What Thoughts Are Holding You Hostage?

Last week, I got into the Easter spirit by dying eggs with a dear friend and wearing my bunny ears to dinner with my family and May.

In church a few mornings ago (I know, when do I ever talk about what I learned in church??), we talked about the things that hold us hostage–the situations, people, world events, inner beliefs, or thought patterns that trigger us. These are the things that take us out of the present moment, fester inside of us, and make us feel angry, resentful, unforgiving, sad, and disconnected from ourselves, our inner peace, and God/The Universe/Source.

When we’re in that angry/resentful/disconnected state, we tend to do things that exacerbate those emotions and hurt ourselves or others even more.

I tend to get taken hostage when I’m driving. I’ll be behind the wheel and then thoughts about past situations involving former friends, bosses, and romantic partners seep in and fill me with rage, resentment, and hurt. So when the car in front of me is going too slow, or when another car cuts me off…what do you think I do? Do I peacefully change lanes or slow down to let someone in? No! I honk my horn like crazy and shout obscenities, which endangers myself, endangers others, and doesn’t even make me feel better!

That’s the thing. Even when we’re in that emotional state and take a somewhat destructive action, we don’t even feel a release or feel peaceful at all. When we’re taken hostage, honking our horns, cursing someone out, or snapping at someone doesn’t give us what we’re really look for. We’re looking for a way out, a way back to inner peace or a way to restore our connection with God. Taking that quick, negative action doesn’t get us there. Taking a breath, saying a quick prayer, wishing someone well, finding gratitude in something–all of those things return us to peace…and makes us more powerful. So when that past situation, person, or negative inner belief comes to the surface again, it’ll have less and less power over us, and then will eventually stop bothering us.

The next time something tries to take you hostage, all you have to do is just recognize that you’re being taken out of the present moment. Simply recognizing when you’re being taken hostage will give you power. Then, you can choose what to do with whatever is bothering you. Maybe you take a few deep breaths. Maybe you drink some water. Maybe you journal or pray or vent to a friend. These things will help return you to inner peace quickly–so that you take action from that space and live with ease.

Then, no matter what anyone does or says to you, you’ll still be chilled out and happy!

There’s a new 3-Second Rule in town…

A couple weeks ago, I attended a Disney/Batman themed wedding. And on Thursday night, I taught a body image workshop for UMD CHAARG at my alma mater. It was amazing!

Alright I have to out myself. The girl behind The Happy College Girl has been pretty…angry, judgmental, snippy, and negative lately. Aside from all of the crazy sh*t going on the world right now/always, there are some things in my own life that I really let get under my skin. In fact, I’m stewing about something RIGHT NOW.

Ug and when I’m in that mad, resentful place, I tend to say really mean things to and about other people. My voice takes on a harsh tone and I use all kinds of foul language. Other people get exhausted by me. My mind and body get tense and anxious. And the situation or people I’m mad at don’t get better. In fact, all of that anger and resentment just hooks me into that situation/person even more…and then it’s even harder for me to make peace with it. Gah!

Can you relate to feeling so angry and resentful at a person or situation that you say something really mean or snippy in the moment?

It’s so easy to let a person or situation trigger us into saying or doing something impulsive. But when we say or do that thing, we only feel slightly better. Then we get hooked into the situation even more and it takes us even longer to experience happiness and peace.

I’m not totally sure how to stop myself from saying or doing something impulsive out of anger…or from letting anger and resentment overtake me and ruin my whole day (or just part of my day). But I know it affects other people, doesn’t make them feel good, doesn’t make me feel good, and doesn’t do anything to move me forward.

That’s why I’ve decided to experiment with the 3-Second Rule–not the one that allows you to eat food that’s been on the floor for three seconds or less. This 3-Second Rule requires you to wait three seconds before speaking. The next time you’re having a conversation and you’re about to say something (even if it’s totally positive or benign), count 1, 2, 3, and then speak. I like this rule because it gives us a few moments to decide whether what we’re about to say will make ourselves and our conversation partners feel good and/or will move us forward in some way.

Then, no matter what we say, whether it’s that impulsive thing we were going to say anyway, or whether we’ve filtered it a bit, at least we took those crucial moments to think before we speak.

I think that the 3-Second Rule can help us be less reactive to people and situations so that we experience more peace, ease, and happiness in our lives.

How To Handle FOMO

Hope you’re doing great! This week, I went to a conference and slept in my car between sessions because I was so tired, ate lots of Italian food, and went to a sprawling lights show with May.

I also got a chance to Skype with a friend, and we talked about how easy it is to think that no matter what we’re doing in our lives, we should be doing something else.

Know what we mean?

Our culture puts so much pressure on us to live perfect, adventurous, yet peaceful lives, and no matter how hard we try to do all of that, we still think we’re not doing enough. The millions of opportunities we have per day to engage in comparison exacerbates our feeling of inadequacy and pushes us even harder to strive for perfect lives, worthy of envy. We’re bombarded with messages every day about how our lives are supposed to look–so that we get approval and admiration from others.

We work so hard to live a “perfect” life (whatever that is) or we constantly looking at what our friends/acquaintances are doing to see how we measure up. But when we do that, not only do we exhaust our mind and body, we also miss out on the awesome life we could be living right now. We spend so much time trying to achieve some made up social ideal that we lose track of what truly makes us happy. Then we end up doing things or spending time with people who don’t really make us feel fulfilled. Then we become unhappy, resentful, and lost about how to move forward.

I struggle with this every day–and I especially struggled with it after I moved home from school and had no idea what to do next. I know you can relate.

That’s why I created some awesome tips to help you move through moments of comparison and inadequacy about your life choices. I used these pretty much every day of 2015…and still use them today!

Check ’em out:

1. Use the acceptance prayer. This is a classic one, and so, so helpful. Whenever you get a pang of anxiety, FOMO, or inadequacy, say this to yourself and feel a shift: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

2. Saturate yourself in books/content about acceptance. Acceptance will set you free and push you forward. Read Radical Acceptance by the amazing Tara Brach. Read these quotes. And this one from my former coach Christine Gutierrez: Life will trick you. You will see certain things not work out and believe that you must certainly be in the wrong place, that you are not where you are supposed to be. But the truth is you are always exactly where you need to be, and your point of power comes from accepting where you are and making conscious choices for where you want to be next. You can’t pressure yourself or make yourself feel bad about where you are, because I promise you it’s perfect and divine. What is the lesson that life is giving you right now, in this moment? Surrender just a bit more and have faith. You are exactly where you need to be.

3. Follow your body’s signals. The next time you engage in an activity or hang out with someone, notice how your body feels. Does your body feel open, light, relaxed, energized? Does it feel contracted, heavy, depleted, tired? Notice what kinds of things, activities, and people make you feel open, and spend more time with them. Your body’s signals will never steer you in the wrong direction.

4. Sleep and drink water. These simple practices will help you listen to your body (see #3) and release the stress that’s building up inside of you because of all of the pressure you’re putting on yourself to live a perfect life. Trust me on this one.

Give these tips a try and let the acceptance and ease set in!

My best tools for making decisions with ease

You know how anxious I get when I have to make a big decision. While I’ve made a lot of progress on creating more peace and ease around decision making, I STILL have moments of freaking out when faced with many choices.

Welp, it’s hit me again. I’m smack dab in the middle of a decision and for most of the weekend, I’ve been doing my best to manage my anxiety around it.

That’s why this email is dedicated to helping you make decisions with ease, too. Below is a collection of my best decision making tools! Read ’em, use ’em, and start making some decisions!

Here they are:

My realization of what freedom REALLY means

Anxiety does not have to rule your romantic relationships. Here’s how to get free.

Quick Guide: Goal setting when you have no idea what your goals are or what you want

Are you a flip-flopper? Make decisions with ease

Give these tips a try and let the peaceful decision making begin!

How to accomplish your goals faster

Almost every day for the past three weeks, I’ve been hopping on the phone with a friend I made in a coaching group. At 9:30am, we do an exercise from our program to keep us on track with having a positive mindset–so that we see positive results in our lives.

If I didn’t have this phone call with my friend every morning, motivating myself to do that exercise would be much more difficult. If left on my own, I would probably skip a few days, then eventually lose motivation and not do the exercise for weeks…requiring me to build up the mental strength and discipline again to get myself back on track. Think of all of that time and energy I wasted not doing the exercise, when just doing it would’ve been a much for effective way to see the results I want in my life.

But working with my friend, aka my accountability buddy, forces me (in a gentle way) to do the exercise. She calls me every morning, and I pick up. We do the exercise, then get on with our days. Our system is great. It gives me the structure and discipline I need to help me accomplish my goals faster than I would if I didn’t have that support.

Think about one of your goals or an area of your life that you’d like to improve.

How might you incorporate an accountability buddy to help you move towards that goal/improvement faster?

Here are some ideas to help you out!

  • If your goal is to incorporate more exercise in your life, make a plan with a friend to go to a class together, or take a walk/run together. Instead of meeting there, try carpooling. If you’re responsible for picking up someone or being picked up, you’ll be more likely to go and not just bail if you’re too tired.
  • Start a group gratitude chat. Gather a few of your friends and text each other three things you’re grateful for each day. Pick different things each time. Gratitude makes you feel instantly abundant and happy!
  • Choose an inspirational/self-improvement book to read with a friend/group of friends. Get together once a week to discuss how you’re incorporating the principles into your life, cheer each other on, and get ideas for how to stay on track.

These are just some of the MANY ways you can incorporate an accountability buddy system into your life…and get the discipline you need to accomplish your goals faster!

You have the power to shift your whole day

First of all, here’s a little reminder to attend my FREE, LIVE call on Wednesday, March 8 at 8pm est. I’m going to teach you how to stay physically and mentally healthy while achieving your personal, academic, and professional goals!

Second of all…I saw Moonlight with my friend May and it was beautiful. I’m so glad it won Best Picture. Omg.

Watching a meaningful film with a friend is something that really fills me up.

When I do things that fill me up, my body feels open, energized, and calm. I feel positive and connected. In that space, I’m motivated to tackle my To Do list, accomplish my goals, and dream big. I feel confident in myself and more trusting that my future will be okay.

On the flip side, when I do things that drain me, like troll social media, watch crappy reality TV (the kind that’s not even entertaining), or try to do too many things at once (like text while writing an email and Skype-chatting a colleague), my body feels tight and tense. In that space, I’m NOT inspired to tackle my To Do list or feel confident in myself. I want to contract, stay in bed, and hide from the world.

What about you? What kinds of things fill you up, aka make you feel energized, inspired, and calm? And what kinds of things deplete you, aka make you feel stagnant and tense?

Paying attention to what drains us v. what fills us up is crucial. It teaches us that we have the power to shift our experience in any given moment. If we’re feeling stagnant, negative, scared, or inferior, and thus not inspired to love ourselves/others, accomplish goals, etc., we can do things to cultivate different feelings–ones that make us feel good and want to participate fully in our lives. Even if outside circumstances or other people try to affect our feelings, we still have the power to choose how to respond to those things and how we let them affect us.

For example, maybe you get a bad grade on an exam. That’s a sh*tty feeling. But if you let that feeling keep you stuck, you don’t feel confident or inspired to take a positive action, like study harder for the next exam, talk to your professor, join a study group, etc. You just want to hide in bed. But when you remember your power to change your feelings and you do something that fills you up, you move through that negative feeling faster and are then able to be proactive about that bad grade. Comforting, right?

This week, I want you to pay attention to how your body feels while you’re working, eating, with friends, getting ready for bed, waking up, etc. Does your body feel calm, tight, open, drained, energized? What kinds of thoughts go through your mind as your doing those things? Are your thoughts chaotic, soft, quiet, loud, all over the place?

Then, ask yourself: Is this how I want to feel right now? If you want to feel differently, then do something that fills you up and makes you feel good. Maybe that looks like having a phone date with a friend, drinking a smoothie, having a dance party, watching a movie, crying–you get the idea.

Remember, you have much more power than you think to shift how you feel in any given moment and change the course of your whole day.

And if you’re ready to feel confident in your own skin and accomplish your goals WITHOUT obsessing about food and your body, then you gotta join me for my live call!

Join me for The Happy College Girl workshop!

Guess what??

I’m giving a free, live call on Wednesday March 8th from 8pm-9pm EST!

Join me for…The Happy College Girl Workshop: How to create a healthy lifestyle while living an amazing life.

Get ready to learn how to…

  • Look and feel great in your body without depriving yourself.
  • Refocus your time and energy on the things that really matter to you.
  • Love the reflection you see in the mirror no matter what!

All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get the call-in details. Sign up here!

If you’re ready to FINALLY stop obsessing about food and your body so that you have the time and energy to accomplish your personal, academic, and professional goals, then you need to attend my workshop.

Bonus: all you have to do is hop on the phone to join!

Mark your calendar for Wednesday March 8th from 8pm-9pm est. for the workshop, and stay tuned for the call-in details!

You will get life-changing tips and mindset shifts in this workshop. Invest 60 minutes in yourself next Wednesday night. You’ll reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

My realization of what freedom REALLY means

This weekend, I taught an awesome Chair Yoga class and went to a Disney-themed bridal shower.

Aside from the lighter moments of my week, I also came to a sad, but life-changing realization.

For pretty much my whole life, I thought that “freedom” meant having ALL of my options open to me–in my career, romantic relationships, how I spend my money, where I move, and so on. I would feel tortured by choice paralysis (a term I learned from a lovely friend and follower) because if I made a choice in one of those areas…that meant the other options weren’t available to me anymore, and what if I got trapped or stuck in the choice I made?

Source: http://mamademics.com/the-beyonce-playlist-every-teacher-can-relate-too/

So I just wouldn’t make choices. I would date people, but keep them at arm’s length and never commit to them. I would freak out when applying to jobs because I was so scared that I would get trapped in something I didn’t like. I would refuse to consider areas in which I’d like to live, so I’d just stay where I was. I wanted all of my options open to me at all times, which in my head, was freedom.

But a few nights ago, I realized that refusing to make choices has only given me a false sense of freedom. I tweeted this:

Having all of your options open to you does NOT give you freedom. Making decisions and living life gives you freedom. FINALLY LEARNING THIS.

Not making choices isn’t allowing me to live life. Sure, I have all of my options in front of me, but that means I’m just watching my life and not living it. It’s a very empty, lonely, and exhausting space to inhabit–no deep romantic relationships, feeling stagnant, obsessing about possibilities, a lack of connection to myself and what I really want, lack of focus because there are so many choices with what to do with my time, how do I decide?

If we want to engage with life and have experiences, then we need to start making choices–knowing that we always have the ability to change our minds if a choice doesn’t feel good or really give us what we want.

I’m still figuring this out, but I think true freedom means that we live our lives, have experiences, and know that we can always make a change, and that no matter what happens, we can handle it and we’ll be okay.

Stay tuned for more on this topic–I’m still wrapping my mind around it.

Play the Question Game with me?

I’m on Pacific time right now, as I’m in Vegas on a work trip. My room has automatic shades, a red leather couch, a black toilet, and a kick-ass view. Vegas is the best-worst place ever.

In today’s blog, I’m adapting an exercise I learned from a personal retreat I attended a few days ago in San Diego.

Think about an area of your life that not going the way you want it to go. Maybe you feel frustrated, anxious, embarrassed, angry, scared, or sad about it. When you think about that area and the emotions it triggers in you, what questions do you find yourself asking?

For example, maybe if you’re feeling really chaotic around money, you’re asking yourself, Why can’t I just have more money like my friends? Why am I so poor? Why didn’t I pick a better career?

Or if romantic relationships are tripping you up, you might be asking yourself: What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just be normal in relationships? Why do I attract losers and my friends have great relationships?

Think about your area of life, then make a list of those questions that come up for you when you think about it.

Now I have a question for you. Are those questions really helping your current situation? Are those questions helping you move towards what you want? Do they make you feel excited and motivated to accomplish your goals and get what you want?

No!

That means you have to change the questions you’re asking yourself. Empowering and motivating questions include:

How have I grown in this area of my life? What can I do right now to feel more positive about this area? How can I work on myself now so that I’m the best romantic partner I can be when I meet the person of my dreams? How can I turn my skills and passions into a profitable side hustle? How can I live like I already have the money/career/romantic relationship/health of my dreams?

Notice how these questions make you feel, compared to the previous questions. These questions probably make you feel much more calm, empowered, and motivated, right? When you shift into asking yourself these questions, you put yourself into action quickly, and then you’re on your way to feeling better and accomplishing all of your goals.

Give this exercise a try and experience the shifts!

Obsessing about food and/or your body? Use this question to stop!

As you know, my college years were full of disordered eating (restriction, binge eating) and obsessing about my body. Unfortunately, critiquing our body and food is something that pretty much any college girl has experienced.

It’s hard to get out of those moments when we’re frantically rummaging through our closet trying to find something that doesn’t look disgusting on us or when we’re trying to decide what to eat at a restaurant that won’t make us fat. The mental back-and-forth is exhausting and it makes us feel hopeless about ever feeling and looking good in our bodies and being “normal” around food.

I totally get it. The good news? It is 100% possible for you to experience confidence and freedom around your body and food.

The next time you go into a mental spiral about what to eat/what you’re about to eat/what you ate and/or how your body looks, ask yourself this question:

What would I be thinking about if I wasn’t thinking about food/my body?

This question is super effective for the following reasons:
1. It quiets those negative body image and food voices for a moment. This question forces your brain to think about something other than your body and food, so those negative voices have to get quiet. You’ll get a mental break so that you can think clearly and those thoughts typically don’t return as loudly.

2. It guides you to other areas of your life that need your attention. Many times we freak out about our bodies or food, or binge eat because there’s something happening in our lives that is stressful or uncomfortable, and we want to distract ourselves or to numb out. But this question gently guides your attention to the root cause of your negative body/food thoughts–so that you can address it, so that those negative body/food thoughts pop up less and less. For example, maybe you have a ton of schoolwork to do and you’re binge eating to deal with the stress of it. That’s totally okay. But the longer you avoid your work, the scarier it becomes. So binge eating only prolongs the work and makes you even more stressed out because you’ve been avoiding it. And when you actually tackle that work, you feel productive, i.e. not in a binge eating mood.

3. It helps you identify your goals, desires, and values. When you engage in self-awareness (as this question has you do), you learn more about yourself. For example, maybe if you weren’t thinking about food, you’d be thinking about what to do after graduation. Sure, graduating can be scary (and maybe that’s contributing to your food/body thoughts), but the fact that you have emotion about it means that it’s important to you. Lean into that. Journal about what you’d like your life to look like after graduation. Or maybe if you weren’t thinking about food, you’d be freaking out about whether that guy is going to text you. Lean into that. What are you scared of? How do you want to feel in a relationship/with a romantic partner instead? Just take a few moments in the midst of all of that body image/food back-and-forth to think about it.

Give that question a try this week!