At some point I teach all of my clients about the concept of 50/50.
50/50 is the idea that in life we experience positive emotion 50% of the time, and negative emotion 50% of the time.
This includes the entire spectrum of emotion, from misery, anger, irritability, and sadness all the way to fascination, ecstasy, elation, and pure bliss-- and all of the feelings in between.
It almost always works out to be 50% positive and 50% negative emotion, generally speaking.
Understanding the concept of 50/50 is life-changing.
When we expect to feel crappy half the time and happy the other half the time, we can relax a bit when we feel crappy because we know this is just part of the deal-- it’s just a part of life.
Negative feelings are supposed to be here-- we are not supposed to feel happy all the time.
In our culture of “the pursuit of happiness” we set ourselves up for misery because we’ve made the pursuit mean “goal,” as if happiness is a constant state just within reach.
Then, when we have a negative emotion-- say, irritability with our spouse or exhaustion from a long day at the office-- we think something has gone wrong and therefore need to fix it.
But you can’t fix a negative emotion-- because it doesn’t need fixing.
It simply needs the space to be felt, and then it will move on-- just like happiness.
Remember when you first started dating your spouse or partner?
He or she could do no wrong back then. You were filled only with feelings of excitement, love, adoration, and appreciation.
And then the honeymoon period ended and you started to experience negative feelings about your partner from time to time.
Totally normal, because just like crappiness, happiness is also fleeting-- it was never meant to be a constant state.
Nothing has gone wrong.
Why does 50/50 matter?
50/50 matters because when you stop trying to fix your negative emotions, you will stop buffering.
Buffering is action taken to avoid or eliminate negative emotion that has a net-negative result.
These actions may feel “good” in the moment, but always have a net-negative result.
These reactive actions (buffering) end up compounding the negative emotion, because now we feel crappy about the original circumstance and crappy about the buffering.
When we understand and accept that everything is 50/50 and that we are supposed to feel shitty feelings half the time, we can choose to just be with the emotion and not react to it.
We can remind ourselves that when negative emotions come up, nothing has gone wrong and that we're normal human beings who feel all the feels, which is totally normal, expected, and OK.
We can choose to relax into the emotion, instead of seeking out an action to buffer the emotion away.
We don’t have to solve the emotion or try to push it back to a state of happiness.
Negative emotions are not something to be solved.
They are emotions to be felt.
And if you allow yourself to feel them, without taking action to eliminate them, you will find you buffer less and feel more.
And when you do that, guess what happens?
The negative feelings go away.
Not immediately, but they do go away.
And without the compound effect of buffering actions on top of it to multiply the net negative result.
How great is that?
So the next time you feel a negative emotion, remember that it deserves to be there.
Don’t take action to eliminate it.
Just feel it, and then move on when you’re ready.
Because a positive emotion is on it’s way shortly.
It’s always 50/50.
Going on vacation can be a huge source of anxiety for many of us.
Vacation is synonymous with “letting loose” and indulging in lots of foods you would normally avoid like desserts, fried foods, and sugary cocktails.
Occasional indulgences aren’t bad-- in fact, they are a part of a healthy lifestyle.
But for emotional overeaters, we don’t just stop with one serving, we go for the whole enchilada.
Vacation typically means throwing your “diet” to the wind and eating and drinking whatever you want, however much you want.
“No sugar or flour??
No way!! I’m on vacation!”
We think that’s freedom-- but really, that’s fueling massive anxiety and robbing us of the fun, relaxing, and rejuvenating vacation we want.
If you really want to experience an unforgettable vacation, here are three questions you need to ask yourself BEFORE you depart.
Question #1: How do you want to feel while you are on vacation?
The number one answer I get from my clients to this question is “free”.
We often think that the freedom to do what we want means eating whatever we want whenever we want.
But freedom is actually the opposite of that.
Because when we eat “whatever we want” we end up feeling like shit.
We feel bloated, our pants are too tight, we don’t sleep well, we’re constipated or the opposite, and we have TONS of mental mind-drama about what we ate or will eat and how it will impact us tomorrow.
That doesn’t sound like freedom to me.
...feeling deeply connected to myself, my people, and my environment.
...waking up each morning feeling AH-mazing and ready for a new adventure.
...putting on my bikini without feeling bloated.
...my jeans fitting everytime.
...not having to think about what to eat or drink for more than a few minutes everyday.
...knowing what foods energize my body and which weigh me down, and choosing from that place.
...a very happy and healthy gastro-intestional system.
...a really good night’s sleep.
...sweaty walks in the summer sun.
...making decisions about what to eat that leave me feeling energized.
...being drama-free around food.
...enjoying food and feeling great after eating.
...feeling phenomenal in my own skin.
Question #2: “What are the actions I’m going to take to make sure I feel freedom (or insert your feeling of choice here) on my vacation?
The answer to this question is going to be different for everyone and will require some thinking ahead of time.
Continuing with the freedom example, when you think of feeling freedom what does that look like for you?
Write it out the way that I did above.
Then ask yourself what will you need to do-- what action will you take-- to ensure you experience that feeling predominantly throughout your trip.
For me, I’m sure to “pack” my joy habits.
Joy habits are the habits that I’ve built that engineer feeling my best.
My joy habits are
As long as I incorporate joy habits into my vacation days I’m pretty much guaranteed to feel amazingly good and free.
Question #3: How do you want to feel when you return from vacation?
The answer to this question may be different from the feeling you desired while you were on vacation.
While I always want to feel free, my desired feeling when I come home is different: healthy and rejuvenated.
So I plan my vacation ahead of time with that goal in mind.
And, as it turns out, my joy habits will foster the achievement of that goal perfectly.
That doesn’t mean my vacation will be exactly like my regular life at home.
I’ll enjoy foods I don’t normally eat on occasion and will join my family in our tradition of cocktails at 5 pm everyday.
AND I’ll gain a few pounds while I’m on vacation-- and be drama-free about it because I have a protocol to return to that will gently bring my body back to balance when I get home.
Because what is most important on any vacation is that you get what you came for.
Get it, girl.
“How do I build self-confidence?”
This is one of the most common questions I would get when I used to run my teen girls empowerment groups.
Now, as a life coach to grown women, I still get that question.
I remember being a teenager and really struggling with confidence and self-love.
Being a teen is hard, there’s no question.
Struggling to find “true” friends
Struggling to feel acceptance, support, love, and connection.
Struggling with body image.
Struggling with identity.
The list goes on and on.
As adults we find ourselves still asking those same questions, often from a place of secrecy and shame that we haven't figured it out yet.
We expect and accept it from teens as a rite of passage.
As adults we’re embarrassed that we still grapple with it.
Then we find ourselves mothers and/or mentors to young women and teen girls we feel ashamed that we don’t have all the answers and therefore can’t guide them better.
So we make shit up.
When girls ask us how to feel better, how to have more self-confidence, and how to love themselves we tell them what we *think* should be the answer, but deep down know that we are as lost as they are.
I know because I used to do the same thing.
Girls would ask me how to build self-confidence and I would read them the riot act about how they shouldn’t care what other people think and they should just stand proud in their truth, meanwhile I actually had no idea if that was the right answer.
What did that even mean, exactly? To “stand in your truth”...??
I thought long and hard about how I’d built self-confidence in my own life.
I’m a very confident woman.
But I wasn’t always this way.
I, too, was once a teenage girl after all.
So how did my confidence grow?
How did I evolve to become a woman who believes she can do whatever she sets her mind to?
Three words: I built self-trust.
Here’s an example
I failed miserably out of high school.
And then proceeded to do the same for two solid years in community college.
I would enroll, drop out. Enroll, drop out. Enroll, drop out.
Start. Stop. Start. Stop.
Begin. Fail. Begin. Fail.
What was happening each time was I was LEARNING:
I was learning how the system works.
I was learning how my mind responds (by default) to it.
And I was learning to then intentionally MANAGE MY MIND to get to my goal of graduating from a four-year university.
Yet, I couldn’t even make it through one semester of Algebra 1 in community college.
So how did I manage my mind to achieve that goal?
I never let giving up be an option.
There was no alternative.
I had a lot to learn.
A lot to overcome.
But quitting was not on the table, ever.
So I would drop out and then re-enroll the next semester.
Over and over.
But the point is that I kept coming back.
And each time I came back, I got a little stronger.
A little more confident.
Because I KNEW, without a doubt, that one day I would make it.
No matter how hard and uncomfortable I got.
I did, after six years of community college, transfer to a four-year university-- UC Berkeley, nonetheless-- and graduated magna cum laude.
I went on to get a Master’s degree from Stanford.
If you think I’m bragging, you’re right.
And I’m not apologizing.
When I became a life coach I learned that what I had experienced in college has a name coined by Dan Sullivan: The River of Misery.
The River of Misery has four distinguishing parts, each one the prerequisite for the next:
First comes the commitment: I’m going to go to college!
Then shit gets real.
So then sets in the doubt: Maybe I can’t do this.
This is where, if success is to be had, courage must come into play.
Courage to be extremely uncomfortable and do it anyway: “I’m not capable... I’m embarrassed at how behind I am... I can’t do this... I’m so overwhelmed.”
It’s important to note that having courage is not being fearless.
It is the opposite.
It is feeling fear and doing it anyway.
THAT is courage.
And that is what most people are unwilling to do-- feel fear and proceed anyway.
That is uber uncomfortable.
So they stop.
And they never achieve their goal.
For those of us who don’t stop, who feel the fear and do it anyway-- that is where capability is born.
We fail, get up, and do it again.
We practice until we get it right.
Until we become capable.
We learn to trust ourselves.
We learn that we can do ANYTHING because the worst that can happen is a feeling, and we know we can handle it by feeling it and proceeding anyway.
The more you practice feeling fear and doing it anyway the more capable you will become.
And capability is the last stop before confidence.
That, my friends, is how confidence is built.
By committing to a goal, hauling ass through the fear (courage), developing your capability, and feeling the confidence that follows.
These steps work with anything-- college, marathons, weight loss, career goals.
How to Build Your Confidence in 5 Steps
Set a goal for yourself.
Maybe you want to start exercising regularly, get a promotion at work, start your own business, run a marathon, or stop overeating or over-drinking.
Choose a goal that would impact your life substantially-- you deserve it.
Find Your Why
Ask yourself why you want to achieve this goal.
What would be different in your life if you achieved it?
How would your relationships be different?
How would you feel different?
Write it down!
Now ask yourself, what is at stake if you don’t achieve this goal?
How will your life be impacted if you don’t do this?
Again, get pen to paper.
Get serious here. Don’t waste your own damn time.
Look at your why from above and decide to commit to this goal no matter what.
No. Matter. What is crucial here because when shit gets real (the courage part of the river of misery) you’re evolved brain will get overridden by your toddler brain (also known as your lizard/primitive brain) and all bets are off-- the toddler brain wins everytime.
Make a plan to achieve your goal. If you need help figuring out how to get started, google that shit.
While you are drafting up your plan you’ll need to also anticipate what you’ll do when the fear sets in and you want to quit or change course.
Remember, the worst that can happen is a feeling. Do it anyway.
Follow Through On Your Word to Yourself Every. Single. Time.
This step is the absolute number one secret sauce to building self-confidence.
This is the step that separates the achievers from the quitters, and thereby the confident from the insecure.
And this step, especially for women, and especially for mamas or those who work in the helping professions, is by far the easiest to brush off and skip.
This is the number one reason that we women don’t have the self-confidence we want: we don’t recognize the life-changing potential of keeping our word to ourselves.
We think “Oh I can skip this one run today, it’s no big deal.” or “I didn’t plan to eat any sugar today but this cake that my co-worker gave me looks so good-- one bite won’t hurt.”
And sure, when it comes to your goal to run a marathon maybe skipping one day’s run won’t make a real difference, or when it comes to losing 30 pounds maybe that one bite won’t hurt.
But what it does hurt, without a doubt, is your CONFIDENCE.
Because you just taught yourself, and likely reinforced the neural pathway, that you can’t be trusted to do what you say you’re going to do.
That you will make decisions and commitments to yourself everyday that you’ll go back on.
And that, my friends, is not how the race is won.
And what’s funny is that if our spouse or friends were doing that to us, we likely wouldn’t stand for it.
“She always goes back on her word.” or “He never follows through on what he says he’ll do.”
We’ll criticize and blame others for the exact same behaviors we commit to ourselves.
And that sends another message: we aren’t worth it.
And we are.
We are worth follow through for.
We are worth betting on.
We practice loving ourselves enough to be there for ourselves when we say we’re going to be.
Just as we would for our kids, our friends, and our family.
We make up our minds to achieve a goal for ourselves and no one else, and we come through for ourselves.
Every. Single. Time.
Can you remember when you first became body or food conscious?
I was nine and my mom told me that "we" were going to go on a diet.
She was very gentle and sensitive about it, careful to not shame or guilt me.
But I knew in that moment, despite her warm tone and caring voice, that there was something wrong with my body.
That conversation sparked decades of dieting and the inevitable frustration that follows.
There were the highs of weight loss, and the lows of regain.
I certainly wouldn't say my mom was diet-obsessed or anything, but over the years we would try different diets together-- Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, Weight Watchers. My sister and I did South Beach.
We were a pretty typical family of girls in that regard.
There was never any body-shaming or negative comments about food or eating.
Not from my family at least.
But I got those messages from the rest of the world.
Magazines and model-obsession.
The whole "thigh gap" standard (What the hell is that about, BTW?!?! My thighs touch because they love each other!)
Today, women come to me to end their battle with overeating.
They want to stop overeating and arrive at their natural weight, just as I have.
They want to ditch the diet drama and stop agonizing over food, calories, carbs, and weight.
They want to love their lives.
And they want to do it for their daughters.
I hear this all the time.
"I don't want to pass this on to my daughter... I want her to have a positive body image. I don't want her to struggle the way I have."
Today, with social media, filters, and make-up contouring being the standard, girls feel more pressure than ever before to be air-brushed perfect.
And we mamas want to help our girls slay all of that B.S.
We want to raise up strong, smart girls who bypass all that, skip disordered eating all together, fuel their bodies with healthy foods, and never worry about their bodies or their weight.
And we tell them that, all loud and righteous.
"You should love yourself just as you are!!"
"You are beautiful!"
"You are smart and amazing!"
"Looks don't matter-- it's who you are on the inside!"
But then we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the storefront window and make a self-deprecating comment.
We shift uncomfortably in our clothes, self-consciously pulling our shirts down over our bellies.
We sneak in the kitchen late at night when no one is looking and secretly eat the ice cream in the freezer or M&Ms in the cabinet. Or both.
We refuse to wear a bathing suit at the beach, or keep our cover up on even in the water.
We talk about wanting to lose weight, or feeling disgusted with ourselves.
We talk about struggling with our weight.
We think constantly about our body and food anxiety.
She is watching.
Your daughter is watching YOU.
You can tell her all day long about how she should love herself just the way she is and not worry about beauty standards, but she is smarter than that... she sees what you are modeling.
She is learning from you, her first teacher.
You know what else?
It's not too late.
You have an opportunity, no matter how old your daughter, to be the mama you want to be-- the mama you want your daughter to see.
Here are four things you can do TODAY to start being the role model you want to be for your daughter.
Lia Pinelli is a weight loss coach and educator who helps women put an end to emotional overeating and lose weight, permanently.