Separating Your Identity from Work

separating who you are from what you do

Separating who you are from what you do is the dream result of healing an unhealthy relationship with work. And for me, it was a lengthy and sometimes complicated journey to get here. In an effort of honesty and a practice in imperfection, I’m going to level with you here and say that I still struggle with untangling my identity from my job (even my job as a coach or writer) from who I am. If I’m being realistic I know that what I do to make money is a part of my identity – to me the important part is knowing that it is only a small part of who I am. My identity cannot rely on my career regardless of how much I enjoy it. 

After years of working on separating my identity from what I do I am proud to say that I know that I am whole, unique and amazing without it (I just also need money to live because capitalism really does run the world). My jobs enable me to live a life that fulfills me and I can live with that. So now I want to help you get there (if that’s where you want to go..if not I would suggest skipping this blog). 

Disclaimer – I did NOT go to med school 

Before we continue any further I want to remind you that I am not a mental health professional. I am a life and career coach. These tips, tricks and ideas are just what has worked for me and my clients. As always your life decisions are your own so take what resonates and leave what doesn’t! 

Work Life Boundaries 

Whether you are a remote worker or in the physical office, setting boundaries with when you start and end your day is extremely helpful. My mindset around work shifted when I realized that after a certain time it was ok to check out, walk away and leave the project for another day. Everything cannot be urgent and by building out boundaries around when I came in, left or stayed online, I began to find balance and a sense of calm in my work. 

One of the work life boundaries I set was that I did not start my day before 8am. Another was that I had to take lunch for at least 30 minutes everyday and WALK AWAY FROM MY DESK. A third was that I had to honor appointments with myself meaning that if I scheduled a workout, break or time off I took the time to do those.

Speaking of workouts I also encourage prioritizing movement as a way to signal to your body that its physical and mental wellbeing is more important than work. So many of us spend so much time sitting and our poor bodies pay the price. To help with that I will do 5-10 minute yoga flows as breaks throughout the day or after work. 

Another way to work on your work life boundaries is to find a hobby, interest or habit worth upholding your boundaries. This can be anything! A few ideas are an exercise class, painting, reading a book or playing video games. Anything that lets you focus on something other than your work. Having hobbies or habits that you enjoy is also a great way to turn off your mind when you think about work outside of work (more on that in the next section). 

Thinking About Work After Hours

If you are anything like me the suggestions above sound great but you cannot turn off your anxious mind outside of work. And if you are like me this may be something that you need to work with a medical professional on – it also may be something that you can find a coping mechanism for on your own (there are no rights and wrongs either way).

My first tip for getting your mind off work and into a relaxing evening is to find an activity or two that you do most days after work to signal to yourself  “no more thinking about work”. For me that looks like closing my laptop, taking my dog out and then doing another non-work related task. For you that might be yoga, screaming off your patio at passing children, showering or taking a nap. I’m not here to judge you and I’m asking you not to judge yourself. The only goal here is to find something that works for you.

My Brain Won’t Shut Up 

Now this habit will build over time but in the interim and on the busy days the work thoughts will still sneak into your brain. Here is what I do to deal with them. 

  1. I notice the thought, I try not to judge it and I say “thanks for being here but you have to go and you don’t get to waste my time” 
  2. I tell myself something to counter the thought like “I trust myself to have done that task correctly and I trust myself to fix it tomorrow if I have not” 
  3. If the thought is persistent I distract myself by tapping into one of my hobbies. I like to use something that makes me use my mind and body so a video game, yoga or a HIIT workout.  

I did this consistently until I got it to stick. It’s a practice of patience, resilience and self-trust. If the thoughts would not go away and it was ruining my evening, sometimes I would just do something about it (if that was an option). If that was not there my back-up plan was to interrogate the thought with some perspective. “Who does this affect?” or “Is this worth worrying about or is worry a work related habit of mine?”. 

A Self-Trust Exercise 

My favorite byproduct of separating my worth from my work was building my self-trust and confidence. By practicing self-trust, knowing that I could handle anything that came up and learning to quiet my inner critic I began to see myself as so much more than my job. And this revelation made my occasional work mistakes less catastrophic for my mental wellbeing. 

As always, I’m here to support! If you want help separating who you are from what you do I’m here to help! You can find a few ways to work with me here. 

How I Embody Go with the Flow

go with the flow river scene

Lately, my energy has been all over the place so my new motto has been to “go with the flow”. This phrase isn’t new or revolutionary but it’s been exceedingly helpful for me. And before you scroll away wondering if I have lost my marbles (which I have) let me explain! 

By going with the flow I have been learning to accept that I have high energy days and low energy days and a lot of days where I slide between the two. This revelation means two things for me. One is that I can simply let myself be where I am for the day and move from that place to get things done. And the second is that my energy will always come back eventually. 

Working Through the Lows (Sometimes)

But Emily, you may ask, how can you be productive on low energy days? To be honest some days I do and some days I don’t. If I can, I let myself rest. If I cannot, I tap into a few of my favorite productivity hacks (like batching, setting a timer, playing soundscape playlists, trying to find a low energy state of flow) and make it happen. 

More often than not the task can wait. So I rest. I allow myself to do something that fills me up a little like water coloring, journaling, laying on the couch and talking to my dog or screaming into the void. There are no rights and wrongs in this – being tired is morally neutral. And from this place of rest I can remind myself that the energy will always come back. 

Energy Always Flows Back In 

Whether I have a low energy day, afternoon, week or month I like to remind myself to go with the flow – the energy will always flow back in. Sometimes it takes longer than I would like and sometimes I wish it would stay longer but it always comes back. 

I also apply go with the flow when the energy comes rushing back in. I try to ride the new energetic waves instead of rushing through everything on my to do list. Everything doesn’t have to be accomplished on this single wave of energy. 

Do You Go with the Flow?

So if you are tired, please find rest if you can. And if you can’t find rest, maybe try accepting that tiredness is morally neutral. You will do the best with the energy you have and energy will always come back eventually. 

**This blog is not intended to replace mental or physical health care. Please work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health.

Interview Red Flags Pt 2

interview prep

As a career coach I spend a lot of time talking about interviews. As someone who worked in HR I’ve had the privilege and burden of being on both sides of the table when it comes to these horrendously imbalanced conversations. Interviews are awkward, terrifying, annoying and can feel like a wedge driven between you and the job you know you can do. It’s a chance to sell yourself but it’s also not a sales pitch which makes this already annoying conversation style even more nerve wracking. Understanding and helping people navigate this nuance is a big part of what I do as a career coach and it’s why I take every interview offered to me to practice my skills (which makes me an even better coach). 

Throughout the interview process I’ve run across some major interview red flags that I warn my clients about. I’ve already posted a blog post on a few of these. This post is a continuation on my post from last week about interview red flags that have stood out during my countless conversations. Remember this is all from my personal and professional experience so it may or may not resonate with you. Take the tips that apply to you and ignore the ones that don’t.

So without further ado let’s chat through some additional interview red flags! 

24/7 Availability 

One of the most egregious abuses of employer power is asking employees to be available 24/7. This includes expectations to respond to emails immediately regardless of time, time zone or job duties. While this issue isn’t unique to any specific industry I tend to notice it more with start-up tech companies. If a role needs you to always be available it probably isn’t worth it. And if it is an hourly role – run! 

Bait & Switch 

A bait and switch is when you apply for a specific job but when you show up for the interview the job described no longer matches the posting. This can range from minor changes like a schedule shift to unexplained changes in expected pay or benefits. An example of this would be if a role is listed with an exaggerated commission rate. With the rise in remote work I often see job postings that look legitimate but upon further examination are actually recruitment posts for MLMs (and if you need a reason to avoid them check out this blog post). 

Not Selling You on the Job 

My final red flag for you today is when an interviewer doesn’t try to sell you on the job. This is when a job is pitched as busy, stressful, overwhelming or any other adjective that doesn’t make you want to take the job (or continue the interview). This is a red flag because it can mean: 

  1. The hiring manager or interviewer is not engaged or does not care 
  2. The team is so overworked they didn’t prep for the conversation (and you want healthy work life balance) 
  3. They’ve already decided who they want to fill the role with and are waiting on a response from them/completing scheduled interviews with no intent to hire
  4. They really don’t like or understand the role or company 
  5. Or they are just a bad interviewer…

Regardless it is probably best to avoid that role unless it is your dream role. 

In conclusion I want to remind you that you have the power to reject bad job offers, you can end an interview if you feel uncomfortable and you do not have to accept a job just because it is offered to you. It’s cliche but you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. And if you need a mini pre-interview confidence boost, remember that you are selling them your skills, experience and time and they would be lucky to have you. Want to chat about your next interview 1:1? Check out my career coaching options

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices. 

Red Flags in Interviews

interviews

As someone who helps people prepare for interviews, I participate in a lot of interviews. This sounds a little crazy but I take every opportunity offered to me to practice and hone my skills. I quite literally take one for the team on this but I know it makes me a better and more effective coach for my career coaching clients. 

Due to my exposure to interviews from my time in HR and my self-inflicted torture, I have wound up with a lengthy list of interview red flags or warning signs. Today I want to share with you some of the job posting/interview red flags I’ve come across as well as some of my favorite questions to ask in an interview. 

Before you begin, remember these are MY red flags – use your own discernment to see if these apply to you and your life or career goals. 

Work Hard Play Hard or Hustle & Grind

If I see either of those phrases in a job posting it sets off immediate alarm bells. The former is a warning that you will have no work life balance and get invited to too many happy hours after working too long of days. The latter is a warning that you will be held to unrealistic standards of productivity. I personally do not support either of those. 

Working hard is ok but working without boundaries, balance or breaks is a one way ticket to burnout. 

Acting Weird about Pay and Benefits Questions 

Pay is a SUPER important topic and it should not be taboo. Unfortunately money can be a really uncomfortable subject and as the candidate you are often put in the vulnerable position of having to state a number first. While companies are getting better about (or being required to) posting salary information it’s not always immediately available when you apply. When I bring up salary and the company gets cagey or lowballs me I take that as a major red flag that I would not be getting fair or competitive pay in the role. 

Another big red flag is if they don’t have a handle on explaining their benefits package (US specific due to our lack of universal healthcare). 

Politician Answers – Not Answering Your Questions or Refusing to Acknowledge Negatives 

One of my favorite questions to ask in an interview is “What is a really good day like in this role and what is a really bad day like in this role?” Occasionally I receive responses to these questions that twist the negatives of the role into a positive. When that happens I assume the team has a toxic positivity problem that they are not acknowledging. I personally take that as a major red flag. Working on a team that can acknowledge struggles and support each other on bad days is important to me. 

And as a bonus here are a couple questions I like to ask in interviews

  1. What is a good day like in this role? What is a bad day like in this role? 
  2. Is this role staying remote? If not, is it possible to make it remote or flex? 
  3. How do you handle mistakes as a team and as a manager? 

One Final Interview Reminder

As a reminder you are allowed to set boundaries around interviews- they can take a lot of energy to power through. Interviews are awkward, they can be uncomfortable and you absolutely have the power to end the conversation the moment you feel uneasy. If you want help preparing for an interview, building your career confidence, setting work life balance boundaries or setting goals please reach out! I’m happy to help you through a coaching session.

Leave me a comment if you want to see more of my interview red flags! 

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices. 

No Thank You

no thank you

Things are beginning to re-open, mask mandates are being lifted, families are planning reunions and here is your reminder that you are allowed to say “No Thank You” to things you don’t want to do. 

No thank you is a complete sentence. It is a conversation ender, a reminder to others that you have boundaries, and it is one of my favorite phrases. No thank you is not rude, it is not offensive and if uttered appropriately it is the queen of boundary setting! 

As you can tell, I love the word no. It empowers me. I love it so much I’ve already shared a blog about it! But even with my obvious adoration for the phrase here is a reminder that we were not always this close. My friend no did not always live in my boundary setting toolkit. In pre-covid times I used it sparingly due to a fear of being perceived as rude. A major fear of setting boundaries put me in a place where I would overextend myself often. I consistently poured from an empty cup.

Over the course of the last couple years I began to crack under the strain of consistent burnout from my inability to say no. I had to learn to say no and stay firm in the boundaries. It was not an easy journey. So now I want to remind you that you too can decline invitations that make you uncomfortable.

A Post 2020 You Might Want to Say No Thank You More!

Shelter in place and 18 months of consistent quarantine has made me very selective about how I spend my time. I no longer pour from an empty cup, opting for saving my energy for projects, people and clients that I am passionate about. A key part of this change has been getting really comfortable with saying “No Thanks!” to many things that no longer align with me. I’ve let friendships that did not align naturally grow distant, I reject projects that don’t align with my business and I do not offer to work with clients who don’t mesh with me.

After spending this much time focusing on growing myself and my business has built my confidence in boundary setting and being able to confidently and politely say “No Thank You” is crucial for my energy preservations. Setting boundaries like these has made me feel more fulfilled with my work and less stressed by my day to day life. 

As the world reopens and people go from extreme isolation to large group gatherings it’s ok to feel uncomfortable. Needing time to process the last 18 months does not make you a bad person. Being hesitant of group gatherings does not mean you are “living in fear”. Setting boundaries and refusing to attend group gatherings does not make you anti-social. Remember to take your time coming out of your home, be patient with yourself while you re-adjust to in person socializing. Remember that you have the power to say “No Thank You” to things you don’t want to do! 

Need someone to chat it out with? Life & Career Coaching sessions are available here!

How To Build Your Self-Trust Fund

self-trust

How’s the balance on your self-trust fund looking? Mines robust but it didn’t always look like this. It took me YEARS to learn how to build my self-trust fund. And now that I think I know what I’m doing I’m ready to share a few of my self trust tidbits with you! 

Self-Trust Defined

Harnessing and tapping into our self-trust is powerful but before we can use it we need to understand it. Self-trust is knowing that you can take care of yourself and your safety. Having self-trust in a scenario means that you trust yourself to get through it. 

This article on self-trust defines it as “the firm reliance on the integrity of yourself”

I like to think of it as having your own back.

Self-trust does not mean that you know exactly how things are going to play out or how to do things perfectly but you trust yourself to do the best you can in any given scenario. 

The Benefits of Self-Trust

When we move from a place of self-trust we move with confidence, independence, authority, clarity and in my experience self-love. 

Self-love and self-trust go hand in hand. I’ve discovered that trusting myself is an act of self-love. Making decisions confidently and with the faith that regardless of the outcome I will figure it out has been a major declaration of self-love to myself. 

Self-trust allows us to take aligned action towards our goals and helps our ego survive any mistakes we make. 

How I’m Building Self-Trust 

Failure 

My number one act of self-trust is letting myself fail. Last week we talked about mindset myths and one of those myths was that failure is bad.

FAILURE IS NOT BAD. Failure does not make you a bad person. 

Failure happens, mistakes get made, and in the moment it can feel like sh*t. What we do with that failure is what matters. If we can recognize failure when it pops up, see it as a sign to pivot and not associate with feeling bad about ourselves we can adapt, adjust and rebuild. That adaptability is what self development is all about. 

So trust yourself to try and trust yourself to fail. I’ve learned more from my failures than my successes. 

Commit 

Another way I build my self-trust is by committing to my decisions. 

This does not mean that I dig in when I am wrong or stay stuck in one spot because I’m committed to a path. What it does mean is that I follow through with the decisions and promises I make to myself. 

I practice self-trust by making a decision and trusting myself to make the right one. When I first started doing this I was CONSUMED by moments of doubt and I let my “What If” Monster run rampant. After every decision and during every moment of doubt I have to remind myself “I made this choice and I trust myself to have made the right choice for this scenario”. 

This will take practice!! The first big decision I made with this process was starting my coaching business. It took MONTHS of me telling myself that I made the right decision and to trust myself before it stuck. 

Now I’m nowhere near perfect on this but the more I do it the easier it gets. 

My suggestion would be to start small (unless you want to commit like I did and go all in). Make a choice, stick to it and every time you experience doubt tell yourself that you trust yourself to do it right the first time. 

Limit the Influence of the Opinions of Others

Past Emily would ask approximately 3-5 people their opinion before making a decision. I used to make Brenton review EVERY SINGLE INSTAGRAM POST I POSTED. I did not trust myself to share my message correctly. 

Now I just jump into things and ask for feedback as I’m innovating. 

In my experience the best way to do this is to take action when you have an idea and just do it. Get comfortable with following internal pulls without asking for the opinion of someone else. This involved being comfortable with f*cking up, being ok with making mistakes and trusting yourself to make the right move. 

Is it easy? Not in my opinion. But looking back at how far I’ve come with my self-trust I am so grateful for the uncomfortable moments that pushed me here. 

Check In! 

Finally, to wrap it up let’s do a little self-trust check in! 

Ready? Ask yourself the following: 

  • Do I trust myself?
  • Are there aspects of my life that I do/don’t trust myself in?
  • How do I show myself that I trust my decisions?

Want to take it to the next level? Sign up for a free coaching discovery call – let’s build your confidence, self-trust and get you aligned with your goals. 

**I am a Certified Life Coach via Universal Coaching Institute and a Professional in Human Resources via HRCI. I am not a therapist or medical professional. Please work with a medical professional when it comes to your physical or mental health. 

Being Extraordinary is Overrated

extraordinary self love

Being extraordinary is overrated.

Let’s chat about it!

You don’t have to be extraordinary – you are enough. As a recovering perfectionist and high achiever I used to spend inordinate amounts of time aiming for the unachievable seductress – perfection. By telling myself that I had to excel at EVERYTHING I did, I wasted a lot of time worrying about being enough. But it was exhausting and eventually I had to learn to embrace myself – all of my faults, quirks, habits and dreams.

What If Monster

Learning to embrace myself has been a dance with fear and shame. What if I embrace myself and become complacent? What if I stop excelling the moment I start loving myself? If I embrace myself will I waste my life by being “mediocre” or “basic”? I put an inordinate amount of negative labels on the outcome of accepting myself as is. In true irony the outcome of embracing myself has been bigger goals, trusting myself to rest, my energy and an increase in my general happiness. Getting to know my what if monster and trusting myself to manage my fear and shame is what got me here – to this blog – writing to all of you. By embracing myself I was able to not only post work on my own website but also submit to other online magazines. When I stopped holding myself back the writing opportunities trickled in. 

From this first act of bravery and self love I was able to start a business during a pandemic. I’m chasing my dream of self employment because of my ability to accept myself exactly as I am, while simultaneously reaching for new milestones. In summary, none of my fears came true – but I almost didn’t even try because I didn’t think I was enough. 

This is where it gets messy and human. I had to stop asking myself to be an extraordinary person. Loving ourselves is not something that only extraordinary people do. We are all enough. Regular people do extraordinary things. Doing extraordinary things does not require us to be perfect – it requires courage. 

I’m Late to the Brene Brown Party 

As I started coming to this conclusion I stumbled upon Brene Brown (queen of courage and shame conversations). I recently listened to this conversation she had with Tim Ferriss.

During the chat Brene asked Tim where the line between being our best selves (as high achievers) and embracing where we are is. Being the nerd I am I paused the video and answered this for myself. (You should watch the video to see their responses – they are illuminating).

I don’t believe there is a line between pushing ourselves to be our best selves and embracing where we are. I came to the conclusion that for me embracing where we are is an approach. When I set myself goals I view exactly where I am at the time, I identify where I want to go and then I try to set myself little milestone markers in the middle so I can celebrate all the little steps. Embracing where I am right now means that I am worthy of doing the work for this change. I am worthy of however long it takes to get there. Allowing myself to set goals outside of where I am right now means that I know I am worthy of growth. When we approach our goals with a realistic outlook and kindness we are able to enjoy the journey and grow when we inevitably f*ck up. 

None of Us are Extraordinary

This also means that none of us are extraordinary. We often have to work hard for what we want to achieve. A lot of us will struggle our way to our goals – step by step. Allowing ourselves the time and space to grow, fail, f*ck up, and try again is crucial. It is both an act of self acceptance and a driver to grow. Yet so many of us expect ourselves to be extraordinary. 

Think about it; right now we are in a pandemic and so many of us have more free time on our hands than before. Some people have used this time to write books – a majority of us have not. Quite a few people have struggled with this extra time because WE ARE IN A PANDEMIC. Are you unfairly comparing yourself to people who have utilized this time in a different way than you? If you are, is that helping you in any way or does it just make you feel like you aren’t enough? For me, comparison is the thief of joy. I’m not expecting myself to respond to the pandemic in some extraordinary way and that has made a major difference on my mental health. 

Applying the Magic of Normal

After coming to this magical conclusion for myself I began applying this approach to my current goals. My biggest goal right now is getting my brand new baby coaching business up and running to full capacity. Is that possible? Sure. Is it a struggle? Also sure! Do I have to be extraordinary to do it? No! I can be messy, human and vulnerable and still get to my goals (in fact – I think those three qualities are crucial to my success). 

Instead of forcing myself to be extraordinary I’m asking myself to find the everyday magical moments that make this journey worth the work. I’m learning to celebrate the normal. I’ve given myself permission to struggle, to try new things and fail, or to say “this is really f*cking hard some days”. 

I’ve stopped expecting myself to be extraordinary and I ask you to do the same! You are capable of remarkable things. You get to love yourself right now exactly where you are. Permission is granted to say “this is really f*cking hard”. And if you want a little 1:1 time to talk about embracing our normal to be successful visit here to sign up for a discovery call. 

F*ck extraordinary. 

** please do not use this post to replace mental or physical health care from a physician. Always work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health. 

My Monkey Mind Has Taken Over

school faceless student tired

My monkey mind has taken over my life! Here’s how to identify it and how to stop it. 

Heard or experienced any of these lately? COVID brain, self-diagnosed ADHD, auto-pilot, zoning out, scattered thoughts. These responses, spacey moments or knee jerk reactions are stress responses. They are what happens when our survival instinct kicks in and our monkey mind takes control. 

Monkey Mind Defined 

Human brains are composed of three sections. They are our lizard brain, our monkey brain and our human brain.

Our lizard brains control the basic instincts, our monkey brain controls our tissue and complex things like emotions and our human brain which allows us to remove emotions from our thoughts and to think things through or practice mindfulness. This article here goes a bit more in depth if you want to dig in (it’s absolutely fascinating)! 

Our monkey mind is the part of our brain that runs the inner monologue, the part that runs wild during meditation, and it’s tied to your ego and inner critic. Monkey mind tells you that you will never be good enough, you have too much on your plate, that you need to rush rush rush and go go go. It’s important to learn how to control and quiet our monkey mind if we want to be fully present in our lives. 

Before we dig into controlling our monkey mind I want to share that our monkey and lizard brains serve a major purpose! Since our human brain is designed to analyze situations and reactions when we encounter danger or trigger our fight or flight response we rely heavily on our lizard and monkey brains to get us to safety. 

How to Spot Your Monkey Mind 

A major problem with our well working monkey mind is that when we are overwhelmed, stressed or in an extended state of being busy we default to it. Monkey mind becomes prominent when we multitask causing us to go into auto-pilot and make decisions without thinking them through. 

For example, let’s say you are stressed to the max working on a deadline, you aren’t super thrilled with your job to begin with, you’re working from home in a small apartment and your significant other comes in to ask you a question while you’re in the middle of a sentence. You are stressed, overwhelmed, grumpy and a little frustrated with the overwhelming emotions so you may respond with a default answer because you weren’t listening or snap at them for interrupting you. This is your monkey mind and it is a warning sign that you need to stop, take a break and close some of the tabs in your brain to reduce your stress levels. 

I’m anti-multitasking on important things because it is impossible for your brain to truly focus on two things at once but I double down on this stance when it comes to the truly important things like human relationships. Make time to clear your mind. 

How to Control Your Monkey Mind 

So great, you know your monkey mind is running the ship – you are on auto-pilot, not paying attention to where the car is going – now what? Here are a few ideas for you! 

Stop, take a break, take a few deep breaths and get present in your body. If you have a meditation practice try doing a mini meditation – even just a minute of meditation can help calm my monkey mind when it’s in overdrive. 

Move your body! Get up and move, go on a walk, walk around your apartment or yard, dance for a minute or just shake your arms and legs out. Moving your body helps calm down your monkey mind and helps you get present in your body. 

Write! Get the thoughts out of your brain and on paper. I find journaling SO helpful when my brain is in chaos mode. If my brain is so full of thoughts that I can’t decide what to write I’ll throw a gratitude list together and see where that takes me. Sometimes I need to exercise my thoughts, regardless of how true they are, on paper similar to moving my body. 

Do less and reduce how busy you are! I know, this is the hard one! If you have the privilege and capacity to work smarter not harder – do it. Reduce the extra work in your life, limit the emotional labor you do for free, protect your energy and take the extra time to fill your own cup with self-care (the real kind not the marketing face mask kind). 

Remember: Being Busy Is Not Cool! 

Hope this helps! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about your monkey mind and I hope this encourages you to rest your brain and your body. 

Need help making a plan to work smarter and not harder? Sign up for a FREE coaching consultation so we can look at your schedule together! 

Want to find a job that lets you work less and enjoy your life more? Sign up for a FREE coaching consultation so we can find your dream job. 

No idea where to start? Overwhelmed? Need help calming that monkey mind? Sign up for a FREE coaching consultation or check out my Etsy for my self-paced programs. 

Sending you all lot’s of love and rest! 

**This blog is not meant to replace mental or physical health advice from your physician. Please work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health.

Authenticity, Protecting your Energy & Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity is the most powerful weapon against authenticity. Don’t believe me? Let me explain. 

Before we start here’s little background on toxic positivity

I love love. I love play, excitement, joy, fun! But it is wildly ignorant to believe that everything will always be rainbow and sunshine! I preach that our mindset matters and having a generally positive outlook is helpful for our mental state BUT we can go overboard in the positivity department. This is when positivity becomes toxic. 

Toxic positivity is the overgeneralization that we should be positive and optimistic ALWAYS. It stems from an unwillingness to acknowledge or experience negative emotions. Toxic positivity can feel fake at best and can force participants to repress their negative feelings at worst. 

Youtube Breakdown of Bossbabe culture!

What’s so bad about ignoring our negative emotions? Any emotion we ignore, bury or try to hide is just a bubble of trauma waiting to be burst. If we do not FEEL and ACKNOWLEDGE our emotions they maintain power over us and slip into our subconscious. They start impacting how we make decisions with or without our knowledge. 

In other words, toxic positivity is being SO optimistic we refuse to acknowledge who or what we are. It buries our authenticity and convinces us that we shouldn’t feel negative emotions (and we all know how I feel about shoulding”). 

Toxic positivity is not just “look at the positives” it’s saying to actively ignore and avoid the negatives. 

Toxic Positivity in the Wild

So now that we have our definition let’s jump into how it is used against us (usually against women or femme members of society). 

I’m going to use the phrase positive vibes to explain this. Let’s say I have a neon sign that says “positive vibes only” in my living room. Cute, right? 

Sure, BUT what if you, my bff, come over and need to complain. You really need to let out all the big sad feelings you are having because your husband left you, he stole your favorite cat, he wants custody of your aquarium that you bought and paid for and he was cheating on you with an employee at the pet store. Rough right? 

We sit down on the couch with the sign hanging on the wall behind me. As you tell me all about the AWFUL things that are happening to you, I sit there, with my glaring sign behind me and tell you “everything happens for a reason” or “you don’t want to be with a man like that anyway”. By saying this I begin subtly (or not so subtly) SHAMING you into positivity when you really need to feel all your feels instead. 

That neon sign behind me begins making you feel ashamed for bringing “negative” vibes into the space. It invalidates your feelings and makes the statement that you shouldn’t be feeling or sharing these negative experiences. Toxic positivity tells you that it is shameful to not be positive, to feel bad for yourself, to have emotions. Because of this, toxic positivity forces us to stay stuck where we are. 

Two Reasons Toxic Positivity Causes Stagnation 

  1. It causes us to repress how we feel and hide parts of ourselves to keep the peace. When we ignore our humanness we prevent ourselves from processing the pain. We would rather stay exactly where we are than deal with the emotion due to the fear that it may not be a positive experience. 
  1. When we pretend everything is ok (or convince ourselves that everything is perfect) we can’t see where we need to grow. Toxic positivity glosses over all the places we can grow. It smooths out any blemishes, it prevents us from seeing things as they are and if we can’t identify the issues we can’t fix them. 

Toxic positivity creates inauthentic and fake happiness. It tells us that just being in this moment means that we should (you know how I feel about should) be happy. Asking people to use perspective before they have had a chance to process their emotions marginalizes their experience and dehumanizes them. By forcing people to repress their emotions we are telling them that their baseline emotional level is “too much” or “inappropriate” under the guise of making other people comfortable. You should never make yourself less to make others comfortable (but you should respect their boundaries). 

Toxic Positivity in #Bossbabe Culture 

As I mentioned earlier, toxic positivity is usually used against women. The power of positive thinking is a marketing tool used by MLMs to convince women to invest in their programs. MLMs or “multi-level marketing” schemes are organizations that operate by recruiting salespeople who are not employees of the company. In most instances these sales people are then asked to recruit other sales people to make more money. Women are fed the line that they will “be a boss babe”, “own their own business” or #workhardplayhard to fuel their success. 

Who doesn’t want someone to give them the blueprints to success! It all sounds fun until you run out of friends and family to recruit from. All you have to do is plug in your network and build like the inspirational woman in the video they showed you with the sad sob story. When you no longer have the ability to add anyone else to your team because you’ve tapped your network dry, your dreams of being a #bossbabe begin to feel like failure.

In a lot of these organizations the person who recruited you is making money off your success SO they will feed you lies of toxic positivity or shame you into believing that you aren’t working hard enough. According to your bossbabe boss you are not allowed to fail or failure is not an option. Unfortunately for your bossbabe mentor, you can (and probably will at some point or another) fail.

A major issue with this failure is the financial burden it causes on the women who are duped into participating. These organizations do not just prey on suburban middle class women – they don’t care who they make money off of as long as they can get them to pay for their products. They do this by telling rags to riches stories to “empower” the women involved. But they don’t disclose the failure rates of women who join.

The Power of Positive Thinking

I think MLMs are totally fine if you have disposable income and want to try to make money but I do not believe they are the environment that can pull you out of poverty – and they are willing to take anyone’s money regardless of the odds of success. So, if you are spending your last pennies on a product that you then have to encourage others to buy before you can make money you are probably making a poor financial investment. It’s not IMPOSSIBLE to succeed from this position but it is harder. 

This power of positive thinking makes you believe you are the anomaly instead of normal. It will shame you into believing that you have to be willing to do “whatever it takes” to succeed. It’s bullshit- positive thinking isn’t the only piece that leads to success – and we need to throw toxic positivity away. 

Conclusion

Please don’t take this as an anti-positivity post – I love having a sunny disposition when it’s authentic! I truly believe that there is power in positive thinking – but there is just as much value in honoring your emotions, listening to your own intuition and rejecting inauthentic positivity. Please remember when you feel anything other than positive – that’s ok, normal and important as well! 

*I am not a doctor or therapist. 

Media Consumption Boundaries

I am in a vicious game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (media consumption wise). I’m in desperate need of some media boundaries and conscious consumption. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Our Social Distancing Summer is making it easier than ever to sit behind our screens and consume the never ending marbles of information. Between Twitter trends, Instagram stories, Facebook arguments with racist relatives and the never ending, never sleeping news cycle this consumption is EXHAUSTING. 

I feel myself believing that I can’t stop eating the marbles. I can’t stop consuming.

Why? 

Because if I stop consuming I fall behind. I will no longer know what is going on. I may even be disconnected. 

On the occasions I do disconnect, I feel guilty because it’s a privilege to be able to forget for a little while. 

Obviously, this is unsustainable. So how do we stop eating all the marbles without falling behind with the news? 

Boundaries and Conscious Consumption

Boundaries 

Boundaries are a hot topic in the self help world. Every self help blog, book or Ted Talk I’ve consumed has mentioned them. Unfortunately, we hear a lot about them but we usually don’t get a full picture on them. Let’s break them down together before we move on. 

Boundaries, by definition, are limits we set based on how we want to interact with people or things. Setting healthy boundaries allows us to protect ourselves from the energy other people or things may require from us. They can be time limits, physical limits, emotional space, or mental limits. 

The important thing with boundaries is to remember that we set them to take care of ourselves NOT to burden ourselves with “shoulds” or pointless rules. 

My new and improved media consumption boundaries are: 

  • Screen time limit of 5 hours in a day on my phone (this includes Facetime because that is still phone screen time) 
  • 1 hour of each social media app per day 
  • 1 hour of additional news consumption 
  • No engaging or sharing content that includes violence against BIPOC or minorities

These limits are what work for me but remember to customize your boundaries to you! If you live alone maybe up that screen time option so you have more time to Facetime friends and family. Or maybe you’re really good about not being on your phone but you watch CNN 24/7 and you need to limit the number of news broadcasts you watch. Whatever works for you! 

*Reminder: Do not quit your boundaries just because you make a mistake or consume more media than intended. Some days I only use 3 hours of screen time, other days I use 6, either way I just try again the next day. 

Conscious Consumption 

Now that I have my boundaries in place I can prioritize conscious consumption. To do this I *try* to remember to ask myself the following questions: 

  • Is this serving me in any way? (Ways include but not limited to: joy, knowledge or entertainment) 
  • How is this media making me feel about myself?
  • If I were to have missed this media would I be uneducated on current events?
  • Is there more to learn on this subject or am I obsessively consuming content trying to make sense of something I have no control over? 

The list goes on and on but the sentiments are the same. I want to make sure I’m consuming things that are either essential or helpful to my mental or physical well being. If consuming certain pieces of media make me feel like shit (looking at you diet culture) and they are not essential or useful knowledge for me, I put effort into not consuming them. 

If anything or anyone I watch or engage with starts to make me feel negatively towards myself I put it down. 

Your Turn 

If you have been struggling with media consumption or if you have been working from home and feel the need to be “on” or available all the time, I encourage you to give boundary setting and conscious consumption a try. 

And, as always, if you need help getting your boundaries organized or set please reach out! I am more than happy to set up a session to help you live a life that fulfills you. Let’s make your dreams into your reality by making conscious decisions. 

butreallythocoaching@gmail.com