Are you on Ego-matic pilot?

ego (2)At our Wishful Thinking Women gathering this weekend we were talking about “taming” our egos. Because of ego influence, I think many folks believe that change is often too hard to even attempt. We believe that we must live according to the whims of our egos and this ego-inspired belief is what keeps us stuck in a permanent state of ego-matic pilot making change seem difficult or overwhelming.

In a state of ego-matic pilot, we throw away or delay the possibility of love, our dreams, losing weight, going to college, getting a better job, being the kind of Mom, Dad, wife, husband, friend or colleague we want to be and so much more. We think it is all too hard for us to attain, or maybe worse, that we don’t deserve the fulfillment or happiness those changes may bring.  In ego-matic mode we create explanations and excuses to support our negative perspectives and then use them as justification for our personal pity parties or our failed prospects and attempts.

I don’t believe we need to tame our egos, they are just another part of us, but I do believe we can calm them and neutralize their perceptual stranglehold on our actions and emotions through awareness, acceptance and fulfillment.

Here is my Wishful Thinking Works plan for releasing yourself from ego-matic pilot:

  1. The first step is belief in the possibility that living a happy, fulfilled life is easier than we think. (Just like Dorothy discovered in the “Wizard of Oz”, perhaps you have always had the power!)
  2. The second step is an openness to new options and opinions. (Don’t be afraid to change, an evolutionary outlook and approach to life is not only energizing it can be deeply rewarding.)
  3. The third is awareness in the moment and of the world around us. (Time spent noticing our thoughts or paying attention to the beauty around us, rather than listening to the never-ending ego appraisal going on in our minds, is always time well spent.)

EX: The next time you start beating-up on yourself for eating too much or too little; saying too much or too little; doing too much or too little, etc., etc.  – STOP, take a deep breath and tell yourself “I love you, I love you for this choice and all the others you have made in your life. I will accept you as you are this very minute.” Take one more deep breath, exhaling slowly.

This simple, momentary change of thought and heart yields tremendous power. It not only pulls you out of your negative auto/ego-matic pilot, it signals the brain to release a more relaxing set of chemicals and hormones and offers you what we all need more of – love and support – thereby increasing the possibility you will be more open to seeing, feeling and sharing love and support with yourself and others in the future. Try it, and repeat it every time you slip back into any negative auto/ego-matic thinking!  (I know this will be a change for you, so please re-read Steps 1 & 2 and then repeat as necessary.)

Please note: If you were beating-up on yourself for having said or done something to someone that hurt them now is a good time to apologize, and if your ego-matic mind ramps-up to dissuade you, repeat Step 3, and then go for it. Here are some tips on apologizing to help you out. 

knot-252096_960_720Don’t tie yourself or your life up in knots thinking change or life is too hard. Don’t hide from hope, don’t turn your back on possibilities and please, no matter how many times life knocks you down, believe better is possible.

If you find yourself flat on your back, emotionally or physically, don’t worry about jumping right back up, simply take a deep breath, let a feeling of peace wash over you, repeat the words in quotes in Step 3 and then relax knowing better days are ahead.

Are you ready? Life could be better  . . . Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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A new twist on “The Road Not Taken”

nature-451079_640Robert Frost’s famous poem is 100 years old this month! Did you know literary reviewers think the message is much simpler than we have made it over the years . . . Lawrance Thompson, Frost’s biographer, noted that the poem’s narrator is “one who habitually wastes energy in regretting any choice made: belatedly but wistfully he sighs over the attractive alternative rejected.”
Let’s not do that. Don’t spend time second guessing yourself. Don’t let those little, nagging, negative voices in your head allow you to regret the road not taken. You made a choice. You did the best you could with the information you had. Or,  maybe you didn’t – that is still okay!
Don’t fret. You can’t walk every path. It’s okay. Life is full of twists and turns. Just keep going. That is all that matters.
And, in the end, there really only is one path – the road taken. And, that’s okay, too.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

PS Two weeks ago as part of my “Thoughtful Challenge” post, we did a poll – 66% of the results were negative!

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The “ABCDE” method for changing your mind – for the better, redux

Today’s post is based on the work of  Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology. The goal of the ABCDE’s isn’t to sugar coat life, but to take a closer look at all the possibilities and allow us to weigh our options before accepting our perceptions. The perception you accept is up to you!

Would you like to reduce or to turn around your negative thoughts? Would you like react more positively when “things” go wrong?

If so, the ABCDE method for changing your mind might be helpful.

In 2007, Nicholas Hall wrote an article for the Positive Psychology News Daily website about how to use Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology’s, ABCDE method for objectively reviewing events or situations in our lives. I liked the way Hall described Seligman’s method.

I use versions of the method in my life and my life coaching practice, and thought it might be helpful to share it with you so you could use it. Following the ABCDE approach can help you pause, reflect and rewind. It can also help you review and reshape your thought patterns.


In a coaching session, I might use one of the ABCDE’s in the form of a question or assign them as homework after discussing them with a client. It takes a bit of time to familiarize yourself with them, but eventually you will learn to quickly review them in your mind when dealing with adversity. When I’m working with my or a client’s negative thoughts and patterns, I use “A” to take a look at situations that are causing stress. You can reduce your stress dramatically by simply unraveling what actually happened.

The most immediate benefit of the ABCDE method is realizing you can choose how you think about a situation, which also means you can create new patterns of thinking, reinforce positive patterns and change negatives ones.

Excerpts from Hall’s article for using the ABCDE approach to combat feelings of helplessness and depressing thoughts are detailed below in blue. My notes are in black.

Below is an outline of the ABCDE method for disputing your thoughts. The idea is that your thoughts can generate your feelings. So, if you take active control of your thoughts, you are in turn taking active control of your emotions (Reivich & Shatte, 2003).

Having a pen and paper handy is helpful with this exercise. Use these steps when dealing with adversity.

1. Adversity:

  • Describe a recent Adversity.
  • Include the Who, What, When, and Where of the situation.
  • Be specific and accurate in your description.
  • Don’t let your beliefs about the adversity creep in!
  • Be objective. I call these truth statements, because they focus solely on the facts.

EX: I got rejected today from an interesting program.

2. Beliefs:

  • Record what you were saying to yourself in the midst of the Adversity.
  • What was running through your mind?
  • Write it down verbatim. Don’t worry about being polite!

EX: “Man, this always happens.” “I’m just not good enough.” “It’s all about who you know, and I don’t know anybody.” ”Maybe I’m not cut out for this sort of thing.”

3. Consequences:

  • Record the Consequences of your Beliefs. (What did you feel and what did you do?)
  • Be specific. List all of the emotions you experienced and as many reactions as you can identify.
  • Ask yourself: Do your Consequences make sense given your Beliefs?
  • If you don’t have the Aha! experience, see if you can identify other Beliefs that you may have not been as aware of initially.

EX: I felt worse and worse thinking this way. I began to not take any action on other projects that I wanted or needed to do today. I felt pretty low, and I began comparing myself negatively to others that I thought were better off than me.

Yes, these feelings and actions DO make sense given those beliefs!

4. Dispute:

  • Generate one piece of Evidence to point out the inaccuracy in your Beliefs,
  • or generate a more accurate/optimistic Alternative belief about the Adversity,
  • or Put Into Perspective your Belief.
  • You can use the tag lines below to craft your responses:a. Evidence: That’s not completely true because…

EX: That’s not completely true because I know a lot of great people, and some of them are in great positions. I have achieved great things like this in the past.

b. Alternative: A more accurate way of seeing this is…

EX: It really is only for one week, it’s not like I got rejected from Yale.

c. Putting It In Perspective: The most likely outcome is… and I can… to handle it.

EX: The most likely outcome of this is that I put my energy into another big project I’m currently working on, and I can work harder and be more focused on this project and that will help me handle the rejection from the scholarship.

5. Energy:

  • Write a few sentences about how your Disputation changed your Energy.
  • What happened to your mood?
  • How did your behavior change?
  • What solutions did you see that you didn’t see before?

EX: My energy became more focused and clear. I felt much more competent in my abilities and in my future. My behavior changed by getting me back to working hard on the things that matter to me, because I want a positive future for myself. The solutions I saw were about what I could DO for myself, rather than let the world happen to me.


Peterson, C., Maier, S. & Seligman, M. E. P. (1975). Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control. New York: Freeman.

Reivich, K, & Shattẻ, A. (2002). The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles. New York: Broadway Books.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. 2nd Edition. New York: Vintage.

The ABCDE method is a great tool for building the future you really want. Let me know how it works for you!

WTW Dandelion

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