Tips for Changing Your Mental Habits

There is power in feeling good.

Think about how much you get done when you are excited, eager, and looking forward to something. Now think about how hard it is to make progress when you are dreading something, don’t want to do it, resent it, etc.

While you can move forward and get stuff done while you are feeling negative catabolic emotions, consciously shifting to positive anabolic thoughts before you begin a task is like putting on rocket boosters.

And not only is your power to get things done greater, but it’s easier and more fun.

Most of what makes day-to-day living “hard” are just your mental habits. You have  thoughts about how hard it is to get up and go to work that you have repeated for so long that you don’t even realize there’s another way to look at it. You have practiced dreading Mondays. You have developed a mental rut on many topics that are not serving you.

These are just some catabolic habits of thought you have going on. Thoughts are made of energy, not marble. They can be changed!

Why do you want to go to the trouble of creating positive, life-building anabolic mental habits, you might ask?

Because anabolic thoughts result in emotions that feel good. Those emotions make your heart sing. When you are feeling anabolic emotions, you know that things are always working out for you. When there’s a problem, you see the solution. You laugh more. You relax more. You are happy to be alive.

All you have to do is create some new mental habits.

And here’s a bonus. Creating anabolic mental habits makes creating healthy physical habits easier. So instead of hating to work out, you enjoy it. You love the taste of fresh vegetables. You easily make the decision to turn off the T.V. and go to bed so you will wake up rested and refreshed. It’s easy. It feels like the choice you want to make.

One way to create new mental habits is to tap into anabolic energy before you do something.

Here are some quick and easy ways to change the energy of your thinking and create new mental habits:

  • Take 3 to 10 deep breaths
  • Meditate, quiet your mind, pray, or center
  • Take a nap
  • Take a bath or hot shower
  • Read some inspiring quotes
  • Look at pictures of cute animals or things you love
  • Look out a window and focus on a tree, bird, or other bit of nature
  • Create a list of all the things you love or appreciate and read it
  • Journal
  • Light a candle and focus on the flickering flame for a few minutes
  • Count your blessings
  • Think of other explanations for the situation
  • Think about how you want to feel, or how something you are working towards will make you feel
  • Pet your dog or cat
  • Let yourself believe that a solution is possible

These are things to do before you do your workout, before you make that phone call, before you write that email, before you do anything–especially anything that you have developed a negative pattern of thought about.

Often people will use the excuse that they don’t have time to practice anabolic thinking. Truly, you don’t have time not to! By taking a few minutes on the front end to shift your energy, you will more than make up with ease and efficiency, and have fewer problems resulting from your catabolic approach to clean up.

And the more you practice anabolic thoughts and energy, the easier and more fun your life becomes. And the more anabolic mental habits you create.

What is one thing you can begin to do regularly to shift your mental habits? What difference does that make in creating the body—and life—of your dreams?

Together we can do it!

Just Because It’s Righteous Doesn’t Mean It’s Right

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.


When someone does not live up to our “rules,” we feel justified in judging them as unworthy of our love. Withholding love—or out-and-out punishment—is a very common reaction when we think people are not living up to the standards we believe to be the “right” ones.

But shutting our hearts down—even for the best of reasons—does not actually punish the other person as we think it does—and it is far more detrimental to us.

The catabolic reactions are felt in our bodies, not theirs. These are the draining and destructive body processes—such as the release of stress hormones—that actually eat away at our cells.

This is why practicing forgiveness and unconditional love is so powerful. By allowing ourselves to give love—no matter what—we are providing ourselves with constructive, anabolic energy that actually heals us from the inside out.

Withholding love is something we learned—it is not our natural way of being. Look at the love and joy that flows through little children. But almost from day one, we begin giving children the lesson that if they behave in a certain way, they will make us happy and we will then love them. It doesn’t take long for children to learn that control is a part of love.

Begin to notice when you are shutting your heart down in judgment. Pay attention to how uncomfortable that feels. Recognize that it’s up to you to change your reaction—it is not up to the other person to change their behavior—even if you believe them to be “wrong.”

Where people often get stuck is feeling like loving someone anyway is the same as condoning that awful behavior. This is where it is helpful to remember that the Universe (God, Higher Power, All-That-Is–whatever works for you), is involved in that other person’s life, too, and that each of you is receiving guidance. Your job is to pay attention to your reactions and move towards the bigger part of you. Your guidance will always lead you to the best outcome for you. As soon as you begin trying to control another, you lose your true power.

Where in your life are you withholding love? What can you do today to open that door in your heart just a little bit? Notice how much better that feels.

Together we can do it!

I Surrender

The Universe does a good job of keeping me humble.

It’s not lost on me that I’m scheduled to present information to colleagues next week on being empowered to choose our responses and twice in the past few days I have not shown up as the best possible version of me.

Yesterday, in fact, was pretty much a textbook example of first victim and then anger responses.

Good show Universe! Good show!

Seriously, I really do appreciate the mirror and the opportunity to clean up my own act. If we are not aware of how we are showing up, how can we change?

This is one of the purposes of stretching, growing, and evolving. Each step gives us the opportunity to become even more.

But it’s up to us to take that step.

I suspect I could fill you all in on the details and get at least most of you to agree that I am “right.” That my point of view is clear and logical, and that the path I point to is the “best.”

But the inner world is not the appropriate arena for consensus. Agreement will just keep me stuck in the destructive, negative catabolic emotions, and that truly benefits no one.

It negatively impacts my body, mind, and spirit. And that destructive power reaches out and brings others down with it. Righteous indignation is not the same as right. Rather, it is a sign of being out of alignment with Who you really are and that more introspection is needed.

You can think of it as a coin. On one side of the coin is the problem and on the other is the solution.

If you are stuck on the problem side of the coin, all you will see is the problem. You will talk about it, rail, and rant against it, and get people to rail and rant with you, but when you are on that side of the coin you will not see the solution.

Switching sides of the coin means switching the mindset with which you look at the problem.

Einstein expressed this beautifully when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Instead of looking at a problem and feeling apathy or anger, it means shifting our mindset to being hopeful, open, and curious.

So how do you shift you mindset from the problem to the solution?

Here’s the process I have gone through so far:

Distract yourself—When you are in the throes of an angry, catabolic reaction get off the topic so that you can cool down. Last night, my husband David and I chose to watch a movie so that I could focus on something else. This was great as it enabled me to go to bed and get some sleep.

Feel the emotion—When my eyes popped open at 3:30 a.m., I actually felt OK. But as soon as I turned my thoughts to the topic, the catabolic emotion sprang back to the surface in a powerful way. I got up and let myself fully feel it. Often people avoid their powerful emotions, but that just prolongs the pain and catabolic energy.

Meditate—Once I was calmed down, I was able to focus on clearing my mind, which helped raise my energy and mood.

What’s at the root?—From this more constructive, anabolic place I was able to look at what was really going on. What was I really reacting to? What made me feel the need to dig in my heels? How important was it really?

Surrender—There is nothing to gain here by holding on to my one “right” way. The sooner I let go of this, the sooner we can find the solutions.

Trust—I use Jerry Hick’s mantra that, “Everything is always working out for me.” What I really want is on its way to me. My path—and the solutions—will be clearer if I just focus on that, and let the rest unfold.

There is no one “right” way to do anything. When you surrender and release the painful emotions, the solutions will be clearer.

Together we can do it!

What to Do When Feeling “Poor Me” or “P*$@ed Off!”

Often as we expand and grow, we will stir up some negative catabolic energy. I’ve heard lots of reasons for this.

For instance, we may have evolved, but aren’t allowing ourselves to be the bigger and brighter version of ourselves. Just like the view is different as we climb a mountain, our perspective is now different then it’s been in the past and we may now see new things to change. Things that were acceptable at one point in our lives no longer are and we must figure out a new way. We literally have a new awareness of old patterns of thoughts and beliefs that have been holding us back.

I can feel that I am going through one of those personal evolutionary times, so it was interesting but not terribly surprising yesterday that I had a lot of catabolic emotions coming up. At different points in the day, I felt overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, sad, and even ashamed. Whew. Not very much fun, but always valuable!

One of the opportunities it presented was reminding me of all the tools I have to shift from negative catabolic emotion to positive anabolic emotion, and also how much mental focus and effort it takes to shift when we are caught up in a wad of poor me or p*$@ed off. I believe this renewed awareness will be a beneficial to those I work with—and to you fabulous readers. So here’s what I did.

As is often the case, it was easier for me to catch the emotion rather than the thought or belief that was triggering the catabolic hail storm.

When you are aware that you are feeling the opposite of holly jolly but aren’t really sure what’s going on, it’s a great time to pull out your journal. Ask yourself questions like, “What am I feeling?” “What does this feeling mean?” “Where is this feeling coming from?” As you get started, you may find that you are creating a longer and longer list of what’s wrong. Once you get clarity, go ahead and stop yourself from digging that negative trench any deeper and begin to create a new path with questions like, “What would make this better?” “What’s a different way I could look at this?” “What would feel like relief?”

During a negative spin cycle it can be easy to let my Gremlin—that negative self-talk that everyone has—have free rein to focus on all the ways I’m screwing up, so to counter that I consciously began focusing on what I was doing right. Even if it was tiny—I drank a glass of water! Good for me!—I counted it.

Doing this mental work is tiring, so another tool I used was to amp up my self-care. In addition to eating healthy food, I gave myself a night off from work and went to bed early. I actually used that first hour to meditate and then focus on gratitude and appreciation.

A number of teachers have offered up the tool of focusing on gratitude before bed and as you wake up, and I have to say this is one of my favorites. It’s a fabulous way to mentally change the subject and begin building momentum in the direction you really want to go.

And what a difference it’s made! Treating myself with gentleness and respect, not allowing myself to wallow in the negative, figuring out what’s going on and consciously shifting my focus, quieting my mind and focusing on gratitude, and getting adequate rest have left me feeling clear and refreshed. And boy do I appreciate that!

What can you do when you catch yourself in a catabolic maelstrom? How does shifting your perspective, and utilizing self-care and gratitude make a difference? What difference does that make to your body—and your life?

Together we can do it!


Stop Trying So Hard

Jamaica–the epitome of relaxation!

The Learning Game:

When there is ease and simplicity in your life it’s because earlier you learned a lot.

When there is resistance and obstacles in your life, it’s because there’s even more to learn.

And learning even more is pretty much the main reason everyone is still there.

Class dismissed,
The Universe

My workouts have been hard for the past week or so. I’ve felt low energy while doing them and just have not been able to push like I love to do.

In fact, this morning after doing 15 minutes of intervals on the treadmill, I was toast.

Fortunately, I’ve experienced this before and I know not to be alarmed. And the absolute worst thing I can do is beat myself up about it.

This is temporary. It will pass, and in the meantime, as Tony Horton says, “I’ll do my best and forget the rest.”

Now I think there are a couple of things going on, but the primary thing is I’m trying too darn hard.

I’m in a period of change and there are a lot of things that I “want.” As a result, I’m trying to do it all, to control the outcome, to make it all happen right now.

As I was contemplating my blog this morning and trying too hard was the obvious subject, I was delighted to see a blog by Barbara Mencer in my inbox titled, “Trying Sooooo Hard.”

(Thank you, Universe. I get the message.)

The gist of her blog is that when we really want something, trying harder is not the solution.

She cited a piece that aired on National Public Radio (NPR) on Jamaican sprinters and why so many great runners come from this small island.

To quote Mencer:

“At one point, the man being interviewed, Dennis Johnson … the 72 year old “Philosopher King of Jamaican sprinting” … asks the host this question:

“Have you ever seen Usain Bolt come from the back and rush past the rest of the field?”


“Well that’s not really what you’re seeing. What you saw was the other people tiring first. Because you cannot increase speed after 6 seconds or 60 meters. It’s a physiological impossibility.”

So, what we were actually seeing when we watched Usain Bolt blast past the field in the final 40 meters of the 100 meter race at the Beijing Olympics was not Bolt speeding up, but the other runners slowing down.

He wasn’t kicking it into another gear. He wasn’t willing himself to go faster than the others. In fact, what he was doing better than the others was relaxing. Yeah, it’s completely counter-intuitive, but, in the words of the NPR piece …

“According to Johnson, people have the wrong idea about speed. He says a relaxed sprinter maintains speed, while the sprinter who’s tight, who’s concentrating too much, can tire fast or lose it at the end.”

So, they teach the Jamaican sprinters that if they want to go faster, they need to relax.”

And this is great instruction for all of life.

How do I know I’m not relaxed and in the flow? Low energy workouts is just the symptom of my encountering negative, catabolic thoughts and emotions. I’m having moments of total anxiety that I have to meditate my way out of. I’m reacting to things more than I would like. I sometimes feel like I have a weight on my shoulders.

Negative, catabolic emotions are always letting you know that you are trying too hard, that you are blocking your own wellbeing, that you are getting in your own way. That you aren’t relaxing and letting the positive, anabolic energy flow.

I know I’m letting the anabolic energy flow when I’m feeling excitement and exuberance, and just pure love and appreciation for my life. That is when I’m know I’m headed in the right direction, that I’m moving towards what I want, and that life is on my side.

But as soon as I become aware of catabolic emotions, I need to pay attention and look for a feeling of relief. And trying harder is not the way to do that.

This doesn’t mean hard work isn’t important—no athlete reaches the Olympics without plenty of hard work and disciplined training—but it’s the energy with which you approach it. Hard work can be fun or wearisome. Exhilarating or depleting. Where life is lived to the fullest, or the awful steps you have to make yourself get through to reach your goal.

I think the message for me is that as soon as it stops being fun and starts feeling hard to take my foot off the gas pedal pronto. To evaluate what caused the change, and look at the underlying thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that made me think it should be a struggle or that I wasn’t doing or trying hard enough.

As Mercer pointed out in her blog, it’s about allowing good things to happen rather than trying to force them.

Where are you trying instead of allowing? What difference does that make to your performance? How might relaxing and releasing control actually help you reach your goals more effectively than trying harder?

Together we can do it!

That Wasn’t Necessary

I love discovering situations around which I have some practiced thoughts and beliefs that are not helping me be the person I want to be, or create the life I want to create. Because if you don’t know the negative catabolic thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are there, you can’t change them.

Saturday morning provided me the opportunity to come face-to-face with negative expectations, fear, and prescribed beliefs—and to make different choices.

Buffy (left) and Willow

For those of you who know me or read this blog regularly, you know that my husband and I have two dogs and two cats who truly are our children. Buffy, the oldest of our two Keeshonden, will be turning 10 on July 13.

Buffy is a bit of a trash mouth, meaning if something hits the floor, she eats it. As we stroll through the park, she’s trying to grab bites of weeds along the path. She’s a dirt connoisseur.

So it was a bit surprising, but not terribly unusual, to wake up Saturday morning and find some evidence that she had expelled something nasty in the night. We cleaned it up and didn’t think more of it.

While I was writing my blog, she threw up breakfast. While I was upstairs working out, she threw up again. When my husband found that she had thrown up yet again, I discovered her having dry heaves and shivering. We knew something was seriously wrong and called the emergency vet who said to bring her right in.

What’s the best mindset for heading to the emergency vet—or dealing with any difficult situation? While it’s probably the most common reaction, I would suggest that it’s not fear and jumping to the worst case scenario.

You might be thinking, “Come on. You were at the emergency vet. Of course that’s scary.”

As Bruce Schneider says, “Normal does not mean necessary.”

That was my opportunity. To shift how I responded to the situation from fear to being more focused on my compassion for Buffy, my confidence in the care she was getting, my allowing the situation to unfold, and my responding to what was rather than what might be.

I’ll admit that it was a bit of an internal Ping-Pong match all afternoon. Fear and worry was shifted to consciously choosing to be present and compassionate in order to give the best possible support to Buffy. Anger that it was taking so long was shifted to compassion for the more serious injuries that were being seen ahead of us, and gratitude to the caring and professional staff.

How we show up in every situation is a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, particularly if we have some long-standing beliefs about “bad” situations. But thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are made of energy, not marble. If they are not moving you where you want to go, you do have the power to change them.

I know that it was better for Buffy, David, and me when I was being present, confident in her well-being and in the veterinarians, and appreciative of the care and service we were receiving compared to the moments when I was fearful, doubting, and worried.

We don’t know for sure what Buffy got in to. All the tests they ran turned out to be negative. After a massive shot of antibiotics and ant-nausea medicine, we were able to bring her home, where she’s been enjoying some TLC and a special diet that she seems to think is a treat. In this instance, all that stress and worry truly was unnecessary.

If this happens again, my goal is to stay present and optimistic, and to choose my responses based on what is happening, rather than what I fear might happen. Each time I show up in a challenging situation a little more like who I want to be, the more I will be that person.

What can you do to let go of fear, doubt, and worry in a situation where you might automatically have those responses? How does your making a different choice impact those around you? What’s the benefit of your showing up more consistently as the person you want to be?

Together we can do it!


Photo by Hansje Gold-Kreuck

Go For the Bigger Joy

“I’ll feel good if I eat that piece of chocolate cake.”

Clients tell me all the time that their joy in life comes from eating. They think they’ll be bereft of happiness if they aren’t able to eat what they want, when they want.

But how true is this? What I’ve found is that these kinds of short-term happiness jolts are more than outweighed by the guilt and negative self-talk that results.

This makes sense when you think about the energy behind the thoughts.

Negative catabolic thoughts and emotions release the stress hormone cortisol, adrenaline, and other chemicals that literally cannibalize your body. They break down your immune system, stress your heart, and impact your muscles. Over time, this catabolic energy can cause everything from painful trigger points in your shoulders, to inflammation, to heart attacks. It can even impact your metabolism making it easier to gain and harder to release weight.

Positive anabolic thoughts and emotions allow your body to work for you down to the cellular level. Choosing a more constructive anabolic reaction releases endorphins and body supporting hormones that help your body heal, rebuild, and flow with physical energy.

Just like thoughts can be anabolic or catabolic, food can be anabolic or catabolic, meaning it’s either supporting your body or it’s hindering it. And sometimes what we think about our food can make it more or less anabolic or catabolic.

For instance, if you eat something “healthy” but you resent it and feel deprived, how anabolic is that going to be?

If you eat something “bad” but feel totally satisfied and appreciative and content, how catabolic is that going to be? What if you feel guilty about eating that same food?

The greatest potential for joy comes when our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and actions are all in alignment.

This is why following your eating plan and choosing an orange—most of the time—over a piece of cake or cookies results in a bigger and more sustainable jolt of joy. And when you do choose the piece of cake, it is important to totally and fully appreciate the experience of eating it.

What can you do today to go for the bigger joy you get from sticking to your plan to achieve what it is you really want in life? What difference does that make in your ability to reach your goals? How does that impact how much you enjoy life right now?

Together we can do it!


Photo from


Are You Feeling the Joy?

I love feeling unbridled optimism and joy! Wanting to sing at the top of my lungs and dance because it feels so good!

Interestingly, one of the places this exuberance erupts is in the middle of running high intensity intervals. Even when I’m so out of breath that I can’t sing or clap, I sometimes just pump my arms. The joy just has to be expressed!

Yes, most of the time I’m running on the treadmill at home so I have no inhibitions, but my husband will tell you that it doesn’t really matter if I’m out on the street. I’m a dance walker and runner, baby!

Perhaps it’s just endorphins. Perhaps it’s the increased oxygen flow to my brain. Perhaps it’s just the beat of the music. Perhaps it’s the series of minor concussions I had as a kid. So what! Who cares? It’s anabolic and I love it!

And it’s a gift that keeps on giving. That amazing feeling of being in love with life continues way longer than the 35 minutes I’m on the treadmill. It boosts my energy and positive feeling all day long.

What does that boost do? It makes me more loving and patient with the people in my life. It allows me to let go of little things that don’t matter. It enables me to get more done—and to do it with a better attitude.

It goes deeper than that. When we’re experiencing this kind of positive anabolic energy, it has the power to rebuild the body at the cellular level. This is why laughter is called the best medicine.

Who wouldn’t want to take this if it were a drug?

Exercise is one way I get the anabolic energy flowing. How about you? What are you doing that brings out the most joy, appreciation, and love? How could you do more of that? What impact might that have on your wellness—and your life?

Together we can do it!

Photo by