Dealing with the Unknown: 3 Strategies for Handling Uncertainty

Uncertainty and dealing with the unknown is something we all must learn to cope with. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” If that’s the case, are there ways to live with the unknown with a greater sense of mastery and ease? I believe so!

Living with uncertainty certainly isn’t comfortable and can show up on both a macro and a micro level. On the macro level, you may have been hit by one of life’s curve balls like a relationship meltdown, a workplace restructuring, a health scare or some other significant shift in the landscape of your life. On the micro level, Mercury goes retrograde again and your computer crashes right before you need to pull your major presentation out of it. You are working on something that you thought was your heart’s desire, but you …. Continue reading

Divorce Relief: What to Do When You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex

Q. “I am challenged by wondering all the time about what my soon-to- be ex-spouse is thinking or doing, and most agonizingly sad, who is is with?

A. Separation and divorce is a bumpy road and it takes some time, dedicated effort and great tools to help get through to the other side. You are not alone is having part of your mind get on a frustrating hamster wheel of wondering about your ex. Our brain can get like a dog on a bone, chewing endlessly (often in the middle of the night) with a litany of questions like:

Is he as sad as I’m feeling?

Is he regretting his choices?

Is he healing faster than I am and what is wrong with me that I still feel grief?

Has he moved on in love, and who is he with? What is she like? How do I compare to her?

Divorce, even if you’re the one who initiated, is still a shock to your emotional system. The brain wants to make sense of it all, so it starts to seek and scan for answers. Our egos want to compare and judge – who is “winning the race” for getting through the pain and over the divorce first. It’s simply a natural way our sense of self-identity gets constructed.

It is important to realize excessive speculating and wondering is actually a distraction from your own healing journey. Here are some ways you can break the pattern and stop fixating on your ex….

Keep a journal and write out all the questions you have running around in your head. Like taking the lid off a boiling pot of water releases the pressure, journaling your worry thoughts will help them to dissipate more quickly. You get to see your questions from a more objective perspective.

Sometimes we let our attention wander and get ourselves stuck in the past is because we don’t have a clear vision for our future after divorce. Do some work to help create your road map through your divorce. The award-winning Divorce Resource Kit to has questions, exercises and guided meditations that can help you chart your course for your future.

It’s also important to keep your focus on what you actually have control and influence over, such as your own thoughts, words and actions. Diverting your energy to anyone else instead of your own process of understanding the deeper spiritual lessons that are available through your divorce is a distraction. Take responsibility for what you can change and learn, and let the rest go.

© 2012 Carolyn B. Ellis


Leadership: The One Person You Absolutely MUST Lead

Being a brilliant entrepreneur, a brilliant mom or a brilliant partner requires one thing. To succeed we need to be able to calls forth the best of ourselves every day and in every way.

As the leader of your life, there are so many people who look to you to take their cues: your clients, your children, your partner, your colleagues, and your neighbors. Mompreneurs in particular are often caught trying to find that elusive balance between work and family, between joyful creation and stressful chaos.

But the true test of leadership is this – are you practicing your own internal leadership? Would you be inspired, motivated and decide to follow yourself?

One of my teachers used to say that the first person you must learn to lead is yourself. Attending management courses and reading the very finest leadership literature is good, but the greatest arena for learning about powerful and lasting leadership is … within yourself.

Having a strong and resilient emotional foundation is a key ingredient to one’s success and impact. So I believe we must always be willing to do our own emotional homework to ensure that this internal foundation is strong enough to hold the business we desire.

Here are some tips to help you diagnose and up-level your self-leadership!

1.  Do an Integrity Check

Do a scan of your life to see if there are areas where what you are doing is different than what you are saying. Are there places where things feel out of integrity? Are you tolerating things that are incomplete? Are you walking your talk? It might be finishing up a product, making a call you’ve been avoiding, or letting clutter overwhelm your office. This scan will tell you where you have the opportunity to recommit to the leadership of your life. Write them down and come up with a plan to tackle these areas that are energetically eroding your leadership.

2.  Get in the Driver’s Seat

It’s tough to lead your life, let alone a business, if you allow other people to be in the driver’s seat. Self-leadership requires you to take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions. When you’re in the driver’s seat of your life, you get to decide where you’re going, the route you’re going to take, and how fast you want to drive to get there. Yet sometimes we subtly concede that driver’s seat position to others – a spouse, our children, a business partner, a demanding client, or a parent, to name a few examples.

3. Perfection is Not Required, Shifting is

Don’t forget that we’re all human, and we definitely make mistakes. So even if you see there are areas where your ability to lead yourself isn’t what you want it to be, don’t despair! Perfection is not required in order to move forward to unleash your brilliance. Self-awareness and a consistent choice to shift out of limiting behaviors or patterns is. Being able to see what’s not working and shift it quickly, and with confidence, is critical so your true brilliance can shine brightly in the world. Learning to lead yourself with confidence and ease is the goal.

© 2011-2012 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved

Divorce and Separation: You’re Not Losing Your Mind

Q. “My husband and I are getting separated after 15 years (his idea) and I feel crushed. I feel like I’m losing my mind though – I keep forgetting things and can’t seem to focus my attention any more. Is this normal?”

A. Going through a separation and divorce is one of the most stressful things people go through. Emotions swing wildly. We feel loss and uncertainty as the world we knew is turned upside. I’m not a medical expert, but this feeling of overwhelm and being unable to have the same speed and efficiency of mental function you used to have is pretty normal. I remember having that thought more than once myself! It’s hard to retain or recall information. It’s challenging to make a decision. I felt like I could only absorb so much information before I started to feel swamped and agitated. So know that you are not alone in having this experience.

When we go through a big change that feels threatening to our security in any way, we get triggered into a flight or fight response. The hypothalamus in the brain fires up our nerve cells and… Continue reading

Overcoming Obstacles: 4 Tips to Clear The “How Hurdle”

As a coach, I’m privileged to be part of a process where my clients create a new and exciting vision for their lives and take action towards it. The excitement is palpable as they connect with what’s truly important to them. But often they’ll hit what I call, the “How Hurdle.” “How will I do that?” or “How can I get myself from here to there?” The excitement starts to deflate as they focus on not knowing the clear answers to the “How” Hurdle.

Think of a hurdler, about to take off from the starting blocks. Looking up from their hurdler stance, the finish line is not even visible. What do they see? Nothing but a line of tall, solid ominous hurdles blocking their way to their goal.

It’s the same for us in our lives. We want to get somewhere but we don’t know “how” to get there. Many head for the dressing room before the race to the finish line even starts. I’d like to share simple ways to overcome this phenomenon of the “How Hurdle”.

1. “How?” isn’t as important as “Where” and “Why?”

Part of our mind likes to solve problems, so it will naturally prompt that “how” question. Asking “How” first is like putting the cart before the horse. Ghandi didn’t ask himself how he’d get the British to leave India. Instead he… held steadfastly and articulately to his vision and then followed a course of action that revealed itself as he went along.

The more important and empowering questions to ask yourself are “Where?” and “Why?”. Where do you want to go? Why do you want to reach that new goal? Why is it important for you to learn how to solve that problem? The answers to the “where” and “why” will give you the motivation and energy to find the “how” as you take action.

2. Building a Big “Why”

If your “why” is big enough, you’ll figure out the how. You just hunker down and start doing whatever it takes to get the job done. If a family member required urgent medical treatment and you didn’t know anything about the medical system or how it works, it wouldn’t take long for you to take action, would it? You’re motivated, so you’d ask a lot of questions of the doctor or others, go online to research, or pick up the yellow pages to look for support groups.

Connecting to your “why” will commit you to action. Commitment is the key to knocking those “How Hurdles” down. The “how” will appear once you make that commitment to your “why”. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred .. unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

3. “I Don’t Know How” as an Excuse

Have you ever used the phrase “I don’t know how” as an excuse for inaction? What would you say to a young child who said “I don’t know how” in the face of having to try something new? You’d most likely let them know that it’s OK to make mistakes and learn from them.

But perhaps you really meant, “I’m not ready to move forward” or “My goal isn’t really clear or important enough to me”. It’s more empowering and accurate to be honest about it, especially with ourselves, than stand behind an excuse.

4. Nevermind the Naysayers

Have you ever decided to try something new, despite your own questions about how you’ll succeed, and then the moment you share your new goal with someone they turn into a dream-stealer. They’ll pepper you with questions like, “So how exactly are you going to do that?” Unfortunately, some of those naysayers are people who are the closest to us. They have a great skill for putting more “How Hurdles” up on the track.

Don’t let the naysayers stop you! Take a moment to share your “why” with them and how it’s going to look at feel for you to accomplish that goal. Invite them to support you by brainstorming how you could accomplish the goal. Share your commitment to doing whatever it will take to cross the finish line.

© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis

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Finding The Courage to Be Brilliant

The unexpected curve balls that life throws our way are challenging. Common occurrences like losing your job, having your relationship breakdown, or coping with caring for aging parents force change upon you. Life’s curve balls tend to shake you up in order to wake you up. Learning to thrive and come out the other end of it better and wiser certainly requires a lot of courage. But sometimes courage can be hard to find.

We all have times when we wake up in the middle of the night in a state of panic and fear. I’m talking about those moments when you wake up like you’ve somehow defibrillated yourself awake. Your palms sweaty, it takes all your focus in order to take a single, deep belly breath to regain your center again. I’ve had more than a few mornings like that myself many times – when I decided to get divorced, when I decided to start my first business, when I decided to write a book, and so on.

This place of fear and contraction is simply part of the path those of us wanting to make a difference and unleash our full brilliance and potential walk. Whenever you step up to a new level of your brilliance, these “dark nights of the soul” come upon us. So the question is not whether these fear “pit stops” can be avoided, but how can you move through them quickly and masterfully when they do happen? Continue reading

A Conversation with The Inner Critic

Have you ever noticed that when you take on a new goal, that little voice in your head will immediately kick in and start telling you all the reasons why you can’t have what you want. Whether it’s finding a new course to take, losing those last 10 pounds, improving the quality of your relationship or getting out of debt, the Inner Critic that lives within each of us really seems to turn up the volume.

Our Inner Critic tells us, “You can’t do that!” or “What will people think of you!” or “Well, you haven’t been able to lose weight before so why should now be any different?” To shed some light on this universal phenomenon, and to see how we can achieve our goals, despite our Inner Critic, I’ve been able to interview mine. I hope that this conversation with my Inner Critic will shed some light on how you can create a better working partnership with your own Inner Critic.

Carolyn Ellis (CE): It seems like I’ve always heard your voice in one form or another. When exactly did you become a part of my life?

Inner Critic: I’ve been a part of you since the time you were born. When you were really young, you were so fearless! My initial function was and still is to look out for you and keep you safe from harm.

CE: I think I’m old enough now to know when I’m in physical danger. Why are you still here then – simply to torment me?

Inner Critic: I’m not trying to torment you – I’m just doing my job the best way … Continue reading

Manifester’s Block: 4 Tips for Creative People

Have you ever felt totally inspired to create something, or see a fabulous way to solve a problem, but then you get bogged down when it comes to implementation? The initial burst of creativity gets buried in your mind under an avalanche of thoughts, questions, and fears that can ultimately block your progress, wear you out and zap your confidence. You’ve heard of writer’s block. But I think there’s a phenomenon I’m going to call “Manifester’s Block,” which is what happens in your mind that puts on the brake to your dreams.

Let me offer an image for what Manifester’s Block looks like. I remember the very first time I drove into Cairo, Egypt many years ago (I was in a cab, not driving myself, thank goodness!). Huge city, tons of traffic, many round-abouts and apparently little regard for the faint traffic lanes that were painted on the roadway. Imagine all sorts of roads coming into one central traffic circle, cars weaving from side-to-side, trying to go around the circle and exit at the appropriate turnoff. There were several near misses as my taxi driver navigated his way through this tangle of cars. Progress was painful, at times requiring us to circle around again because we couldn’t get off where we wanted to.

Now imagine that scene of traffic chaos taking place in your mind when you come down with a case of Manifester’s Block. There are roadways of creative thoughts and critical thoughts. There are roadways of execution, planning and communication. The thoughts come streaming in all at the same time like the biggest rush-hour commute you’ve ever seen, and in the resulting confusion you end up in procrastination or doubt.

Here are some tips that can act like a traffic cop when you want to breakthrough a case of Manifester’s Block!

1. Put Your Traffic Cop on Active Duty

As soon as you notice and feel yourself getting blocked. Stop and take some deep breaths as …. Continue reading

Unlearn Your Way to Success: A Spring into Action Plan, Part 2

“What have you unlearned today, dear?” I bet that is a question that most parents don’t ask their children when they get home from school! Children aren’t the ones carrying around a lot of emotional and behavioral baggage though – we grown-ups are.

So asking ourselves what we need to “unlearn” is actually an important question to ask. Why? Our journey to success and conquering new challenges is actually dependent on our ability to shed and release old baggage that no longer serves us. I’m talking about the old limiting beliefs that tell us we’re not worthy, or old “habit hangovers” like procrastination or minimizing ourselves because we don’t want to draw “too much attention” to ourselves.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can find it here.  I shared some strategies for unlearning unhealthy food habits and toxic self-talk. In today’s issue, I wanted to offer 3 more pieces to this “unlearning” curriculum to help round our this internal “spring tune-up.”

Unlearning #3: Unlearning Tolerating Chaotic Environments

Take a quick scan of your physical environment of your home and your office. Look at the interior of your car, your purse, your wallet, your gym bag. What about the inside of your cupboards, closets and drawers. Notice what happened to your energy as you even mentally just reviewed your environment. Do you feel energized or drained by your physical environment?

If you are tolerating clutter, disorganization and confusion in your physical environment you are setting yourself up for … Continue reading

Unlearn Your Way to Success: A “Spring into Action” Plan, Part 1

Aaah, the winter snow has melted from my yard. Daylight savings time is here and days feel longer already. Mercury has finally moved out of retrograde. Spring is truly a time for awakening and new beginnings. Are you ready to put a new spring in your step as well?

I’ll be truthful with you – at times I don’t feel all that springy and energized. I wish I could tell you that I bounce out of bed every single morning, inspired, focused, and ready to take action. It wouldn’t be true. I have moments where the thought of hanging out under the covers most of the day sounds pretty appealing. But I, like many of you, am learning to be a spiritual adult. This requires finding compassion for where I am in each moment. It means shifting my energy and mindset out of old, limiting patterns and stretching to my highest potential, regardless of discomfort or the unknowns.

However, our greatest challenge isn’t a lack of knowledge. Our biggest shifts can come from being willing to “unlearn” things. Old beliefs, disempowering thoughts, inherited patterns of behaviors that form the web of our unconscious programming. It makes a lot of sense. After all, you wouldn’t go planting your beautiful garden for summer enjoyment without clearing out the sticks, stinky leaves …. Continue reading