How often have you received an invitation in the mail, where it has indicated No Gifts Please – Your Presence Is Your Present? There could be many reasons why hosts choose to include that instruction.

Maybe they end up with a lot of stuff they don’t need every time they throw a party; they don’t want their child to be greedy and would rather encourage them to be focused on the experience rather than the gifts; they don’t want their guest to feel pressured to bring something or to feel like they cannot attend because they cannot afford a gift.

These are all plausible reasons, but my most idealistic interpretation of that directive is that the hosts simply are interested in me being a part of their celebration. They want me there – body, mind and spirit.

It occurred to me recently that maybe that is the way I could approach the holiday season this year, with the perspective that my presence is my present, to myself and to others. That is not to say that I won’t buy gifts or lend a hand, but rather, that my primary purpose is to be truly present to the entire experience of the holidays. What a lovely thought! The question is how to do that without getting caught up in the stress of the additional holiday To Do’s.

So I have compiled a set of reminders for myself that I trust will bring me reliably into presence. Actually, I just mentioned the first step of the plan – remember to trust. Trust that everything that really needs to get done will get done; that enough will get done; that it will get done in enough time and at a high enough quality; that what I do and how I show up will be enough.

The next thing to remember is that presence does not just mean physical presence. For instance, I am sure the hosts that indicated, “your presence is your present’” do not expect you to show up, then hide in a corner on your cell phone handling the logistics of your personal or professional life. I am pretty sure they intend you to show up and be present to them and whatever they want to celebrate with you. They want you with all of your uniqueness to contribute to the breadth of their experience.

Similarly, presence calls you to be aware in the moment, to be fully there and experiencing what is happening now in your body, mind and spirit and aware of what is happening around you.

With this in mind, it seems logical to start with me first, by regularly checking in with myself and asking a few questions.

  • What does my body feel right now and what does it need?
  • What is going on in my mind right now and what does it need?
  • What emotion(s) am I feeling right now and what are they telling me I need?

My body may want more rest, like a nap or a hot bath; or, it may want more movement, like a leisurely walk or an intense workout. My mind might feel the need to organize all the to do’s swirling around in my head; or it may want the intellectual stimulation of researching an interesting topic, or lively conversation.

Maybe my mind wants to relax by watching a show or listening to music. My soul/spirit may want deep connection with someone I love, which can be found in a phone call to my Mom or a meal alone with my husband. Maybe my soul wants connection with itself and/or God (Source) through meditation or journaling.

There are endless answers to those questions and no answer is right or wrong. Actually, the answer might be the same for all three. A leisurely walk with a dear friend could provide the movement my body needs, the stimulation my mind craves and the connection my soul wants.

What is most important is answering those questions honestly and then going ahead and doing what best serves you. In this way, you orient from a place of awareness of your own experience. When you are present to your own needs and fill yourself up, you are then available to offer your full presence to others. Then the real fun begins.

When you make yourself present and available to others, you have the opportunity to continue being aware of your own experience, while also being aware of what is happening around you in your environment and what is being said, expressed and done by others in your environment. The REAL challenge is to be aware of what occurs in you in response to what is occurring outside of you, while STAYING with the experience and the people around you.

This can be particularly challenging during stressful times of the year. It is easy to let worry about all that needs to be done get in the way of being fully present in the moment. To be frank, even if you come into a situation totally full and ready to be present, you cannot actually stop the worry from arising. A person can mention an incident that occurred during their Christmas shopping trip, and BAM! You are instantly thinking about YOUR holiday shopping and how you have only just started; and money is running out; and the really popular gift your niece wants is no where to be found; and how you still have to wrap everything; and “Oh shoot, I forgot about the office grab bag exchange for tomorrow.” – on and on and on. Then suddenly you are aware of someone calling your name and saying “Hellooooo…. Are you even listening to me?”

The trick is to take that moment when someone or something calls you back to presence and choose to refocus your attention on the here and now. Sometimes that can be hard because your energy has followed the worry thoughts. It even happened to me just now as I was writing. I got caught up in the swirling thoughts about holiday gift giving and stopped writing while I worried, – until a misspelling alert popped up on my computer and reminded me that I am only writing about this scenario, not actually experiencing it. Once I was aware of my drift, I wanted to come back into presence; but I could feel my heart pounding really fast and I realized I was triggered. I actually had to take a few breaths to calm my system down. I also reminded myself that my mind was in the future rather than the present. The combination of breathing and noticing where my mind is – past, present or future – is a reliable shift move I use in the moment to bring me back into full presence.

The third reminder is that presence is neither perfect nor perpetual. Your attention will drift; and, if you are committed to being in presence, you will shift and refocus. I have given myself permission to acknowledge when I cannot bring myself consistently into presence due to the distractions of my To Do’s. I have gotten more comfortable with announcing that I am distracted and am instead just going to do a couple of the items on my list, while making an agreement to continue the conversation or activity at set time in the future. Knowing when you are irretrievably distracted is actually being present to your own state of mind.

Finally, I plan to remember that being present does not mean being infinitely available. Choosing to be more present during the holiday season does not require you to always be willing and available to give someone or something your attention at the drop of a hat. It means knowing WHEN you are truly available and then CHOOSING to focus your attention when you are ready. Conversely, it also means NOT agreeing to do something for or with someone unless you can give it your full attention. This, of course, requires you to remember the self check-in questions that help you determine what you want and need in any given moment.

To recap:

  • Remember to trust that what you offer is enough.
  • Remember presence means showing up with your whole body, mind and soul.
  • Remember that your presence will drift and you can recommit time after time.
  • Remember that being present means choosing to whom or what you are making yourself available.

These are the reminders I plan to use to shift myself out of Holiday stress and into the present moment experience of peace, love and joy that is always abundantly available.

Happy Holidays!

Have you heard the story of people capturing nuisance monkeys using jars filled with shiny objects? Jars are set out filed with objects the monkeys would want to touch. Instead of putting a top on the jar they leave an opening that could just fit a monkey’s hand with fingers elongated and squeezed together. The monkey sticks his hand in that jar, grabs the shiny object, but is unable to withdraw his hand because it is now shaped like a fist around the shiny object. Rather than drop the object and free his hand, the monkey holds on and struggles.

Humans are similar and we hold ourselves in place by clinging to those things that bring us immediate, yet temporary, pleasure or relief. When we are grasping at those shiny baubles of distraction we lose focus on what we really need to do in order to free ourselves – just LET GO. When we let go of wanting that shiny, alluring thing, we can then focus our attention on those things that will best serve us. We make better choices and better care for ourselves.

In my article, How To Identify The SNEAKY Distractions That Keep You From Caring For Yourself, I discuss how we unconsciously intoxicate ourselves and cloud our decision-making. There are all sorts of ways that we choose to do things that distract us from what will best serve us in the long run. I reveal some of the ways I tend to distract myself. You may see yourself in those examples, but because we all have our own unique ways of taking ourselves out of presence, I also provide some key questions you can ask yourself to identify your own shiny baubles of enticement. 

I would love to hear from you about the ways you distract yourself and how you plan to take that awareness and shift into more self-nurturing decision making.

As always, if you would like support in shifting out of your unconscious distraction patterns, please contact me. 

My dream for everyone is that they learn to set themselves free from the beliefs and behavior patterns that keep them from living their most fulfilling lives. And, one of my greatest joys is supporting women on their journey to freedom and fulfillment. Thank you for supporting me by reading this newsletter, allowing me a platform to offer my vision and support, which is part of my own journey to living my most fulfilling life.

With Deep Appreciation–

Michelle Thompson
Live in Radiance Coaching

Self-care is important.  We have heard it hundreds of times – from our from our friends, the news, social media, etc… Intellectually, we know it is true because it makes sense, especially when made clear with simple metaphors like: put your own life jacket on first so you can help others around you; or, you have to fill your own cup first before you have something to share with others. Yup, makes perfect sense.  Then why do so many of us struggle with actually following through with self-care and instead push to the point where we exhaust ourselves?

My theory is that it is actually rooted in pride and self-identity.

When we are tightly wrapped in the cloak of our identity, clinging to WHO we are can actually blind us to HOW we are. All the activity that is required to maintain a role can end up taking precedence over what our body, mind, and soul truly need. My particular combination of identities, that throw me out of whack, is my idealized version of the perfect mom, homemaker, wife, daughter, and spiritual seeker/life coach. I have other identities but seem to get less trapped in them. Whatever role(s) we identify with, if we hold on too tightly, we become less aware and can neglect our most fundamental needs. I found that out this Summer and learned my lesson in spades. I took on the ridiculous task of trying to be my idealized version of multiple roles at the same time.

I LOVE Summer because it is a time for me to recoup and reboot. I am fortunate to have a lakehouse to escape to with my three younger children who are not working full-time or at all. There we enjoy the lazy, hazy days of Summer. Well, at least that is my perfect vision of what it is like. In reality, I am perpetually out of sync with one of the two households I am managing, because while one group enjoys timeless days in the country, another set of people (my husband and two oldest sons) are working in the city.  I am not a very linear thinker so being on top of two households at once and anticipating the needs of both homes and all the people in them can get a little muddled. Usually, I am okay until I forget something really important or something breaks.  This Summer it felt like everything broke in both houses. This was a challenge to my Susie Homemaker identity and she dug in, scheduling repairs this way and that way, running back and forth between the houses.

Then there is the Supermom identity.

She spent her time scheduling driver’s ed, registering for camps and activities; getting supplies for camps and classes; organizing service hours and college visits; transporting kids to jobs, sports, activities, doctor/dentist/optometrist appointments; hosting endless sleepovers, making countless chocolate chip pancakes, being ever available with a compassionate ear, etc, etc… By the way, this one doesn’t need help. You get the idea.

All the while, The Spiritual Seeker/Mindful Life Coach kept reading and writing and coaching and taking classes on building her business. While The Supportive Wife, looked for ways to create less demands on her master-provider husband by trying to give him as much freedom of movement as possible while executing his job; creating a more efficient household budget, including reducing support staff; trying to make her business more financially sound; and being available to discuss the myriad of issues that come up with co-creating the enterprise of a big family, with a big life; oh yeah, and also finding time for date nights.

The identity that played the biggest role and took on a whole new meaning, was The Caring Daughter identity. She had never had a sick parent before and had no idea what it would feel like to maneuver care for a parent and her children at the same time, but she was determined to provide care in a way such that living in different parts of the country was inconsequential. She traveled back and forth between the mid-west and east coast multiple times throughout the Summer helping, along with her siblings, to care for her mom. The Perfect Daughter and Supermom actually work in tandem, continuously flowing from one role and into the other, then back again without taking a breath in between.

As much as I have tried to rationalize my present state of exhaustion, there is no getting around it. This did not happen because there were too many things to do.  It happened because I expected myself to do too many things.  I did not practice what I preach this Summer. I did not mindfully approach what I knew would be a challenging Summer. I did not pay attention to my body. I did not leave enough time for rest and renewal. I did not say “no” nearly enough. I did not fill myself up first. I just plowed through and let my ego take the reigns getting lost in who I thought I needed to be and what I thought I needed to do.

My combination of self-imposed, identity-strengthening to do’s may look like a lot the to-do list of other multi-identifiers out there; or, may even be just a tenth of what other people get done.  How my to-do list compares to another person’s is irrelevant. What matters is that I was not present, not aware of HOW I was being and feeling throughout this crazy summer, until it was too late. I met my threshold for movement, activity and strategizing and then sprinted past it until I collapsed. I mean it. I crumbled – spending an entire morning crying and the rest of the day dozing on and off, unable to execute the most basic of tasks. I was a hot mess. After consultation with professionals and family, we determined that I needed to slow down and something needed to give. That thing turned out to be building my business. Initially, I felt tremendous relief that I didn’t have to push with that aspect of my life. For the time being, I could just maintain. So, problem solved, right?  Not exactly.

Apparently, I also have an addiction to feeling like I contribute — all the time.  I have a problem doing things just for me. Even when I go ahead and do them and enjoy them, I feel guilty afterward and double down on getting to do’s done, effectively wiping out the benefits of taking care of myself in the first place. It is kind of funny how utterly and completely UNmindful that is, but, alas, that is me.

It actually took me a few tearful bouts of despair and weariness to fully acknowledge what I had done to myself. I had pushed way past my own particular threshold and judged myself for it, which then drove me to push harder and further, all the while thinking it was the set of circumstances and the expectations of those around me that were guiding my choices. After hearing over and over again from those around me that I needed to give myself a break, it finally sunk in that THEY didn’t think I had to do anything. It was ME, MYSELF, and I and the identities that I clung to in order to satisfy my idea of who I should be.

So my prescription for my lack of self-awareness and self-care is to take five days off, allowing myself only to do things for myself.  It is a responsibility and identity break. When I feel the need to do something to satisfy my idea of the perfect version of any of my lovely identities, I plan to do my best to notice it and let it pass by.  I expect to feel uncomfortable, disgusted with my laziness, anxious, sad, lonely, afraid of disappointing others and myself, among other things. I already feel some of these things as I anticipate my break. At the same time, I feel excited about the possibility of loosening my grip on those roles that I have previously let define me. I hope to create some space and self-awareness, in which I am able to redefine the roles I play in a way that allows me to thrive rather than crumble.

My invitation to you is to tune into your identities and where you are clinging and afraid to let go. Notice the next time you are tired and know you need rest, but push forward anyway. What role are you playing when you move forward? Is it the road warrior, the dutiful wife, the selfless volunteer…. When you are clear about where you are clinging, ask yourself if you are willing to loosen your grip if just for a few moments. You may be surprised at how hard it is to let go and that is where the learning begins.

Much luck to you all on your path to identity awareness. I have got to go pack…

The simple but not easy key to not letting conflict derail your closest relationships

Dissolving Conflict

Conflict is a regular occurrence in human relationships, but it doesn’t have to take hold and derail you from enjoying those relationships.

We all know that the potential for conflict to arise exists in all interactions with other people, especially in close relationships. Resolving a conflict can seem as simple as acknowledging that the people involved are wanting different things and finding a compromise. But that often doesn’t work because of what actually lies below the surface.

Stronger than the wants and needs is the fear each person has that their wants and needs will not get met.

From that space, others look like the enemy against whom we need to defend ourselves. This circular dynamic often continues until someone gives in (i.e. compromises).  The problem with this solution is that someone often ends up feeling taken advantage of, which breeds resentment.  Though discouraging and dissatisfying, this is a dynamic that endlessly repeats itself in many relationships because it is a familiar habit. But, there is an easy way to break this pattern and replace it with one that feels like a win for everyone involved – and it involves only one task, developing clarity.

By developing clarity, I am referring to gaining a clear vision of purpose in terms of how we want an experience to feel. When we are clear about how we want to feel, we can take steps to create that experience for ourselves in a way that is firm, open-hearted and curious, all at the same time. I find that I get to practice this most often with my children and husband. They are all often far more clear and unabashed about expressing what they want and why. Because of that, they challenge me to tune into my own wants.  

They can argue days on end for getting what they want, which in and of itself is not a problem. The conflict arises when I am unclear about what I want to experience. I often waver between what I want to do as individual and what I think I “should do” or “should want to do” as a mother or wife.  When I am waging my internal war between these aspects of myself, I wreak havoc in and around me.  I say yes when I mean no. I give in, then feel resentful.  I feel tired and confused.

What I have found to be reliably true, is that when I get clear about how I want to feel, I am remarkably centered and able to create exactly what I want.  It is not that I become rigid in my wants. I just am so clear about what I want and that I CAN have exactly what I want, that I become flexibly grounded – like dune grass waving in the wind. I can give a little here and there, but my roots hold me firmly in place.

For example, I can know on a given day that I want to work on my writing, have some quiet reflection time and do some errands with my kids. It is important to know WHAT I want to do, but even more important to know HOW I want to FEEL when I am doing it. So, I might think about those three things and determine that above all, I want to feel grounded and energized with an easeful flow from one task to the next. Knowing this, I would choose to start my day by meditating, which helps me to feel grounded. Then I would work on my writing earlier in the day because that makes me feel centered and energized.  That would leave the afternoon open for running around with my kids.  I would also know that I need to allow ample time for each errand, so as not to rush. Rushing does not feel easeful to me.

From this set of parameters, I can listen to my children’s requests and create a schedule that will accommodate their needs and mine. If there is not enough time to complete all the errands with each of them individually in one day, we can look at alternative scenarios. This works because I am clear about how I want to experience my day and I know that I will make that happen for myself.  I do not need to fight against my children and their requests for fear that I will give in.  If I am clear, I can entertain all sorts of requests and scenarios.  I am open and available because I am taking care of me first by tuning into my own clarity of purpose.

Simple? YES!  But, not so easy.  Despite the fact that I know how incredible it feels to be flexible and operate from a place of centered clarity, I still routinely find myself in conflict with my kids and their wants.  This practice of clarity requires presence and awareness of my internal experience.  It is dependent upon being aware enough to notice that something doesn’t FEEL right and being aware enough to know that it is time to tune in and figure out what I want.  The challenge is that we, as human beings, all have our own ways of going out of presence with ourselves making it difficult to be self-aware.

The way I go out of presence is through my tendency to look outside myself toward others and attend to what they need first. Over the years, I have come to see how that works against me.  Taking care of everyone else first may assuage my initial angst about them being unhappy with me: that is to say, that I temporarily get to feel okay because everyone is feeling okay with me. The problem is that if I always look out there at them, trying to take care of them, I end up not having time to take care of myself.  It’s simple math.  There are more of them than me. When I get stuck in this behavior pattern, I have gone out of presence with myself.

At some point I notice my needs haven’t been met because I have been satisfying other’s need and  I start to feel angry and resentful. Conflict ignites. I think it is their fault because they need too much. I make their needs bad and annoying and something to avoid. I think that they need to stop wanting and asking for so much. The payoff is that if it is their fault, I don’t have to take responsibility for being aware of what I want or for satisfying my own needs.  Though it feels terrible, again I am temporarily off the hook. It feels like an endless merry-go-roundl when I am lost in it.  But, I HAVE found an effective way to pull myself out.

Through lots of practice, I have learned to notice (often daily) when I am feeling tired and resentful because I am doing things I don’t want to do. These are my signals that I am out of presence. As soon as I notice, I stop and ask myself “Are you clear about what you want?” When the answer is “no” I make myself sit down and breathe slowly, in and out, in and out ….until I can identify what I really want to experience. Then I sit some more, letting myself feel into that clarity for a minute or two. When I truly feel completely clear, I get up, re-engage and flow freely throughout the rest of my day.  The best part is that I don’t need my kids to do anything. Their wants are no longer a problem.  There is no conflict with them because there is no conflict within me.

If you recognize that the tendency toward conflict exists in your close relationships, and know that you don’t want to let conflict weaken these relationships, you can simply choose to dissolve conflict when it arises. When you see conflict lurking there, threatening to take hold, take a moment and get clear about what you really want to experience. From that clarity, re-engage.

If you really, really want to eliminate conflict, start to notice the way(s) that you go out of presence with yourself. Notice patterns of behavior that distract you from feeling the loss of not getting your needs met.  Do you binge watch TV, drink alcohol, keep yourself constantly busy, volunteer endlessly, spend hours on social media, read books on how to change your kids/ spouse, etc.?

These and many other habits are ingenious ways our psyches use to distract us from the discomfort of the truth that we are not taking responsibility for creating what we want. When we use these distraction techniques, we get to blame others and escalate to the ultimate level of distraction – CONFLICT.  It’s an endless cycle until you choose to break it. Simply put, it all comes back to you. When you get clear and take care of your needs, you dissolve conflict and get to enjoy easeful relationships.

Click here to schedule a complimentary 30-minute DISSOLVE CONFLICTS EASILY coaching session.

The Universe is Like a Perfect Butler

The universe is like a perfect butler.

We ask for something and it responds with “As you wish.” Moments later the butler returns with what we asked for delivered on a silver platter.

You may be thinking, “sure, that’s how it works for you, but not in my life.” I say to you, Not True.
This cosmic butler works the same for everyone.
We ask and it is given.

The problem is that we don’t always recognize it as the answer to our request.

What is actually delivered to us is the opportunity to create what we have requested and we have to make the choices that take us in the direction of what we want. For instance, we want to be brave and we put out the cosmic request “help me to be brave.”

What we get in return is an opportunity to be brave.

If you are afraid to speak in public and wish to overcome it, you are presented with the opportunity to address a large audience. The bravery is developed when you step up to the podium shaking like a leaf, speak to the audience and survive. Voila! You were just brave.

We are perpetually putting out the request to be a better version of ourselves with our desires. Hoping to be more kind, patient, loving, brave, decisive, organized, etc… And the universe/God/Source is always responding with opportunities to strengthen and develop those aspects of ourselves.

The place where we seem to get the greatest opportunity to heal and strengthen ourselves is in our closest relationships. It happens all day, every day. However, we often miss this opportunity by looking at the situation that is offered to us and seeing a problem with the “it” or the other person/people involved, especially if that person is our significant other or child.

The best way I know how to shift out of the fogginess of seeing a problem out there and into an awareness of the opportunity that is being offered to me is to ask the question “How is that just like me?”

When I ask “How is that just like me?” I am receiving that silver platter from the cosmic butler and thinking “What opportunity to see myself have you brought me today?”

I describe this process in more detail in my article…This Sneaky Mind Trick Can Prevent A Ton of Unnecessary Fights. Take a look and see if you are willing to see those “problem” situations as gifts from the universe.

Thank you for being a part of this conscious community.

Michelle Thompson
Live in Radiance Coaching

P.S. If you’d like to stop the unnecessary fighting and consciously create the relationships that you want, book a Create Harmonious Relationships Now coaching session, where we will work together to:

  • Create a crystal clear vision of what loving communication means to you.
  • Uncover hidden beliefs that are fueling the fights and getting in the way of authentic, loving connection with your loved one.
  • Have you leaving the session renewed and inspired to deepen your connection and create your ideal relationships.

Click here to schedule a complimentary 30-minute Create Harmonious Relationships Now coaching session.


Good Guy – Bad Guy

For as long as I can remember, I have used the Bad Guy – Villain view of others to solidify my role of Good Guy. My goal has always been to serve as a harbinger of peace and harmony.  It has taken me many years to understand how my Good Guy – Bad Guy approach actually fosters the exact opposite result in and around me. By seeing another through a Bad Guy filter, I blocked the potential for curiosity, compassion and the valuable learning in realizing how their behavior is a reflection of me. It is a close-hearted, protective, defensive approach that blocks the flow of authentic connection. This black and white way of seeing things creates separation rather than connection, putting up a massive brick wall between the two, which I am finally knocking down brick by brick.

I have noticed that this Good Guy – Bad Guy filter has been a survival method of mine since I was young. It was mild when I was younger, not really impacting my close relationships, as I didn’t perceive any real villains in my inner circle.  As I got older and opened myself to more experiences, moving into the more challenging and vulnerable experiences of adulthood – getting married, having five children – the practice intensified.  It would rear its head when I came up against personalities and perspectives that were very different from my own; that is to say their fundamental focus wasn’t the same as mine. Peace and harmony, above all, ruled my world. “Let’s all just get along.” was my motto.

As I moved through my adult life, I didn’t understand how people around me, people I loved dearly, didn’t see life the same way.  Peace and Harmony wasn’t their goal. They had a different agenda rooted in their needs and the way they made sense of the world.  When I found my view of things challenged, especially if I was being criticized for my view/approach, I would lose my footing, forget what I thought, lose my perspective, forget what I wanted. The only way I knew to recapture some stability was to position my challengers as The Bad Guy.  That way I could re-orient and settle back into my role of The Good Guy – Harbinger of Peace and Harmony. It took me a long, long, long time to realize that that simple mind game actually prevented what I wanted most.

True peace and harmony does not exist in the presence of the Good Guy – Bad Guy polarity. It just can’t, because the dynamic does not allow for either person to be truly seen, heard or accepted. There is no room for authentic connection and peaceful resolution.

The funny thing is, all along, even before I could see my pattern, I experienced the difference between engaging from polarity and engaging with an open heart.  My nature is to engage with an open heart. However, when my openhearted approach was challenged, I tended to crumble. For a long time, I didn’t see how detrimental my survival technique was to my overall sense of peace and harmony within myself.  My survival technique actually went against my nature. It prevented me from seeing the other person’s pain and feeling compassion for them.  It showed up many places, but most intensely in my marriage and even in interactions with some of my children.

In my mind, it was bad not to be all about getting along with others.  And, if you didn’t have that objective, you must be a Bad Guy.  In doing that during difficult, often painful interactions, I blocked myself from the full experience available to me.  I blocked myself from the opportunity to transmute the pain into learning and understanding about myself and my challenger. I blocked the flow of peace and harmony, because peace and harmony can only exist when all parties are allowed to be themselves and are accepted as they and appreciated for who they are. When I pinned on the Bad Guy badge, I wasn’t allowing or accepting.  And, I DEFINITELY wasn’t appreciating. Not so surprising, I also was not allowing, accepting and appreciating the Bad Guy in me.  In playing the Good Guy, I didn’t allow my true anger and judgement see the light of day.  I denied it, pushed it away.  Good Guy – Bad Guy blocks full expression and acceptance to all parties involved.

So in my world, if you express big anger by yelling at me – you are a Bad Guy. If you judge and criticize me, you are a Bad Guy. If you threaten me, you are a Bad Guy.  You get the idea… Would most people generally agree that yelling at, criticizing and judging, or intimidating another person is “bad”? Maybe, but placing the label of Bad Guy blocks the potential for seeing the truth.  If I label you as the Bad Guy, then I don’t get to look underneath and see your pain.  I don’t get to see how you are just like me, trying to get your needs met.  I don’t get to see your fear and how you are letting it drive your actions. I don’t get to be curious and ask what is really happening for you.  I don’t get to ask you what you really want. I don’t get to see myself in you.  I don’t get to wonder what about your behavior is a reflection of how I feel inside. I don’t get to truly see you or me in this moment of conflict. I don’t get to focus on the one thing I can control – myself – because I am busy blaming you. I don’t get to experience what I want most – peace and harmony internally or externally.

Bad Guy – Good Guy is just one giant brick wall.

Once I became aware of this polarizing pattern of mine and was able to see it clearly showing up in my interactions, I began to drop it. It didn’t altogether disappear, as it was a strongly entrenched survival technique after practicing it for so long. I had simply decided to let it go when I saw it making an appearance.

My practice now is:

  • I notice and acknowledge that I am triggered. (If I hear myself thinking things like, “she shouldn’t be doing that” or “he is bad for acting that way,” these are signs that I am triggered.)
  • I drop the thought. Turn my attention inward and tune into what I am feeling in my body and what emotion is present.
  • I feel my feelings by breathing into the sensation in my body where I feel the emotion.
  • With a more spacious heart, I wonder “How is their behavior just like me?” This is where the learning begins.

And just like that, with each step, I take the Good Guy – Bad Guy wall down brick by brick.

If you’d like to hear an audio snippet from my conversation with Diana Chapman of the Conscious Leadership group on the intelligence of our emotions, click below.


There are many valuable resources, concepts and theories out there that illuminate what it means to live life from a conscious perspective. The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, written by my mentors, Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman and their colleague Kaley Warner Klemperer, is hands down the most comprehensive, practical and effective application of the concept of being a conscious creator.

There is no stone unturned, no aspect of your being or your behavior that is not addressed in this system of life engagement. It is the quintessential guidebook to living consciously in all realms of experience. The title may imply its focus is mainly on consciousness, as it relates to your professional life, but I choose to interpret the term ‘leadership’ as more widely applicable.

I see myself as a leader in my own life, in my family, in my marriage, in my community AND in my professional life. I say this from the perspective of viewing myself as the one responsible for creating all of my experiences, in all aspects of my life, and that, by doing so, I impact those around me. We are all leaders in this way.

The concept, showing up as leaders in our lives, is highlighted in the very first commitment titled: Taking Radical Responsibility. The commitment states that “I commit to taking full responsibility for the circumstances of my life and for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. I commit to supporting others to take full responsibility for their lives.”

This idea alone is an enormous shift for most of us.

Our culture teaches us to blame circumstances, other people’s behavior or our past experiences for the way we choose to show up in this world. Once we truly understand that we are the creators of our own lives, that we are 100% responsible for creating our experiences, we can stop the cycle of unconsciously creating what we don’t want and shift into the power of creating consciously.

From this perspective, our attention must go inward. There is no blaming of anything outside ourselves for where we are. If no one and nothing else is to blame, then we can look at ourselves and recognize what thoughts and beliefs have gotten us to where we are. If where we are is not where we really want to be, we can choose to drop the thoughts and beliefs that got us there in the first place.

Why hold onto that which no longer serves us?

It is empowering to know that I am the source of my own fulfillment and happiness. I alone get to choose what I think and what I believe. How incredibly freeing it is to realize that NOTHING NEEDS TO CHANGE AROUND ME FOR ME TO BE HAPPIER. I am no longer dependent on things I have no control over, like other people’s feelings, thoughts, beliefs and actions. From a 100% responsibility perspective, all I am responsible for is what I think, what I want, what I do, what I say. If I trust that is all I need to do, I can allow others to take responsibility for themselves. I get to be who I am and they get to be who they are. It is a lot less stressful to realize this, rather than needing everyone else to be a certain way and thinking that I need to make them be that way.

What I love about The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership is that it actually provides a framework for integrating the concept of radical responsibility and the other 14 commitments into everyday life. It is not just a theory, it is a practiced way of being.

It is a pathway to freedom.

Enjoy this audio snippet from a conversation that Jim and I had about taking 100% responsibility for your life.

Law of Attraction Coaching

As long as you’re letting joy be your guiding light, then you can always stay in balance. –Abraham Hicks

We all have the capability of living life radiantly if we do just two things:
1) accept that the Law of Attraction is always at work in our lives, making us powerful creators;
2) take 100% responsibility for creating our life experiences.

Accept the Law of Attraction is always at work

First is important to understand what the Law of Attraction is.

The Law of Attraction in it’s most simple form states that: like attracts like

or similar vibrational energy attracts similar vibrational energy.

So, why does Law of Attraction matter?

It matters to us because everything we do, think, and feel emits vibrational energy. Anything said, done, or felt while in a state of Joy emits an extremely high vibration and attracts people, thoughts and experiences with similar vibrational energy. We have all experienced at some time or another when a joyful person enters a room and the mood is immediately lighter. We say “the whole room brightened when she walked in.” And I think we have also all experienced the opposite. We are sitting in a room filled with people having fun and an angry person enters the room casting a black cloud on the fun. We say things like “he sucked the energy right out of the room.”

What happens differently with the people in the room in these two scenarios? The angry person goes to sit in a corner, begins to complain and is joined by others who complain and is avoided by those more interested in having fun. The joyful person is greeted with cheers, or hugs and handshakes and expressions of appreciation that they have come to join the party.

Like attracts like, ALWAYS, whether in anger or in joy.

Like always attracts like. The Law of Attraction is always at work no matter whether we are aware of it or not. This is great because it is easy. We can relax and trust that the Law of Attraction is bringing to us what we are asking. The problem arises when we are not actually asking for what we really want; that is to say, when our underlying beliefs don’t vibrational match what we consciously say we want.

When we are out of alignment with what we want, we don’t attract what we want, but usually the opposite.

For example, a young overweight man may say “I really want to to be thin and fit.” That certainly has a positive tone to it and should attract experiences and thoughts that are a vibrational match. So why is he not getting thin and fit despite the exercise, dieting and visioning? The reason is that he is not aware of a much stronger negative, lack-based vibration that he is emitting as a result of his underlying beliefs. Every time he says or thinks “I want to be thin and fit,” he feels an immediate twinge of excitement about feeling and looking fit. However, almost immediately the thought is replaced with several more thoughts and beliefs: “I hope it works this time. I always lose some weight and gain more back. I hope that doesn’t happen this time. Diet and exercise have never worked for me in the past. Oh, I’ll never lose this weight.” These thoughts are stronger because he has been believing this his whole life as he has struggled with his weight. Consequently, these thoughts have a much more intense vibration and are way more powerful than the conscious thought “I want to be thin and fit.” Soon he begins to sabotage his own fitness plan, maybe by cheating on his diet or skipping workouts.

Take 100% responsibility for creating your life experiences

In order for this young man to get what he wants, he will need to become aware of his unconscious belief that he can’t lose weight; AND, accept that the Law of Attraction is bringing him what he is asking for as a result of the vibration he is emitting with his negative thoughts around his physical condition. This is where step two comes into play. He now needs to take responsibility for his thoughts and actions by consciously working to let go of those underlying beliefs that get in the way of having what he wants, a thin and fit body. How does he let go? He let’s go by first noticing and observing those thoughts of lack, then just letting them float by, not attaching to them, and replacing them with a better feeling thoughts. It is important to notice the feeling that a thought brings up, because it is the intensity of the feeling and emotion around a thought that determines the strength of the vibration that it emits. That is to say, the more you believe a thought and the more that belief generates strong emotion, the stronger the vibrational energy you will be sending out into the world. This works both with negative and positive feeling thoughts and emotions.

This brings us to another important thing to understand. We cannot make abrupt and large vibrational leaps, say from despair to joy, in one thought. For example, this man could not genuinely jump from “I will never lose weight” to “I have a thin and fit body.” Why won’t this work? Because his beliefs and feelings are not actually supporting that leap. So if he were to try on “I have a thin and fit body,” he would notice that he doesn’t actually feel better. Instead, we need to move incrementally up the vibrational ladder. For instance, anger and rage have a higher vibration than despair. So moving from despair to rage is actually positive movement. Moving from “I am a lost cause. I will never lose weight.” to “I am furious that I haven’t been able to lose this weight yet.” actually feels better. There is more energy around it.

How do we move up the vibrational ladder?

It is simple. Find a thought that feels slightly better. In this example, “Oh, I will never lose weight.” might turn into, “Well, actually I have lost weight before.” This in turn might change to “I suppose I could lose weight again.” Both these thoughts are gradually moving up the vibrational scale. At this point, he has become a conscious creator by choosing better feeling thoughts. He will need to do this every time he notices a negative thought about his weight coming to mind. Eventually, he will have fewer of the negative thoughts and will begin to find evidence of his desire coming to him. As he experiences the evidence of what he wants coming to him and feels the pleasure of the experience, he will emit a higher vibration and attract more of the same. As he comes into energetic alignment with his desire, he will have harnessed the power of the Law of Attraction, and become a conscious creator.

So, we all have a choice between being unconscious creators and conscious creators. The Law of Attraction will support us no matter which we choose. We can all choose the path of being a conscious creator and begin living radiantly right now.

What choice will you make?