Filtering by Tag: wellness

“I’m not a river or a giant bird that soars to the sea. And if I’m never tied to anything, I’ll never be free.”

I’m not a river or a giant bird that soars to the sea. And if I’m never tied to anything, I’ll never be free.
— Stephen Schwartz

This past week, though I have gotten a lot of my time back, has been bittersweet. I have definitely been hit by the post show blues. Throughout the week, different students would come up to me expressing how much they miss the show and how lost they feel. It’s hard to let go of something that became such a huge part of your life; something that was truly magical. When talking to the students and telling them that this would be a hard one to let go of and its OK to feel what they were feeling, I realized that I don’t usually take that advice. I’ve worked on so many shows over the years that I’ve gotten good at compartmentalizing my emotions and usually just jump into the next thing. (I actually do this with other areas of my life as well.) That way I don’t have to feel the hurt and the loss, whether it was a good or a bad thing; for example, the end of a relationship, moving across the country, finishing a job, etc.

Compartmentalizing may seem like the easy solution, but it’s not. Our body holds onto the emotions we are having; they stay inside us until we decide to confront them. It’s OK to feel. In fact, we SHOULD feel. It doesn’t make us weak to acknowledge our emotions and mourn the loss. These are the moments that remind us that we are alive, we are human, that we value things in life and that we were truly present. So this time around, I allowed/made myself let go and feel the emotions.

It’s tough…really tough. I miss the family and world we created where we got to play and live freely. It became a safe place. But at some point we knew we would have to leave that place. We have to challenge ourselves to make a new safe place. We will always hold that family in our hearts. Because of them and our communal experience/process, we will be even better for the next adventure. As one of my students said when interviewed about learning aerial silks, “Learning is hard. The moment it becomes easy, it isn’t learning anymore.” If we stayed in the world we created, we wouldn’t continue to grow and learn.

One of the ways I allowed myself permission to feel was to listen to the soundtrack. Deciding to do this on a busy NYC subway was maybe not the best idea because immediately tears filled my eyes. But they were good tears. I could visualize everything so clearly still. I know the picture will get blurry with time, but I hope to preserve the details for as long as I can. When listening to the "Finale" again, I was struck in a new way by one of Pippin’s last lyrics (the title quote of the blog). Sometimes distance/space from a project gives us new clarity.

I’ll be honest I am very much like the character Pippin. I move around a lot in every sense of the word. I’ve lived in 5 cities in 10 years; as a freelancer, I jumped from project to project; I’m always trying new workouts and dance classes. And I love that lifestyle. I’m currently in my longest streak both job wise and location wise in my adult life. To be honest, this past year has been hard. I have wanted to run and move on to something new so many times. But there is so much truth in this lyric. Pippin finally realizes that moving from one thing to another was actually making him feel confined and stuck. By having something to be tied to, you do have more freedom. Of course, I am choosing to look at being “tied to something” in a non-negative way. It’s not about being weighed down, but instead grounded. This stability then allows you to be free, to explore, to take risks. The stability can come in different forms: staying in a job and viewing it in a new light, finally saying yes to a relationship and going all in, committing to a workout or new lifestyle program.

When reflecting on your life, what have you been shying away from because you think you don’t want to be “tied down?” Can you look at it in a different way? Maybe that very thing is the thing that will give you the freedom you’ve always been searching for.

 

Do you want to find more freedom? I would love to guide 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.

"The day she stopped getting stuck in ‘why’ was the day she finally started getting the answers she was looking for."

The day she stopped getting stuck in ‘why’ was the day she finally started getting the answers she was looking for.

I just finished re-staging a dance I choreographed a few years ago when I was on faculty at a university in CT. The piece is called “Cemented” and was an exploration of feeling stuck. Why do we as people get stuck on the same thought or hold onto a certain memory? Why do we just feel stuck in certain aspects of our life but not others? What makes us unstuck? My creative process always begins with asking a question and then working with my dancers to talk through possible solutions or outcomes both with our bodies and minds. I vividly remember this creative process and how fixated or “stuck “ I was on trying to find an answer to getting unstuck.

I enjoy re-staging my previous work because it allows me to revisit an idea with a new lens. I have new bodies in front of me to work with and though we have a detailed outline already in place, there is still room to play and come up with new solutions. This time around, I realized that I was not so fixated on how to become unstuck, but was more intrigued by the idea of being OK with being stuck.  Why is it that when we are stuck we feel it is necessary to fix something in order to become unstuck? Maybe if we allowed ourselves to marinate in the “unstuckness” we would find something new about ourselves.

Through the creative process this time around, I formed two new perspectives. First, that being stuck means we aren’t being truly present in our lives because we are hoping or waiting for something else to happen (living in the future) or we aren’t allowing ourselves to let go of something (living in the past). Second, that being stuck is something we need to struggle with because it is in the act of struggling, maybe even making some mistakes, and engaging in the day to day stuff that we truly learn and grow as individuals. This is where the deep cognitive learning, the change, and the growth happens; not in the quick fixes. I fully acknowledge that these two perspectives can be somewhat contradictory, but for now I am allowing myself to sit with them.

There is such beauty in re-visiting something over time. We get to come back to it with more knowledge, wisdom, and experience, which allow us to see things in a new light and through a new lens. This is not exclusive to the creative process, but can also be applied to all aspects of our lives: people we have encountered, situations we have experienced, skills/activities we have attempted, beliefs we have held/still hold, limiting views of ourselves, etc.

What are some things you would like to revisit in your life through a new lens? Where are you feeling stuck and can you allow yourself to enjoy the “stuckness” and not judge it?

 

Need help navigating the "stucknesss?" I would love to guide 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.

 

“Visualize the things you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.”

Visualize the things you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.
— Robert Collier

This week a few of my clients had auditions for college Musical Theater programs. Many of them get very anxious for the dance portion, specifically being able to pick up the choreography quickly and be able to execute it properly in a small group. When we get to visualization in our sessions, I teach them the many beneficial uses of a strong visualization practice, one of them being skill acquisition. In this case, they use visualization to remember the sequence, to be able to practice the combination even when they need to be still on the sidelines, and to increase their confidence. I am happy to report that they all felt very proud of themselves post the dance audition and fingers crossed they all get accepted to the program of their dreams!

Last week, I talked about the foundations of a strong visualization practice and using the 5 senses to create vivid pictures in our head. In addition, it is important to control the amount of outside thoughts and negative thoughts that enter the visualization. This week, I would like to discuss the different lenses we have to look through when we visualize. This becomes very important when we are trying to see what it is we want and then be able to embody what it is we want.

There are three lenses we have when visualizing: external, internal, and external/external. In the external lens, you step outside of your body and see yourself engaging in the action you are visualizing. In the internal lens, you are inside of your body, feeling what it is like to be in the action, and seeing everything around you. In the external/external lens, you see someone else executing the action you hope to embody. This lens should really only be used if you are having trouble visualizing yourself. For example, maybe you are trying to learn how to serve the ball in tennis and you can’t quite imagine yourself doing it correctly, but you can imagine your instructor executing the form perfectly. You may visualize this way for a little while until you feel more confident. However, it is crucial that you switch to seeing yourself executing the activity at some point.

In the external lens, you get to see yourself fully engaged in the activity of the visualization. You can even slow the visualization down or speed it up. By being able to see yourself being successful in your visualization, you begin to become more confident and your goal becomes more real. It is important to be able to switch the lens to internal after a while. Being able to visualize through the internal perspective allows your mind and body to connect. You begin to embody that which you hope to manifest. You can start to feel what it means to obtain that goal, emotionally and psychologically.

You can use the visualization technique for many aspects of your life. For example, maybe you have a big presentation coming up at work. By visualizing yourself externally and internally, you are able to practice and embody your presentation without actually verbalizing anything. You can zoom your lens to be able to see even the smallest details. You can make changes to the things you think are not working. And most importantly, you can see yourself being successful, which enhances your confidence and will help you to perform optimally when the time comes. Or maybe you just want to improve your golf game for the next time you go out on the course with your friends.

This week, continue to keep your visualization log, but this time pick one of the steps of the goal that you created during our goal setting week. Begin with the external lens (external/eternal if you need to) and set your timer to at least 3 min. When you are done, write down your reflections, taking note of how vivid you were, if you could stay consist in the lens perspective, if you were able to control outside and negative thoughts, and things you would like to improve upon in your practice. After a few days, switch the lens to internal and do the same. At the end of the week, observe (without judgment) how your practice is going.

 

Are you ready to manifest the changes you want in your life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call!

 

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.”

Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.
— Bo Bennett

As a child, I used to pass the time during church or when I was bored in class mentally running through the various dances I was learning at my studio or rehearsing for a show. Sometimes, I would even fantasize what my life would look like living in NYC and being immersed in the hustle and bustle of the musical theatre world. In high school, when I was stressed or overwhelmed and had trouble falling asleep I would close my eyes and imagine each muscle of my body relax starting at my head and ending at my toes. Little did I know at the time, but what I was doing in each of these situations was building a foundation for a practice that continues to change my life on a daily basis.

Last week, I talked about making a plan using proper goal setting techniques in order to make the changes we want in our lives. This week I would like to offer a very powerful technique to help throughout the process, visualization. Visualization is a cognitive process where one uses mental imagery to simulate or recreate visual perception. Visualization can help improve self-confidence, manage pain and stress, acquire new skills, and manifest changes in our lives. Like everything else, visualization is a practice. It may come easier to some than others, but the good thing is that through repetition we can become more skilled in it.  

When teaching visualization, the first thing I talk about is being able to close your eyes and practice seeing vivid and clear images. Think of the five senses (see, hear, touch, taste, and smell) as a starting point. Be as detailed as you can when visualizing the images or the scenario. Next, implement your mental and emotional feelings into the visualization. This allows the visualization to penetrate and connect the body, mind, and spirit. Finally, make sure that you are controlling your mind by not allowing outside thoughts to distract you or negative thoughts to creep in.

For the next week, try to visualize once a day. Set a timer for 3 minutes and close your eyes. Start by noticing your breath and lengthening your inhales and exhales. Then, begin to imagine a place you know well, your bedroom, office, etc. See that place in as much detail as you can using the five senses as your guide. It may be difficult at first to complete the 3 minutes without outside thoughts coming in, but go until the timer goes off. If you find 3 minutes is becoming easy, extend the time and start to zoom into specific areas of the room so you can get even more detailed in the picture you are creating. Keeping a visualization log reflecting on each session will be helpful in observing your progress. In the log, write down if outside or negative thoughts crept into the mind, whether you were able to access all five senses, and how specific you could get when zooming in.

Once we have the foundational skills for a strong visualization practice, we can use it in all areas of our life. Next week, I will go into more specific ways to use visualization. For example: how to use visualization when preparing for an audition, interview, or big presentation; and how visualization can be combined with trigger words to help with stress and anxiety.

 

Are you ready to manifest the changes you want in your life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min guided meditation or discovery call!

 

“We are only as strong as the foundation we build.”

We are only as strong as the foundation we build.

I found myself saying this many times this week in a variety of situations. First, in a workshop proposal for a women’s leadership conference focusing on success, then when I was teaching yoga to my faculty class and was stressing the importance of proper alignment, and finally when mentoring some of my young adult clients on decision making. So what is our foundation, how do we build it, and how can it help us?

YOU are the foundation for the life you are building. The stronger your foundation, the better you are at making decisions, dealing with adversity, and living a fuller, more successful life. Through observing that which serves and does not serve us, we can lead a more authentic life. There are so many outside ideas and opinions of what we should be doing or thinking, but we need to take the time to figure out what of those things actually align with our authentic selves. It is ok to question and decide to make new rules for yourself. Figuring out what makes you feel alive and what you are passionate about makes you more confident and proud to be who you are. Knowing these things will help you to create a practice that maintains and supports your foundation through using your positive self talk techniques and engaging in activities that continue to fuel your energy not drain you.

After reading an article in Psychology Today about anxiety in college students and working with my private young adult clients, I realized the universal need to teach coping skills. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic in our society, which goes beyond just our youth, to turn to unhealthy vices as a quick fix to help us feel better, to deal with stress and anxiety, and sometimes to feel that we belong. Drugs and alcohol are the most common of these vices, but we cannot forget over eating, smoking, etc. These vices provide us a quick pleasurable experience, which we mistake as happiness. The more we pursue this “happiness” we begin to create bad habits that can stick with us for a while. Having a strong foundation helps us to turn away from these vices and instead find ways to release the stress that help us to create good habits that will continue to serve us throughout our life.

One of the techniques I have begun to use with my clients is having them list the things that give them a “natural high” and make them feel empowered. Acknowledging the places and things that feed our authentic selves can help us in the areas where we struggle. For example, I may not be an active musical theatre performer anymore but I still remember what it feels like to be on stage and the joy it gave me throughout my life. When I am feeling down, stressed, or overwhelmed, I turn to musical theatre to “cope.” I’ll put my headphones in and listen to “One Day More” from Les Miserables and let the chords vibrate through my entire body changing my energy frequency. Sometimes, I’ll go into my room and belt out “Someone Like You” from Jekyll & Hyde giving me that instant gratification and allowing me to “let off some steam.”

What in you life makes you feel empowered and gives you that natural high? Maybe it’s physical, like playing a sport or doing yoga or building something? Maybe it’s more mental, like doing a crossword puzzle? Or maybe it’s more creative, like writing a poem or painting? The next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed and want to reach for that chocolate bar or glass of wine try to do one of the things you just wrote down and see how you feel after that.

 

Are you ready to build your foundation and lead a more fulfilled life? I'd love to help you! Email me at steph_e_simpson@yahoo.com to set up your FREE 30 min discovery call!

 

"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!

“It is not happiness that brings us gratitude, it is gratitude that brings us happiness.”

It is not happiness that brings us gratitude, it is gratitude that brings us happiness.

Earlier this week, I was having coffee with a friend when an alarm went off on my phone at 9 am playing a whimsical melody. Confused, my friend asked what it was. I explained it was the reminder to write in my gratitude journal. This sparked a conversation about what a gratitude journal was and then the question, “what if you don’t have anything to be thankful for?”

This week’s focus is on the practice of gratitude. Gratitude is defined as the “quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” For some, this practice may come easy and for others, there may be some challenges because we are used to talking about all the things we don’t have and all the things we wish were different in our lives. The great thing is that we can use our positive replacement tool to help us see our lives through a different lens.

Years ago, I started a gratitude practice where I bought a special journal (there is nothing better than buying a new journal) and I wrote on the first page, “Things I am Thankful For. No Negativity Allowed.” I made a commitment to myself to write every day at least 10 things I am thankful for. At first, this was hard, especially on the days when I was struggling with who I was and where my life was going. I forced myself to dig deeper and always came up with 10 things. Then there were other days when I couldn’t stop writing things I was thankful for. I started realizing that after a while I looked forward to writing things down and that my overall outlook on life had shifted.

There are many ways to start a gratitude practice. You can dedicate a journal to just the things you are thankful for and decide to write in it every morning when you wake up or right before bed. Nowadays, with technology there are apps that are digital gratitude journals where you can even upload a photo to each day’s entry. (This is what I actually use now since I travel a lot.) Another practice I started a few years ago was on Jan 1st to take a big mason jar and throughout the year write special moments, exciting accomplishments, etc on colored post-its and place them in the jar. On New Year’s Eve, I open the jar and spread the post-its out on my bed and read each one of them. It’s amazing the amount of things we forget over the year, and I love getting to relive each memory even for just a second (not to mention the different colored post-its make an aesthetically pleasing collage).

I did answer my friend’s question, “what if you don’t have anything to be thankful for?” There is always something…waking up each morning, being able to eat, having a loving family, supportive friends. Living in NYC, I am always reminded to be thankful that I have an apt with a bed, heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer. These may sound like givens, but for many they are not. Even when it feels like everything is going against us, every experience offers a space to grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and for that we should be thankful.

The small amount of time it takes to stop and be thankful will be rewarding in so many ways. I challenge you to start a practice of your own and after a week reflect on how you feel, how you view your life, and how you see the world around you.

 

Are you ready to shift your lens and 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!

“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.