Becoming Your Best, Life Coach

Your next dish from the menu of Life: What will you choose?

[This is part 4 of a 5-part series on Becoming Your Best. You can see the previous parts here:
1: Overview, 2: Self-Scaping, & 3: Noticing.]

Step Two in Becoming Your Best: Choose

YOU get to decide your experience of your life. 
Wow, does that sound epic! And maybe a little nerve-wracking.
You mean, I’m in charge of this thing?!
Yep. Your life is literally a choose-your-own-adventure.

A word about choices…

When you go on a quick errand for milk and eggs…and you are there for 45 minutes because you get to decide what is important, and to whom, and how much. (Omega 3? Vegetarian fed? Free range? Cow? Goat? Soy? Almond? Coconut? Cashew? On sale? Quantity? Packaging? Sustainability? Brand?)

What about taking time to choose the perfect angle, lighting, balance, frame, or filter for an Instagram post? [guilty!]

Decision fatigue IS real. And yet…

Living your life on purpose doesn’t have to be hard.

As I’m relearning with my new coach cohort, when you align any choice with your values, it can feel really easy.

The folks who ascribe to radical responsibility ask us to acknowledge that we own our life as it is. The world is blameless, and every moment is a potential jumping-off point for creating more of how you want your life to go.

Note: This is not to say that it’s your fault you’re experiencing a strong emotion, or that you prefer to have a certain past trauma triggered. No victim-blaming here. Our environments are powerful. What I am saying is that you, too, are powerful. Every situation of a thwarted societal takeover (real and imagined) was because of individuals who realigned with their values and made a different choice. Every drastic turnaround happens because someone chooses a different outcome. 

You are allowed to struggle and suffer…but you don’t have to.

Choosing is not about reshaping your PAST self or your PAST environment. It’s about acknowledging that you get to choose how it goes NOW and NEXT, moving forward. You don’t have a responsibility to change what happened in the PAST, but NOW you can choose to shift how you think about those past events, and then decide to move NEXT towards whatever outcome you desire. Isn’t that a relief? 

Choices are the hinges of destiny.

Edwin Markham

Exercise

Imagine an amazing outcome for something (a meeting, a date, a performance, a day).

What does it feel like? What are you seeing, hearing? What is the experience of it?

Name it in words. (It feels warm! I am laughing joyfully among friends, celebrating at a party! I see bright yellows. I am loved and cared for.)

Now, DON’T WAIT FOR THE VISUALIZED OUTCOME BEFORE YOU LIVE THAT LIFE.

Choose to welcome warmth, brightness, love, joy, connection – in advance of the event. Feel it moving through your body. How does it move, speak, act? Breathe it in. Sit with it. And (THIS IS THE PUNCH LINE), once you are literally embodying it, decide how you’ll allow it to impact your next actions. What would you be willing to laugh about? To celebrate? To rejoice over? Who will you connect with, from this place? How would you bring this Being to the rest of your day, even to mundane tasks?

Bonus round One: Strong Emotion

But what if you don’t feel warm and fuzzy? What if you’re feeling bummed and isolated right now?

Option One: Notice with compassion

Go back to Step 1: Notice. Pay your inner self a visit. Close your eyes and get present. How can you be with yourself, AS YOU ARE, right now? A sweet, connected embrace? Holding space in loving and understanding silence while you rage or weep? A wise and gentle reminder that you are a gift, feelings and all? An invitation to play? 

Notice again: do you sense an invitation to a deeper experience? What is it? Feeling loved, valued, comforted, seen, held, honored – even in the midst of your feeling of sadness? ARE YOU WILLING TO ACCEPT THE INVITATION? Are you willing to hold space for both seemingly contradictory experiences, simultaneously?

Notice that this visualization can teach you how to bring your own being to others and connect with them, without becoming them. Honor where you are. 

And notice that choosing a new experience does not imply that you should demonize your emotions or make your feelings go away. You can indeed BE your person and BE WITH the feeling. You are not your feelings; you are a person who experiences feelings.

And notice that even if one thread of your emotional tapestry is especially bright and catches your attention, you are allowed to notice how it fits in with others as well.

Option Two: Act As If

Choose an action in spite of your strong emotion – one that is in line with the experience you want to create. Acknowledge if you don’t feel like it. Do it anyway.

Our minds are powerful machines. When they run certain programming for a long time, they get used to it – and so do we. But mindstuff is software – it can be uninstalled, edited, swapped. There are many programs that can behave similarly, so if this one is not producing the outcomes you’re looking for, I invite you to design and choose another that’s more in line with your values. Unlike the software metaphor, however, our habit-seeking minds will reinstall the old program when we’re not looking. This will take repetition and patience.

Won’t this be hard?!?!?

If you’re having a hard time aligning with your values, try going back to Step 1: Notice. What speaks to you? What is important? Discover some of the thoughts and sensations that lead you towards your values, and name them. Designing the new software program is no harder than that.

Bonus Round Two: Waffling

What if making a decision seems impossible for whatever reason? Too much pressure, too little pressure, too many options, too few options, too many great options, too many terrible options, no options…

Answer: Whatever decision you make IS the best one.

It’s like the conundrum when people ask fitness professionals to name the best workout. A wise answer I’ve heard is, THE ONE YOU’LL DO. Whether a workout meet this or that research requirement or metric, most of us frankly don’t give a damn. When we get in touch with the reasons why people work out, they can almost always accomplish those goals or align with those values through several different paths. At some level, it comes down to what you enjoy doing.

In closing

My mentors at my coach training program taught us that we have three options: 

  1. Make an empowered choice
  2. Make a disempowered choice
  3. Make no choice (which is always disempowering)

Pretty simple, I’d say. And yet…Simple ≠ easy. Or fast. Unless you decide that it is.

What will you choose next from the menu of life?

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Selfscaping: How to Enjoy Change

Step Zero in Becoming Your Best:

Overall Mindset Shift From “At The Effect” To “Be The Cause”

I don’t think it’s too radical to say that everyone wants to have a great life. And in our society, many of us desire active participation in our own wild success story. This is what I mean when I invite you to choose to “Be The Cause” of your great life. (If you want greatness to “happen to you,” that is, to allow circumstantial dice to be rolled, and be “At The Effect” of your environment, this article may not be for you.) As a life coach, I believe that every person is not only capable of having a great life, but also has the power to be responsible for how it goes. This article is an invitation to look inward and claim your responsibility – do some trimming of your inner landscape (selfscaping) – which will then impact how it goes outwardly.

Everyone has their triggers. [My current working definition of a trigger is something that shows up in your environment that causes an unconscious response. Often, this response is related to something that has been repressed, avoided, or seems unsavory to the person experiencing it.] The moments when we are triggered are the moments when we give up our agency to our circumstances, and it can be a struggle to get back. In those moments, we are “At The Effect” of our situation. And to be clear, there is nothing wrong or bad about being triggered. But what if you could change your mind about what was happening, and enjoy that change?

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Photo by Maverick Sean Photography at USPDF Pro Finals 2019

Many of us resist change. Humans are creatures of habit. Patterns suit us. The Comfort Zone is, well, comfortable. To Enjoy Change, we need to be open to embracing the unknown, stepping into possibility, and welcoming newness. My invitation to you is to change the spelling: In Joy, Change. If you have resisted shifting into a higher version of yourself, slide a filter on it! Are you willing to be joyful about changing your mind? Maybe it’s joy, or maybe it’s love, or power, or boldness, or satisfaction. What filter of Being could you put on yourself and your life that would lead you to a more wonderful experience? (I am channeling Victory as I write this!) Choose a filter of Being that speaks to you!

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Photo by Maverick Sean Photography at USPDF Pro Finals 2019

Now try this with me. Take a breath, and call to mind a recent moment when you were less than yourself. You blew up on someone (or didn’t), had a breakdown (or didn’t), neglected yourself (or others), or any number of things. Get clear on your unconscious thoughts, words, and actions. Invite that filter you chose and see how your experience might have changed. Let your beautiful filter bleed over onto your present self. Now, if you were to encounter the same situation, how would it go differently? What would happen if you took that filter with you for a whole hour – a whole day – a whole week, or longer? Are you willing to try it??

I assert that, to a great extent, how we show up anywhere is how we show up everywhere. If you can acknowledge and redirect your internal selfscape – thoughts, sensations, emotions, your entire BEING – you will be able to do the same with your external words, actions, and interactions with greater facility and grace.

Mindset shifts like this are fleeting; make sure you create or secure sufficient support to maintain your new filter of Being. Journal, create community, read inspiring words, speak affirmations aloud, meditate, hire a coach, join The Creative Level-Up. And stay tuned for the next steps in the series!

Photo by Rachel E H Phototraphy

WonderPlayfully,

Elizabeth

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3 Simple Steps to Becoming Your Best – an Overview (part 1 of 5)

Let’s juxtapose two familiar moments.

If you’re like most people, you have moments of your life that feel wonky. Unproductive. Negative. Out of control. Not yourself. Off. We know in our heart of hearts that we are better than those moments.

Likewise, you probably experience moments of uncontrollable shiny brilliance. You are an all-powerful Being. Loving. Loved. Glowing. Flowing. Magical. Everything you touch turns to gold. We wish we could stay in THOSE moments forever.

Sometimes these moments seem to happen to us. While I have nothing against receiving blessings, I believe we can step beyond letting the Universe give us gifts. I believe we can create them on purpose, bringing our best selves to our lives – work and play, friends and family.

I propose a path to Becoming Your Best – one of many – and I invite you to practice with me. (I will cover each section in greater depth in the rest of this series on my WonderPlay Coaching blog – visit me there for more!)

Step Zero: Overall Mindset Shift

From “At The Effect” To “Be The Cause”

This really is the foundation, so I’m calling it Step Zero. Without creating this foundation first, there is no supported place to continue. Mindset shifts are fleeting; make sure you create or secure sufficient support to maintain your new mindset. Journal, create community, read inspiring words, speak affirmations aloud, meditate, hire a coach. Identify your “What For” in Becoming Your Best – Family? Career? Relationships?

It can be thrilling to allow the ocean of your circumstances to toss you about. It is a significantly different experience to be the captain of your ship, and to move in the direction of your choosing. If you wish to exercise more power and purpose in your life, Be The Cause of your movement. Connect with the source of who you are as Divine Creator. Identify and release the disempowering stories of who you used to be, and proceed boldly on your declared course.

1+ minute exercise:

(a) Identify a circumstance of your past when you were “At The Effect” of your world. (ie getting into an argument)

(b) What were the unconscious thoughts, behaviors, and feelings you demonstrated? (ie “If only ____ had said _____, then ______! It’s all their fault!”) 

(c) Ask yourself how it could go differently if you were to “Be The Cause” of your life in that same situation if (when) it comes up again. (ie “When I take ownership of my responsibility for communicating, I articulate my wants and needs clearly.”)

Step One: Notice

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In order to Be The Cause of your Being, first notice – without judgment – who you have been. People call this mindfulness, metacognition, presence, self-awareness, Super-Ego — whatever you call it, it begins with you extricating your big Self from your mindstuff. You know when people mindlessly ask “how are you?” and you mindlessly answer however you answer while you’re thinking about something else? Take the time to really ask yourself. Give yourself the gift of your own attention, even for a moment.

1+ minute exercise: answer these three questions as an outside observer watching the movie of your life, without feeling the need to judge or change.

(a) How am I, really, right now?
(b) What thoughts, feelings, and body sensations are in my space?
(c) What’s going on in my environment?

Step Two: Choose

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You get to Be The Cause of how your life goes. Your thoughts, feelings, and determinations are up to you – your responsibility, no one else’s. If you have that much agency over your life, could you choose to Become Your Best, more and more aligned with the greatest version of your Higher Self? The answer is yes – and at any moment.

1+ minute exercise: play the director in the movie of your life and answer these three questions.

(a) What is the hero’s highest purpose in this [scene, movie, series, life]? (ie Connection)
(b) What is the best next [action, interaction, feeling, scene, line] that would express our hero’s purpose? (ie clear the air with my argument partner and listen for what they need)
(c) When or how will the hero take that action, and what will the results be? (ie invite a conversation tonight, and we’ll be back in connected relationship afterward)

Step Three: Repeat

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Becoming Your Best takes as much practice as anything else. I recently shared with my musical theater students some advice I received when I was their age: “If you care about precision, don’t practice until you can get it right; practice until you can’t get it wrong.” It’s not bad or wrong for you to not get it the first time. It’s refreshingly normal. We are habitual creatures, and we need the reps.

1+ minute exercise: give yourself some reps!

(a) Choose a way of Being to maintain for at least 1 minute of activity. (ie Love) 
(b) Notice the effects of your Being on your activity. (ie appreciating brushing your teeth as an act of Self-Love)
(c) When you fall into unconsciousness (ie brushing your teeth mindlessly), re-Mind yourself of your Chosen way of Being, and come back to it on purpose.
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Thanks for taking a journey to Becoming Your Best. I believe that the better we each express our brilliance individually, the better we become together. Join me for more depth by following my WonderPlay Coaching blog, or join my newest collective, The Creative Level-Up, for weekly coaching and live masterminding (find the schedule here), or schedule a Discovery Call to find out more about joining a coaching group for even more direct support on Becoming Your Best!