How to Take Personal Responsibility for Your Life: Bridging the Gap Between Knowing What to Do and Actually Doing It

Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility could be loosely defined as “adult-ing.” When you take personal responsibility for your life you are closing the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. Have you ever felt as though you missed out on some book or class that we are all supposed to read or take that teaches us how to be an adult? Taking personal responsibility for your life can be tough and there is no special book or class to read or take. It is about taking action and ownership over your life. Taking personal responsibility is about committing to yourself, committing to your goals and committing to doing what it takes to create for yourself what you say you want.

I imagine that in many areas of your life you are actually quite good at this adult-ing thing. Maybe in these areas of your life you may not feel as though you have a choice. Whether it’s showing up to work because, well, you’d get fired if you didn’t—or waking up early to get your kids off to school because if you didn’t you’d be labeled as a bad parent. 

I am sure there are plenty of days you don’t feel like going to work or would rather stay in bed than getting up early to take care of your household responsibilities, but you do it anyway. Why? Most likely there are external forces at play that create a sense of responsibility and obligation, so you show up for those responsibilities. You push through any resistance and get yourself to work—or wake up early and take care of what needs to be taken care of in your household. This is evidence that you are indeed capable of being a responsible, maybe even a high-functioning adult. Somehow this evidence just doesn’t always translate to your own personal goals.

So here’s the big question: if you are able to push through resistance to these adult-ing tasks, why don’t you apply that same push-through motivation to your personal goals—to your health and well-being goals? Good question, right?! The truth is, you always have a choice. So why don’t you show up for yourself the same way you show up for others?

You—and only you—can successfully manage your lifestyle and your behaviors. So long as you blame any external factor on why you are not following through with your personal goals, you are distracting energy away from doing what is necessary to achieve them. Of course time is hard to come by, of course resources might be limited, but the more you focus on these external reasons of what you do or don’t do, the more powerless and out of control you will feel when trying to reach your goals.

Anytime you externalize a problem: “I don’t have enough time to cook/exercise/meditate/read/do self-care…” you increase feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, frustration and stagnancy. On the other side of the coin is taking personal responsibility, “Today I will make time to incorporate cooking/exercise/meditation/reading/doing self-care…into my schedule.” This is taking control over your life. When you take control you allow yourself to experience less stress and frustration. Now this is adult-level problem solving at its best! Taking personal responsibility for your life, your health and your well-being is rising to the occasion and showing up for yourself, no matter what. 

Excuses are always at the root of failing to take personal responsibility. And who do you think loves to make excuses? Your internal Deal Maker! Just a quick reminder, your Deal Maker is the part of yourself that always has excuses in the form of a deal: “I don’t have time right now to exercise, I’ll do it later (deal?).” When later arrives, there’s just another deal…”I have too much to do tonight, I’ll get up early and do it first thing in the morning…tomorrow, (deal?)…” You know quite well you are not going to wake up tomorrow morning if you didn’t this morning! Your Deal Maker is always prepared with another deal. This part of yourself will sabotage your goals over and over and over again. When you show up for yourself, you develop Inner Strength, so you can STOP the negotiations, STOP the excuses and just START. Start somewhere, seriously, anywhere is better than stagnancy and excuses that are getting you nowhere!

When you think about the excuses your internal Deal Maker makes that leave you feeling stuck, lazy and sinks you into frustration-giving-up-mode, what comes up for you? How can you reframe these? What comebacks can you develop for these excuses and deals? Think about the impact these excuses and deals are having on you right now. Think of how they are keeping you from seeing and taking the options that will help you feel and become in control of your life. Do you believe in your potential to do anything you set your mind to? Think about it, how much of a factor are these excuses in derailing the potential of being your best self?

Some other common excuses that are important to be aware of sound something like this: “Yes but…” and “If only…” The next time you hear these words either coming out of your mouth or running through your mind—STOP—write them down and evaluate them. Ask yourself: are these words really the truth or are they just lame-o excuses? Yes, I know I want to go take a walk but I am just too tired…” Or, If only there were more time in the day I would have time to take a walk, time to cook dinner, time to meditate, time for self-care…”

When you take time to discover, uncover and expose these excuses and deals that cause you to feel stuck, you can begin to figure out what you can do about them. Once you are no longer fooled by excuses and deals you can work on releasing them. You can begin to take personal responsibility for your time, effort and energy. You can begin to work more effectively towards self-management.

Avoiding and denying are two big-time defense mechanisms that often come into play with excuses and deals. These defenses will seriously hold you back. These defenses will keep you stuck in the space of perpetually making excuses and deals. What truly is holding you back from taking action towards your goals? Why aren’t you making the changes you say you want? Is it fear? Oh yeah…most likely it’s fear. Luckily, the most useful tool you have to deal with your fear is action. You have to practice feeling your fear and doing it anyway—over and over and over again—until it’s no longer so scary. Address these factors that are holding you back from feeling empowered when it comes to YOUR LIFE and you will begin to gain clarity. Once you understand your excuses and deals, you will want to take action. You will want to push through fears and show up for yourself. You will begin to want to take personal responsibility for all areas of your life.

For the next week, practice writing down the excuses that you hear yourself saying out loud or in your mind. Practice paying attention to, acknowledging, and preparing comebacks to the deals that your internal Deal Maker uses to sabotage your goals. Take action—and take it consistently. Believe in your ability to grow up. Be an adult and take ownership over your life—show up for YOU. One of the harsh truths about being an adult is that no one is going to do anything for you. No one can create the change in your life that you say you want. You have to do this for yourself. However, one of the benefits of being an adult is that you have the ability to ask for your needs to be met. So, if you need support, ask for it! Ask your significant other, friends and family members (or get a health coach!) to be on your team. Ask them to cheer you on. Let them know your goals and why you want to accomplish these goals. Your story just may inspire someone else to elevate their goals and increase their effort to take personal responsibility.

Practice living your priorities. Practice taking personal responsibility for how you choose to spend your time. Be ok with being “imperfect.” Perfectionists lose time excelling at tasks that could require WAY less time for an equally acceptable outcome. Reduce the time-wasters in your life. I surely know I have some favorite go-to time wasters. Assess your day and determine where you might be losing time due to these time-wasters! You don’t have to eliminate them all together, you just can’t let them take over. Consistently remind yourself that your goals are your priority.

Learn to say “no.” When you practice saying no to things you either don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do, you ultimately say yes to yourself! You say yes, this is my time, these are my goals and dreams and I can make them happen. Align with your values and dedicate time, energy and resources to yourself.

Are you ready to start taking personal responsibility for your personal goals? Let me know how you will take personal responsibility for your life today!

3 Tools to Aid in Emotional Detox


When you think about cleansing and detoxing, you might only think about what to eat, drink or supplement to clear out unwanted toxic build up in your body. It turns out some of the most dangerous residual toxic materials are related to excessive stress hormones that can accumulate in your body. Excessive stress hormones negatively impact sleep, mood, energy and overall wellness by disrupting all the systems of your body.

While detoxing through wellness practices, nutritional additions or even supplements can help get the process started, there are other practices you can incorporate that will help aid in restoring balance from excessive toxic emotional residue due to stress, anxiety, grief, anger, resentment, overwhelm, fear, contempt and other emotional build up that can settle into your being and cause significant tension and discomfort internally.

Have you ever felt as though you have been emotionally “slimed?” Where you feel like you just can’t shake or rid yourself a particular emotion and the triggering thoughts associated with those emotions? If so, you are not alone! Emotions can be difficult to cope with, feel and release. These three tools below can help to detox the “slimy” internal residue of uncomfortable emotions and stress. A big part of releasing toxic emotional build-up in the body is acknowledging it and having a method to release. These three tools are helpful as they can offer an opportunity to create a space to explore the emotions and let them go.

1.    Journaling

Writing in a journal can act as a container for your thoughts, feelings and emotions. When you hold on to stressful thoughts and feelings, you keep your mind and body in a state of fight or flight—this is not healthy or helpful. Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress hormones, to improve the quality of your life and create a healthier perspective on emotions and life in general.

The next time you just can’t seem to “let-go” of an uncomfortable emotion or stressor, dust off an old journal or notebook—or even open up a document on your computer—and just start writing. If you are not sure where to begin, start with the emotion, the stressor and write-write-write. See how it feels to get it out, to purge these thoughts and feelings, close the journal and move forward. Think of journaling as a detoxing process for your mind, which will consequently help to clear your body of built up tension and stress.

2.    Art Making

Creativity is a major component to living a full life. Art making by its nature is healing and life enhancing. Creating a mandala is similar to journaling. To create a mandala, draw a circle on a piece of paper and then use any art materials such as colored pencils, markers, oil pastels or even crayons to release your feelings onto the page. The mandala (circle) acts as a guide, not a barrier. Begin by selecting a color that represents your internal emotions or stress and use line, shape color and form to let it out! You can change colors throughout, just begin with one that represents the emotions you are desiring to release.

Mandalas are one of my favorites because the circle acts as a balancing form on the page, however, even scribbling, doodling or doing soothing painting with water colors can have the same impact. Try not to focus on the product (what your picture looks like!. This is not relevant to the desired outcome: releasing uncomfortable stress and emotions! Art making acts as an emotional detox by letting it flow through you, out and away from you. Art making can be more freeing as you are not limited by words. The next time you are feeling stuck in pattern of holding onto a negative feeling, try creating with art materials and notice how it impacts your mood state. 

3.    Breathe

Your breath offers a direct passageway to greater health in mind, body, and spirit. You will breathe whether you think about it or not, it is a marker of being alive. However, you can bring your breath into your conscious awareness and access the healing benefits through specific actions of your breath.

When you breathe diaphragmatically you engage the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that calms you down. Parasympathetic nervous system response is referred to as “rest and digest mode.” The other function of the nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system response which is referred to as “fight or flight mode.” When you are harboring stress, uncomfortable emotions, or thoughts that are triggering those emotions, even subconsciously, you expose yourself to the toxic residue of these emotions. Emotions themselves are not good or bad, they are valuable information about our experience of our lives. However, if you hold onto emotions they can become a negative experience inside and out, causing significant discomfort that gets shoved into your physical body and creates toxicity.

Breathing helps to calm the nervous system and offers more clarity of thought. This can open you to deeper awareness of why the emotion is there, and how it came to be stuck or stagnant as you may originally not have been open or comfortable with receiving the message it was there to offer you. To begin, place one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your chest. Then, direct your breath in through your nose and expand your abdomen as you inhale slowly. Then, breathe out through your nose drawing your navel in towards your spine slowly.

Continue with this pattern, breathing slowly and deeply and notice the impact on how you feel. Try not force it, just assure that your abdomen is expanding with your inhale, not your chest. You can pair this diaphragmatic breathing with a phrase, such as “let go”—saying “let” in your mind as you inhale and “go” in your mind as you exhale. This helps to free stuck emotional residue and can significantly reduce your stress. This practice also gives your mind a point of focus making it less likely that it will wander off to any other stressful or distressing thoughts.

Emotions are a part of life. Learning to experience, manage and release them is a tremendously valuable part of life. The paradox is often that if you avoid the discomfort you perpetuate its existence. If you allow yourself to feel your emotions, be present with them and make a decision about how to respond in the moment, you offer yourself to feel it as it’s related to the triggering circumstances—versus feeling all of the toxic build up and residue from long-term avoidance and fear.

Try integrating one or more of these tools and notice the impact it has on your life, your body, and your self-awareness. When you free yourself of the discomfort of holding onto emotions that are not needed for your present moment experience, you open yourself to the possibility of offering a deeper space of peace and contentment within.

Grocery Store Survival 101: 5 Strategies to Stick to Your List


The grocery store can be one of the biggest hurdles to staying consistent along your path to healing your relationship with food. The grocery store bombards us with messages about how great we will feel and how much fun we will have when we down those sodas or eat those cookies. The truth is (aside from these items barely even qualify as FOOD) that the grocery store is a major feat to be conquered when embarking on a wellness journey.

I have put together a survival guide with five tactics to help you remain focused, to not give in to your Deal Maker and to create an opportunity for the grocery store to be a place where you can grow your Inner Strength! If you are not familiar with the concept of the Deal Maker—it’s that part of yourself that attempts to sabotage your progress. The Deal Maker is always try to make a deal to keep you stuck because it is very fearful of change. One of places the Deal Maker loves to show up and cause trouble is the grocery store! Your Inner Strength is the part of yourself that you are working to build, to grow and to continue to empower.

What are some of the most common examples your Deal Maker uses at the grocery store? Here’s a few examples:

            “You will only eat just one—every once in a while”

            “You have a hard week coming up, you DESERVE a treat”

            “So-and-so really would enjoy this______________, you can get it for them”

            “Just this once…”

Any of these sound familiar? The grocery store is hands down the most difficult element to wrangle because the food industry pays good money for product placement, advertising, graphic design and they appeal directly to the part of you that takes over with Deal Maker based thoughts.

Here are some tried and true tactics to tackle grocery shopping like a champ! 

1.    Never ever ever go to the grocery store when you are hungry.

I think this strategy speaks for itself, but I will elaborate a bit. When you enter the grocery store hungry you are way more likely to give into Deal Maker thoughts, to over spend and to purchase foods that you do not have on your list. To ensure success at the grocery store be sure to have a snack before hand to avoid any excessive hunger.

2.    Pre-plan what you will eat for the week and create a specific, detailed list for your shopping trip.

I know you most likely always have list when you go shopping—so that is not the main challenge! It is sticking to your list that takes effort when you are confronted with all the choices at the store. When you are armed with your list and have specific ingredients for specific meals, you create a better chance of actually sticking to your list.

3.    Practice visualization before you step foot in the store.

This is a such a helpful practice, it is also referred to as “cognitive rehearsal” and has been shown to help stick to your choices because you have practiced what you will do mentally or essentially “rehearsed” it before shopping.

Here’s how you do it: first, plan what you will need for your meals and write out your list, be as specific as possible. Then close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and visualize yourself at the grocery store with your empty cart. Picture yourself only placing the items on your list into your cart. Picture yourself passing by any “tempting” foods that you do not want to buy, notice how it feels to pass those by… Picture yourself in the check-out line, only purchasing the items on your list, notice how that feels. Picture yourself at home putting away the groceries—only the one’s from your list, notice how that feels. Take another deep breath and go to the store. Once you arrive at the store, if possible, practice the exercise again. This is a super effective tool to as it engages mindset and your emotional world. By practicing mentally first, you get to feel the positive feelings of sticking to your list and how empowering it is to feel in control of your choices.

4.    Shop the perimeter of the store.

The interior of the store is often where all of the packaged, processed, devoid of nutrients foods live. When you shop the perimeter, you are shopping for perishable foods which are fresh and therefore offer more nutrients. If you don’t come into contact with certain foods you are less likely to circumvent your plans and your grocery list. If you do have to go into the interior for some particular product, practice your visualization exercise first!

5.    Use technology to your advantage!

Nowadays there are so many helpful advances to grocery shopping, from Instacart to free delivery to curbside pickup, these options are super helpful and convenient! If you avoid having to even step foot into the store you avoid the possibility of being tempted by any triggering foods. I personally have enjoyed having groceries delivered. I have found that this not only forces me to have a plan, it also helps me save money on temptations at the store in the form of “sales” or other foods that look tasty but really I just don’t need.

I hope these strategies make your grocery-shopping and decision-making process related to food a little more simple. What strategy on the list will you try? Let me know! I’d love to hear if these are helpful for you!