The ONE thing you need to do to change ANYTHING… (Read Time: 3 min.)

woman 25There’s something about your life that you want to change… and you want it changed NOW, right?

You have a goal, a dream, a lifestyle change and you want it BADLY and, yet, you aren’t getting the job done.  Sound familiar?

How can you “make” yourself do what you know you NEED to do consistently and persistently so you make it to your goal?

I hear this question ALOT.  I ask myself this question EVEN MORE.  And the answers have come from many different sources and in many different ways but the most successful response with the greatest return on investment came by asking myself one question:

What will it cost me if I don’t?

Tony Robbins poses that question in the book “Awaken the Giant Within” and he speaks of this question in his audio coaching programs.  It’s one question with a whole lot of impact.  Why?

Because far too often we subconsciously ask ourselves, “What will it cost me if I DO?”  We think about our dreams or goals and we say:

  • It’ll cost me money I don’t have if I…
  • It’ll cost me time that I don’t have if I…
  • It’ll cost me relationships that I don’t want to lose if I…

We’re always thinking about what going to the next level of life will cost us in terms of time, money, relationships, energy, resources, and relationships.  By doing that, we zero in on the pain of achieving our goals and dreams, forgetting the entire time of the absolute pleasure that comes in achieving what we were born to achieve.  So if you’re grappling with a major life change, if you’re looking for a solution to your procrastination on a BIG life dream, if you’re waiting for the “right time” or the “right place” or the “right stroke of luck” to take you to that next level, stop overanalyzing, investigating and waiting!  Simply ask yourself the question and give yourself a solid ten minutes to catastrophize the most extreme answer you think possible.  Yes, I said catastrophize.  When you answer this question, you need to walk your mind through ALL of the worst things that could happen if you don’t make this happen.  You need to make yourself get real with what you REALLY risk losing if you don’t make this move.  You have to have what I call a get-it-together talk with yourself where you say, “Listen darling.  You can keep going this way and keep getting the same thing you’ve always gotten but if you keep going this way, here are all the ugly, nasty, sucky consequences you’re going to get… Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.”

Yes, have that conversation with yourself.  Do it with ONLY ONE issue in your life (If you try to answer this question with three or four of your goals, you’ll get overwhelmed; don’t do it). Do it NOW!

#thatisall

So… talk to me.  What goal are you not pursuing and what will it cost you if you don’t make this happen? 

I’m reading and responding to your comments:)

Women Breadwinners & Therapy: Why Your Therapist DOESN’T Get it… (Read Time: 4 min.)

therapy picDo you see a therapist?  I do!  There was a time when I wouldn’t have been comfortable sharing that.  However, after completing most of my MA in Marriage & Family Therapy and with my PhD in Clinical Psychology starting in the next 12 months AND as a woman breadwinners coach, I can tell you one thing for sure:

EVERYBODY BENEFITS FROM THERAPY… with a GREAT therapist

(had to throw that in there because, let’s be real, some therapists, like some coaches, suck)

Here’s the problem with therapy for most people:

They expect quick results with little effort and without full disclosure to the therapist who’s tasked with the tremendous job of helping them embrace and thrive through change and transition.

In other words, people want therapists to “fix” them, even though they aren’t willing to come to the table fully, completely and honestly.

Women breadwinners have even greater trouble with the therapy relationship because, for many women breadwinners, going to therapy is like admitting failure.  It’s saying, “I can’t handle this on my own.  I’m failing at this.  I wasn’t able to fix this without outside help.”  There are so many mixed emotions for women breadwinners who enter therapy and for women breadwinner couples who do therapy together (that’s a WHOLE other post).

However, therapy is a priceless gift of self-care, self-love, and transformation IF you are willing to do the work.  It’s also a great co-creator with coaching so that you can heal the past with your therapist and strategize the future with your coach.  If you can have both (and you can), HAVE BOTH.  Just sayin’.

But I digress…

If you’ve been to a therapist in the last three or four years and you bailed after the allotted therapy sessions, insisting that you’ll never go again because, in your words, “That therapist doesn’t get it!”, let me give you four reasons why your last therapist didn’t “get it”:

1) You weren’t selective when choosing a therapist.  Okay, so I have the benefit of a marriage and family therapy education and that education taught me ALOT about how different therapists work using different modalities of therapy.  Rather than simply choosing the first therapist you find that accepts your health insurance, find out KEY things about your potential therapist, including:

  1. Their modality: Ask a potential therapist, “What theory or style of therapy do you use?  Emotionally Focused, Cognitive Behavior, Internal Family Systems, Solutions Focused?”
  2. Their educational background: Is your potential therapist a licensed social worker, marriage and family therapist, licensed counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist?  Each has a VERY different approach to therapy and VERY different views on how and why change happens.  Be sure you’re choosing the therapist with the educational background that fits your world view and matches your needs.
  3. Their availability: I’m all for flex hours and work-around scheduling but if the therapist you’re choosing is making YOU work around him/her and isn’t very flexible or available when you are available, it’s a WRONG fit.  Stop trying to fit into your therapist’s schedule and find another therapist who has openings when you’re available.  There are too many good therapists in the world to stretch and strain your calendar to fit into one therapist’s book of appointments.
  4. Their personality: You’ve got to click with your therapist and you won’t know that until you do a few sessions… period.  You won’t know until you go.  So show up, see if you click after three sessions and, if not, say “Thanks” and find the right one.  Choosing a therapist is like choosing a partner: life’s too short to waste it on the wrong one.

2) You weren’t present and available for the journey.  Some people go to therapy expecting to be “fixed”, i.e. expecting this to a Burger King rendition of “I pay you money, you give me a solution, I stick it in my life and it works without me having to actively work it.”  Therapy AND coaching DO NOT WORK THIS WAY.  If you aren’t willing to bring ALL of yourself to the table, bring NONE of yourself to the table.  That doesn’t mean you don’t go to therapy if your spouse refuses.  You can do therapy on your own and experience great benefits, benefits that will, in turn, affect your entire family system, whether they go to therapy or not.  Just be sure that if you decide to go to therapy, you’re all in and not sitting on the fence.

3) You didn’t put everything on the table.  The walls of a therapy room are sacred.  Like Vegas, what happens in therapy stays in therapy (unless someone’s life is in danger or they are a danger to themselves).  You have to be completely honest and forthright with your therapist.  If you don’t tell the truth or you only tell half of the story, how do you expect your therapist to fully help you?  It’s like trying to solve a puzzle and missing 40% of the pieces.  It won’t work.  Come to the table truthful and honest.  You may feel shame.  You may feel guilt but therapy is exactly the place to bring those feelings.  A great therapist will help you work it out.

  1. You’d rather be right than happy.  Point blank (and women breadwinners are  NOTORIOUS for this): you came to therapy because you wanted your therapist to tell your husband that he is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG and you are RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT and he needs fixing but you’re perfect.  Don’t waste your time or money if that’s the case.  Marriages that work focus on collaboration, appreciation, and a commitment to making things work, even if you are the one who has to do the repair attempts ALOT, even when you are the person who has to learn how to love what is instead of demanding what isn’t.  This is not about perfection.  This is about developing a deep friendship that sustains itself through the storms and battles of life.  If what you want is to be right, then don’t waste your time in therapy.  Great therapists are not there to validate your ego; they are there to help you rediscover your sense of fulfillment and all fulfillment requires collaboration and, yes, compromise.

Talk to me.  Have you been to therapy?  If so, what was your experience like?

What did you learn?

What did you not like?

What would you do differently if you went back to therapy?

I’m always interested in reading your comments!

What to do when the labor & delivery of your dream stalls… (Read Time: 4 min.)

woman 39I remember the birth of my first child (who’s about to be 16 years old next month) like it was yesterday.  Montgomery, Alabama… steaming hot weather… me waddling around at 39.5 weeks… exhilarated, scared, and seriously ready to have my body back.  When 40 weeks came and went, the doctor made the blessed decision to bring me to the hospital and induce labor.  “Yes!” I proclaimed as we rushed to the hospital.  Over 36 hours later and 1 hour away from a C-section, I learned that no matter how much you prod and probe the birth of anything, sometimes… it stalls. I was induced alright.  And then the contractions STOPPED.  Yes, stopped as in no contractions.  They started again and came back REALLY strong but, this time, the baby didn’t descend.  He had decided very clearly, “I AM NOT COMING OUT!”  So, one hour before I was scheduled to have a C-section, the boy dropped down, the contractions were hot and heavy, and I gave birth to an 8 pound, 6.5 ounce baby boy… and the rest, as they say, is history.

So what did that teach me about life?

It taught me that sometimes, when you’ve conceived a big dream and you’re in the process of nurturing and giving it life, when it’s getting closer and closer, sometimes labor and delivery stops.  Sometimes, the doors of opportunity close, the windows of passage shut, and everything you thought would’ve happened by now… hasn’t.

What do you do when the labor and delivery of your dream stalls?

Here are 3 things you start with:

1) Wait and listen.  When things start to slow down or get to a complete halt, it’s natural to want to force, push and shove our way into the fulfillment of our dreams.  After all, we’ve worked hard.  All of THIS can’t be for nothing, can it?  But pushing a boulder uphill isn’t fun and, at the end of the day, if it isn’t meant to be, no amount of forcing will make it so.  When you feel like the dream you’re birthing isn’t coming down the birth canal, rather than try to shove it down, give things a break by stepping back and taking the time to listen to your Higher Self.  There may be more information that you need to know before the next step comes.

2) Focus on improving the things that you CAN control.  What, right now, is in your power to make better?  Focus on that and give your all to improving that area of your life and, eventually, your dream will come back into center focus.  When you do this, it’s not that you’re giving up on your dream or losing sight of it.  You’re simply giving your seed the room it needs to grow in the soil as you water it by improving another part of the garden.  Do what you can with what you have.

3) Say ‘Screw the worry!’ and resign as Manager of the Universe.  You don’t control the process.  You don’t know the timing of the manifestation of your dream.  When you get sick and tired enough of worrying about what could be, what should be, and how it’s all going to come together, you’ll surrender the cause and go find some relaxation in a good book, a favorite movie, or time with friends.  When you surrender, you gain strength and your dream gains momentum… even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.

Bottom line is this: Waiting sucks.  Yes, really sucks.  It’s no fun to wait for something that you really wanted to have here yesterday.  But waiting happens.  Rather than rail against the inevitable time a dream will take, use the three steps above to make your wait the most productive and least painful it can be.

So tell me.

Which of these 3 above steps will you have the hardest time doing and why?

What will you do to work through it?

I love to read your comments!

Women Breadwinners & Infertility: How to Not Go Crazy Over the Miracle You Can’t Control… (Read Time: 4 min.)

mom and babyI experienced secondary infertility at the age of 21.  That’s not what doctors call it when you’re 21.  When you’re in your 20s, they call it “Ah, you’re just fine” or “Oh, give it time” or “Just relax and it’ll happen” but they rarely, at 21, call it infertility.  Fast-forward four years and I was pregnant (without fertility treatments) with baby #2.  But, the doctors considered the pregnancy high risk at that point because, at 25, they said, “You have a history of infertility.”  Ok… so now they admit it?  Baby #2 arrived when I was 26 and I rushed to go for baby #3.  I figured, “I’m not getting any younger and if it’s going to take 4 years, I might as well start now.”  So, when baby #2 was weaned at a year, I began the infertility journey… only to get pregnant 2 months later.  Easy breezy, right?  Not exactly.  Somewhere in second trimester, a test came back indicating that baby #3 might have Downs Syndrome.  I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  From the uncertainty of it all (they can’t officially tell you if your baby has Downs until he/she is born) to the lack of care on the part of the medical industry (at one high tech ultrasound, they asked me if I wanted to abort the baby- SERIOUSLY?), I was a mess.  And baby #3 was born PERFECTLY healthy…  I was 28.

Fast forward 7 years and I am now the mother of 3 children: 15, 8 and 6, remarried, and, at 35, anxious to experience motherhood again… only this time I will have to use in vitro to achieve it.  So… back to that wonderful infertility diagnosis?  I guess so.

One of the greatest lessons of this entire infertility experience has been to accept what I cannot control.  I’m a recovering perfectionist, a Type A on one hand and a Type B on the other.  I like to have what I want when I want it.  Who doesn’t?  But going through infertility taught me that some jobs are God jobs.  There’s no planning it, programming it, demanding it or willing it into existence.  It occurs in its own way on its own schedule.  For a woman breadwinner who’s so clear on how to achieve any and everything, this is one of the hardest lessons you will ever learn.  With 14 years of the infertility rollercoaster under my belt, here are some tips I’ve acquired in how to NOT go crazy over the miracle of conception, pregnancy, labor and deliver you CAN’T control:

Tip #1: Be selective about who you share your infertility journey with.  Not everybody gets what it’s like to want something so badly, to see other people have it so easily, and to not be able to do things like go to baby showers without crying or watch movies about new mommies without doubting whether that will ever be you.  While you may want to let everyone know what you’re going through or have people comfort you, not everyone is capable of doing that.  In fact, some people are downright callous when it comes to infertility or they say stupid crap that plants more seeds of doubt in your mind.  Do not allow it.  Guard your heart, guard your mind, and be selective about who you share this journey with.

Tip #2: Stop blaming yourself for this.  Nobody knows why most infertility occurs.  No matter who’s got the issue (and many times, it’s a husband related or male factor problem), blame will not get you what you want.  Guilt is a wasted emotion.  Instead of blame, shame and guilt, use your Type A, overachieving strength to find all of the information you can on your options and find a way to see this experience as bringing you constantly closer to the miracle of life you seek.  Your faith that this will happen is the strongest asset you own.  Do not remove your focus from that.  Remember: focus on your assets, not your liabilities.

Tip #3: Go on with life.  I spent far too many years putting my life on hold waiting for a baby to come.  I put too much energy (esp. in the beginning) focusing on what to eat, prepping a nursery for a baby who wasn’t even here, and all of the stuff that I thought would make me “ready” for a child.  Don’t do that.  Your life is meant to be lived, enjoyed, and it’s supposed to be fulfilling, whether or not a child ever shows up.  Live your life for you and, at the same time, keep your heart open for the space that a new life will fill.  Children choose their parents so whichever soul is supposed to come to you, they know you by name.  They never believe that you’ve forgotten them or that you have no room for them.  In fact, they know exactly when they are supposed to show up for you.  Trust that and go out into the world truly loving and enjoying the life you have right now.  When I was going through infertility, one of the clear messages that came to me was this: You’ve been given time; cherish it.  Three children later, I can’t tell you how powerful that wisdom was.  Between girl scouts, cub scouts, swim team, college prep, and every other part of life, I no longer have the time now that I had back then.  Cherish the time you have.

Tip #4: Be happy for those who have the blessing you seek.  This is a tough one, especially when you’ve worked so hard in your life to do everything “right”, to be fully “ready” for a child and you turn on the news and here’s another story of a teen mom who drops her baby in a garbage can or a crazy mom who has eleven babies she can’t afford.  It’s enough to drive a person crazy!  However, that energy will not bring forth new life.  What you give out comes back to you.  Whatever it is you seek, you have to be willing to give.  No matter who it is, when you see someone who’s pregnant or just had a baby or has small children, think in your mind (and believe in your heart): “Thank you God for this sign that if it can happen for her, it can happen for me.”  Amen…

If you use these four tips, your life will be filled with peace, love and joy.  You’ll usher in new life with more ease and a greater sense of well-being.  Woman breadwinner or not, infertility is not something you can control but it is an experience of life you can receive a lot from.  Be open to it and cherish the time you’ve been given.  After all, dirty diapers and 2 hours of sleep a night waits for no woman!

Tell me about your infertility journey. 

Where are you in the process? 

How are you coping with wait?

What keeps you strong?

What are you struggling with most?

I’d love to hear from you!

What to do if you don’t REALLY love yourself… (Read time: 5 min.)

woman 32Do you REALLY love yourself?

Not the “I’m okay, you’re okay” self esteem movement or the “I LOVE ME!” overly exaggerated, let’s-fake-self-love-til-I-feel-self-love self-help technique and sure as hell not the “Once I lose 20 pounds, I’ll love myself” future self idealization process.  No… you… right where you are… right as you are… right now.

Do YOU really love YOU right here, right now?

Tough question, isn’t it?

I myself go through periods of self love (sometimes flashes of it) and then, just when I think I’ve got this self-love thing down, something happens and I’m right back at square one (i.e. self criticism and self judgment) and then I ask myself:

Why am I learning this lesson AGAIN?

Well, my dear, it’s a lifelong lesson.  Take your lifetime pass and enjoy the ride…

So… if you’re in  a spot where you recognize that you don’t love yourself, where you know that you’re always comparing yourself, criticizing yourself, expecting more, demanding more, focusing on your deficiencies, berating yourself for the last stupid thing you said or did wrong, wondering why you haven’t gotten it “together” by now, there are simple, strategic, EFFECTIVE things you can do to REALLY love yourself.

Here are 5 ways to start:

1) Be willing to change.  Lots of people say they’re willing to change… and really aren’t.  Being willing to change means a number of things:

  • you are open to looking at your life and your choices in a variety of different ways
  • if something in your life isn’t working, you’re open to changing things up
  • if you feel wronged by someone, you’re willing to see the situation from that person’s perspective (doesn’t make that person right or the relationship good but it frees you from the need to blame or resent him/her)
  • accepting that you screwed up and putting your whole mind into the actions necessary to clean up the mess (rather than complaining about the mess)
  • seeing your decisions as provisional (not permanent); knowing that, in any moment, you’re free to choose differently and doing so without feeling like other people will say “I told you so” or will mock you for making the wrong choice; other people still might do that but when you’re willing to change, you’re more sold of having change than you are afraid of making a mistake
  • drastically altering how you run your life- I’m talking you’re ready to renovate the house of you and you’re willing to let go of WHATEVER needs to be let go of in order to do that

When you’re truly willing to change, there’s no such thing as “Oh, no way!  No matter what, that is not an option I’d even consider.”  Willingness means you’re open to everything.  You don’t have to choose it but you’re at least open to delving into it, seeing if it will work for you, and making a conscious decision about what to do next.  Closed minds aren’t allowed when you’re in the space of being willing to change.

2) Wake up to the self abuse you do.  Write down all the ways you show a lack of self love to yourself and, for each one, write down what self love would look like for that self abuse action (the positive opposite) AND implement it.  Check out the FREE Self Abuse vs. Self Love worksheet I’ve put here on Scribd.  Download it, print, and use it.  Here’s the link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/136704813/Self-Abuse-vs-Self-Love-Worksheet

3) Do a criticism detox for 21 days.  In other words, be super-vigilant and VERY conscious of when you are moving towards the realm of criticizing yourself and others.  Stop yourself in that moment and say, “I am willing to release the need to criticize or be criticized.”  Even the smallest criticism counts.  Be a drill sergeant in your mind for 21 CONSECUTIVE days and see what happens.

4) Watch one You Tube video a day that reminds you of how fabulous you are.  Five to ten minutes a day can revolutionize your life.  Carve out that time daily to watch a video that will remind you of who you REALLY are.  If you aren’t a You Tube/video watching kind of person, read an empowering book or listen to an empowering audio.  But do SOMETHING daily to remind yourself how fabulous you are.  Here’s a great place to start- Watch the movie ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ by Louise L. Hay on Vimeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NjUzNP-u_o

5) Quit eating junk.  Junk food = a junk mind = a junk body.  There is no way you’re seeing, thinking or living clearly if you’re eating crap.  There’s no nice way to say it.  And here’s the truth about overeating or eating the wrong foods as expressed by Marianne Williamson in her book, “A Course on Weight Loss”:

“The experience everyone yearns for is love, and you have come to experience eating as an act of self-love, even when you are eating unwisely. 

Even when you overeat- an act you know better than to think of as actual self-love, given that it is inherently self-destructive-

you experience yourself as emotionally nourished, even if its just for a moment. 

A subconscious effort at self-love turns into an act of self-hate.  As you transform-

as you learn to be fed love by love itself- you will stop looking to food for what food cannot feed you.”

The above five steps are simple, strategic, and absolutely doable on a DAILY basis.  Repetition makes the master.  Start today and let me know how it goes.

Which of the above 5 steps have you implemented and how is it going for you?

Comment below!

How to use your focus to concentrate your power… (Read Time: 4 min.)

woman 27I’m going in a different direction this week than my blog calendar had originally dictated.  That is one of the gifts of being my own boss:  I get to call the shots.  What I want to dish about today is one of my favorite topics of all time: FOCUS.

Women breadwinners traditionally have this in spades.  We know how to focus.  We know how to dive in, dig in, and get the job done… for MOST things.  But what about the areas of life where we don’t put too much of our focus?

What areas of life are you not focusing on?

What is your lack of focus in that area costing you?

Multi-tasking is a myth.  Human beings do not multi-task.  Even if you feel like you’re working on ten different things at once, you’re not.  You might be giving 10 seconds of focus to one thing and 30 seconds of focus to another and 45 seconds of focus to another but you are not multi-tasking.  You’re simply dividing your WHOLE mind in PRESENT action among a number of different things.

But what if all of that focus in one area is costing you the joy, peace, and success you want in another?

How do you switch gears and use your focus to concentrate your power in another area of life?

Here are 3 simple steps you can take:

  1. Approach every task with your WHOLE mind.  In other words, be completely where you are when you’re doing what you do.  If it’s family time, be 100% in family time.  If you’re at work, be 100% at work.  This is difficult in a day and age where we’ve electronically chained ourselves to our jobs and use that as the excuse for why we’re not able to focus on our families.  Throw the excuses out and give your all to each thing when it’s on your schedule.  Dividing your mind or your time between two places is no fun.  Be here now…
  2. Put all of your energy into whatever it is you’re focused on.  A lot of us come to different tasks with different levels of energy.  We half-ass our way through things.  When I was a professor, I’d teach business students about Adam’s Equity Theory.  Part of Adam’s Equity theory says that we look at our work situation and we consider how much we’re being rewarded… and then we alter our level of input or performance to make it equivalent to the amount of reward we’re receiving.  In other words, if I feel like I’m being paid half as much as I’m worth for a project, I might give half as much of my energy to it because I feel I’m being mistreated.  That kind of skewed perception of equity is a sure fire way to fail.  Why?  Because when you don’t give ALL of yourself to ALL you do, the only person you cheat is you.  Make your investment of your energy into your life YOUR BUSINESS.  It’s not about what anyone else is going to give you.  It’s about you enjoying every second of your life, whether it’s at work or at home.
  3. Focus on resourcefulness, not resources.  If you’re resourceful, the resources will come.  I used to doubt this idea.  But, as I started to see how in jams and during major obstacles, I was able to transform pressure into progress, it dawned on me that this concept (which I originally heard Tony Robbins talk about) is 100% true.  If you can get out of fear, worry and doubt and into a place of saying “Ok, I’m doing this now how can I get it done?”, you’ll get resourceful, you’ll stay the course, and you’ll get the job done.  See your journey of focus as a steady climb and focus on the next 3 steps.  Nothing more.
  4. See it as done.  Visualizing the result, thinking from the end, believing you can choose what you focus on, all of these things are key to concentrating your power.  Without your belief in yourself, you have nothing.  If you want to put more focus in a given area of your life, you have to believe that you have the ability to.  Once you do, you will.

So… how will you put these 4 steps into practice?  What area of your life do you want to now focus on?

Leave your comments below.  I’m listening…

Who’s in Your Inner Circle? (Read Time: 3 min.)

women 1I saw my therapist today and she asked me a question that stumped me:

Who’s your social support system here in Los Angeles?

I didn’t know how to answer that question.  Other than my husband and my close friends (who all live out of state), I couldn’t think of more than one or two people in California (and none who live within driving distance) that I could have a hot chocolate with at Coffee Bean or plan a girls night out to the movies with.  It’s great to have close friends you can trust but when they live over a thousand miles a way, who do you connect with in person?  Oh yeah, you don’t…

And that’s when today’s blog topic was born.

Men know how to do this really well.  Even children get the idea of what I’m about to say but, for whatever reason, women (esp. women breadwinners) haven’t learned the art and science of creating AND maintaining an inner circle.

What’s an inner circle?

That core group of 3-5 women who get you, see you, love you, and truly desire the best for you.  They are the like-minded, equally ambitious, fervently loyal people in your life who will challenge you to step up to the plate, force you to take a breather, or inspire you to move in a new direction because they refuse to allow you to settle for less.  The more women work, the more this inner circle becomes dire.

One problem: we live in a technology driven world that makes a tweet more inviting than a live chat and we’ve become a society where we’d rather go it alone because getting together takes too much time.

Especially as women breadwinners, it’s time that we stopped that (I’m talking to me too here).  We need in person, live, physical connection with like minded people.  We need to have relationships that grow over time, that weather life’s storms, and we especially need those connections to be with women who understand where we are in our lives.  And the bottom line is this: it’s not going to happen over a tweet or an FB message.  It might start there but it certainly won’t develop there.  If what we want is a WHOLE life, we have to begin to cultivate and create those relationships that nourish, encourage, and inspire us.  It’s as critical to the quality of our lives as breathing.

So how do we begin?

Here are 3 things I’m going to start doing:

1) Join social groups where you’ll meet and connect with other like-minded women.  There’s a women’s running group that meets every Saturday that I’ve wanted to join for months and as soon as my Achilles tendon is cleared to go back and run, I’m going to start putting that on my Saturday schedule.

2) TALK to people in social environments like the grocery store, the book store, in a doctor’s office, or at the gym.  I am notorious for going into Equinox  with laser vision on one thing: my workout.  Maybe it’s time I started to actually look at other people and, oh my goodness, smile, engage in conversation.  What a revelation!

3) Join professional specific or age specific groups.  There are all sorts of Meetup groups for moms in their 30s or women lawyers or stay-at-home moms.  Finding a group and attending even one even can go a long way in developing those connections.

So let me ask you a question.

What will you do this week to create or develop your inner circle? 

I’d love to know…

Is it too late to save your marriage? 6 signs that you’re headed for a divorce (and how to stop it) (Read time: 6 min.)

couple 8When someone asks you about your marriage, what’s your response?

Lukewarm?

Neutral?

Nagging?

Resentful?

In a time when the divorce rate for all marriages is over 50%, the pressure to make a woman breadwinner marriage work is higher than ever… and the statistics for marital success tell a sad, unfortunate story:

In one study in the Journal of Family Studies, women breadwinners who earned at least 60% of the family’s income were 38% more likely in any given year to get divorced.

The numbers are bleak but they aren’t a death sentence to happy women breadwinner marriages.  One of the questions I get asked a lot by clients who find themselves in unhappy marriages is this:

Is it too late to save my marriage?

Here’s the answer:

Not if you catch the 6 signs of marital decay in time and nip it in the bud.

In a book called The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman identified 6 signs he saw in couples who inevitably ended up in divorce.

NOTE: Dr. Gottman has studied couples for decades and his methods are empirically sound and therapeutically effective.  Here are Dr. Gottman’s 6 signs and what you need to do if you find any of them showing up in your marriage:

Sign #1: Harsh Setup

If you start most of your marital conversations with criticism, sarcasm, or contempt, you’re headed for trouble.  The first three minutes of your marital discussion speaks volumes about your likelihood of divorce.

What to do if you use harsh setup:

  1. Think before you speak
  2. Arm yourself with compassion, not judgment (Remember: people rarely learn their lessons from those who judge them)
  3. Start with positive, not the negative

Sign #2: The 4 Horsemen

Dr. Gottman talks in the book about 4 kinds of negativity that invade a relationship and destroy the marriage:

  1. Criticism
  2. Contempt
  3. Defensiveness
  4. Stonewalling

What to do if you have any of the 4 horsemen in your marriage:

  1. Criticism- Make a distinction between a complaint and a criticism.  Talk about specific actions you didn’t like (complaint), not personality flaws or character defects you think will never get “fixed” in your spouse (criticism).
  2. Contempt- Show your partner respect, appreciation and love.  Do it with gestures, body language, eye contact and tone of voice.  Cut out the eye rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor.  Words and glares are powerful and what you send out will come back to you.
  3. Defensiveness- Stop the blame/shame/guilt game.  Stop attacking your partner because you feel backed into an emotional corner.  Speak your truth.  Ask to have your needs met but do not debate the point.  Either way, your partner will respond in the way he/she chooses.  No amount of defensiveness will positively impact that.
  4. Stonewalling- Tuning out your partner alienates him/her.  You send the message that you don’t care.  You’re physically in the marriage but the rest of you has left the building.  Make a conscious decision to be present in the marriage, to listen, to communicate, even if it’s painful to do so.

Sign #3: Flooding

When exposed to a lot of negativity from a spouse, we have the tendency to get overwhelmed to the point that your heart starts racing, you can’t think and the only thing you want to do is get the heck out of the room.  After a while, you start to expect the negativity.  The expectation of it before any interaction occurs begins to cause physical and emotional distress.  Eventually, the flooded partner chooses to withdraw rather than feel emotion.

What to do when you’re flooded:

  • Breathe
  • Self soothe
  • Get physically in your body
  • Take a time out from discussion and center yourself

Sign #4: Body Language

The physical distress caused by being flooded (increased heart rate, sweating, etc.) clouds judgment and prevents constructive problem solving.

What to do when you’re under physical distress:

  • Use self soothing techniques and self talk to bring down heart rate, reduce sweating, and regain a sense of calm
  • Open your body through things like yoga, a peaceful walk, and tai chi
  • Unclench fists, make your body go limp, or use other body release techniques
  • deep breathing

Sign #5: Failed Repair Attempts

Repair attempts occur when one or both partners extend the proverbial olive branch and find a way to meet in the middle.  When all of your olive branches are broken in two by your partner or not even noticed, divorce is on its way.

What to do when repair attempts fail:

Reconnect in the relationship by spending dedicated, focused time rediscovering your spouse, finding out what really matters to him/her and rewriting your marital script.

Sign #6: Bad Memories

If one or both of you look at the past of your relationship with negativity, criticism, or a lack of recall (i.e. you can’t even remember the details of your honeymoon), you’re headed down the wrong road.  You’re viewing the past in a negative way and that spells for problems in your future.

What to do when you see the past with negativity:

Reframe the past of your marriage into the positive and have hopeful expectations for the future

At the end of the day, each of the 6 signs are wake up calls that your relationship NEEDS  a lifeline.  Get the message and seek out a therapist, coach or counselor to help you turn things around before it’s too late.  Also check out my book, CHOOSE YOU, NOT DIVORCE, available on Amazon –>HERE<– or check out my author profile on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/author/kassandrabibas.

Choose You Not Divorce

I have a question for you:

Which of the 6 signs have you seen in your woman breadwinner marriage?  What steps will you begin to take today to work through it?

5 Ways to Reframe Being Bossy in Work and Life… (Read Time: 4 min.)

woman  7Sometimes, someone will call you bossy and it’ll be spot on.  In that moment, you’ll need to take a step back, reflect, and shift.  There are other times, however, when someone calls you bossy and it’s not an issue of control so much as it’s a matter of you standing up for your needs, desires, and level of self-worth.  In those moments, it’s important to stand your ground, not take the other person personally, and reframe the insult so that you hear it but you don’t embrace it.

How do you do that?

Here are 5 ways to carry out self talk that views bossy in a positive light:

  1. I am demanding.  I know what I want and I’m unwilling to settle for less.  It might make other people insecure but that’s a challenge to them to be more, not to feel like less.
  2. I’m a natural leader.  My talents have equipped me with the ability to make clear, carefully thought out decisions in less time than most.  I know how to ask to have my needs met and I know how to find, create or obtain the resources necessary to do that.  People who have this ability respect what I bring to the table.  I don’t flaunt my power.  I embrace it.
  3. I listen to my inner knowing, trust my instincts, and act without looking back.  I have an inner wisdom that I trust at all times.  I don’t doubt my Higher Self.  I trust it and take action.  There’s no need for second guessing in my inner world.
  4. I am determined, persistent, focused and clear.  I consider the options, listen to opinions but I am not swayed by either.  I listen to my intuition and stay on course.  I own my mistakes, learn from my failures and keep it moving.  That is what makes me a champion.
  5. I value myself highly because I know that I bring tremendous value to the world.  I know my value.  My confidence is well deserved.  Honoring myself gives other people permission to honor themselves.  There’s no hiding my light going on here.  I shine brilliantly because I can and that encourages others to do the same.

Each of the above 5 statements could be taken as “bossy”: demanding, rigid, stubborn, and stuck up/conceited.  If someone has the audacity to call you that to your face (and you know there are no grounds in reality for it), thank them for the compliment and continue these five points of self talk.  At the end of the day, no one can tell you who you  REALLY are but you so speak into your life who you know yourself to be.

 

How to Get Marital Peace When You’d Rather Be Anywhere But Home… (Read Time: 4 min.)

coule 6You run your show.  You bring home the bacon.  You’re the one wearing the pants… and the BOTH of you know it.  But, lately, things haven’t been easy.  There’s been tension in the air, things left unsaid, household responsibilities left undone, and outside of talking about bills, birthdays, and chores, there hasn’t been much to say… that won’t bite you in the butt later.

Can you relate to that scenario?

How you deal with marital stress will determine a great deal about how the rest of your marriage goes.  Stress is nothing new nor is it unique to the woman breadwinner but how it shows up in the marriage has a lot to do with who’s wearing the proverbial pants… and who is not.  Even though you signed up for this (and sometimes you didn’t), there may be parts of you wondering, “Why am I the one with all of this financial pressure?” or “Why can’t I take it easy, pursue my dreams, and have the lighter load?”  The moment you start feeling like this, guess what?  You’re in a particular phase of marriage that ALL married couples go through.  It’s called the devaluation stage.  Rather than give in to it and begin looking for the exit door, own up to it, get familiar with it, and find your way to a better place  WITH your spouse by your side.

The question becomes:

“How do I do that when I spend most of my time nagging my spouse to do things he KNOWS he’s supposed to be doing?”

Here are 3 simple steps to cultivating marital peace (esp. when it’s the last thing you feel like doing):

Step 1: Do a Spouse Appraisal.  Yup, appraise him.  Just like you would a house.  In other words, detach from the emotional upheaval that your dissatisfaction, nagging, and anxiety have caused, take a step back, pull out a pen and paper, and spend 3-7 days observing your spouse.  In your notebook, answer the following questions:

1) What did my spouse do today that pleased me?

2) What did my spouse do today that annoyed me?

3) How did my spouse help in our household today?

4) What did my spouse forget or not do today in our household that really needed to be done TODAY?

5) What did I love most about how he behaved today?

6) What bugged me most about how he behaved today?

At the end of each day’s observation, compare your responses and see if there’s more good than bad.  Ask yourself, “How did my mood, my day, and my thoughts impact how I evaluated my spouse?” and write down those answers as well.

Step 2: Comparison shop.  This is a fabulous notion discussed by Sharyn Wolf in her book, ” This Old Spouse.”  In other words, when you get fed up with your spouse, think seriously about the grass you think is greener on the other side.  Look at your friends’ marriages and your divorced friends’ dating lives and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Would I want to have THEIR marital problems in place of mine?
  2. Is that grass really greener… or is it turf?
  3. What lessons am I learning in this marriage that, if I don’t get here, I’ll simply take with me to the next relationship?
  4. Would I really be happier without my husband or am I making MY happiness his responsibility?  Is that fair?

Step 3: Identify your REAL needs and ask to have them met.

This is a two-part step.

Part 1: Identify your REAL needs.  When you’re nagging your spouse, what is it that you REALLY want?  Do you want to be heard?  Do you want to be seen?  Do you want your spouse to show his care and affection by jumping up in that minute and taking care of the laundry or the garbage or whatever else you’re asking him to do?  What is the emotion or the desire that you have underneath the discussion you seem to keep having?  Once you get clear on your needs, you’ll better communicate them to your spouse.

Part 2: Ask to have your needs met.  Not demand.  Not order.  Not control.  When you’re in a loving mood (keep in mind that loving is your natural state and you can get into that mood at any moment you choose; just watch a cute kitten video on You Tube and tell me if I’m wrong), sit down with your spouse, look him deeply in the eyes, caress his face, and lovingly ask for what you need WITHOUT expecting that he jump up in that second to prove his love by getting it done in that minute.  Ask, trust that it will get done, and move on to the next thing.  You’d be surprised how trust (of the self and your spouse) mixed with affection and love do the trick EVERY time.

Now I have a couple questions for you…

Knowing these 3 tips can save your peace of mind.  Taking action on these 3 steps TODAY  will change your life.

Having read this post, what steps will you take to get marital peace? 

Which of the 3 steps resonated with you most and what do you plan to do about what you’ve learned here?

Reveal what you plan to do in the comments below.  I’m always checking and commenting 🙂