We all blame. As Brene Brown says, “Blame is the discharging of discomfort and pain.” When mistakes are made, our first response is to try to find whose fault it is. A natural response, but not helpful.
Here is an entertaining (less than 4 minute) video on blaming by the brilliant Brene Brown. Watch it—you will enjoy it. You might even spend a little less time blaming in the future.
Also, next month I will be announcing my new program — 7 Powerful Practices for Your Inner Perfectionist. Yay!!!!! If you have been wanting to work with me, but can’t come into my office every week, this program is for you!
recently made a big mistake; I spammed over 5000 people. It was not
one of my finest moments, but it was a mistake—I didn’t start out the
day deciding I wanted to piss off a bunch of people I didn’t know.
When I realized what happened I didn’t respond perfectly (what a
surprise.) I blamed myself. I blamed other people. I tried to find
I realized my response wasn’t helping anyone, so I started using a tool I
employ when I want to forgive myself and others. I will share it in a
bit because it is awesome to help facilitate forgiveness, but not quite
The problem was, in attempting to jump to forgiveness, I was bypassing
my feelings. Instead of feeling my response to the situation, I was
trying to do the “correct” thing, to forgive right away.
You may remember my April newsletter talked about not bypassing big
feelings like fear. It outlined how being with our feelings can help
them pass more quickly. It is a powerful practice and I totally forgot
about it as I was trying to not feel bad, and was pinning fault on
whomever I could.
As I was sitting there, trying to forgive, I quickly realized there was
no way I could forgive anyone, especially myself, in that moment.
I was angry, and I was scared that 5000 people hated me and were cursing
my existence. So I stopped trying to forgive and I just felt my anger
and my fear. I cried, my body shook, and I allowed my feelings. It felt
awful, and then it felt freeing. I took a deep breath.
After I had done the work of simply feeling my feelings, I could move on to the next step—forgiveness.
My favorite tool to foster forgiveness is The Loving Kindness prayer Thich Nhat Hahn shares. Below is a version I use:
May I be safe.
May I be free from suffering.
May I be well.
May I know the light of my own true nature.
May you be safe.
May you be free from suffering.
May you be well.
May you know the light of my own true nature.
always say it to myself first, because I am the one who needs it the
most! Then I say it to the person, or people, or group with whom I am
angry. I say it every time anger arises within me. I keep saying it
until I feel calm and at peace. Sometimes this takes a lot of
When I say this prayer, it focuses my mind on what I actually want to
feel. I do wish we all felt safe, were free from suffering, were well,
and knew the light of our true nature, even when we make mistakes.
Do you ever feel more stressed than is comfortable? Are you, like me, on the search for tools to help reduce stress?
If you answered no to those questions, please contact me, I really, really want to know what you know! I just finished my book and am in the process of expanding my business, so I have been using stress-reduction tools a LOT!
During times of high stress, I constantly use the gazillion stress-reduction techniques I have learned. They never totally make the stress go away, but they enable me to be calmer as I am pursuing whatever goal, task, or risk I am facing. They help me breathe a little deeper, relax a little more, and have a quieter mind.
I recently had coffee with a colleague I’ve known since college, Nancy Linnerooth. Nancy uses EFT/Tapping to help her coaching clients reduce stress and overcome procrastination. She attended Harvard Law School and practiced therapy for over 17 years, so she knows how to deal with stress! If you want to know more about her work, read about her below the video and check out her website: UnblockResults.com.
I asked if she would send me a video of one of her favorite stress-reduction tools so I could share it with you. Buddha Hands is the technique she sent. It is a simple, non-obvious way to calm your nervous system in any situation.
As I was doing it, I noticed my body relaxing and I spontaneously took a deep breath—signs that my nervous system was relaxing. This tool works! I highly recommend you watch it and practice Buddha Hands as you are watching.
Her book offers practical tools to shift your thinking about chronic pain so you can help the healing process. Personally, I think it’s a good book to help shift any thinking that is getting in your way of making changes.
Her tool I’m sharing with you today is the Stepladder Method. It is a process to move from old, unhelpful thoughts to new, supportive thoughts.
I have a love/hate relationship with affirmations. While they can be helpful, they can also backfire. When we tell ourselves something that feels out of the realm of possibility, our ego rebels and we end up feeling worse after saying the affirmation than before.
I offer an example from my own life—I learned about affirmations when I was in graduate school. I had very little money and the end of each month I was literally counting my pennies. As you might imagine, I was stressed about money most of the time.
I figured I’d give affirmations a try. Anything had to be better than what I was already thinking.
I was wrong.
Because I didn’t know anything about how to make affirmations useful, I tried “I am wealthy!” When I said “I am wealthy!” out loud, everything in me rebelled. I heard myself think, “That is so stupid! No you’re not! Do you think you will magically change your life with that stupid affirmation?” or, even worse, “See? You can’t even do an affirmation! What makes you think you will ever have money?”
Instead of shifting my thinking to be more positive and less stressed, I created more stress. So much for self-help! As a result, I decided to hate affirmations.
Fast forward about 20 years…I had a coach who was a big fan of affirmations as a method to shift beliefs. I decided to give them another try.
Around the same time, a friend sent me 3. Through that book I understood not all affirmations are equal. Part of the art of affirmations is crafting them to get our subconscious working for versus against the change.
The Stepladder Method is a tool to do just that.
The Stepladder Method is creating a stepladder of intermediary thoughts that are believable. Rucsandra Mitrea gives a beautiful example in You Don’t Have to Live in Pain:
“Instead of jumping from a thought like ‘There’s nothing I can do’ to ‘I am now living pain-free’ in one fell swoop, you write down a few intermediate thoughts that are believable.”
“So instead of one big leap, you take several smaller, more believable steps. For example, ‘There’s nothing I can do’ becomes ‘I don’t know what to do yet, but now I believe that health is my birthright, so there must be a way.’ This sounds a lot more positive and uplifting, and is also definitely believable, right?”
“The next step is to get used to this thought until it becomes your current mindset. Then you move to an even more uplifting thought: ‘I know there is a way for me to heal and I am sure that I will find it soon.”
Then a few more steps until…“it is easy to think ‘I CAN be pain-free!”
The Stepladder Method is a useful tool to gradually, change your habits of thinking, one small step at a time.
When we make small changes, our ego fights the change less. When we try to make a shift that feels too big, our ego fights us, as demonstrated by my ego with the “I am wealthy!” affirmation.
So do yourself a favor, try to shift a negative thought just a little bit, keep practicing the new affirmation, and notice how your ego gets used to the new thought and eventually accepts it. Then try a new, slightly more positive thought, step by step…until you actually believe what you WANT to believe, with less back-lash and more ease.