Challenge yourself to grow

Last week was a first for me in my business and it got me thinking how we can grow by challenging ourselves. As I often say, we are comfort creatures. We easily fall into routines that maintain us in a high level of comfort.

As we grow up, we like routines because they’re predictable. And there’s nothing wrong with this. We need predictable to feel safe, to create a sense of belonging, a sense of control over our lives. The problem is when we get so comfortable that we can’t see a way forward. Or when we see a way to grow and get to better standards, but we are too lazy to actually do what it takes. So, for me doing a whole week of lives is out there, out of my comfort zone. I decided it was time to do it because I enjoy so much talking and connecting with others. I know it’s not the same as being in front of a room full of people, but it’s pretty close.

By the end of the week, I was so happy that I had done it! I enjoyed so much having the experience of showing up every day of the week and delivering a presentation to help people struggling with anxious thoughts. Seeing how well it went, my goal now is to create an ebook that people can download and keep practicing the tools to train their anxious mind to become calm and focused when they want. Also, I’ll include the videos of the lives as a mini course for everybody that couldn’t be there last week and would love to try some of the tools I talked about in the training. This week of being vulnerable and pushing myself to do something uncomfortable has taught me that I can do anything I dream of. And this feeling is amazing because it’s proof that I’m progressing in my business and as a person, and progress equal happiness!

How do you challenge yourself? How do you get out of your comfort zone and go forward with your dreams? Remember, being comfortable is great and serves a need for certainty and belonging, but we also need a level of uncertainty and adventure in our lives. Stay strong and dream big!

SPECIAL OFFER: REGISTER NOW!

FREE 5-Day Training: Master your anxious thoughts registration is open!

Join me from November 16 to 20, at 1 pm ET (10 am PT).

I’m so happy to share that you can take advantage of this free training now. And if you can’t join us, don’t worry, it’ll be available on my website later for a very affordable investment. Join me to put in practice some of the tools I shared with you in my webinar and new ones. After this training, I’m also planning on writing the ebook so you can share it with friends and family to finish this special year of 2020 with more calm and happiness.

In this training, we’ll not only talk about mastering your anxious thoughts, but we’ll actually implement together some of the tools I’ll share with you. So come prepared by downloading the workbook as you register and be ready to play full out!

I mean it! The more you’ll engage in the activities the more benefits you’ll get from them. There’s always a moment of exploration, where you can have fun finding which tools are the best for you. We’re all different and we have the freedom to choose what is best for us. When you know which one is the best, make sure to create a practice that will eventually become a habit and that’s how you can reach mastery. Healthy habits are at the core of any meaningful and lasting change, and with compassion and love we all can put them in place. No matter if we fall off some days, as long as we keep going back to our new habit we’ll be able to keep it.

I can’t wait to see you there!

Webinar Master your anxious thoughts – Video Replay

The webinar replay is ready!

In this webinar I will give you tools for mastering the anxious thoughts. Why the thoughts? Well, the truth is that our anxiety can be created by external and internal factors. The external one are easy to identify: anything that might put us in danger in our future or makes us feel uncertain about our safety in the future. An example would be, if you’re in the woods and you hear a noise behind you you’ll be anxious because it could be a bear. So this is an external cause of anxiety, and we can identify it easily and as soon as we see there’s no bear, the anxiety goes away. We deal with it externally. The internal causes are mainly our thoughts when they focus on something in the future without real facts to support it. This type of anxiety causing thoughts are the ones we want to keep on check and master to minimize the triggering without a real cause. Because these thoughts are not based on facts that we can check, it’s harder to calm down the anxiety cause by them, since we’re left to our own imagination.

Just a quick list of the emotions that can arise under stress: anxiety, panic, terror, fear, confusion, irritation, anger. These are some of the emotions that cause the fight or flight reaction in our body. Just to give you a quick definition of what an emotion is, I took this one from the book Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski: Involuntary neurological (it involves the whole nervous system) response that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. They have a cycle that takes place in your body. So the emotion that we can be rationalized, is not just in our head, it’s also affecting and involving our whole body. Some body reactions are crying, shivering, feeling a hot wave in your gut, etc. But the key idea in this definition is the idea of the cycle. The Nagoski sisters say that once the cycle starts, you need to let it complete the cycle till the end. They describe emotions as going through a tunnel, you need to go through the emotion to come out of it. And in my course I will include some of the ways to complete the cycle for some emotions.

Like I mentioned above it’s harder to deal with the stressors created by our own thoughts. And that’s why I want to give you today some tools to calm down those stressors that are ‘created’ by your thoughts and are internal and not external. The anxious thoughts that I’ll be talking about in this webinar are:

  • Obsessive thinking: how is it possible? I always do the same!
  • Catastrophizing: we think the worst right away, if she didn’t call me back it’s because she died!
  • Shaming: blaming who you are instead not blaming something you did
  • Self-criticism: attacking yourself and your choices harshly, you’re the worst friend ever!

You can watch the video below and start using the tools right away, and for the notebook that I mention in the video you can download it here.

I hope this helps you control the anxious thoughts and keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming Live course with more tips to master your anxious mind. Registration will begin on Monday, November 9.

Have a great day!

Webinar: Master your anxious thoughts

I’m so happy to announce that next Monday, November 2, at 1 pm ET, I’m going live with a brand new webinar to help you master your anxious thoughts. I’ll also talk a little on how to apply the same techniques with your kids. Right after the webinar, you’ll have the chance to get my brand new mini course with tools to apply in your life: as we master our mind we gain control over emotions like fear and anxiety.

I’m very excited about this because it’s part of my main theme to set up healthy habits to have a more balanced and happy life. All parents can benefit from tools that will help them identify the moment the anxious thoughts arise, but also set in place coping strategies that will be ready to use in any of these moments.

The mini course that I’ll launch in mid November will be affordable to all because I want to help as many families as possible, especially in times like these when we are all feeling uncertain and fearful. And the reason why I’ll charge for the mini course is because I want people to commit to the techniques and get all the benefits.

Click here to register and get the notebook for the webinar. I can’t wait to see you there!

Drop everything and go play, mom!

Play is essential for kids growing up to learn skills and socialize. Another important aspect of play is that it helps us learn to cope in different situations and teaches us to laugh about ourselves. How come as we grow older we forget to play? Or maybe we stop playing, thinking that it’s too silly or a waste of our time. Let me tell you right now that this is not true!

It comes more natural to some people and that’s great. Being playful and goofy is not for everybody, you could say. But many studies (you can Google this) have found that people that are playful and love to play are better at coping with stress, anxiety and depression.

Let’s separate the two things that I’ve mentioned above. One of them is to be playful and goofy: this is the ability to laugh at situations that other people might find ridiculous, but when you laugh they become light hearted and funny. If someone takes them seriously instead of laughing then they become a serious situation that needs to be untangled. A simple example would be if you drop accidentally a spoon full of tomato sauce and it splashes your pants and everything around you: you can choose to swear and clean it up getting more and more mad because on top of it the stain in your pants will be hard to get off. Instead, you can choose to start laughing and clean up with a smile, saying, darn! it had to be tomato sauce! and then put your pants in the washer and let it take care of the stains. That split second when you decide how you’ll react to an accidental mess, decides what energy you will bring to the table during dinner. So in this type of situation, being able to laugh and take things as they are makes you more resilient to real messes in your life because you can put in perspective when it’s really serious and when it’s just inconvenient and it’s easy to fix if you keep a lighthearted attitude.

The second play that I was talking about is to actually take time to play. It could be a game on your phone, computer, Xbox, switch, etc; or it could be playing cards with your kids, or sitting after dinner to play a board game with your family. These moments that you take to play, as if you were a kid, are fundamental to put the rest of your life in perspective. You know when your game doesn’t go the way you wanted, it’s ok. When you loose at the cards game with your kids, but you have all been laughing and being having fun for an hour or so, that’s a great feeling. Being able to keep playing as adults serves many purposes: creating a distraction, sharing fun moments with your family, being more resilient when you face a tough level in a game and you will have to redo it several times before moving to the next level, finding entertainment that engages you instead of sitting passively in front of the TV set or your computer.

I guess my post today is about the many ways that we can disconnect from the drama of life, the deadlines at work that stress us, the pandemic, and news all over the world that make us cringe. But with that disconnect also comes perspective and entertainment that recharges you and serves the purpose of refocusing you and connecting with a side of yourself that finds enjoyment in the simple and lighthearted moments of life. So, repeating myself here, drop everything at least one time this week and go play! If you can insert these play time every week, the better!

How to avoid making the same mistakes

This is a question that I always keep in mind since my divorce. My experience was that when I got separated I realized I had changed so much without even seeing it. Little by little as things happened -I enrolled for graduate school, had two beautiful babies, moved far from the city, started teaching and doing research-, I got lost and became someone else. I can’t really put my finger on the exact moment I realized this, but it was clear that I needed to spend some time reconnecting with who I used to be to understand where I wanted to go. So, with the help of my good friends and a lot of determination, I started asking myself: what did I like? How did I use to feel when I felt happy? and more questions like these to find myself again.

The result was an amazing journey! I realized that there were so many things I loved and I had completely abandoned, like taking care of myself, calling my friends and having long conversations, going out for dinner with friends and co-workers, reading, travelling and more. So little by little I got myself back on track with my feelings and thoughts and promised myself to never again become anybody else but my true self.

Has this happened to you? I know, you might not even know how to answer that. That’s how I used to feel. I remember one fall my brother visited us and after spending a week together, he commented that I had changed so much. In my mind I thought, of course I changed, I have two babies now and I live in a different country and many other reasons to justify it. But he was right, and that comment stayed with me and it reappeared after my separation with renewed force. Who had I become? How had I lost myself so much? Who was I anymore?

So, thinking that this is a process that takes place internally and many times we are not even aware that we have become a different person than we once were, I am going to give you a guide that maybe can help you measure how much you have deviated from your own true self. This list is not in any particular order, except for the waking up portion, because if you’re still deep in your slumber you won’t be making any real changes. But after that moment of realization, the rest of the points need to happen in no particular order.

First, you need to wake up! Awareness is key to start any change in ourselves. Like my mentor, Tony Robbins says, there are two things that can wake us up: the first one is having so much pain that we can’t take it anymore, and we realize we need to change; the second one is when something traumatic happens to us and shakes us to our core, like separating in my case. I believe that there’s a third one: being still and going deep inside ourselves to find answers. For this last one to work we have to want to do it and being consistent with whatever method we choose: meditation, support group, prayer, mantras, yoga. Any spiritual practice that you have or would like to pick up will nudge you to take a look inside and evaluate if you’re in the wrong path.

Second, after you realize you need to course correct and commit to develop your potential awesomeness I think being accountable for your choices keeps you in shape. What I mean by this is that you need to tell someone about what is happening to you and share with them the changes you are making to go back to your true self. That way, your friend, partner, sibling, whoever you choose, will be able to cheer you and remind you to keep it up along the way. We are better together, there’s no doubt about it.

The third important aspect is to be honest with yourself. If you hide things from yourself, none of this will take you closer to your true self. Honesty is looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself what you need to hear. From ‘I love, and I have your back’, to ‘that was a massive mistake and you need to own it’ or ‘stop whining and move on’. No matter how hard this sounds, honesty with your inner self is the best way to not repeat the old mistakes. In my case, I constantly catch myself falling back into old comfortable habits and looking the other way. But, not for long. As soon as I realize this is happening, I jump to my feet and declare, ‘No more!’ I’m not this person and I don’t want to be this person, raising your standards will keep you on your toes and that’s where you want to be to grow.

Finally, the fourth, that is connected to the previous one, is be uncomfortable. We all tend to fall back into easy, and comfortable habits. That’s a trap! It means you’re letting yourself slip into your old self that is no longer who you want to be. Feeling uncomfortable with aspects of our life means we are pushing ourselves to grow by facing new challenges. Of course, not everybody feels this way and you don’t have to. Of course, you know when being uncomfortable is too much and it might also be a sign that you’re doing something that is not aligned with your inner self. But when you want to better yourself, some level of uncomfortable action is necessary.

I think this topic can be expanded further and I’ll post another article about it soon. Hoping that this will help you get closer to your true inner self and back to your path if you have lost it.

What not to say to an anxious kid

One of the things you can’t say to a kid (or anyone, really) having anxiety is: everything will be all right! That’s exactly what they don’t need to hear, or even worse try to find a way to fix it. At the time the person is feeling anxious, they can’t really calm down at will or change the way they’re reacting to the fear. It takes time to learn how to do it, and practice. An anxious mind usually does one of these:

  • Catastrophize: they think that the worst that can happen will happen (be late, fail de exam, loose her friend, ultimately, die)
  • Fear of fear: no matter what they’re thinking it feels scary (people will laugh at her, nobody will care, etc.)
  • Obsessive thinking: they start playing scenarios in their mind over and over, without being able to get out of the cycle and ultimately shaming themselves for it.

To help them practice a way to calm down before the anxiety gets out of control I will give you some tools. But before moving on the tools let me just give you a tip for when the kid is already anxious and getting the feeling of overwhelm.

  • Hold their hand or give them a hug, if they allow it. If you are calm, the physical touch is very grounding and supporting.
  • Listen to them. If they don’t talk, wait and maybe ask them, what are you feeling right now? What thoughts are spinning in your mind? Don’t push them, give them space to get it out.
  • When they are calmer, you can take three deep breaths with them, making the exhalation (count to 8) longer than the inhalation (count to 4). This breathing calms down the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response.
  • The last thing you can try, after they’ve calmed down, is focus on things they can see, hear, touch, smell: this will anchor the grounding feeling in the present and will allow the prefrontal cortex, rational mind, to reset and gain control again.

While they’re in a calm or positive state, you can help them pin down the moment when the feeling of anxiety starts, which is already in itself hard for the person. A way to start being aware of when the anxiety is triggered, is to notice these things:

  • Does it happen at a specific time of the day?
  • Is it related to a specific event? For example, if your kid starts feeling anxious when someone is visiting the house, that will allow him or her to prepare in advance and then you can apply breathing techniques or relaxation exercises.
  • Has it happened repetitively over the past days? at what time?
  • Is there a specific thought that triggers the reaction? For example, I’m stupid, I never understand anything, I won’t be able to (fill in the blank)

These are some of the questions you can ask your kid to help her understand the cause. The kid needs to notice what, or who, or when the anxiety starts. You can jot them down for them to become aware of the answers and be able to add other times or situations. Then, it’s possible to go a step forward and try some techniques that I’ll describe below.

Preparation in advance is key. Here are two ideas to help them prepare.

  • Journal about things she/he is grateful for: if your kid is old enough, this exercise will help him/her to create the habit of thinking about what she likes and appreciates. After having at least a week or month of journaling, tell her to re read it before bed, or even in the morning to prepare her mind to focus on positive and fun things instead of fears and what is lacking.
  • Visualize your dream spot: when you use visualization, your mind can use all its creativity and in this case to make up a space that is safe, fun, calm, happy. It could be a made up place or somewhere the kid loves, the beach, grandparents house, a farm, riding in the car, etc. The more details he/she can create in her mind, the better. Also ask them to use all their senses: how does the place smell? what do you see? what do you touch? what colours surround you? what do you hear? Practice going to the happy place daily if you can so it will be easy to go there in seconds as soon as they feel the anxious thoughts surfacing in their mind. This way, they will ground themselves and feel joy instantly, taking the focus away from the fear and obsessive thinking

Remember, we can train our minds to live in fear and uncertainty, or in safety and joy. The more you let your mind become fixed on fears and things you can’t control, the more anxiety will be damaging and paralyzing. I would also like to add that what we call anxiety is actually stress that isn’t useful (like reacting with ‘fight or flight’ response because we might get stuck in an elevator when we are walking in the park). Some stress is useful and can appear in moments of great excitement and joy. So training your mind to understand which stress is unwanted can be achieved by putting in place simple habits consistently. And I can’t stress enough that the key here is the consistency and patience.

If you have more question about anxiety or would like more tips to create habits to break the pattern of anxiety, send me a message to valmaurercoach@gmail.com. You can also book a free call with me in my website.

Happy learning!

Coach Val

Create space for your kid’s feelings

Kids grow in spurts, I think all parents have noticed this. But do you know that they also make leaps emotionally as they grow up? Imagine the confusion they feel when they hit preteen years and later become teenagers. I know, we’ve all been there but it doesn’t mean we are experts, especially with others. If we were lucky to be contained and framed by our friends and family we were able to navigate it and come out on the other end like a pretty centered young adult. But a lot of people are not that lucky. When we see our kids struggling to make sense of their emotions, the best we can do is to be present and listen to them. We tend to tell them very quickly, it’s ok, don’t worry! Instead of staying with them and letting them feel whatever is going on at that moment.


When my teenage daughter started having anxiety and panic attacks, my first reaction was to say, don’t feel that way, all is ok. But that was like shutting her off instead of opening the space for her to talk about it and explore what was the problem underlying this feeling. We then opened a dialogue and started working with a coach to see what was causing these feelings, but what was very important was to learn how to manage her reactions to the feelings by understanding them. It is crucial to be able to give your kid tools that they can use when they feel the anxious thoughts starting to flood their minds and before the physical reaction is out of control. These tools are mainly habits they need to incorporate to their daily life that will create a safe go-to place when they start getting anxiety. 

As a parent, it’s important to remind ourselves to let them feel what they feel. By acknowledging their emotions you teach them empathy and self compassion. They also learn that all emotions and feelings are a normal part of each of us and it’s ok to feel them. The point is that if your kid finds him/herself in a situation where the emotions become too overwhelming, especially fear, they can use strategies to calm down their mind instead of letting it spin out of control. Be with them and love them by letting them be uncomfortable in their growth.

If not now, then when?

Today I’m sharing with you this video I made a while ago where I talk about not waiting to start your journey to the life you are dreaming about.

The best time to start acting towards your dream is now. For me, it took a couple of wake up calls that I mention in my video and finally I was able to see that I needed to take action to make my dream come true. But it doesn’t need to be that way for you. You know what your dream is, don’t wait for the ‘right’ moment, there is no such thing. The more time you spend thinking about it, you are not getting closer. Action is what will take you closer.

To start today, you can take action by writing down those ideas you’ve been keeping in your mind. After writing them down, think of any action you can take this month, this week, today to get closer to one of them. It’s that simple. Also, I like to talk to a good friend that is already working towards her or his dream and maybe you can become accountability partners. Have weekly calls and tell each other what progress you made. If you would like more tips, give me a call and we can chat. I offer a free 30 minute call to help you get clarity and focus.

Here is a summary of the tips:

  1. write down your ideas
  2. choose one or two to take action in the short term
  3. talk to a friend that is also taking action towards her/his goals
  4. hold each other accountable by having a weekly or biweekly call for support
  5. once that idea is a reality, start on 1 again, or even better: never stop the cycle

Hope you have a great day and keep learning!

Val

When they say you can’t do it…

The saying goes: “When they say you can’t do it, prove them wrong.”*Do you have someone in your life that is always saying you can’t do it? We all have one of those, and we feel we need to prove to them all that we are capable of. Every time we come and share with them our ideas and plans for the great projects we have, they slowly but surely make us feel like they won’t work: Have you thought about this? I have a friend that tried that once and the totally failed. Oh! wow, that is ambitious! With all these little comments they start planting seeds of doubt and fear that, by the time we get home, they are already sprouting in our brains.

There can be two types, someone closer to you or just and aquaintance. When they are closer to you, it’s a little more tricky because we love them and we trust their opinion. That’s when I say: be careful because you will still love your aunt even though you don’t follow her advice, or listen to her criticism, right? Even if it’s a sister, a father, you can still love them deeply and not listen to their doubting voices. I loved a quote someone once told me: You decide who you give a mic to in your life. No one else! Not your friend, or your mentor, or you mom. Not everyone should be allowed to have a say and you owe it to yourself to protect your dreams and stand guard by your precious mind to keep it in the best state possible to carry out your plans.

When it’s someone you just know and it’s not that close to you, it seems easier but it’s not necessarily. You know that friend of a friend, that is crushing it in her business? And then you meet her for drinks and when you talk about your project, she has a ton of opinions and advice that you just didn’t ask for and make you doubt every little decision you were going to make. Ugh!

In all my years I have dealt with this negativity in different ways, but lately I decide that instead of dreading talking to them, I will use them as motivators. Because, you see, I like talking about what I’m doing and I think that anybody that is working towards their dream should be able to express their passion for it and be themselves. As I often say, the spoken word has an incredible power. You know we learn by reading and a lot more by listening. So hearing the words come out of your mouth also is incredibly powerful. And even if you will have some people doubt you, there will be many carried away by you and your passion and those are the ones you want to have close to you. Of course, as we know, freedom comes with consequences, one of them being that anybody you are telling about your dream will have an opinion and you can’t shut them up after. So, for example , to that friend of a friend that so freely offers advice, you can politely say: oh, thanks for that, but when I need your advice, I’ll ask for it. I’m not really at that stage yet. Cue smile and sip of your drink. And in you mind, you actually can visualize yourself removing the mic from her hand with care and putting it away.

The other thing you can do with your closer ones is still tell them about your dream and plans, and when they come to you with: oh, I hope it works out because remember that project in school that you never finished and we had to do something a lot simpler instead. Ouch! Again, smile first if possible, and then politely say: mom, I’m a grown woman now and this is my dream, not a project fo school. I’m telling you about it because I am so passionate about doing this that my mind is constantly thinking of ways to make it work. I’m really excited and it’s what I do now. And change the subject if you want. But deep down yourself repeat over and over: I got this! I’m amazing! If it’s in me, it’s for me! I can do anything! (keep going with your best motivational phrases; sometimes I also sing a song: Can’t stop me now! by Queen)

In addition to that, I’m competitive and I hate when people say something is impossible. So, when someone tells me it won’t work because XYZ, I automatically jump into “I’ll make it work” attitude and fire my brain and creativity to find a way. What I basically do with these comments is to think about them and why they have any power over my commitment or excitement: if they’re making me doubt myself, is there something I need to explore? If there is one that really went deep and made you cringe, there is something there to be explored. I remember when a good friend was going to start her side hustle and someone mentioned that she needed to make sure she had the working permits for it. Well, that was important! She hadn’t thought about it at all and it helped her get everything in order before starting her business. So, see how you can twist the negativity of those doubters into a problem solving question? Another example would be: if someone mentions: you are so bad at keeping a schedule. Ok, you might go and get an app that will help you schedule all your social media posts or deadlines for the project, and that potential problem is solved.

This technique is called reframing. You take the doubt comment or question that bothered you and ask: Is there something I can do to avoid that obstacle? Is it really an obstacle for me now? How can avoid that mistake? The better the question you ask, the better the answer you’ll find. So instead of shrinking to a corner and doubting not only your dream but even yourself, you rise up and crush them with action and questions that will actually help you move forward with your plans.

Remember the only things we are in control are our actions and reactions. Take charge and prove those doubters that YOU can do anything you set you heart and brain on! 😄☀️🍵

What is your reaction to doubters?

*by Jasmine Star