Overcoming fears

Need a diploma?

Need a diploma?

I drafted my first official diploma a few weeks ago.  

I took a piece of white paper out of the closet, got out my favorite fountain pen and chose a canary yellow marker for the “official stamp” that I drew above my signature. 

I spent some time on that stamp. I really wanted it to look like foil. The kind glued to passports and birth certificates that screams THIS IS OFFICIAL BUSINESS!

No, I haven’t started a side hustle as a notary public or an administrative assistant. 

I just decided right there in my office that my client deserved an official something to move ahead despite her fears. 

You see, French culture believes in certificates. In official stamps. In procedure. 

If something comes easily, that means you’ve done it wrong, cheated your way to the top, gotten a free ride, missed an essential piece of knowledge along the way.

It’s got to be painful to be worthwhile.

And that goes for pretty much everything— from getting into a top-notch business school and opening a bank account to returning a T-shirt at Monoprix. 

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 2 of 3.

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 2 of 3.

This is the second of a three-part series about limiting beliefs: how to identify them, uncover their emotional power, and ultimately transform them into thoughts that “spark joy."
Click
here to read the first part.


It's 11:45am on a rainy Parisian spring day. I walk into an empty restaurant where I have plans to meet a friend for lunch an hour later. 


I tell the woman behind the counter that I’m early for lunch, but that I’d like to have a coffee and sit and work a bit before my friend arrives. 


“There’s no one in the kitchen now,” she snips. 


“That’s fine, I’m not ordering any food yet,” I say.


“How many will you be?” she asks. 


“Just two.”


She points to a table by the door and tells me that’s the only table for two that’s available. 


It’s raining and chilly outside and I ask whether I can sit somewhere further inside.


She points to another table in the back, by the toilets. 


I’m not feeling that location either. Especially since every single seat in the place is currently empty and it's just a casual, neighborhood place. 


I spot a little table for two on the cushioned couch in the center of the restaurant and ask if I can sit there. 


She rolls her eyes, let's out a huge exasperated sigh and nods “yes” reluctantly.  


I walk calmly over to the table, take off my backpack and my bright red raincoat. As I start to sit down I hear the dull thud of old coffee being banged out of the portafilter and the hissing of steam on the espresso machine. 


I turn around and say, “oh, I’d like an allongée” (an americano)  not the regular short café that I assume she’s starting to make.


She lets out another enormous sigh, so loud this time that I can feel her distain wash over my body like the Polar vortex.


My throat seizes, my heart starts racing. I want to scream and run out of there. 


In the 45 seconds that this entire scene unfolds a million thoughts have raced through my mind. 


“I hate this woman!”

“I’m going to walk out of here.”

“I’m going to leave a bad review on Yelp.”

“I should contact the owner and complain.” 

“This would never happen in America.”

“People are evil.”


The emotions that boiled up were a mix of hatred, anger, even guilt. ("How did I provoke this?")


And then I took a deep breath and thought about my last message to you about tracking self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings, which brought on a wave of new ones:


“She must be having a hard day.”

“This job clearly isn’t working out for her.”

“Interacting with humans is hard when you're miserable.”

“It’s not you Zeva, it’s her.”

“Write about this and you’ll feel better.”


I suddenly felt more calm, grounded, confident, and even grateful as I found the tools to transform this experience into something positive. 


How did that all happen? If we slow down the process frame-by-frame, like in a comic book, this is how thoughts and emotions work together.  (Click over to read more)

Taboo vaccines and fear inoculations

Taboo vaccines and fear inoculations

She looked down at the screaming woman’s face and instantly felt her stomaching tightening up into a tense little knot.  

The fierce and wild expression seemed out of place with all of the softer pictures and words in her collage.

Like someone else had stuck it there by accident, or worse, glued it there intentionally to make her sick.

Over the last few weeks I’ve done four vision board workshops and spoke with dozens of women about what they see in their collages.

Each collage is made up of cut-out images and words that my clients choose quickly and then edit and arrange on their boards with care.

When the collages are all done and everyone has started talking about the lovely things they see in their boards, I shift speed and throw out a doozy of a question. 

What part of the collage makes you feel uncomfortable?

That was the question I asked that led us to “the scream.”

The question hits hard, especially since all of the other questions are as sweet and cuddly as a basket full of puppies. 

It’s my favorite question. (And no, I’m not a sadist.)

So, why do I love that question so much?

When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

I had a very intimidating social studies teacher in High School named Mr Savage. 


He would walk into the classroom, silently go up to the blackboard, scribble a provocative open question, like “What is democracy?” in his chicken-scratch handwriting and then stare back at the class with his beady little eyes. (can you tell how much of a fan I was??)


He’d smile slyly with pinched lips revealing a little scar alongside his mouth. Then he’d gesture to the class to let the debate begin. 


I dreaded that moment. I was a shy and insecure adolescent and that kind of intellectual dogfighting made me shrink even further into my shell. 


Mr Savage didn’t give homework, but he did assign two big writing projects per year that were famously tough. For one project we had to propose our ideal presidential candidate and then argue and defend why we thought he or she should win.