy? Or do you grow?

We’re all faced with that same choice. Do we stay in our comfort zone and pretend that the life we have is all that is possible? Or do we wake up to the anxiety-provoking truth that we can do more… but that it will probably require being less comfortable for a minute, while we create our new reality.

Sometimes simply recognizing that the life we are living is not in line with who we truly are can bring on a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Some of us feel better when we just keep doing what we are doing, in order to remain comfortable. It’s easy to lay around and not exercise. It’s easy to avoid tough, but necessary conversations with our partners. It’s easy to punch in and punch out at a mediocre, unfulfilling job that pays the bills.

It’s hard to push yourself to do more.

Herein lies the majority of the problem: we are ALL conditioned to be satisfied with “comfortable.” Many people feel so threatened by the possibility of discomfort that they create “reasons” (aka, “excuses”) for why change is not possible, or blame others for the condition of their lives. While feeling helpless is not a great feeling, believe it or not, being the victim can feel less threatening than the possibility that you actually are in control of your life… and that you do have the power to change it.

What I’ve learned as a life coach who specializes in helping people get motivated is that there’s tremendous opportunity in discomfort. The truth is, we do NOT often progress, grow, and/or accomplish great things by remaining comfortable. If the early American settlers wanted to stay comfortable, our country would have stopped in Pennsylvania. If Susan B. Anthony stayed comfortable in the early 1900’s, when would women have been able to vote? If Martin Luther King Jr would have stayed comfortable, we may all still be using different water fountains.

If you want to change your life, you must learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. How appealing does “being comfortable” sound if it’s synonymous with “mediocre and stagnant.” The truth is that feeling uncomfortable can push you towards great things. That is how we grow! We learn to make fire because we are uncomfortable with cold. Imagine what it would be like if we just learned to be comfortable with the cold. Burrr.

Embrace the feeling of knowing that you NEED to do something else with your life — don’t avoid it. If you are brave enough to entertain the idea that what you are doing might not be enough, then you are uncomfortable in your current situation. That is the starting point of growth. Don’t lie to yourself, or those around you, as a way of playing it safe. Be uncomfortable with your situation. Embrace it. And BE the change that you need to see in your life.

Zachary Gaiter M.A.

How To Get Someone Else To Change

How To Get Someone Else To Change

Are You Really Worried About Someone in Your Life?

Are you being negatively impacted by the consequences of someone else’s behavior? Few things are more frustrating than seeing someone you love suffering, spinning out of control, and unable or unwilling to get help. What to do?

On today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’ll teach you how to avoid the biggest mistake you can make in this situation, and the surprising way to not just help– but get your inner peace back.

We’ll talk about what it really means to “help” someone versus accidentally enable them to persist in their problems.You’ll learn about how to avoid damaging your relationship with your loved one, and how to avoid the power struggle of co-dependency.

By shifting your definition of what it means to help, you’ll learn how to regain control of the situation. Getting clear about your boundaries, your values, and the one thing you really have power over (you) you’ll start helping your loved one develop the authentic, inner motivation they need to make lasting change.

The road to recovery is hard, but when you learn how to stop controlling, stop being upset, and start giving people the kind of help they really need you can change from being an accidental obstacle to recovery, to a catalyst for their growth.

Lastly, I’ll be giving you some practical steps for how to help yourself during your loved one’s change process. You’ll learn how to maintain your boundaries, regain feelings of control, and get the support you need to stay committed to being a true agent of change.

Listen Now: How To Get Someone Else To Change

Music Credits: “Needle In The Hay” by Elliot Smith

What’s Holding YOU Back From Success?

What’s Holding YOU Back From Success?

Feeling stuck? Here’s How to Break Free…

Most people who want more out of life seek out counseling or coaching because they are not willing to settle. They want to make a positive change in their lives, their careers, in their relationships, or in themselves, but have run out of ideas. They have tried everything that they, personally, know how to do to improve the situation… and it hasn’t worked. They feel stuck.

If you’ve been feeling this way lately, I want you to know that 1) you’re not alone, and that 2) I’m going to help you with this. Like right now.

Here’s the big secret to getting unstuck: Self awareness. What nobody realizes, before entering personal growth work, is that “the problem” they’ve been trying to fix is not actually what needs their attention. Focusing on the circumstance, or the situation, is not going to move the needle for you. The answer is not outside. It’s inside. Only when you identify the unconscious, inner obstacles that have been getting in your way will you start to move meaningfully forward.

Until that happens, you’ll spin. (And seethe. And beat yourself up. And get increasingly frustrated.)

As frustrating and uncomfortable as this stuck place is, can be it’s really an amazing opportunity in disguise. Why? Because it’s often feeling ABSOLUTELY FED UP WITH STUCK-NESS that launches people into the life-changing journey of growth and soul-expansion that would not have been possible otherwise.

Often, this journey carries people through places inside themselves that they’d never even imagined existed. As people move towards empowerment, towards designing their lives, and towards “creating change” they often discover that the path is one of growth. Of personal evolution. Of compassion. Of self actualization. Sometimes, even one of healing.

This is a beautiful experience and one I believe passionately that everyone deserves. So on this episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m actually going to give you a “Master Class” of the main ideas that all our counseling and coaching clients arrive upon, eventually: The path to creating change outside yourself starts from within. Only by uncovering the inner, hidden obstacles that have been holding you back will you be able to move forward and create meaningful and lasting change in your life, your career, your relationships… and in yourself.

Self awareness is the first step of personal transformation. Only when you understand yourself, and the unconscious obstacles you’ve been wrestling with, can you make the changes that will actually help you break free.

How to Cultivate Self Awareness:

Step 1: Listen to the podcast to learn about the “four domains of stuck-ness” that people often get trapped by. See which resonates with you!

Step 2: Click here to take the “What’s Holding You Back” quiz to find out which of these domains is the most powerful in your life.

Step 3: Then use your newfound self-awareness to take positive, and most importantly effective, action.

Step 4: Share your experiences in the comments. We all learn and grow from our connections with each other, after all… (I’ll even go first).

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby



What's Holding YOU Back?

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

Subscribe to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast on iTunes & Stitcher. Don’t forget to rate and review if you enjoy the Podcast!

Music Credits: Sallie Ford, “Record on Repeat”

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast is Now on Stitcher!

How to Move Forward? Stop.

How to Move Forward? Stop.

Sometimes Leaping Forward Requires Letting Go…

As a Life Coach and Executive Coach I talk to a lot of driven go-getters. My clients often have an insatiable appetite for constant-and-never-ending growth, achievement, and self-improvement. They are truly amazing, talented, and incredibly successful people with an unquenchable thirst for forward progress and success. Does this sound like you, too? First of all: Thank you. The world as we know it exists because of people like you. Your motivation, your drive, your vision, and your optimism are the psychic fuel that runs the engines of our civilization. Thank you for being you.

And… If you are like most strong, naturally driven and forward-focused people there are also not-fun times when your energy flags, your focus becomes diffuse, and your wheels spin. And spin. And spin. And for naturally focused, driven, achievement oriented people that “down time” can be a very anxiety provoking experience. In fact, many of my Life Coaching and Executive Coaching clients show up for help when they have this experience, because they feel like something is wrong. They’ve lost their sparkle, and their clear sense of purpose. To an uber-achiever, this can feel like they are losing themselves, or even falling apart.

Of course if you are achievement-oriented, your natural instincts are to hit it harder. Buckle down. Get up earlier. Grind away, until you make manifest the force of your will. But during certain periods, you just can’t gain traction. You stay busy — to everyone else you look as productive as ever — but on the inside you feel the anxiety of mediocrity.

Feeling so listless can feel like doom for a go-getter. It feels like your endless drive has stolen your car, and absconded to parts unknown… with your optimism riding shotgun and inspiration sprawled across the back seat. You imagine them speeding down an arrow straight highway through the desert, windows open and radio blaring… while you sit at your desk and think about things that you should probably be doing but don’t feel like today. You probably criticize (perhaps even berate) yourself for your self-indulgent lethargy, but no matter how sternly you talk to yourself it doesn’t matter. You just don’t care that much anymore.

What to Do When Your Get-Up-And-Go

Has Got-Up-And-Went

I myself am a recovering perfectionist and have an achievement orientation too, so I will wince with you as you read this:

Sometimes, if you want to get ahead, you have to let things go.

And by letting things go, I mean to stop trying so hard for awhile. Visualize yourself shoving all the scribbled notes with the grand plans in a drawer, clearing your calendar, saying no to everything and everyone, putting down the quad-latte, and just allowing yourself to do the bare minimum for a bit. Coasting. Being.

My guess is that idea might feel really scary. Unwise. Dangerous even. Here’s the problem: If I told you that the path to salvation was to get up earlier, stay up later, implement some novel new strategy to get more things done in less time, do a draconian cleanse, or retrain your brain to think more successfully you would probably like that. It make you feel energized and hopeful, and like there was something you could DO to turn things around. But we both know that you’ve tried that. In fact, you’ve probably spent years getting up before dawn, sacrificing your sleep, self-care, and possibly even relationships in the service of getting things done. Continuing to grind away is not always the solution. It’s time to do something radically different. Like stop for awhile.

This is not just my opinion. Check out a compelling article that was posted in Scientific American about the benefits of turning your brain off periodically to your memory, creativity, and emotional wellbeing. Many, many research studies have shown that your brain simply requires down time in order to consolidate information, achieve clarity, and work efficiently. The author of the article puts it so beautifully:

Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future. Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self. — Ferris Jabr

And… as great as it sounds in theory, resting the mind can be extremely difficult for over-achievers to actually DO. I believe that part of the reason for this skepticism is the fact that truthfully, sometimes working to the brink of exhaustion actually is the solution. There are seasons of achievement that are activity intense. If you are actively launching a start-up, finishing a dissertation, or embarking on a new chapter there is often, objectively, a lot to do. In the springtime farmers really do have to work their butts off for 16 hours a day to plow fields, spread fertilizer, plant seeds, and get things going. But there is an ebb and flow to productive activity. Other phases of achievement are like a “tending” phase, where precarious, fragile plates are kept spinning in the air: farmers watch, water, keep the bugs off, pull weeds, fret about the weather, and let the grow-ee do it’s thing. Then there is the necessary insanity of the harvest time, when farmers are back to driving tractors around in the wee hours of the morning before the sun comes up, pulling things out of the ground frantically at just the right moment – not too soon and not too late. There are seasons of busy-ness for everyone. Accountants have tax season. Families have newborn babies. Students have the end of the semester. Real-estate agents have summer. Everyone has big explosions of necessary activity sometimes.

But it’s easy to over look a crucial, necessary part of the growth cycle: Dormancy.

In the fallow, still period of winter nothing obvious is happening. Even the most on-the-ball farmers are laying around eating Cheetos and watching Deadliest Catch reruns while the soil in their fields gently decomposes itself, gets churned by worms, and the rain falls and freezes. Nothing is happening, but everything is happening. The earth is doing the necessary work of preparing itself for another burst of growth and glory.

Your creative process requires dormancy too. You might not think of yourself or what you’re doing as being “creative” in the oil-paint and poetry sense, but everyone who makes things happen is a creator. When you are engaged in any act of creation, from starting a business, to starting a family, to leading a team, to moving ahead towards distant goals, and making your inner vision a reality, you are bringing things into being. You are making something out of nothing, just like Michalangelo  chipping David free from his marble encasement, or like a tiny tomato seed that miraculously pushes out a gigantic, sprawling bush with dozens of juicy fruits with nothing but a little water, dirt and air.

To unleash true generative power upon the world requires intervals of deep rest.

Why? Because when you are constantly pounding away on the same problems with the same tools you do not have the headspace to entertain new ideas. When you are ceaselessly doing, and doing, and doing you are often working yourself deeper into the same rut that you’ve been running in for weeks, months, or even years. It gets old and boring. And over time, your energy, inspiration and motivation flags and fails as a result.

Expansion requires space. When you are constantly doing and thinking and running around in the hamster wheel of your life without stopping once in a while to look at the bigger picture and regroup, you may be “getting things done” but you are not really moving forward. Even as fast as you can run, nothing is changing. You’re treading water and exhausting yourself without getting any closer to a meaningful destination.

It can feel catastrophic to driven people to think about stopping. Over-achievers (even if they know that it’s not rationally true) emotionally feel like letting go and coasting for a little while will lead to total collapse and something terrible will happen.

But your full creative potential will be blocked until you pause long enough for fresh creative energy to refuel you.

So what do I mean by really resting and letting things go for awhile? I don’t mean “vacationing,” particularly not the kind of snorkeling amongst barracudas / trekking up mountains / zip-lining through jungles / marathon-related vacations uber-achievers tend to have.

I mean spending at least a couple of weeks (yes, WEEKS) doing the bare minimum that you need to do to keep your life going, and allowing your physiological, psychological, and emotional stress levels to return to baseline. Ask yourself what the basic basics really mean for you and your family:

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Spending as much time engaged in non-productive activity as possible (i.e., “Playing”)
  • Being with people you like
  • Giving yourself permission to spontaneously do whatever you feel like, in the moment
  • Doing as little work as you possibly can get away with and still meet your responsibilities and not create consequences.

It’s such a paradox, but it’s true: disengaging and not thinking about or doing anything productive at all for a little while will wipe your slate clean and create fertile ground for new growth to occur. After you’ve been resting for a few weeks you’ll notice that you have little flashes of genuine inspiration and enthusiasm again. Authentic new energy, inspiration, and motivation will start nuzzling into your soul like tender daffodil shoots pushing out of the frozen, dead ground. You’ll know when resting time is over because you’ll have a new vision for where you’re going, and feel genuinely excited to get back to work.

You can’t make creativity happen. You cannot chase down inspiration, and catch it with a net. You can’t tackle motivation and make it submit it to your will. Cultivating motivation, inspiration, and enthusiasm requires getting comfortable with the paradox of letting it all go. When you place your trust in the restorative power of doing nothing, they’ll show back up on their own accord when you’ve prepared the soil and given them space to grow.

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby



Music Credits: I Live in the Springtime, by The Lemon Drops

How To Move Forward, by Stopping

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

Subscribe to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast on iTunes & Stitcher. Don’t forget to rate and review if you enjoy the Podcast!

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast is Now on Stitcher!

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
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