It’s the most-used WANT exercise for a reason: it’s unexpected but it WORKS. Going through a major life transition, had a stressful month, or just wanting to take preventative measures to ensure you don’t have a *complete* meltdown when it all eventually feels like too much? You might be in need of a Planned Freak-Out.
In this episode we’ll talk about the origin story of the PFO, why it’s so different than any other goal-setting or self-reflection exercise you’ve done, and we’ll break down how to set yourself up for success in your own structured breakdown.
This episode is in support of She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit promoting leadership and encouraging women from all walks of life to run for office. By encouraging more women to run, She Should Run is building a more effective and representative government that can meet the challenges of the 21st century. To get involved or donate, visit sheshouldrun.org by clicking here.
Forget about F-bombs or the S-word…today we’re talking the REAL curse words that are causing us lasting harm. In this super-pragmatic yet personal episode, we’ll dive into why it is the words we use matter SO much, tackle what I call E.H.W.’s, and you’ll walk away with actual steps to censor these words in your life so they stop holding you back.
No words are inherently bad or good, but the three words in this episode are your new must-shifts. Consider them the New Wave Curse Words.
This episode is in support of Together Rising. Together Rising transforms collective heartbreak into effective action. Since 2012, Together Rising has raised over 2o million dollars, and 100% of what Together Rising receives from every personal donation goes directly to an individual, family, or cause in need. Together Rising identifies what is breaking the hearts of their givers, and connect the givers’ generosity with the people and organizations who are effectively addressing that critical need. To learn more, visitTogether Rising’s websiteorfollow them on Instagram.
An arm brushes against you unexpectedly at work. The yogi next to you scoots their mat a few inches to the right to make space. It’s a crowded class and knocks your elbow.
I’m so. so. sorry.
We live in a culture of over-apologizers. Sorry Not Sorry is a cute hashtag and a catchy Demi Lovato bop, but its resonance comes from a very real and very not-cute place: we’ve engrained Sorry so deeply into our vernacular that rebelling against it feels electric, almost dangerous. “Sorry” is a part of who we are.
The problem with over-apologizing isn’t just that it cuts away at our self-respect – how can we respect our own opinions if we’re constantly apologizing for them? – it’s also that an abundance of apologies makes us like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Or rather, the Girl Who Cried SORRY. You remember the story: there’s this kid. He’s watching some sheep. He thinks it’s HILARIOUS to yell, over and over, that there’s a wolf. The villagers rush out each time, terrified, only to be met by the little twerp laughing at them.
Of course, when a wolf finally DOES show up and he calls for help, no one believes him. Can you blame them?
If we’re known as a constant sorry-sayer, it doesn’t matter how genuinely sorry we are or how terrible we feel – our sorrys are not trustworthy and are deemed inauthentic. “Sorry” has become cheap, and is way too often associated with weakness or being a pushover.
But sometimes you screw up – majorly. Maybe it’s a missed deadline. Maybe you forget about important plans. Maybe you sleep through your alarm clock or lose a pair of borrowed earrings or think it’s Sunday when it’s actually Monday. Or maybe it’s worse.
Whatever the case, you’re deeply sorry – yet don’t know how to accurately portray how sincere you really are without coming across as flippant, disingenuous, or just another sorry-monster.
Saying “sorry” can be a way of protecting yourself from hurt (ie: “if I say sorry first, then maybe they’ll pity or empathize with me”) or clinging to relationships (ie: “if I say sorry, then they know they have the power”) instead of really, truly, feeling regret or sorrow over something you said or did.
But what about those times when you actually are sorry?
The most sensitive and aware of us are usually the ones that mistakes hit hardest. I highly doubt it’s just me that can/will dwell over a misspoken word or even a tone of voice that might have been “taken the wrong way.” I’ll dwell for days. Weeks. I mean, there are things I said or did in fifth grade I still stress over.
A sample from my collection of thoughts I’ve gathered over the years: Do they hate me? Will I get fired? Will he break up with me? Is my reputation dead? Should I just quit everything and start fresh where no one knows me?
The act of saying “sorry” holds a lot more weight than others may realize – especially for you, you Sensitive Soul. The trick is to subtly shift the way you apologize and be the slow-yet-steady change you wish to see in the world (because change and mistakes go hand-in-hand).
Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to how to say sorry, for those of us who get hit the deepest by our own mistakes and want to make our apologies last longer than just five little letters:
FESS UP COMPLETELY.
When we’re in the wrong, it’s tempting to lean on stories, excuses, or even little white lies in hopes of getting us in the clear quicker. However legitimate (or convincing, in the case of little white lies) your story, you’ve gotta face the facts. The act has already been done, the opportunity has been lost, and you just might have let someone down. An explanation might be necessary, but not if it’s in hopes of defending yourself. An explanation and an excuse are two very different things. Fess up completely, and explain whatever you need to in order to support your apology, not ask for a free pass.
As for the “omission of truths?” I’ve found that white lies can be habit-forming, or just icky. Little white lies are like plaque on your soul, and can (and will) build up inside you. Over time, they morph into a weighty guilt that is way harder to shake than telling the truth ever would be.
GO FOR QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY.
When you’re truly sorry for something you did, the best thing to do first is accept full responsibility – but keep it concise. Long, drawn-out apologies can seem inauthentic and water down your true intentions. Side note, they can make you seem weak, which you’re not. Acknowledge your faux pas, acknowledge the fact that you fell below your usual standards for yourself, then turn your focus onto the other person (friend, boss, lover, whoever). Look the other person in the eye and listen to all they have to say. Prepare to be met with at least a little bit of anger, frustration, or sadness. You might get a lecture and your impulse might be to go into defense mode. But being fully present, fully accepting of both the other person’s perceptions and emotions, as well as your own inherently beautifully flawed humanity, is one of the noblest, strongest things you can do to move forward in an effective way.
OFFER YOUR SERVICE.
Are you able to fix the situation? Get on it. Ask if there is anything you can do to help the situation – and offer clear-cut suggestions to prove you’re not just asking because you think you should. Is there something you can replace? Go find it. Is there an additional apology you can make to someone else? Go make it. Is there an errand you can run or a call you can make, or something unrelated yet needed that the other person values? Figure out what it is and make it happen. Being of service after a screw-up not only helps others feel good again, it helps you feel useful and proactive instead of ashamed and defeated.
MAKE A PREVENTION PLAN.
Ever heard that hindsight comes right after you need it most? Not necessarily. Forgive yourself first and foremost, then take at least one active step to prevent your mistake from happening again. Find yourself sleeping through your alarm when you’ve had a long day/week/month? Schedule a free wake-up call online. Work mostly off of memory or your phone’s calendar? Maybe an old-school, handheld Day Planner is what will help you stay organized (I personally need to take this advice – something about pen-to-paper keeps me on track like no app ever could). Did your mistake involve more of a slip of the tongue or an offensive remark? Start practicing extreme compassion and empathy in every single one of your interactions throughout the day. Constantly ask yourself what would make you feel good, how you would want to be treated, how you would want someone to breach a difficult topic to you. Basically, be the kindest, most thoughtful person you know.
The way you’re wired might be different than others, but the simple act of exercising empathy on a day-to-day basis could be the thing that saves you from a major misstep in the future. And if it doesn’t? You know what to do to make your apology count.
In the comments below, tell me about a time you made a mistake and had to apologize. What did you do to mend the situation or relationship? What was the lesson you learned as a result? Has it shaped the way you do things today?
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a version of this post originally appeared on the chalkboard mag in 2014
I’VE BEEN teaching group fitness classes for over a decade – way before it was trendy and cool, and definitely way before “fitpros” were the new It celebrities they are right now. This was back when people thought “spinning” classes meant twirling around in circles for 45 minutes, and when that one old friend of mine so casually commented, “You’re not planning on becoming the ‘exercise girl’ for the rest of your life, are you?”
The industry has changed a lot since I began, but the thing that’s remained at the core of fitness is that it’s rarely ever truly about the fitness part alone. What we do in the gym is practice for what we do out in the world – and fitness advice is life advice disguised in sweat and squat-jumps.
WHENEVER WE’RE working out, we’re shifted into a vulnerable state. Whether we’re doing vinyasas or vying for a new running PR, our breath deepens, our heart starts beating faster, and we’re thrust (or eased gently from a seated cross-legged position) into a state of self-imposed stress. And let me clarify: not all stress is ultimately BAD. It’s what we do within those moments of stress that stick with us. It’s the stress that gets us vulnerable, and the vulnerability that allows us to be open to shifting for better or worse in the long run.
And so if fitness advice is really life advice, then what we say (and how we say it) as leaders in that space matters. A lot.
Because what you hear is what you will internalize, and what you internalize will be the language you use out in the world to speak to others and yourself, way after you’ve gone on with your day.
NEGATIVE CUEING is a term used in fitness that generally describes any sort of phrasing that uses what you don’t want to happen as the main motivator. Think, “don’t arch your back.”
Negative cueing isn’t just saying “Don’t do X,” though. Negative cueing is anything that makes the person listening feel like who and how they are isn’t enough.
~ Negative cueing can look like…
It’ll be over soon(implying the current experience is worth skipping over)
I know you hate me right now(they probably don’t, but you just planted the seed that maybe they should)
Burn off that happy hour! (equates what you eat to how much you need to exercise, and that exercise should be food-motivated)
Ladies grab X weight, Men grab X weight(not everyone identifies as a “lady” or “man” and therefore you run the risk of people feeling left out – also this reinforces sexist assumptions; I know many women who can out-lift men ANY day)
You can do better than that!(um. maybe that IS their best??)
That’s not good enough, give more!(along the same lines; this might be their best work – but also shames the work they’re doing)
I know you want to fit into those new jeans / get that summer six-pack/ etc(implies everyone who works out is dissatisfied with how they look – and, moreover, probably should be)
Don’t give up(implies the person was going to give up at some point)
You know you can SMILE(omg please don’t force me to smile – give me something to smile about and I will)
I know you want to quit, but…(no, I actually did not, please don’t underestimate me)
Negative cueing can also look like self-deprecation in order to “connect.” Stuff like sharing with your clients/students/members how much you hate your thighs or how much you ate last night and need to “burn off.” Might feel cute or “down-to-earth” in the moment, but it’s reinforcing a dangerous epidemic we already fall prey to of bonding over negativity.
It doesn’t matter how “inspiring” you are or what cute tweetables you’ve got lined up to sprinkle throughout your class. If you’re not modeling self-acceptance, self-love, and what the journey TOWARD that actually looks like, your words are just words.
IF YOU’RE STILL reading this, are not a fitness professional, and wonder how or why this applies to you…think of all the times we cue negatively in our own lives. We do it to ourselves, and we do it to each other. We think we’re offering advice, being helpful, or inspiring someone else – but the hard truth is, it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are if your impact is creating a shame loop in someone else.
Anyone can study the objective facts. Anyone can teach a class or train a client. Literally. Anyone. You can buy the course online. But the way you talk, act, and live is what actually makes a difference in someone’s life in the long run. For better or worse.
Here are some alternatives for the negative cueing above:
Instead of:It’ll be over soon! Try:Can you give your all to this moment?(implying the current experience is one worth having)
Instead of:I know you hate me right now… Try: I’m your biggest fan right now(lets them know you’re their ally)
Instead of:Burn off that happy hour! Try:Literally just not talking about food. Just…don’t do it.
Instead of:Ladies grab X weight, Men grab X weight. Try:Grab a weight that feels(insert a feeling or a number of reps you’d like them to perform with said weight, so they can gage what they need for themselves). If you don’t know what that is, call me over and I can help you figure it out.
Instead of:You can do better than that! Try: If you were to give your all, what would that look like? (ask a question and have them come up with the answer themselves!)
Instead of: That’s not good enough, give more! Try:Can you maintain your work…or even surprise yourself by giving just a little more?(emphasizes the work they’re in as good enough, while giving an option to go farther if they can)
Instead of: I know you want to fit into those new jeans / get that summer six-pack/ etc. Try:How do you want to feel after this workout is over?(redirects focus to a feeling instead of a look)
Instead of:Don’t give up. Try:Keep going, you’ve got this.
Instead of:You know you can SMILE… Try:Not telling people how to react or emote – everyone processes their emotions differently.
Instead of: I know you want to quit, but… Try:You’re doing so great. (simple as that!)
NOT SURE if your cueing is negative or not? Find a mentor. Ask them to come take your class and keep their ears open for anything that could be improved upon. Not a fitness professional but want to monitor the negative cueing in your own life? Dedicate a week to hyper self-awareness. Maybe even tell a close friend, coworker, roommate, or partner that you want their help in calling out your language.
Oh…and as for that friend who asked if I was going to be “the exercise girl” for the rest of my life? That comment that made me doubt my path, my abilities, and my legitimacy as a professional adult trying to find her way in the world?
I sure hope so.
I sure hope that, in some capacity, I am up on that podium, all mic’d up, with my words out there in the open for everyone to hear. And if not, I hope I’m going to classes, keeping sweat dates with myself, or lacing up my shoes for a long run. Because what we do in the gym is just practice for what we do in life – and I want all the practice I can get.
I’m just gonna say it: we have an optimism problem.
Living with an optimistic approach to life is, undoubtedly, a strength and a personal asset. It’s forward-motion and seeing what could be, and finding the beauty in the possibility instead of the darkness in the seemingly inevitable. No, optimism (lower-case-o, neutral tone) by itself isn’t bad at all.
However, just like anything, there’s a necessary balance needed to make optimism actually work. If you pay very close attention, you’ll feel the disconnect when it happens. You’ll lose your words. You’ll realize that there is such a thing as being “too” optimistic: shutting out the realities of life as a means of avoidance and calling it “looking on the sunny side of life” or “glass-half-full” mentality.
I call it Blind Optimism.
How does this happen? How can something so inherently good betray us and bar us in? Blind Optimism is what results when we rely on our positive outlook to ignore, shut out, fabricate and gloss over our lives. It can minimize experiences and eat us alive – just likeCasual Negativity, cynicism, auto-pilot pessimism, and projection. It can gnaw away at our spirit, our relationships, and roll a haze of oblivion over our existence.
Blind optimism makes me dizzy – like carousels. Ah…the carousel. My amusement park ride of choice as a highly sensitive kid. I could get on and, for three whole minutes (or more) escape from everyone and everything around me (or more). And, of course, they were pretty. Anyone who has ever visited an amusement park or fairground knows: carousels are very, very pretty. With their porcelain hollow horses and spherical moulding on loop. And they make us smile (I mean, unless you have some sort of childhood phobia which has stuck with you through adulthood, but I’m going to discount that slight possibility for the sake of this metaphor). Most carousels cost mere quarters to ride, so it’s easy to just stay on and go around in circles ad nauseam.
But when the ride ends, we’re faced with the world beyond the beautiful lights and porcelain fairytale creatures. And if we’ve stayed on too long, there’s a good chance we’ll stumble off a bit more than wobbly.
Blind Optimism turns us away from facts and reality in favor of the carousel around the corner, going in circles and circles and circles and circles until we get dizzy and lose our bearings.
When we find ourselves caught in these nonstop-carousel-ride moments, one of two things starts to happen after a while:
a) The carousel stops being fun and eventually breaks down. There is only so much we can give. There is always a breaking point when it comes to extremes. Always.
b) The carousel becomes bothersome, saccharine, and dismissive; something other people tire of don’t want to go near. It’s cheesy and trite at best, ignorant and entitled at worst. We become a part of that fairy tale world playing on loop. And we find ourselves alone on a ride going nowhere.
People always comment on my optimistic life outlook, and when we’re all stuck in the collective doldrums together, ask how I stay so optimistic. The funny thing is – I don’t necessarily view myself as a glass-half-full Optimist. Pollyanna was admirable but always bugged me for some reason (which made me feel guilty, of course – sorry Hayley Mills). I always loved the brilliantly crafted songs and rad penguin dance parties in Mary Poppins, but the Practically Perfect nanny was never someone with whom I identified.
When asked for my “secret,” I chuckle a little and reveal that I’m not really a bona fide Optimist (capital O, chipper voice). I’m Practically Perfect’s alter-ego: Pragmatic. Proactive. Positive.
Life’s ups and downs are inevitable, and some moments will seem more hope-filled than others. So what can we do about it? We can see the facts in front of us and the projected outcomes ahead of us. And we can root for the positive while still recognizing the negative. Not myopically blinding ourselves to the possibility that things aren’t perfectly in place or might go awry…but taking in the world as is, seeing all the good and all the bad, and choosing to build upon what is good and right. It’s like true love: we love fully and deeply when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them.
To break away from Blind Optimism into Pragmatic, Proactive Positivity, our love of life and self MUST transcend those pitfalls and darkness. It starts by moving forward through things instead of around them. It starts with granting yourself permission for your self-like ebb and flow– because it’s normal, and because you’re human – and viewing self-love as the kind of unconditional unbreakable love that no high high or low low can affect.
It starts with letting go of searching for how good things can be in the future (or not), and instead sitting with how good things are right now (or not). It starts with looking at the glass not half empty or half full, but as a glass that’s being sipped from every moment. Easy but nuanced. Simple yet scary. It’s not easy work, but it’s right work. And it’s the work that’ll lead us to finding our genuine smiles, without the help of the ceramic ponies and the carousel leading nowhere.
'Tis the season for joy, laughter...and a lot of conflicting emotions around family, food, spending, socializing, and more.
Instead of a gift guide this year, I thought I'd give you something you can use through the season and beyond: a field guide of some of our WANT community's favorite tips, tools, and resources to shift your self-talk, especially during the most wonderful time of the year.
Scroll through, then gift this holiday guide to a friend who might need some extra support this season...
SETTING (MINDFUL) BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR FAMILY DURING THE HOLIDAYS + BEYOND
Setting boundaries (mindful boundaries) with our loved ones right now is crucial to not only our sanity, but to our relationships with our relatives. For most of us, we’re only with our extended fam a few times throughout the year, so it’s important that when we're all together, we’re working to build the kinds of relationships – and, so cliché, but the kinds of memories – we want to have.READ MORE ➪
I WAS SO BAD: BREAKING OUT OF FOOD GUILT
Even the teeniest bit of food guilt is more than likely to arise at one point or another, especially during the holidays. To fight against food guilt and fight FOR the body that deserves to be loved (<-yours!), put these three tips to use year-round. READ MORE ➪
AN INTROVERT’S GUIDE TO BEING SOCIAL (WITH SOUL)
Parties make you sweat...but also don't want to miss out on holiday cheer? I hear ya. Introversion and extroversion are not black and white; every single person has a bit of both inside them. The trick is not to try and change yourself into an extrovert or go against what feels true to you – it’s to know how to play up your strengths no matter the situation. Here are 7 ways to stay social while still being true to who you are at your core – no faking required. READ MORE ➪
DO’SHA KNOW: AYURVEDIC STRESS RELIEF 101
Stress is high year-round, but during the holidy months it seems to runneth over. Sahara’s take on stress: find your dosha and go from there. Think this is just another personality test? Ayurveda is about way more than the individual. It’s about living in harmony with the world around you, too. Take the quiz:READ MORE ➪
HOW TO DO A PLANNED FREAK-OUT
I can't get over how many of you have told me that this exercise is LIFE-CHANGING. I don't know about that...but I do know it has prevented many a meltdown in my own life, and also made me stay focused on what really matters. Here's how to do one.READ MORE ➪
ON SPENDING WISELY + LETTING THE GUILT GO
Maybe GIFT-GIVING is your love language. That's totally okay. Here's how to curb mindless spending...and how to check yourself when you're in the midst of "retail therapy."READ MORE ➪