How to “Reset” Your Day

We’ve all had mornings where we hit every red light, every slow driver, every traffic jam, every computer issue, we had a spat with our partner, our kid had a meltdown, a client is being completely unreasonable, or any number of other challenges. After enough repeats of these types of incidents, we resolve that it’s just going to be one of those days. We resign ourselves to a bad day, which really becomes the power of suggestion in action – we expect bad things, we look for bad things, and the Universe mirrors these expectations.

A better way to approach a run of unfortunate events is to reset your day. Instead of just trying to survive it, start over. Here are 10 actions you can take to reset your day:

  • Take some deep breaths – proper breathing means your belly should expand, not your chest. Belly breathing ensures oxygen gets into the blood stream and is distributed throughout the body. It also releases endorphins (those ‘feel good’ hormones). Both of these perks reduce stress.
  • Give yourself a pep talk – You have your own inner coach, so engage with that aspect of your psyche and remind yourself that a few back-to-back challenges doesn’t have to mean a bad day – unless you let it.
  • Slow down – When we find ourselves chasing our daily tasks, rushing from one thing to the next, we can exacerbate our troubles by forcing ourselves to be so reactive. Get in a proactive state of mind. Slow down and try to plan a few aspects of your day. Write a to-do list, get your thoughts down on paper and collect yourself to take back control.
  • Get your blood pumping – Engage in a short interval of exercise. Jog in place, do some push-ups, run out to the car, go for a brisk walk, etc. All of these will get your heart rate up and stress level down.
  • Do a power pose – What the heck are these? Stand like Wonder Woman (or Superman), or sit like a cocky executive (hands clasped behind head, elbows out, feet up on the desk, and wear a cocky grin for good measure). 2 minutes will raise your endorphins and testosterone and lower your stress hormones. (c’mon, you could do this in a bathroom stall if you had to!)
  • Play music that gets you jazzed – Anthem songs were made for moments like these. These are the songs that if you’re in your car or kitchen, you crank it up and rock out! Any music of your choosing that gets you jazzed up and back in the game will do.
  • Visualize pressing a “Reset” button – Really, try it, what do you have to lose?
  • View some relaxing photos – It’s autumn, so there are plenty of beautiful New England trees changing colors, or maybe it’s looking at the photos of loved ones. Any photos that relax you or bring you joy will work.
  • Watch something funny – There is no end to the options on the internet intended to make you laugh. It could be unfortunate videos (that drunk aunt dancing on a table at a wedding), or just funny saying on Pinterest. There’s something for every kind of humor.
  • Watch animal videos – These are a dime a dozen, but seeing a cat sleeping in a dog bed while the dog sheepishly sleeps on the hard and cold wood floor is just a smile maker.

It’s easy to get swept up in our circumstances, especially when we are knee-deep in them. But we have to remember that we always have some level of control. Take back control of your day. You may not be able to control every circumstance, but you can control how you react to them. Even just an attitude adjustment is often all you need to get back on the rails of a good, productive day. If all else fails, rest on the thought that “this too shall pass.”

Your turn! Tell me which one of these is your favorite or that you’re most excited to try. Put it in the comments section!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Choosing the Kind of Day You’d Like to Have

Wouldn’t it be nice to choose what kind of day to have? As if we’d pick anything other than Great!! But believe it or not, that’s very often exactly what we do. We CHOOSE to have a less than great day. We contribute to every situation in our life. In every facet of it, we have control. Maybe not total control, but we always have some. That’s true in our career, relationships, health, and any other area. We obviously can’t control everything that happens, but we can control much of how we react to it. And it all starts with our attitude.

Your attitude is simply a reflection of what you are thinking and/or feeling inside, and how that is expressed through your language, tone and/or body language. Think of someone who is playful, smiling, and laughing. They are expressing a positive attitude. Now think of someone who is dreading a meeting they don’t want to go to, they don’t see why they have to go and it’s just going to be a waste of their time. Do you think they will reflect this in their attitude? You better believe it. In both scenarios, those individuals are choosing the kind of day they want to have. Of course there are situations that make it difficult to express anything other than how we are feeling, like when we’ve lost someone we love. I’m not talking about those extreme, highly emotional times. I’m talking about just our average day-to-day stuff.

An example that comes to mind is a time I was copied on an email that I thought was unprofessional, crass, abrasive, and self-serving. There was no response required from me, I was just witnessing it. I was burnt up over this email for two days. Every time I thought of it I’m sure my blood pressure went up, I would rant about it for several minutes in my head, thinking how idiotic the sender was. Then I thought about how I could address it with them. What I might say to this errant person who clearly needed a talking to. And then it occurred to me…what was I getting so fired up about? The email certainly could have been written with more class and tact, but it wasn’t written with the intent to create this reaction. And even if it was, there was no need to let it ruin my day. So guess what? With a little effort, I let it go. Just like that. Once I realized I was blaming someone else for ruining my day, and unnecessarily so, I changed my tune and turned that attitude around. This is choosing what kind of day to have.

When we recognize that we have a choice, it changes things. That tailgater? It’s not personal, they always do that. The slow car in the fast lane? They aren’t even paying attention. This list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Letting these annoying things dictate what kind of day you’re going to have is just a bad plan. One way to improve this is to quiz yourself. Marshall Goldsmith talks about this in his book, Triggers. He uses questions each day to assess how he did. The first three are from him.

  • Did I do my best to be happy in my life today?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships in my life today?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged in my life today?
  • Did I do my best to take control and live a life by MY design today?
  • Did I do my best to add value to others today?
  • Did I do my best to let the little stuff go?

This daily self-assessment can really make a difference with your circumstances and your attitude. Some days will be better than others, but that’s okay. Just do your best. So tell me, what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section. What do you do to make your days good days?

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

 

 

Small Habits Make a Big Difference

When we have an area in our life that we want to improve on, there are two common missteps we take that squash our efforts. The first is envisioning the difficulty. We start thinking of how hard and seemingly impossible it would be to achieve that goal. The second misstep is biting off more than we can chew, and completely rearranging our life to achieve the goal. Both of these result in an unachieved or unsustained goal. This is discouraging and results in some pretty negative self-talk whenever we are reminded of it. Let’s unpack these for a moment before I share the small fix that makes a big impact to combat them.

When we have a goal, before we even start working towards it, we imagine what we might have to do to achieve it. And in just a few short seconds, we have imagined the virtual impossibility of making that goal a reality. It may be the effort we think we’d have to put in, or the length of time we think we would have to work at it. But often, it’s just the thought that keeps us from taking action. For example, if you wanted to lose 20lbs, you think how nice it would be, but then you picture having to get up early (when you already don’t get enough sleep) to workout. You’d also have to skip sugars and carbs like all.the.time. Your BFF’s are getting together for a dinner in a few weeks, so you’d have to drink water and eat a salad? No thanks! If I want to be miserable, I’d rather be miserable being 20lbs heavier and eating what I want, thank you very much! This is what happens when we envision the difficulty.

If you are able to dodge this goal-crusher, worry not, its cousin is just around the corner. In this scenario, you are beyond excited and motivated to achieve your goal. You have an aggressive plan of attack. You are going to annihilate that goal. In the example of the 20lbs, you are going to workout every day for at least one hour. You will sign up for multiple classes: cycling, yoga, core work, and kettle bells. No sugar, no carbs, no gluten, no dairy. Protein, protein, protein. You will exhibit the most impressive will power anyone has ever seen. Sounds great, and may even work for a little while, but eventually, you are going to hit a wall. Hard. You will be so exhausted from working so hard, sacrificing so much, that you will have nothing left. And so, the wall will win, you will feel defeated and sooth yourself with a gallon of ice cream, a bottle of wine, and/or some cheesy garlic bread. This is the result of biting off more than you can chew (pun intended).

There is a much better way to achieve our goals and maintain them. Ready? It’s by implementing small habits. I know, you’re thinking it will take too long to achieve your goal this way. However, our small habits are so much more powerful than we think. This goes for both good and bad ones. If you get into the habit of watching TV every night after dinner, this can lead to snacking on unhealthy treats, and falling asleep too early, which disrupts your sleep during the night, leaving you tired the next day. This lack of sleep can lead to sugar and carb cravings and over-consumption of coffee. The cycle will gradually worsen unless a healthier habit is developed. All from one, seemingly harmless, habit of watching TV after dinner.

Switch that with a good habit and the story changes dramatically. Instead of TV, start walking for 30 minutes every night after dinner. This gives you some energy to make a healthy lunch for work the next day. You sleep better through the night, and eat better the next day. Before you know it, you are walking up to an hour most days (because you want to), losing weight and toning muscles. Your pre-made lunches are healthy and save you money each week. All from one small habit change.

The key to the change is making the habit so small and achievable that it isn’t difficult to see yourself doing it for, well, maybe forever. Healthier habits will follow down the road, and you will welcome them instead of seeing them as a chore. Pretty cool, right? For you finance buffs out there, this is compounding in action. This process works in business, health, parenting, and relationships. It works for anything. It’s all about the small habits; the small changes.

If you read last week’s post, you know ACTION is the name of the game! What is ONE small habit you could start doing that could put you on the path to goal achievement? If you’re a whiz at this, share the small steps that have proven successful for you already. Post them in the comments section.

Nothing conquers a goal faster than some reinforcements.

If you are REALLY ready to make that change you’ve been thinking about, let’s strategize together. I offer a free Empowerment Session to my readers.

Email me at April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com to set up your session.

Are You Stuck in the Planning Place?

Planning is important, sure. There are all sorts of things in life that are better with planning, but too often we can get stuck there. Especially if the next step requires leaving our comfort zone. We tend to over-value the need for planning, and under-value our resourcefulness. I bet you know a couple who didn’t plan on getting pregnant but it happened. I bet they figured it out. How about when a major, expensive car repair becomes necessary? We figure it out. We either figure out how to come up with the money, or we figure out how to do without the car.

What area of your life is stuck in the Planning Place? You KNOW you aren’t happy where you’re at in this area, and yet you fool yourself into thinking that just because you did a Google Search, made a phone call, tossed it around in your mind, or mentioned something about it, that you’ve just got to wait now until the “right” answer presents itself. Or maybe you are actively planning and trying to prepare and consider every conceivable outcome before you decide which path to take. Enough is enough. You have to make a move.

Have you ever been detoured while driving and for whatever reason not only were there no signs to direct you, but you didn’t have a GPS to help you find your way back to your route? I’m willing to bet, you found your way to your destination. You may have even taken a wrong turn. You may have even had to ask someone for directions. Or stop and turn on Google maps. Or you took the really, really, realllllly long way there. But you got there. Because you’re resourceful. Would you have gotten there if you just stopped the car and considered every other possible route? NO. You would not have made any progress getting there until you started moving the vehicle again.

Planning, in and of itself, does not move you forward. It is only when you ACT on your planning that movement begins. You have to start moving. You can’t possibly plan for everything anyway. And you don’t have to do this alone. There are resources everywhere, but no one can make the first move but you. If you’re unhappy with your health, DO something about it. Doing is different from Planning. There is a good chance that whatever the end result is that you are considering, there are a whole bunch of small steps you would need to take before you got there anyway.

If you want to learn how to ride a bike, you could read a manual about it. This could be the best manual ever made on the topic. It covers everything you would ever need to know about riding a bike. But until you RIDE the bike, you will not be any closer to the end result of being an experienced bike rider. Take a small step. You can adjust as you go, but you’ve got to go. Life is way too short to spend it planning, and never doing. There are so many possibilities out there. There is not just one path to Happiness. There are many, many paths. Chose one and if you have to alter your course later because you don’t like the one you’re on, you’ll do that.

How about you share some successes? What’s an action you took at some point in your life that truly changed your path and resulted in a positive outcome? Share in the comments section.

Do you need a resource to help nudge you out of the Planning Place and into Action? That’s my Jam! Email me at April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com to set up your FREE strategy session. It’s time for you to take back your power!!

How Setting a Daily Intention Can Improve Your Life

Starting your day with an intention may seem obvious. Don’t we all start our day with the intention of being on time, having a good day, getting our work done, not strangling an annoying co-worker, and other similar goals? For the most part, yes. Many have to-do lists that they intend to complete. But I’m not talking about THOSE intentions (important though they are). I’m talking about an intention that will apply to all areas of your life from the moment you wake right through to the moment you go to sleep.

These do not need to (and really shouldn’t) be complicated, lengthy intentions. They should be intentions that you can apply at work, home, etc. For example, your intention may be to “be positive.” You can apply this everywhere. You start thinking about what a great day you’re going to have, you talk yourself up on the drive in, not seeing that third red light as a “sign” of a bad day to come. You walk with a little pep in your step and smile in greeting to others. You avoid complaining about the loud phone talker, gum snapper, know-it-all and water cooler gossiper…because you set the intention to be positive. When you get home, you focus on not whining about your day, and handling the limited dinner options (since you forgot to go to the grocery store), in stride.

Some moments will be easier than others; some days will be more successful, too. But when you set your focus, things HAPPEN! Good things. Your intention could simply be one word, like “confidence.” So you will go through your day talking yourself up. You look good, you’re interesting, you have great ideas to contribute, you walk tall and speak with authority. Get the idea?

Here are some helpful guidelines for your intentions (but keep in mind, there are no rules here).

  • Keep it simple and general enough to apply throughout your day.
  • Make it relevant to an area of your life you’re trying to improve (like the positivity and confidence examples used above).
  • Make it a little challenging, but not too much…it will likely get more difficult as the day progresses.
  • Your intention is best phrased as something you will do as opposed to something you won’t do. (If you have “don’t be negative” going through your mind all day, the word that stands out is “negative,” which will make it harder to avoid.)
  • Change it as often as you like. Some prefer daily intentions, others weekly or monthly.
  • Reflect on how you did. Replay the day and think of how many times you focused on and applied that intention to various situations.
  • Celebrate your wins. Even if there weren’t as many as you had hoped. Progress is progress.

Having a clear intention every day will help you be who you want to be. If you’re trying to improve your attention to detail, “pay attention to the details” is a great intention to have. You are channeling all that energy towards something good. Having intentions just float around in our brains doesn’t help us improve. We need to clearly state it! Do this every day…you will absolutely notice the improvement after just one day!

This week’s commenting is going to be FUN!! State your intention. That’s it. No explanation required. Just tell me in the comments section what your intention is. Overachievers are welcome to come back and share how successful the exercise was for them.

Would you like to put even more energy towards an area of your life you’d like to improve? I have an arsenal of tools, techniques, strategies and methods to get you where you want to be quicker! Email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com and we’ll set up your complimentary strategy session.

Creating White Space in Your Life

In web and print design, “white space” is very important. White space is what surrounds the content. It appears to be nothingness – blank space. While this element often goes unnoticed, it’s obvious when it’s missing. You know when you open a book and print is filling almost every inch of the page? Typically, that’s overwhelming and we are much more likely to put that book down (or dread having to read it). For this same reason, it’s important to have “white space” in life.

White space often seems as if it isn’t doing anything, but that’s untrue. In fact, most of us seek out white space, unconsciously. When you’re organizing or rearranging furniture; when you declutter or clean. These activities are often how we create white space in our lives. Our physical spaces need this as much as our psychological and emotional ones do.

Many years ago, when I was a smoker, there were two primary reasons I enjoyed smoking so much: It required deep breathing (which we now know is relaxing) and it gave me 5 minutes of white space. Thankfully, I have since found much healthier ways to create white space in my life. Here are my favs:

  • Sitting on my front porch people watching
  • Reading an interesting book
  • Taking a long drive/ride
  • Listening to music or a podcast
  • Reflecting as I drift off to sleep or wake in the morning
  • Spending quality time with my family and friends
  • Hiking or walking
  • Getting a massage or spa treatment
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Biking
  • Running
  • Napping
  • Relaxing at the beach
  • Gardening
  • Having a good ‘ol cry

To some, these activities may seem unproductive and without value, but they are examples of life’s white space. They relax, calm, quiet or center our mind. This is important because it prepares us for the busy “content” of life – work, family, kids, responsibility. These white space activities allow us to avoid overwhelm, tension and stress.

If you’re feeling overwhelm, tension and/or stress, work on creating white space. Are you filling your time with too many tasks or activities that don’t calm you? Check your physical spaces too. Are your bookshelves lined end to end with books you haven’t looked at in years (and likely never will)? Has the kitchen table become the “catch-all” for mail, papers, and other clutter? This content is taking over your white space. Have you ever had an important project deadline approaching and promptly began organizing your desk? This is not just a sign of procrastination, but an unconscious desire for some white space. Listening to the signals your body and mind send you will help you find the space you need to be at your best.

Your turn: How do YOU create white space in your life? Share in the comments section so we all can benefit from your wisdom!

Would you like to find some white space sooner rather than later?

You’re in luck! Email me at AuthenticLifeChronicles@gmail.com to set up a complimentary strategy session, and together we’ll find just what you need!

Facebook is Not a Diary – 5 Etiquette Violations to Avoid

I LOVE Facebook. I remember when I first caught the Facebook bug. I totally skipped My Space, so I was completely out of the social media loop, until I bumped into a high school friend in passing who said, “So good to see you, look me up on Facebook.” And the rest is history. I so enjoy reading up on where life has taken those friends from my past, the pictures, the stories, the connection! But it doesn’t come without its issues, too.

This holiday weekend, I’d like to have a little fun and cover some Facebook basics. I know some will totally know where I’m coming from, while others will be a bit taken aback. The intent here is for all of us to do a quick self-assessment to make sure we are following Facebook etiquette and not being talked about (hopefully anonymously) at small gatherings. I’m not the only one who has posted some lovey-dovey Facebook post about loving everybody while under the influence of a wine (or three). No hate. But remember, these posts don’t just “go away”. They can be found by employers, family, friends, and foes even after they’ve been deleted.

Facebook Etiquette Violation #1 – Public fighting – Dogging the one who did you wrong, even when not mentioning names, is awkward and uncomfortable for readers. There’s a good chance we all know who you’re talking about. We may even be mutual friends with this person. A nasty divorce, drama-filled family issue or a backstabbing former-best-friend are issues that come to mind. This does not paint offenders in an ‘aww-poor-them’ light. Rather, it looks immature and catty to engage in such passive-aggressive public smearing. Even if/when we know the poster is right. It’s like making eye contact with someone in the locker room shower. Awkward.

Facebook Etiquette Violation #2 – Dropping a hook, then leaving – There is almost nothing more annoying than when someone posts something like, “Worst day ever…” “Maybe it’s time to just throw in the towel…” and then they disappear like a small plane in the Bermuda triangle. You ask if everything is ok, or “what’s wrong?” only to be met with silence. Or maybe a cursory, “it’s been a bad day”. If you need support from your Facebook friends, and publically announce this, it’s okay, but don’t disappear. It’s rude.

Facebook Etiquette Violation #3 – Chain Mail-like posts – I love all of my Facebook friends. I want all of them to be happy, healthy, successful, loved and financially secure. But for the love of all things holy…do NOT send me a “Send this to 12 other wonderful people in your life or you’re going to rot in hell for all eternity” type posts! I won’t play! (ok, if I do, I’m only sending it back to you…no one else!)

Facebook Etiquette Violation #4 – Graphic Images – I am an animal lover. Almost to a fault. But PLEASE do not visually assault me with unsolicited graphic images of animals being tortured, mutilated or in their final resting places after meeting a terrible death. I care, I love animals, but those images haunt me, hurt me and DO NOT make me donate to a cause. EVER! This goes for humans, too. I don’t want to see this stuff. It’s the exact reason I don’t watch television. It distracts me from what I can do and reminds me (in Technicolor) of bad things that happen. I know they happen; I don’t need to see the pictures.

Facebook Etiquette Violation #5 – TMI – I can be an open book as much as the next open-book person, but I don’t want to hear about EVERYTHING through Facebook. If we’re having a one-on-one conversation, that’s one thing. But when I see someone over share incredible detail on a highly private matter on Facebook with their 300+ friends, it’s just…uncomfortable. Facebook is not an intimate setting. These conversations are best reserved for besties and life coaches (hello), not the masses.

I hope you fared well in this self-assessment (I’m guilty of a few myself) and even found yourself giggling. No self-hate if you didn’t score perfectly, just consider it a learning experience to add to all the rest life provides. And if you disagree, well that’s fine too. I mean really, who am I, the Facebook Etiquette police? Seeing as I live in a glass house, I’ll opt out of throwing stones. However, if you think someone you care about would appreciate or benefit from these “totally-made-up-rules”, then by all means, share, share away!

Your turn…Share your thoughts on the topic. Am I totally off here? Can you relate with some of these? Did I miss any violations? Sharing is caring. Head to the comments section!

Have you been using Facebook like a Life Coach? Not very beneficial, huh? Email me at AuthenticLifeChronicles@gmail.com to set up your complimentary strategy session with a real Life Coach. I promise you’ll see better results!

 

 

Hello Mid-Life Crisis

I have just wrapped up an incredibly stressful six weeks. I unexpectedly lost my mom, my youngest had her senior prom and graduated from high school, and my oldest purchased his first home with his sweetheart. For the past 23+ years, my identity has been firmly defined by two things: being a caretaker to my parents; and being a mom. I’ve now lost both of my parents, and while I’m still, of course, a mom, I’m not needed the same way I was when they were little. This puts me square at “Welcome to Mid-Life Crisis.” Not the, leave my husband buy a Mustang mid-life crisis (I already have a Mustang), but rather the “who the hell am I?” mid-life crisis. I can’t answer that right now, but I’ve got plenty of resources to explore this question.

There are so many women (and men) who have crossed this bridge and likely have wonderful, sage advice to share. To you, I ask that you share it in the comments section, I’m all ears. To the rest; to the others who are on this same journey, or know you will be on this journey someday, I’m going to share my strategy for navigating these new waters.

Disclaimer: I may be totally wrong, so please know that I am sharing advice that I have not personally tested yet, so take it at your own risk.

Who am I? Such a profound question. I can’t answer that in less than 700 words. And even if I could, I would likely have an entirely different answer tomorrow. But I still have to have some idea. What is my purpose? To make both of these questions easier, I’m going to alter them by adding the word “today” at the end of each of them. Who am I today? What is my purpose today? It seems to me that these questions are much easier to answer. I can do that. I can respond to those questions intelligently, today. It’s like A.A. for the lost-in-mid-lifer’s. One day at a time. I don’t know, but that sounds pretty doable to me.

In celebration of my daughter’s high school graduation, and my son and his sweetheart’s first home, we took a family cruise. It was my first cruise and there were certainly some life lessons there. For one, we didn’t worry about what we were doing tomorrow beyond breakfast. We planned our day one step at a time. We didn’t focus on filling time with lots of activities, rather we just took it moment by moment. I kind of think this is (mostly) how life should be. We spent virtually no time looking at our calendars. We just talked and did what seemed right at the moment. We also had the luxury (yup, luxury) of not having any cell service or free Wi-Fi. So cell phones stayed in the cabin. We truly lived in the present. What a gift.

I think this is the answer to that mid-life crisis. I don’t have a label to apply to my identity right now. That’s ok. I’m going to explore and investigate and live in the moment. I bought nothing as a souvenir on our trip. Really. No hat, shirt, bag, key chain, shot glass or personalized starfish. I just savored each moment. I swam in the now. I’m going to hold close to me only those things that are truly important in my life. I remember my dad saying he could count on one hand the people most important in his life. Now I know what he meant (even though I might need two hands).

After six long, exhausting weeks, I’m ready. I’m ready to discover, explore and open my heart to the next chapter. I will happily explore this chapter day by day. What’s your plan? Tell us in the comments section.

What’s your purpose? Who are you?

Would you like help answering these questions for yourself? I will be your sounding board. I will be your buoy while you figure out your next move. Contact me at AuthenticLifeChronicles@gmail.com for your complimentary strategy session.

 

Women vs. Women – Part III

Nothing moves you up the “ladder” quicker and more efficiently than someone who has already made the climb and would like to help you. This experienced person can tell you what they did right and wrong so you don’t have to learn those lessons the hard way. Of course, you’ll have your own lessons to learn but someday you’ll pay it forward to some up-and-comer. Ladies, I have two words: If only…

Welcome to the third and final post on the topic of misogyny – dislike, contempt, or prejudice against women. The first post talked about body and appearance shaming, the second covered slut shaming and now this week I’ll cover the general lack of support, specifically in professional settings, where women tend to reinforce misogyny. My research uncovered many examples of this happening to women, by women. For example, in Jaimie Seaton’s article, “The Myth of Sisterhood,” she shares that one theory behind this behavior is based on the idea that women have to work so hard for professional achievements, that bringing another woman into her circle can be too risky.

As if this isn’t enough of a roadblock, worry not, there are plenty more. As many of us know, when women behave similarly to men, they are judged differently (by both men AND women). While a man behaving assertively would be considered assertive, a woman behaving that way is often considered difficult or bossy. Men acting strategically are respected; whereas, women are seen as manipulative. Take the Heidi/Howard case study that’s been replicated multiple times. In the study, college students are provided with details about Howard Roizen, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and asked to rate him. Both male and female students viewed him positively, overall. However, using the exact same description and information, but changing the name from Howard to Heidi produced very different results. Students found her competent, but not someone they would want to work for.

Esther Cepeda shared in her Washington Post article that a 2013 Gallup poll found that “women are likelier than men to express a preference to not be supervised on the job by a woman.” I’m am sorry to admit that for years I said exactly that. Repeatedly. What a terrible thing to teach my daughter. What a terrible thing to teach my son.

Women face additional challenges in the workplace as research has shown that gender bias rears its ugly head in performance evaluations, which affect advancement opportunities for women. It’s no big revelation that when women behave assertively or confidently, they are often perceived as ‘abrasive.’ It was found that constructive feedback and suggestions were often provided to men, yet women received only the criticism. Caroline Simard, Director of Research at the Clayman Institute, says in an interview with HR C-Suite, that these micro-inequities have a “cumulative disadvantage over a woman’s career over time, resulting in lower access to key leadership positions and stretch assignments, advancement and pay.” Consider professional orchestras. Despite the insistence that there was no gender bias in the selection process, orchestras have always been predominantly male. However, having musicians audition behind a screen increased the likelihood that a woman would advance by 50%.

The workplace is not the only environment where women are pulling each other down. Women judge each other based on their choices to return to work or stay home following the birth of a child; choosing bottle feeding over nursing; public schools over private schools, whether to have children or not; and on and on.

This misogyny carried out by women must stop. I was oblivious to how my behavior impacted my fellow women, as well as myself. My research forced me to change.

Ladies, we need to empower each other. Robbing each other of power and control creates an up-hill battle for all women. If we ever want to see equality in the workplace, both in pay and opportunities, support of each other will be paramount. Mentorship, sponsorship, support and coaching will need to take place at a high level. Only when we have conquered these roadblocks, will we find ourselves on level ground with men.

I hope you have found these posts enlightening. I hope they validated any experiences you or a woman in your life has had, but mostly I hope that you see how you can change your perspective too, and find ways to support women in a bigger, better way.

Today, my youngest, my daughter, graduates high school. I want her to feel supported and encouraged to live a life where she is credited for her inner beauty, rather than her outward appearance. A life where she can discover who she is as a human being; not trapped by rules that apply only to women. I want her to pursue her career and life goals and be coached, mentored and lifted up by other women who can help her along the way.

Every woman I know, (yup, even the ones I don’t particularly like) has something to offer other women. Some nugget of experience or knowledge or perspective that would be so valuable to another. Tell us in the comments section something you have done, or another woman has done for you, that made you feel supported, encouraged and valued.

Would you like to work on embracing your femininity and sharing your strengths with others? Contact me at AuthenticLifeChronicles@gmail.com to set up a complimentary strategy session to turn your goals into accomplishments.

Women vs. Women – Part II

In high school, there was nothing worse for a girl than to be labeled a slut or a tease. As I look back on that now, it occurs to me that even way back then, there was “girl code”. The Urban Dictionary defines “Girl Code” as the guidelines all girls must follow in order to not “get kicked out of the community.” Women belong to multiple “communities.” There are familial communities, professional, religious, academic and many others. Nothing gets a girl kicked out of a community faster than one who is labeled as a slut.

This is Part 2 of a three-part series on how women contribute to misogyny (hate towards women), which is based on a research paper I recently did on the topic. While last week was how women shame other women based on body or appearance expectations, this week is all about slut-shaming.

Societal rules dictating appropriate sexual behaviors for women are far from new; however, the line is getting increasingly blurred. Young women are being sent mixed messages. Sexualizing is rampant in advertising, media and entertainment today (hello, Fifty Shades…) and yet when imitated, women are scorned. This is typically a non-issue for men, at least when it comes to their own behavior or those of their male peers.

Women who try to defy this sexual double-standard often find themselves being judged and labeled. The Bachelorette, is a perfect example of this. Melissa Locker‘s Time.com article, “Is The Bachelorette Already Slut-Shaming Kaitlyn Bristowe?”, proves this. For those who don’t watch the series, each episode the bachelorette’s pool of suiters narrows. When only three men remain, things change a bit. During each of their individual dates the couple can choose to spend the night together without the cameras present. In most cases, the couple decides to stay together in a fantasy suite. Season eleven’s bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe states the importance of having a physical attraction in a relationship. However, when a teaser clip is shown of future episodes, a sobbing and seemingly shame-filled bachelorette admits to the remaining two men that she had sex in the fantasy suite. Bristowe received a significant dose of slut shaming by viewers, many of whom were women. Claire Fallon, culture writer for the Huffington Post, reported that a study by Vocativ found that over a nearly one-month period, over 7,000 tweets using the bachelorette hashtag had slut shaming comments directed towards Bristowe following her sex confession. This type of shaming is virtually unseen when the male leads on The Bachelor behave similarly (or even worse.)

Consider the circumstances surrounding the 1998 Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski scandal. Despite the complicated dynamics that inevitably exist between a 22-year-old intern and a 52-year-old high-powered President, some of Monica Lewinski’s toughest critics were women.

New York Magazine, reporting on the story relayed how during her adolescence, Ms. Lewinski “spent two summers at a fat camp, where she ‘paid particular attention to the boys.’” HUH?? What heterosexual female teen DOESN’T pay particular attention to the boys? Would a similar story stating that Bill Clinton had paid “particular attention to the girls during high school”, have been as newsworthy? I reckon not. Monica was vilified for her behavior as a 22-year-old, but also for her behavior as a pubescent teen. Can you imagine having our entire character based on our behavior during our teen years? I don’t think many of us would fare well if this were the case.

In order for misogyny by women to stop, it first needs to be acknowledged. As a woman, mother and coach, it is very difficult for me to admit that I have partaken in these behaviors, however, I cannot pretend otherwise. I have passed judgement on other women and criticized their choices. My research has forced me to look in the mirror and acknowledge my mistakes and take measures to behave differently. As women, we have a responsibility to end the sexual double standard and maintain the same expectations for both men and women.

After all the hurdles we have leapt over as women, this is one area that continues to elude us. While I’m not endorsing promiscuity in women or men, I do think it’s well past time that we, at the very least, hold the same standards for both sexes.  We need to teach our daughters about having healthy views of sexuality instead of unhealthy views of labels. This starts with women (this includes me) being less judgmental about the sexual behaviors of other women. ‘nuf said.

I KNOW this topic is going to provoke some strong feelings. I’d love to know what you think and challenge you to share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section…the only rule is this: Ask yourself if the rules you have for women are the same you have for men. Now GO!

Would you like to work on freeing yourself from the double standard? Are you part of or know a group who would benefit from my research? I am available for both private coaching and speaking engagements. Email me at AuthenticLifeChronicles@gmail.com to set up a free consultation or to set up a speaking engagement.