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Getting Where You Want to Go

don't-stumble-over-things-that-are-already-behind-youby Lynda Wallace

Don’t stumble over things that are already behind you.

I think that just might be the essence of successful coaching. Good coaching focuses most of its attention not on the problems of the past but on what it will take to create a better future.

The key questions in coaching are “Where do you want to go?” and “How will you get there?”

So where do you want to go?

Since you’re visiting this page, my guess is that there’s at least one area in your life where you’d like things to be different, some aspect of your life in which you’re just not all that happy with where you are.

As you think about this area now, you may already be starting to dwell on the problem itself, or on your anger toward someone who may have contributed to it, or on what you need to “fix” about yourself if you’re ever going to get out of this mess. Try your best not to get caught up in all of that for the moment. Chances are, you’ve had all of those thoughts a thousand times before. Today’s a day for trying a different approach.

Begin by asking yourself this question.

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Self-Compassion: A Practical Guide

flowers-in-the-snow

by Lynda Wallace

If you could develop one new skill, habit, or regular practice this year, what would it be?

I’m going to suggest one that you may not have thought of — self-compassion. Of all of the skills, habits, and practices I’ve worked on with clients over the years, it’s one I’ve seen have particularly profound effects, often in surprising ways.

 

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is the practice of nudging aside our self-critical thoughts and replacing them with thoughts that are more understanding — and ultimately much more helpful. It’s a way of treating ourselves that not only can make us feel a whole lot better, but can actually help us to more successfully pursue a wide variety of practical goals as well.

To understand what self-compassion is, it can help to compare it to something most of us are more familiar with: self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a matter of how we think about ourselves. Self-compassion is about how we treat ourselves. They’re both important; they’re just two different things. Self-compassion isn’t about convincing ourselves that we are good enough; it’s about treating ourselves with the understanding and kindness we need in order to thrive.

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Be Your Own Coach: Active Appreciation

birds-winter-treeby Lynda Wallace

At this time of year, nearly all of us spend extra time with family and friends. And one of the best steps we can take to really enjoy our time with them is to actively appreciate the ways in which they enrich our lives. So let’s turn our attention to appreciating the people who help make our lives good.

Here’s how you’re going to be your own coach this week — with two questions to consider and one small step to take.

Question One

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Be Your Own Coach: Build on What Works

by Lynda Wallace

crazy-houses-winterWhen the end of one year is in sight, we start to hear a lot about about making resolutions for the next one. And those resolutions tend to take the form of “Here’s what I’m finally going to fix about myself.”

That approach may sound like it makes sense. After all, if we want to make things better, we need to start by fixing what isn’t working, right?

Well, no. There’s plenty of research that demonstrates that it’s far more effective to focus on what is working and find ways to build on that.

Why? There are at least three reasons.

1. What’s working has already shown itself to work! Something about it is going right. So it gives us something productive to build on.

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The Power of “Yet”

by Lynda Wallace
Excerpted from A Short Course in Happiness: Practical Steps to a Happier Life

paesaggio fantasticoThe things we say, whether out loud or to ourselves, have a profound effect not only on how we feel, but also on what we do. 

When we tell ourselves “I can’t do it” or “They’ll never allow it,” we undermine our own power and motivation to make change in our lives. When we tell ourselves “I’ll find a way” or ask “What haven’t I tried yet?” we give ourselves a feeling of hope that can help us to sustain the persistent effort we need to make things happen.

So it’s important that we pay attention to what we say.

Ask yourself this: How often are my comments positive and empowering, and how often are they negative and self-defeating? If you can shift that balance, even a little, you can have a real impact on how you feel and what you do.

Here’s one way to start the shift. If you find yourself saying things that suggest that the quality of your life is out of your hands, see if you can find a way to turn them around. One simple way is to use one of my favorite words: “Yet.”

Harnessing the Power of “Yet”

Adding “yet” to the end of a sentence can turn it from an old complaint into a new challenge. It can remind us how much power we do have, help us set goals for the future, and open us up to finding new ways to achieve them. It’s one of the surest and simplest ways to strengthen our hope and persistence – two essential elements of a happy and successful life.

Here are some examples of the power of “yet.”
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Stuck in Worry, Disappointment, or Anger?

Change Your Lens for a New Perspective

silhouette-photographer-fbby Lynda Wallace

Imagine you’re heading to your car with your kids after a movie, and laughing about your favorite scene. You’re enjoying the beautiful evening and the time with your kids, and thinking in the back of your mind about how much fun you had at the beach with them last summer.

Now imagine that a man appearing drunk or unstable suddenly starts yelling threats in your direction while walking quickly toward you. Gone are all thoughts of your vacation, the movie, and the weather. The only thing that matters to you at that moment is getting your kids into the car, locking the door, and driving safely away.

Which, of course, you successfully do. All is well. And sorry for the scare.

But what happened back there? You were having a lovely evening and a threat came out of nowhere. You felt scared for your kids and yourself, and every fiber of your being immediately focused 100% on reacting to the threat.

And thank goodness. Continuing to laugh about the movie and enjoy the evening breeze would have been wildly inappropriate given the situation. The fear narrowed your focus so you could concentrate entirely on dealing with the potential threat. It crowded out everything else that you were seeing, feeling, hearing, and thinking about.

All negative emotions do this to one degree or another – it’s just the way we’re wired. Fear, worry, disappointment, and anger all narrow our focus to varying degrees, but in essentially the same way.

And it isn’t usually as helpful as it was in the movie theatre parking lot.

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“What is Happiness?” and Other Questions of the Week

by Lynda Wallace

rainbow glowThis week I was interviewed by a number of journalists who are writing articles about either my book or my career change from corporate executive to positive psychology coach. They asked some great questions that encouraged me to distill the lessons of the research into the briefest, clearest responses I could come up with.

Here are a few of their best questions, along with my responses.

Q: What is happiness?

My favorite definition comes from Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, who describes happiness as the overall experience of pleasure and meaning. I like this definition because it makes clear the “both/and” nature of happiness. It’s about the overall experience (both in the moment and over the course of a life) of pleasure and meaning (that is, a life that is both enjoyable and purposeful).

Q: What makes us happy?

One of the best ways to answer this question is to study what very happy people have in common. It turns out that there are four things that very happy people do that make the difference, and we can all benefit by finding ways to do them in our own lives.

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Four Steps to Forgiveness

Getting over a painful experience is a lot like crossing monkey bars.
You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.  — C.S. Lewis

blue-monkey-barsby Lynda Wallace

Feeling stuck?

In my work as a life coach and career coach, I work with people who feel stuck in a lot of different ways — stuck in their careers or relationships; stuck in limiting ways of perceiving themselves, their circumstances, or their resources. And often we discover together that one of the things holding them back is a reluctance to let go of old grudges and hurts.

Forgiveness — finding a way to let go of those old grudges — gives us the freedom to move forward in our lives rather than being stuck in the grievances of the past. Taking steps to forgive has also been shown to enhance our happiness, improve our relationships, and to have immediate and lasting effects on our physical health and well-being.

Some Reasonable Objections

Of course, as healthy as practicing forgiveness may be, it can run counter to some entirely reasonable objections. Let’s take a look at a few.

I can’t excuse it.

Okay. Forgiving doesn’t mean that you need to minimize or excuse what’s been done or how it’s made you feel. Forgiveness is simply a choice to move beyond hoping that the person who hurt you gets the suffering he or she “deserves.”  That choice can allow you to focus on healing the harm done to you without being distracted by a desire for revenge or a persistent feeling of ill-will toward the other person.

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Want to Be Happier? Three Things to Stop Doing

by Lynda Wallace
Excerpted from A Short Course in Happiness: Practical Steps to a Happier Life

 

We naturally pay more attention to the lion than the sunrise. But what if the lion isn't really there?

We naturally pay more attention to the lion than the sunrise. But what if the lion isn’t really there?

I usually write about things we can start doing to make our lives better, but it’s just as important that we stop doing the things that are getting in our way. So here are three things worth doing a lot less of, and some practical ideas about what to try instead.

1. Seeing Lions on the Savannah

The human species evolved in a situation of scarcity and danger where survival demanded that our ancestors react more strongly to threats than to pleasures. Reacting to a lion on the savannah was a lot more important than enjoying the sunrise.

We still have essentially the same brains as early humans, but most of us live in vastly different circumstances than they did. As a result, our automatic responses are often out of synch with our circumstances.

Try This Instead

If you find yourself reacting to an unexpected meeting with your boss as if you’ve just caught a glimpse of a hungry lion running in your direction, take a minute to try to get your emotions in synch with twenty first century reality. Here’s how.

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Now or Later? Strategies to Overcome Procrastination

by Lynda Wallace

Chapter one

Even the best life has its share of things we don’t want to do, or at least things we don’t want to do when we think we ought to be doing them. So we all procrastinate sometimes.

We know when we’re doing it because we start telling ourselves our best “It Will Be Better If I Put This Off For Now” stories — stories we’ve probably heard many times before.

 

Do any of these sound at all familiar?

Tomorrow I’ll be able to really concentrate on this report without being interrupted.

It will be kinder not to bring up this issue with my spouse just yet.

I’ll be more creative if I do this project when I really feel like doing it. 

I work best under pressure.


As handy as these stories can be, they don’t usually turn out to be true.

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