In my years coaching people from all walks of life, I’ve found there are some common tools and actions that most, if not all, have benefitted from. So, without further ado, I present to you Five Essential Tools to help you Live out Loud.
1. Journal. Having a beautiful journal you can turn to when you need to unload, process, grieve, be angry, or get centered is a tool I recommend to every client. What often stops people from using it is the belief that they need to write in it every day, or that the entries must be profound prose.
My journal is a friend who is always nearby and available when I need it. In my way. On my terms. It feels great to use it to empty my brain, dialogue with Little Kerri, or write angry letters to situations or people who have pissed me off. I don’t have to worry about my journal trying to “fix” my dilemma, one-up me with a worse challenge, or offer unsolicited advice.
Not committing to writing in it every day used to stop me from ever reaching for it, too. Not anymore. At times, I may go months without opening it. Other times, it’s with me wherever I am. I get to decide how I use it and when. And that’s pretty freeing and incredibly helpful.
2. Happy Moments Jar. “Gratitude” has become quite the buzz word, and for good reason. When you intentionally identify what you’re grateful for, you train yourself to look for the positive, and when you look hard enough for something, you’ll find it. So, instead of searching for evidence of how hard life is or how shitty your luck is, spend some time, each day documenting things for which you are grateful.
I keep a jar on my desk with a small pad of paper right next to it. Each day, I think of experiences that I’d consider “happy moments” or grateful moments. I jot each down on a separate slip of paper and put them in my Happy Moments Jar. I’ll do this for the full year, and then, on New Year’s Eve, I’ll open the jar and read them all. This practice keeps me more focused on gratitude on a regular basis, and, as a bonus, I get to review my year from a place of joy.
If it’s easier for you, another option is to simply keep a piece of paper in your nightstand drawer to capture your grateful thoughts from that day before you turn in for the night.
3. Belief Book. This is a great tool to help you flip a blocking belief. If you’ve recently identified some thinking that’s getting in your way, such as “I’ll never get my act together,” “I’ll always be broke,” or “It’s not safe to be seen,” spend some time creating an opposite, empowering belief and use your Belief Book to train your brain to think in this new way.
I know, I know. How many journals, books, and papers can you have in your nightstand, but it’s a good idea to keep this one there as well. You’ll pull it out only when you’re working on flipping a belief.
Once you have your new, empowering phrase or affirmation that directly counteracts the blocking belief that’s tripping you up, write it 10 times each night, right before bed. Do this for as long as you need to feel it take root, but at least, one week.
Planting the new belief seeds when you’re about to have the best access to your subconscious (when you’re sleeping) is powerful stuff.
4. Photo of yourself as a child. Having this handy and visible is a fast way to reconnect your young, creative, deep-feeling self with the responsible, taskmaster, grown-up self. As I wrote in last week’s post, each side needs the other equally. Looking into the face of yourself as a child also makes it easier to stop the negative ticker tape running in your head. It makes you pause before saying something like “I’m such an idiot!” or “I look so fat in this.” Would you say those things to that sweet little girl or boy? I doubt it.
I keep my photo on the side of my refrigerator and I look at her often. I imagine what kind of loving messages she could use and I silently encourage her, reassure her, and remind her of just how freakin’ awesome she is. Taking care of myself in this way helps me to feel safer living out loud, be braver in my business, make healthier choices in my life, and deepen relationships by practicing vulnerability. Yup, all this from my kindergarten school picture.
5. A kudos file. There may be times when, no matter how deeply you dig, you cannot come up with evidence of why you don’t suck. Enter, the kudos file. Anytime you receive an email, social media comment, greeting card, or any other kind of note where someone has expressed how great, beautiful, thoughtful, brave, smart, you are, file it away in a folder marked “kudos.” I have both an electronic folder and a regular file folder.
On days when I am feeling particularly low, unmotivated, unproductive, fat, ugly, or afraid, I read some of my kudos notes to get back in touch with some self-love and compassion. And you know what? It works.
Until next week, keep taking those small steps to Live Out Loud.