≡ Menu

No More Crying and Complaining (my new book!)

Pokemon party

That’s a photo of Griffin with some of his BFF’s enjoying a Pokémon Party at our home last weekend.

I can’t really tell you what happened – high-level trading seemed to be involved – but I can tell you that they had a TON of fun!

There’s also an important bit of backstory: Griffin ordered a special Pokémon card to come in the mail the day before the party, and when it didn’t arrive, he had an emotional meltdown.

It gave me the opportunity to practice some of the tools I share in No More Crying and Complaining: How to Transform Your Negative Thoughts, Improve All Your Relationships and Enjoy More Happiness, the book I’m currently writing (which long-time ezine readers may remember by its former title, Pain Body Proof).

Those tools helped him to feel better very quickly, and I was reminded how powerful they are and how VERY excited I am to share them in my book. Of course, as readers of my email newsletter, you get to benefit from them right now!

I believe everyone on the planet wants the same thing – happiness – but we go about getting it with varying degrees of skill.

Fortunately, we can all acquire skills that will help us become happier. One useful skill is putting our reactions to bad things that happen to us at arm’s length so we can respond to them calmly and not fall prey to behaviors that make things worse.

But how do you separate yourself from your negative emotions? Many writers about happiness tell their readers to cultivate mindfulness—that is, to meditate or perform other mental disciplines so they can stay present and recognize negative emotions as they arise.

But as anyone knows who’s tried to improve her life through meditation, mindfulness is much easier said than done.

Fortunately, there’s an easier way. Instead of using mental discipline to separate your negative emotions from yourself, you can use your imagination. You can attribute them to someone else entirely, a different entity or persona.

no crying and complainingAnd when you feel angry or sad or resentful, and especially when your feelings make you lash out at the people around you, you can attribute these feelings to this “other persona,” take responsibility, and step back into your best self more quickly.

Identifying your negative emotions with another persona liberates you not just from the thoughts themselves, but also from the vicious cycle of shame, resentment, and defensiveness that negative thoughts can cause.

And the beauty of this approach is that it’s something that you probably already understand about yourself. As human beings, we have many different personas, and some of them are quite unpleasant.

In order to free ourselves of these unpleasant personas – whether they’re ours or those of someone we have to deal with – we need to dis-identify with them, to see them as separate beings from the people in our lives, including and especially ourselves.

Once you’ve mastered this dis-identifying process, you’ll see huge improvements in how you feel about yourself and how you deal with other people. And if you want, you can stop there, enjoying your newfound freedom from the negative emotions that may have been tripping you up before.

But you don’t have to stop there. In fact, in order to be truly free and happy, you need to learn the lessons that your unpleasant or undesirable persona has to teach you.

Now, nobody wants to feel “defined” by her reaction to bad news or stress, and nobody wants to be judged for being “hijacked” by disappointment, sorrow, or anger.

And, of course, our reactions — especially our reactions in the moment—aren’t “all” there is to us. We all want to be loved for our whole selves, for who we are at our best, in spite of our inadequacies and foibles.

But ignoring or suppressing those less desirable parts of ourselves is just a recipe for denial and frustration. And we can only ignore them for so long before we either poison ourselves with resentment or blow up with repressed anger.

That’s because that “other” persona — the one that erupts when you react to bad news — is the one who calls you on your secrets, the secret fears, disappointments and desires you keep even from yourself.

Listen to what he or she says, really listen and learn, and you’ll free yourself to face those fears, overcome those disappointments, and reach for those desires.

If you’ll let that “other” person be your guide, you will discover yourself in ways you never dreamed of.

But before we pursue our dreams, let’s deal with practicalities. How can we stand apart from the parts we dislike while at the same time owning and learning from those parts?

How do we liberate our imaginations and convince ourselves all those negative emotions belong to somebody else?

It’s simple, but not easy: Give those unpleasant “other” parts a different name.

By naming that part of yourself, you create the detachment that’s necessary to choose better-feeling thoughts and explore new ways of being. But the beauty of it is that when you give that part of yourself a name you’re creating an opening to stay in conversation with it.

And what should you call that part of yourself? Well, until you come up with a better name for it, you could call it your Shadow Self.

In Tom Mula’s play Jacob Marley’s Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge’s mean old business partner, Jacob Marley, dies and finds himself just as Dickens describes him in A Christmas Carol: in chains and facing a hellish eternity. He learns, however, that he can free himself. There’s just one catch. To redeem himself, he must also redeem the worst man on the planet — Ebenezer Scrooge.

When he arrives in the gloomy afterlife, Marley learns that he has been assigned a “Bogle” to guide him on his journey in the spirit world. At their first meeting, the Bogle presents as a mocking, taunting imp who makes Marley’s every moment miserable.

But as the story progresses, he becomes Jacob’s friend and advisor – and by the end of the play you realize that he shepherded Marley’s spiritual development all along.

I want you to view your Shadow Self in the same way – annoying and exasperating at first, but then as your true advocate and champion. Make no mistake: this persona is serving a purpose.

It is expressing your underlying needs. Unfortunately, its usual means of getting them met – by crying and complaining – often creates more problems than it solves.

So first you’ll form a relationship with this persona, and then you’ll work with it so that you can better meet your needs – and the needs of others – with this new-found understanding.

One of my friends calls her Shadow Self “Marge” because she’s “Large and In Charge.” When “Marge” shows up, her husband has trained himself to think, “This is not my wife.”

He’s also learned how to manage Marge – with love, or at the very least, acceptance. He doesn’t judge or blame my friend for Marge’s undesirable behavior.

How revolutionary is that? What if every time you – or someone else – transgresses, you could remember who “really” did it – the Shadow Self or Marge, or whatever name works for you?

Then you could be truly present and love yourself, or the other people in your life, knowing that from time to time that persona may float in and cause some disturbance, and that you can handle it.

At the same time, though, when an unpleasant or undesirable identity keeps showing up, and you try to push it back down, you’ll find that it’s like a beach ball in water.

It will pop back up. It will keep popping back up until you recognize that it, like Jacob Marley’s Bogle, is there to call you to your best life.

Next week I’ll share my Shadow Self’s name and how I’m meeting her underlying needs – no crying or complaining necessary!

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

Stacey and Katie VieThat’s a photo of me and my girl, Katie Vie, last Friday night. We were celebrating her birthday and business success – SO fun!!

You’ve often heard me wax enthusiastic about making time for friends. Doing so provides many benefits to your mental and physical health, and laughing until your stomach hurts while you tell an empowering story of your thrilling triumphs and glorious “failures” is just one them!

If you take your health, happiness and success seriously, you’ll create your own version of a Girls’ Night Out and start practicing the other super-cool and research-based steps I outline below.

There has never been any better advice than Joseph Campbell’s “Follow your bliss.”

I know what you’re thinking: “easier said than done,” right? You may have tried this approach already. You may have set out to find that one thing that makes you ecstatically happy and at the same time gives your life meaning and provides constant rewards of pride and prestige. And, unless you’re really lucky, that may not have worked so well.

If that’s the case, then start by remembering that events are neutral, and that it is your story about them that creates feelings of happiness or powerlessness.

So as you go through your day-to-day life, looking for your bliss and dealing with those neutral events, why not make things easier on yourself? Here’s what I would suggest: why don’t we all choose to take the direct route to happiness – and simply feel happy and powerful.

That would skip a few steps, after all. But how do you do that? Once again, the only honest answer is to follow your bliss. But not bliss as some far-off, lofty goal. Instead, follow your bliss by making sure that you focus as much as you can on the day-to-day things that please you.

I hear you asking: okay, but how is that going to help me? Well, if you keep that in mind, and you focus on what is pleasing to you, chances are good that more pleasing things will come to you.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But I hear you asking: “if it’s that easy, why do so many people feel so unhappy and so powerless so very very often?

Well, to tell the truth, most people are very undisciplined about how they focus their thoughts.

This is understandable because 80 percent of the thoughts your mind generates automatically – the ones you don’t have to will yourself to think – are negative.

So you can see that in order to just break even – to get to 50 percent positive thoughts – you’d have to be VERY disciplined about responding to those automatic negative thoughts with freely chosen positive ones, right?

Luckily, there are 2 shortcuts you can take that will make this easier.

The First Shortcut:

Take Joseph Campbell’s advice and Follow Your Bliss.

Sometimes folks have no trouble following their bliss. They know exactly where it is and they keep it in sight at all times.

But more often folks have been traveling away from their bliss for so long that following it – or even figuring out what direction to look in – seems impossible.

That’s too bad, because following your bliss doesn’t just make you happy. Following your bliss is the only way for you to get on the path toward a meaningful life.

But wherever you are on the “Bliss” scale – hot on the trail or lost in the briars – here’s a quiz that will help you get your bliss on your radar screen and keep it there for good.

Ask yourself the following:

  1. What lights you up more than anything? When do you feel filled with joy, or in the “flow”? (Or as my husband says, “What do you enjoy so much that it makes you forget to eat?”)
  2. As a child, what did you do in your free time? (The most important years are from nine to eleven–think fourth through sixth grade.)
  3. When was the last time you laughed really hard? What were you doing? What was so funny?

The answers to these questions are the clues that will get you back on track for following your bliss. If you go through them and you still come up blank, don’t worry. Just pay attention over the next couple of days.

After all, the best way to find something is to look for it, and I have no doubt that you’ll find clues if you just keep your eyes open.

Create a list of the times when you were most joyful, and remember as you do so that within those joyful moments lies your guide to creating an effortless, happy and authentic life.

The better you understand who you are and what you really love, the better able you are to make decisions – in work and leisure – that will make you happy.

Chances are that your bliss lies right in front of you – that there’s something you’re already doing that will make you happier, put you more in the flow, if you just do more of it.

All you have to do is find it, and it’s almost a guarantee that your world will transform around you, and you’ll see your familiar landscapes with new eyes.

The Second Shortcut:

Amy Cuddy in Super Woman postMost people understand the importance of “body language,” especially with respect to how we perceive others or how they perceive us, but few people understand it in terms of how our body language affects the way we feel.

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy gave a great presentation at TED about this.

Certain “power poses” don’t just change how others perceive you, Professor Cuddy says.

They immediately change how you feel by altering your body chemistry. They increase testosterone (the power hormone) and decrease cortisol (the stress hormone).

She uses the standard “Wonder Woman” pose (facing forward, feet apart, hands on hips) as her example, and I suggest you try it. Because her research shows that you really can “fake” feeling happy and powerful until you make it.

Bottom line? Acting the way you want to feel is a science-based shortcut to feeling happy and more powerful.

No, really. Wherever you are right now, stand up. Put your hands on your hips and your feet hips-width apart and tilt your chin slightly upward. (For an added effect, hold a pen between your teeth – but not with your lips, because that does the opposite of what you’re after.) See you feel.

Strike this pose before your next big meeting or potentially challenging interaction, and see how it changes things for you.

Keep doing this pose, and soon you’ll see for yourself: If you change how you direct your thoughts and how you use your body, you will change your mindset and how you feel about your life. And you will become happier and more powerful as a result.

How cool is it that you can always increase your feelings of happiness and personal power by using your body to influence how you feel?!

So you see, following your bliss isn’t that hard. Even just standing and looking as if you’ve found it has the same effect as actually finding it—and the more often you find it, the closer you’ll get to that far-off lofty thing that brings your life meaning.

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

No More Crying and Complaining (my new book!)

March 31, 2015

That's a photo of Griffin with some of his BFF's enjoying a Pokémon Party at our home last weekend. I can't really tell you what happened – high-level trading seemed to be involved – but I can tell you that they had a TON of fun! There's also an important bit of backstory: Griffin ordered…

Read the full article →

Science-Based Hacks for Getting Happy and Successful Super Fast

March 24, 2015

That's a photo of me and my girl, Katie Vie, last Friday night. We were celebrating her birthday and business success – SO fun!! You've often heard me wax enthusiastic about making time for friends. Doing so provides many benefits to your mental and physical health, and laughing until your stomach hurts while you tell…

Read the full article →

A Busy Mom’s Guide to GREAT Sex

March 17, 2015

The photo to the right shows Doug and me enjoying a fun moment during his special birthday weekend getaway at the Biltmore Estate. We had just eaten a delicious meal at The Inn at Biltmore's restaurant and decided to take a walk around the beautiful grounds – and that's where we took the selfie. We…

Read the full article →

A Billionaire's Best Advice + Your Purpose

March 10, 2015

I mentioned last week that it was Doug's birthday and I took him away for a romantic weekend at the Biltmore Estate to celebrate! We were also celebrating something else – an invitation I received to witness first hand the effects of the contributions I've been making to Child Aid – a literacy project in…

Read the full article →

How to Let Fear CURE You

March 3, 2015

Today is Doug’s birthday! If you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ve heard me wax enthusiastic about how amazing my husband is, but today is the perfect day to honor just how special he is with a recent story. The photo is from a Super Fun Snow Day we had last week – a…

Read the full article →

This is How to Get a Man to Lovingly Commit

February 24, 2015

That's a photo of me, Doug and Griffin from last week enjoying a magical winter break at Sugar Mountain, and boy was it SWEET! NC hadn't gotten any snow all winter and then just as we arrived at the ski resort the skies opened up and gave us over a foot of fresh powder!! We…

Read the full article →

The Five Things Happy Women Always Do

February 17, 2015

Wow! What a week! I was in Connecticut last week for a training, and what you see is a photo of me on stage with my mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson, and 3 of my co-authors (and some of the BEST women you could ever know!) after we found out that our book, Choosing Happiness, made it…

Read the full article →

If you think you don't need great sex, you need to read this!

February 10, 2015

That’s a photo of me and Doug after an incredibly romantic dinner at our favorite restaurant. Griffin was spending the night with my parents, so this meant we had even more glorious ALONE TIME when we got home, if you know what I mean. I hope you listened to my RED HOT Love and Passion…

Read the full article →