Filtering by Tag: coaching

“Being a leader is not about you. It’s about the people that are on your team and how you can help them be successful.”

Being a leader is not about you. It’s about the people that are on your team and how you can help them be successful.
— Susan Vobejda

Last week, I began to discuss the art of leadership and offered a model from Sport Psychology as a tool, Situational Leadership. Being an effective leader is definitely an art. Though many people have some of the key characteristics that make a good leader, one needs to study and practice the craft to become a master. Another model from Sport Psychology leaders can use as a tool is Group Development, created by Bruce Tuckman.

Tuckman developed this model as a way to describe the journey that most groups go through on their way to high performance. First, lets define a group, or team, as 2 or more individuals that have a common task or goal that they are working towards. This “team” can be a cast of performers, a class of students, a graphic design team, a group of analysts, etc. In each of these examples, the leader has a different title: director, teacher, art director, and portfolio manager. However, all these leaders can use the Situational Leadership model along with the Group Developmental model to elicit high performance.

We learned through Situational Leadership that we should change our leadership style based on the readiness level (task ability and willingness) of the follower. In Group Development, the same construct remains, only this time the follower is the entire team. Tuckman’s four stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Below is a simple breakdown of the stages along with what Leadership style should be used.

 

Forming – Members have just come together. They are not clear on what is expected of them, what to do, and what the group mission/goals are. They are unfamiliar with other group members so there is no history or trust yet. Therefore, they are not committed to the team, but more to their personal agendas. Productivity/performance level is low. Leadership Style – Directing: Leader should be high directive with one-way communication. In order to move to the next stage, the leader must set goals/mission, establish roles within the group, set up expectations, begin to build group trust, and find ways to get the members to buy into the group as one.

Storming – Members are beginning to fight for different roles. There may be some infighting and smaller cliques forming. Individuals are still being led by their own personal agenda. Some members are starting to buy into the group, while others are still hesitant and maybe even resisting. The group still doesn’t trust each other much, and therefore problem solving is not efficient. Productivity/performance level is still low. Leadership Style – Coaching: Leader should continue to be high directive, but also high supportive with beginning to introduce two-way communication. In order to move to the next stage, the leader should actively reinforce team behavior, support and set up team wins, maintain and expect high expectations, define roles within the group, request and accept feedback, and continue to build group trust.

Norming – Members are aware and accepting of roles. Hidden agendas come to the surface and instead, they all have bought into the team’s mission/goals. Each member knows how he or she fits into that mission and feels purposeful. Feedback is easily given and received because trust has been built. Members are starting to take responsibility for reinforcing team norms, expectations, etc. Productivity/performance level is becoming higher.  Leadership Style – Supporting: Leader should be low directive and high supportive with a lot of two-way communication. In order to move to the next stage, the leader should maintain open communication, support the members in making decisions, but not make the decisions for them. The leader should continue to praise the team’s accomplishments and maintain traditions.

Performing – Members are very motivated and are completely clear on their individual roles. They defer to the team instead of their individual needs and support each other. When problems arise, they think creatively and trust in each other. They take pride in the group as a whole and its successes. Productivity/performance level is high. Leadership Style – Delegating: Leader should be low directive and low supportive, but still maintain a presence. In order to maintain this stage, the leader needs to continue to challenge the team by helping them to set new goals. The leader needs to maintain a presence, but not make the decisions for the team, and support the overall well being of the team.

 

It is important to remember that individual members of the team may be at a different stage than the team as a whole. As a leader, this is where having a strong understanding of the craft is vital because you need to be able to switch your style back and forth. Another important thing to remember is that each stage is necessary to succeeding. You cannot skip any of the stages. In fact, skipping a stage (even Storming) can prove to have a negative effect on the team’s performance. The group has to go through the process step by step. In addition, if a major change happens or an obstacle arises, the team may have to go back to a previous stage and that’s OK.

Situational Leadership and Group Development are wonderful models to use even when reflecting on our own lives. Group Development is a great reminder of the importance of engaging in the process. The process of achieving personal goals is not always easy. There are times when we fight with ourselves (Storming phase) or need that extra support. We can use these models as a lens to help us define what we need and when we need it. Being able to do that is this definition of self empowerment.

 

Do you want to go further in your self-exploration? I would love to guide and support you through your process! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

 

“Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as encapsulated in [the] idea of lila, or divine play.”

Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as encapsulated in [the] idea of lila, or divine play.
— Stephen Nachmanovitch

I have rediscovered the awe-inspiring book, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch. This will be my third time reading it and every time I find something new. The first two times I read the book were for assignments in my choreography and composition dance classes. However, the book proved to not only affect my artistic life, but also my personal life. When we think about it, life is one creative process and creativity isn’t just for the artistic elite, but necessary for everyone in order to live a fulfilling and enriched life. Creativity can manifest itself in many forms. We see it clearly through a painting or a dance, but it can also be designing an interactive spreadsheet or figuring out a new way to treat a patient.

A key element to the creative process is improvisation, and a key element to improvisation is play. “Play” plays such an important role in the process of creation, without it we would never access anything new. The rest of the quote above is as follows:

            If we let go of play, our work becomes ponderous and stiff. If we                let go of the sacred, our work loses its connection to the ground             on which we live (Nachmanovitch).

One of the best ways to reconnect with authentic play is to observe children. Children completely immerse themselves in whatever they are doing: an art project, building a fort, playing make believe, telling a story, etc. They aren’t worried about what others think or what’s considered right and wrong; they are just present. They are continuously problem solving, collaborating, and reacting authentically in the moment. Because of this, they are able to more easily enter a Flow state and for the most part are lively and happy.

So what happens as we get older that changes that? It becomes harder for us to “think outside the box,” more challenging to work in groups, and more difficult to think on our toes. We have lost our sense of “play.” As we get older, we are told what we should be like or what we should be doing. Many times, we are told there is only one right answer, and we begin to become more self-conscious. Our mind begins to get in the way of our instincts and our ability to just let loose. Because of this, we have a hard time being totally present in our lives.

Luckily, there are so many ways for us to get back in touch with our inner child and access our creative self! The first step is allowing yourself to take the time. Then, begin to try new things: take a cooking class, go rock climbing, write a short story, go on a nature walk, etc. There are so many new tools at our disposal. Adult coloring books have become a way to relax and get back to a “child like” activity. Groupon is a wonderful way to try a new activity at a lower cost. You can go to a paint night or take a pottery class.  All of these activities allow us to step out of our routine, our comfort zone, and just “play.” Remember to not judge yourself while trying these new things. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. Who knows, you may unleash a side of you you didn’t even know was in there. Not to mention your ability to think more creatively will grow, which can prove to be usual when you’re “adulting.”

 

Do you need help accessing your inner child and releasing your creativity self? I would love to help you and support you in your journey! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call and to hear more about packages.

“10 things to help you enjoy the holidays”

10 things to help you enjoy the holidays

1. Take time for yourself. This could be through guided meditation, visualization, journaling, or just sitting still. Taking 10 min a day for yourself can change your mindset and keep you balanced. 

2. Practice mindful listening. Being present in your conversations will make your time spent with family and friends more meaningful. 

3. Connect to your breath. Your breath is your life force. Breath exercises can help to relax, energize, and balance you. 

4. Redirect your negative thoughts. The holidays can be stressful at times and your negative self talk can start to take over causing a downward spiral. You can choose to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.  

5. Be thankful. Gratitude is the greatest gift you can give yourself and those around you. There is always something to be thankful for. 

6. Stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water when you first wake up. Try to get to 8 glasses a day. You can always add lemon or cucumber to make it more exciting. 

7. Be active. During the holidays our routines are altered and we tend to be less physically active and more indulgent of the goodies around us. Take the time everyday to stretch or do 20 min of cardio or yoga. Moving your body helps to clear the stale energy out. 

8. Rediscover your inner child. The holidays are a perfect time to connect with your inner child and remember that life is truly magical. Play a new game, laugh with friends and family, make something, etc. 

9. Be kind. Do something everyday that gives back to the community. Maybe it's small like helping someone with their bags or maybe you volunteer at a local shelter. 

10. Smile. Smiling will not only make you feel better but you never know when it will brighten up the day of someone around you as well. 

 

I’m currently having a special on Intro Packages. Treat yourself and start 2016 on a positive note! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call and to hear more about the package.

“Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”

Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.
— Sadness, "Inside Out"

One of my favorite movies of 2015 was Pixar’s Inside Out. Though it may seem like Joy would have been my favorite character from reading my previous blogs and the importance I place on changing our mindset to think positively, Sadness was actually my favorite. Without Sadness, there would be no Joy.

If you aren’t familiar with the movie, Inside Out, here’s a quick summary. The five emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear) are humanized as characters and occupy mission control in young Riley’s head. They are in charge of holding onto her memories, which get turned into colored memory balls correlating with each emotion and stored in the memory bank. Pixar even goes so far as categorizing them into long term, short term, subconscious, etc. Without giving too much away, Joy and Sadness go on a journey to help save Riley’s core memories, which make up the essence of who she is.

There are so many things I loved about this movie, but the main thing was that it showed us the importance of all different types of memories. Each memory, whether it’s a happy one or a sad one, makes us who we are. We learn from them and hopefully grow from them using the reflection tools we’ve already discussed (journaling, affirmations, visualization, etc.).

One of the reasons I appreciated Sadness was that she reminded us that it’s ok to feel crappy. It’s ok to cry. It’s even ok to take a day and binge watch a show because you are feeling down on yourself. We need these moments in order to understand and really value the joyful moments.

We often hear people tell us when we are upset or depressed to take it one step at a time and climb back up that ladder or mountain. In that visual, we are assuming that the pinnacle of the journey is happiness. Therefore, it is also assumed that with one faulty step we will fall all the way back down. I like to visualize our journey as more of a circle or a cycle. The goal is to try and stay on the top half of the circle. It’s comforting to know that one wrong step or set back isn’t going to make us tumble all the way down, but instead maybe sway back and forth a little on the top curve. This allows us to be less hard on ourselves and instead gives ourselves the space and time to work on balancing back on top. Happiness isn’t one pinnacle point that we are trying to obtain, but rather the act of engaging in the circle of life. (And yes, that is a The Lion King reference. )

 

Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call!

"Learn to let go of the things you can’t control"

Learn to let go of the things you can’t control.

I just spent a wonderful weekend filled with master classes, mock auditions, and pre-screens with my My College Audition family in Boston, MA. Upon returning to NYC, many of my private students were clicking submit on their early action college applications. A common theme emerged as I coached these students to take the next step, “control what you can control and let go of what you cannot.” Even as I write these words, I am reminded of how important this is in my own life.

We spend so much of our energy worrying about “what if’s” and the unknown, all things that are out of our control. Instead, we should focus our energy more on the preparation of the things we can control. For example, my students preparing for college auditions can control what they choose to wear in the audition to present themselves in a professional manner. They can choose to smile and make eye contact when slating their name and audition material. All of these things do not take a lot of energy or time to prepare, but they do create an impression and set the stage for a positive experience. They can’t control whether the pianist will know how to play their song perfectly or if the adjudicators are running behind and therefore cutting everyone off half way through their songs or how many performers of their exact type are auditioning that day. By worrying and stressing over unknown elements, they are allowing negative energy to fill their mind and body, which can turn into anxiety, low self-confidence, debilitating self talk, and possibly low motivation. All of which are distractions and common obstacles for optimal performance.

Worrying about things outside our control means we are not fully present in the moment. By not being present, we are not engaged preventing us from reaching a Flow state. As talked about last week, being in a Flow state allows us to find fulfillment in our lives, which leads to happiness.

So how does this all pertain to everyday life and what tools are there to help us? We all can reflect on times when we were trying to control things outside of our capacity; maybe it’s a relationship with a colleague, or waiting to hear back from a new job, or starting a business and trying to build your client list, or planning an event for your community. My two favorite tools to use for the things we can control are “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.”

Simply put these are about preparation of the mind and body. Even if you don’t feel completely confident in what you are doing, walking and holding yourself up like you are will go a long way. It’s amazing the effect our body has on our mind and energy. Walking into an interview with your head held high, chest open, and a smile shows the other person you are ready, prepared, and confident even if on the inside your stomach is in knots. What you say about yourself and the language you use, whether out loud or in your head, is important. We know this already from the several posts on self-talk. We want to be mindful that we are supporting our positive self-talk allowing for us to create an upward spiral and not giving energy to our negative self-talk which creates a downward spiral. By always “walking the walk” and “talking the talk,” we can be confident that we are putting our best self forward and that is all we can ever ask of ourselves.

Now, for the letting go part. As much as we may want to we cannot control other people. Letting go is about being present. For the next week, if you find you are trying to control something out of your control, check in with your breath. Take a “time out,” focus on your breath for 5 min, and then come back. Use your thought-stopping and positive replacement techniques to change any negative self-talk that may be creeping in. Go back to your litany and repeat the mantras you created for yourself. This is where your practice comes in to help you and be there for you. Lastly, there has to be an element of trust that everything will unfold in the perfect time/space sequence.  

 

 

Do you need more guidance in letting go and creating a more present and fulfilled life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

 

TOMORROW, Oct 24th - Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

 

"The key element of an optimal experience is that it is an end in itself. Even if initially undertaken for other reasons, the activity that consumes us becomes intrinsically rewarding."

The key element of an optimal experience is that it is an end in itself. Even if initially undertaken for other reasons, the activity that consumes us becomes intrinsically rewarding
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Last week during one of my middle school dance classes, we were talking about pathways. When I asked the students to tell me what are some examples of pathways in life, one girl answered “the pathway to a career.” Though not the answer I was looking for, she was absolutely correct. I was looking for more tangible pathways like hallways, a staircase, or a dirt road. My student’s response stuck with me. I started thinking back on my pathway to a career, and oh boy has it been curvy, sometimes filled with diagonals, other times seemingly random, but without all the twists and turns I wouldn’t be where I am now and who I am now.

This week I would like to focus on the “Flow Theory.” Flow is a state of consciousness that needs to be obtained in order to feel genuinely satisfied in an optimal experience. Optimal experiences are sometimes thought of as being major events like a performance or a game or getting the job you always wanted, but really our entire life should be one optimal experience. Csikszentmihalyi, the creator of the Flow Theory, identifies eight major components:

-       A challenging activity that requires skills

-       The merging of action and awareness

-       Clear goals

-       Timely feedback

-       Concentration on the task at hand

-       The paradox of control

-       The loss of self-consciousness

-       The transformation of time

We have all experienced Flow at some point in our life. When was the last time you said “time flies when you’re having fun?” Think about what you were doing and see whether the 8 components were present. Most likely they were. It’s easier to experience Flow when we are involved in a task that means a lot to us, for example working on a big project at work or preparing for an audition, but it is harder to reach that Flow state when we are involved in more mundane tasks. And lets be honest much of life is filled with mundane tasks that are necessary to get through in order to achieve that greater goal.

So how do we make it easier to obtain a Flow state with mundane tasks? First, we need to make sure we are fully engaged and being present in the task. We already know mindful listening is a good technique to help with being present. Second, even the most mundane tasks can be fun. It’s about changing our mindset about them. We have many tools to help us with that, positive replacement being one of them. Maybe we make getting through an inbox full of emails into a game? Third, we need to limit the self-talk that becomes distracting. Here’s where our trigger words come in handy.

At times, we may seem lost and that our path is turning into a dead-end or keeps going in a circle. It’s at these times when we need to trust that there is still forward motion. By staying engaged, being present, and trying to maintain a Flow state, that sense of “lostness” will dissipate and be replaced with fulfillment and purpose. We are all capable of achieving this. We have the tools and the skills. Now, we just need to use them to create our practice.

 

Are you ready to live a more fulfilled and purposeful life? I'd love to help you create your practice! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

ONE WEEK left to sign up for the workshop I will be running on Oct 24th - Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

 

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
— Buddha

This quote has presented itself to me several times this week, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. The next month is filled with many wonderful opportunities starting with presenting at a national conference this week followed by two different workshops I will be leading in different cities. Though I am very excited and ready for these opportunities, I am also anxious and nervous about them. Sometimes, I begin to stress over how “successful” they will be, how many participants I’ll have, etc. I remind myself of this quote. Using it as a trigger word, I take a deep breath and then focus on being present

Being present is not as easy as it sounds; it is a practice. But just like the mental tools we have to shift our mindset, we also have tools to help us be more present. This week I would like to focus on mindful listening. Have you ever had the experience where you are talking to someone, but instead of listening you are just waiting for the person to stop talking just so you can what you want to say? This happens often in life whether that be in meetings and wanting to share our brilliant idea or in a fight with your significant other when our hurt is the only thing we feel matters. Many times what we have to offer when we aren’t listening doesn’t even make sense when we step back.

Whenever thinking about mindful listening, I am reminded of when I am coaching actors in a scene. With many young actors, they are focused on what their lines are and when they say them. They just want to hear their cue line and then deliver the line with what they think is raw emotion and great acting. However, it usually comes out as fake or contrived. That’s because they were too focused on what they had to say and not focused on listening and responding accordingly.  

The theater saying, “acting is reacting,” can be helpful when practicing mindful listening. In order to react authentically, we need to listen actively. Here are a few techniques for practicing mindful listening that can be applied to both private conversations and group conversations:

-       Can you repeat what the person said to you?

-       Are you making eye contact?

-       Before you respond, take a breath and ask yourself “is what you originally intended to say still relevant?”

-       Are you making space for others to share or do you dominate conversations?

-       Are you offering and participating in the conversation or do you hide?

The last two techniques are very useful when engaging in group conversations. There tends to be the people who always voice their opinions, have an idea, a concern or a solution. Then there are the people who never share their opinion or offer suggestions. Take a moment to figure out which group you most identify with. I challenge you if you are in the first group, to make space for others, concentrate on your breath, and ask whether what you feel compelled to say is necessary. If you are in the latter group, I challenge you to actively listen and find a time where you decide to participate, owning what it is you have to offer to the group.

Mindful listening provides us with a fuller experience where we are engaged with the people around us. Consequently, it leads to stronger and more meaningful relationships. Try some of the techniques this week and then reflect on the changes you notice in how you engage with others and your fulfillment in what you do.

 

Are you ready to live a more fulfilled and authentic life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

Check out the workshop I will be running on Oct 24th - Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

 

"Social media is more about Sociology and Psychology than it is about Technology."

Social media is more about Sociology and Psychology than it is about Technology.
— Anonymous

Social media has become a major component in people’s everyday lives. Though I believe it has many positive qualities when used correctly, there is no denying it has changed the culture of our society and sometimes not for the best. However, this week I was reminded, via #Timehop, of a fond memory from the final moments of my Yoga Teacher Training:

“1 year ago….  
As I write my final paper for Yoga TT, I am reminded of this great verse:
            'It is better to strive in one’s own dharma* than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma, but competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity.’                           ~ The Bhagavad Gita”

In the age of social media, it is so easy to get wrapped up in how we compare ourselves to other people’s “news worthy events.” We start to judge ourselves, especially if we are not where we think we should be in our careers, in our love lives, in our health goals, etc. The inner voice becomes a critic not a motivator. If we allow this critic to take over, we give in to the downward spiral. Luckily we have our tools (our litany, thought stopping techniques, trigger words, and positive replacement) to help us maintain our center and empower us.

It is also important for us to be mindful of what we share on social media. All of our posts are a reflection of ourselves and give off a certain energy. The energy we put out into the world is what we attract back to us. We have the power and control to choose to fill our energy with positivity and purpose. We do ourselves a disservice when we surround ourselves with clutter and negativity.

We need to remind ourselves that life is not a competition, but a journey and a process. One of my FB friends posted this the other day, “Just because you’re taking longer than others does not mean you’re a failure. Keep going.” It is in the enjoyment of growing and helping others that we find true fulfillment and therefore, happiness and real “success.”

* dharma - “designates human behaviors considered necessary for order of things in the universe, principles that prevent chaos, behaviors and action necessary to all life in nature, society, family as well as at the individual level. Dharma encompasses ideas such as duty, rights, character, vocation, religion, customs and all behavior considered appropriate, correct or morally upright.

 

Check out the workshop I will be running on Oct 24th -  Manifesting Your Dreams: pushing beyond your fears and obstacles. Email me to reserve your spot!

“Teach your mind to listen to what your body and spirit are saying.”

Teach your mind to listen to what your body and spirit are saying.

Well it happened again…I was feeling overwhelmed and a little anxious at the beginning of the week. When I walked into morning yoga on Tuesday, there it was playing again, Ingrid Michaelson’s “Keep Breathing.” I smiled, laughed to myself, unrolled my mat, and listened.  The teacher started class by telling a quick story about getting her hair done and talking to the hairdresser that was in-training. He had taken years to follow his passion of becoming a hairdresser because a voice in his head kept telling him, “the world doesn’t need another gay hairdresser.” Finally, he decided enough was enough. He silenced the voice and followed his dream.

Many of us can relate to this story, myself included. The message the Universe was sending me that Tuesday morning was clear…don’t let the negative self talk stop you because you don’t think what you offer is needed. There is always a need for you to pursue your passion and be true to yourself. We all have gifts and they should be honored and shared.

This week’s focus is on trigger words and it is clear that “keep breathing” is my newest trigger word. Trigger words can be a single word or phrase that initiates a process or course of action. I’d like to go even further and say they can also be an object like a bracelet or necklace. Trigger words (or objects) can be used for negative thought stopping, as reminders to step back and re-focus, and to provide quick information when executing a skill.

One of the most common trigger words for negative thought stopping is stop. However, when working with clients I like them to come up with words that hold more personal meaning. Maybe they have a practice to help with relaxation where they visualize themselves lying on the beach listening to the waves crash and then the words “beach” or “waves” become trigger words for them when they are anxious. When I am teaching movement classes, I use trigger words all the time to remind my students of proper technique. Some of my favorites are “headlights” when referring to correct hip alignment and “flip flop” when referring to weight placement in releve.

Try coming up with your own trigger words. Begin with just a couple and commit to using them for a week. You will find that using these words in addition to the other tools we have discussed will help shift your mindset quicker than you think!

Are you ready to say no to your inner critic and follow your dreams and passion? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

 

Time out...Time in...

Time out…Time in…

Labor Day has come and gone, Starbucks is already serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and school is officially in full swing for everyone. I am reminded of some of my favorite shows growing up, specifically “Saved by the Bell.” Being a teenager on the east coast, I fantasized about going to school right near the beach, having school dances where I could break out “the sprain, ” and hanging out at The Max. But one of the most memorable things about SBTB, was Zach’s “Time Out,” where he could freeze whatever conversation he was in (usually one where he was in trouble), talk out his problem with the audience, and then unfreeze and redirect the conversation in his favor. Little did I know at the time, but Zach Morris was exercising another powerful mental training tool, thought stopping.

Thought stopping is when we acknowledge the undesired, or negative, thought briefly and then choose to stop the thought and let it go. To go even further, you can then replace the thought with a positive statement, also known as positive replacement. For many of us, getting in the habit of just stopping the negative thought and fully letting it go will be challenging enough. Establishing this practice is the first step. In order to enhance your practice by redirecting your mind with positive replacements, try doing this exercise. Write out a list of negative thoughts you may have had or make some up and then next to each statement re-write the statement in a more positive way. For example:

Negative thought-  “I am never going to loose this weight.”     

Positive replacement-  “I work out everyday and feel better each time."

Another helpful exercise is to keep a thought stopping log. In a notebook or on your phone, write down the negative thought, when it happened, what the situation was, and then a positive replacement. After doing this for a week, you can look back at the log and make observations of when your mind started to downward spiral and then figure out why. By adding the positive replacement thoughts, you begin to re-train your mind, helping to keep it on the upward spiral. Remember you are observing yourself, not judging yourself.

Next week, I will go further into enhancing our thought stopping practice with additional techniques.

 

Do you want to change your thoughts and feel more empowered in your life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min complimentary coaching call!

"Breathe, just breathe..."

Breathe, just breathe…

After a long day of meetings and feeling very overwhelmed, I put my iPod on shuffle (yes my iPod classic because I'm old school) and the first song that came up was T Swift's "Breathe" followed by Ingrid Michaelson’s "Keep Breathing" and then Journeys’ "Don't Stop Believin'.” Coincidence? I think not. It was the universe reminding me that everything is going to be OK. All you have to do is breathe, do the best you can, and trust in the process. We don't need to have or know all the answers (I know easier said than done). Our job is to keep breathing, be present, honor our true self, and enjoy the journey.

Last week, I introduced the concept of self talk and its importance in building our confidence through positive thoughts. I discussed how negative thoughts can lead to a downward spiral. For the next few weeks, I would like to offer you some specific tools so that you can build a strong practice and train your mind to work for you, not against you.

The first is to create a personal litany. A litany is a group of positive statements one can say to themselves silently or out loud. They help to increase our self-confidence by utilizing positive self talk. The litany can be for a specific aspect of your life: career, love, personal, etc. For example, if you are trying to change to a healthier lifestyle you may have ones like, “I am taking action to create healthy habits,” or “I know there will be days where I struggle, but it is ok because I am strong and I know I can do this.”  The litany can also be more generic and incorporate all aspects of your life. For example, “I choose love over fear,” or “I know I may feel overwhelmed at times, but it is ok because I have the tools to work through it.” (I said this one to myself several times during that long day of meetings.)

Once you have created your litany, hang it up where you can see it everyday or maybe laminate it so you can carry it around and pull it out when needed. In order for this tool to work, you need to say it everyday, maybe several times a day, and make it a practice. The more we say these affirmations or mantras, the more we believe them, embody them, and the more powerful they become when we need them the most.  

Take the next few minutes and create a litany for yourself. Commit to saying it everyday for a week. Then check in and see how you feel. Write your observations down in the journal you started last week. These are just observations used for self reflection, not judgments.

Next week, I will offer another mental training tool so stay tuned!

“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.”

One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.

As the summer dies down and another school year is about to begin, my one-on-one coaching sessions with seniors start to rev up. Whether they are preparing for college auditions to get into dance or theater programs or they are prepping their essays and supplements to get into the academic institute of their dreams, I always start our first session the same: the importance of self-confidence and self talk in order to achieve peak performance.

As much as we may want to deny it, self-confidence comes from within not from outside sources. In order for us to perform optimally we need to have the self-confidence that we can succeed and that we are worthy of succeeding. Sounds easy, but unfortunately we know that is not always the case. Our inner voice becomes the key to building and maintaining a strong and healthy self-confidence. In more technical terms, this is called self talk - the act or practice of talking to oneself, either out loud or silently. It is important to train ourselves to limit the negative self talk and foster the positive self talk.

One of my favorite images to use when explaining how thoughts can quickly change the way we perceive a situation or evaluate ourselves is a spiral. A spiral is a curve that develops from a central point and gets progressively farther from that point as it grows. One small positive thought can lead towards an upward spiral resulting in confidence and uplifting energy, while one small negative thought can lead towards a downward spiral resulting in self pity and defeated energy.

For example, when learning a new skill if we tell ourselves we are open and ready for a new challenge our mind will continue to approach learning that new skill in a positive way even when faced with some difficulties. However, if we tell ourselves we aren’t ready or can’t learn the new skill our mind will continue to find more reasons why we can’t, especially when faced with difficulties, until we finally close ourselves off. The same theory can be used in all areas of our lives, our relationships with family and friends, our role within the office, etc. In fact, the more we use these tools in both our personal and professional lives the deeper our mental practice becomes and the stronger we will be in overcoming adversity and maintaining a healthy self-confidence.

Can you think of a time in your life when a single thought created a downward spiral? How about a time when a thought created an upward spiral? Reflect on these moments and write them down. Through self reflection we can understand an abundance about ourselves and the patterns we have created.

Next week, I will offer more tools to help train and strengthen our mental practice. Stay tuned!

Copyright © 2019 Stephanie Simpson, All rights reserved.