3 Techniques to Stop Negative Self-Talk Without Using Affirmations

How do you handle negative self-talk?

Do you notice when you’re being hard on yourself… and then judge yourself for not being able to stop your thoughts?

Or perhaps you try saying positive affirmations, hoping that they’ll help you feel better… but you often end up just feeling even worse about yourself.

We all have so much to offer and yet, because of self-doubt we often hesitate to share our true selves with the world.

So what CAN we do about our negative self-talk?

I have several techniques to help uproot negative thinking patterns, which I use on myself and with my coaching clients.

And none of them involve affirmations!

Continue reading

The Archer: A Zen Parable About the Most Critical Leadership Skill

After winning several archery contests, a rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer.

The champion demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split the arrow with his second shot.

“There,” he said to the Zen master, “see if you can match that!”

Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the champion to follow him up the mountain.

Curious about the master’s intentions, the champion followed him high up into the mountains until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy log.

Calmly stepping out into the middle of the perilous bridge, the master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit.

“Now it is your turn,” he said, as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless abyss, the champion could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at the target.

“You have much skill with your bow,” the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, “but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.” 

This little parable explains why I focus on helping leaders learn how to handle difficult situations better than I’ve ever been able to do so.

We all face countless challenges in the workplace every single day. People rub us the wrong way, workloads become overwhelming, stumbling blocks and delays test our patience… to name but a few.

The emotional brain records everything. When leaders handle difficult situations poorly, people remember and respond accordingly.

So let me ask you… when challenges arise in your workplace, how ready, willing, and able are you to calmly step into the middle of that perilous bridge and focus your mind so that you can make the shot?

This is the only way you’ll reach your goal of cultivating a high performing team with healthy interpersonal relationships… or whatever your particular end goal may be.

It takes discipline and practice to reach this level of self-mastery.

And that practice needs to happen when everything seems to be falling apart, not when things are easy.

So the next time that life at work goes haywire, ask yourself, “What is this situation providing me the opportunity to practice?”

And then practice that.

Because every fiber of my being believes that we all have a Zen master hidden within us… just waiting for the opportunity to emerge and light the way for others.

Self-care Is a Leadership Competency

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” – Lao Tzu

I’ve had many jobs over the course of my career. I was a family law lawyer, a human rights investigator, a workplace mediator… to name but a few of my wild and wonderful forays into the search for a meaningful career.

But being a coach is the one that I feel is the most personally rewarding… and accordingly the one that carries with it the most responsibility.

I have the privilege of getting to know people at a level that they don’t readily go to with others. My clients share their deepest hopes, their biggest fears, and their most painful insecurities with me.

Part of my job is helping people to feel safe enough to open up in this way so that we can work together on moving them forward. And this can’t be done unless I know what’s actually going on inside their heads… and their hearts.

Given the above, in most of my coaching engagements, the topic of self-care comes up periodically… because wrestling with your inner demons is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, it takes humility, and most of all, it takes self-compassion.

Knowing how to take care of yourself emotionally and physically as you embark upon this journey of inner excavation is critical to its ultimate success.

Self-care is an underdeveloped muscle (or competency if you will) for many of us. And some coachees discover along the way that it holds the key to every other leadership skill they want to work on. 

It’s also one of the topics that can be covered in the themed group coaching series that I run for organizations. As much as I love helping clients gain insight into the importance of self-care, I see even more value in having small groups of leaders talk through their strengths, opportunities for growth, and action steps together as they flex their coaching muscles with each other.

There’s something about creating a supportive leadership network that can’t be replaced by any one individual (in my humble opinion).

So the next time that’s you’re wondering whether you “should” make time to see your friends, block off a few hours to read a novel, or spend part of your morning at the gym (or doing yoga and wondering when everything started to hurt so much, like I was this morning), keep in mind that the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation… and that this can’t happen unless you take care of YOU.

If this topic or approach to coaching speaks to you, send me a message!

Much of my work as a coach and facilitator is done online, so location is never an issue. Individual coaching objectives and group coaching themes are developed through a collaborative process so that everyone is on board with what will be covered. (Other possible group coaching topics include how to bring out the best in employees, talent management, creating healthy team dynamics, having difficult conversations, leading through change, etc. The sky is literally the limit!)

I’d love to connect with you about how I can support you or your team so that more people can bring their best selves to work… every. single. day.