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Good Grief! Is Grief Good for You?

Good Grief! Is Grief good for you?

Are you de-pressed? If unresolved grief is weighing you down, you might be “pressed down” by the weight of it. If the memories are a constant in your life (you think about it at least weekly), your life might be held in place like a boat with an anchor.

So what is grief?

Grief is deep distress at the loss of something valued or necessary, something taken from you without your agreement.

We can grieve the loss of people in our lives. We can also grieve the loss of a job, loss of a sense of feeling secure when incurring a major financial blow, losing the comfortable and familiar when moving, or the loss of our health. We may also grieve the loss of a belief: losing trust after a confidence or commitment was not kept, a broken promise. If grief stays unresolved, we add to our burden of grief that we carry around with us. It weighs us down or de-presses us.

Therefore, resolving grief and bringing closure will free us up, will give us room for more energy and joy in our lives.

Story: Resolve your differences – regularly

I was recently shown photos from a funeral. One of the photos showed two sisters who attended the funeral ceremony of their mother. The expressions on their faces were very different. One face was stricken with grief – the other was at peace.

Here is what I was told. One of the sisters spent time with her mother as her mother’s health was failing. They talked things out. When the mother passed away, there was a sense of peace and closure. Things were resolved. Her mother was no longer suffering in ill-health and in pain. Old emotional wounds had been healed.

The other sister had a lot of unresolved anger and grief. She and her mother didn’t speak. That daughter couldn’t bring herself to visit her mother in the final couple of years or even call her. Old grudges and anger and disagreements were never dealt with. Now that sister has deep lines of grief forming on her face. She is suffering.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

To heal unresolved grief means that you need to bring closure to something you may have had no control over, something that is left unresolved. You didn’t choose the timing. You had unfinished business. You don’t know how to resolve the unfinished business. The other person isn’t there to resolve it, or you feel unable to take steps towards resolution. How can you move on?

First of all, recognize that unresolved grief weighs you down. To lighten the load is to be able to live life more fully. It’s like putting down a backpack filled with rocks. You can move more freely without it, run faster, have more fun, and feel unencumbered.

Secondly, get clear on where you have unresolved grief. Did you feel that a friend has betrayed your confidence? Was a promise broken? Did your job evaporate despite your best efforts and commitment to the company where you worked? Did a relationship end? Did you lose your nest egg in the recent financial upheaval?

Thirdly, where is the judgment? Do you blame yourself for making poor choices or do you blame others: your boss, the economy, your partner, your friend?

Sometimes when we become clear on what grief we are holding onto, it will start to release all on its own. Clarity can bring a certain amount of healing.

Next, welcoming grief into our life is a big step for many. We have been taught to suppress our emotions, or at least the “negative” emotions. We are supposed to be strong and not show our vulnerabilities. This may be even harder for many men than for women. So go easy on yourself. How? Set aside some time when you are undisturbed and in a comfortable place. Think of an area of your life where you feel you have unresolved grief. Try to feel it fully. Welcome it into your consciousness. Then ask yourself if you could let go of this unresolved grief and when. Repeat the questions until you feel done or feel a sense of peace. This particular line of questioning is inspired by materials from “The Sedona Method”. For more information go to

Taking it Farther:

There are many ways to deal with grief. Aurora Winter uses a series of questions starting with, “If you had known that your spouse was going to die young, would you have still chosen to be with them?” For many the realization that they cherish the time they did have, releases much of the grief. In her book, “From Heartbreak to Happiness” she chronicles her own story.

There are many resources to help you process your grief. Healing grief through regular healthy communication is probably best, when that option is still available. I can help you bring closure.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.


The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it.

Often our emotional state is reflected in our eating behaviors. It feels like there is an umbilical cord between how we feel and how we eat. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn to sever the umbilical cord between our emotions and what we put into our mouths.

Reaching for food when life is hard is something many of us are familiar with. We were trained to do that.

I see it all the time. A baby is cranky or just noisy (at the store, in a house of worship, at a family gathering, at the doctor’s office, …).  Next, the baby is offered something to put into its mouth: a pacifier or a bottle. An older child gets a piece of candy at the bank, the doctor’s office or for good behavior. The opposite is also true: the bribe or withholding trick: if you’re good you’ll get ice cream. Or “no dessert for you, you’ve been bad”. Is it any wonder that when we finally get control over our own food supply, we do what feels emotionally supportive, rather than what we know is healthy for us?

Here are some examples for how it can play out in our lives now.

1. A couple of years ago I reconnected with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. I know her to be health conscious and fit. As her husband was battling cancer, she gained a lot of weight. She said she was comfort eating. She couldn’t help it.

2. Some years ago I was shocked at my response when my life coach asked me what my definition of SUCCESS was. When I looked deeply inside me, the surprising answer I found was “being able to buy and eat any food I want”.  That was the beginning of a profound shift in my relationship with food.

Surprisingly, we don’t just run away from “bad” feelings. We run away from “good” feelings as well. Following is an example.

Story: Anxious about being excited

Recently while at the roller-skating rink I had the chance to observe a family waiting in line. It appeared to me that the mother of three young girls was very uncomfortable with her daughters being excited about going skating. She tried to squash any sign of happiness and excitement with threats like “if you don’t stand still, we’ll just go home” and “you’ll just have to sit in the car while we skate” and “you’re spoiling it for everybody”. Later I saw them again in the snack bar. It hadn’t stopped. “Sit still” and “NO! You can’t have a pretzel”, sounded more like a drill sergeant rebuking a new recruit than a rational conversation.

So, what are these three young girls learning about being excited and having fun? Probably the same thing their mother learned when she was young: “it’s not safe to be excited” and “things calm down when everybody is eating”.  So, don’t be surprised if you are stress eating when you are happy or excited.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

I don’t need to tell you the benefits of a healthy body. I don’t need to tell you about just having more willpower. I don’t need to tell you about one more diet to try, or one more trick to keep you from food you desperately want to eat. If you and food have an adversarial relationship – you have probably tried them all.

Are you ready to change all that? Ready to start to de-link your connection between emotions and food? Like any habit, even those you have had for a long time, reaching for comforting food can be replaced with other behavior.

Start with awareness: how and when do you self soothe with food?

  • Do you lose your appetite?
  • Do you eat for comfort?
  • Do you tend to go for sweet or salty comfort food?
  • Do you eat until you go numb or the discomfort from overeating is greater than the uncomfortable feelings you had before?
  • When your life feels out of control, do you engage in “control over food behavior” such as anorexia or bulimia?

Take a moment and reflect on today or yesterday while it is fresh in your mind. Did you eat something you wish you hadn’t? How were you feeling afterwards? Did you feel stuffed, disgusted, muted, satisfied, numbed, nauseous, calm? OK. What emotions were you feeling before you started to eat, emotions you were covering up that might have been too uncomfortable to feel? What were you running away from, and running to food to help divert you?

Keep a small notebook of situations and emotions that bring you running to food. Then pick one of them that you think you can shift into a new habit that doesn’t involve food. Don’t try to change chocolate cake to carrot sticks. Remember you still need to be comforted. What are things that are comforting to you? A warm bath? A friendly chat with a trusted friend? Sitting on a sunny bench at a nearby park? Some physical activity, like yoga? Listening to some soothing music? Make a list. Find one or more activities that you will substitute for one specific emotional pattern. Plan ahead what you will do the next time that trigger situation occurs. Congratulate yourself every time you succeed and be gentle with yourself if you slip into old patterns. Just recommit to do better next time. I recommend that you go easy on yourself. Focus on changing one pattern every 3 months.

Taking it Farther:

Start to notice why you respond to certain situations as you do. I’ve heard that 10% is what happens to you and 90% is how you respond to what happens. If a situation is not stressful to you, you won’t need comforting. But that is a topic for another article.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Adjusting Boundaries as a Cure for Stress

Adjusting Boundaries as a Cure for Stress

Some people say there is good stress and bad stress. Would you say that getting married is good stress and getting divorced is bad stress?

It appears that the body does not distinguish between good and bad stress. There are “50 Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress” listed on the American Institute of Stress (AIS) website: which includes symptoms like headaches, back pain, nausea, chest pain, fidgeting, overwhelm, excessive hunger or loss of appetite, social withdrawal … You can have these symptoms regardless of the kind of stress you are dealing with. Ask any bride-zilla.

So let’s look a little deeper.

Story: Weddings are about redrawing boundaries

In my past as a wedding photographer, I had the opportunity to work with brides as well as the other businesses that cater to them and their special day. May my observations and thoughts help give you courage to start redrawing your boundaries.

It seems that whatever relationship dynamics exist between the various people planning the wedding are magnified under stress. For example: a bride who hasn’t been able to stand up to her mother about much of anything, will continue to have problems. Freeze, Fight, or Flight? 1. Freeze: the bride feels paralyzed and unable to speak up for what she wants. 2. Fight: the bride may fight her mother on any and every decision. 3. Flight: the bride will avoid including her mother in anything. So what’s the solution? None of those.

Let’s look at close relationships. When you get married you change your primary alliances from the family you came from to your new family unit. But often that is not a conscious decision, or it happens not at all or haphazardly. What you do take with you into your new relationship is how you deal with boundaries. If you had trouble standing up to your parents or siblings, you may have the same trouble in your marriage. If you were expected to maintain peace at all cost or secrecy, you will likely continue to do so.

“Put Up With It”                                                                       “Blow Up”

Where are you on the “Put Up With It” to “Blow Up” continuum? Open communications between two people allows you to explore what each of you want and need. It allows you to draw and redraw boundaries and design your relationship consciously and in consideration with each other. And that allows you to build a relationship with very little unresolved stress. Open communication takes courage; lots of courage. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

If you toggle between being a pushover and blowing up, chances are that your relationships are stressful. Your needs are not being met and neither do others feel they can consistently count on you. The gap between how you’d like things to be and the reality is stress. Stress affects the body in negative ways and when it is unresolved, it can cause major health issues.

Taking a stress or anger management class helps you with better self-control when stressed or angry. But that is like putting a band-aid on a toothache. It doesn’t help with the problem.

What can you do? Start observing gaps in communication. Do not sabotage your efforts with talking about big things first, like where to go on vacation, whether to move to a new house, or asking your boss for a raise. Start with little things.

If your spouse or a friend asks, “where would you like to go for dinner?” don’t say something like, “whatever you want is fine with me”. Instead give yourself a little time to think, say something like, “thanks for asking, let me think about what I might like.” Then think about it and come back with a proposal like “I’d really like some fish, how about that xyz restaurant?” or “I really love the atmosphere at abc restaurant? What do you think?” Now you have the opportunity to discuss what you both want. There may be backlash to your new ways at first, especially if you have well-established patterns. It is best to stay as calm as you can.

Talking about little things may seem extremely tedious at first. It is. You are developing a new skill and practicing on small decisions where the stakes are not very high and you are more likely to be willing to compromise. It is like building your muscle to talk things out and find joint solutions. You can move to bigger decisions as your skills improve. Just think of the value of having a calm conversation with your spouse about money, sex, children, work, and household chores. With the right skills, a willing partner, and practice you can get there. You’d be amazed how many people will eventually respond favorably to your new way of being in relationship. And you’ll find out who won’t.

Taking it Farther:
There are a variety of excellent materials on boundaries. Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend have co-written many books on boundaries. They are excellent. They are written from a strong Christian viewpoint. If you are not Christian I hope you can still get the boundary lessons from their books or find other helpful materials.

Contact me:

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of the status quo? Get relief! Call to get coached and start designing the life you want to live. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

I’ve heard a lot about the importance of forgiveness. You probably have too. But what I heard this past week about a benefit of forgiveness, I had never heard before. And it might change – well – everything.

Story: The effect of forgiving your bullies

A friend shared with me his experience of breaking through and being able to forgive some bullies who had given him a very hard time in middle school. He said he found the experience of forgiving them freeing and comforting. I said I could understand the freeing part, but could he tell me more about how it was comforting to him.

To me his insight was nothing short of remarkable. He said that after being able to truly forgive the cruelties he had endured, he felt that life has opened up to him in a whole new way. If he could forgive that, something he thought he might never be able to forgive, then what else could he do that he thought he couldn’t do. — This one experience may make a huge difference on how he lives the rest of his life and what he believes is possible for him.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Think of every grudge and negativity you hold onto, every injury you haven’t been able to get over, every injustice you have endured, and situations that make you angry or exhausted – as pebbles in your backpack. And that backpack is on your back all the time. —- How fast can you run? How fast can you move forward? How agile are you? How well do you sleep at night? How quickly can you adjust to changes in your life’s direction – all while carrying that heavy backpack?

Isn’t it time to lighten your load – at least a little?

1. Free yourself from some of the pebbles in your backpack. There are probably some easy ones you can do on your own – starting now. Here is one suggestion on how to get started.

  • Choose a time and place where you can be uninterrupted and at peace: a beautiful setting in nature or a quiet nook in your home, or ….
  • If you like, add some pleasing and calming music.
  • Sit down with a pad of paper or just your thoughts. Imagine putting down the backpack next to you and opening it up.
  • Pick out a small pebble and examine it. Feel it and experience what old hurt it might represent. Writing may help this process.
  • Decide whether to hang onto it or to let it go.
  • If you decide that you are done with that old hurt, drop the pebble or throw it far away.
  • If you decide you are not done with it, that you might still need it to keep distance between you and the other person whom it involves, then put it back in your backpack. You can always take it out again later.
  • Look for other pebbles that you might be done with.
  • Rest and be grateful for your accomplishments. Every pebble you remove is one less you have to carry – for the rest of your life.
  • Each time you let go of a pebble, you strengthen your forgiveness muscle. It’ll allow you to do bigger pebbles and rocks over time. My friend had been working on his forgiveness muscle for a long time before he was able to let go and forgive those bullies, and he didn’t do it alone. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

2. Know that there is also another backpack of pebbles that you carry. It contains all the pebbles of the times when you have been hurtful to others. The process of acknowledging your wrongdoing and forgiving yourself is similar. In addition you may need to make amends, ask for forgiveness, and find a better way to interact with that person if they are still in your life. You may need to set boundaries. Whether or not the other person forgives you does not matter. All you can do is your part. They have to deal with their own backpacks.

3. Find comfort in your growth and your ability to do things – things, which you couldn’t do before. Know that each time you do something you couldn’t do before, it may carry over into other aspects of your life. Now other things may become easier as well. Think of it as training to lead the full life of your dreams.

Taking it Farther:

In my experience you will get to a point where the pebbles and rocks are just too big to handle without the expertise and tools of a trained person: a coach, a therapist, a counselor, an energy healer. I regularly work with people who help me empty my backpack. Whatever modalities you choose, find those that work for the problem you are trying to heal. Sometimes a combination works best. A hammer works best with a nail, a saw solves a different problem, but you cannot build a house with only one tool. – Now, forward this to your friends.

If you feel ready, share this tip with the people in your life with whom you are ready to throw away the pebbles between you.

Contact me:

Want help? I’m here for you. Tired of struggling? Get relief! Get coached to help you get unstuck and take your life to the next level – starting now! Ready to get started? Call Edith at 847.913.3900

Decisions, decisions – what can you do?

Decisions, decisions – What can you do?

We are all faced with 100s of decisions every day. How easily we decide and move on may make all the difference between a “smooth” day and one with anguish. The more Decision-Making-Frameworks we have, the better our day tends to go.

Take the mail for example: Mail carrier delivers mail. You bring it into your home. How do you deal with it? Are there things you can immediately

  • Recycle
  • Shred
  • Things to follow up later that you decide right now when and how they will be taken care of
    • Bills to pay on a certain date
    • Letters to answer and time scheduled on your calendar to write
    • Magazines to read and when and where you will read them

Do you have anything left over that you are undecided about? That may become clutter. Soooo, one of my definitions of clutter is “deferred decisions”.

So, how do we create Decision-Making-Frameworks?

Story: Hey Ref!!

I am a soccer referee. You won’t find me on national television reffing a championship game, but you might find me on a pint sized soccer field. So? What does that have to do with Decision-Making-Frameworks?

The job of a referee is to make decisions – lots of decisions – throughout the entire game. You cannot delay a decision until tomorrow or even think about it for a few minutes. So you have to have a Decision-Making-Framework. It looks something like this:

  1. Is there a situation that requires a decision to be made by the referee?
  2. Make a decision in accordance with the “laws of the game”. Easy! Easy? That’s where the trouble starts. There are only 17 laws of the game. The laws are modifiable by each league and vary based on age. The level of enforcement or leniency may change by age. In the end each referee develops their personal style of refereeing within those laws. Consistency and neutrality is key.
  3. There is no pause or instant replay on a live game. Either the referee catches what just happened anywhere on the field or she didn’t. Meanwhile she runs back and forth, trying to anticipate and be in the best position to see what happens.
  4. When the ball goes out of play, everyone expects the referee to instantly decide how to restart the game. And of course there is a biased audience. Invariably there is someone who is vocal or even hostile if they believe the referee has made a mistake against their team.

Conclusion: as a referee you are in front of a potentially hostile audience who is watching your every move and lets you know if they disagree with your decisions. You are expected to see everything, and make instant decisions that are correct – every time.

Next time you watch a sporting event – please have mercy for the referee. They are human.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Become aware of your conscious and unconscious beliefs that influence your decision-making.

What if you believe that “knowledge is power”?

Back to our mail example. There may be interesting reading material, an offer to buy some educational material, an offer for something that might be of interest. Your belief may interfere with your ability to decide to let go of a piece of paper and cause your reading piles to get bigger and bigger.

What are some beliefs that may interfere with healthy decision-making:

  • Knowledge is Power (growing reading piles)
  • Waste not, want not (keeping things you no longer need)
  • Money is the root of all evil (trouble with saving money)
  • Expecting things to be perfect (constantly finding fault)
  • Things “should” be this way or that way (frustrated with others)
  • … Insert yours here

You may have conflicting beliefs that keep you stuck. Often limited time or money is seen as the culprit, when in fact decision-making and priority management might take care of some of the conflicts.

Become conscious about your priorities and values, then value-based decisions become easier with practice and consistency. These then form our Decision-Making-Frameworks.

Taking it Farther:

Create your own Decision-Making-Frameworks. You may start by seeing what you do now. Create a flowchart of your decision making process like this example.


Once you see what you do now, you can see where you get stuck. That’s where you may have beliefs or conflicts that interfere with your decisiveness. As you gain clarity, you will have more things you can decide easily. Discovering your beliefs and conflicts may require help.

Contact me:

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get relief! Call to get yourself into coaching and get where you want to go faster. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900

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