Month: April 2021

  • How to Have Difficult Conversations

    Unfortunately, out of everything that is taught to use in school, how to have difficult conversations isn’t one of them. But it probably should be.

    how to have difficult conversations

    What is a difficult conversation?

    The truth is that what might be a difficult conversation for me, might not be a difficult conversation for you. Ultimately, a difficult conversation is one that results in an emotional reaction.

    Meaning that even the thought of having it can make you nervous.

    Pretty much any conversation about politics, racism, heck even social distancing, mask wearing or vaccines can quickly turn into a difficult conversation.

    Here’s an example. You’re with a friend, and they say something that makes you uncomfortable, what do you do? Do you say something? Or do you keep quiet?

    Congratulations, you’re in the midst of a difficult conversation.

    How to navigate a difficult conversation

    Difficult conversations, while often about politics or race, can be about anything that elicits an uncomfortable feeling (or any other strong emotion) inside your body.

    Like if someone tells you you’re privileged and unrelatable and you get angry and defensive. That’s a sign that you’re about to have a difficult conversation.

    And these difficult conversations? They aren’t always with another person. In fact sometimes they shouldn’t be. At times you need to turn inward and ask yourself some hard questions. Asking yourself why you are upset and reflecting on the answer counts. You don’t have to literally be engaging with another person. Even reading a comment or an article that upsets you can lead to this kind of reflection.

    So what do you do in these moments?

    Well the first step, whether you are alone or with someone else is to STOP.

    STOP practice

    Because the first thing we need to do when some of these emotions start to rise up is to STOP and breathe before we decide how to proceed.

    What happens if you don’t? Well, you run the risk of making things worse. Every time you’ve put your foot in your mouth, odds are pretty good that you didn’t STOP first.

    I know, it’s easier said than done. It takes practice – sometimes lots of practice. This is a practice I teach often because of how powerful it is. I go into further detail on how to use the STOP practice with examples inside of STOP the Panic.

    After you STOP, the next step is to reflect on what’s going on inside. As I like to say, if we don’t know what’s here, how can we work with what’s here. Another thing you will hear me say often is what yo resist, persists meaning that you can’t run from what’s going on inside.

    So you get quiet and reflect on what’s coming up for you in this moment. Now, this reflection might not be easy. Difficult conversations involve strong emotions. Strong emotions are hard to sit with. But the thing is, we need to learn how to sit with these strong emotions. And mindfulness can help you to do this.

    Difficult conversations, or even difficult and challenging moments, are made easier through the process of mindfulness meditation and learning how to sit with the pain and discomfort that is coming up.

    Research suggests that when we gently turn towards pain and discomfort we can experience less of it. Staying present is different from trying to distract ourselves in these moments. Instead of avoiding or deflecting what’s going on inside we turn towards it and really look at it.

    Not an easy thing to do, I know, but it’s something that I encourage you to start practicing.

    When we turn towards this pain (because that’s what’s going on inside) we remove the resistance to it and you can learn how to stop getting caught up in negative stories and evasive reactions. You learn how to self-manage what’s going on so that the next time you are in a difficult conversation you can choose differently and maybe not make a bigger problem for yourself.

    To work with me and to learn how to start to navigate difficult conversations with a little more grace and ease, I invite you to join me inside of STOP the panic. This 3 part workshop series with teach you skills based and mindfulness practices so that you know exactly what to do in these moments.

  • How to Deal With Stress at Work

    Stress, it seems to be the number one constant in life. The truth is, we do actually need to have some level of stress in our lives. It’s what keeps us motivated and active – without it we become lethargic and never get anything done. But like anything you can get too much of a “good” thing.

    A way to think of stress is to picture it as a continuum. On one end we have a lack of stress which can lead to apathy. On the other end? That way lies burnout my friend.

    We want to aim for somewhere in the middle (and everyone’s middle will look a little differently). In the middle we have enough stress to make sure we are motivated and have the push we need to get up and get moving every day but not enough that we are so stressed out that we will burst into tears if we are asked to do one.more.thing.

    I can’t be the only one who has felt that way, right?

    University for me was super stressful. I pushed myself to get good grades while also competing and traveling around the world as an Irish Dancer. Which is why in my second year I ended up making several trips to the doctor to see if I had an ulcer.

    Yup, an ulcer.

    Thankfully, I didn’t actually have an ulcer but I did need to make some big decisions about my life. Ultimately I ended up leaving Irish dancing and over time my gastrointestinal distress disappeared.

    Which I now realize was me heading towards the burnout end of the stress continuum.

    How to Recognize What Stress Looks Like

    Stress shows up in our lives in different ways. For me, it can be feeling like I’m burning a hole inside my stomach. Other times it shows up as zoning out and mindlessly doom scrolling through twitter. At least that’s how the last year looked.

    And that’s where mindfulness comes in.

    It helps me to recognize when I’m heading towards stress, overwhelm and burnout and how to pull myself back.

    First step, taking a moment to STOP.

    STOP practice

    This is a practice I teach to my students all the time. As I like to remind them (repeatedly, lol) if we don’t know what’s here, we can’t work with what’s here. The best way to figure this out is to stop and to actually tune in to what is going on inside your body (thoughts, emotions and sensations).

    Our breath is one of our most powerful tools and we can use it to guide us through moments of stress and difficulty.

    Remember to breathe when things get tough – honestly, you would be surprised how often we forget to breathe in these moments which leads us into panic mode.

    Every single time you notice that feeling of stress in your body? STOP and breathe.

    Stress is first felt inside of the body and the thing that keeps it around? Our mind and those lovely little thoughts we have sometimes.

    Thoughts and judgements about our work, how much we do, how fast we do it, if we are good enough at the work we do, etc.

    And now that we have these thoughts we often end up feeling worse.

    Which is where mindfulness comes in as it helps us to notice our thoughts and how to keep them from taking over and spiralling into that monkey mind/inner critic.

    Tune in and notice what’s here

    When you start to pay attention to your thoughts and to what’s going on inside your body, you have the choice in how you want to respond in the moment.

    Feeling overwhelmed and like you have too many things to do? STOP, check in and see what’s going on. What are your thoughts telling you? If you notice that you’re having a lot of judgements, release them, come back to the breathe and notice the shift inside your body.

    In times of stress and overwhelm, the number one thing we want to do, is to not make things worse. When we slow down and breathe we have more control over our response in the moment. This ability to choose it what can help you to make a choice that feels more helpful to you long term.

    To learn more about how to manage feelings of stress and to stop yourself from moving into panic mode check out my new program STOP the Panic.

    Inside this program I teach you the therapeutic and mindfulness strategies that I have used myself and with my clients and students over the years to great success.

    These skills will help you to feel calm in a crisis because you will know exactly what to do in the moment when overwhelm strikes.

    And right now it’s available for only $37.

    It’s available now with each new training (less than 30 minutes) released every week.

    STOP the panic, mindfulness and therapeutic strategies for stress and overwhelm

    Click the image above to sign up and join me on the inside.

    how to deal with stress at work