Monday, March 30, 2009

Leave It! (Or The Benefits Of Puppy Training) by Rebecca Soulette

[This is my first guest writer post, written by my dear friend Rebecca Soulette, Life Coach Extraordinaire!]

I don't know about you, but I like to think of myself as advanced, intelligent, complicated. I like to think that all my years on this planet have made me into a sophisticated, intricate, fascinating machine that has the capability of using fancy systems and techniques to better my life.

But recently, my ego bubble was popped when it became abundantly clear that what I REALLY needed to fix a challenge I was having was straight-ahead, no-holes-barred PUPPY TRAINING. I needed to learn to simply obey a command. Period.

What was that command?

"Leave it!"

The same thing one of my best friends says to her puppy when the dog picks up something nasty and she wants her to spit it out.

A little over a week ago, I found myself in a pickle: I was in a semi-obsessive, mean to myself, depressed place over a guy who, for whatever reason, just isn't that into me. So I called my friend for help.

We strategized ways I could keep this guy in my life (as we're currently working together on some projects) while simultaneously getting him and any reminders of him out of my sight so that I'd have little temptation to obsess about the fact that he's not into me.

Through our conversation, I deleted all of this guy's emails & texts and removed his phone number from my caller ID & cell phone. Then, we came to the stickiest challenge: Facebook, the obsessive girl's road to hell.

For those of you unfamiliar with facebook, suffice it to say, signing on to my account provides ample opportunities to see snippets of this guy's life when I LEAST EXPECT IT and could easily get sidetracked paying attention to it. I didn't want to delete him as one of my facebook "friends," yet, I didn't want to be sideswiped by random posts about him.

My friend had the PERFECT strategy. While I was coming up with complicated ways of trying to avoid noticing this guy online, my friend said, simply, "You know what? I think you're going to have to do what I've been training my puppy to do when she picks up something icky in her mouth: 'Leave it!' You know, 'Spit it out!' 'Drop it!' Because he's poison to you right now, Rebecca. You've got to just, 'Leave it!' "

Know what? She was RIGHT!

There are times in our lives when a specific system or strategy may help us unlearn a habit, but, at the end of the day, sometimes we DO have to treat ourselves the way we would treat a brand new puppy who needs to be trained. Simply COMMAND ourselves to "Leave it!" and then OBEY. And that's what I've been doing, successfully, ever since she suggested it.

Each time I see his updates online, I hear my friend's Alpha Dog Voice in my head barking, "Leave it!" and I spit it out (or scroll away from it). Understanding that the "Leave It!" command is all about my safety, my comfort, and my happiness, and that little bits of information about this guy are like a slimy, ratty stick that I shouldn't chew on or bring into the house.

Instead of trying to THINK my way out of letting this guy go, my job is simply to OBEY THE COMMAND, just like her puppy does when she picks up something bad for her.

Are there places in your life where you're stuck trying to let something go where it would really help to just have someone follow you around and shout, "Hey, Leave it!" If so, I invite you to try it: be your own dog trainer and simply OBEY and see if it helps you make progress.

It's now clear to me (as I'm becoming less and less attached to this guy) that there are quite a few places in my life where puppy training would help me more than anything.

This week, whatever it is you need to let go of, "Leave it!" and see what happens.

Let me know if it works for you!

Life Coach, Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, is a senior level coach certified through the Fearless Living Institute. She is an expert in helping her clients to live the lives they were born to live. She is also the creator of, where she helps celebrities and others in the public eye create balanced and fulfilling lives beyond their fame. Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, also offers teleclasses, private 1:1 and group coaching. To help both celebrities and non-celebrities alike live the lives the were born to live. Learn more now at

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stuck in the Yuck™

I have a friend who is looking for a new job. She’s very frustrated by her current job, and wants something new, but feels stuck and trapped and in a rut. “I just can’t see myself getting a new job in this economy,” she said.

“So, can we look at what you are getting by having that belief?” I asked.

(crickets chirping)

“What I mean is,” I continued, “what does believing you won’t get a new job allow you to do? What does it get you off the hook from having to do? Is it keeping you feeling safe? I mean, sure, misery’s misery, but is comfortable misery better than uncomfortable uncertainty?”

(I can be kind of a pain sometimes.)

Another friend told me she was furious at a co-worker. I asked, "what does being mad at this woman give you? A feeling of righteous indignation? Power? Superiority?"

(Sometimes I'm lucky to have friends.)

Here's why I do this: whenever I’m in a place with a Severe Yuck Factor™, I try to find out what good is coming from that situation – or, really, what benefit I’m getting that is strong enough to explain why I’m letting myself sit in the Yuck™.

(And when I say "benefit," I don't necessarily mean something actually good or helpful in my life. I really mean something more like an Avoidance Enabler or a Safety-Seemer or a Stuck Maker.)

For example: I’ve been eating a lot late at night. It’s a habit I wish I didn’t have, that I know how not to have, that I have control over having, and yet I’m feeling powerless to it and allowing myself to eat late at night. So what does my purported powerlessness mean to me? Well, it means I can eat instead of feeling lonely. It gets me off the hook from having to explore feelings of Cosmic Pointlessness that make me unhappy. Basically, my wafers are keeping me safer and the box of raisins gives me a raison d'etre. (ha!)

When things are miserable (or even just Yucky™) it can be really valuable to explore what good you’re getting from the yuck. Be honest. Go deep. Cry if you have to. Because knowing what your protective self is getting from the situation might just be the difference between getting out, or staying Stuck in the Yuck™.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

motivating change

In Kaye Thorne's book Coaching for Change, she has a section on how a coach (or you, yourself, acting as a coach), can help clients to motivate themselves. One of the major obstacles to achieving change is often the lack of focus on the issue and the initial hurdle of getting going. Sort of the "I want to change, but not if it's going to hurt" mentality. (Because even though a rut is miserable, it's terribly comfy, isn't it?)

Thorne recommends looking at the following ten questions:

1. What is stopping me?
2. What could I do differently?
3. What could I do today to help me take the first step towards achieving my vision?
4. What help will I need?
5. Who do I know that I trust to talk to about what I want to achieve?
6. What will happen to me if I don't get started?
7. If I decide to wait what are my reasons?
8. If I am going to wait when will it be the right time?
9. What have been the best successes in my life?
10. What can I learn from these successes to help me achieve my current vision and goals?

Additionally, she recommends using the following checklist to assess whether or not you (or the client) are motivated enough to actually make change:

Can they describe their goals in one or two sentences?
Have they really researched the idea?
When thy have spare time does it readily come to the forefront of their mind?
Have they refined their goals over a period of time?
Are they happy to talk about it?
Could they share the achievement of this goal with someone else?
Have they got all the information they need about this goal?
Have they got a network of support?
Could they overcome challenges in the achievement of their goals?
Do they really want to do it?

I know that, for me, identifying what's in my way and relying on a support network can be enormously helpful when I'm facing a change. Are there questions you ask yourself when you're trying to change?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

book review: Mindset

Rewriting this post (which, alas, blogspot has forced me to do, grumble grumble grumble) has given me an extra opportunity to practice something I learned from Carol Dweck, Ph.D., in her book, Mindset.

The premise of the book is simple but extraordinarily valuable. Dweck argues that there are two ways to approach the world -- two mindsets, if you will -- that people fall into. One is a fixed mindset, where traits and skills are permanently frozen and any value an individual has in life comes from the application of those traits and skills. It is easy for a person with a fixed mindset to define herself -- "I am smart," "I am funny," "I am valuable because I succeed at ____________." (And I certainly don't know anyone like that...) (ahem) The danger of the fixed mindset is that anything that causes friction between your beliefs about who you are and the reality of a situation (e.g., a bad grade on a test, a lack of laughter at a comedy show) becomes a defining moment. "I am no longer smart or funny. I am a failure."

The second approach is a growth mindset, where identity is more fluid and learning takes on a more important role. In the growth mindset, failure is just an opportunity to re-evaluate the situation. Bad grade on a test? Just means you have to go back to the book to try to comprehend what you missed on the test. No laughter? Hmmm, maybe the show needs to be reworked a little bit. Failure in the growth mindset is "a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from." (p.33)

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. I wrote it beautifully (if I do say so myself) and posted it, only to encounter a major error and the eating (by blogspot) of my post. Now, from a fixed mindset, I could have said to myself that I was a loser, a failure, what, you can't even post a blog the right way? In the growth mindset, though, I can focus on saving the drafts and making sure that what appears to be saving is actually saving.

There are arenas in my life where I definitely live in a fixed mindset -- acting, "smarts," my body, money -- and arenas in which I live in a growth mindset -- coaching, fiction, working out. And I want to transition more of the fixed areas (which are comfortable simply because when I am not taking risks, I get to feel superior) into growth areas (where superiority and inferiority aren't even issues).

Where are you in a fixed mindset? Where are you in a growth one?

Monday, March 2, 2009

consider a cucumber cheerleader

It seems I've been dating for a hundred years now. And I had dinner with a friend last night who made the point that when one bad date follows another (or a good date never follows up), it's hard to stay positive about being single and continuing to meet people.

I took this to heart, and I offer all my single readers this advice:

Consider a Cucumber Cheerleader.

One of the opportunities dating affords us is the chance to change. To look at our behavior, identify habits and trends that aren't working for us -- in an arena where the stakes can be considerably high (depending on how much you want a partner) -- and make active choices to change those habits and trends. (Sounds simple, at least.)

For example, I tend to rush things. (Just ask the last six guys I was serious with.) (Well, no ask the last three. The previous three liked to rush things, too.) I have a good date and want to hear from the guy the next day. If I don't hear from him in two days, I start to panic. Three days and it's a coronary. Four days and I've burnt the coaster he gave me that ended up in my bag as a memento from a good date. Five days and I've voted him off the island of my love, never to return. So when he calls me six days later, it's too late. He's already ruined everything.

This seriously doesn't work for me. It bends me out of shape and makes me angry. It makes me feel desperate and unlovable. And while I believe that after a good date, follow up will happen within one to four days, just because I haven't heard from a guy in six days doesn't mean he won't call, or that if he does call, I can't enjoy his company again. All it means is that he hasn't called. I don't know why, I don't know if he will, I don't know anything.

Prior to working with my Cucumber Cheerleader (which I'll get to in a second), at this point, I used to call him. Feeling antsy, feeling like I wanted Mr. Gooddate to be my boyfriend, I'd call him and follow up myself. Sometimes he'd respond, and sometimes I wouldn't hear from him. And while equality between the sexes in terms of phone contact is fine, I (personally) was ignoring the fact that he hadn't demonstrated behavior that I had clearly identified as desirable in my next boyfriend.

I was sabotaging myself by being willing to ignore behavior I found uncomfortable, just because one date felt good.

During all this time, I was always calling my sister. "Just stay calm," she'd say. "Be a cucumber. Cool. Totally cool." I didn't listen to her at first, thinking that her way was "following the rules" and "game playing" but what I learned over time was that she was totally right. That if I could turn down my anxiety and desperation and become more like a chilly little cuke, I could see behavior more clearly. Both good and bad behavior.

After working with my Cucumber Cheerleader (who would call me on the weekends after dates and say "were you cool? were you a good cucumber?") I started to be more patient. I remember I was dating a guy for a few months who never told me that he cared about me. And I started to get sick of it, but because of all my Produce Practice, I waited before I said anything. And the day I wanted to bring it up but didn't, he called me to tell me how much he cared about me and how happy he was that he'd met me -- things he wouldn't have said if I had confronted him about it.

Another time, I met a guy and had what I thought was a great evening together, and he completely disappeared, never to be heard from again. I knew I had finally achieved Real Live Cucumber status when I never called him or contacted him at all. I wanted to, don't get me wrong, but because of my Cheerleader, I was now trained to focus on my worth, and not to waste my energy on people who didn't share the same opinion of it.

I'm truly blessed to share so many genes with my Cheerleader. My sister has helped me to practice being patient and staying calm. She's encouraged me to focus on things outside of dating to make me naturally more cucumberish. She's given me support when I've needed it the most. And without her, I'd still be behaving desperately. And not getting what I want.

I still believe that the right man for me will find me, have a great date with me, and follow up in four days. But until he does (or if he doesn't), I'm working to improve myself so that I bring the best package to the table.

It's not easy, but it's worth it. And luckily, I'm not doing it alone.