Join Me on the Porch

by Tricia Stefaniak, WeAlign Associate Coach

What is your memory of a porch? From a rocking chair, to a bench, to the stairs, those who have rested themselves on a porch understand its power. Stories shared, lesson learned, quiet moments with the sun’s warmth on your face, the porch offers a space for soul searching and contemplation. Blanche’s porch was nothing special, milk jugs filled with plant food, potted flowers, old things piled here and there in the corners, and plenty of spots to sit. Its view was of the forest green with trees. Yet it offered safety, serenity, and sometimes forgotten lessons.

Join Me on the PorchBlanche was a woman who lived over 104 years and had life experiences like no other. She loved her porch and always shared an invitation to join her. Blanche had an incredible talent of seeing people for who they were and who they would become, quite an innate sense, in fact. I sat many an hour together with her as she shared stories of the past with rich lessons and flare. I remember most of them, however, as I grew into an adult, I forgot some of her most important words. She spoke such truth about who I was, and where I could go.

Unfortunately, many lies were spoken over me and Blanche’s truth was lost, dimmed from my mind and heart. I went through my youth captive under those lies. I broke free physically at 17 years old when I ran away, but it took until I was almost 30 to break free emotionally. Even then, there was much work ahead.

Why are stories, lies, other’s insecurities that are spoken over us as we develop our sense of self, so powerful, while truths slip away? Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve been given a bit of a feisty spirit, and have fought my way back. Fought my way to understanding my value, my wiring, how I was created, based on truths! Conquering the lies and owning truth is a great place to begin. Knowing your value is an important posture to present in this world and there is a world full of resources to get you there.

There are so many wonderful tools out there to lean into your own development. One of my favorites, Clifton Strengths, gives you a viable vocabulary to launch confidently into personal and professional choices and pathways. Sadly, many take the assessment, see their top five, and never look at them again. Never unpacking them fully, discovering the rich roots to unleash themselves.

Do you know your wiring, have you ever questioned the value you bring to this world? You’re not alone. Let me ask, do you have the courage to challenge the lies, the stories spoken over you filled with someone else’s pain? I’d like to invite you onto my porch. Choose the rocker, swing, or stair, get comfortable and let’s lean into uncovering the truth of who you were designed to be. How can you start?

CREATE SPACE
Calendar and physical space – Create a space in your schedule to develop your self-awareness. There are tools to help you develop the ideal week. Choose your spot, the porch, comfy chair, the library, wherever you can concentrate on learning about you. Choose a spot that fits your personality, it will bring out the creativity and emphasize the wiring you possess naturally. When you have a designated time and space you have a higher percentage of follow through.

CHOOSE AN ASSESSMENT THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Assessments – Clifton Strengths, DISC, Enneagram, Myers Briggs, and more. Each offer great insight through varying ways. Choose to investigate up to three formats, then select the one that is most usable in your life. Ask yourself? Can I use the terms in an everyday conversation? Can I acquire a basic and deep understand of myself through the information provided? How do I connect with this type of format? Speaking aloud your wiring feeds your brain information to develop new positive pathways. So, make sure you choose a format. You want one that can feed your brain, so you develop a strong posture and live in the freedom of the confidence you’ll develop.

FREE YOURSELF
Freedom – Become your own warrior! Fight to discover the truth of who you are, separating from other’s stories that have been spoken over you. Free yourself from what holds you back by gaining self-awareness that can bring you forward. Make it a priority to know you.

Enjoy your time on the porch to dive into self-awareness to discover a pathway to unleash your strength and purpose upon this beautiful world.

Be A Brand Ambassador… For Yourself

By Michael Baker, WeAlign Certified Coach

Many companies today choose brand ambassadors rather than sales reps to promote their products. A brand ambassador is a person chosen by a company to represent their products in a positive manner, and by doing so will build brand awareness. For example, Mike Trout, a highly popular professional baseball player might be seen regularly with a Boombatz Backpack. You can bet that every 12 year old kid who loves baseball and is a Mike Trout fan wants, no needs, a Boombatz Back Pack like Mike Trout’s. (Boombatz is a fictitious company, so don’t bother looking it up. But you get the point.)

This is certainly a cost effective way to market your products, and it works. In fact, I took the accompanying selfie photo and posted it on Instagram (@heartwarrior_mhb). I received two offers to be a brand ambassador for contemporary men’s clothing. They probably should see the whole face!

Seriously though, your brand is personal, and I highly recommend creating your own brand- a Leadership Brand. Creating a Leadership Brand tells people who you are and why. It shares your talents and lets others know what they can expect from you. A Leadership Brand is your statement to the world. I have a client who uses his Leadership Brand statement as a bio introduction on his LinkedIn profile. This is just one of the many ways your Leadership Brand will help you grow and develop.

The steps to creating a Leadership Brand statement are simple. First, take the CliftonStrength® assessment at www.gallup.com/strengths/assessment. You need at minimum your Top 5 CliftonStrengths®results. However, the CliftonStrengths® 34 will give you your full profile of talents and strengths and provide you with a compass for where to put the effort in your life.

In either report your Top 5 talent themes are areas where you shine, where you have the greatest potential for growth and where you feel most comfortable when applying yourself to relationships, work or hobbies. They are your natural God-given talents.

Next, study each of the Top 5 talents in your report and come up with three words or phrases that describe you in that talent theme. Lastly, use those words or phrases to create a brief description of who you are. Remember, your talent themes are not labels. They are descriptors of something much deeper in you.

When working through this exercise be patient with yourself. It may take several sittings to get a Leadership Brand statement that is satisfactory to you. Share your work with people who are close to you and get honest feedback. It took me several months and several attempts to create mine Here is my Leadership Brand statement and my Top 5 talent themes I used to create my brand:

Understanding that every individual is unique, I seek excellence for myself and others. Asking ‘what if?’ to new knowledge I facilitate order from chaos to create opportunities and reach expected outcomes. – Michael Baker, aka Coach Bake

My Top 5 Talent Themes are:  Maximizer • Strategic • Learner • Arranger • Empathy

Enjoy creating your personal Leadership Brand statement. When it is complete, print it out and put it somewhere you will see it regularly.

Michael Baker, head coach at Michael Baker Coaching, holds a Masters in Education, is a Certified WeAlign Coach and a Certified Strengths Champion. His mission is to lead individuals and businesses to find Certainty in an Uncertain world. He can be reached at michael@coachbake.com.

5 Reasons to Hire A Professional Coach

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by Gina Lokken, WeAlign Executive Coach

Here I was in a job I loved, but I was miserable.

My values and beliefs aligned with the mission, I was coaching and loving my clients, and I enjoyed the people I worked with. But, my health was declining, I was becoming increasingly more frustrated and fatigued, and my desire to do anything at work plummeted to an all time low. So what was the problem?

I wrestled with the decision to leave for over a year and a half, asking God daily if I was just being selfish in my desire to leave or if it was the wise decision to make.  I ultimately decided to part ways with the job, but I still had lingering feelings of guilt nagging me daily.

It wasn’t until I went through WeAlign’s 5-hour Strengths Alignment Process that I realized why I had been miserable – none of my intrinsic needs were being met.

When I discovered this during a coaching session, the guilt melted away and I could finally move on.  I only wish I had heard about WeAlign’s 5-hour Strengths Alignment Process earlier; it would have saved me a lot of worry, frustration, and heartache.

My coach helped me get unstuck and move on.  Here are five others ways a coach can help you.

1. Overcome Barriers & Setbacks Quickly

A coach will partner with you to help separate your person (or identity) from the setback or problem at hand by offering objective feedback. Being able to see your problem or circumstance from an objective point of view will give you greater understanding and free up more options to reset and move forward. Ultimately giving you the opportunity to overcome your setbacks quicker than if you tried to sort it out alone.

2. Create New Pathways of Possibility

One of my favorites, coaching jolts your mind out of autopilot and provides new and exciting pathways of thought. A professional coach has access to a multitude of creative tools & models to help expand your awareness of self, others, and the world. Innovation, ideas, and possibilities become endless when you have the right coach on your side.

3. Gain Greater Clarity & Purpose

A professional coach has been trained to ask the right question at the right time to help evoke deeper understanding, create new pathways of thought, and they invite you to become a part of your own story. Sometimes the answers are staring us right in the face, but we’re too close to see what’s in front of us. A coach will help you take a step back and see your life, problem, or situation from a whole new perspective. You’ll be able to see the whole picture and decide what needs to go and what needs to stay.

4. Unleash Your Potential: Known & Unknown

Great coaches will hold a space for you to experiment with who you are becoming in the world without judgement, and help draw out your gifts and talents. When you know who you are, what you do well, and what you don’t do well, you can start to choose the life you were meant to live. You’ll find you’ll go from average to extraordinary because you’re working in your giftedness and this dramatically accelerates your results and forward momentum.

5. Build Your Legacy

Our lives are so chaotic most days we never allow ourselves time to reflect and contemplate our lives in meaningful ways. What’s the importance behind what you’re doing? What’s the legacy you want to leave future generations? Your children? The world? A professional coach pays attention to what’s said and unsaid, providing meaningful space and offering objective observations to help you grasp the deeper meaning in your life.

Coaches are invested in you, 100%. It’s your agenda, your timing, and your life. So, if you’re feeling stuck, directionless, overwhelmed, burned out or just want to find deeper meaning in your life, there is a coach waiting to help.

 

When Joy and Grief share a room

By Cat Gray, WeAlign Associate Coach

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I thought it was about time I showed up and shared my thoughts on some things I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been coaching people and watching the world respond to a pandemic…

These are undeniably difficult times. We are mourning and adapting because of things and people lost, and it’s going to be hard for a while. However, that’s not the whole story, and I’m here to say that it is possible for grief and joy to share the same room. We are hearing about the good, kind, loving things people are doing for each other too, and I want to challenge you to not only join in with that, but to take it one step further.

What if you were completely clear on what you are skilled in, capable of and passionate about? Are those things related to the role you had or the way you viewed yourself before the world turned upside down or have they also changed? Last week, did you give much thought to the things that had been important to you in January? Were you still focused on the environment, homelessness, refugees, equality, helping small businesses or with local community needs or whatever else was on your heart? Don’t let these things go! People are still living without water or food or shelter. People still need advocates. And what are we going to do for all the people for whom home isn’t a safe place? For the carers without respite? For the people who can’t understand what’s going on due to disability or ill health?

A big pause button was pushed on life as we knew it and we will have to navigate a few new ‘normals,’ still, but what if we lifted our heads up from the internal fear and anxiety and let ourselves dream a bit about the future again? Because you do still have a future. The world is changing but it’s not ending.

So what are you going to be filling your calendar with going forwards? What will you prioritize, speak out about, work towards? What if we end up with a society that fully cares for and embraces the poor and the marginalized? What if we had enough food and shelter for people worldwide? It sounds outrageous to say, but I’m excited to see what happens. I don’t want to belittle or be insensitive to anything that we are going through. I’m not expecting an easy ride or to come out of this unscathed, but I am expecting us to unite on the important things, to run after the type of community we always wished ours was, and to fuel a better, re – evaluated way of living that benefits everyone. We are in this together.

There’s going to be pain and anguish, but that’s only half the story.  Seek out the other bit. Don’t be blinkered to it because it’s easier to be consumed by the bad news. Acknowledge the bad stuff. Notice what you feel and what you need but then tell someone that and go on to notice or find something good. Change the narrative that everything good has been taken from you and start telling people what you are grateful for, what you are dreaming for and pass the message on that we are all capable of bringing something useful and encouraging to the table.

What is it that you are uniquely placed to do at this time? Pin point it, research it, make wise decisions about it (including following government guidelines and advice!) but then just get on and do it! Don’t be afraid to try and keep some things normal – that’s good! Don’t be afraid to spark action into some things that have been lying dormant in you for a while – maybe they have been waiting there for such a time as this! Don’t be afraid to dream of a big big future where progress has been made in many things. And don’t be afraid of grief and joy being roomies for a while. They can cope with that, and so can you.

The Tyranny of “Should”

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“Should”

When I take stock of who I am and see that things are good
A thief comes in to steal my joy, accusing, “But you Should…”

“You Should be more productive.  Your body Should be slim
That person there is so well-liked, you Should be more like him.”

“How dare you be contented.  Your best will never do.
Try harder still,” his voice demands.  “Become a different you.”

I get back on the hamster wheel determined to improve
But hear him say to my dismay, “the finish line has moved.”

So now there is a rubble heap where my esteem once stood
Knocked down with cruel intention by the wrecking ball of Should

Then in a time of clarity I see I have a choice
I can choose to tune him out and hear a different voice

I hear, “I am accepted.”  I hear, “I am enough.”
And where I lack, God’s got my back.  I’m covered by His love

I’ll celebrate my talents working hard at what I do
I’m doing fine with my design, my limitations, too

I don’t do super-exploits.  Sometimes I wish I could
But I accept me as I am.  I’ve had enough of Should!

Copyright 2019 by Peter Cafarchio

Use these four E’s for exponential growth

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

Last month, I wrote about uncovering unrealistic expectations and how damaging they can be in your life. You can take a look at that post here:  Are Unrealistic Expectations Weighing You Down? June 1, 2020.

Now let’s say you’ve done the hard work of dismantling these negative thoughts patterns. What now? A good next step is to start articulating the things you’re the best at. I’m not talking about the things you WISH you were the best at or feel like you SHOULD be the best at. I mean the things in your life that you do instinctively well.

Getting clear about who you are and who you are not, is hard work. That’s why I recommend using the CliftonStrengths Assessment as a way to help my clients understand and communicate the unique strengths that they have. This also gives them a way to focus their hard work in a way the plays to their strengths and sets them up for success.

If you want to make a meaningful impact on the people around you, the place you work, the city you live in, or the entire world, then you owe it to yourself to discover your areas of strength and let go of trying to turn weakness into strength. Exponential growth is a byproduct of living and working in your sweet spot.

If you haven’t been coached through your CliftonStrengths Assessment, I want to share a simple tool that will help you recognize if you’re working in an area of strength. It’s called the 4 Es, and they are: Energizing, Enjoyable, Easy, Effective.

When you’re using your strengths (even if you can’t fully articulate them), you’ll feel energized. It’ll be enjoyable. Even if you’re working hard, there will still be a sense of ease in using your strengths. Finally, you’ll be effective in what you’re doing. This isn’t to say that once you know your strengths you won’t have any more learning to do or that life will always be easy.

The major takeaway here is that applying hard work to areas where all four Es are present will set you up for exponential growth.  You’d never be able to gain and maintain that growth if you focused on areas that are energy draining, unenjoyable, overly difficult, and that you lack effectiveness in.

Take a moment to think honestly about where you devote most of your time. Are the 4 Es present? If not, what needs to change? It could be that you’re in a role that doesn’t fit you. Or maybe the entire industry is a bad fit. It could be, that you’re in the right industry but the wrong department. Whatever your situation is, this simple tool could help you honestly assess your situation and determine if anything needs to change.

If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to start, working with a professional coach could be the best investment you make in yourself. You never know what kind of contribution you could be making if you properly align yourself with your strengths.

What are you waiting for?

You Really Are God’s Gift to the World

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By Pete Cafarchio, WeAlign Executive Coach

“You think you’re God’s gift to the world!” was a phrase we’d use growing up.  The intent was to put someone in their place if we thought they were being arrogant or prideful.

But hold on for a minute…

If you think about it, God made each one of us, selected a point in time and a location for us to be born, and gave us an incredibly unique set of skills, talents, tastes, and abilities.

And His intent was for us to use those abilities to make our world a better place.  We all do that in different ways, but most of us are trying our best.

The question isn’t about how much of an impact are you making.  Instead, are you making the kind of impact you were designed to make?

The world – your world – needs you to keep showing up and trying in your own way to make it a better place.

God knew other people needed you in your world.  You’re His gift to them.  But if you keep hiding in false humility they’ll never experience your impact.

So rise up and be all you were meant to be.  Because you really are God’s gift to the world.

Are Unrealistic Expectations Weighing You Down?

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Photo by Jan Tinnegerg on Unsplash

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

A few months ago, I was driving to work and I kept hearing a thud on my starts and stops. Now I’m no mechanic, but I knew that my car shouldn’t be making that sound.

I dropped my car off and walked to one of my favorite coffee shops nearby.  45 minutes later I got a text message from the shop saying they were finished inspecting my car. As I packed up my computer and walked back to the shop, I couldn’t help but wonder what was causing the noise and how expensive it was going to be to repair it.

When I asked the front desk what the problem was they told me, “it was a bowling ball…”. You heard me right, it was my new bowling ball rolling around in the back. I’m a bowler and had put it there the night before because it needed to have the holes drilled and I didn’t want to forget to drop it off.  I can’t remember a time when I was more embarrassed.

Luckily, the shop didn’t charge me anything and I was on my way, my ego deflating as I tried to laugh it off. While driving back to the office I couldn’t help but see this story as a metaphor for all the times I assumed something was wrong with me, when in reality, my own expectations were rolling around in my head and convincing me of a problem.

The first time I realized the powerful effect of expectations was when I was coached through my CliftonStrengths Assessment. As we dug into my top 5 talents, I was able to give voice to areas of strength that I hadn’t been able to describe before. I could finally articulate who I really was and what areas I needed to focus on if I wanted to experience exponential growth.

As my coach and I got to the end of my assessment, particularly my bottom 5 talents, I realized that I had wrongly believed that I could turn these weaknesses into strengths. This insight was hands-down the most liberating part of being coached through my assessment.

Even though I stubbornly tried to play to my strengths I was still expecting myself to be good at things that were weaknesses. And the most sinister thing about it was that I had no idea the crippling effect it was having on me.  Without the self-awareness I gained through coaching, I would still be carrying that weight around with me, thinking something was wrong, when in reality it was simply a bowling ball rolling around in the back of my car.

What expectations of yourself do you need to let go? You might find that exponential growth is waiting for you if you stop trying to be something you’re not.

Top 10 Reasons you (and your organization) need coaching more than ever right now

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(This is a re-posted blog By Ann Betz and William Arruda at https://bit.ly/2SZ4ucz, used by permission) 

My friend, business genius William Arruda and I sat down recently to talk about why coaching matters so much–even, perhaps MORE–during this Covid-19 crisis. Here are the top ten reasons we came up with:

  1. Many tools and techniques of professional coaching are scientifically proven to reduce stress. When we are stressed, it is much more difficult to have empathy, think creatively, control impulses, and make effective plans. When stress is reduced through coaching, people have more access to creativity, empathy, and resilience, all of which are critical right now.

  2. Coaching helps people process what is going on. This is an unprecedented time—the very fact that we have little to compare it to makes it exceptionally difficult to process and make sense of. Without processing during the time we are in the experience, we run a high probability of either crashing when it is over, or sublimating our worry, fear and stress into health issues, low energy, and other negative impacts. When we notice and allow our true feelings and concerns, we move the energy through and stay steadier and more able to cope both during and after. Many people need the support of coaching in order to do this effectively.

  3. Coaching helps people find their own resilience and capacity, even when we can’t change the external landscape. Any coach worth their salt knows to focus on the client, not the issue. When people are what we might call, “returned to themselves” through coaching, they see more possibility and find more internal resilience. This restores some sense of control in what feels like an uncontrollable world.

  4. The small amount invested in coaching during a crisis will pay off in terms of larger gains. The companies and individuals that will get through this time are those that maintain a fair amount of calm center, limit the toxic impact of stress, are flexible and agile, and truly “think outside the box.” Given the impact of the circumstances we find ourselves in, it is highly unlikely that people will find their way there without the kind of support coaching provides.

  5. Giving managers and leaders coaching provides a noticeable ripple effect. Research shows that leaders have a potent impact on the “weather” of their organization. When they are calm, emotionally regulated, thoughtful, and patient, those around them feel more able to respond more thoughtfully as well. (Same is true for parents and children.)

  6. This will most likely lead to permanent changes for individuals and orgs. We know coaching is one of the most effective ways to help people navigate change. We’re not going back to “business as usual” after this. Coaching helps us know and express our own needs, desires and boundaries as things change so we can be active “co-creators” in what is to come.

  7. It is more critical than ever to retain and develop top talent. We’re going to need extraordinary thinking and performance to help any enterprise—whether it is a business, a school, or even a family—get through this. As things are pointing to different structures in how we do business, all enterprises are going to need to rely more on multiple layers of leadershipCoaching helps develop people’s leadership strengths and confidence, and is also a proven retention strategy.

  8. Coaches help people get unstuck and move out of fixed patterns or mindsets. Surviving and thriving in this time requires an adaptable brain that can respond with flexibility and creativity, while still being thoughtful and applying logic. Coaching helps people identify limiting beliefs and move into more open and responsive mindsets.

  9. People are thinking about purpose and meaning as a result of this crisis. Without support in terms of surfacing and focusing on questions of meaning, life purpose, and important values, all too often the things we learn in crisis are lost. Coaching can help us powerfully reflect on what we are learning about ourselves.

  10. People will be using this opportunity to make major life and work changes and will need a coach to help navigate this change. Our old patterns and habits are well-wired into our brains. Making real change is disruptive to the system, and we need support to make major changes. Coaching is all about the reflection-action-reflection cycle of learning. A coach helps us identify what we want, try some things to put it into action, reflect on what we learned, and then continue this positive cycle as we move into new ways of being and therefore new results in our lives.

 Ann Betz consults on the science of coaching for the ICF education department, and served as provocateur for the online learning ICF Advance in 2018 and will again in 2020. She is the author of This Is Your Brain on Coaching, the science of the ICF competencies, and has been a professional coach since 2001. She is the co-founder of BEabove Leadership, offering advanced coach training on neuroscience for the experienced and curious coach. She is a sought-after international speaker on the intersection of neuroscience, coaching, and human development, and works with many global brands and coaching organizations.

William Arruda is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and the world’s leading authority on the topic of personal branding. He’s the bestselling author of the definitive books on the topic: Career Distinction and Ditch. Dare. Do! His latest book, Digital YOU helps readers translate their real-world brands for the virtual world. William is the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Reach Personal Branding and the co-founder of CareerBlast.TV – a personal and digital branding video learning platform for innovative organizations. His products have been used by over a million people across the globe. William is honored to work with many of the world’s most revered brands, including 20% of the Fortune 100. He regularly shares his thoughts on workplace trends and branding in his Forbes column. In 2015, he was awarded the ICF Chair’s Award for his contributions to the field of coaching.

How to Relate instead of React

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Photo by lauren lulu taylor on Unsplash

By Jonathan Woolridge, WeAlign Certified Coach

The store was eerily quiet and yet I was far from alone. People were bustling past me to grab their groceries, but no one was talking. I was standing there with a bandana covering my face, hand sanitizer in my shirt pocket and scanning my personal space for intruders.

Someone bumped into me and what normally would have been a simple accident, felt like an unforgivable insult. It was like Dr. Jekyll had become Mr. Hyde and I didn’t like it. I was experiencing a stress response and wasn’t handling it well.

If you can relate to this in any way, keep reading.

The human brain is well equipped to handle stress and actively responds chemically in stressful situations in order to help you survive. These stress responses have ensured the survival of the human race since time immemorial.  The problem is that today, we aren’t typically faced with life or death situations and yet we still have stress responses regularly.

Everyone has disagreements and misunderstandings with other people.  So being able to stay relational and keep from getting stuck in negative emotions is critical if we’re going to have healthy relationships and less stress.

When we experience any kind of negative stress, we can easily slip into our fight, flight, freeze or appease response and this directly impacts our ability to make decisions and focus on the relationship with the person. Whether it’s a spouse, child, friend, coworker, or employee, we will experience better conflict resolution and deeper relationships when we aren’t being ruled by negative emotions.

Here are six statements that can help you recognize when your decision making and relationship building skills are being impacted by negative emotions. If any of these are true in a situation, then you’re most likely experiencing a stress response and not keeping the relationship bigger than the problem.

1. I just want to make a problem, person or feeling go away.
2. I don’t want to listen to what others feels or say.
3. My mind is “locked onto” something upsetting.
4. I don’t want to be connected to ____. Someone I usually like.
5. I just want to get away, fight, flight, freeze or appease.
6. I more aggressively interrogate, judge and fix others.

*Based on the work of Karl Lehman M.D. http://www.kclehman.com

If you’re experiencing these, then your ability to creatively problem solve while keeping the other person’s best interest at heart will be hindered. So, what can you do to change the situation? Here are couple of tips that will help you keep the relationship bigger than the problem:

1: Spend 3-5 minutes deep breathing
Doing deep breathing exercises for 3-5 minutes causes our brains to secrete serotonin which naturally helps our bodies to calm down. Our brain’s naturally do this, but we can help it along through deep breathing. That’s pretty amazing in my opinion!

Here’s an easy to remember deep breathing exercise: 4 second inhale, then hold for 4 seconds at the top of your inhale, then 4 second exhale, and hold for 4 seconds at the bottom of your exhale. Continue for 3-5 minutes or until you feel calm.

2: Focus on Appreciations
Start counting all the things for which you’re grateful. When we remember all the good things in our lives, it can have a serotonin-inducing effect as well. You could even keep a list of appreciations handy that you can focus on when you realize that you aren’t acting relationally.

I want to share a story about a recent time when I used these tips

It was bath time, which is typically happy, but this time it was irritating me. The silliness and giggling that usually brings me joy was causing me to want to yell at my kids to be quiet. After a few minutes of suppressing this urge I recognized that I was having a stress response. I asked myself why and remembered that I had read a frustrating work email right before helping my kids get in the bath.

I immediately called for my wife, Roxanne and let her know what was going on and that I needed a few minutes. She graciously took over and I went to my room (my closet to be exact), and did some deep breathing, while quoting scripture and focusing on an appreciation. I quickly started feeling a sense of calm returning and after five minutes I was able to reengage with my kids, their giggling and silliness bringing me joy once again.

So, next time you recognize the effects of stress, take a breather (literally) and focus on appreciations. I think you’ll be surprised at how effective they are in helping you keep the relationship bigger than the problem.

Give them a try and let me know how it works for you!

For more resources, Check out this article written by my colleague John Saunders: https://wealigncoaching.com/2020/01/27/two-questions-to-help-gauge-your-emotional-maturity/

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