A Strategy For Getting Off The Lonely Struggle Bus

Last week, I mentioned a strategy for making decisions – Best Case Scenario.  Well, we are going to use that same theory as a strategy to help you get off the Lonely Struggle Bus.

As you know, I teach that our feelings are created by our thoughts.  So in order for us to not feel lonely as much as we do, we need to get control of and change our thoughts.  

How?  

One way is by asking these questions next time you are feeling lonely.

  1. Why do I feel lonely? 
  2. What is the circumstance/situation that I think is making me feel lonely?  
  3. What are all the worst things I believe about this situation?
  4. Now, what are all the things that are great about this situation? (Best Case Scenario) 

Pick one of those thoughts from the last question and start putting that in your phone reminders, post it notes, mirror quotes, your car, etc.  Start fixing your eyes on that thought. 

Let’s take an example:

  1. Why do I feel lonely?

I don’t have anyone to eat with tonight for dinner.

2.  What is the circumstance that I think is making me feel lonely?

I don’t have a boyfriend/husband.  

3. What are all the worst things I believe about this situation?

There aren’t very many good guys out there.  I’m old.  Everyone else has a boyfriend.  I’m just boring.  I’m weird/fat/ugly.  I’m never going to find someone.

4.  What are all the things that are great about this situation?

I don’t have to go out with someone who annoys me.  I am not stuck in a bad marriage.  No one is abusing me.  I like who I am. I get to eat what I want to eat tonight.  I can go to sleep early.  I have time to work at a job or learning something new.  I don’t have to worry about him cheating on me like so and so.  God knows best.  I trust God.  

Then pick the best of the best thoughts and fix your mind on that.  

I know it sounds like it doesn’t work.  That’s because your brain naturally doubts and assumes the worst.  Just like it does with being at home by yourself for dinner.  You have to teach it not to be.  

So just do it.  What you’ve been doing hasn’t worked, right?

Do it for two weeks, and let me know how it goes.  

THEN – have your teen try it. Go through the same steps. Have her come up with both sides though. If you just give her the reasons to think positive, she’s just going to assume that you don’t understand and that you’re controlling her. Let her learn to go through the process as well. Trust me.

XO – Natalie

How To Change Your Thoughts of Loneliness

Yesterday, I talked about how loneliness is actually a feeling and can be cured by changing our thoughts.  

So what’s one way to change them?  

Write down all the thoughts you have about being lonely. 

“I don’t belong.”

“I’m not invited.”

“No one understands me.”

“They think I’m weird/awkward/shy.”

As many as you can down…I call it a brain dump or a thought download.  Just get it out.

Then for each statement, write an opposite statement.  

“I belong to several groups – my family, my friends back in Boston, my church.”

“I am invited to other things/I invite different people to my stuff.”

“I understand me.” Or “My best friend in Idaho understands me.”

Why are we writing down the opposite?  

Because our brain will look for the evidence we tell it to to look for.  If I decide to think that I get “front row Jo” parking everywhere I go, I will see it happen more and more.  Only because my brain is looking for evidence to support this thought.

If I decide to think that I have a wonderful husband, my brain will find all the ways that he is.  

The same is true for being lonely.  If we choose to think thoughts that create loneliness, our brain will go to work finding evidence for it.  

If we choose to think the opposite thoughts, our brains will go to work finding evidence for that.  

And the more evidence our brain collects, the more it helps support the thought which turns the thought into more of a thought groove.  

And after the thought grooves is there for a while, it becomes a belief.  

Beliefs are what run our brain in the background. So we want our brain to have new beliefs.

So help a brain out.  Write the opposite.  Look for the opposite.  

The Cure For Loneliness

I remember standing in the middle of a frat party during college and thinking how lonely I felt. All those people drunk and having a good time and I just felt lonely. 

Fast forward years from then when I was a single woman in my 30s and I still felt it.  In fact, I spent nights crying and/or blaming my friends, bad dating choices, or myself because of my loneliness.

Fast forward even more, and as a married woman in my 40s, I can still experience loneliness.  

Why?  Why is it possible for us to experience this in so many different times and situations in our lives?

It’s not because I don’t have friends, a husband, co-workers, and social media at my fingertips.  I have all of those things now just as I did then.

Loneliness is a feeling.  And although we want to think feelings are caused by our circumstances, they actually aren’t.

Feelings – and loneliness – aren’t caused by having friends,  a different family, being single, being 30, or not having kids.  

Feelings are caused by our thoughts.  Our thoughts are what create our emotions.

Which means loneliness is caused by our thoughts.  

This is both good news and bad news, right?

The bad news is that my thoughts are causing my loneliness.   

The good news is that my thoughts are also the cure

Your thoughts are both the cause and the cure to your loneliness. 

When you are thinking “I have no one to go eat dinner with,” you are probably going to feel lonely.  If you think “Everyone else has something to do tonight but me,” you are probably going to feel lonely.  “No one here gets me,” – lonely.  

I used to think this was just true.  My brain would find evidence for it as if it could win in the court of law.  

But the truth is that loneliness is caused by our thoughts, not our circumstances.  

In fact, loneliness used to be something I struggled with A LOT.  And since understanding this concept, it hasn’t been a struggle for me almost at all.  

 What I hope is that you take the time to stop and consider how a lot of our teen and college age girls feel super lonely right now.  It could be because they are transitioning schools, to college, or even from college to the “real world” and they are letting their mind choose thoughts about these transitions that create desperation, loneliness, etc.  

Their brain wants to naturally assign the meaning that they are alone so therefore they are lonely and are going to die.  

And what inevitably happens is they make decisions to go out with the wrong guys, the wrong friends, and try the wrong things just because their mind was creating this false scenario for them.  

But there is a cure. It’s available to them right now. It can help them avoid a lot of wrong choices.

Help your teens learn the cure. 

Good To Great – Changing the Programming

A lot of parents struggle with teaching their non-go-getter teens to go get. 

Why would you be okay with a C or not work to to get on the athletic team they want to be on? Or perhaps a teen coasts at a B and doesn’t understand why why they should push themselves when a B isn’t “bad”.  

If you think about it, though, most of their life they have been programmed for “good”.  They have been programmed to not be “bad” and to certainly do “right”.  

As a previous teacher, I’m guilty of that.  I remember teaching my kids to always do the “right thing”.  

Seriously. What the heck does that mean to a middle schooler? 

Half the time they probably truly don’t know what the right thing is to do and then they have so many voices telling them what is “right”.  Their friends, their teachers, their parents, social media.  How do they know which voice is the right voice?  

Even a pastor, Francis Chan, wrote about it in one of his books.  We get so caught up with teaching our kids to just be good and follow the rules that we forget to invite them to be great.  

Our kids programming right now is to not be bad.  Some of them, as they exercise independence and decide their friends are more important, actually believe they are bad or they want to be bad.  

It’s programming.  It’s beliefs.  It’s years of their brain believing this is the way.  This is THE WAY.  Not from you. All of it – school, church, the world, sports, etc.

What I work on with them is recognizing those beliefs.  Then we work on changing those beliefs.  And then we use those beliefs to accept themselves for who they are and then go for the dreams written in their heart! If they don’t have dreams, we start tackling that too!  

We take down the good shell and we create a great life.  Full of work, wins, and failures.  And they will love it.  Because they are no longer trapped into not being bad.

They are invited to be great.  

Best Case Scenario – A Decision Making Tool

Here’s one tool I teach my clients.  Best Case Scenario.  

You have a decision to make. Let’s say there are two options. Decide now that both options will turn out to be perfect – exactly how you’d want them to go. If that were the case, which one would you choose?  

That’s it. That’s the tool. Seems so simple and not effective, right?  I know. But try it. 

Here’s an example.

Recently, my husband and I found a house that just had framing up and we loved the floor plan.  It was perfect for our small family. And, if we bought now, we could finish building it.  We’d get to pick all the things.  So fun!

However, it was located much farther from my 2nd job and it was outside of our big city.  Away from all the restaurants and shops and activities we like to do.

We had to decide and we had to decide fast if we wanted to pick all the things.

Do we sell our home in Atlanta which is smaller and farther away from Darin’s work, and buy the bigger, newer home outside of Atlanta, or do we stay?

If we stay, we have to save more money to buy the type of house we want in the area we want.  And we’re not completely sure we’d find a house with this great of a floor plan.  

So how did I finally decide? Best Case Scenario. If all things worked out, and we moved out to the suburbs and loved our house and neighbors and restaurants and shopping or if we stayed and we saved up money in the next year and a half and found an amazing house in this location, which one did I really want?  

We stayed.  

Using The Best Case Scenario takes off the need to analyze all of the what-ifs, the cons, and constantly think about what could go wrong.  It makes a decision out of strength and abundance, not fear and scarcity.  

It’s so simple, and so effective.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you. Then try to share it with your teen!  

How Fear Of Rejection Lost

My favorite week of the year just happened.  My step-kids came and went.  On the last day as  they were packing up the car to go, I got more and more nervous.  Were they going to let me hug them?  Would they say good-bye?  Should I say I love you to them now or together as they leave or what?  

I feared being rejected by them before they had the chance to reject me.  

And in my fear, I said nothing.  I let them walk out with just a hug, a thank you, and a wave.  

Then I sat on my couch and cried.  I cried because they were gone, yes.  But I also cried because I let my fear win.  I rejected myself before they had the chance to. 

What’s crazy about the fear of rejection, too, is that the fear is what was making the rejection so much worse.  The anticipation of it. Like a shot at the doctor.

What’s awesome, though, is I knew it.  I was at least aware this time.

I sat there crying and I KNEW it.  I knew what I had done, what I was avoiding, and I was NOT going to let fear win completely.  

I practiced allowing the fear. I felt the tears, my heart in my throat, my clammy hands.  I felt the fear and the rejection for a good two minutes.

And then I moved on.  

I wanted to love them. I wanted to show up loving them.  I wanted to love myself.  They don’t get to decide any of those things.

Even if they don’t return the I love you, I can still love them.  

My love for them doesn’t rest on them returning their love for me.   

So I picked up my phone, and I texted.  “I miss you already.  I love you lots.  Heart.” One to Drew and one to Mara.  

One texted me back with an I love you. One did not.  

At this point, I could control my thoughts, and I didn’t take it personal.  

It doesn’t matter if they returned the I love you.  I loved them and myself enough to do it.  I love greatly, so I had to risk greatly.  And sometimes that means for myself too.  

Stop Fear – Using ‘What If’ To Help

Our brains are wired to keep us safe.  When we have to make a decision, it pops up with a lot of questions.  

What if it doesn’t work out?  What if I fail?  What if no one likes it?  What if I can’t do it?  

90% of our fears are tied in these negative imaginative scenarios.  

We never are asking “what if that bear eats me?”  “what if I can’t find food tonight for dinner?”  “what if my pack leaves and I get eaten by wolves?”  

Those are the questions your brain is created to ask to cause fear to cause you to fight or flight.  Thank you, Lord.  I don’t want to be eaten by bears. Or wolves.

But do you you see what is happening?  90% of your fears are a result of poor management of the mind.  

Fear – real fear – isn’t keeping you back, your mind is.  

Those What If Scenarios as they are happening right now aren’t helping you AT ALL.  

The first step to start flipping that pattern is that you must become aware of the thought patterns tied to your worry, fear, and anxiety.  That’s the first few weeks of work I do with my clients.  

Once you start becoming aware of how your thought patterns are interrupting your goals and forward action, the second step is you start learning to replace the thoughts. 

We switch the negative What If Scenarios for positive ones.  

What if I nail it?  What if I win?  What if I lose the weight? What if I hit my goal?  What if I love it?  What if everyone loves it?  What if it’s the best thing I’ve ever done?

Those will actually serve you.  They’ll inspire you. Inspire you to work, to try, to create, and to live.  

Those questions help you create what is possible instead of shutting down and staying stuck. 

For some thoughts, flipping them is just like flipping a switch.   For others, it takes time to create that new pattern.  

Either way, it’s worth it.  It’s worth the time and effort to stop living stuck and in fear and start living with inspiration.  

So friends, following up what I wrote yesterday – What if I went ALL IN?  I challenge you to start using What If Scenarios to serve you!  

Questions To Ask To Help Your Brain Commit

The way you do one thing is the way you do anything.  That’s what my coach tells me. 

This hit me like a whiff of really strong perfume. Eyes opened!

You see, I have always done pretty well with my weight, my exercise, my finances and even my time – I could coast just above average.  A solid B+/A-.

This week, I started thinking. I ignore my alarm. I hit the snooze button. I choose to do one more thing in the ten minutes I “think” I have which creates me being late.

And if what my coach says is true, I lack commitment to my schedule, which means I also don’t commit to my financial budget or my food plan. 

Ugh. I had a bad feeling this was legit.

Yep, I “cheat” here and there with my budget and food too, and since I know how to just do enough, I fluctuate 2-4 lbs and never bounce checks.

I am technically late to things, but rarely am late to where I miss the beginning of things which don’t really “count”. “No harm done”.

Even when I was in college, I rarely studied and got a solid A-. In high school, I rarely studied, and I was top 15%, not top 5%.

Yep, this is legit.

I realize I had this thought ‘Why push myself and go ALL IN?’ I was coasting very well with little commitment and little effort.

And then I thought – What if I went ALL IN?  What if I committed to doing it 100%?  What would my results look like?  What would I create for myself?  Who would I become?  

WhenI realized this, my mind WAS BLOWN. I have been living my life coasting. From teen to 40. Not really committing to much and also not really shining. I’ve been holding myself back.

So I immediately decided my schedule was where I could really transform. Schedule my day, honor my commitments, show up for myself and others. And look out for who I am becoming!

Finishing up week one and have already blown my mind. I was EARLY to lunch with a friend. I did EVERYTHING on my schedule, down to the exact podcast I wrote I’d listen to.

ALL IN.

What about you? What if you showed up 100% in your life even if it was just ONE thing? You’d blow your mind, wouldn’t you?

Share this with your teen. Challenge them to go ALL IN in just one thing.

Why are they holding themselves back at all? Why did they pick the goal they picked? Who do they want to become as they do it? What do they want to create by going ALL IN? What do they see as the obstacles and challenges? How can they plan to overcome these?

They can start now. So can you.

Y’all. Let’s GO ALL IN. I’m going with you!

When We Feel Controlled

 A whole lot of people in America – from teens to 80 year olds – feel controlled. Like they aren’t free to be themselves.  Are you one of them?  

Maybe it’s your mom, your spouse, your boss, your kids, your job, or just your schedule.  

You don’t feel like you have a choice in what you do.  You’re being told constantly what to do and how to do it.  It’s like you live locked into what you “have” to do.  

What inevitably happens is you lose control of yourself.  Then you lose yourself.

You don’t show up how you want to and you literally “lose it”.  Yelling, rolling your eyes, quitting out of nowhere, gossiping, crying in your car in the garage where no one can see you.  You spiral out of control with spending, alcohol, food, etc.

You feel controlled and then you lose control.  

You’re not living with the belief that you have freedom in your life. 

It’s actually how our teens think too.  

They’re trying to learn independence when they aren’t allowed to be fully independent. 

A lot of them feel controlled by their parents, their schedule, their future, and their friends. And when they feel that way, they end up losing control of themselves in some form or fashion.

They try to control something or someone else – their weight, friends, boyfriends, drugs, etc. – which is just losing control in an unhealthy way.

What I teach my clients is that no matter what their parents/teachers/friends say or do, they have complete control to think what they want to think, feel how they want to feel, and to a certain degree do what they want to do.  

Because they are 100% responsible for themselves.  

They start to see that even being told to clean their rooms is completely in their control. They can clean it out of fear, not clean it, clean it out of desire to be a loving daughter or a clean human, or none of the above.

I boil it down for them to see that even their feeling is a choice – they can choose annoyed, fear, love, calm, peace, etc. in those moments. No one tells them to feel those things.

They decide how they will show up as a daughter, a friend, a teammate, a student, etc. every day.  

That is freedom. That is being empowered.  

That is being in control. Not of other people, but of themselves.

When your teens start to feel empowered and in control, they will start being in control of themselves in a healthy way…not rolling their eyes, not yelling, not slamming the door, taking responsibility for their grades, their room, their body, etc.

It is NOT an overnight process, but it is a process.

Help your teens learn to live in the land of the free with true freedom – knowing they are NOT controlled by the people around them.  They are empowered everyday to be in control of themselves.  

Happy Fourth of July friends!

P.S. This is true for you too. You are 100% in charge of your life and you are the greatest example for them to see! Live your freedom too!

Freedom Quotes from my coach & teacher, Brooke Castillo.

“When you choose not to resist, react, or avoid any emotion, you will find freedom and strength.” 

“When you’re able to feel happy exactly where you are, that’s when you will have the freedom to decide what you’d like to do next.”

“When you accept something you cannot change, you feel long-lasting freedom.”