Your Power: Did You Give It Away? Go Ahead. Get It Back And Feel Better About Yourself.


Photo credit — Joseph Sohm

In a recent consulting session, a female client in a small company was having issues with one of the men at work.  She butts heads regularly with this team member, they try to work it out (with lukewarm success) and then it happens all over again.

At the beginning of our session, she was full of words.  She talked fast and had a lot to say about the situation.  First, I listened and encouraged her to unload.  I took speed-of-lightning notes and when the basic story was clear, she began to slow down.

“The next step is to simplify.  Are you ready for that?” I asked.

She said yes.



Photo credit — Joseph Sohm

This first step in most In Care of Relationship sessions, after hearing the basic story, is to SIMPLIFY.

This means:

  • Find the thread that weaves through the whole shebang.
  • Imagine the various “unrelated” issues as a fraction and reduce it.
  • Discover the theme of the multi-faceted-whirly-gig-Rube- Goldberg life and give it a rest.


Simplification is my job, by the way, not the client’s job.

Being factual and simple calms the wild seas of emotion, and a wound-up client begins to think more clearly again.

Getting simple makes things easier on so many levels!

Two Columns

I asked her to imagine two columns.  One labeled “What He Does” and the second labeled “My Responses.”

The content of the columns was pretty easy for her to state.

His Actions:  demand, dominate, dismiss, be overbearing, criticize, shame, belittle, exert pressure, accept only logical or factual, and deflect.

Her Responses: defend, resist, get angry, refuse, feel sad, force myself to comply, try harder, judge, get anxious, give up, ignore.

lion and chippyThe visual:  A chipmunk and a lion.

My client was not in her power at all.  She (the chipmunk) is no threat to the lion,  and might even be considered by him to be a bother.  The lion could give the chipmunk one swat and it would be over.  He knows it and she knows it.

In real life, the translation is that the male team member thinks my client is young and has a lot to learn — so the solution, according to him, is that she should listen to him and do everything he says.

And then, of course, she’ll turn out great — just like him.


The problem with that idea is, of course, that SHE’S not HIM.  She didn’t come here to Planet Earth to be him, can’t be him, doesn’t want to be him, and shouldn’t be him.  She came to Earth be HER. 

Furthermore, the whole idea of being a team member is that you contribute what you’re good at. 


You don’t melt into one style, one thought process, one anything.  Your best contribution is YOU.

So the tricky part is that nothing she says or does around him is effective, but the bigger story is that the interactions don’t work for either of them.

Whose responsibility Is that?

Since I’m working with her, the answer is that it’s her responsibility.  Totally and completely her responsibility.  If I was working with him, everything would be in his lap — his total responsibility.

At In Care of Relationships, that’s how we roll.

(But the responsibility conversation is a bigger conversation for another time!)

The Conversation

SHE:  So what do I do?  Shall I initiate a meeting or write him an email?

ME:  Don’t do anything yet.  Let’s get your feet on the ground before you take action.

SHE:  Well, shall I try to think positively about this, focus on the positive aspects…?  But truthfully, the thought of trying to think good things about him makes me retch.

(Which made us both laugh because it was so true for her!)

And what about all those people who talk and work things out?  I can’t seem to do that with this guy.  Talking to him is like talking to a wall.  I can’t think straight.  We can’t work anything out — EVER.   Which makes me feel insane.  Totally insane!

And boy, do I have some things to SAY TO HIM.


(Which, yet again,  sent us into peels of laughter… such good relief …)

ME:  Here’s the thing.  You’ve lost your power around this man.  Get it back.

SHE:  What?!?

ME:  You can’t fix anything from where you are now because you gave away your power.  Maybe you even handed it over on a silver platter.  If you want to change things, first get your power back so you have a foundation.  It’s yours.  Just take it back.

SHE:  Wow, hold on.  What?!?  My power?!?

(… long pause… it’s always a good thing when brain cells are re-arranging themselves…)

OK, say more.

ME:   Thinking about the positive works often for you, and you do that really well — usually.

But not in this case.  In this situation, you’re pretty down and out — you’re feeling powerless.  Like a chipmunk against a lion.

How do you know you’re sitting in a puddle of powerless?

Everything is hard.  You feel ineffective.

SHE:  I understand that.  I’ve got a long ways to go with this one, huh?

ME:  A change can happen pretty quickly, actually.  It depends on how much you practice.

So do you see what your work is?  Use every interaction to remember your worth, your value, and your true and steady self. Nobody took anything from you.  You gave it away, temporarily.  Just reclaim YOU.

Fluffy Clouds in Fair Weather Sky

Photo credit — Joseph Sohm

SHE:  So I have no frigging idea how to do that.

ME:  To start, practice in places where being yourself is pretty easy, like when you’re alone.  It can be as small as making yourself a breakfast you enjoy.  There, I did it!  Notice it. Just take note — and celebrate — when you know how to be yourself, do things your way, or have what you want. Give yourself a high five.

This may sound silly, but it’s not.  You’re building momentum here.

Now add another person to the mix, someone who is easy for you to be around.  Notice that it feels good to say, express, and BE.  And then do that with another person and another.  And notice that your confidence grows, as well as the positive momentum.

(We went through some possible examples for her.)

Gradually move your attention to situations where it’s a little harder to be exactly who you are — where you might have a little hesitation or hold back.

(Again, we covered more examples here.)


You’re ready to address the work situation.

At a business meeting with this gentleman, practice being real, instead of holding back.  Speak up.  Say what you mean.  Express your true response.  Don’t cover it all up pretty and throw a blanket of happy daisies on it.  If you’re outraged, be outraged.  Stand up and shout a little if you need to.  Nobody will die.   Say what you want to say without apology. 

Inside, I bet your spirit isn’t feeling careful and polite!!!

SHE:  No, I’m not — at all.  I’m feeling kind of explosive!

ME:  Well, it’s natural that you would be feeling that way.

OK, are you ready for a few more things?

  1.  First, keep in mind that he’s not preventing you from anything.  He’s actually helping you be yourself.  I know that idea is slightly annoying.  It’s annoying that he is the reason you will improve your ability to express yourself more fully in all situations.  Isn’t that ironic?  Your “enemy” is actually helping you!  Wild, huh?  (Not surprisingly, she groaned a bit….)
  2. Don’t be all scattered and squirrel-y, running this way and that —  explaining or defending.   This dissipates your energy, your focus and your impact.  Instead, before a business meeting, take a moment to get centered.  What are you feeling and thinking?  What topics will you bring up?   Write them down.  It may help you be more concise when you communicate to the team.
  3. Speak up and speak out.  Make factual statements — short and to the point.  And then wait.  (Hint: This will require restraint.)  Hear his response and make another short and to the point statement.  Be direct.  Use as few words as possible.  “No” is a sentence.  “Yes” is a sentence.

Here are some examples of direct statements.

  • Let’s do this a different way.
  • I can’t help you with that right now.  I can help you (in two hours, in a few days, etc.)
  • That’s a great idea.  Here’s one tweak that would work for me.
  • I’m not interested in doing that.  We need to assign that task to someone else.  Would you like to find that person or shall I?
  • I have a better (different, new, epic, etc.) idea. 

    © 2007 Sohm.  All Rights Reserved. (800) SOHM-USA (764-6872)

    Photo credit – Joseph Sohm

  • This is a great discussion and I’m glad we’re talking about this.  Here’s what I think.
  • I have no job description, so I’m writing one for my position.  I’ll keep you informed of my progress.
  • Tell me the result you think needs to be produced, and once we agree on that result, I’ll figure out how to get it done.  Do we have a deal?
  • Here’s how to speak to me (ask for something, get help, inspire me, etc.) to get the best out of me.  (Then say it.  And say why that works.  Give quality information.)

Your whole job is to be yourself. Being yourself IS your power. 

When you are fully YOU,  what you say has clout, because you’ve got — YOU — to back it up.  You stand for something.  That’s powerful.  And fun!

SHE:  That’s what I want.

ME:  Yep.

SHE:  I’m excited about this.

ME:  Go get ’em!


Why Men Stop Helping — From The Mouths of Men — Part 3 of 3

Caribbean Sea near Cuba trimmed

Photo Credit — Lois Henrickson

This is the 3rd article in a series about a sticking point in many relationships — how can women get what they need from the men they live with, work with, and meet?

In the first article, I quoted two female writers followed by three readers who commented on one of the female writers.  It was pretty brazen stuff.  I asked a question about blame.

In the second article, I reported your comments and gave more information.  I also asked why you think men stop helping in a relationship.  The ladies had a wide range of views on the subject.

For answers, I thought, “Who would know better why they stopped helping than the men who actually stopped?”

So I asked men.

What Men Say

Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.

Copyright Joe Sohm. Visions of America.

One man said, “My wife never celebrates the wins with me. There is no pause button on the honey-do list.”

Another said, “I can’t do anything right according to her. So it is easier not to get involved.”

Other Men Said:

  • “She micro-manages.”
  • “She’s always looking over my shoulder to see if I’m doing things her way.  Never mind my expertise.  It’s gotta be done the way she thinks it needs to be done or I never hear the end of it.”
  • “I’ve stopped asking for her input about most everything.  I just don’t talk.  I do what I do and that’s it.  Last year, I attempted to do a renovation project with her.  I’ll never do it again.”
  • “She comes behind me and fixes what I’ve done. Why do anything?  I can’t even play with her daughter right.  Why can’t her daughter learn how men play?  We’re pretty good at team sports!  On a Sunday afternoon, we play a game — soccer, basketball, touch football — and sure that’s rougher and tougher than my girlfriend having tea on the veranda.  But nobody gets damaged and if there’s a bump or a scratch, we fix it or brush it off and keep playing.”
  • “What I offer is not ‘good enough’ so I might as well not do it in the first place.  It’s not worth my time or my attention.”
  • “You can either have what you want or tell us how to do it, but not both.”
  • “I can do twenty things right without being asked and when she arrives on the scene, all she notices is the one thing I missed.”

That’s honest feedback.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what say you?

Why Men Stop Helping — What YOU Said — Part 2 of 3

NY Hotel Man

In Part 1 of this series of 3, I asked a question:

Why would a woman — ever in a million years — point the finger at someone else, and put herself in a position where she essentially claims no power to make a change for the better?

No one answered that question.  (Interesting, huh?)

Readers did have plenty to say about why men stop helping.  I responded in the comments section below the blog.    Some readers wrote me personal emails as well.

Based on what all of you said, let’s explore the subject a little more.

Why Blame?

What’s the use of blaming?  Why do it?

Humans are generally not so fond of emotional pain.  We do whatever it takes to get pain away from us.

For example, we:

  • Ignore it.
  • Don’t feel it.
  • Don’t look it in the eye.  Don’t examine it.

So blame works perfectly (theoretically speaking) for off-loading pain.  If I point the finger at someone else, won’t I feel better?  That’s the idea.

But experience shows us it doesn’t work.  Not really.

Am I Different From These Women…?

I asked myself this question.

It’s a fair question.

First I thought, “Oh, I’m really different.  Sure I’ve blamed, but not like that.”

Then I thought, “But not like that… hmmm… it’s still blame.  Maybe I’m not so different.”

Have I done or said what these women are doing or saying?

If I had to answer either yes or no (no qualifiers) I would have to answer yes.

I’ve blamed my past partners for all sorts of things.  I have thought (even declared and discussed with friends), how wrong he was.  I’ve had the attitude that men are “less than.”

However, somewhere along the way, I learned to be a little classier about blame.

  • I can speak rather eloquently and you can hardly pink and white liliestell I’m blaming.  Even if you’re extra perceptive.
  • I can blame and smile at the same time.
  • I have been known to toss a couple dozen lilies into a conversation reeking of blame, hoping no one would notice the ugly stuff.
  • I’ve colored blame all pretty and perfect looking, and called it “helping.”
  • I’ve been known to dress blame in fancy black tie attire, and really — you’d never know it was blame, it looked so good.

Ahhh… but the heart always knows.

‘Cause even with the overlay of a cheery disposition, blame still feels rotten.

I just didn’t know what to do about it at the time.  And neither did the women I quoted.

(So no real difference between me and them there.)

And, no matter how we dress it up, blame is still blame.

(No difference there, either.)

The Verdict Is In

So am I any different than these slug-spitting women, all disgusted and disgruntled with their lazy men who don’t care?  Am I different from these women with 10 inch nails for hair who think men are parasites, or stupid or lazy?

In some ways, not really.  Not essentially.  Not so much.

But it depends on the measuring stick.

I may speak differently.  I may spell differently or put a sentence together differently than these women.  And — we’ve all played the blame game.

Yes, I have evolved since the days when I blatantly blamed.

Yes, I am growing and changing and learning.  I’ve turned (way) more of my attention to appreciation and noticing what works.

What a qualitative difference that has made!  I recommend it!

But do I EVER blame now?  Yes.  And I notice that these days, my blame is more sophisticated.  It’s prettier and more likely to fly under the radar.

It’s harder to detect.

It’s sneakier.

Trust me, I still have plenty of work to do.

And I’m doing it daily.  I’m cleaning up my act.

How Can I Get More Help?

VOA51-CA334The women I quoted in a previous blog are not my clients, nor would my clients say what I read.

But even a smart, resourceful, loving woman can have her version of the question “How do I get more help from my husband?”

It’s a good question.  A great question even…

Why Do Men Stop Helping? 

Readers, I’m interested in what you think about any aspect of this subject.  I invite you to share what you’ve experienced or what you’ve witnessed.

Coming up next week:  I talked to about 20 men I know personally about this question, and ask them to share from their perspective.   It’s good to hear from both sides of the equation.

Please feel free to forward this blog to anyone who would enjoy joining this conversation.  Here’s the shortlink.

Thanks in advance for posting your thoughts in Comments below.  Your words won’t appear instantly — to avoid spammers, I will approve your comment.

Next Week: Why Men Stop Helping — From The Mouths of Men — Part 3 of 3.

Why Men Stop Helping — What (Some) Women Say — Part 1 of 3

© 2007 Sohm.  All Rights Reserved. (800) SOHM-USA (764-6872)

© 2007 Sohm.

Women, I have questions for you.

Do you think (maybe secretly?) that men are lazy?

Do they avoid helping you?

In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

But in my consulting practice, female clients sometimes share with me that their husband or male partner doesn’t them help enough.

My clients’ frustrations, however, seem mild compared to what I found researching the subject on the internet.

(Prepare yourself…)


At the top of my Google search was a female writer declaring that lazy men are simply too comfortable in their relationships.

She figured they had likely worn themselves out in their attempt to “get us.”

She went on to say that men probably feel they have “done their bit” at the beginning of the relationship, and will happily sit back and bathe in the emotional nurturing that you give them.

For her finale, she listed 14 things that lazy men expect from you and what to do about it.

Oh dear.  Good grief.  Heaven help us.

I took a deep breath and ventured on.

The next female advice-giver gave 8 ways to deal with a lazy man.  She started with #8 and worked her way to #1 which was “Don’t yell to get what you want.” 

I nearly fell off my chair.  I’m not sure if I was laughing or crying.

This was on a site with 99,500 followers, mind you.

Frankly, that was all I could handle.  I decided to stop researching.

But with my mouse clicker poised to close the web page, I noticed something.

Could Things Get Any Worse?



Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.


Well, some very unhappy women chimed in about the advice from the writers.

What they said was printed in neat little text boxes to the right of the article.

I figured it couldn’t hurt to read a few.

Said one woman, “I have been married for 25 yrs.  Hate to tell ya this but fixing lazy is like trying to fix stupid.  It’s not going to happen.

Another said (and for the record, I quote the misspellings, grammar goofs, lack of punctuation, and all…) “I would rather live alone, struggle financially then deal with theses parasites called husband.  I say parasites because if you ever dealt with annoying fleas, there is so much simularity. Why do you keep them around for the money?  Is that it?

And finally (and again, an exact quote), “my husband lies on the couch while i do everything i ask him to take the trash out he says yes in the morning i have to take it bad knee bad back it seems he doesnt give a shit about me at all.”

I stopped reading.

I had to get up from my desk.

So What’s The Deal Here?


Copyright Joe Sohm/Visions of America. Posted with permission.

Maybe there’s more going on than meets the eye.

What is driving these women to express (spew) these (awful) things about men?

What’s clear:

  • Three women (who undoubtedly represent thousands (?) of other women) aren’t getting what they need.
  • Three women have no idea how to get what they need from men (just like many other women.)
  • Do the women want to change their situation?  I don’t know.  Not so obvious.
  • Do they get energy from being right while putting someone else down?  Again, no way to tell.
  • The kicker, the pivot point, the big hairy deal:  All three women point the finger at men and not at themselves.  They place  responsibility for the outcome outside themselves.

Finger pointing is not exactly a power move, is it?

Blame is a choice that states (well, screams) “I’m a victim here.  I can’t do this, you do it.  You fix this problem.”

Was It Something I Said?

Maybe it’s our English language.

Lera Boroditsky, an expert in linguistic-cultural connections, notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, while Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to describe it as “the vase broke itself.”  She goes on to site a study in which English speakers who watched a video were much more likely to recall who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks than Spanish or Japanese speakers.

Isn’t that interesting?

Boroditsky also makes a connection between the English language and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than attempting to help them.

But which comes first, thought or language?  Doesn’t thought create language?  We turn our thinking into words and concepts?

So that doesn’t really let us off the hook…

Maybe we adopt blame because it’s easier.  Maybe it’s a habit.  Maybe it’s something we learn and then practice.

A Question For You

So I ask you, why would a woman — ever in a million years — point the finger at someone else, and put herself in a position where she essentially claims no power to make a change for the better?

Readers, what say you?  I’d love to hear your personal experience or something you’ve witnessed about the above question.  Thank you in advance for posting your comments below.

Next Week:  Why Men Stop Helping — What YOU Said — Part 2 of 3

The Single Biggest Cause of Relationship Failure

Pink Rhotodendron 1

Feeling satisfied and happy in an intimate relationship is not about trying harder.

It’s not about being smarter or knowing more.

It’s not about learning the right thing to say or do.

It is about letting go.
It is about controlling less.
It is about undoing.

To be successful — happily growing and changing, self-expressive, loving to yourself and others — unlearn what you learned growing up that doesn’t work and was never “you” in the first place.

This can be a tall order, because it’s the old fish in water problem.  You know — a fish doesn’t know that he’s in water because it’s just there all the time.

What doesn’t work may not seem so obvious to us ’cause we think that it’s just the way things are.  But I’m sure you’ve noticed that what’s “just the way it is” for you isn’t necessarily true for the person next to you.  Each human has a unique set of lenses through which he or she sees and experiences the world.

And by the way, you developed those lenses thanks to the generous folks who raised you, who were doing their very best, yes they were!   But since then, you’ve sailed away from home, and it’s up to you to consciously take the helm.  You’re the explorer now, spyglass raised as you look out over the horizon, totally in charge of your adventures.

Relationships fail because we’re hanging on for dear life to what we’re not. 

Start by letting go of the ropes, the oars, the chandeliers.  

No jumping, climbing, paddling, or swinging necessary.

Begin by being more simple.  In an interaction with your partner, stand still enough to see what you really want to express.   Say what you mean.  Don’t embellish and don’t cloak.  Let your words and your feelings stand.  You are legitimate.  You’re beautiful.  You have bloomed.  So be the bloom.  Gradually, as you stand still in the simplicity, you’ll express more of who you are, and not as much of what you were taught.

Be quiet enough and simple enough to notice your truth and speak it.  Let it radiate from you.  People will get it.  And most importantly, you’ll get it.

(By the way, it is not unusual for a client who is 20 something — or 34, or 54 or 64 to not know who they came here to be.  It’s OK.  You’re not alone.  In fact, you’re in good company.)

Finding YourselfFlowersTinyyellow and white

So how do you find yourself?  Your true preferences?  How do you find what you love and are passionate about?  What makes life worth it?

The bottom line is: Don’t try so hard.   Flowers don’t try.  They grow and bloom, offering their beauty as an integral part of the garden landscape.

Don’t try so hard to fit in.  What would happen if you didn’t?  What would you say yes to?  What would you say no to?

If you weren’t trying so hard to get attention or recognition, get ahead or make something of yourself (like that’s necessary), create a legacy (for heaven’s sake), or seek approval or be liked, what would you do naturally?  Would you work as hard, or would you let yourself enjoy life more?


When communicating your needs and wants, what if you didn’t explain, defend or justify?  What if you left strategy and manipulation at the doorstep?  It never works in the long run, anyway.  For proof, watch any romantic comedy.  When the lying, avoiding and pretending stop, things get resolved and the movie is over.

bee balm 1 trimmedDon’t try to reduce what you want or distract people while you slip something important into the conversation, say, drop a little bomb.

No need to stand on one leg or do cartwheels, making it more difficult for others to notice what you’re really saying.

Don’t couch your words.

Stand still in your knowing and speak directly.

Trust that you can be heard.  Have faith in your listeners.  Let them feel their feelings and experience their responses to what you say.  You needn’t rescue them from what they are feeling and thinking.  They will find a way on their own.

You don’t have to be perfect to get started being your truth, living your truth, or speaking your truth.  Give yourself room to learn as you go.  If something doesn’t work say, “I did my best. What can I learn from this?”

It’s OK to fall down and get up.  It’s OK to be blind and then see the light.

(You know they write some really lovely songs about these things…)

It’s all good.

Macnew trimmedLet go of the fear of being visible, naked, and oh-so-obvious while learning.

Do you feel embarrassed or apologetic when things don’t work?

If we don’t know our lines, or try something that turns out to be a crash-and-burn, we sometimes shrink in shame or embarrassment…

(especially subtly, privately, in our minds)

…or go hide under a rock until we recover.

Others may not have thought a second thing about it, or even noticed but we judged ourselves enough to hide or shut down.

Be easier on yourself.  Despite what your 6th grade teacher may have expected, it’s OK not to know the answer to her question.  It’s her question — who says it’s your question, an important question in your life or that it warrants your valuable attention?

And the jelly on top?  The frosting on the cake?  It’s even OK not to know in front of others.

It’s also perfectly fine to change your mind.  We make way too much of the idea of reputation, or being consistent, or looking good and having everything all wrapped up in a pretty bow 24-7.

Good grief.  That’s way too much pressure.  It’s unnatural.  Go ahead.  Get muddy.  Go off road.  Take a new route and see what happens.  It will be worth it — you will make sure of that!

It’s high time to get over ourselves enough to try what we really want to try.

Do your best to pay less attention to what other people apparently think about you.  I say this often (to remember it for myself!) but it cannot be said often enough.  If your partner finds out who you really are, will s/he stay?  I don’t know.

But if your partner leaves, if your job disappears, even if the unthinkable happens — it is always, always, always (eventually) a good thing.  It’s the Universe helping you.  This I know for sure.

Know thyself.

And as Polonius said to his son Laertes in Hamlet,

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

How Men Hear A Woman’s Voice

bl and wh music staffAccording to researchers, there is a (big) difference between how a man hears a male voice and how he hears a female voice.  A man hears another male’s voice as speech.

But, to a man’s brain,  a woman’s voice is different!

Her voice may not be music to his ears, but his brain thinks so!

The part of the male brain that processes a woman’s voice is the same part that processes music.

Seriously.  This could explain a few things!

From Discover Magazine, November of 2005:  “Psychiatrist Michael Hunter and fellow researchers at the University of Sheffield in England monitored the brain activity of 12 men as they listened to voice recordings and found they process male voices differently from those of females. Women’s voices stimulate an area of the brain used for processing complex sounds, like music. Male voices activate the “mind’s eye,” a region of the brain used for conjuring imagery.”

They went on to say that women generally have shorter vocal folds, and more variation in pitch and volume, or melody, as we speak.  We have a more poetic quality to our speech.  We sound more like music to a man’s ears.

Here’s the deal, though.  In my experience working with couples, If you are (good) music to his ears, he decodes.  He pays attention.  He wants to hear you and understand what you’re communicating.

If you sound like bad music or noise, he simply turns you off.  He changes stations.

It’s not wrong.  It’s natural. 

heart noteIt’s a quick, no-brainer decision.  Just change stations and listen to something more pleasing.

The short story is this.  If you want to be heard, the actual sound of complaining, correcting, or criticizing won’t make him listen.  It’s bad music, and he’ll be compelled to turn you off.  Get to a better place with yourself and then talk.  Your message will be more hear-able.

Some conclude that from Hunter’s research that men find the female voice more difficult to hear and understand. But Hunter thinks the opposite is true. Because the brain is apparently deciphering the modulation in women’s voices, Hunter thinks a female voice might be able to communicate more information per sentence than a male voice.  He says that most people at a railway station say female announcers are clearer, and maybe it has to do with the added information in the female sound.

How you sound matters!

In a session with a couple recently, the woman was communicating to her husband in what I would call a whining and complaining voice.  Her message was valid, it just sounded awful, even to me.  So I asked her to gather herself, and try the very same message again, this time from a more centered, non-victim place.

headphonesShe understood me perfectly.  She took a deep breath and repeated the communication using a clear and more neutral vocal tone.

Which, by the way, made made all the difference for her and for him.

She felt better about herself and what she needed.  She was coming from a stronger place.

He could hear her.  He listened intently.  They talked and they understood each other.  They figured things out!  Hooray team!

So dear women, if you’d like to be heard (and of course we do!) in the interest of efficiency, self-esteem, and most of all love, remember — you’re music!


10 Tips When You’re Up Against It


It doesn’t matter so much what happens to us, or doesn’t happen.

What matters is how we think about what happens.

This is my go-to list of mind-changers.

How we think about what happens is where all the power is.


For starters, you were not created on this Earth to live a teeny-tiny, dumbed-down version of who you are.  You did not plan to be less than.  You were not born to be a puny version of yourself.

Anything you can imagine,  you can do.

Have faith.  Hang in there.

Your dreams are real and do-able.


Don’t settle, and yet make peace with where I am?

It’s a tightrope idea, I know.  But making peace is really the balance stick to carry as you walk.  If you’re peaceful about where you are, you’ll go forward with more balance and confidence, even when the wind is strong.

You are where you are, and that’s a good thing.  What you’ve lived so far puts you in a potential-filled position to realize your next steps.

This is excellent.

If you forget, call a friend to remind you.  We all need support.  My friend Shiner Antiorio has been known to call me up in times of trouble and giggle at me (I’ve given her the permanent green light about this.)   Either that, or she just hands me a flower!  And when she does, I remember that where I am is just fine.

Friends can help with the bright side.


Every aspect of your beautiful self is constantly evolving and changing, even if you feel like you’re standing still.

You’re not standing still.  Ever.

Momentum of thought is carrying you in a direction.  The only question is, is this a direction you like?

You’re always going somewhere.  Do you like where you’re going?

Your thoughts are creating your future.  Will it be a future you enjoy?

If not, learn to divert that river of anguish, judgment or upset.  Send it off on a tributary.  Let it flow away from you.  Recalculate.  Distract yourself.  Take your attention off the problem.

Hint: This can feel counter-intuitive.

This is simple, but not necessarily easy.  It takes practice, and it’s worth it.


When you get a “same-old result” (but would rather have something new) try this.

Wake up in the middle of what you do that produces the result you always get.

Just wake up.  Pay attention.   It takes conscious practice at first, and gets easier as you go.

Don’t worry about changing anything yet, just wake up and notice.  What are you doing?  Saying?  Feeling?  Thinking?

Hmmm… be curious.  Be someone who is studying you.

Make notes.


When a client can’t figure out how she got where she is, or why she stays there, I sometimes ask her to teach me how to have her problem.

First she laughs, like “are you kidding?”FrontYardEarlySpring1

(Nope, I’m not kidding.)

Then she looks at me with that “I’ve been found out” kind of look.

Slowly at first, she begins to tell me how to have her problem.  She gets curious.  She looks with new eyes.  She discovers.

The Big Bonus:  She notices everything is in her capable hands.

After that, there’s no going back.



If you could do it yourself, you would have already.

If you’re disorganized, yet prefer a serene, peaceful look in your home, there are plenty of people who know how to help you.  They love the subject you’re confused about, and they are crystal clear.  They can help.

If you don’t know why your plants won’t grow in your garden, you can guess for years and years about what to do, or give up, complain, or worry.

On the other hand, you can get help.  You can send a soil sample to your state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  They will evaluate your soil and send you a report.   You take it to your garden center, and Voila!  They will hand you soil amendments that will make your plants do the happy dance.


There is nothing you need to do to prove yourself.  You have merit, good character, and value.

You are good.  You are worthy.  You were born that way.

Other people may have tried to talk you out of your goodness and natural brilliance along the way.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they did.  Even though they loved you, and even though they were doing their best, it is likely the adults around you insisted that you be different than you are, follow their lead, and conform to their wishes.  It made their life easier.

They needed you to be less outrageous.  Quieter.   Not so CreamOrchidexpressive.  Not so bold.  Not so unusual.  Not so confident.

They needed you to be interested in a subject you could care less about.  They wanted you to pay attention to what they were required to teach you,  and “get with the program.”

They needed you to sit at a desk and color instead of go outside and play baseball or run or whoop and holler and play a wild game of soccer or tag.

All of us went through that and for most of us, it causes an inner question about worthiness.

Time has passed.  We’re all grown up.  Now it’s time to remember we were born to be happy and have things work out.

Joy is a good and mighty thing.

You deserve what you want.  Go get it.


One of the first things I do with clients is something I call “Simple Up.”  When people start sessions on the phone or on Skype, they often plunk down a big mysterious box labeled:  Everything In My Life That’s Complicated.

No wonder they are overwhelmed.

And how smart to bring the box!

So we simplify — often by taking other people’s opinions and advice out of the equation.   Then at least we have a starting place that includes mostly you!  It’s not muddied up with what everyone else in your life would do if they were in your shoes.

Others are not in your shoes.  It’s not their life.  It’s your life.

Others do not know what you should do.  They have no clue.  They are not you.

Pay more attention to what you want to do.  And do it.  Trust that others are big enough to handle it.


Hey, you can’t learn a song if you don’t practice!    Spend time with the song.  Sing it here, there and everywhere.  Make the song part of your day — your drive time, shower time, gardening time.  Sing it!  Do the work.

To get better at golf, take lessons, and do what the instructor says.  Give it a whirl.  See how it helps.  Do the work.

Don’t pretend you’re stuck.  You’re not.  Life is nothin’ but potential.

Don’t pretend to work on something.  Actually do it.  Try new approaches.  Be willing to investigate.  Turn over new rocks.  See what’s under there.

Don’t pretend to be helpless and hopeless — it’s no fun along the way and besides, it never turns out well in the end.  On your deathbed, you’ll feel compelled to write a long and horribly weepy Huffington Post article about all your regrets, and 12,000 readers will be sitting in a puddle of powerlessness, bawling their heads off right along with sad-sack-sorry you.  C’mon, you can do better.

You can do this.  Pull up those big girl panties and go for it.

:–)  Do the work.  :–)


This is huge.  When you’re doing your best, and things have taken a not-so-hot turn, give yourself room to move.

Know there will be a gift in what happened.

Assume that events are always for your benefit,

even if you can’t see immediate evidence. 

Back off.  Relax.  Go easy.  Take the pressure off.

  • Take your foot off the rhotoden partly open
  • Find a softer thought.
  • Do something else.
  • Take a nap.
  • Work in the garden.
  • Sing a little song.
  • Get up from your chair.
  • Walk away for a while.
  • Go outside and look at something beautiful.
  • Read a poem or passage you love.
  • Play a rambunctious game of racquetball.
  • Take a drive in a place you love.
  • Pet your furry friend.

Give yourself a break.  You may not be able to see the whole picture right now.  What’s happening may look awful, but if you take your foot off the gas, you’ll discover a gift in disguise later down the road.

Trust.  Wait.  Make the best of it for now.

Give yourself time to discover that all is well,

things are working out for you, and life is good.