Tag Archives: overcoming fear

emotional demons

How to Fight Inner Demons

We all have emotional demons. Whether it’s that little red devil on your shoulder saying: “It’s okay, skip your workout, eat the cake, what’s the big deal?” Or bigger demons like fear, uncertainty, or doubt preventing you from achieving your dreams. Don’t let those demons get the best of you.  Your dreams are there for the taking and meant to be achieved if you fight back.

I was a stressful kid who worried about a lot of things. My parents feared I would have an ulcer before turning 18. I can’t thank my mom enough for helping me deal with my demons. Oh, they still show their face now and then but, she and some other great mentors I’ve had along the way have taught me a few things that have helped me deal with them.

  1. Lower your expectations. I know this might sound counterintuitive to achieving goals, but it sure helped me to relax. I strived to get all “As” in middle and high school and be the best at everything I tried to the point where I’d work myself into a tizzy. We can’t excel at everything and we’re often stifled to try something new because we think we won’t excel at it. Of course we can’t excel at something we’ve never done before. When I became okay with getting a “B” and took myself a little less seriously, it opened the door to me enjoying life more fully.
  2. Put things in perspective. More often than not, I would exaggerate my circumstances in my mind. I began to realize that whatever challenge I was facing, it was typically not as bad or as important as I made it out to be. Is that work deadline really worth missing your son’s soccer game? Is the reason to lose 30 pounds to impress the people at your 30th college reunion or should you rethink your purpose?
  3. Start with the positive. I know very few people who truly look at the positive side of any challenge first. In all the years I’ve coached others I would say that 80% have a tendency to think about their weaknesses first rather than their strengths. Every day you have a choice to be grateful or regretful. You can set out to seize the day or become victim to it. Making a conscience effort to filter out the negative thoughts and be more mindful toward positive, uplifting ones does wonders toward building unshakeable confidence.
  4. Choose your emotional enemies. Some fears are meant to overcome and others are not simply because you may not be better off for it. If you haven’t started a fitness program because of fear of getting hurt, then you are making a choice to limit or shorten your life.  On other hand, if you have a fear of heights that doesn’t mean you have to go skydiving. Face the emotional demons that are truly preventing you from personal growth and development.
Sure fire tips for blog

Sure-Fire Tips to GET and KEEP Going

This morning, as I lay in Savasana after hot yoga, a cool compress is placed on my forehead by the instructor. I take a deep breath and relax, and think to myself: “I’m so glad I got out of bed to come to this class today.”

Whizzing down the line, I reach for the brake, grab it, and my feet land safely on the platform. What a rush and I think to myself: “That wasn’t bad at all, it was exhilarating! I’m so glad my family talked me into going zip lining.”

I’m listening to Tony Horton as he guides me through the cool down and stretch after a tough workout. Sweat is dripping, I’m completely spent but, my head is clear, my lungs feel cleansed, and my heart is energized. I think to myself: “Why do I make so many excuses for not “pushing play” when I know I’ll feel this good once the workout is done?”

I believe that if we all stopped to think just a bit more about “the after moment” while we debate, make excuses, and hem and haw over doing something that we’d all be so much better off. Do you ever stop to think about how you would feel AFTER taking a calculated risk? Do you pause to remind yourself of the benefits of saying “yes” to something when you toyed with saying “no?”

Why are we so scared of trying new things? Why, as we get older, does our “joie de vivre” and “carpe diem” approach to life start to fail?

As I think about the answers to these questions I am reminded of my own upbringing. I was raised in a very practical household. We were taught to work hard in school, go to college, and get a job at a company that would provide benefits and a retirement plan. I can recall conversations about “taking the safe route” and “don’t take a chance you might regret.” I think a lot of people of my generation had a similar upbringing. Even now, I find the same advice flowing from my mouth when I speak to my adult children.

Typically it’s in our 30s that we start to raise a family and we’re now responsible for much more than ourselves. Every action has a greater consequence. By the time we reach our 40s we’re working our tails off to provide for that family. Sacrifices multiply. Then, in our 50s we think back on our lives with regret. Why didn’t we try more? Do more? Say “yes” to more?

This being the season of Lent and Spring renewal, it’s a wonderful time for all of us to take inventory of our lives and think about what’s holding us back.

  1. Make time to pursue your interests. The most successful people I know understand that chasing success shouldn’t mean they have to forget pursuinng their favorite hobbies and interests. Take the opportunity to be creative, whatever it is you like to do most in your spare time and make some time to do it.
  2. Stop being so tough on yourself. Confidence has a lot to do with that internal voice in your head vocalizing all of the crummy thoughts. Author and speaker Brian Tracy says; “the mark of self-confidence is self-efficacy, or believing in your ability to perform well in your chosen activity.” Those with self-confidence know that no matter the challenge they’ll pull it off and succeed. You will try more and do more if you have more confidence in your ability and remove the constant self-doubt.
  3. Take fear out of the equation by having no expectations. It’s amazing to me how many women I coach sabotage their own success. They go a week or month of eating clean and exercising regularly and then quit because they fear they won’t be able to sustain it. Eating poorly and laying around is easy and comfortable, we get really good at that so why not just stay in that lane? Any goal we achieve in life is not easy. There are always ups and downs along the way and trial and error. We understand this to be true when it comes to our careers, raising children, and falling in love. For goodness sake, why don’t we accept there will be setbacks when improving our health…and more important: that those setbacks are OKAY? It doesn’t mean you don’t try and it surely doesn’t mean you quit when the going gets rough. You pause, evaluate, learn and make changes to keep moving forward, especially when…

…the alarm goes off for second time, you want to hit the “doze” button and skip yoga. Instead you think about that cool compress on your head and the feeling accomplishment you’ll have.

….you’re shaking in your sneakers as you get clipped into your harness before going zip lining and you’re about to turn back. Instead you visualize the person before you screaming for joy and think about what you’ll miss out on if you don’t step off that platform.

….you start to make every excuse in the book for not exercising (I’m tired, long day, no time, I’m sore, the garage is cold). Instead you think about how great you felt after the last workout and you decide to show up and just do your best.

Confidence in the New Year

A feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances.”- Merriam Webster Dictionary

If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Fordconfidence

Scene #1: Yesterday my daughter and I attended a hot Bikram yoga class together. As I stand at the front of my mat, preparing for the grueling 90-minutes in 95 degree heat and 65% humidity, hands folded, eyes closed, I set my intention: “Give your best effort, have fun and don’t judge yourself.” I’m calm but my sore body and the more experienced yogis on either side of me wane my confidence.

Scene #2: Zip lining in Montana, last summer with my husband and teenage children. During the long hike and once on the high platform, I’m shaking like a leaf. We’ve gone through all the preparation and we’ve been told several times how safe and fun flying on a line hundreds of feet above ground will be. Yet, I’m thinking I can’t go through with it and the fear of what’s about to happen is overcoming me. I have no confidence in my ability to complete this.

Scene #3. It’s a few minutes before the start of a two-day seminar I will lead for a new client. A senior executive is saying a few words to kick-off the session. I’m sitting next to him. As I listen to him and await his introduction of me I’ve got butterflies, but the good ones. Their fluttering around my stomach but flying in unison. I’m nervous and excited. I’m confident that since I’m prepared and I know the seminar content is valuable, once I begin speaking everything should proceed well from there.

Three different circumstances with three varying degrees of confidence. What gives us confidence? As a health and fitness trainer I see so many women who lack confidence. As a mother of a teenage daughter I observe her and her friends either beaming with it or doubting their capabilities.

We all want to be confident and to appear confident, especially in those situations that might make or break our career or might allow us to experience something outside our comfort zone. Confidence isn’t a skill that we learn, it’s a feeling that we can grow and develop. From my personal experience I’ve realized I’ve been more confident when certain best practices or circumstances are in place- as Merriam Webster defines above.

  1. Celebrate your successes. When leading communication skills workshops we often conduct role-plays. I always find it interesting that at the conclusion of these practices people will immediately start talking about everything they felt went wrong instead of what they did well. To build confidence you must tame the inner critic and start with a positive self-appraisal. For whatever New Year’s Resolution you’ve set, set out smaller goals or milestones and celebrate those minor successes along the way. If you want to lose 50 lbs. this year and you completed 3 workouts this week, congratulate yourself (not with junk food, of course) and feel good about your progress.
  2. Surround yourself with positive influences. I’ve been blessed. My mom instilled confidence in me on a daily basis. My mom was beautiful, intelligent and ambitious but she came into adulthood in the wrong era. Women in the late 50s and early sixties were not encouraged to pursue a career or use their brains. She took every opportunity to recognize my successes and encourage me to take advantage of all the opportunities that were not available to her. I credit my ability to exercise daily and eat right to the people in my support and accountability group that I’ve been leading for over 5 years. Without their positive comments, encouragement and the “no judgement” culture we’ve created together, I would have quit long ago. Find people whom you admire and work to nurture those relationships. For me those are people whom are credible, caring and confident themselves.
  3. Be prepared and don’t dwell on the outcome. We’re typically more confident in any situation we’ve prepared for. If I’m going to lead a workshop for a new client I learn about their challenges, business model and goals. Even If I’ve lead the workshop 10 times before, I still take time to practice my words and get mentally prepared. If you practice and prepare for any big venture whether it be a presentation, asking for a promotion or making the leap to change careers, it makes no sense to dwell on the potential bad outcomes outside your control.

How are you going to build your confidence this year? How can you feel good about who you are and the God given gifts you have? I’d love to hear your ideas.