Goals and motivation

New Year Starts Now: Superpower skills

Claire is sharing some cognitive and emotional skills to help you understand what's at the root of your struggles and generate long-term behavior change.

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It's not soft, it's science.

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Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, founder of Flourish. We're on a mission to help women get healthy for good. Join me each week for a new episode that'll help you sustain healthy habits and nourish your body so you can Flourish in life.

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Hello and welcome back to the Flourish Podcast y'all. This is the final episode in the New Year Starts Now series. It is the final episode of January, and today we're gonna be talking about what I'm calling superpower skills, okay?

I mentioned this in last week's episode. That we're really focused at Flourish on helping our members and, you know, our audience in the case of the podcast, generate long-term behavior change, which is awesome if I do say so myself. It's also really hard as human beings, we're effectively hardwired to prefer instant results and quick fixes. And so last week we talked about game changer habits or behaviors that you can engage in to generate that instant feeling of gratification. And I hope that you took a habit or two from that episode. And it's also possible that while that was your intention, it hasn't quite happened yet.

Superpower Skills

And that basically brings us to today's episode, Superpower Skills. So these are cognitive and emotional skills or tools that can help you to understand what's kind of at your, at the root of your struggles with generating long-term behavior change so that you can really kind of address those challenges from like a root cause perspective. Okay, so we've got four superpower skills for you to develop, I suppose. Perhaps not, not all at once.

And, and in many ways they kind of, um, stack upon one another or you know, relate and enhance one another to, to some extent. And a lot of these skills are the skills that we coach our members to, to use inside of the Flourish program and experience. So, um, a bit of a taste of kind of like how we, we do things.

#1: Identifying your thoughts and feeling your feelings

So I wanna start with what I view as like the most superpower skill that has literally changed my life and I did not know it was really a thing until like a few years ago. And when I say it, it's probably gonna sound insane because it's like the most basic thing. And I think a lot of us think that we're already doing it and we're not.

At least I certainly wasn't. Okay. So this skill, the first superpower skill, is Identifying your thoughts and feeling your feelings. If you take nothing else away from the podcast, I hope it is this: recognizing that so many of our behavior challenges are what we label as bad habits, they're actually catalyzed by thoughts and feelings that we are often not even aware of, and it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to change what we are not aware.

I've mentioned this before. I work at the, with an executive coach, um, once a week. She's amazing. I've worked with her for, geez, I think almost two years, a year and a half, and she always reminds me of this, and it is that once you're aware of something, it is already starting to change in some way. And so being intentional about identifying what you're thinking and feeling can be a really, really important first step to growing and improving in the ways that are important to you. But awareness really is the first step. And it's not the sexiest step, but it is the first one. Okay? It takes time and practice, and again, intention to go from awareness to change. So with that, I do wanna share some practices that can help you develop more kind of thought and feeling awareness.

Okay. Um, one of the, the most simple of practices is journaling and I'm willing to bet that right away you had a thought about journaling. I often will assign a really simple kind of journaling prompt to, um, members that I coach and they'll say, well, I'm not a big journaler. And that's a thought, and it's a thought that, you know, one can choose to hold onto or test the waters of, okay?

So I'm gonna give you some, like more specifics around journaling, things that you can do to again, increase thought awareness. But I just want you to notice if right away, as soon as I even offered the idea of journaling, if you had a thought, and especially like a rebuttal to the suggestion. And that's just something interesting to notice. And congratulations, you are now engaging in the superpower skill of identifying your thoughts and feeling your feelings.

Okay. So in terms of journaling, um, I love, I have three kind of practices. I've, I've multiple journaling practices, actually, not that I do every single day by any means, but just kind of like different journaling tools I guess I have in my toolbox depending on what I need on a, on a given day.

Um, so first is just stream of consciousness writing. Um, this can be a really great way to get started. You have maybe heard of a practice called Morning pages, and that's what this is where you literally just write down in real time what is happening in your head. So if you sit down to write and your thought is, I'm not a journaler, you would literally write down, "I'm not a journaler. Wow. I feel so weird sitting down with a pen and paper. I don't know what to write. My coach assigned this to me, or I listened to Claire on her podcast and now I'm sitting here writing this."

Like that is literally what you would write, and you don't judge it, and you don't censor yourself and you're not writing for anyone else. And it doesn't have to be pretty, and it doesn't have to make sense, and the grammar doesn't have to be right, and so on and so forth. But it's a great way to start the practice of journaling, stream of consciousness.

My next journaling practice is, it's somewhat related to this, but a little bit more focused, and that is doing a sort of like brain dump on a given topic.

Um, so, so I will often have, um, members do a brain dump on what it's like to step on the scale or, you know, something going on with body image or if there's like, oh, you know, an event coming up like a wedding. Um, what I'll have members do is literally just write that thing on the top of a sheet of paper, and then same thing, kind of stream of consciousness as it relates to that topic. Write down what's coming to mind, and you will be just absolutely amazed at what comes up and what you get out of being aware of what comes up. Okay.

The next practice, um, and this one's really, really quick, is just writing down what is the thought, what is the feeling, and what is the ensuing behavior of what you're experiencing right now. Or what you, you know, fear you will experience. Okay? Thought, feeling, behavior. And just notice, look at the, the, the root of it being the thought and you can play around with, "Okay, well if I try a different thought on for size, what is the different feeling and behavior that emerges?"

Another kind of like resource I guess, related here is, um, if you are not, good at identifying your feelings, most of us are not, then, um, Google something called the feelings wheel, and it can really help you begin to expand your emotional vocabulary. A book related to feeling your feelings. We're just, we're just, this is like, oh my gosh, this is so fun. I feel like this is, I feel like I'm doing a TikTok like show and tell, but it's not on TikTok.

It's a podcast and I'm not showing you anything, but I am telling you about stuff and we'll have everything linked in the show notes below. Um, but a really, really great book on kind of feeling your feelings and processing through your feelings, especially stressful feelings is a book called Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski.

I read it last spring. Um, I remember it quite vividly  and it is just so, so delectable. Um, it's such a, such an excellent book. Um, I first heard Emily and Amelia speak on, I think it was Brené Brown's podcast about the book. I bought the book right away, and then I sat on it for like a year. And, you know, you just, I, this is my experience is that I, I, I buy books almost in real time, like as I want them, but I don't necessarily read them right when I receive them. Um, and I just truly like, believe and trust that the right book will come into my life at the right time, . And I think that was, um, that was one of those books for me that I just read at a really, really good time.

So, um, those are some, some practices and again, resources. I do wanna mention a couple of like meta skills related to thoughts and feelings. Um, meta skill number one, and again, this is something that I work on really kind of deeply with our members, is not believing everything you. Recognize that so many of the thoughts that you have are kind of automatic. They're habitual, often unconscious. And that also, many of them are totally optional.

They're just choices. Your thoughts are not necessarily the truth. And recognizing that and and with that recognition, paired with this awareness that we're talking about, you get to play a more active role in the environment you're creating in your mind. And it's a really beautiful life changing thing to kind of regain that sense of agency over your thoughts.

So cool. Okay. The second meta skill, um, before we move into the next superpower skill, the second meta skill related to identifying your thoughts and feelings is allowing, Conflicting thoughts and feelings to be true at the exact same time, holding space for that conflict. And this is something I work on personally all the time.

I remember, and we won't get into the specifics, but I was in therapy a few weeks ago and I was telling my therapist that I was just feeling, you know, I was like, okay, I feel like a, you know, sometimes I feel A, and sometimes I feel B, and that makes me feel crazy. And she goes, well, it's A and B. And while that may make you feel crazy, it's quite normal and, and also both are actually true for you.

It's both. It's not either or. It's both and. And again, this logic can be applied to so many different thoughts and feelings that may be true for you. At the same time, like I want to accept my body and I want to lose weight, those two. Seemingly conflicting thoughts can be both 100% true for you at the exact same time.

And again, learning to kind of hold space and, and be with yourself in that conflict is a superpower meta skill related to the bigger skill of identifying your thoughts and feeling your feelings. Again, if you take nothing else away from this episode, I hope it's it's this minus. The, the skill, the superpower skill.

#2: Exploring the space between stimulus and response

Okay, let's move into superpower skill number two, exploring the space between stimulus and response. Now this was another, um, kind of tidbit I guess I got from my, uh, executive coach. Her name's Sarah. She's amazing. Um, she shared with me this Victor Frankl quote, and I think maybe shared it with y'all on the pod before.

I definitely did like a TikTok with it, because it has truly changed my life and ugh, I like know that's so kind of trite and overdone to say that, but I try and I try not to say it too often, but everything in this, in this podcast, I'm just like so passionate about because I had food and body stuff, y'all know this, and the food stuff, you know, kind of like resolving my relationship with food, learning to really nourish my body, like those types of like, I guess kind of like behaviors, like learning to mix my macros and, um, When I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. Like that really was an important part of like my personal healing process. But I think the most important part of my growth process has been what I'm sharing with you here.

And again, it is so much more about the cognitive and emotional piece than about the behavioral piece. Okay. So exploring the space between stimulus and response.

This comes from a Victor Frankl quote that my executive coach shared with me, and I'm gonna read it to you.

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." Wow. Again, I share this with a lot of my members and we talk a lot about stimulus and response. I'm gonna say it again cause I want you to like fully absorb this right now.

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

Now again, this kind of builds upon the, the previous skill of identifying thoughts and feeling your feelings, because your stimulus could be your thought or feeling, and then the response could be your behavior, or you know, your stimulus could be other people, and the response could be your thought feeling or your behavior.

Perhaps all of it happening really quickly, all at once.  The stimulus could be kind of like the need to make a decision. Like, am I going to get up when my alarm clock goes off at 6:00 AM for a workout, or will I snooze it? And then your response will be what your decision actually is, right? Or your stimulus could actually just be the alarm clock going off, and then your response is what you actually do.

And I find that for so many of us, we are not sort of like consciously expanding that space. Stimulus happens or, or I guess the response happens in almost lockstep with the stimulus. We're like reactive and not intentional and impulsive and you know, I guess thinking with like our lizard brain and from our motivational triad, not from our prefrontal cortex.

And when you pause and slow down and you know, there's definitely like an element of like almost mindfulness to this, but something about like literally being able to visual. In my mind, I see this as like an arrow and you know, the um, the point, the arrow head is the stimulus and the response is on the, the tail end of the arrow.

And I just envision the arrow getting longer and increasing that space between stimulus and response and exploring that space to. I think about this a lot when I get like emails to do stuff. Um, I try not to do a lot of stuff. Sometimes I can be hard to make plans with. I'm just, you know, I mean, y'all know, I'm like so super focused and heads down on Flourish right now.

And, um, it's like one of my number one priorities. My other priority of course being my, my husband and my family. And so anyway, I just, I only have so much bandwidth for, for so many things, and. , I have thoughts and feelings about that, right? Like, sometimes I feel guilty, sometimes I feel like I, it's a one-dimensional life or, you know, whatever.

I've, I have some thoughts and feelings about that. And those thoughts and feelings change depending on the day. It's, that's, that's fun. Um, but anyway, you know, I will get emails for like we all do to have a meeting or to have a call or this coffee or this happy hour, this event. And I find that when , that stimulus comes in and I respond instantly, I am not always happy with the outcome. But when I give it space, I get to more intentionally decide, is that really something I want to dedicate my time to, or does it make sense? Right? Sometimes I, there may be something I want to do. But with a little bit more time and space and kind of thinking about my calendar and my energy levels, it may mean I, I ki I just can't do it right now.

So that's me. That was, um, perhaps that was a bit self-indulgent, but hopefully y'all can, y'all can relate in some way.

#3 Practicing self-compassion

Superpower skill number three here is practicing self-compassion. So the kind of, like, mother of self-compassion or, or really the, the woman who has put it on the map, I would say is Dr. Kristin Neff. And she is actually an Austin-based researcher and professor at the University of Texas. Hook 'em horns. We, I, as I was, um, kind of putting together my notes for this episode, I was like, wow, we really, I need to reach out to her to see if she would go on the podcast. What do y'all think? Do you think she would?

I've, I've, um, really been working on encouraging myself to shoot my shot more in 2023, so that maybe that's a shot I need to shoot. Okay. So I'm gonna read you some kind of like excerpts of what Dr. Kristin Neff has to say about self-compassion, because she can say it so much better than I can. So, kind of in terms of like defining self-compassion, she says, "Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings."

Now, if you're a bit of a hardo, uh, you may be like, "Nah, that sounds super soft, super weak. I need, I only need discipline. I. If I'm too nice to myself, I won't move forward. I won't do anything." Well, that's a thought to my earlier point per my last email.

That's a thought, and I would encourage you to kind of hold that thought in one hand and also explore how is that thought working for you, my friend? Okay. Because research indicates that self-compassion is actually strongly associated with psychological wellbeing and that higher levels of self-compassion are linked to increased feelings of happiness, optimism, curiosity, and connectedness, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, rumination, and fear of failure.

And do you wanna know when we feel less anxious, less depressed when we're ruminating less, and when we're fearing failure less oftentimes we are more proactive. Again, we're more engaged in living and creating a life that is in alignment with our values and kind of growing in the areas that matter the most to us.

So it's not soft, it's science. The three elements of self-compassion, there are three, and again, these are all from Dr. Kristin Neff. Um, she has two amazing books, um, that you can buy on this if you want to buy or read or rent or get from your library. I've been a new, I'm a new Libby user. I'm, I'm loving it.

Anyway, these are all available to you if you really wanna dive in more to the, the kind of practice of self-compassion as a superpower skill. So there are three elements, self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Okay? So self-kindness is offering yourself the same kindness you would to a dear friend who is suffering common humanity is recognizing that you're not alone and that we all struggle.

And mindfulness is being aware of the reality of your experience. If you are one of our members, you're probably starting to see the ways in which you are coached towards self-compassion. It is an amazing tool and sometimes it can be hard to put into practice because a lot of us, we're not used to being kind to ourselves.

It's not our default mode. Or again, we fear what will happen if we are more compassionate towards ourselves. But again, you'll be amazed. You'll be amazed at what happens when you use self-compassion among other superpower kind of like emotions when you use self-compassion as the fuel for change rather than self-loathing.

Okay, we could do a whole episode on self-compassion, and in fact, we probably should and we should get Dr. Kristin Neff to come do it with us because like I said, she's like the, the godmother of self-compassion. It's very cool. Our final superpower skill, and I really think that this episode could have been like 20 skills long, but I was just thinking about again, like what are the, the kind of skills we most use with our members. What are the skills that I most actively use in my own life? Kind of coaching myself, um, what are the skills that my coach uses with me most often?

#4: Using your values as a backboard

And the last one is using your values as a backboard. So we just re-released one of our most popular podcast episodes called, I think, like something like, don't Confuse Values and Goals.

Um, so for more on values. To that episode, but basically your values are the principles that give your life meaning, and I find that for myself and again also my members, that I, that I coach, that so much distress can be traced back to living out of alignment with one's core values. I, I have an example of this, so one of my core values, my, my I'll, I'll share my four core values because I really believe that we should all not only know our core values, but like know them like off the top of our head because we should be in relationship with our core values and we should actually use them to filter through our decisions.

So if you did a core values exercise on like some corporate retreat five years ago, I don't if you can't name them, I'm sorry, but like, I need you to go back and do the exercise again because that's not, it's not, core values are not, something you just like check the box on. Okay. Um, in terms of like living out and even just, just knowing.

So my core values are purpose, freedom, integrity, and growth. Purpose, freedom, integrity, and growth. And I hope that, here's the thing, I hope that when you hear that, those are my core values. If you're not, you know, maybe listening to this podcast for the first time, I hope you're like, yeah, I, I see that for you. Like that, that, that seems like you maybe not a hundred percent of the time.  because I don't do those 100% of the time, and oftentimes when I'm not doing them, um, or when one really falls by the wayside, then things get a little, a little out of hand and, and chances are, or a little off kilter, I should say. And chances are the experiences is true for you as well.

So one of the examples I have of this is we used to do for maybe like the first two years of, of running the business and it's been almost five. Um, we used to do, and I used to. Sunday evening coaching calls, um, co group coaching calls held at 7:00 PM on Sunday evenings, and this was a really great time for our members.

It was kind of a, a good way for them to kind of round out the week and then kind of start a new one, but it was really straining for, for me. And, and then anyone on my team who I would have maybe like, kind of like slot in because. It's the weekend, right? The, the reasons why that time was so good for mem for our members were the same reasons why it was so challenging for myself and, and our coaches, um, to, to be working on Sunday evenings.

And I really recognized that that Sunday evening coaching time put a strain on my value of freedom. It would hinder my ability to travel, it would hinder my ability to , um, you know, go out to dinners or, or spend quality time with friends or family on the, you know, at the end of the weekend. And it was such an aha moment for me.

I think that was the first time I really recognized and tied the distress that I was feeling to one of my core values not being supported. Okay. So core values work. It is definitely an important part of the, the Flourish journey. Again, it, it is something that we coach our members to, not only. , um, discover or uncover because that, that is how core values work.

Like, it's not like you select them. , who knows? If I could select my core values, maybe I would select something like way different. Um, it's more like a, a, an uncovering process, right? You're not, you're not selecting them, you're uncovering them. They're already there. And when you're, again, aware of them coming full circle to the beginning of this.

When you're aware of them, you can actually start putting them to use as the backboard. So the, the things that you bounce your decisions off of. So when we changed our group coaching program, our group coaching time, I was thinking about what would help me feel a, a stronger sense of freedom. If I'm gonna be doing this once a week kind of indefinitely, how can I do it in a way that serves our members and doesn't, kind of denigrate my personal value of freedom. And so I think we, we've ended up with pretty much like a 5:00 PM central time, um, group coaching hour for the most part. There's some, some variation here and there, but that works. Okay.

So those are our skills, people. Identifying your thoughts and feeling your feelings, exploring the space between stimulus and response, practicing self-compassion and using your values as a back.

I have to say I'm finishing this episode and it is one of my favorite episodes that we've done since returning to the podcast. Um, I think late last year. I can't even remember when it was, maybe November. Because these are really the skills that I just would love if we could all learn to use, and they've changed my life so drastically.

I have not mastered any of them. Um, it is, they're literally tools that I rely on to keep my day-to-day life afloat, . Anyway, okay, I hope y'all enjoyed this episode and I will see you next week. Bye y'all.

Claire Siegel:

Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Flourish podcast. If you enjoyed it, please take a second to leave us a five-star review or better yet, share it with a friend. And if you're ready to start your own journey to get healthy for good with accountability from expert coaches and the support of an incredible community, head to the show notes to get started on your Flourish journey.

I'll see you in the next episode.

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Claire Siegel
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.

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