Pockets of Peace

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Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. 

According to a recent Gallop poll, “In the United States, about 55 percent of adults said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day”, compared with just 35 percent globally”…this makes Americans among the most stressed people in the world. Not exactly the kind of thing we want to excel in. 

Your personal stress meter. 

One way to think about stress is in zones of red, yellow and green. Red, high stress, yellow on guard, and green calm. We likely move in and out of each zone several times a day. As you might guess, it’s good for our bodies and our minds to spend more time in the green zone, feeling calm.

Dr. Rick Hanson explains, “Green is the resting state, the home base, of the brain and body, characterized by activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, repair and refueling of bodily systems, and a peaceful, happy, and loving mind. In Green, we are usually benevolent toward ourselves, others, and the world.” So, more time in the green zone is good for us.

Sometimes we worry that it will take too much time and energy to address stress…another problem to solve…something else on our to-do list. 

Want to feel more green??? 

But here’s some good news, by building in small pockets of peace during the day, you can rest in a state of calm more frequently. Consider adding one or more of these short, easy strategies to create moments of peace each day.

  1. Focus on your breath. Inhale for several seconds then exhale slowly…(twice as long as your inhale), this actually helps your nervous system calm. You only need to do this for about a minute to bring your body back into the green zone.

  2. Pause before launching. Pause before you get out of bed, get out of the car, stand up from your desk, or walk into a meeting. Pause and take a deep, relaxing breath. Create the habit of taking a deep, relaxing breath each time you transition from one activity or place to the next.

  3. Be present…here & now. This is particularly helpful when you find yourself caught in the past or the future. Be in the present moment and remind yourself that everything is OK in this moment. It’s natural to re-hash and regret things you’ve said or done in the past…once you’ve done what you can to repair, there’s little else to do. Similarly, we don’t have much control over the future, and come to find out we’re not so good at predicting what will happen. So come back to now and notice your feet on the floor and the rhythm of your breath. 

BTW ongoing coaching may be a necessary piece of the puzzle to bridge the gap between knowing what to do when you feel stressed and actually regularly practicing what’s good for you. Please email me if you’d like to explore the infinite pathways to creating a more peaceful life.

Coming together and falling apart

Spring…falling apart.

Spring…falling apart.

Hello there,

I want to share with you a paragraph of deep wisdom from Pema Chodron. Pema is a Buddhist nun and teacher who's writing is approachable and very relevant. You needn't be a Buddhist to feel the truth of her message below.

Making Room
"Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." https://pemachodronfoundation.org


I am a fixer...from waaaay back and the idea that perhaps there is a rhythm of coming together and falling apart reminds me that not all brokenness needs to be fixed. But rather, there is a grace and peace in allowing what's happening to happen (it's going to anyway) and to notice that perhaps, the most important thing for me to do is to be with the brokenness, because brokenness is part of the whole beautiful cycle. 

Is there something in your life that seems to be falling apart? Reach out if you'd like support to make room for what needs to happen. 

Sending you love,
Nikki

Be your own expert

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Hello there!

I've been out of commission for several weeks and in my downtime I've noticed a couple of things:

  • Sometimes I see myself as a self-improvement project; and

  • Sometimes I outsource my power and wisdom. 

Advice on Facebook, magazine covers, TV, YouTube videos, from friends and colleagues rolls by. 

I read about what foods to eat, how to schedule time, what to wear, how to advance in a career, how to be in close relationships, on and on and on...

It seems my self-improvement tendencies can become a full time obsession. 

Sometimes I grasp. Grasp at the new and improved version of myself. And while changing my own behaviors in order to live a healthier, more spiritual and expansive life is cool...the notion that I need to FIX myself, and perhaps that FIX comes from someone else, doesn't feel enlivening or true.

What's it like for you? Do you feel different when you approach behavior change from a place of internal motivation and nudges...rather than look to an expert for correction?

Maybe it's helpful to recognize that we can be our own behavioral experts. Perhaps we don't need to outsource our wisdom or look to someone else for answers... AND, we've all had the positive experience of an objective partner who will offer new information, reflections and accountability.

So here's my 2-cents if you're considering behavior change: 

  • You can become the expert on how you best learn and integrate new knowledge.

  • You have your own wisdom and sometimes a coach can help you see it more easily.

  • One size does not fit all...we respond to support depending on our specific learning history and perspective.

  • Find a coach who does not position themselves as your savior or guru, but who walks along side and offers support when you ask.

Let me know what you think.

Behavior Basics, part 3.

Behavior Basics, part 3.

This part might feel tricky!

How to get back on track.
 

We know from the productivity field that one of the most powerful strategies for staying on track, or getting back on track, is outside accountability. Someone who will keep tabs on how it's going and be there to offer support when the going gets tough. 

You may have that amazing friend who is willing to stick with you and regularly check in on your progress...but that can get tiresome. So consider a professional, someone who's job it is to help you continue to move forward. It seems to me this is one of the life-changing benefits a coach offers you. For many of those I’ve supported over the years, outside accountability is the single BIGGEST thing that helps.

Think about how much easier it’s going to be to regain your focus when you know someone is paying attention to how you're doing and there to help you continue to move forward.  

How to keep going, long term.

Sustainability is another piece of the puzzle that most of us struggle with. One way to build sustainability is to create a practice of using your attention to appreciate yourself for taking steps toward what you're creating. Using your attention in this way will, over time, help you actually create a preference for this new behavior. Yep, it's true! Imagine a preference to let go of your clutter or preference to eat healthy.

This takes practice, but it’s absolutely possible! This area of Neuropsychology has a great deal to offer us in understanding how to sustain behavior change over time. I’ve helped clients focus on this over the past few years and see powerful and sustained changes in behavior...which is what we long for! 

Imagine, you can come to enjoy the very behaviors you’ve been badgering yourself for not doing. It's amazing...you can shift your preferences.

How will you feel when you finally
change behaviors that matter to you? 

Peace is what remains once you deal with the behaviors you’ve wanted to change for years. The confidence and knowledge that you created what you wanted to create, and can do it again, is…priceless.
Stay Tuned! 
Join me tomorrow when I will put a bow on the Behavior Basics series. 

I want to help you make changes and will open enrollment for a short-term, intensive coaching program at very doable prices to help you say YES to yourself.

I want to make it easy for you to change the behaviors that change your life

Behavior Basics, part 2.

As you learned in Behavior Basics, part 1, breaking big projects into small chunks and working in 25 minute sessions is a tested way to more easily work through big projects or seemingly difficult life changes.

The next piece of the puzzle for most of us is, where to actually begin. 

  • Where in this room should I start decluttering? 

  • Where do I start my journey to healthy eating?  

  • Where is an easy place to begin a habit of going to the gym?

  • Where to I start this job search?

The answer to all of these questions…start EASY….the best place to begin is where you WILL begin. Let that soak in. The best place to begin is where you will begin. 

Start with your sock drawer, look for healthy recipes, call two gyms to schedule tours, ask a friend to help you update your resume…small, easy steps.

If you still feel too overwhelmed to begin…look for an even easier place to begin…take a step back and wonder, “what’s the smallest, easy step I can take to actually move forward?”

Here's how this strategy has worked for me:

  • I began my PhD by getting clear on the application requirements.

  • I started to downsize from a big house to a small house by gathering cardboard boxes.

  • I started a meditation practice by attending my first group mediation class.

  • I started my own business by dumping my ideas onto poster paper.

These were the first steps that mades sense to me. I bet you have your own examples of times when you made a big change in your life by starting with a small step.  

Step after step moves us through amazing, life changing adventures. 

Behavior Basics, part 1.

If only I could….

How many times have we uttered this phrase?

If only I could ______, then I would ______.

But then….we get overwhelmed by the scope of what’s ahead, don’t know where to begin, worry we won’t stay on track or maintain the change.

Something about February has hit me hard and challenged me to reflect on bones of this business and my mission to help you find more peace and self-compassion. To support you to finally get unstuck.

Let’s look the Basics of Behavior Change so you can create what you want. Over the next few weeks I’ll touch on each of the basic truths about how to change your behavior whether you want to create new healthy habits, deal with the clutter in your home, find a job you love, or learn to speak French. 

The first basic, is to Chunk It

Chunking is a term we use in education. Thirty years years of working with adults to change their behaviors and support kids to do the same, taught me the power of chunking.

When you breakdown the bigger task or project into small, doable steps you can make change. Research tells us that 25 minute sessions are an effective way to deal with these small chunks. 

Whether it’s dealing with your physical clutter, getting your calendar under control or learning to play the guitar… the point is to stay engaged with the activity for 25 minutes at a time with short breaks between sessions. 

This changes the way we see a project…instead of an entire mountain we expect to climb in one big step, we see it's step after step...chunk after chunk.

Working in 25 minute sessions, with the focus on the next, small chunk makes behavior change soooo much easier. Loads of people I’ve worked with have found scheduling their work in 25 minute chunks to be a total game changer! The most common comments:
“When I see the project in small chunks instead of the whole thing, I can get started.”
“I can almost anything for 25 minutes at a time." 

Of course, one 25 minute session won’t likely complete your project, but multiple 25 minute sessions, over time, will. You will get the basement cleaned out. You will complete your taxes. You will feel the benefits of healthy eating.

It’s powerful to realize you can deal with whatever comes your way by breaking it down into small, doable chunks.

You can create the life you want, 25 minutes at a time.

Stay Tuned! 
The next basic of behavior change is figuring out where to actually begin your project...I will talk about this in my next video.

Sometimes we get attached to things.

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The lemons.

I have been carting these lemons around the house. When I go to bed, they sit on my nightstand. When I work in my office, they are near. When we eat a meal, the bowl is on the table. An amulet of sorts to ward off the cold, snowy winds. I picked these two lemons from a tree in Palm Springs last week, and I've become unreasonable attached to them. They remind me of the warm sun, playing in the pool with Sugar Bear and laughing with a dear, old friend. I get that these memories are in my mind, not the lemons. I know even when the bowl is empty, I'll still have the memories of our trip. But for now, I want the lemons nearby. 

Maybe you have a similar relationship with your grandfather's bowling trophies, a tea cup from your aunt or a dining room set from your parents. We look at these memory triggering possessions and feel attached to them, as though they carry the love and connections we miss. 

Just to say, it's okay to keep things that trigger sweet memories as long as you have room for them and they don't add stress to your life. Also note that having more items from your grandmother will not keep you more connected to her, a few lovely things, sitting out where you can appreciate them, will do the trick. 

Everything in your home should make your life a little better in some way. So, enjoy your things that prompt sweet feelings and let go of those that don't.

Create a new groove...in your brain


By using our attention we can support ourselves to create new habits and stick with them more reliably.

We can actually come to enjoy doing the things that are good for us in the long run. Because we enjoy the behavior, we don’t need to rely on inconsistent motivation...did I just hear a collective sigh of relief??

We can use our attention to re-train our brain, and basically, here's how: 

Step 1. Have the experience of what's good. Notice what you enjoy about your experience and you’ll actually retrain your brain to notice the good more frequently. It's not about rose colored glasses, it's about truly noticing what's already good.

Step 2. Enrich the feeling of the good experience. Stick with it, make the feeling even bigger, help it go deeper, help it linger. 

Step 3. Absorb the good feelings of the experience. Imagine you're a sponge. See if you can notice the goodness soaking in your body. Give yourself a little hug for making a choice that supports your higher good and future self. 

Sure, this takes practice and often some support, but I’ve worked through this with many clients and use it myself…I can easily say, it makes behavior change easier! 

Bonus...you just feel better when you're focusing on the good stuff that's true in your life. 

A snippet of Lea's story

When Lea and I began our coaching, she was interested in simplifying her life, letting go of the things in her home that no longer served her. She also wanted to create habits such as dealing with the mail, keeping her kitchen tidy and completing one task before moving to a new task. 

As she practiced noticing what was already goodenriching these feelings and absorbing them, it became easier for her to appreciate herself for the efforts she was making. Over time, the behaviors that felt so difficult in the beginning, became easier and even enjoyable

You can do this too. Reach out if you want to learn more about how.