Monthly Mindset


Shifting Gears to Create a Difference

In my last newsletter, I discussed the difference between dependability and responsibility.  I also touched on how our life experiences can affect our responses in the way we self-manage. One thing is obvious, a trauma in any form can interfere with our ability to respond in a more balanced manner. Our response or reaction to these experiences creates many ripple effects in all aspects of our lives. 

 Some response patterns can look like these:

  • Overachieving or over-committing
  • Co-dependency or people-pleasing
  • Being domineering or autocratic
  • Being  undependable or unreliable
  • Developing addictive behaviors
  • Being consistently inconsistent
  • Self-sabotage or procrastination

So what happens next? 

Once we have an idea of what types of patterns there are and how they are being used, we then get to decide if a change is something we’d like to embrace. Before change occurs, there must be a motivation to do something different.  Especially when we realize these behaviors no longer work for us.

  If we don’t question our actions, notice patterns we are currently exhibiting, and accept personal responsibility to create change, then by default we choose to do the same things.

Asking questions is the first step towards awareness.

  • Are there patterns of behaviors in my life that I’d like to change?
  • Am I reacting instead of responding to stressful situations in the same way? 
  • Is my lack of  willingness to change more valuable to me than taking action to change? 
  • What reward am I getting from my current behavior?  
  •  Am I willing to take steps to implement the changes I’d like?

 Taking steps for personal growth

By answering these questions honestly, we may gain more clarity about our behaviors. The next step is to identify when we exhibit the behaviors and then develop an action plan to implement a change.

 What action steps do you have in place to assist you with creating change?

For example:

 I became aware that I was engaging in a limiting behavior.  I realized I did this out of boredom, to procrastinate and avoid uncomfortable tasks. After I answered the questions about my behavior, I became aware that my procrastination really stemmed from self-doubt which undermined my confidence.

 Once I became aware I was undermining my future success, I became willing to completely stop participating in it. I no longer want to give it any more energy and I disliked the results of my participation.

My plan: Change direction. Turn away and disengage from the behavior altogether. State my goals and develop steps to achieve them on a daily basis.

My steps: Break down my larger goal into manageable tasks to avoid feelings of being overwhelmed. Have a task list for each day and a statement of my objective, not only of the goals I’d like to achieve but also the consequences of my actions if I don’t shift to something different…staying stuck in the same behavior.

As I implemented this change I noticed I became anxious and worried. I  felt fearful at different times of the day.  To deal with this, I created an affirmation and a breathing exercise to assist myself through the anxious feelings. 

Inhale and state,( “Insert an affirmation here) “.  Exhale. Repeat until I have shifted my feelings and thoughts to a more calm state. 

Then I ask a question. What tasks on my list haven’t I accomplished for the day? What action can I take to shift my thoughts to something else? 

As simplistic as it may seem, breathing in and using the affirmations is soothing to me and gives me something else to do besides feeling overwhelmed. I know that I can shift my feelings and thoughts. Although my emotions may give a different impression that I don’t feel safe. I am working through letting go of the behavior that was creating self-sabotage.

I am willing to breathe through the uncomfortable times. I am invested in creating change. I am even willing to have an accountability buddy if I notice that I am losing my determination and confidence to go through with my decision. My success at disengaging from this pattern is continuing to improve even in small increments, which is still an achievement. I am determined to continue until my behavior has changed because I already know what the results of my inaction will continue to be.

 I know that my life will be better once I have completely let go of this old pattern. The reward is that I stop avoiding my professional and personal goals and develop more self-confidence to go forward.

 Connecting to your breath with intention and affirmation is one of the ways to be more connected to the body. It is a great way to distract the mind from circular thinking. As a bonus, changing behaviors enhances brain pathways and brain health. Have patience with yourself as you go through these shifts, you didn’t create your old patterns in one day. Allow yourself to shift on a daily basis and breathe through the feelings. Remind yourself that you are changing for yourself!

Would you like assistance to shift your actions? Reach out and we can develop a plan for you! Creating changes can be rewarding! You get to reap the benefits!


Dependability and Responsibility

“ Ability is important in our quest for success, but dependability is critical” -Zig Ziglar 


 What is the difference between Depend-ability and Response-ability?

Dependability is defined as the quality of being able to be counted on or relied upon. As with many other life skills we initially learn in childhood, the quality of dependability was role-modeled by our caregivers. As children, we were highly dependent upon those caregivers for survival and the supply of our basic needs. We quickly learned about trust, reliability, and dependability, setting the stage for our future behaviors.

Regardless if we originally obtained quality life skills, such as dependability and responsibility, disturbing life events can change how we respond to situations and how we manage our responsibilities. Trauma-inducing situations that involve the loss of control, feelings of betrayal, abuse of power from authority figures, emotional or physical pain, confusion and/ loss of the familiar, whether people, places, or things, can and often do elicit post-trauma symptoms. 

Trauma, at any stage of life,  is a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms your ability to cope. It creates self-doubt, causes feelings of helplessness, and diminishes your sense of self.  It often diminishes your ability to feel a full range of emotions and reduces the capacity to trust new experiences and be self-reliant.

Traumatic situations that cause post-trauma symptoms are subjective and vary quite dramatically from person to person. These life events alter our experiences. They do not need to be at the global level of war or natural disaster, or on the individual scale of personal assault to affect profound changes. There is no formula to evaluate which events will cause post-trauma symptoms since it is so subjective. It is important to bear in mind that the initial trauma creates a resulting post-trauma behavior as a coping mechanism, often called a coping skill. Trauma interferes with our ability to respond to situations in a more balanced manner.

 These coping skills and mechanisms can be revealed in many ways.

 Some examples are:

  •  Overachieving or over-committing
  •  Co-dependency or people-pleasing
  • Being domineering or autocratic
  • Being  undependable or unreliable
  • Developing addictive behaviors
  • Being consistently inconsistent

While depend-ability is the ability to be depended upon for a response or action, response-ability is the ability to respond in a particular manner. These are often confused and used interchangeably.  Note, responsibility and dependability do not mean that you must take on all the tasks and commitments of others.  Regardless of how it may be misinterpreted or seen as socially acceptable, these are still coping mechanisms. And although these trauma responses are coping mechanisms, now redefined or relabeled as coping skills, they can create dysfunctional results. It does not mean it is a balanced response.  It is a learned or assumed behavior to cope with the initial trauma.

 Three steps toward change:

  • Awareness-There can not be a change without initial awareness. 
  • Acceptance-Acknowledging the requirement of change to create greater awareness
  • Action-For personal growth to happen action steps must be applied

Why is it important for us to be aware of our actions? 

Zig Ziglar noted that ability is just a portion of being successful.  Through observation and a willingness to create greater, change must happen. You must be willing to leap beyond all of your past limiting beliefs and behaviors to create greater. Unless there is an awareness of where patterns of coping mechanisms are being used then behaviors will stay the same.

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too”-Paulo Coehlo

Self Talk-What Are You Saying To Yourself?

“The emotions we feel, the events we experience, and our ability to interact with other humans are all controlled by language. If we want more control, and more agency in our lives we can start with a greater understanding of the potential power in what we say to ourselves and others.” Brendan McCaughey

   “The pen is mightier than the sword.” stated by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for the express purpose of encouraging the use of communication to create lasting change versus the use of violence. The complexity of language and the use of words yields immense energy and power.

We can choose to use the power of words constructively or destructively, to hurt, to harm, to heal, and to encourage. Our linguistic ability refers to the capacity to use the spoken word, our language development, whereas vocabulary refers to the body of words we use and comprehend to communicate effectively. With effective communication, we have several types of vocabularies-listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Our listening vocabulary refers to the words we know so we understand what we hear. Our speaking vocabulary consists of the words we use when we speak. Our reading and writing vocabularies are used to comprehend what we read and also refers to the words we use to communicate when we write. Interestingly, these types of vocabularies are not inclusive. We hear, read, and write many more words than we use in everyday conversations.  

Did you know we even have speech patterns? These patterns that are uniquely used by you, refer to the speed, tone, pronunciation, and grouping or sequencing of words or habits, to name a few. Have you noticed any patterns of speech you use when you get anxious or upset? Do you use words or a group of words, for example,  ‘um’, ‘ like’, or ‘ like, you know,’ in a sentence without even realizing it? 

 We often see the external effects of the use of words too. Just check out the news or social media and there are tons of examples. But what about our internal dialogue? Do you contemplate the power of the words you use to describe yourself or talk to yourself? Is it negative? Is it positive? Do you have sets of internal speech patterns and use specific vocabulary? 

 What is negative self-talk?  Any thought that diminishes your ability to make positive changes in your life or your confidence in yourself and the inner dialogue you have with yourself, that may be limiting your ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities to reach your potential, is called negative self-talk. We all often speak to ourselves in subtle or obvious negative ways, sometimes without recognizing we are doing it. It is also defined as your communication with yourself that is unkind, unhelpful, or untrue-the inner critic. In her book “Talk To Yourself Like A Buddist”, author Cynthia Kane discusses how negative self-talk is actually self-judgment which creates unkindness towards yourself. Using a Buddist perspective, she provides mindful ways to create compassion through observation and suggestions for changing your internal dialogue through self-awareness.

 She discusses how victims of abuse-emotional, mental and physical, often say they carry feelings of unworthiness and shame. As a result of their subjective feelings, the negative self-talk that develops out of these experiences can be very subtle, pervasive, and impact many areas of their lives. When you believe you aren’t enough or that you won’t have enough then negative self-talk is not far away.

 Here  are some categories with some examples of negative self-talk statements:

  • Overreaction: “Everything is terrible!”
  • Personalization: Why is this happening to me?!”
  • Absolute language: “I am a bad person.”
  • Assumption: “He/She thinks I’m not good enough!”
  • Expectation: “This is how it’s supposed to be!”
  • Comparison: “Why can’t I be like (    )?”
  • Regret: “If I hadn’t done that..  then… ” 
  • Shaming: I should be able to do(     )!  or I should have done(    )!      

 Did you know that listening to negative language can block the brain’s natural de-stress mechanisms? Having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations and reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. Would you consider saying to your loved ones what your inner critic says to you? Are you tired of listening to the negative thoughts? 

What can you do to change the voices in your head? Observing and listening to what your inner critic says and when it shows up is one of the first steps towards recognizing patterns. What type of language or statements does your inner critic use? Where does your negative self-talk manifest the most? Are there situations that cause your negative self-talk to increase?

You may want to journal or list these observations for further reflection. Documenting these statements for your review may be very insightful and surprising.

 Questioning and changing your inner critic and the negative self-talk. Once you have your list or journal information, you can then decide what approach works best to change your inner dialogue. Does your negative self-talk fit into any of the categories and look anything like the statements above? What forms does your negative self-talk look like? 

One option for creating change is taking each of the negative statements and rewriting it into a positive statement.  Begin repeating these positive statements or affirmations to yourself as soon as you notice your negative thought. Positive words strengthen the frontal lobe of the brain and promote cognitive function. Simply meaning that hearing and using positive words and using positive language can make you feel great-mentally, physically, and emotionally.

 Questioning the negative self-talk can be helpful as well. Use these questions on the information gained from your list or journal. What am I telling myself? What is the purpose of the negative self-talk here? Is there any evidence to support this thought? Is the thought factual or just my version and interpretation?

As you begin to question and observe your negative self-talk it takes you out of the repetitive behavior and can begin a shift in the frequency in which it occurs. It takes persistence and practice to change your thought patterns. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have a negative thought, however using these tools, means you will be able to recognize your patterns when you do. 

 Practicing positivity isn’t about disregarding the unfortunate nature of any situation, but instead acknowledging that you will find a way around it which increases your feelings of empowerment.

 Changing your negative self-talk may include some benefits such as:

  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Increased life span
  • Improved mental and physical well-being
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

You may consider simple changes to your everyday language too. For instance, replacing, “I have to d0(_)” instead say, “ I get to do(_).”  This simple change implies you get to have a choice in your decisions rather than being forced into ones, not of your choosing. Empowerment at its best is your ability to recognize you have a choice.

 A little effort and self-observation can create lasting positive changes in your inner dialogue. The real power lies in your words and how you use them. They are a confirmation to the world,  how you see others, your life, and yourself.