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This One Tool May Help You Survive 2020

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Last night, I coached one of my students who was struggling with overwhelm.

But it was soon clear that something else was also going on. She was experiencing something that many are going through in this year of pandemic, social unrest, economic recession, political upheaval, severe storms and other signs of Climate Change.

What I said helped. It could help you, too.

Most coaches are Highly Sensitive People (HSP) who process more information than others.

HSP is inborn and well-researched. We make up about 15-20% of the population. There is a popular variation known as Empaths, a description that is not science-based but includes psychic abilities.

If you are a coach, you likely are an HSP or Empath. Whichever you identify with, you probably have an ability that most folks don't have:

You literally feel other people's emotions.

For a coach, feeling your client's emotions can be a valuable tool for understanding what they are experiencing. But in a year when millions are experiencing more upsetting emotions than usual, the ability to feel everyone's emotions can be an overwhelming liability.

You need an approach to eliminate excess negative emotions, especially from others.

Here's a process I've found that helps me. Before I understood that I was picking up the emotions of others' my life felt chaotic and my emotional state was sometimes turbulent. It was particularly challenging to be around extremely negative people, angry people, and people who were prone to conflict because the more I was with them, the more I became like them. Spending time alone and learning a variety of tools such as meditation helped me get back to my true self.

In extreme situations, I ended relationships that were just too challenging to tolerate. The irony of this approach is that to protect my highly-sensitive empathic self, I had to behave in ways that must have looked like the opposite: selfish and uncaring. There has to be a better way, right? There is.

I experienced a breakthrough when someone I knew, but was not close to, passed away. There were important others in my life who were very close to this person who were grieving. I was surprised to find that I was grieving rather intensely, myself. I felt like I was lugging a heavy duffle bag packed with painful feelings in the middle of my torso, day after day. I explored whether there was some underlying reason why this death was so meaningful to me but I could not find one.

Then it occurred to me that the grief I was feeling wasn't my own. I was spending time with loved ones who were grieving and I had picked it up from them. So I wondered, if those feelings weren't mine, could I just put them down?

In the moment of that thought, all the pain and heaviness evaporated.

I've been using this approach ever since and so can you. To use it remember the following:

  • If the negative feelings are your own, you need to get the message or information they carry before you let them go. Emotions are just messengers and must stick around until you get the message. If you bury them, they will shift underground and pop up later, sometimes more intensely. Your own feelings are there to help you. Don't try to ignore them.
  • If the negative feelings are coming from someone close to you, they are telling you important information about that person's feelings. Again, for the sake of your relationship, pay attention to the message before you release those feelings. A compassionate conversation with the other person can help. If you must, it is okay to limit contact with someone who is chronically upsetting you. If they are abusive toward you, it is fine to end that relationship. You can't offer your best gifts to the world if you are constantly licking your own wounds.
  • If you are just picking up random pain from others, such as co-workers or even via social media or cable news, realize that pain is not about you. It also is not yours to carry. Envision it as something separate from you, like a heavy duffle bag. Then give yourself permission to put down that burden. You might even envision yourself turning it in to the the Lost & Found. Then walk away knowing you did the right thing,
  • Don't hold on to an emotional burden out of guilt or solidarity with those who are suffering. Other people do not benefit when you are crippled by their pain. They do benefit when you can be fully compassionate and caring without being drawn into chaos and confusion.
  • You can care about others best when your empathy is manageable.


Self care for empaths means limiting the amount of pain you carry.

2020 will give us all plenty of practice with negative feelings. Be kind to yourself and others through this difficult time. Also, be aware that your own negativity, as well as any negativity you pick up from others, can rub off on additional people. Strong emotions are contagious. Don't be a spreader.

 

You can coach best when your emotions are mostly positive.

 

If you are a coach or are thinking about becoming one, you're invited to attend a live course we offer a few times per year called, Fully Alive. It is experiential and includes a wealth of tools that can help you manage life in this especially turbulent world. The course is free to everyone.

 

To register for the next one, please visit our public catalog or register below.

Register for Free: Fully Alive in the Pandemic

 

Topics: become a coach, coaching tool, economy, highly sensitive, Covid, Black Lives Matter

7 Reasons Now Is a Great Time to Become a Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach working from home

As I write this, the Covid-19 pandemic is exploding across America and many other places.

Our lives have been upended and there is no end in sight. But now is not the time for despair.

Now is the time to become a coach and I'll tell you why...

Your situation: Maybe your kids are home. You and/or your partner are out of work. Or you're working from home. Maybe one or all of you have been sick. Maybe you're feeling isolated and afraid. Or maybe you're getting the hang of this and it's all getting easier. But now you are confronted with the logistics of returning to work and sending your children back to school. Other people are making important decisions that could impact your family's safety and your ability to make a living. That's alarming and may feel unsafe.

 

But wouldn't it be nice if things just went back to "normal'?

 

Economists and epidemiologists have told us from the start that the bigger the pandemic gets and the longer it goes on the harder it will be to go back to the old normal. There is growing evidence that getting sick with the virus does not confer lifelong immunity. Covid-19 may be more like malaria, a serious disease you can get over and over, cutting into your freedom, your productivity, and ability to make a living. With luck, we'll have a vaccine next year, but previously, the fastest an effective vaccine has ever been developed was four years. Producing billions of doses will take longer.

The old normal is disappearing in your rear-view mirror and you may never see it again. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, there is positive news in all this.

 

I believe in positivity, not denial.

 

The first helps us succeed, the second keeps us stuck. Clinging to the idea of your old life is denial. To practice positivity, start with the truth, then explore the likely possibilities. Then work towards the most desirable possibilities for you. It works.

The truth is that the virus has wrapped itself around the world and will be with us for at least another year, perhaps several, maybe forever. And you have many assets that will help you adapt and grow. In fact, these challenges may be exactly what you need to become your best self and live the life and career you want most. Are you ready to live your best life?

 

You need to thrive in this new environment.

Therefore, you need to invent a better normal, one that works beautifully for you.

 

Are you ready to apply positivity to your life?

 

If yes, then you need to ask and answer some important questions. Start with the following:

  • If things continue this way, how long can you hang on and what will it cost you?
  • If the pandemic continues, what do you need to stay safe and thrive and how can you create that?
  • What have you always wanted to do but the time never felt right?
  • What does the world need now that you can potentially give?
  • How can you turn that into a business you love?
  • Or can you be employed to do it but have flexibility to do it on your terms?
  • Can you create your best life even in the pandemic?
  • What do you need to set that up? Who can help you?
  • Do you believe in yourself enough to do it?
  • Do you have the courage to make your life, and the lives of others, great even in a disaster?

 

Right now, most people need more questions like these.

 

We are all forced to recreate our lives. Let's create the lives we've always wanted.

I've coached quite a few clients through disasters. They are the pivot points that make or break great lives and careers. The opportunities are golden if you look for the positivity.

If you are empathic, a good communicator, want to help others be their best, want to create a better world for all, then coaching may be the perfect next step for you.

 

Now is the perfect time to become a coach because:

  1. Coaching is the ideal work-from-home career.
  2. Coaching pays extremely well.
  3. Many coaches work short hours while making high incomes.
  4. Coaching goes perfectly with technology and your clients can be international.
  5. People need coaching now more than ever and are willing to pay for it.
  6. Coaching is low on stress and high on fulfillment.
  7. Coaching is fun.

 

If you have always wanted to become a coach, the world needs you now so please have the courage to act on your desire.

 

At SCM, coach training has been designed online from the beginning. No, it's not like in-person training. It's better. We also train our graduates to coach via distance and to market online. We didn't have to retool for the pandemic. We always did it this way.

Our next cohort starts soon but you can begin classes even before. And we have a free personal-development course coming up so you can try it out before you commit.

 

Now isn't a terrible time. NOW IS YOUR TIME.

 

Please download the free Become a Coach eBook and get started on your perfect career:

Get Your Free 'Become a Coach' eBook Now

 

Topics: Career, become a coach, coaching questions, online coach training, positivity, Covid

Your Sofa May be Killing You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Sofa may be killing you

Should you finally write that novel while you're staying at home or should you cut yourself some slack and take it easy?

Some productivity gurus seem to encourage us to use this time to reach all those goals we never had time for, while others say this is a tough situation and we should take it slow for a while.

That's a false choice and a dangerous trap...

The first choice is problematic if it discourages you from practicing sufficient self compassion, an attitude that few in our society have mastered. Without self compassion, reaching for major goals during a difficult time is a workaholic response that is usually unsustainable. Sooner or later we burn out and our loved ones pay the price until we do.

The second choice invites us to use the pandemic as an excuse to be less than our best and there's a hidden danger to that. For example, I'm hearing from people who say they're having trouble getting out of bed, or off the sofa, and are engaging in old bad habits, like overeating and binge watching TV they don't even like. Those are symptoms that, over time, can be deadly, and I'm not just talking about becoming unfit or overweight.

When we give up on what gets us out of bed, even for a while, we're telling our bodies that we are no longer needed. When that happens, our bodies tend to shut down and age. Sometimes, people begin the process of dying when they no longer have a purpose. We've all heard those stories of elderly couples who die within days of each other. That is, perhaps, a dramatic example.

The psychologist, Jim Loehr, who specializes in helping people optimize their energy, has a theory. He says shutting down and dying, when we no longer have a purpose, has adaptive value for our species. Because it frees up resources, like food, for those that do have a purpose.

I remember hearing a story from psychologist, Don Beck, who teaches Spiral Dynamics, about an indigenous family in the Canadian arctic. They had too little food to survive the winter, so the grandparents volunteered to commit a traditional sacrifice. The grandparents climbed onto an ice flow and the family pushed them out to sea...

 

They sacrificed themselves to free up resources for their families in one last act of purpose.

 

I'm guessing that your situation does not require you to die for the survival of your family. But you do need a sense of purpose to survive the pandemic. You can can reach goals that matter. You can grow and transcend. But you need a little extra self compassion when the new abnormal gets overwhelming.

I'm teach a free course on how to thrive in the pandemic in which I share numerous positive psychology and neuroscience tools and practices. One of the tools that participants have found most impactful is an act of self compassion.

Here it is. Take your hand and place it on your cheek (make sure you've washed your hand, of course.) Then tell yourself, "I understand. It's okay. I forgive you. Everything will be all right."

 

One participant cried when she did this.

 

Try it. If it touches you deeply, you probably need to do it regularly.

Your short-term purpose may have changed temporarily. But you can replace it with something meaningful, right now. Maybe even complete that novel you've always wanted to write. And it may be possible to work toward your long-term vision if you're willing to be flexible and creative. I'm offering a taste of this in the free course.

 

But that sense of laziness, of slacking off and becoming one with the sofa, could slowly be killing you.

 

Don't make this an either/or choice. Do pursue important goals. Do practice self compassion, as needed. Do thrive despite the pandemic and help create a better world.

 

There's a new free Fully Alive course. Sign up below to attend.

 

Register for Free: Fully Alive in the Pandemic

 

Topics: Free, life purpose, Spiral Dynamics, positive psychology coaching, coaching with neuroscience, Don Beck, resilience, Covid

How Thomas Leonard Prepared Me for the Covid Pandemic

Posted by Julia Stewart

Covid-19 Reserves

In 2001, the Founder of the Coaching Profession helped me get ready for Covid-19.

He also helped me thrive through 9/11 in New York City. Unfortunately, Thomas passed of natural causes in 2003, but his influence still prepared me to flourish through the Covid pandemic.

How am I flourishing? Well, my online business is doing great in the shut down and I just took my blood pressure. It's 97/67. I'm not special. Here's how Thomas Leonard helped me get here...

Thomas was a self-described worrier. He was also a massive risk-taker. That's a tough combination. But he was endlessly creative and among his many brilliant approaches to coaching are some that are designed to boost confidence for even the biggest scaredy cats so they can take big risks to reach their cherished goals. What follows is just one approach that works for me...

Twenty years ago, before paranoid preppers were a joke, Thomas found a simple way to get ready for almost anything and thereby raise your confidence and lower your anxiety. (Here's my distinction between paranoia and anxiety: The first is a sense of threat that people are out to get you. The second is a worry that things will go wrong and you won't be able to handle it. It's normal to feel anxious if you're unprepared.)

This approach eliminates the greatest source of human suffering.

Thomas created a checklist called, Super Reserves, that helps people develop a reserve of almost anything they could ever need because when our needs are met, we are freed to live our best lives. Until our needs are met, we unconsciously suffer and chase what we don't have instead of enjoying what we do have and creating what we really want. That word, need, is important because this concept is related to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which you probably learned about in a course on psychology. It's a precursor to positive psychology.

Reserves sound like they couldn't possibly work but my story, below, demonstrates the dramatic shift they cause.

I got my very first coaching client the week of 9/11 when I was still living in New York City. I was studying coaching with Thomas Leonard and also had a successful personal training business that I eventually transitioned out of. But those weeks after the terrorist attacks were filled with bomb and terror threats (90 false threats on September 12th, alone). It was still possible to drive in and out of Manhattan and even park for free, in those days, but the threats and resulting twelve-hour traffic jams were constantly shaking me up.

I was terrified.

I talked to a psychotherapist friend who said the best antidote to anxiety is to take action. I reviewed my options for taking action. Could I stop the threats? No. Could I stop seeing my clients? No. What was the worst that could happen? I'd be caught in a terrorist attack. What was likely to happen? I'd get stuck in an epic traffic jam. What would I need if one of those events occurred? Ah! That's where Reserves came in.

I made a plan.

Honestly, I thought it was kind of silly, but I decided to follow Thomas' Reserves approach and get ready for "anything". So I got out an old gym bag that I carried in my car and started filling it with whatever I might need if something bad happened: masks, goggles, extra clothes, a blanket, comfortable shoes, food that would "keep", water, etc., etc.

What happened?

At some point, my anxiety vanished because I knew I was prepared. Did I ever need the stuff? Nope! But it already did its work: I was happier, more relaxed, and able to show up at my best to coach the many traumatized New Yorkers that I had the honor to work with over the next year.

You see, your nervous system has two basic modes.

One is optimized for connection and works best when you're relaxed. The other is optimized for protection and is triggered when needs aren't met. We tend to be at our best during connection and are more attractive and able to see opportunities and possibilities, but our unconscious behavior is more negative and off-putting when we're in protection mode and we tend to see problems everywhere. Both modes are needed sometimes but connection is often needed more. Filling my needs with reserves put my nervous system in connection mode.

So how did this prepare me for the current pandemic?

I never forgot that Reserves lesson. Now I always keep things on hand that I might someday need. When toilet paper was in short supply, I already had a case of it. When we found out we needed masks, I already had a box of N95 masks. I was also able to donate masks to first responders and healthcare workers, which felt a lot better than panicking because there was a shortage. My business was already online and I work from home and have experience training others to do the same so business is good. I could go on and on...

I was ready, so I could relax and help instead of panic.

I train coaches to coach their clients to be ready for anything, because in the age of the Climate Crisis, anything can happen. If you'd like to learn more about the ultimate work-from-home profession, download the free Become a Coach eBook, below.

 

Get Your Free 'Become a Coach' eBook Now

Topics: become a coach, Thomas Leonard, 9/11, Climate Change, Covid, Reserves

Coach Stephanie Harris Shares Her Incredible Story of Covid-19 Survival

Posted by Stephanie Harris

Coach Stephanie Harris and Husband Mark Skiing 2020

Three weeks ago, a member of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, Stephanie Harris, shared something shocking with me: Her husband had just recovered from Covid-19 and she was still asymptomatic.

I was relieved they were alright and impressed at Stephanie's positive attitude and desire to help others navigate this collective nightmare. Television news programs around the country are interviewing Stephanie to share understanding about her experience. What follows, in Stephanie's own words, are some details of what happened and an invitation to a FREE one-hour interview with Stephanie about what she learned and how she can help. - Julia Stewart

Read on...

"The epidemiologist believes, my husband Mark, contracted Covid-19 at the National Brotherhood of Skiers Summit in Sun Valley, ID, where we were, from February 29 th to March 6 th. I have received firsthand reports of multiple hospitalizations, multiple positive test results and 6 deaths, thus far.

On March 8 th, Mark was feeling achy and coughing slightly. He described his affect as feeling tired. His fatigue continued and on March 9th, 10 tthand 11 th, I called urgent care, our local emergency room, the Broward County, Florida, Department of Health and our primary care office, to obtain information on the best way to treat his situation.
 
As there was no protocol at that time, all I got was “There's no tests kits here, so do not come here”. His fever, headache, chills, fatigue and lack of appetite continued, but, oddly, he was not coughing.
 
On March 12 th, I eventually got an appointment with the primary care office and after a stop by urgent care for a chest x-ray, we made it to the ER and I set the goal of getting him tested.
 
While Mark received IV fluids and an antibiotic, I was forced to continually ask about Covid-19 testing, as the lack of a consistent protocol was evident. I refused to hear anything about the CDC guidelines. As I told the Dr. “This past Saturday, we were on three airplanes and in four airports….do YOU know where those people came from??”
 
It was a long night, largely, in part to me sounding like a broken record and asking any Dr. who would listen, WHEN WILL HE BE TESTED!! I got put on time out by one of the nurses, because she was fearful, I could spread pneumonia or something worse.
 
Since his fever dropped, he was sent home with antibiotics to treat the bacterial pneumonia and a cough medication. We were told we should have the results in a few days. Throughout the weekend, he rested and we continued immune boosting supplements, foods and thoughts.
 
The Broward County Epidemiologist called Tuesday, March 17 th with the news he tested positive. His illness pattern occurred from March 8 th until March 30 th, when he was able to walk 15 minutes, eat well and function without coughing. He is now up to 50 minutes and performing basic body weight exercises. Thankfully, he is doing great!
 
As I pursue this role of support and advocacy, it's very clear I cannot do it alone. Surviving Covid-19 is one thing, coming back home and having zero resources and support, is another. As the spouse of a Covid-19 patient,who has navigated the road to recovery, I am uniquely qualified in understanding the mental aspects of healing, as well as the physical. I am passionate about helping others develop positive changes, in the face of an uncertain and complicated future."
 
Visit Stephanie's website: ShiftWithSteph.com
 
For her informative videos related to Covid-19, go to: Facebook.com/Shiftwithsteph
 
Stephanie has so much wisdom to share on how to survive Covid-19 and help your loved ones: from maintaining a good attitude, to buying a pulse-oximeter, to becoming a strong patient advocate, that we did a FREE one-hour interview with her. The recording is  available to those who register below.
 
Register for Stephanie Harris Interview

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Covid

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