amy 05-19-16

The other day I saw a very touching exchange on Facebook between some family members.

And its embarrassing to admit but, instead of being happy about it, I made it all about me.

I made it mean…

I’m not lovable.
I don’t fit in.
I’m an outsider.

The same story I’ve been telling myself for years. (That makes me want to crawl under my desk with a fifth of whiskey.)

All day today I’ve been in a foul mood… not wanting to see or talk to anyone, do any work, wishing for coffee, chocolate and pastries, thinking about sleeping the whole day.

In life coach training, we teach a very simple tool that comes from Action and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

ACT says that all suffering comes down to two things…

1) Cognitive Fusion, in other words believing things that make you feel like crap.

and…

2) Experiential Avoidance, or trying to distract yourself from the crappy way you feel when you believe certain things.

For me it works like this:

I tell myself “You’re not lovable. You don’t fit in. You’re an outsider.” Then I believe it. Then I feel really, really bad (Cognitive Fusion).

Then I try to avoid feeling really, really bad by distracting myself… taking a nap, eating chocolate and pastries, drinking a fifth (Experiential Avoidance).

Then I feel even worse about myself which is when I don’t want to do any work or talk to anyone. Which conveniently provides more evidence to prove the painful thoughts about myself true.

See the vicious cycle?

Back to ACT…

The simple trick is to just notice yourself having thoughts that make you feel really, really bad. Then say to yourself,

“I notice I’ m having the thought [insert painful thought].”

So in my case, I would say to myself, “I notice myself having the thought ‘I’m not lovable.’”

Try it.

Use your own painful thought. I bet you’ve got a few…

Notice that instead of automatically believing the thought, you feel farther away from it, like an observer of yourself having the thought.

If you’ve got a whole cluster of thoughts, like me, you can bunch them all together and label them.

In my case…

I’m not lovable.
I don’t fit in.
I’m an outsider.

Are all thoughts from my “Nobody likes me” story.

So instead of saying, “I notice myself having the thought ‘I am unlovable,’” I might say, “Oh, there’s my ‘nobody likes me’ story.”

When you can get some distance from the thoughts and notice yourself having them, you can stop the vicious cycle.

I, for one, feel lighter already.

For extra credit, try singing the thoughts to yourself. Choose any tune you wish. I like to just sing a song my mom taught me as a kid.

It goes like this:

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
Guess I’ll go eat worms.
Long, thin, slimy ones; Short, fat, juicy ones,
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms.

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one,
Oh how they wiggle and squirm.
Up comes the first one, up comes the second one,
Oh how they wiggle and squirm.

Now let’s take it one more step further.

Go ahead and turn those painful thoughts around.

Here are mine:

I am lovable.
I do fit in.
I am an insider.

That feels a whole lot better.

Here are the steps again:

  1. Notice yourself believing a thought or thoughts that make you feel bad.
  2. Say “I notice I’m having the thought [insert painful thought or story].
  3. Turn painful thought around.

That’s it. I bet you’re feeling better already. I am.

Did you try it? Post a comment below to let me know how it worked!

heart divider If you liked this post, just wait til you hear my free online class called "The Fraud Factor: How to Go From ‘What if I’m not Good Enough?’ to Confident, Successful and ‘Damn I’m Good!’. Click the image below to sign up: fraud-tile-url

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TheDeschutes
(The Deschutes)

I came within minutes of drowning once.

My husband and I were rafting with some friends down the Deschutes River. We were on a two-person raft. We came upon a very large boulder in the middle of the river and didn’t maneuver past it in time. So the raft floated into it, going parallel to it until we tipped over.

The force of the current flowing into the rock caused us to get sucked under immediately. Somehow because of where he fell in or his size, Ron was able to make his way out. But I got stuck.

The current against the boulder was pushing me down at the same time as my life jacket was buoying me up. I couldn’t move. All I could see were bubbles.

Everything was happening so fast, but I remembered some advice my mom gave me when I was a kid at the beach.

“If you ever get caught in a riptide,” I remembered her say, “swim sideways.”

It wasn’t a riptide it was what white water rafters call a “Pressure Wave.” But all I knew to do was “swim sideways.”

That’s when I took it off.

Seems like the dumbest thing to do given the situation. I was about to drown after all. But I didn’t have time to think. I just did it.

I took off my life jacket – the very thing that was supposed to be keeping me safe.

It floated down the river, past my husband who had no idea where I was.

And when I did, I could finally swim sideways. I could finally see the surface of the water. I was many feet down. And without my life jacket it was hard work to swim to the surface (I’m hyperventilating a little bit just remembering it.)

Once I got to the top, I tried to inhale but I had been down so long and had swallowed so much water that at first I still couldn’t breathe.

But eventually I made it out. I broke free from the Pressure Wave. I survived.

A lot of people ask me what it’s like to be stuck in The Approval Trap.

I think it’s a lot like a Pressure Wave. You pick up on the idea that parts of you – for whatever reason – are not fit for human consumption. So you hide these things under a façade of likeability, perfection, competence (whatever your culture tells you to be), thinking that this façade will keep you safe.

But the force of the outside world – ideas about beauty, success, what it takes to be happy – bear down on you. The façade you have created is like a “life jacket.” It seems like the very thing you need to feel safe amidst these outside forces.

But, in reality, it keeps you pinned. So you can’t even “see” anymore. And if you don’t do something about it, you’ll drown.

The solution is not to struggle harder – to be better, smarter, more attractive or successful.

The solution is, actually, not what you think at all. And your loved one’s might think you’re crazy, but…

You have to do the thing that scares you the most.

You have to get rid of the very thing you think has been keeping you safe, all these years.

You’ve got to drop the façade. And let them see all the parts of you, especially the ones you’ve been hiding.

When you do, you can finally “swim sideways.” You can move out of your situation. You can see from a new perspective. You can figure out how to get out. You can find help.

At first you won’t feel like you are breathing easily. After all, you’ve been drowning. Your lungs were full of water.

It takes some time to readjust to a life of authenticity. But getting to the surface is worth the initial struggle.

The stakes are high.

Your life, your mission, your tribe are waiting for you there.

It doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. I’ve got your back. And I’ve created a whole tribe who will too.

Click here to learn how to escape The Approval Trap – there’s still time to save $300 and join me for the next round of Be Brazen in Business and Life.

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NOT cool!

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from my family to yours…

December 22, 2015

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas! xoxo -a

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