Shift Your Self-Talk: Defining Your Through Line.

Shift Your Self-Talk: Defining Your Through Line.

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools Work

What is the common theme in everything you love? What is the common goal in everything you do?

Those, my friends, are the building blocks of your THROUGH LINE.

 

We’re all equipped with a through line; something we’re wonderful at and are meant  to give to the world. And while some people might suggest mantras or affirmations, it’s my firm belief that you can’t shift your self-talk without finding your through line first.


Negative self-talk might sometimes seem like it pops up out of nowhere, but when you boil it down to basics, it’s simply filler for uncertainty in purpose and imbalances in your mind, body and soul. 
With confidence in your purpose or through line, there’s less of the negative talk that we use to sabotage ourselves.

We cannot succeed if we do not love what we DO – or if what we do does not fit into the big picture. Once we find our through line and shift our actions to deliver that through line, long-term success is inevitable.

Notice the little things that fulfill you. Not necessarily the tasks themselves, but the meaning behind those tasks. Not so much the superficial What, but the hidden Why.

Notice the little things that fulfill you. Not the superficial WHAT, but the hidden WHY. Click To Tweet

You might have one through line or a couple. Here are two (and-a-half steps) to help you find yours:

STEP 1: MAKE A LIST OF EVERYTHING YOU LOVE TO DO OR EXPERIENCE. I MEAN EVERYTHING. The things that you seem to get absorbed by and fill you up from the inside out. Don’t worry about cohesiveness, list as many actions, experiences, and instances as you can think of. Cooking dinner, one-on-one time with friends, business strategy, binging on horror movies – it’s all fair game.

STEP 2: CAN YOU FIND A COMMON THEME IN THE MAJORITY OF YOUR ANSWERS? Try to find a mode and an output. Maybe not all the things you listed out fit together, but I’ll bet good money on the fact that a lot of them DO. Look beyond the obvious – the fact that you love to bake and you love to have spontaneous dance parties might seem unrelated, but when you dig deeper you might realize what you actually love is the act of creating something that brightens up someone else’s day. You love to bake – but when you’re sharing your treats with friends. You love to have spontaneous dance parties because it makes your husband or boyfriend or kid or dog even fill up with joy and laughter. There’s where your talents lie. That is your through line.

Here’s the optional half-step, if you’re feeling curious: just for kicks, make another list of everything you excel at. No need to hold back here – remember, confidence is not synonymous with narcissism or vanity.

Now highlight the things that you can recognize your through line in.

Does this list seem familiar? It should. Many of the things we love to do are the things we have a natural knack for.

Pretty cool, huh? These places are where you shine the brightest.

~

Need an example? Here’s what the first two steps of my exercise looks like:

Step 1: I love writing, interviewing others, singing, people watching, unfiltered and authentic conversations, listening to podcasts, music, running, teaching fitness classes, taking fitness classes, pretty much exercise of all kinds, yoga classes, acting, photography, singing and dancing at concerts, laughing out loud at movies, spending time with my family and soul-friends, reading non-fiction books or books written in the first person, public speaking, taking small chances, painting, drawing, playing board games that may or may not bring out my inner competitive Monica Gellar (where you at, Settlers of Catan).

Step 2: In most all of the things I love, I can see that my through line is using my unique voice to its fullest to help others find theirs.

But wait…how does this connect to playing Settlers of Catan or singing and dancing during Beyoncé’s Formation tour???

It goes back to my yoga practice, actually. I realized a long time ago that we learn best not from textbooks or bulletpointed protocols, but from each other. I used to practice amongst handstand junkies and power posers, and noticed that the people around them would get frustrated when they couldn’t get upside down. So I did an experiment: what would happen if I took Child’s Pose, a “resting” pose, in the classes where people were doing handstands, and I tried the more physically challenging poses even if I fell flat on my face in the classes where people shied away from things if they didn’t look perfect?

Lo and behold, people started taking Child’s Pose instead of forcing themselves into handstands, and playfully experimenting when the teacher offered up a variation on the familiar. Because I gave myself permission to publicly do what worked for ME, others started to give themselves permission to do the same. 

I see my “voice” not only in talking or singing to teaching, but in writing, drawing – movement even. I get bored or frustrated when I am required to do things exactly like someone else. I love listening to podcasts and reading non-fiction or books written in the first person because they spark a discussion inside my head; I can almost hear my voice chiming in with the author or speaker. I love taking those discussions out into the “real world” and making my community like my very own unofficial book club or listening group. Learning new information isn’t enough for me: I get high off of learning it, translating it, and discussing it in a broader yet at the same time more personal context. If I look closely, everything I love has my through line of “using my unique voice to its fullest to help others do the same” running through it. I stand for love – of others and yourself.

Whenever I feel discontent or useless or squashed down and dull, I ask myself…”Katie, are you using your unique voice right now and is it resonating with the best parts of others?” If the answer is no, even if I can’t fully escape the scenario that’s bringing me down, I divert my attention and place myself in a scenario in which I CAN use my though line to its fullest potential, however big or small that might look from the outside.

~

It’s easy to talk negatively about ourselves when we’re in those bang-your-head-against-the-wall scenarios. And we’ve all got to deal with those throughout our lives no matter what. Sometimes, things just don’t gel. But now that you know your through line, you can invest your time a bit more wisely. Go back and look at your list, see if you can identify a nuance of your through line, or a whole other through line altogether, that exists in your current situation…and try again. Trial and error is part of the deal. It’s all about changing up the approach. 

I’m not saying that once you figure out how or where you shine the brightest, you’ll always be shiny and sparkly. Life would be boring and useless without mistakes and missteps and those moments we feel the lowest of our lows. But if you’re strategically placing yourself in scenarios in which you can use your through line – whether it be with a new group of friends, a new relationship, a new job or simply a potential hobby you’re taking up – you’ll also feel those highest highs a whole lot higher. Your life will feel a whole lot more cohesive, and you’ll feel your purpose from the inside out.


WANT Yourself Action Plan:

In the comments section below, tell me what your through line is. How do you use it on a regular basis? Did you have an aha! moment that helped you realize what you were meant to give to the world?

Be as specific as possible – this is not an easy exercise, and your insight and experience might be exactly what someone else needs to read to realize the power they have within themselves.

WANT is a testament to the power of our pragmatically positive voice as a community and the impact we can have if we band together. Go for it, WANT peeps…


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a different version of this post originally appeared back in 2015 on WANT. see it here 

From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

From Zilla to Chill-a: What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (…By The Good Things)

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Sometimes it can seem as if the world is out to get us; that when it rains it pours and when it’s sunny it’s blinding. General consensus was that 2016 was the former – and if you’re anything like me, the last month or so has been the latter.

It’s really easy to talk about being overwhelmed when you’re overwhelmed by hard things – but it’s harder to talk about overwhelm when all things are GOOD. Mainly because, well, our inner critic tells us there’s nothing to be overwhelmed about. Overwhelm, it says, is about NEGATIVITY. And there’s nothing negative happening here. Snap out of it.

I’m no stranger to enrolling myself into Camp Overwhelm, usually unknowingly. And many times, it happens when the most opportunities are at my feet. I end up feeling anxious, self-sabotage, and the cycle repeats. Or I just have a breakdown. Either or. (Insert half-smile emoji here.)

I’m getting better at it. The things that used to overwhelm me no longer do. I remind myself I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again, and this is just another one for the list. But as a self-proclaimed go-getter, I sometimes back myself into a corner of so much good I don’t know what to do with it. My mind instantly starts up with the negative self-talk. Jeez Katie. First world problems. You’re overwhelmed because you’ve got so much opportunity. Be grateful, why don’t you?? The voice gets louder and louder and I sink into shame from feeling like my overwhelm means I’m not appreciative or happy. Which, of course, makes me a whole lot less happy.

Part of the reason we get overwhelmed when too many good things happen is that we try to give everything our full attention all at once. Think of it like an overcharged phone or camera battery circa 1990something: just like if you’d leave your device plugged in for too long it would overheat, when we live life in a constant state of bouncing from one high-high to the next, we burn out.

But the bigger problem, and reason why a plethora of positivity can swiftly turn negative – is because negativity is the language we’re using all too often on a day to day basis. It’s so easy to creep into negative talk in positive moments – so easy, in fact, that you might not realize you’ve gotten into the habit of it until good things come your way. It’s the language we use, the way that we bond, the tool we break out when we feel alone or scared or hurt or unsure or even just ambivalent. We can’t expect to truly understand and accept the good moments if we haven’t been practicing the language.

We can't expect to truly accept the good moments if we haven't been practicing the language. Click To Tweet

When left unchecked, our first response to Goodness-Overwhelm can be to complain or retreat into self-sabotagey behaviors to subconsciously “balance things out”  (kind of like how we hold ourselves back when we think we’re only allowed to have one “thing” we’re good at…). You might even feel selfish or guilty about being overwhelmed in the first place. If I can’t handle the good, am I even WORTHY of it?

I always used to wonder why soonlyweds got so -zilla’d out over wedding planning, and now I understand why: when so much good comes your way, you sometimes don’t know where to start. When you’re faced with an impending new beginning – whether it be a marriage or move or career opportunity – the giddy anticipation combined with the things you need to (nay, WANT to) do can bring out the best and most grateful person in you…or the most anxious and insecure. Moreover, if you haven’t been actively keeping your language in check, internally and externally, the good can feel foreign. You’re going from one extreme to the other – and are in unfamiliar territory without even knowing it.

I’m not going to get into the multitudes of ways you can manage your negative self-talk – that’s what this site is for. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, especially if the things making you overwhelmed are GOOD things, here are six simple strategies – three internal, three external – to help you proactively persevere through whatever whirlwind you’re facing:


• INTERNAL: SEPARATE THE EMOTION FROM THE SITUATION. 
The same rules apply when you’re dealing with overwhelm for positive reasons and negative or tedious reasons – because whether it’s a plethora of happy or aggravating things to focus your attention on, it’s still producing the same reaction. The difference is that when you’re overwhelmed with negative stuff, you’re more likely to force yourself to go a positive, proactive place. When you’re overwhelmed with positive stuff, it’s easier to pile on the guilt or negativity. Overwhelm isn’t a positive or negative thing – it’s just an emotional reaction to a situation at hand.

• INTERNAL: GET HONEST. Sometimes, overwhelm comes from the sheer amount of things occurring all at once…but sometimes, it goes a lot deeper. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s time to skip to the next step. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t think you deserve goodness or are afraid you’ll be disappointed, it’s time to recognize that. Are you overwhelmed because of the quantity of good things themselves – or because you don’t think you deserve them? Or do you secretly think it’s all too good to be true, and you might lose whatever has come your way? My friend Jen likes to say that “You can’t kill a good thing” – meaning that if something comes your way that is good, it’s yours for the keeping. Still skeptical? Read up on how to tackle Ghost Worries.

• INTERNAL: GET GRATEFUL. Oh jeez, you’re probably thinking. Another article on the internet telling me to be grateful for all the things I have. Hear me out for a sec. When I say “grateful,” I don’t mean flipping a switch to the warm and fuzzies. We cannot wait for gratitude to come. We must actively wedge the language of gratitude into our consciousness. And that doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions and pragmatically recognizing the good things in our lives, which are all around you. Self-sabotage comes in when the positive things in our lives simply become tasks to check off a to-do list or burdens we feel we need to carry – basically, when we lose touch with how wonderful these individual instances actually are. Practice seeing wonderful things, even if it feels forced or contrived or doesn’t feel all that wonderful in the moment. Learning a new language isn’t about conversing right away – it’s about repeating single words over and over until they become second nature.

Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions + recognizing the good things all around you. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: PRIORITIZE. After you’ve gotten real, gotten honest with yourself, and made gratitude a priority, get to prioritizing. Often times when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we’ll make decisions based on short-term relief instead of long-term success. Look at your day or week and compile a list of top to-dos. What is most important? What is most urgent? The things that are both important and urgent go at the top – they’re the things that matter most. What’s purely urgent (and not important) is usually reactionary and stress-inducing – skip them for now. We usually place so much importance on urgency we forget what is truly top-of-the-list material. Depending on your day, choose 3-5 top priority items, then draw a line and list the rest of your to-dos below that. Resist the urge to cross the line yourself (see below) until all the both-important-and-urgent items are taken care of.

Most importantly, do not be afraid to say no to as much as you need to. This might seem easy when your to-do list is filled with awesome things – but for some reason, we tend to over-extend ourselves OUT of that state of happy bliss way too often. When we’re overwhelmed and can’t see straight, we forget that the ability to say “no” and move forward, or just let certain things happen – not being a walking “yes” or people pleaser 24/7 – is the true sign of a leader who has things under control. And ps, who is able to enjoy the good things as they come her way.

• EXTERNAL: PICK YOUR PARTNERS. If you’ve ever read any sort of self-helpy article about busy-ness or overwhelm, you’ve probably learned by now to ask for help when you’ve got a lot to do. And it’s been repeated over and over again because it’s true: you simply cannot tackle every single thing in your life alone. Delegating tasks to others works. Loosening the reins of control over those things you don’t need to have a firm grasp upon (but need to get done) helps save your sanity and also forms a sense of camaraderie. A few suggestions: enlist those closest to you, visit TaskRabbit.com, and delegate at work so that you’re not leaving the office screaming every day.

But another important yet unexpected tip is to pick your celebration partners. Know who in your life you can call to talk you down from an anxious ledge and celebrate with you. Overwhelm is simply imbalance within a single individual. Help isn’t just needed when you’re in crisis mode – it’s needed when you’re celebrating, too. Whether it’s a friend or your significant other, know who you can turn to for support, laughter, high-fives, or pep talks when you feel your cup is about to runneth over. 

Help isn't just needed when you're in crisis mode - it's needed when you're celebrating, too. Click To Tweet

• EXTERNAL: TAKE YOUR TIME TO POWER THROUGH. All the positivity, planning, perspective, prioritizing, and partnering are nothing if there are not proactive steps made in a forward direction. Like the Nike ads say, just do it. But do it consciously. Treat the moment with the respect it deserves, not as a task you need to check off a list but a meaningful moment that is one of a kind. Take what I call “mental pictures” as you go, stopping to notice and note the details of when and where and how you are in the moment. Then take another step. Then another. Then another. It’s a tricky feat to balance savoring the moment and actually getting things done, but when achieved, it’s a surefire way to kick overwhelm to the curb.

When we’re overwhelmed, it can sometimes seem like the world is pitted against us, preventing us from accomplishing anything or feeling like we’re being the person we know we want to be. But you’ll find that once you start to show the world you’ve got things handled, once you start going, you start to realize that the sunshine is yours for the keeping.


WANT YOURSELF:
Have you ever had so many good things happen at once that you ended up feeling overwhelmed and anxious? How did you keep yourself in check and shift yourself out of a negative mindset? I’d LOVE to hear in the comments below…

Breaking Out Of Self Sabotage.

Breaking Out Of Self Sabotage.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

5:30AM: The alarm buzzes, and you refuse to open your eyes. Everything feels heavy. Your body is stuck in the drowned-out stupor of last night’s snackfest, when you raided the pantry and dove into that box of trail mix to accompany you as you browsed Netflix trying to find that one episode Crazy Ex Girlfriend you only got halfway through the night before. That one episode became four, and that handful of snacks became a now-empty plastic Costco tub of crumbs and pieces. That list of things to do is still three pages long, you feel puffed up and hung-over from snack overload, and that 6:30AM class at the gym you were so set on starting your day with is looking as unlikely as a sequel to the movie Titanic.

And so you wallow. You wallow in your despair, saddened that the great roll you were on only a few hours before has taken a different course. That good news you heard yesterday and that great opportunity you had last week don’t even seem so exciting anymore. I’m just not cut out for this today, you think. I’ll try again when I feel better.

Sound familiar?

~

Self-sabotage is a beast. It’s what we do when our long-held doubts and questions start to be negated and answered – and we panic. It’s those excuses we give and those rules we break semi-unintentionally. Self-sabotage is what keeps us from following up with that business contact that serendipitously came out of nowhere, what gets us digging into the fridge at 11pm when we’ve finally started to feel good in our skin, and what self-induces insomnia so that morning spin class is half over by the time our eyes flicker open in a groggy haze.

Self-sabotage keeps us in a place of fear.

And the difference between successful people and the ones that stay “stuck” in fear is not only self-sabotage – it’s control.

It seems obvious that success and control would be married, but it’s more like they’re…related. They’re slightly dysfunctional family members that love each other and need each other, but in too large of doses can drive each other into the ground.

Sure, success requires control to a certain extent. It requires control in vision, in preparation and in execution. The thing is, the most successful of individuals see the goal…yet relinquish control when it comes to the result. Successful people, above all, trust: trust that their hard work and preparation and high spirit will not be in vein, trust that their dominoes will fall into place, and most of all, trust that if their dominoes don’t, they’ll figure out a way for them to do so.

The secret to success isn't perfection - it's trust. Click To Tweet

Not too long ago (in the grand scheme of things), whenever things would start to go great for me, I’d start to make something go not-so-great. Probably to counter-balance what I thought deep down was something I hadn’t earned or didn’t deserve. More than anything, I was afraid of success. Failure was easier for me to stomach than the thought of possibly letting someone down once I was at the top. I’d react to Good Thing after Good Thing by falling back into my safe zones that kept me out of responsibility. Out of true extraordinary-ness. I’d do things that made me physically and/or emotionally feel awful. Forgetting deadlines (I don’t forget deadlines), binge eating or restricting (especially when I felt was getting too comfortable with the thought I didn’t have food “issues”), underpreparing for auditions (I was a serial over-preparer). Stuff that was completely antithetical to the ME I knew I was MEANT to be. These self-sabotagey habits kept me viewing myself as someone who was young, someone who was second-best, someone who needed help and assistance and was Less-Than. My legs felt heavy underneath me, and I’d cry to my closest confidantes that I felt like I worked so hard only to botch it all up. To me, self-sabotage was about staying in a zone that was safe, a zone in which I couldn’t be a true leader – because being a true leader meant I had nothing to follow but my own lead. And what’s more, if I could cry to someone about it later, I could be loved.

The “stuck” are without trust. The “stuck” are afraid of what happens if a domino accidentally hits another and takes a wrong turn, or stops the flow altogether. People who are “stuck” are so overwhelmed by outcomes that staying in the same loop begins to seem a whole lot more attractive. I know because this was me.

I don’t even recognize that girl anymore. I empathize with her, but god, she seems like such a far cry from who I am today. I now realize that I had major, maaajor trust issues: I didn’t trust myself to be able to handle success, and I didn’t trust that others would still love me if I didn’t “need” them in one way, shape or form. Oof.

Self-sabotage is a defense mechanism should we be given everything we dream of and not know what to do with it. Click To Tweet

Life is one big game of cause-and-effect, and we are hardwired to fear loss. And moving forward fearlessly into the life you know you’re meant to lead? There’s gonna be loss along the way. In a good way, yes – but sometimes, there will be losses you won’t be able to predict. Self-sabotage is nothing more than a sick, twisted defense mechanism should we be given everything we ever dreamed of and then not know what to do with it.

Because what if that happened? What if we literally got EVERYTHING we ever wanted? All our goals reached. All our boxes checked. Our lives would undoubtedly change. And change is very, very scary. We could have it all, and then lose it all once again! We could have it all, and then face a new host of obstacles even tougher than before! We have ZERO control over what happens once our light shines at its brightest. We could also do everything in our power to reach the goal but at the last moment, it’s pulled out from under us. That’s another option. The only way to succeed is to relinquish control – but relinquishing control sometimes means disappointment. So the “stuck” stay afraid, yet in control. The stuck person figures that if she fails, it’s gonna be at her own hands, not because of someone (or something) else. To make a dark analogy – it’s like goal suicide.

I’m nowhere near accomplishing all of my goals or feeling like I’ve got my shit together 100%, but here’s what I’ve learned about keeping yourself on…well, maybe not the “right” track, but the “right-for-you” track that will make you happy more often than not: Know what you want. Know EXACTLY what you want, every single detail you can muster up, even if it’s just a feeling. As a recovering sabotage-aholic, I can say that it’s not all going to be butterflies and roses, and you WILL have moments of relapse. We’re only human. It is inevitable. I had one last week. But when it happens, stop it in its tracks. Note exactly what you did, and dig deep for an answer as to why you did it.

Then do one thing to be proactive – to at least pick up some of the pieces and get the train rolling again. Strayed from your healthy eating plan? Have a green juice the next morning. Didn’t follow up with someone? Shoot off an email apologizing for being out of touch, and propose specific plans. Haven’t paid your overdue credit card bill yet? Pay that sucker and take the forty seconds’ worth of time to register for automatic bill pay.

Be proactive. Not reactive. Tell yourself you’ve got this. And ask yourself with full honesty, controlled intention, and release of the uncontrolled aftermath: How do I want my dominoes to fall?

self-sabotage


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a different version of this originally appeared on the chalkboard mag in 2012