BE THE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
How can you find happiness during this uncertainty?
1.) Every morning write down 3-5 things you're grateful for.
2.) Tell someone you're thankful for them - let's start a social media challenge by tagging someone you're grateful for and using the hashtag #showupwithgratitude
3.) Go outside and enjoy the solitude with nature.
4.) Watch or listen to something inspiring - I love Rachel Hollis, Brene Brown, and Tony Robbins! (Other than my own podcast of course).
5.) Dance party! Crank the music and let loose! Don't worry about how you look. Let go and have fun!
6.) Slow down and breathe. Try 4 counts in, holding for 4 counts, and then releasing for 4 counts.
**Feel the feelings. Don't ignore or feel shame about your feelings. If you need to cry, cry. If you're mad, yell. Be kind to yourself and to others. Let me know if there is something else you are doing that's helping you find or spread joy!
It's been said that every over night success is about 10 years in the making...As some of you know, I am an actress. I just got home from working two days on set for a SAG national commercial. The commercial is 30 seconds long and I have one line. Yet, my one line in this commercial is the biggest thing I've ever booked and will easily pay me the most.
It seems like such a small accomplishment and achievement, yet it is 10 years in the making. A lot of times we look to others' success but we don't see or know the hard work behind it.
Here are some of the sacrifices that I made over the past 10 years: I spent 2 years in Des Moines, Iowa driving to Minneapolis and Kansas City (3+ hours one way) for a 10 minute audition. I moved away from my family and friends to Los Angeles. I worked jobs that didn't pay the greatest so I could have flexibility when last minute - sometimes same day - auditions came through. I juggled and I struggled. I continuously paid for acting classes, headshots, a website, etc. I moved to Atlanta. I had my confidence shattered after a long dry streak.
This booking has taught me so much about success. It's taught me that there is so much behind closed doors that we don't see. It has taught me that with persistence, eventually you will get to where you want to go if you don't give up. 10 years of hard work for 5 seconds on camera. And it was worth it all.
Before my mom passed away from brain cancer last year, the worst thing that had happened to me was my parents got divorced at 16 and I was bullied. Yes, those are hard things but I knew people who had experienced far worse.
I would compare my situation to their situation and I used to tell myself that I wasn't allowed or justified to be sad because my issues weren't as big as theirs. This led me to not deal with my feelings for years. During those years I remember feeling a constant lingering of pain and unhappiness. I didn't know why I felt that way but I knew I was unhappy. I was so angry on the inside.
It turns out, if you push your feelings away for long enough they eventually come up with a vengeance. That's exactly what happened. Finally, after close to 15 years everything came to a head.
I could no longer suppress my feelings. I was forced to deal with them. Ugh!
I spent 15 years trying to ignore my feelings because I didn't feel like they were worthy but the truth is, no matter what you've gone through, how you feel is worthy and valid.
Every person experiences things differently. Don't feel bad about your feelings. In fact, your feelings are an indicator of your happiness. If you are experiencing negative feelings or emotions that's a sign that something in your life is off and needs to be addressed. If you are a super negative person it's likely because you are unhappy in some area of your life.
4 Steps to check in with your feelings:
1.) On a scale of 1-10 how happy do you feel right now or in general?
2.) If you're feeling less than a 7 ask yourself why you're feeling this way?
3.) Be brutally honest with your response. Sometimes the truth hurts but it always leads to clarity and freedom. Journaling or speaking out loud might be very helpful.
4.) What action can you take today or this week? Maybe you need to create more fun in your life, maybe you need to research new job opportunities or leave a toxic relationship, or maybe you need to see a therapist to deal with past pain.
No matter what you're feeling or why, your feelings matter. Your feelings are like a little internal alarm that is letting you know something in your life is off and needs to be addressed or changed. For the longest time I was so unhappy but I just thought that was life. It doesn't have to be if you pay attention to what your feelings are and then take a small action forward.
I know what you may be thinking. "I don't have time for fun, I've got a business to run!"
I have spent the majority of my life trying to be successful with such force, push, and control that it led me to feel exhausted, unsatisfied, and burnt out.
It is my belief that you can only go so far by sheer force. I believe the goal in life is to do more things that you are pulled to and less things that you have to push yourself toward.
The hard part is finding things that pull you. Even some of the things I enjoy, like acting, became something I was forcing myself into. Life is never fun if you have to force yourself to do something.
If you feel like you are running into a brick wall trying to achieve your goals then maybe it's time to reevaluate. What's the point in achieving your goals if you're not enjoying the process or if you're not having fun?
I have found that when I let go of control and focus on having fun I have a lighter, happier disposition which makes me handle challenges better and be more excited for life as a whole.
An interesting byproduct of intentionally having more fun is that amazing opportunities have fallen into my lap. The same opportunities that I used to try so hard to achieve. As soon as I let go of control and just started doing things in life that make me happy great things came to me without my force or frustration.
3 Ways to Focus on Fun:
1.) Make a list of 20 things that make you happy. Some examples could be smell a new candle, going rollerblading, dancing, playing golf, playing the piano.
2.) Choose one of the things you listed and schedule it in your calendar. If you don't plan it, you wont do it. Get serious about having fun!
3.) Anytime you feel anxious, pissed, disappointed, or stressed go back to your list! If you make this a regular practice it will change your attitude, your wellbeing, and your life.
I once heard that the only difference between you and the people that have what you want is that the people who have what you want ask themselves more and better questions.
Are you asking yourself any questions? If you don't ask yourself questions, it's hard to move forward. If you want better results in your life, ask yourself better questions.
Here are the 5 top questions that have helped me find clarity and take action toward my purpose...
1.) What do I want? or What I really want in life is _______. This is a question that can be asked ask at any point when you feel lost, stuck, or unmotivated.
2.) How do I really feel about _______? This questions is hugely helpful when discovering your point of view about something. Being indifferent leads to uncertainty. Ask yourself the question and be honest with how you feel.
3.) What's really going on? I will ask myself this question if I'm in a bad mood and taking it out on someone else (usually my fiancé) or if I'm feeling scared, unmotivated, or full of resistance.
4.) What's the worst that can happen? If you are afraid to take action on something ask yourself what's the worst that can happen. Is it really that bad or are you making it much worse in your head?
5.) What's the best that can happen? Allow yourself to imagine the possibilities rather than focusing on your fears. Take action from a place of excitement rather than fear.
✨Don't just ask the questions. Really take some time to think about and respond to them as honestly and as in depth as you can. The more you understand yourself, the better off in life you will be. Ask and you shall receive.✨
Is there something in your life that feels hard, painful, or wrong?
For the longest time I was living my life thinking I needed to be a certain a way and do certain things - even though I dreaded doing those things. I would force myself to do things that I saw other people do because if it worked for them it surely would work for me too, right?
After years of living my life this way I realized that the reason I was miserable was because I wasn't listening to my inner self. I was saying yes to, and filling my life with, things that stressed me out and didn't make me feel good.
I didn't realize there is a connection between how I felt about something and whether or not I should do something. The way that you feel about a relationship, class, job, anything is the strongest indicator you have on whether or not you should move forward.
The way that you feel may be different than the way that others feel about something and so it can be tempting to think that their way is right but it will never be right for you if it's not YOUR truth. Only you know what's right for yourself.
Simply put, if it feels good it's a yes and you should move forward and if it feels bad it's a no and you should avoid that thing. It sounds so easy when I put it like that but our brain gets in the way and overcomplicates it because we will try to talk ourselves into (or out of) certain things, feel bad about hurting someone else, or make excuses because we're afraid. It's also complicated because there is a gray area.
Can things really as simple as yes or no? From my experience, the gray area is always a no. I try to live my life by the motto: Everything in life is either a heck yes or a heck no and if it's not a heck yes, it's a heck no."
This simple phrase applies to so many things. It applies to relationships, career decisions, purchase decisions, etc. Your gut is your impulse and your impulse is your inner wisdom. The more that you can trust your gut without letting your rationalizing mind or comparison to others get in the way, the better off you'll be and the more in alignment you will be with what you truly desire.
Here's an example:
Say you are dating someone and in the beginning you're not totally sure about this person but you've been hurt before and he's really nice and complimentary. Overtime you enjoy spending time with him because spending time with him is better than being alone. You start to develop more feelings for this person but deep down you know that this person isn't the one for you. You might not necessarily be able to explain why but you can feel it. You believe you could be happy enough with this person but ultimately you'd be settling, but you tell yourself he's so nice and you're afraid to break up with him because you don't know if you'll find anyone better. You will. If your gut is not a heck yes there will always be something better out there for you. Your feelings of uncertainty will only grow stronger over time and if you avoid them you will disempower yourself.
You're at the mall and you see a shirt on sale. It's only $15 when it's normally $50. You kind of like it but if you're being honest with yourself you like that it's on sale more than you like the actual shirt. You convince yourself to buy the shirt because it's such a good deal and then you get home and you never wear the shirt because you don't actually like it that much. It wasn't a heck yes.
Like I said, this philosophy applies to every decision you'll ever make. In the beginning it can be challenging to distinguish what is your gut and what is your brain but the more you listen to your gut, the more you will be able to distinguish between the two.
At the end of the day, if you can't figure it out, ask yourself, "Does this make me happy." Ask yourself this question without any reasons of why or why not. Let it be as simple as yes or no. If you can trust that simple answer, without talking yourself out of it, you will find your voice and you will find your power.
Do you have a goal on your heart that you know you are capable of but you're not sure how to get there? Maybe you want to write a book, maybe you want to be a better mom, or maybe you want to be more present. Sometimes our goals can seem so scary, overwhelming, or foreign that we don't know how to change and then we get down on ourselves and call ourselves lazy or unmotivated.
I used to call myself lazy and unmotivated but the reality was that I was afraid. I was working hard but I was working hard on things I didn’t care about to avoid doing the scary thing that was on my heart. And then I’d get down on myself and that only made things worse.
I don’t believe there is any such thing as lazy or unmotivated. I believe we all want to be better versions of ourselves. Sometimes we don't allow ourselves to dream or think about what we want because we're so busy living a life we hate. I believe we avoid things we are fearful of - and it can be scary to think of life differently. Even if you're unhappy at least you're safe, right.
So instead of changing or doing something different we call ourselves lazy, unmotivated, stupid, bad, unworthy, etc, etc...But it's not true. You are not any of those things. You may be afraid but you aren't unworthy, you aren't lazy. Not only are these things untrue, they are hurtful to your self confidence and keep you further from what it is you know you want in your heart.
If you have a dream on your heart but you find yourself unmotivated or not moving forward, here are 4 tips to break that vicious cycle...
1.) Call it what it is - fear. Go deep and ask yourself what you are afraid of. Is it fear of what other people think? Fear of not being good enough? Name it what it is so it doesn't have power over you.
2.) Take action! Take one small step that will get you out of your comfort zone and toward your goal. The first step is always the hardest but you can do it! If you don’t know what to do, ask! You’re not alone!
3.) Small wins build confidence. Whatever you started in step 2, make sure you follow through and finish it because small wins add up and build self confidence and self worth. The hardest part is starting and the second hardest part is finishing. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Let yourself be bad because that is how you learn and grow.
4.) Enjoy the journey. As you pursue your goal there will always be ups and downs. Embrace all of it. Be grateful for the highs but also be grateful for the lows because if you pay attention, you will learn so much more from the lows.
I have spent a lot of my life playing it safe and then calling myself mean names for not going after my goals. It's such a vicious cycle. And more importantly, it only got me further away from my goal. You have the power to stop the cycle for yourself. You have the power to be the driver of your life. I believe in you and I know you can do amazing things!
As we move forward to a new year let's talk about letting go of the shame and pain that comes with regret.
Whether it's a missed job opportunity, not reaching out to a loved one, or lashing out on someone who didn't deserve it... it's okay to let it go.
Maya Angelou said “Do the best you can until you know better and when you know better, do better.” Give yourself grace.
Step into 2021 as a better version of yourself and leave the past in the past.
5 Tips to Overcome Regret:
✨I HOPE THIS IS YOUR BEST YEAR YET!!✨
*If you'd like to dive in deeper I have a podcast episode titled "Overcome Regret" that goes more in depth. You can find it under the Podcast tab or by searching Show Up to Go Up wherever you listen to podcasts.
When we look back on life, it’s the moments, not the things that we remember.
When I think about the best memories I've ever had and my favorite holiday experiences it's all about the moments and the people. I hardly remember any gifts. The greatest gift we can give our loved ones is our time and full attention because memories and moments are the gifts that stay with us forever. Let go of the stress to find the perfect gift and just be there for those you love.
✨4 Tips to Be More Present and Enjoy Life✨
1. Slow Down and Breathe - Anytime you are feeling stressed or anxious close your eyes and take 5-10 deep breaths. It is impossible to stress and focus on anxiety when you breathe deeply. It resets your body and your mind and it forces you into the present moment.
2. See the World with Childlike Eyes - My friend took this picture of her 6 month old daughter gazing up at the Chicago skyline and there is so much awe in her eyes. Remember how exciting things were when you experienced them for the first time? How can you recommit to that excitement and appreciate the world around you as if it were the first time.
3. Reach out to Loved Ones - Everything is better in life when it is shared or experienced with others. Reach out to those you love and make them a priority.
4. Social Media Break - Social media leads to comparison and anxiety. It puts your focus on someone else's world and takes away from your world in front of you. I challenge you to take a few days without social media and experience what it feels like.
What are you excited about right now, today, this weekend, this month, and next year?
It's such a simple but powerful question because it forces you to focus on positivity and I truly believe what you focus on grows.
A couple months ago I was talking to my mentor and we were catching up after a long, hard few months. My mom had passed away and she had a lot of personal, family struggles as well. We connected in such a meaningful way by sharing our pain with each other and honestly, it was very therapeutic.
After we had both spoken (and cried) there was a pause and she smiled and said, "So, what are you excited about right now?" I'll be honest, it took me a minute to think about something but it changed the rest of my day. I felt happier and lighter.
I realized the importance of this question and also how little we focus on it. Yes, we focus on trips or purchases that make us excited but what about the day to day? What about in 2020 when traveling is harder than ever and there are so many financial stresses.
This question has been something that I now ask myself regularly. The greatest thing about it is it doesn't have to be a huge thing. It can be as simple as the sun shining. Focusing on what you're excited about changes how you feel.
Don't get me wrong, it's okay (and necessary) to feel and talk about your pain but what are you excited about?! I encourage you to spend some time thinking about it. I hope the result will leave you feeling joyous and inspired. 💖
✨One of my most recent podcast episodes talks about how to use your pain as your power. Click the links below to listen.✨
IG @stephygthatsme and @showuptogoup