I spent a long time debating if I should put my personal story on the internet for anyone to see especially when I am a professional who has a goal to find clients and to help them by investing in a Life Upgrade Plan that I am proposing. It is a big step, since I have not been on social media for over 5 years never mind having a website, blogging or sharing my personal story with anyone. I worry about negative comments and what not, however in the end, I have chosen to be vulnerable and share with you.
But I believe everyone including myself has had personal struggles and issues and I always will, but I will continue to acknowledge my blocks, my self limiting beliefs and areas where I can improve opposed to pretending I am perfect or distracting or numbing out. To be a human being is to not only experience the positive feelings and emotions such as happiness and joy but also to experience the negative feelings such as sadness and disappointment along the way.
I will not get into the specific details or share the intimate secrets, as I feel that is unnecessary and would classify as over-sharing. To be vulnerable is not dumping everything out for anyone, it is sharing by having healthy boundaries. I will just share the ‘coles notes’ version of my personal life which ultimately led me to becoming a Life Upgrade Coach and my mission of helping clients help themselves.
I spent my childhood in a small town, playing hockey, going to family gatherings and hanging out with friends. I would describe it as an average childhood, as in terms of nothing great and nothing terrible which means just average. I was the oldest of 3 children, I was raised in a two parent home, and I know that my parents did the best possible job they could by loving me and supporting me. I am grateful to them and I love them both.
I was not a great kid or a terrible kid, just an average kid. The one thing that I remember growing up is constantly being in situations where I noticed that a lot of people were not happy. What I mean by this statement is that I would constantly notice that people were mean to one another, talked about each other behind their backs, betrayed one another and this appeared to be ‘just the way it was’. As I got older and observed the adults, it sure seemed like nobody ever wanted to talk about their personal emotions or feelings, unless they were drinking alcohol. They all seemed to try very hard to pretend that they were ‘all good’ and that nothing was wrong even though you could sense anger and stress.
I found myself confused most days and overwhelmed thinking about all this ‘stuff’ in my head over and over. I concluded that maybe ‘I am just weird’, and I better keep these thoughts to myself. One hard part about growing up was that I felt like I was not allowed to be sensitive or to cry and I was expected to just “suck it up” when something negative happened.
Other thoughts that I found myself constantly wondering about was ‘what makes some people mean and some people kind?’ and “Why does it hurt so much on my inside when someone teases me or does something mean to me? I quite often felt like I wanted to run away or punch someone when I felt this way on the inside. I had no clue how to deal with my personal feelings and emotions growing up and struggled in school but found my escape through hockey until I was about 17 years old. Unfortunately, at 18 years old, after the passing of grandmother and some rough experiences at school, I then found my escape through alcohol and drugs.
I moved to Winnipeg at 21 years old of age to get a degree from the University of Winnipeg because I was under the impression that is what I should do. No individual made me do this, I just absorbed this information by the people around me and as well as television (No Social Media at this time).
I was under the impression that success and happiness was defined by: You get a degree and a job, you work hard, you get married, you create a family and then retire one day and hang out and watch your grandkids. This impression of life left me wondering to myself questions such as: Is this the only option, what if I don’t know what job I want, or what degree to take, what if I can’t find someone to love and marry or have kids with? This again, left me overwhelmed and confused, but feeling there was no other choice, I went about my everyday life doing what everyone else around me was doing and I just ‘sucked it up’ and numbed out and escaped my thoughts, feelings and emotions when I needed to.
I did what I felt I was supposed to do
I went to University to become a gym teacher not because I was passionate about this idea or that I though that it was my life purpose. Instead, I made this major life decision because I felt the pressure to succeed and since I was good at sports and could have summers off work, I decided to be a gym teacher. I started at the University of Winnipeg and started taking Kinesiology classes as my major and history classes as my minor.
While attending university, I got a part time job and when I was not doing schoolwork or working, I was spending time with my friends just hanging out and getting high, going to the gym lifting weights and hockey was still a big part of my life. I played, watched and talked about hockey quite frequently.
My life was full, but I still ended up feeling empty on the inside, carrying this void within myself that I could not fill. I was struggling with personal feelings that I was ‘weird’ because I wanted more from life, that I was not happy and was feeling guilty because I was not grateful for being in University and having a part job, friends and hobbies.
There was no purpose
Without realizing it at that time, I was seeking real personal connections, real direction and a real purpose in my life. I needed to love myself on the inside not look for outside love to validate my life. Consequently, I was suffering from anxiety and self limiting beliefs and covering it all up with school, excessive exercise, hockey, alcohol and drugs. I had no clue who to talk to, what to do, or how to cope. I was lost.
Personal Turning Point
Luckily for me at that right moment, I found something by accident that would bring passion, purpose, and hope into my life. I wanted a new part time job and at that time my friend was working at a group home for male youth through child and family services and told me come work there, I said “okay, why not”
I had no clue at that moment that working at that group home with these youth would forever change me and my personal life path. Through my job at this group home I heard stories of such personal trauma, abuse, neglect, addictions and struggle that it literally “woke me up” from this sleep I was in, living like a robot, being unsatisfied and I realized that I was wasting my life when I could be doing so much more. I could be impacting people, my community and the world.
The change begins
Immediately I could feel that this work, this connection, this mentoring of youth, this helping of people, that this was my purpose. I found that helping people heal themselves and improve their personal lives was something that came natural to me. Internally, I could feel for the first time in my life that something was shifting within myself. I could tell that this would be more than just a job and I felt that my personal purpose was to help others that were less fortunate than myself.
I realized in this moment that I was not destined to be a gym teacher, obviously being teacher is an important role, the other factor to be honest was that I could not handle studying for human anatomy (required to be a gym teacher). It was brutal for me because I didn’t have the passion to do the hard work necessary. The theme for me around this time was if I was not passionate about something or if I was just doing because I felt like I should then I would just put minimal effort into that activity.
Going all in
So, I chose to change my degree path and I started taking certain courses in Criminal Justice, Sociology, Psychology and Conflict Resolution Studies. I was passionate about learning about the human mind and how it works and why some people seem happier then others, why some people are mean and some are kind, as well as pondering: why can some people make it through struggles and trauma while others end up in jail or homeless. These ‘weird’ questions that I had since childhood about life created my curious mindset and finally, I had the avenue to feed my curiosity.
It was a relief to realize that in fact I was not the only person who had all these questions about why we are expected to do certain things, act a certain way and live a certain life to be happy. I was not ‘weird’ as I used to think when my mind wanted deeper conversations and answers about life.
No longer alone
I discovered that there were many individuals who had dedicated their lives to researching human behaviour, the human mind and developed patterns amongst their findings that happiness does not just happen by accident. It appeared that personal happiness was ultimately a choice and you would need to design your life with intention to achieve happiness. This absolutely blew my mind and I was instantly hooked and wanted to know more about all of this. This passion for helping people, learning about people, analyzing and investigating the human experience led me to a successful career within social services. I genuinely enjoyed giving individuals the time they deserved to tell their story and appreciated how they allowed me to ask questions and provide perspective to help them help themselves.
Professionally Successful but Not a Personal Win
I worked in social services for ten years in a variety of roles and through dedication of crafting my skills I became successful throughout those years and helped many people, help themselves. It went well in many ways. I was given promotions, praised and thanked along the way. I am very grateful for all those opportunities that I was given to impact people’s personal lives and make an income and to be able to provide for my family at the same time.
However, the real interesting part is that while I was accomplishing a lot professionally, simultaneously on a personal level I found myself struggling. Personally, I was not thriving like I was professionally, I could serve others and help them, but I seemed unable to serve and help myself.
A Switch in Bad Behaviour
I was no longer drinking alcohol or using drugs to numb out my personal anxiety, self limiting beliefs and stress. Unfortunately, throughout this time in my life I was still actively avoiding these negative thoughts within my mind and the emotional discomfort that came with them. Drugs and alcohol were substituted by working too many hours, spending all my time worrying about all my clients, friends and family and what I could do for them and not what I could do for myself. Clearly, I was neglecting myself and had zero self care practices.
Because of these factors, I found myself worn down emotionally, mentally, and physically more and more, day to day and wondering why am I not happy. I felt very stressed out all the time and unable to focus on the present moment and I was unable to settle my mind, constantly thinking about my work and how to pay the bills.
At this point in time, I had a family (wife and child), a nice car, a nice house, money to do activities and buy most things that I desired, yet I felt so incomplete and empty. I found myself angry because I was thought that I did everything I was supposed to do. I went to school, got a job, got married, and created a family, so what was my problem? Why was I was looking down upon myself, thinking something was wrong with me? I was treating myself way worse than I would ever treat another human being. I felt ashamed.
What was the problem?
As a reflect back, I now realize that a major personal problem for me was that I was a ‘people pleaser.” I identified my self worth and value based on what I could do for others and what others thought of me. I had spent my entire life worried about everyone else but myself. For, example, I worried about impressing my parents, my girlfriends, my friends, my wife, my family and anyone else that knew me. In addition, worried about being the best at my job, the best husband, the best father, the best provider and so on and so on. I just wanted everyone to like me and wanted to avoid conflict. It became obvious that I had no clue what me self identity was, who I really was, what my values were.
I never practiced self-care, I never slowed down to put self-work in, I never put in healthy boundaries, I never said ‘no’ when I wanted to, I always put everyone else ahead myself, I never addressed my internal anxiety and self limiting beliefs that I had carried with me since childhood. Once I started feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I just tried to push through it and ‘man up’
Self-Care is so Important
I always assumed that I would heal myself by healing others, but I learned the hard way this is not how it works. You must invest in yourself and your capacity to plan for stress, otherwise everything else in your life will eventually fall apart. I tried very hard to keep it together and just be grateful for my life because lots of people I had met in social services had it much worse than myself.
This life that I lived of serving others and not myself led me to a place of extreme burnout. I was tired of being tired, my life felt overwhelming, my relationships with my family and friends seemed artificial because we all just seemed to pretend to be happy when it was obvious that we were not.
I was overworked, overstressed, was not talking to anyone about my feelings and emotions, my relationships started to suffer, and I found myself trying to just survive day to day. I was not enjoying life at all…
The Breaking Point
Then it happened, the major event that changed my life forever, a life trauma occurred that proved such a challenge for me to overcome that my heart just literally broke and so did my will to live.
The event that happened was that my father was diagnosed with a terminal disease and I was told he was going to die. This news created an immediate feeling of rage, I started asking myself, “Why him, he is too young to die, he is a good person, why me, I am a good person. “He did everything right in his life, This is not fair! Where’s the justice? Where’s the Karma?”
At that moment, I felt a sense of utter despair and hopelessness, I sat there thinking what is the point of this? We go to school, we work, we produce kids and then we die. You see at the time, I had no capacity to take on any more stress, any more pressure, any more negative news. I was already running on fumes and overwhelmed by internal anxiety and stress; without an internal or external emotional support system.
I should have asked for help
In retrospect, what would have greatly benefited me was to seek help, I should have reached out for professional help. Sadly, I did not do this, rather I just kept going through life, grinding it day to day and working a stressful job, being that ultimate provider for his family and a “Super Dad.”
I had convinced myself that I had no time to be sad, I had a job, a family and now I needed to help take care my dad and be there to support my mom. I had to “man up” I had “to suck it up” “Life happens, push through it”
‘Pushing through it’ and ‘manning up’ after years of neglecting myself proved to be too great of a challenge and this tragic event proved to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” Quite literally, I developed back pain, then neck pain, then stomach issues, headaches and so on and so on, until I reached the point where my health declined so much that I could barely function and get out of bed. This led to two years of hospital visits and I went to any health professional available to get better. Nothing worked, I got worse and worse.
It’s not magic.
The problem was that I was seeking a magic pill, or a magic diet, I was waiting for someone to fix me so that I could go back to pleasing everyone else as I always did. I was too ‘stuck’ to realize I needed to go within myself, I needed to make internal changes, I needed to invest in myself and love myself first and foremost. I needed to investigate my emotions, feelings and self limiting beliefs.
Along the way, I got divorced, and had to quit my job and lost my nice house, my nice car and was in chronic pain everyday and was told I had fibromyalgia. I was told there is no cure to this, I would take pain medication to manage it the rest of my life. To say the least, I was devastated, I spent a few years consumed by anxiety, depression and chronic pain. I could not eat, I could not sleep, I was a mess, it was bad, my life was full of darkness and pain, I felt like a zombie just trying to survive and spend time with my daughter and my dying father.
The solution to my personal problem
Then it happened, I met a person, a friend, a life partner who was a therapist, she had gone to school for years and years, read many books, spent many hours researching and helped many clients get their lives back on track who were suffering with mental health issues, stress and trauma.
She taught me one life changing fact: “If you don’t take care of yourself, your body will let you know, you can only neglect yourself for so long until your body will scream at you through physical symptoms that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
You need to say No to the ‘shoulds’, and be yourself and love yourself otherwise you can not truly love anyone else.
This same person taught me one other important life lesson, she taught me that through emotional support, through listening, through talking about feelings and emotions, through crying, through self exploration and self work you can begin to heal. You can heal from anything, chronic pain, toxic stress, anxiety, depression, self limiting beliefs and trauma.
I finally realized that if I damaged my body through all these years of neglect and emotional avoidance then I could obviously heal my body by honouring it, honouring my feelings and emotions, putting myself first and loving myself.
This was the turning point!
I decided to put Michel Larson first.
I made life changes, I developed new patterns, new habits, worked on my mindset, found strategies to feel better, to improve myself, to upgrade myself. I built myself a capacity to handle stress and life itself.
I immersed myself into readings and courses on how to heal yourself and made it my mission to learn from others and seek experts in the field of healing yourself, improving your life and setting a foundation for happiness, love and joy. Just as many people should, I found trained professionals to help me, help myself.
I took a Life Coach Certification course through Certified Coaches Federation and excelled at it.
The common answer that I kept finding out about health and happiness, is to put yourself first, invest in yourself, figure out what makes you happy not what makes everyone else happy. You need to set goals, make a life plan, challenge yourself, build yourself a capacity, find a support person and upgrade your life day by day. I made a life upgrade plan and it worked!
The Hard Truth
The hard truth and reality of the human experience is that you only get one mind, one body, you only live once, why would you waste it by pleasing everyone else but yourself.
I am not perfect, I am not happy 24/7 but I find myself at peace, grateful and loving myself and my life. I hit rock bottom and climbed back up. I needed help to climb back up, I needed help to help myself. Now, I put the work in everyday that necessary to have a capacity to handle day to day stressors and achieve a sustainable life of joy. I live in the present moment and have learned how to control my anxiety and other emotions. I make logic-based life decisions not emotionally controlled decisions.
My mission is to help anyone avoid the pain I went through and learning these lessons the hard way, if you have fallen, hit rock bottom, please consider letting me help you climb back up.
This is my new passion, my new life purpose to be a Life Coach, to be successful professionally and personally too. I walk the same walk that I talk. I love myself, my daughter, my family, my friends and being a Life Coach.
Please consider signing up for a personal life upgrade plan.
Thank you letting me share my story,
Michael LarsonLearn More
There is quite a bit of information out there about the subject of change. Something we can all agree on is that changing can be overwhelming. There are seemingly an infinite number of areas that we ‘should’ and ‘could’ change. And, it seems that other people have their own opinions about what, why and, how we should transform.
It appears that the tricky part is figuring out what your motivation is to change. For example, one could strive to change their physical appearance, their health, eating habits, sleep patterns. Or one could change their addictions, their relationships, their partner, their job, their self image…. and the list goes on and on – overwhelming, right?!
I suggest looking inwards to find out if the desire is internal or external before deciding to make any change. An example of internal would be personal growth. An example of external would be to impress others. I would also suggest seeking an unbiased perspective about the situation from a mentor, counsellor, or life coach.
We all have family and friends that we love and that love us. Unfortunately, quite often these same family members and friends knowingly or unknowingly have their own agendas about what you should be doing with your life based on how it will impact them and their perception of what is best for you.
I strongly believe that seeking perspective from a neutral observer. A trained professionals will not tell you what to do, instead they will help you look at all the options and potential outcomes of a change, which allows you to see it from all angles and thus make the best decision for yourself.
Once you have figured out if your motivation is internally or externally driven, and have gained some perspective, it is then time to determine where you are actually at in regard to the potential change. Is this a random thought, or something you have attempted to change before? Most importantly, are you ready to put the work in to make an authentic change? I suggest starting small and working towards the big changes after you have succeeded in making smaller ones.
The 5 W’s
To enact long-lasting change, you need to be ready, determined, and motivated to do so. Think of the 5 W’s (well, actually 4 W’s and an H):
Why do you want to this transition?
What is the outcome you are hoping to achieve?
Who are you changing for?
When are you going to start?
How are you going to go about changing?
The Next Step for Change
You can’t just talk about changing, you need to dig down deep and crave it, crave the result this change will create and realize that for an actual tangible change to occur, you require goal setting which is enacting a process to hold yourself accountable, while allowing yourself the ability to ‘slip up’ and be self-aware enough to continue through the process of change to upgrade your life.
The hard work is avoiding short term pleasures to enable yourself the time to set up a foundation of sustainable joy. There is going to be discomfort and struggle, why not embrace it rather than fight against yourself. You can do it, You are enough, You are worthy.
Change is a risk, fear of change is crippling, and it can be uncomfortable, but I believe at some point all of us desire to make positive changes and we just need clarity. We know that being ‘fine’ or ‘not bad’ or ‘pretty good’ is not what we desire, we know that we deserve better.
Want more information about what I do and how I can help you? Click here to read about Life Upgrade and how I can upgrade your lifeLearn More
One of the frequently asked questions I receive is: “What is a life coach and how is it different than a therapy?”
Although these professions are similar, they are in fact different. I personally have the utmost respect for the therapy profession. I believe individuals can have great benefits from developing a relationship with the right therapist while investing time and energy in the therapeutic process. As I am not a therapist, I will not give my definition or view of what a therapist does. I will, however, separate the two processes by breaking it down for you from my experiences. The simplest way to separate the two, would be: you go to therapy to deal with your past. Whereas, you go to a life coach to talk about your present and the plan for your future.
What I do
I know how devastating emotional pain can be. It can have a very negative impact on someone’s ability to live a fulfilled life. When I meet with a client, if most of the conversation is centered around emotional pain and trauma that they have suffered in the past, I will listen with empathy and understanding. I will investigate how the client is currently feeling and dealing with the impacts of past trauma. We will then discuss what the client’s plan is address these impacts as they move forward to upgrade their life.
First, we will discuss what their beliefs are about themselves based on the pain and the trauma they have experienced. We may need to explore definitions of trauma and the impact trauma has on an individual. Then, we would discuss the process of change and how trauma affects your day to day functioning and your ability to effectively plan your future.
After the understanding of trauma is established, we are able to start the process of your Life Upgrade plan. Through this process, if we find that the majority of our conversations within the life coaching sessions are about the past and not about how to shift away from this and plan for the future, then we would hit a “pause button.” This would give us the ability to re-assess your Life Upgrade plan, your goals and where you are at in the process of change. We could explore a few options here. Often life coaching is still the right fit but we need to shift the focus back to the programming and beliefs about your past rather then remain ‘stuck’.
The Role of Therapy
Alternatively, we may find out that the traumas from your past require further exploration. This is fine and is common within the process of change. At this point, I could help you find a therapist who has expertise in the area you need. When the time is right, you could then circle back to life coaching. Another option is to invest in both simultaneously for yourself.
As a life coach, I always support my client in navigating the change process by creating an environment of safety, trust and options. I whole-heartedly want what is best for you and want help you help yourself. Life coaching and therapy are both helpful for anyone who wants to live up to their fullest potential, make the most of their life and be the best version of themselves possible. My life journey led me to be a life coach and in that I will always put your interests first.Learn More
An essential philosophy of my life coaching is that all human beings have unlimited potential. However, we all seem to get in our own way much of the time. Self limiting beliefs are often the root cause of this. After learning about Neuroscience, it is obvious to me that we don’t have as much control as we think.
For a better understanding around Neuroscience, (refer to my blog titled Neuroplasticity). For now, all you need to know is neuroscience is the study of how the brain and nervous system works. Neuroscientists research the design and structure of brain and how this impacts a person’s behaviour and cognitive functions such as choices, decision making and responses to situations that occur in our everyday lives.
Neuroscience indicates that are over 50% of our brains are hard- wired and programmed by the age of 7 years old. And this includes self limiting beliefs. At this young age we’re not critically thinking and choosing how we feel about ourselves, what we stand for and who we are. That is to say, others tell us who we are. In addition, we are given external information about how we ‘should be’ in comparison to others.
What exactly are self limiting beliefs?
I define self limiting beliefs as negative thoughts, feelings and views about ourselves that stop us from reaching our true potential. These beliefs are scary, uncomfortable, and make us feel inadequate. This causes a sense of vulnerability within ourselves. These beliefs about ourselves build a foundation that guide our choices and behaviour. Consequently, we often feel that these beliefs about ourselves are true. Therefore, we attempt to challenge these beliefs in unhealthy ways such as overcompensating, lying to others and negatively coping.
Examples of Common Self Limiting Beliefs
‘I am stupid’ ‘Nobody really loves me’ ‘I am weak’ ‘Don’t trust anyone’ ‘Life is hard’
‘Men Shouldn’t Cry’ ‘I am ugly’ ‘I am worthless’ ‘Success is very rare’ ‘Money is hard to come by’
‘I am not creative’ ‘I am not skinny enough’ ‘I am not pretty’ ‘I am just like my parents’
These examples are just a small sample size of the many self limiting beliefs that we often have. They come in many sizes, shapes and versions. Although, what is common amongst them is that they are not accurate descriptions and they are not helpful. The fact is that at a young age, we are already believing that we can not accomplish our dreams and that lots of other people are better than us in comparison.
We often choose our spouses, our friends, our hobbies, our interests, our education pursuits and our jobs based on these core beliefs. I encourage you to take a few minutes, write down your core beliefs and see if you can connect them to how you have designed your life.
What to do now?
It has been proven that you can successfully challenge these thoughts and re-wire your brain. The reality is that this will be hard work. You have carried these beliefs for a long time. Unfortunately life is filled with challenges, struggles and people who will put you down therefore confirming these thoughts about yourself. However, it has been proven that if you put the work in, that you can change these beliefs that you.
Are you willing to put the hard work in? To challenge yourself, and admit to yourself that you have self limiting beliefs? Are you able to start by telling yourself that you can do better? That these are just false beliefs, that they are not your true beliefs?
You can do it!
First, you must have the courage to admit to yourself that you have self limiting beliefs and to investigate this further within yourself. Secondly, have the self compassion to realize that this is not your fault, and that these beliefs were given to you at a young age. Further, the third step is to figure out a plan to change your mindset and design new ones to reach your true potential. These three steps are the beginning steps of deciding to upgrade your life.Learn More
What is neuroplasticity?
In the book “Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology”, Dr. Daniel J. Siegel defines Neuroplasticity as: “The ability of the brain to change its structure in response to experience. Experience activates neurons which then can then turn on genes that enable structural changes to be made that strengthen the connections among activated neurons.”
If this explanation is hard to understand, join the club, I had difficulty understanding this definition as well. Consequently, I read through this book multiple times and I have read many other articles and books on Neuroplasticity.
Basic Definition of Neuroplasticity
To clarify, my understanding of Neuroplasticity is that our brains are over 50% hard wired by the age of 7. By then we have beliefs about ourselves, our caregivers, families, peers, our outer world and what is right from wrong. This makes up your value system. You are essentially a sponge that is soaking up external information around you without a filter. The issue is that you lack the critical thinking skills to debate what your actual perception of what right from wrong is. As a result, you are left believing that everything you see or hear is just the way the world is.
Your brain is hard wired to follow the lead of the primary people in your environment. Therefore, as you can see, we are destined to be just like our primary caregivers without much choice. Based primarily on our home environment, our internal beliefs and value system are created in early childhood . As we get older, daycare and school environments become a factor in influencing brain development as well.
Parents can hope that other adults, such as the teachers, would be influencing. However, most likely our peers and peer influence also known as peer pressure is playing a huge role in the development of who we are, what we think and what we stand for.
Dr. Daniel J. Siegal says “these basic neurol connections set up early in life by either mechanism create the foundation for how the brain will participate in information processing as the child grows.”
I understand information processing as what we see and hear around us. Then we process this information internally within our mind and make meaning of it. We will then select what information supports our core beliefs and what information does not.
Often as children get older, they gravitate towards peer influence. They are seeking new information to process that may challenge or confirm their existing beliefs and value system within their hard wired brain.(mind) It is typical for children to end up being close friends with children that like the same activities as them, who think in a similar way and who look the same as them. We are wired to seek connection and validation of our existing core beliefs and values. We often want to be the ‘same as’, not ‘different then’ to feel accepted rather than rejected.
Challenging of our belief system in Adulthood
This combination of our home environment and peer influence continue to contribute to how our brain is hard wired. Before we know it, we are an adult and set on a path of how we will interact with others. This influences how we select our job, our partner, our friends and how we will raise our children.
As we enter the workplace or attend secondary education institutions, we will meet and encounter people of all backgrounds and core belief systems. These adult encounters will challenge our internal hard wired brains of what is right and wrong, how to parent, how to treat your life partner, who to vote for, what to believe in, spirituality, etc.
These encounters with other human beings will ultimately in some cases challenge our core beliefs and our pre-existing value system. This invokes an automatic emotional response within our mind, brain and body. Our emotional response can often be negative, we then become defensive, when we feel our beliefs and values have been challenged. I suggest that you want to actively acknowledge that you have become emotionally defensive, then take the time necessary to logically receive this new information that someone else has a different belief and value system than yours. Ultimately, it is fine when two adults, have two different sets of belief and value systems. I recommend attempting to avoid arguments and entering a ‘win and lose mentality’ when it comes to our core beliefs and values. These difficult conversations should come from a place of curiosity rather than a place of hostility.
You can change your childhood beliefs by choosing your own beliefs in Adulthood
Without realizing it, when your core beliefs and value system is challenged, our hard wired brain engages our nervous system and we automatically enter survival mode. Our nervous system (fight, flight or freeze) initiates and we become defensive, or we shut down. You can read more about the nervous system in my blog entitled nervous system.
When we enter adult life, we are effectively trying to navigate the world on our own, which will lead to encounters with people that may support or challenge how our brains our currently wired. This leaves us with an importance choice to make day to day within these encounters. We can challenge people and give in to our automatic emotional response. On the other hand, you can take a step back, take a deep breathe and effectively open your mind. This opens you up to new concepts and beliefs. You can choose to re-wire your brain the way you want moving forward.
You can change your pre-determined childhood beliefs by choosing your own beliefs in Adulthood
Science has proven that through neuroplasticity, you can re-wire your brain. Therefore you will think differently, feel differently and this will produce different results in your life. If you are someone who has realized that you want different results in your life, here are some tips on supporting neuroplasticity and the re-wiring process.
Aerobic Exercise: Be active, it releases important chemicals within our brains.
Good Sleep: We need it to optimize our function.
Good nutrition: Water, fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy fats are what fuel our body and brain.
Relationships: Set boundaries, say no, seek healthy connections
Novelty: avoid being in rut or becoming bored, seek new activities and experiences.
Mindfulness: Avoid multitasking, stay present in the moment, be aware of your cell phone use.
Time In: Reflect within yourself or meditation. Just sitting or laying and doing nothing. Listen to your thoughts, your feelings and your emotions. Have conversations with yourself.
Joy and Humor: laugh, play, do not take yourself or life so seriously.Learn More
We all have a nervous system, but why do we have nervous system, why is it so important, and why would a Life Coach blog about it?
We have a nervous system to enable us to be alive, function and survive. The nervous system is comprised of many parts of the body including your brain, your spinal cord and your nerves. I like to compare the Nervous System to a built in computer, this built in computer allows us to automatically do things without thinking about it. For example, I am typing right now while processing these thoughts, therefore my fingers are automatically using the keyboard. Another example would be that we often use our hands when we talk, without telling our hands to move. This allows us to communicate verbally and nonverbally simultaneously. I find it quite fascinating that we can think, speak and move all at the same time quickly and efficiently unless our nervous system has been compromised in some way.
Parts of the Nervous System and how they function
For the purpose of this article, I will write about the Autonomic Nervous System and the two branches known as the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System.
Autonomic Nervous System:
This is responsible for organ functioning, breathing, healing, urination and sexual arousal etc.
Parasympathetic Nervous System (Rest and Digest):
This is responsible for sleeping, slowing down, rest and digest, conserving of energy, as well as social engagement which is the unique part of the human experience and allows us to connect and love, learn and engage with our environment.
Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight):
This is responsible for and allows us to survive threats (harm) by a built-in ability to flight, fight or freeze. This happens without us thinking about it, it just happens in a split second, it happens suddenly without warning.
Examples of Flight, Fight and Freeze
You are walking through a park while two people are playing catch with a ball, suddenly you hear ‘heads up’ you see a baseball out of the corner of your eye coming straight at you, you automatically respond, you don’t stand there pondering your options of what to do, you will either move out of the way or cover up, or catch and deflect the baseball; this will happen automatically, in an instant otherwise you would get hit in the head with a baseball and get hurt.
This is your flight response, this is your nervous system working for you, it’s keeping your head safe from injury.
You are walking in the same park, when an animal comes running at you out of nowhere and your cornered, no time to run, in an instant your hands clinch into fists and you start punching and kicking this animal until the attack stops and the animal leaves.
This your fight response working for you, your adrenaline kicks in and you fight until the attack/threat is over with.
You are walking in the same park, when you approach a bad accident, someone was hit by a car while riding their bike. Police and paramedics are on the scene, so you have no need to help or respond, as you walk by you can see the person that has been injured on the ground. It feels horrific, even though it is tough to look at, you kind of stare and fixate on what you see. Your body kind of goes numb and you don’t really feel anything even though you know you should feel something.
This is your freeze response working for you. It’s not allowing you to feel the horror that you are witnessing, to enable you to process this horrible scene slowly enough to avoid immediate overwhelm.
Survival Responses are essential but can create problems
As you can see the fight, flight, freeze responses are essential for human functioning and survival. However, individuals can run into problems and issues because these survival responses are not meant to be activated for long periods of time, they are meant to be activated in short bursts. These survival responses need stress hormones such as cortisol to engage and keep us a safe and alive.
Once the event that created the threat is over, our bodies desire to return to normal easy functioning that is relaxing and not in ‘high alert ‘ Our body does not function well when the nervous system is in a constant survival response such as fight, flight, freeze. When we stay in the ‘high alert’ response, we become imbalanced, sick, and unhealthy because our stress hormones such as cortisol start to negatively impact our body.
Unfortunately, in the year 2020, we live in a society where stress has been accepted and tolerated as just part of life. (see my blog titled “Plan for Stress by Building a Capacity)
Many of us are constantly in ‘high alert’ and suffer from chronic stress and never engage in self care.
Does this sound familiar?
Perhaps, your health is suffering from chronic stress?
Perhaps, your nervous system is constantly engaged in fight, flight, freeze?Learn More
A google search of emotional intelligence could lead you to this dictionary definition:
“the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success”
Wow, think about that for 10 seconds, close your eyes, and ask yourself this question; Are my emotions interfering with my personal and professional success?
When I asked myself this question years ago, my answer was a resounding YES! I realized that I was an emotional roller coaster, up and down, down and up, spinning around and blaming this person or this event, being angry, throwing adult temper tantrums which left me feeling emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. In my defense, I found out that I had prior life circumstances and events that contributed to me being a roller coaster of emotions. I realized that I could use this as an excuse or look for a solution.
In that moment, I experienced a difficult realization about myself and my life up to that point. I did not choose my childhood, I did not choose my self limiting beliefs, I did not choose my current mind programming, I did not choose how my brain is currently hard-wired,but I can make a choice right now!
I could choose to live the rest of my adult life based of my childhood experiences that were re-enforced through negative experiences as an adult or I can decide once in for all to put the hard work in. The hard work would be learning about how to improve my emotional intelligence. The work that would prove to be even harder would be implementing the strategies that I learned to improve emotional intelligence and then sticking to these new strategies. This was difficult because we are ‘creatures of habit’ and my brain was seeking old patterns of thinking and attempting to automatically have me start acting on those old self limiting beliefs that were connected to emotions.
What did I do to improve my Emotional Intelligence?
I read books, I took courses and had talks with local professionals that I am grateful to be connected to. I am still a work in progress, I still have my triggers and my emotional over-ride moments like everyone else, but I can honestly say that the hard work has really paid off. I now make logically based life decisions opposed to emotionally driven life decisions and as a result my life has received an upgrade.
My life upgrade occurred over time because I set a goal to improve my emotional intelligence rather than accepting where I was at, I then set goals, and adjusted my life to achieve the desired outcome I was passionate about reaching.
Common Emotions that I help my clients help themselves with:
Anxiety is an emotion that a person experiences in the face of a perceived threat or danger and the belief that something negative is about to happen. More often then not, we tell ourselves a story that something negative is going to happen and re-enforce this story by thinking ‘I am just unlucky’, ‘my life is just hard’ etc. In the moment, we convince ourselves that the perceived threat or danger is real, when in fact it is not. We are ‘stuck’ in our past, ‘stuck’ in our self limiting beliefs, ‘stuck’ in our programming, ‘stuck’ in fight, flight, or freeze.
Often we suffer more in our minds than we do in actual reality since we are quick to think worse case scenario is going to happen and most of the time it does not. We live in anxiety as events approach such as that meeting, until we have that exam, until we get through that family gathering, until we get that job, until we buy that house, until we pay that bill, until we have that date, until we have that uncomfortable talk etc.
Similar to anxiety, but more intense, occurs when we feel that an immediate threat or danger is about to occur, this fear signals to our nervous system (see my blog titled Nervous System) to get ready for battle. ‘It is going down’
Fortunately, in today’s world most of us are not actually getting ready for a physical battle; the mental and emotional battles we are having are inside of our own minds. We fear letting people down, we fear failure, we fear rejection, we fear commitment, we fear being vulnerable, we fear our bosses, we fear our parents, we fear our spouses, we fear conflict, we fear the unknown, we fear inadequacy etc.
Negative thoughts about ourselves, such as: ‘I am a bad person’, ‘I am a screw up’, ‘I suck’, ‘I can’t get anything right’, ‘I hurt that person, so they must hate me now’, ‘I better avoid them’, ‘I should hide at home’, ‘I am worthless’, ‘My partner would be better off without me’
We have all learned that mistakes are okay, we all make mistakes, and we are often compassionate with others when they have made mistakes, wronged us or let us down. When we do not have the same self compassion with ourselves that we do for others and we start putting ourselves down, this is shame. We are effectively shaming ourselves and living in anxiety and fear. When we live in shame without challenging these thoughts, we often become defensive and blame others because these feelings are so powerful and overwhelming. We would rather blame then feel the shame.
Anger is that emotion that is hard to talk about, so hard to feel and to handle, essentially when you feel angry, your primitive instincts kick in and you want to yell and hit because you just want the hurt to go away. Did you notice I said that ‘you just want the hurt to go away’ When we are angry, we are hurt. We feel unloved, under appreciated, rejected, betrayed etc.
Of course, we can not go around yelling at people or hitting people, but we can go into the hurt, we can be vulnerable, and we can feel the hurt, feel the sadness and cry. Yes, we can cry, crying is not a sign of weakness, it is how we let go of anger(hurt) in a healthy way. We talk about it, we cry about it and we let it out otherwise, anger will consume you. Hurt people will hurt people.
How to improve your Emotional Intelligence:
You can learn to realize, when you are having those fear based thoughts about something negative happening and challenge them with faith based thoughts. Remind yourself that there is the same chance that something positive could happen. Get a hold of your mind, work on this, work on yourself.
Leave the past in the past
You can stop living in the past, start living in the present and plan for your future by designing your wanted outcome, setting goals and stepping out of your comfort zone to be able to upgrade your life.
You can find a process to dump your anxiety, fear and anger by venting, investing in self care, focusing your thoughts on what matters in life, realizing your incredible worth and value, setting healthy boundaries, learning to say no, journaling and talking to a trained professional.
You can be vulnerable with yourself, be vulnerable with trusted individuals, talk about and share feelings and emotions, not just the positive ones but the negative ones as well.
You can have self compassion with yourself, it is a process to improve your emotional intelligence and it takes time. Show yourself the patients you deserve.
You must realize that to be human is to fear emotions, but we crave them as well and we will always have them. Give yourself permission to feel any and all emotions.
You must love yourself!
Emotional Intelligence Decision Making
|Emotionally Controlled Decision Making||When you control you emotions decision making|
|Feel good, then do the right thing||Do the right thing then feel good|
|Conveniently Driven||Commitment Driven|
|You make the popular decision||Principle based decision making|
|Attitude Controlled Actions||Action Controlled Attitude|
|See then believe||Believe then See|
|Wait for Momentum||Create Momentum|
|What can I get away With?||What is my Responsibility?|
|Quit when it’s hard||Continue when it’s hard|
|Moody, Up and Down||Steady at the wheel, day by day|
We have all heard the word stress before, but what do we really know about the word?
For the purpose of this blog, I will define two types of stress which are referred to as acute and chronic stress. Acute stress is the response to an immediate threat when we are in immediate danger. The second type of stress which happens to be running rampant amongst most of us in today’s world is chronic stress. I will be focusing on chronic stress throughout this blog.
Chronic stress is when you are under the perception that you are experiencing immediate threat but all the time; deadlines at work, bills to pay, kid’s activities to get to, friends to see, parents to help, university papers to complete, a spouse or a intimate partner to please.
The major problem is that chronic stress activates the same response within your nervous system as acute stress does. When you are chronically stressed day to day then you are internally activating the same response as you would if you were in imminent danger. Your nervous system does not differentiate between acute or chronic stress. For further information on the nervous system, see my blog titled nervous system.
What does stress do to your body?
When a threat or a perceived threat(stressor) occurs, this activates your nervous system response, your body releases cortisol to counter act the stressor. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands to allow you to get a burst of adrenaline to become faster and stronger to escape the stressor. If the threat is short term such as an animal attack, cortisol is indeed helpful. When cortisol production becomes an issue, is when the perceived threat is your actual day to day life, then you are constantly producing cortisol which can lead to bodily harm and physical complications.
Symptoms of prolonged chronic stress are weakened immune system, high blood pressure, hypertension, stomach issues, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, headaches, migraines, weight gain, acne, neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, hip pain, leg pain, general body pain, low levels of energy, poor sleep, mood swings, irritability and the list goes on and on.
Do you have any of these symptoms? Could you be dealing with the impacts of chronic stress?
If the answer is a maybe, yes or YES!
Then I ask the following:
What is more important then your health?
Can you work without health?
Are you capable of raising your kids without health?
Do you think you can please your parents without your health?
Would you be able finish your homework without your health?
Can you clean the house without your health?
Can you go to family dinners without your health?
Would you be productive without your health?
What was your answer?
By answering these questions, you may have concluded that you need to plan for stress, that you need to value your health as your priority, and you might be wondering what to do. If you feel that you must work a lot, that your family is full of drama, that nobody respects you, that your overwhelmed, then perhaps it is time for a life upgrade. Perhaps, it is time to invest in yourself and make some positive changes.
We all know that we need to eat healthy, we need to exercise, we need to sleep properly, while finding the time to balance work with rest and play. However, the fact is most of us do not do this, we ignore ourselves and do not participate in self care. Perhaps, you do not realize that by living a chronically stressful life and neglecting yourself that you’re diminishing your capacity to combat a major stressor that will inevitably occur at some point in your lifetime.
I suggest you plan for stress by building a capacity.
I suggest that you need to plan for stress by building a capacity rather than diminish your current capacity because life can be random, unpredictable and just cruel sometimes. Unavoidingly, life is going to happen and be hard to handle because we will all experience losses, break ups, get fired or laid off, and people around us will become sick or die.
Capacity can be accurately defined as the amount of output that a system can maintain over time.
Your mind, nervous system and body is the system and the output would be the amount of energy you have to give to others over time.
In order to have the capacity to handle these huge life stressors, we need to minimize the smaller day to day stressors. I am not minimizing your life, or what happens in your life, believe me I have combated stress for years, however I have learned the hard way that if you do not build a strong capacity then you can break in a bad way. You need to plan for stress and put the work in to build a capacity to handle stress.
If you do not work on building a capacity, and only export energy and do not input energy then you will ultimately become worn down by life itself, life expectations and daily stressors. This lack of capacity can lead to negatively coping such as smoking, drinking, illegal drugs, prescription pills, overeating, gambling, shopping, and binge watching Netflix, and living through social media.
How to build a capacity:
In the context of coaching, capacity building includes supporting clients as they seek to increase both their confidence and their competence in order to achieve what matters most to them. Capacity building is both internal, as we cultivate the mental and emotional support system necessary for success (i.e., confidence), and external, as we develop the competencies and skillsets required to move into new levels of success and accomplishment. You are planning for stress because stress will happen.
Tools for building Capacity:
Self Care Empowerment
Spiritual Connection (Does not have to be organized religion, can be whatever you desire or fits for you)
Subconscious Shifting, Challenging Self Limiting Beliefs (Reprogramming)
Hiring a Life Coach and investing in a Life Upgrade PlanLearn More
What is anxiety, why do we have it and What do we do about it?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear. We are worried that we are not okay or safe and that something bad is going to happen to us. We may also be feeling anxiety because there is an immediate threat to our safety or a perceived threat to our safety. The perceived part is important to understand and remember moving forward.
Our human brains are biologically wired and designed to keep us safe. As human beings, we are designed to survive and therefore we have the need to feel safe. The human brain’s job is to scan for threats to our safety.
Within our bodies, we also have something called a Nervous System which is the fight, flight, or freeze response. To learn more about the nervous system (see my blog titled NERVOUS SYSTEM (FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE)
We feel anxiety, when we are experiencing an over-active sympathetic nervous system which is relaying messages to our brain that there is a threat, when there is no actual threat to our safety.
Anxiety will flood your mind with intrusive and worrisome thoughts because your brain is doing its job and searching for all the possible things that could be the threat. Your mind will keep replaying these unwanted thoughts and will keep going over them again and again, until a threat or some meaning is made of it. You will conclude or convince yourself that something bad is going to happen.(Perceived)
You can experience a panic/anxiety attack when your body is releasing the excess activation from your sympathetic nervous system.
Three things you can do when you are experiencing generalized anxiety, or a panic attack is:
- Change your language:
Rather than say to yourself: “I am experiencing anxiety” instead say “My Nervous System is acting up” For most people, the word anxiety is upsetting because it comes with negative associations. However, the term nervous system is a more neutral term which will not trigger the same response as repeating the word anxiety over and over in your mind.
- Challenge your own thoughts with new thoughts:
When the intrusive and worrisome thoughts start going and going, instead of engaging in the thoughts, try reminding yourself that all that is happening is that you are experiencing activation in your nervous system. Often, the thoughts will not be based in fact and most likely will not be true because these thoughts are worse case scenario! All that is happening is that your brain is doing what it was designed to do, to make sense of what us happening, search for threats and to keep us safe.
- Try re-orientating your mind and body to the present moment:
Often when we are experiencing activation within our nervous system, this is a result of us thinking about something that has happened to us in the past or something that we are thinking may happen to us in the future. Your brain and nervous system are responding to this and trying to make meaning of this. For most people, in the present moment, you are safe, and things are generally are not horrible or wonderful, but things are neutral.
A helpful practice to do, is to try re-orientating your mind and body to the present moment by engaging your five senses.
Engage your five senses by looking around and naming colours of objects you see, feel the chair your sitting on or your feet on the ground, list sounds that you hear out loud, or you can smell something or taste something.
Seven things you can do to optimize your mind and body to lower your general anxiety:
Release emotions: Do not bottle things up. Crying is healthy. Anger is healthy, when released in controlled ways.
Exercise: Do something, you need to move around.
Nutrition: You can have treats, but you need to consume protein, vegetables, fruit, and other healthy stuff
Sleep: if you do not rest, your nervous system can not reset, and your body can not heal.
Mindfulness: Meditation and yoga are helpful, but you can just be mindful with any activity by itself (Stop multi-tasking)
Phones: Get off your phone, social media creates anxiety.
Hire a Therapist or a Counsellor for unbiased, professional, and helpful support and guidance. (I know two people you can work with, let me know if your looking)Learn More
Parenting was always hard, now its even harder.
Here are some tips to make it easier:
First off, as a parent, I need to tell you something especially important. It is okay, to not be okay! Nobody signed up for this. We did not plan for this, there was no time to prepare. It is okay to be struggling. It is okay to be stressed out. It is okay to feel emotionally overwhelmed. It is okay to feel mad, sad, and scared.
It is also okay for your child to feel the exact same way. As a society, and as parents we often put this heavy pressure on ourselves, to be super parents, to have “perfect families. We don’t tell anyone when we are struggling, and we hide it, or we play pretend to the outside world.
If you think you should be, or anyone should be rocking this situation, think again, we are all struggling. It is easy to post pictures on Social Media of our family doing cool things. That is awesome, I do the same thing sometimes. However, the truth is, that we only post the best 1 hour of the day.
What about the other 23 hours of the day, that we do not post about?
We do not post a story about when we are crying, or when our kids are crying, or when we are arguing over cleaning up toys or getting our teen off the phone by shouting at them!
My point is that; we are all struggling with adjusting and adapting to Parenting in a Pandemic. One thing that creates overwhelming stress and anxiety is sending our children to school.
There is no “right’ decision as a parent right now. Sending your children to school and activities comes with stress for you and your children. Homeschooling your children and not sending them to activities comes with stress for you and children. (CHECK OUT MY OTHER BLOG ABOUT HOME-SCHOOLING TIPS)
As a parent, there are many things that you can not control right now, this pandemic was not in our plans, it is a once in a lifetime type of situation. You can not control what your government, your neighbour or what your child’s school is doing, you can only control what you do.
The conversations that I have been having with parents revolves around just making the best decision possible for your family. I encourage parents to sit down and write out the facts, the positives and negatives and then make the most effective decision you can, not from a place of emotions but logic. Then move forward and prepare yourself for a whirlwind of emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and guilt as you move on.
There are two scenarios playing out for parents right now depending on where you live. School or Home-school? What’s the old saying: “Stuck between a rock and a hard place” This situation would fit into that.
It is scary to send our children to school, it is stressful and creates anxiety for us the parent. It is also scary for our children and they will be anxious and stressed out as well. Your children will be looking to you as the parent to guide them, as their compass on how safe or unsafe school will be.
Your child wants to feel safe, as a parent you can help them do this, you can not control if they get Covid-19, but you can control the messages that your children receive from you about Covid-19.
There can be 2 extreme types of messages that you can send to your children right now:
If you are constantly watching the news, reading the news on your phone and talking about COVID-19, your children will take on this anxiety and stress from you and they will feel unsafe, and school will be a struggle for them.
If you are saying this is a hoax, the government is wrong, and masks are stupid and this is all stupid, your children will pick up this feeling of mistrust, anxiety, and anger from you and school will be a struggle for them.
I believe there is an effective parenting middle ground in terms of what message to send to your children:
- Educate your children about what is going on and how to protect themselves.
- Teach them to do what is right for them, not what someone else tells them is right or wrong. Teach them and role model for them how to handle themselves at school and with peers.
- Inform your child, that other parents, their friends, other children, and teachers will be stressed out and emotions will be running high, generally when people are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, they look for someone or something to blame.
- Talk to them about what they are feeling, and what you are feeling. Acknowledge OUT-LOUD that school will be different this year, and it will be harder and less fun than in past years.
- Let them know its okay to not be okay at school, but you will be there for them when they get home to listen to them and talk about any stress, anxiety or emotions they felt at school.
- Focus on Providing a healthy, safe, and secure Parent-Child relationship. This will help make back-to-school easier.