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The Lowdown on Projection and Your Shadow

projection“You’re judging me again. I feel like you’re j always judging me,” Patti lamented to her close friend, Megan.

When Megan considered, she realized Patti’s lament was true. Megan had been harshly judging Patti as uncaring, selfish and completely incapable of generosity. And as a good lawyer, Megan found lots of supporting evidence.

But Megan was working with a talented coach – engaged in working deeply and transforming  her shadow (her “dark side”), so when she heard Patti’s accusation, she swallowed hard and knew she had work to do.

[Note: Any part of yourself that you disown becomes part of your shadow…and it wills out in strange and often terrible ways – ruining relationships, causing suffering until you transform it by bringing it into the light of our understanding. This means that what we keep unconscious whether socially considered good or bad, leaks out in behavior which often leaves you scratching your head or worse – especially if someone calls you out on it.

Megan had read in a paper by Dr. Prinzivalli that, “The fast track to consciousness is to see every judgment as a disowned part of the self and explore it until there is an honoring of how that quality comes to serve.”

So how were the harsh judgments she had about Patti going to serve her own shadow work? And how in the world to “honor” the qualities that seemed so awful?

Megan began by acknowledging that  there was something in herself that she wasn’t seeing. Thus she began the deep, psychological investigation that Jung claimed could reveal “ 90% of the gold.”

In Megan’s life, there was ancient history around “uncaring, selfish” behavior and the incapability of being generous. Her severely ill mother, who suffered from bouts of schizophrenia and was also bipolar, had often been incapable of caring for Megan or even acknowledging her presence. This emotional neglect had left Megan traumatized on many occasions.  Her tender child’s defense was to take a stand to be different, very different. From a child’s perspective, this was inherently intelligent.

So what was the problem? Megan had split off the normal, natural part of herself that would exhibit self-interest, self-care, a balanced approach to giving AND receiving from her consciousness . (She focused exclusively on the giving part.)

She had locked the balanced, self-interest part far from view and kept the key hidden – even from herself.  It took an enormous amount of energy…energy she could have better used to complete projects, explore new interests, rest and enjoy and ended in projecting onto others a severe  imbalance around generosity.

This made sense. As she developed into a young woman, Megan easily gave of her time, her energy, her resources and her attention to the people in her life- even strangers. She was known as a good friend, the person who always made time and room for guests, even giving a homeless couple a room where they proceeded to steal her young son’s allowance money.

Yet, this didn’t dissuade her or make her more cautious. Negative, even dangerous experiences didn’t teach her to check her behavior. Time and again, Megan

did “the generous” thing. And she formed harsh judgments of others who made different choices than the ones she believed appropriate. Patti was only one of many that Megan considered selfish.

At her coach’s request, Megan tallied up all the times her generosity was unreasonable or caused her children or herself pain or harm. The tally got very, very long as she worked through the list, It shocked her.

As Megan worked with this shadow (or hidden part) , she saw how “selfishness” wasn’t integrated in her belief system – how it had become massively unbalanced, how she couldn’t accept that it too had a place in t human response. And that she labeled healthy self-interest as selfishness. She had lost sight of the ability to understand when self-care called for limits on generosity, planning ahead, and saying “no”.

She further the suffering by harshly blaming herself whenever she was unable to do what her belief system labelled as “the generous” thing for others, creating even more suffering.

As Megan explored her past, she saw the many ways this inability to integrate her shadow had led to overcommitments, exhaustion and finally to serious illness.

Shadow work is  not for the feint of heart. It requires courage. It also requires a willingness to be uncomfortable, so isn’t for everyone. Yet our juiciest, yummiest vitality resides in these dark recesses!

One way  for you to begin to work with your shadow, is to begin to explore your judgments. Putting them under the microscope of your attention and seeking to see where these come from in your own history is a crucial first step in doing “shadow work”.

And there is a neurobiology to the shadow. As you build your neural networks with repeating thoughts, these thoughts fire up together like a string of lights, strengthening those the neural pathway by repetition (as in Megan’s case thoughts about how Patti “should” respond to a request) and ignoring whole areas of belief.

Shadow work is engaged in bringing these recurring thoughts which become “beliefs” to light; checking whether there may be more to consider; asking how and where they arose and determining if they are, in fact, of service in your life.

Jung said, “If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow…Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.”

“Psychology and Religion” (1938): Psychology and Religion: West and East.

So by looking at your own judgments and what you project onto others, you have a key to your own shadow.

If you want to become more conscious, to free up the energy of suppression and avoidance, and to take ownership of those splintered off parts of yourself, then you will ultimately have to take up this work.

For Megan, it began a healing process of her relationship with Patti but more importantly with herself.

And if you’re ready for real transformation, in your business and you life, so you can give up the old stories and patterns that keep you trapped – stories and patterns about sex money, love, career, and purpose – and instead transform your shadow into a force for abundance, wealth, love, joy and fulfillment.

Then check out the upcoming Transforming Your Shadow Telesummit where 14 thought leaders share their wisdom and guidance around parenting, intimacy, money, calling, health, creativity, entrepreneurship, and balance. Not only is there no charge, but all of the the speakers have gifts for you. Sign up now.




The Shadow of Anger

Anger“I showed him!” Alec, a client, stormed.

He was talking about an exchange with James, a colleague who had rejected his design proposal in a team meeting. As he shared, his face contorted and his voice strained. And then a wild-eyed expression crossed his features. Alec was frightened because he felt like he wanted to punch James in the face.

Anger is one aspect of the shadow that can come up when I am coaching executives, entrepreneurs, consultants, or other coaches.

(In case the term is unfamiliar, the shadow is the part of yourself that lurks, under the surface, in your unconscious. It doesn’t just hide the dark stuff – the jealousy, lust, greed and so on. It also, sadly, keeps your brilliance, generosity, and radiant intelligence in the dark. )

It is easy to spot how poorly other people handle anger, but it’s often difficult to spot in yourself.

Yet without a healthy ability to deal with anger, real connection and intimacy cannot grow.

Often, shadowed anger turns into abuse, and it takes on Medusa-like forms such as creating drama, making demands, long-term grudges, smoldering resentment  and even vengeance.

It is a sword that cuts you and other people, can destroy relationships, and can wreak havoc in your life…unless you “make friends” with your anger, and transform it.

True anger is assertive ( meaning you speak it in useful ways)  but not aggressive (rageful, insulting, blaming). It arises from displeasure at an injustice and is meant to be communicated, not wrapped in moody silence. Armed with true anger, you can take responsibility for your own feelings, seeing the other person as a catalyst, not a cause.

Anger releases your aliveness ( excitation, energy)   and leads to repose, if dealt with. And its aim is usually a deeper and more effective bond with the person on its receiving end.

And don’t be confused, anger coexists with other feelings. So love and anger are often mated-especially in long lasting relationships. In fact a hallmark of a healthy relationship is the ability for the partners to express all their emotions – anger included- in productive ways.

If you express it (rather than bottling it up), anger is brief, and you can let go of it with a sense of closure. But if you keep it in…watch out! Not only will you create suffering (for yourself and other people), but you are very likely to create real health issues like high blood pressure, heart attack, and cancer.

One way to recognize if you have a shadow element here is to notice whether you want to “get the rage out no matter who gets hurt” or has you plotting retaliation.

If you live with simmering resentments or if you go into hiding, that’s another clue.

If what’s written here has made you uncomfortable. you’ll want to pay attention. This IS something you can transform…with practice.

Begin by noticing what happens when you get angry. Keep a journal and jot notes on your thought pattern and actions. Bring compassion to this exploration or you’ll be angry with yourself – useless and ineffective.

Oh and what happened with Alec, you might be wondering?  Alec, during the last 4 months, has made a lot of progress in moving from healthy anger instead of revenge and his co-workers are liking him a lot more. More importantly, Alec is liking himself!

If you’d like to understand how you shadow is the cause of so much of your experience of emotions like pain, shame, regret, guilt, anger, fear, and doubt…

…and how it can cause negative behaviors like judgement (of yourself and/or others), greed, mistrust, abuse and addiction…

Then please join me and learn how to recognize and transform your shadow into a force for abundance, wealth, love, joy and fulfillment.

I’ll be speaking with more than a dozen thought leaders, teachers, masters and experts to get the best tools, resources, and insights…so you can make your life everything that you want.

Conflicted Over Conflict? Stay Tuned In

You have a story about “conflict”, oh yes, you do. If you give me your definition of the word and some examples, your narrative about conflict  emerges.

Your story may include statements  like “She always battles my ideas!” or “He has to have things  his way or no way!” or “Our boss isn’t forward thinking -resting on past successes.” or hundreds of other reasons conflict arises in your life.

Your examples are unique. Yet, they share something with most people on the planet. Whatever examples you give, one of the chief causes of pain (call it anxiety, discomfort, anger, or other tough emotions to sit with) is caused by conflict as you currently define it.

And critical to note, your idea of conflict while conscious, is informed by your early experiences of conflict – emotional and physical experiences that have gone underground and may not be available to your consciousness.

For example, if as a toddler conflict (perhaps between parents or siblings) felt life threatening, you might have constricted your breathing, or tensed your small rib cage in panic. Perhaps you hid behind a large chair or under the bed until calm reigned again.

Today, when you encounter conflict, you “know” you life isn’t in danger, but your body resorts to the old pattern and you may want to run away or hide still.

Or perhaps you came out screaming at the adults in conflict, red faced, tear stained and furious.

That “puffing up” way of dealing is still there, only to be taken out when triggered.

Conflict still causes you pain – only more so because you worry about your reaction to it on top of worrying about the conflict itself.  Make sense?

And what do we humans generally do with pain? Avoid it –  at all costs. Avoidance comes in many flavors yet the result is that you never grow past an outworn way of dealing with conflict.

For leaders the cost of avoidance is higher than for most.

Awesome leaders, unlike the run of the mill type, don’t avoid conflict. They tune in to it because they have a definition that extends beyond  “pain”. They hold conflict as generative!

So, (take a deep breath here) what does that mean? And how does it work? And why should you care?

I’ll start with the last question first and work backwards.

Whether you lead a team, a non-profit, an entire corporation or a head a small business, you can be powerful and clear when the inevitable conflict arises and use it to move forward. That’s right, use conflict to move ahead with your vision. Conflict can be the impetus for great things – finely honed ideas, better strategic, streamlined  functionality, more inclusion, improved processes, better ways to serve your clients….

In the wind tunnel of your own mind, your ideas seem sound…and the fact that they are the only ones in there, supports that notion. Only when marched out into the light of other eyes and ears, can you evaluate your ideas –  and either modify, if that’s what’s called for, or stand tall behind them in the face of criticism or abandon them altogether and start over.

And when “The Idea” is being presented by some member of your organization, listening to the responses of others can often make a “good” idea – great!  The key is to get those others past reactivity – often the first impulse – to responsiveness.

Here’s how that works: You Must Model. Yes, you have to model a way of being with conflict that expands on your current definition! Model it again and again and people will notice. At first, in awe, then in curiosity and finally seeing the value. And you can incorporate this as a plank in the culture of your organization.

If you can find the value in conflict – what it offers – and stay out of your history with it – you can appreciate it and finally, welcome it. That process begins with unhooking the personal from the idea. They are not the same!

You, me and everyone we know are much more than the ideas we offer up. Holding conflict as generative means being able to separate the person from what they are saying, in the moment they are saying it. It sounds simple but it isn’t easy. It requires a shift – emotionally (staying out of the angry red zone) , intellectually (asking yurself ? what is the value of the what is being stated) and physically (how can you relax your nervous system and stay open). More to come on the specifics of this in the next blog.

Leaders make decisions. One way or another.

Great leaders have developed the capacity to handle opposing views, weigh the merits respectfully and then mobilize their forces behind a direction without excluding anyone. When a leader can do all this graciously, you can be sure she has learned to hold conflict as generative rather than as a problem. She has the ability to stay tuned in and grounded, open and curious and decisive.  Isn’t that the kind of leader you want to be?

If so,  return to your definition of conflict and expand upon it. Here’s how. Extract your painful history with conflict  from this moment. Look at only what is on the operating table now. Ask yourself:

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”450px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#B3AC52″ ]

  • What do I need to stay open and curious?
  • What can I gain from hearing all points of view?
  • How can I appreciate different perspectives?
  • Once I’ve determined the path, how can I mobilize everyone to action?[/dropshadowbox]

Armed with these questions, your relationship to conflict can soften, open and expand. And while you may have relapses, holding the intention (somatically, emotionally and cognitively) to see conflict as generative will ultimately make you a stronger, wiser person and leader.

The Secret To Staying Calm In Chaos

I’m a coach, so my clients (executives, entrepreneurs, coaches, and other high performers)  show up in my practice for all sorts of reasons. If I had to categorize them, I’d say most clients were looking for ways “to stay calm in chaos”. That’s what “Sam” was looking for when he picked up the phone to call me one Tuesday morning.

Sam had accomplished so much already. Yet now, he was facing a new challenge, feeling stressed and overwhelmed and needing to be calm and centered. He needed to make powerful, effective decisions despite the chaos surrounding him.

Sam, a personable and intelligent man in his mid-30’s came to me when he was seeking work. He had left a prestigious position defined by constant conflict – a culture of anger and stress.

Happily married and the father of two little boys, he wanted to put his education and experience to work in a start-up with high potential for success.

Head hunters sought him out. He was getting impressive interviews, and getting call backs from HR, so what was the problem?

Sam wasn’t doing well in face-to-face interviews. Due to anxiety (leftovers from his last position, the confrontational style of some interviewers, money worries and problems with his young son) he came across as tense, slightly unfocused and rushed. His stellar education and previous experience weren’t shining through!

He knew he was reacting to the stress of interviews in a way that didn’t support his goal. He just didn’t know what to do about it, so we began working together.

First we discovered that when Sam experiences stress, his reaction is flight. This reaction is hardwired into his brain stem and showed up each and every time he experienced any degree of chaos. We’d have to address this!

He soon came to understand that “flight” showed up in  a concave chest (body language that transmits information), a raised voice, a rapid pace when he spoke which translated to “lack of confidence” and it happened each time he was triggered, even though he could now identify it.

Sam began practicing getting centered daily. With a few minutes of breathing practice – yes simple breathing exercises – in no stress and low-stress situations, he could create some space around his “reaction”.

In that space, he chose how to hold his body – upright and relaxed. From that posture, he was able to end his sentences with assurance, speak clearly and succinctly in his natural voice and stay calm, neutral and open to the interviewer.

For fun (and good practice) we role played interviews after centering practice to work on appropriate responses rather than his typical reactions. As he learned to respond, taking time to speak clearly, listen deeply and breathe, he smiled more, uncrossed his arms and leaned forward – always more inviting that his “collapsed” body language of early days.

Sam got so good at staying calm, keeping his body language open, being curious rather than intimidated and speaking with the confidence that showed off his knowledge and experience, that he landed a great VP of finance position in attractive firm (and helped his little boy through a difficult patch too).

Why did this work? Over 3 months, Sam was diligent about his practices. Oh sure, there were a few hiccups (like for most of us, progress wasn’t linear) but he kept improving. So much so that he he gave me a glowing testimonial on Yelp.com

And the truly “good news” is that Sam now had the tools to use in any and all stressful situations.

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Good stress like a promotion or marriage, or stress you categorize as negative around the loss of a job or a missed deadline all create the same reactions in your body.

Learning to recognize how you react, gaining the tools that support some centering – simply starting with your breath, allows you to be much more effective (and pleasant to be around) when that inevitable stress shows up.

You can begin the process by noticing your breath. Then without forcing a change in the inhale, begin extending the exhale – audibly, if you’re alone. Extending your exhale does a lot in relaxing the muscles of your face and upper body. It goes further by opening up the diaphragm. Fortunately, it also allows you to have a little more room in which to respond, rather than react.

Pretty simple but not so easy to remember when you need it most.

That’s why practicing in no-stress or low-stress situations is critical. If you practice for 28 days, you’ll create a new habit – a healthy one – that will pay off time and time again.

And how can you remind yourself to do this for 28 days? Set a calendar reminder on your computer, put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, and put a sticky note on the dashboard of your car.

Take it from Sam, the rewards are tangible and huge.

If you are an executive, entrepreneur, consultant or coach I invite you to join me for a high value, no cost strategy session. You will learn the most effective ways to stay calm in the midst of chaos…so you can instantly assess each situation…and know the most effective course of action from your most powerful and resourceful state.


Steven is an amazing videographer who takes risks to capture the feeling of the products he helps market. He is building a thriving business. Eight months ago though, Steven called to tell me about burnout and his “bleak” prognosis as an entrepreneur.

The big secret of successful entrepreneurs that few talk about is sustaining passion. Yep, successful entrepreneurs know how to sustain passion – beyond the initial honeymoon phase of the big dream.

Naturally, when the rush of a brilliant idea floods an entrepreneurial spirit, passion greases the engine of activity. They don’t sleep much, food becomes less important somehow and the hours they happily put in exceed twelve a day.

But what happens six to nine months later…when hurdles grow high or sideways? What happens when the revenue to keep the enterprise afloat isn’t flowing? What happens when supporters begin to quietly voice their doubts or fears? When even the entrepreneur experiences self-doubt?

I’ll tell you about one successful entrepreneur I’ve worked with closely – Steven, yes the very one.

Steven scribbled a “note to self”: My passion is ebbing! What to do?

He took a hard look at all the domains of his life: a check-in, of sorts. What was happening for him cognitively, emotionally, relation-wise, spiritually, somatically (with his body) and across all five – integration-wise?

He found some seriously unmet needs. Cognitively, it had been months since he read anything of interest besides sales figures. He felt his mind going numb and his conversations becoming stale.

And emotionally, well, he had so immersed himself in working at his dream, he had forgotten the feelings that it originally evoked…sort of like going on “auto-pilot”. In fact, he wasn’t feeling much of anything these days.

Steven was wise enough to recognize that to sustain passion, he needed to care for himself – all of himself, not only the entrepreneurial part. So he had to go out and find support for the domains of this life where he was experiencing unmet needs.

What did he do? First, he signed up for a class at the Academy of Science – something he had always wanted to do. He figured the stimulation and ideas of classmates would juice up his own thinking an imagination – get him cogitating again, in a wild, new way.

And next, he asked his girlfriend for recommendations of her favorite poetry (he had observed her emotional responses to poems over time). Though poetry hadn’t been high on his list of favorite things to do with very limited spare time, he tried it on.

Being disciplined about diet, rest and exercise, Steven didn’t change much in the somatic area, and he felt fortunate that his relationships were strong and vibrant. So he concentrated on the unmet needs in the two areas he recognized needed help. And he went out and got support; a class (with instructor and schedule and accountability) and his girlfriend’s suggestions.

You might wonder what all that had to do with his business enterprise? And while Steven knew there wasn’t a direct line he could draw, he understood that HE WAS HIS ENTERPRISE, and if he didn’t take care of himself, really care for himself, the passion that fueled getting his dream into the marketplace would run dry.

Sustaining passion rests on two important questions every entrepreneur must ask himself or herself:

What unmet needs do I have?

Who/what  can support me in taking care of myself?

And though successful entrepreneurs may use different language for the questions, they know that sustaining passion over time, requires self-care and support.

Oh and Steven? He went on to successfully grow his business by landing a well known and creative client…which led to more work. Today he has 4 employees and his enthusiasm is almost uncontainable when he talks about the future.

And you? What are you doing about sustaining your own passion when the inevitable hurdles and dips appear?

Check-in with yourself across the domains of your life. What’s happening for you emotionally, cognitively, relationally, spiritually, physically and in the integration of those? I hope you’ll take note of ALL of yourself; find what needs aren’t being met and gather the resources to fulfill them. The world needs you and your passion.



Yes, real change is possible regardless of your age. Dr. Siegal  is the foremost expert on remapping your brain.

Watch this video and see how you can change your brain too.


You’ve left the building…the city. Worse, you’ve left your body!  Sometimes the fear of feeling what you’re feeling is far worse than the experience. It can close down your breathing, contract your whole body, shut down your emotions, create so much anxiety that you dart from thought to thought or place to place. From this place, there is no resolution – no rest. And there is no NOW!

What makes us leave the present? Stress. And the irony is that stress is part of life – small ones and large ones. Good ones and awful ones. (Yes, stress can be positive like getting engaged.) Stress comes in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. While most people exit the moment at its first warning signs, there’s good news! Really good news.

You don’t have to run or hide. You can take charge of your response. Its easy, much easier than you think.

Here are 5 signs that you’re in trouble and what you can do about them.

One: You’re squeaking!

When we’re not being ourselves, we tend to use a high voice. We’re not projecting from our belly and chances are everything below the neck is starved of breath.  Are you talking super fast? Another sign of discomfort.

What to do? Place your hands on your abdomen. Imagine speaking from there. Nice and easy does it. As you speak, feel the support of the floor or chair beneath you.

Two: You’re Contracting!

Am I clenching my butt, my hands or my jaw? Our bodies are billions of cells firing at once and those cells can’t be fooled. Tension in your being is picked up instantly by your body. When you’re not present,, you’re tense.

What to do? Do a body scan. Find the tense culprit and relax that muscle group.

Three: You’ve stopped  breathing?

Shallow breathing in the chest area vs. the belly will not only change your voice, it’s also a signal of fear, nervousness and playing the game of inauthenticity.

What to do? Take a few breaths, extending the exhale with an audible sound. Five or six or these will bring the oxygen to all the needed parts and settle your nervous system.

Four: You’ve blocked your feelings.

Not being clear which emotions you are experiencing in a sure sign you’re in trouble.

What to do? Close your eyes and sense into your experience. What image or words arise? Stay with the image (or words) until you can isolate an emotion. Then allow that feeling to unfold.

Five: You’re being hyper-vigilant.

When we’re feeling safe and authentically in the moment, we relax and respond naturally to what’s showing up. When we’re not, we’re hyper-vigilant, watching others for signs that we’re accepted and okay.

When we’re in the present, our reactions are authentic, and we feel safe to shine our gifts onto the world.

What to do? The 4 above in any sequence.

Of course, if you practice during the non-stressful times, you’ll know what to do when the inevitable stresses show up. So what are you waiting for? Start now and head off trouble at the bend.



Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet

What one thing can you do today that will significantly change your life for the better?

Yes, that’s a question!

And the power of questions is what I’m sharing with you today.

Often, when we embark on a course of development, we become aware of how much there is to do. We focus on the shifts we want to make – eating healthier, exercising more, meditation, a new practice like yoga or a martial art, or learning a new skill, sitting with a teacher, deeper reading, etc. etc. And yes, it can be overwhelming.

When my clients bring their overwhelm to me, an effective antidote to their sense of discouragement, even despair, is to ask them to live into a question.

As Rilke eloquently points out in the quote above, living the questions – loving the questions, gradually brings us into the answers.

So what kind of questions am I talking about?

Try these on to see if any fit:

What is life calling me to do?
How is what I’m doing bringing me into alignment with who I am?
What is my heart yearning for?
What is my contribution to make?
What would deeper connection in my life look like?
What keeps me from being true to myself?
What does my soul long for?
If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I be doing now?
(Add your own)

Pick a question for the next month.

Live into the question this way:

Part One: Begin a journal with that question at the top. Come back to that journal every day for 28 days. Allow yourself to doodle, jot down a sentence or two, sketch, tear out a relevant piece from a magazine. Perhaps include a quotation or poem that speaks to your question. Capture the title of a film or TV show that concerns your question and comment upon it. (Do this either every evening or every morning to begin the day.) Capture in your journal whatever is showing up around your question. Don’t judge it or force it into a frame. Just capture it. Allow, allow, allow.

Part Two: Write your question where you’ll bump into it several times a day – perhaps on a sticky attached to your computer and on a 3X5 in your sock drawer; on a slip of paper in your wallet or attached to your medicine cabinet. Each time you encounter the question, pause a moment, take a full breath and exhale slowly…then go on about whatever you are doing.

At the end of the month, read over what you’ve captured. Answer these questions:

What is emerging?
What thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations arise as you look over your journal?
What are you seeing, learning, noticing by living into this question?

The practice of living into a question is powerful and revealing. Don’t beat yourself up about “not having answers.” Sometimes, having the right question is far more transformative.


Why are you floundering?

You are brilliant, insightful and have incredible ideas. I know because I keep meeting you – a brilliant woman with big ideas to contribute, important organizations and businesses to build, and provocative questions to ask.

But when we “get to it” you tell me that you’re not commanding power. And when we break it down even further, it comes to this: you equivocate, apologize – even look away as you speak.

I know this pattern. I used to do this too. And then I learned these secrets to powerful, authentic communication.

You can learn to stop undermining yourself.

Here are 5 secrets that have worked for me and hundreds of my amazing women clients.

1. Drop the “just:” “I’m just wondering…”
“I just think…”
“I just want to add…”
Just demeans what you have to say. “Just” shrinks your power. Get rid of  the “justs.”

2. Lose the “actually.” “I actually have a question…”
“I actually want to add something….”
“Actually” communicates a sense of surprise that you have something to say. Of course you have questions or value to add. There’s nothing surprising about it.

3. Don’t tell me that what you’re about to say is likely to be wrong. If you’re still starting sentences with, “I haven’t researched this but…”
“I’m just thinking off the top of my head but…” (notice the “just”?)
“You’ve clearly been working on this longer than I have, but…”
You aren’t standing behind what you’re saying for several reasons. Perhaps you’re not totally sure about what you’re going to say. Or you’re really afraid of being wrong so you’re buffering the sting of a critical response.

You’re indicating that you’re not committed to your words before anyone else has a chance to strongly disagree. This takes away the power of your voice! It’s time to change this habit and own what you say, even if you later change your mind.

4. Don’t tell us you’re “only going to take a minute” to say something. It sounds apologetic. How often in presentations do you hear women say, “I’m only going to take a minute to tell you about our service (product, company, etc.)”? Think how much more powerful is it to say, “I’d like to tell you about our company.” What you have to say is worthy of your audience’s time and attention. If you only want to take a moment, do it, but don’t use an apologetic phrase to belittle what you are saying.

5. Don’t make your sentences into questions. Women often raise their pitch at the end of a sentence making them sound like questions. Listen to your own language and that of other women and you’ll see the prevalence this speech habit. Speaking a statement like a question diminishes its power. Make statements sound like statements; drop into a lower tone at the end.

No need to become harsh or domineering.

Women’s unique way of communicating tends to be collaborative, consensus-building and inviting – much needed attributes in  conscious leadership. There’s no need to change who you are or take on a style that’s inauthentic. But it is time to put away the self-diminishing ways of speaking that stem from being afraid of your own power or from believing what your harsh inner critic has to say. Its time to stop offering up your brilliance in tentative, self-deprecating ways.

So how to begin? Start moving into authentic communication by being mindful.

First, increasing your awareness of the unhelpful speech patterns you currently use by simply listening to yourself.

Then set an intention to work on your unhelpful habits one-by-one.

Pick one that stands out and spend a week or two changing it. Then go on to another.

(This works especially well when you ask a trusted friend or colleague for support. That support can look like a non-verbal signal to remind you to stay on track.)

For more support on stepping fully into your power while being authentically yourself, check out my brand new 21 day From Timid to Awesome: Living Into My Brilliance workshop.

You’ll learn and practice effective communication skills, learn strategic presentation strategies, and build your confidence, clarity and connection.

The world is waiting for your ideas. It’s time to start sharing them boldly, fully and loudly, without diminishment or apology.

Brilliant Women:  Support is on the way! Yes, you can take charge! Learn more in an upcoming webinar.  It will be recorded if you can’t be on the live call.  Details to follow.


My dog saved the day, saved my business and that’s why I love him. In playing with Beezley and experiencing his unconditional love, I reconnected to myself, to my deep enthusiasm and concrete belief in what I’m up to in this world, and finally, who I am.

These past few months have been exciting and hard…ever since I made the decision to transform the way I run my business. Exciting because I kept a clear, though imaginary, roadmap pinned before my eyes. I could see where I was and knew the destination. I had a plan to get me there and sharp tools for the trip.

For the first time in my life, I was also really inviting in support, so I found it! Not only support for online marketing and my upcoming tele-summit, but GREAT support. I felt part of an effective and talented team.


And I was sure that I was going to get there, I worked longer hours with more focus than I can remember doing for years. Some of the work wasn’t at all of interest to me, but just needed doing. I stayed mindful of the necessities and often felt in flow – just doing the next thing, next.

I researched and read, watched webinars on marketing, spent more hours at the computer, more hours strategizing with my supporters, even hours hiring the right assistant. Workflow charts, blogging, making videos, creating offers, writing auto-responders, learning editing software, setting up a new accounting program and testing project management software. Work and more work. And all of it around the clients I was currently coaching.

And I saw my own teacher (I am a Ridhwan student) regularly, did weekly inquiry to stay clear and on track and out of the outdated, outworn stories about what is possible for me.

Of course, it all cost money, too. Money I borrowed from my pension plan. Money I borrowed from family. Money I wasn’t sure I would be able to repay or replace anytime soon, if ever.

Yet, I knew what I wanted and I was going for it…without excuses, without hesitation, without certainty of success- but HOPE – big, barrels of hope and a firm commitment to do whatever was required and a conviction that I had something valuable to offer to the world – these were all part of the mix.

Most of the time, I felt enlivened, noticing every cell in my body resonating, enthusiasm spilling through me like slow paint. Decision after decision, user guide after user guide, video correction after video correction, I went all out, stayed with it and forged ahead.

My lovely dog, Beezley, gave up some long hikes for shorter trots in the neighborhood. He hung out near my feet as I packed in whole days on the computer and phone. He even took his vitamins with less fuss. After 11 hour days on the computer, he hopped enthusiastically up on the bed to keep me company, when I collapsed at night.

And all that’s been great. Truly great and I’m deeply appreciative. He’s a handsome, supportive and understanding companion, easy to be with and a great camper- but that’s not why I love my dog.

This week I got sick…terrible burning sore throat and some sort of infection that made me feel like a dirty doormat. The “bug” ate up all my energy. Worse, it ate up my enthusiasm and belief in this vision. The dream lost its color, went stale, heavy, dull.

A harsh inner voice started taunting me with messages like, “You’re wasting your time. Who do you think you are anyway?” And mostly, I was too tired to defend against it.

I started feeling drained, then exhausted and then really, really unsure – second guessing what I am up to, questioning every decision…wondering if I’m making a BIG mistake or worse, delusional. My head went fuzzy about even the simplest task. And that nasty voice kept me obsessing about the money all this was costing me.

Now some people talk to their dogs – a lot. Not me. I generally keep our conversations short. So I wasn’t sharing – at least not verbally what was transpiring.

And Beezley, while smart and with it IS a dog.

But last night, when I felt I had hit a stark low – no energy to move, no idea what to do next and not enough juice to call anyone for support, Beezley jumped up on the sofa with me. Peering into my eyes like a wise sage, he curled himself into the crook of my body and began to lick away my tears.

Slowly, methodically, Beezley cleaned me up…snotty nose and all. What’s more, he somehow conveyed the message that this was just a temporary setback, that everything was really OKAY and that we – him and I, were just fine.

Beezley let me know I was good enough, despite what gremlins were whispering from within my muddled, feverish mind. He showed me that I was loved and that love was more important than just about anything else.

He didn’t need my videos to be perfect or my blogs to shimmer with wisdom and clarity. He didn’t care whether I mastered the learning curve of all the new software programs dotting my desktop.

Beezley just cared about me, how I was doing, whether I was down and what he could do to make me feel better. We were a team. He reminded me of what counts most – love and compassion.

Go figure that my dog would be such a good teacher. His compassion fueled my own. I re-aligned my priorities, sank into the ready affection we share, shucked off my cares and began to play with him, making both of us happy and a bit goofy.

And in playing with Beezley, experiencing his unconditional love, I reconnected to myself, to my deep enthusiasm and concrete belief in what I’m up to in this world, and finally…who I am. And THAT’S how my dog saved the day, my business and why I love him!