SWIHA Spotlight: How to ‘Get Out of Your Own Way’

This feature story originally appeared on the SWIHA website:

Mitch Rustad’s journey to becoming a Life Coach was a natural evolution of his passion for personal development and transformation. After a profound experience helping a close friend navigate a severe life crisis, he was inspired to take his interest a step further and pursue an education at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.

Mitch-Rustad-Life-Coaching-Month-feat“I thought it was time to get some formal training and put my personal passions and communications skills to work,” Mitch explains, “I loved the idea of helping others break negative patterns and ‘get out of their own way.’ I now use that phrase on my business cards and that sums up what the work is all about.”


Mitch has served clients from all walks of life and has observed that everyone’s blocks, or what keeps them stuck, are similar: “It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, widowed, straight, gay or younger or older. We’re all the same, and we all ultimately want to experience the same things – happiness, harmony, love and abundance. “

His favorite way to start a meaningful dialogue in his sessions is through the use of the “More or Less” tool, where clients list things they’d like more of in their life and things they’d like less of and identify the connection between the two.

“It’s super simple for even skeptical people to grasp and dive into,” he says, “and it makes the road going forward much clearer. In my experience, often people are initially intimidated or skeptical, and this helps them drop their guard and start talking about their life and goals. It immediately opens doors that have been closed for people who never gave themselves permission to dream outside the box.”

Mitch shares this story with us: “I coached a close friend through a personal and professional impasse, which was the most challenging experience I’ve ever had. Despite severe negative blocks and procrastination, we ended up making tremendous progress and profound transformations. It’s because of this experience I know that almost anything is possible and no situation is hopeless if someone’s willing to open up to positive change.”

Life Coaching hasn’t just advanced Mitch professionally; it’s also helped him on a deeply personal level.  He says he comes away from every session with a client feeling like he’s benefited from the experience as well.

“It’s really helped me focus and create real-world changes in myself and others I’ve worked with and to believe profound change is not only possible, it’s inevitable, with this work,” he tells us, “if you’re inspired or intrigued by the idea of Life Coaching, take an introductory class. Do it first and foremost for yourself, because the courses at SWIHA are as much about your own personal growth as about the skills you learn. Open up to the possibilities, have fun, and see where it leads you — to surprising places, I’m willing to bet!”

To register for your free 30-minute consult, go HERE.

 

Beyond Politics: Creating Harmony in a World Gone Mad

Can a Trump voter live in harmony with a liberal? Can red and blue America truly find common ground in these trying times? These questions are even more pertinent given that the holidays (gasp!) are upon us.

But now that this agonizing election is behind us, I’m thinking it’s time to tackle this tricky topic, because I can answer with certainty – YES.

Controversial, I know!

In a nutshell, you CAN transcend politics, you CAN be happier and more harmonious now (no matter what your shows up on social media), and NO, you can’t wait to do this until the right party wins, or when things calm down. What if that magical day takes years to arrive? As always, our focus has to be on the NOW, and what we can do today.

In the last few days, despite the anger, toxicity and insanity surrounding all things politics — and I’ve felt plenty of that myself at times — I realize that through the use of relatively simple coaching tools, anyone can transcend these very real agonies.

 

Life is short, so can anyone really afford to put their life on hold until politics gets sorted out? Talk about a dead end!

What makes me so sure? The bottom line is, the human desire for greater joy, wellness and personal peace is universal, and doesn’t have a political party. We can all agree on that, right?

Like most of us, I’ve found it perplexing at times to realize that so many neighbors, friends, relatives and co-workers might have a wildly different view of our country or President than I do. It’s a temptation to run to avoid, shun or judge those people, and blame them for any anxiety or suffering that comes from our toxic politics in this country. At times, we rightfully feel out blood boil, and find the toxic levels of lying and corruption intolerable. I’ve been there, who hasn’t in the last few years, right?

But as I return each day to the basic principles of coaching work with my clients, I realize this work transcends politics (or any other topic, for that matter). I have learned that coaching exercises bring us to deep, more universal places, where we really ARE the same, because we all want more happiness, success, and love in our lives. Amidst the chaos and confusion, it gets really simple. All it takes is a willingness to try, to change, which goes far beyond today’s political winds.

Of course, we all have to address the negative blocks, resistance, anxieties and distortions that hold us back — and THOSE issues very likely have nothing to do with who you vote for — and I find that vastly encouraging in these unstable days. That work probably involves (pardon the pun) liberal doses of detachment and non-judgment, which is easier said than done, of course.

Without a doubt, we all need to stay active and involved in our duty as citizens to create a better country for everyone. But in the meantime, we have lives to live, goals to reach and moment-by-moment fulfillment to grab onto. Life is short, who can afford to put life on hold until politics gets sorted out?  Talk about a dead end!

With the arrival of the holiday season, we all probably will have to interact with various people who may offend our values as citizens and human beings. But as coaching reveals, the ultimate freedom from that angst comes from doing our work, and keeping politics in its proper context. I’ve seen it with others, and in myself. We all DO have the power to sit at a dinner table, or in a social gathering, and NOT be triggered by offensive points of view, and that work isn’t in changing the other person. It’s all about taking charge of yourself.

That MIGHT ultimately mean, you just don’t hang out with people you find toxic to your beliefs. Fair enough. But when you DO have to — family dinners, work parties, etc. — discovering ways to feel SO good, and secure in your own worth, that other people’s anger and discontent dissolves at your feet, is what I call real power. I want more of that, don’t you?

This power doesn’t mean you’ll ever have to compromise core beliefs, morals, and tolerate what you view as bad or offensive behavior. But this power also means that all of us, beneath whatever comfortable armor we may have around our political identities, can reach higher levels of happiness, peace, joy and success, regardless of the latest political chaos around us.

Want to learn more about creating this kind of freedom in your life? For a complimentary, 30-minute coaching session, GO HERE and let’s get started! Here are some testimonials and additional blog posts, too.

Do You Try to Criticize Your Way to Success?

Ready for a shock? Take a few minutes right now, slow down and detach momentarily from your routine, tasks, and to do list, and contemplate this: As you go throughout your day, try to monitor/write down the thoughts going through your mind AS you try to attain those goals. Go ahead, try it now, just for a few minutes.

Did any of the following usually unconscious, autopilot, often socially conditioned responses come up for you?

Why can’t you do it right? Do it faster! You sure about that? What if you’re making a mistake? Maybe they know better than you? Watch out! You’ll never be good enough. You better wait, what if it doesn’t work?

Yikes! This programmed self-critic isn’t HELPING you in any way, but this issue has been coming up some recent coaching sessions, and because my coaching mantra is ‘It’s time to get out of your own way’ that means putting an end to any mindless, autopilot self-criticism.

The mind has thousands of thoughts a day, so we can’t possibly correct EVERY thought that comes up, but we CAN notice them, without attaching judgment. Then, try to let them just dissolve like a passing cloud on the horizon. Casually notice, then dismiss that harsh inner critic, and pay attention enough to interrupt any stream of thoughts that drag you down, de-energize you as you move towards what you want. Try it today, and see how you do. Do these thoughts HELP you in any way?

Are self-criticism, punishment, admonishment, etc., really the BEST you can do to move towards your goals?

You can’t criticize your way to ‘success’ and even if you can temporarily motivate yourself via this kind of negativity, it will be short-lived, and unsatisfying. Is that really how you want to live your life, turning against yourself, cracking that whip, as your best option for achieving your goals? When we understand there are far better ways to self-motivate, which actually make us feel GOOD, fill us with vibrant energy and self-worth (and thus, self-confidence), we can tell that inner critic to take a hike, because we’ve found a better, far more satisfying (and effective) way to be successful.

Try this exercise today, and identify three of your most common forms of self-criticism. Take a hard look at them, and then decide you’re going to release them and choose a more satisfying means of filling up your fuel tank. Write your own mantra, to train your brain to believe success is NOT attached to self-criticism. Before long, you’ll start ticking off that ‘to do’ list with greater ease, and FEEL good in the process. That’s the kind of ‘success’ I’m looking to experience, what about you?

For more information on coaching or to set up a consultation, CLICK HERE

The Art of Focusing on What You WANT

It’s no secret that Twitter can be a toxic landmine of hate and misinformation, but it can also be speckled with insightful (and ultimately inspiring) threads like THIS – which basically surmises that happy people talk more about what they LIKE in life, as opposed to what they hate. As I read it, I found myself shouting inside, ‘yes, exactly!’

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This thread is about observing happy people in Japan, but I’d say it’s pretty universal. I also realized this epitomizes what coaching is essentially all about: A daily practice of interrupting any habitual negativity, and re-focusing on what you WANT, rather than what you DON’T want. Simple, right?

If it were that simple, of course, everyone would be happy and living their dream life. I’m also reminded of what the amazing Esther Hicks has said so often said in her seminars and on YouTube (I’ll paraphrase): “Stop beating the drum of what you don’t want!” As this Twitter thread points out, negativity is almost an epidemic in America right now. What can we all do about it?

So let’s agree, we CAN start doing something, if we want to. But how often have we been caught up in complaining about what (or who) we hate, over and over again? What exactly does that accomplish?

I can hear many of you (myself included at times) saying ‘But it’s true! Look at everything there is to be negative about!’ No arguments here. But focusing on what’s wrong is ultimately a choice, and invariably results in stress and unhappiness. Not fun, not healthy, not useful. What if you deliberately focused on what you WANT to have, right now, for the next hour? Or day or week? What do you think would happen?

If you want better health, more inner calm and fulfillment, make that your focus right this second – choose to disconnect from that tedious (but often addictive, I’ll admit) chat room of discontent, and immerse yourself in good feelings of having what you want– which is often right here, ready and waiting for you, but we can’t see it because…we’re too consumed by what we hate! Do any of us want to spend another day looping in that dead-end pattern?

This leads right into of another mantra I love – it’s time to get out of your own way.

So here’s one practical step to get you started: Write down three things you dearly WANT — better health, a job you love, more calm, etc. — and focus on them throughout the day. Look at them often. Play around, feel as if you already have it, experience that fun, eager, happy feeling of the end result. You’ll feel better, so try it!

While thinking of a way to conclude this blog, I stumbled upon this Tweet, which is a fantastic reminder of why focusing on what you WANT really matters.

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So immerse yourself on focus more often on things you want. Stop complaining. Watch inspiring videos, share funny Tweets, support a worthy cause or start working with a life coach. Do whatever feels right to you, and watch how your life starts to change for the better.

It’s Time to Get Out of Your Own Way!

Read the headline for this story again. That no-nonsense mantra hit me like a ton of bricks recently during a coaching session with a client, and I jotted it down immediately so I wouldn’t forget. Over the years, I’ve interviewed incredible energy healers and wellness experts, and experienced almost every healing modality out there. It’s been amazing. But I’m realizing more and more that this one nugget of intuition might be the most simple, powerful strategy for ‘healing’ I’ve ever heard.

It’s time to get out of your own way.

headacheI think this statement applies to everyone. We’ve all been stuck (either for a short time, or possibly for many years) in some job, relationship, limitation or other unhappy circumstance. But our minds often find many logical reasons ‘why’ we can’t move on or get what we want: My boss sucks and doesn’t appreciate me. I’m too fat. I’m not good enough. People don’t like me. I’m not lucky. Other people are so stupid! Why don’t they appreciate me?

Do any of these sound familiar? What would be on your list? It’s unbelievably easy to fill our minds with all this noisy, negative chatter, and feel resigned to the fact that happiness and real fulfillment are (for now) out of the question. One day, maybe. After all, life is just too stressful, people are just too crazy, and there’s too much to do, right?! But do these statements help you get what you want, or do they just litter your own personal landscape, and slow you down?

Understandably, most people accept that they’re stressed out and stuck, and look for ways to cope with these feelings of powerlessness. You slowly forget that you have choices, and that you’re naturally equipped with a limitless capacity for change. So you muddle along, doing the best you can – stuck and in your own way. If that’s OK with you, fine and dandy. Don’t judge yourself, it’s OK to choose to stay the same.

But if you’re feeling adventurous and brave, I’ve found that when you take a moment to ask yourself a scary question – What role am I playing in any or all of these unhappy circumstances? – you can then start to see opportunities to break free, and get out of your own way. Hint: If you think the only reasons you’re not living at optimal levels are ‘out there’ or ‘their fault’ or ‘that’s just the way I am’ this is your chance to snap out of that inertia (blame accomplishes nothing) and start liberating yourself so you can achieve that big goal, or just be happier and more peaceful each day.

The fact is, this isn’t pie-in-the-sky, airy fairy New Age stuff: You CAN be happier and more powerful than you’ve ever imagined, once you learn to get out of your own way, and allow yourself to live life more freely. What would your life be like without that noisy, negative chatter weighing your down, getting in your way?

Want to learn more about how to get out of your own way? To get started, go here or fill out this quick and easy intake form here. For a free, 30-minute consult, contact me here. 

Are You Stuck in Approval-Seeking Mode?

Hate in any form is toxic and destructive, especially when you hold onto it. So while I’m taking a deep breath and letting go of the latest insanity coming out of Washington, I’ll direct my ire at an enemy we all share in one way or another: approval-seeking! Guess what? I hate it.

I know you’re not supposed to hate anything (or anyone) because as the well-known adage goes, holding onto hate is akin to your taking a vial of poison thinking it will kill your enemy. But this particular poison – approval seeking — drains your energy, individuality and personal power; needing and seeking and obsessing about the approval of others is energetic poison, and each and every one of us dips into this toxic well far too often.

The truth is, approval seeking is incredibly stressful — and exhausting.

So WHY do so many of us seek approval? More specifically, what’s wrong with being nice and seeking approval? Here’s the problem: Needing and seeking their approval is akin to saying, “YOU’RE more important than I am. I need you to approve of me so I can feel good about myself.”

So we dress a certain way. We conform, act and preoccupy our every move with fear-based thoughts such as “what if they don’t like me?” It’s safe to say that virtually everyone on earth has experienced similar thoughts like this one, sometimes hundreds of times per day. We get desperate to impress, to get more ‘likes’ and attention, online and in the world. But what do you think that’s doing to your true potential, creativity, and moment-to-moment peace of mind? The truth is, approval seeking is incredibly stressful — and exhausting. Life becomes a chore. Anxiety rises. How does that help you (or anyone)?

So ask yourself right now: Are you seeking too much approval in your life?

Start to observe yourself today, in everyday interactions, out getting coffee, at a meeting or even at home. Are you motivated by approval (“do you like me, am I OK?”) or by a genuine desire to express and share your authentic self with the world? Lingering discomfort, resentment, and anxiety can be an indicator you’re in approval seeking mode. If so, it’s time for some changes, because life is way too short to spend it seeking and needing approval.

Here’s a simple action step you can take today: Say to yourself ‘I don’t need anyone’s approval to be happy’ every time you catch yourself in approval-seeking mode. Write down or make a mental note of what happens when you introduce that fresh, empowering thought into your mental patterns. Keep doing it, and this will interrupt any toxic patterns of seeking the approval of others at your own expense. WARNING: Expect an ‘aha’ moment or two (or three) while practicing this.

Here’s a great irony: The less approval you seek, the more you tend to receive. Your energy and attractiveness go way up, because people sense that you genuinely like and approve of yourself – it’s infectious and liberating. Everyone wants to discover an easy way to start feeling good, and putting the kibosh on approval seeking is one of the best ways I’ve found to ignite natural good feelings and greatly increase your energy.

Interesting in learning more about coaching? Want to learn more about how to stop seeking approval, and living with more joy and less stress? To get started, go here or fill out this quick and easy intake form here.

What the Heck IS Life Coaching?

“I am on a lonely road and I am traveling, traveling, traveling, traveling, looking for something, what can it be?” – Joni Mitchell

I’ll be honest, I’m not crazy about the term ‘life coach’. As a tennis pro/coach, I used to help people learn the grips, technique and footwork required to play better tennis. But how do you coach people to learn how to be happier, more successful, or break free of negative patterns/behaviors?

That’s the cool part about this work; I don’t teach, as much as gently guide you towards your own unique ‘sweet spot’ in life; where you can access your own natural abilities to express personal power in healthy, satisfying and fruitful ways; you can gain access to parts of yourself, your talents, abilities and self-confidence, you never knew existed. I can speak from direct experience, this is what can and does happen with coaching.

Learning to overcome a noisy, negative mind can result in clarity and inner peace, and with that comes an incredible amount of personal power.

Do you know anyone who doesn’t want to positively transform something about themselves or their lives — health, career, relationships, self-esteem, fulfillment, family, etc.? Who isn’t stuck in some self-defeating pattern or circumstance?

Assuming your answer is a ‘no’ let’s start with a simple question: Do you believe powerful change is possible in your life? Can you FEEL the change, right now? If so, then you can LIVE it out in daily reality, too. I’ve experienced this first-hand, so I can speak with authority on this. Sure, it takes some work, practice, inquiry and diligence to change old patterns and beliefs, but it can be done. This work instigates and fuels that natural transformation.

So much of this work is about slowing down long enough to get in touch with your truth, gently confronting your resistance and negative patterns by taking a closer look at them.

Looking back, I sure wish I had been able to work with a life coach who could have helped me align with my goals, and authentic self. But in lieu of that option, I learned and assimilated most of these tools on my own – it just took a lot longer

Coaching is ultimately about inquiry, in the here and now, and taking responsibility for your feelings. Exploring questions like: Have I felt inferior all this time, for a lie, for someone else’s benefit? Did I accept someone else’s definition of me as fact, when in truth, I outgrew that label long ago? This list of possibilities here is endless, and yet highly personal to you. Get to the deepest, most personal core for you, and challenge whatever negative belief you discover.

After being a professional writer for more than 20 years, I’ve learned how to communicate ideas, concepts and stories to others; for me, this work is a natural extension of that communication, and it’s tremendously gratifying to use this skill to help others.

For more information, go to my Coaching Guidelines page.

Or just contact me HERE. Or check out my BLOG (updated often!) for random musings on transformation and empowerment (or totally unrelated topics that might inspire and interest you!).