You are Not Lazy or Undisciplined. You Have Internal Resistance. Why you can’t just do it, and what to do instead.


Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member
You are Not Lazy or Undisciplined. You Have Internal Resistance.

Why you can’t just do it, and what to do instead

When I was writing my PhD I didn’t have bad weeks. I had bad months. The kind when each day you wake up thinking, “Today I will actually do the thing” and then you… don’t. Somehow the day ticks by and then it’s 11 pm and you still haven’t done the thing and it feels like you might as well go to bed and start over tomorrow, but already you have a sinking horrible sense that you won’t do it then either. And lo, the cycle repeats.

It doesn’t have to be a PhD, of course. This why-can’t-I-just-do-it circle of hell can happen any time you’re trying to do something you care about that is big and in some way new. And once the cycle really gets going, you can find yourself prey to self-loathing so corrosive and debilitating that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Which makes sense. Why wouldn’t you feel self-loathing when every day you violate a promise you made to yourself about something important to you AND you don’t know why AND you can’t stop AND you have no one else to blame because YOU ARE DOING IT ALL TO YOURSELF for some mysterious fucking reason you don’t even understand?

As far as most of our culture is concerned, the answer to this torturous cycle of not-doing-the-thing also lies in what’s wrong with us, more or less: we’re lazy, we’re unproductive, we’re irresponsible, we’ve let ourselves become addicted to our phones, we’re procrastinators, we’re not meditating, blah blah blah. In the coaching world, it’s our ‘lizard brain’ holding us back from the human evolution that is our birthright. Basically whatever is keeping us from doing the thing is something that’s wrong with us or our behaviour, something that needs to be controlled, eradicated, tamed, left behind or put in its place.

In 15 years of helping people over these kind of blocks, not to mention a life-time of getting over them myself, I have become 100% certain of two things: that way of thinking about the problem is not accurate, and it’s definitely not fucking useful.

You are not lazy. You are not undisciplined. You are not irresponsible. You are not suffering from mysterious ‘Just Can’t Do It’-itis.

You are experiencing internal resistance. And internal resistance is not a flaw, nor is it all powerful. It is a facet of human creativity and growth, and it can be managed. But we have to start by recognizing it for what it is.

What is internal resistance?

In his book The War of Art, writer Steven Pressfield names the force that keeps us from using our talents “the Resistance”. The Resistance is a mysterious hostile force, an enemy that has to be bested. In Pressfield’s imagery, we spend each day fighting back the resistance in an eternal battle that is as timeless as it is endless.

Pressfield’s model has helped a lot of people, including me. But I think ultimately he’s only about half right. Yes, resistance is intrinsic to using your talents, and it has to be faced daily. But it is not a grim otherworldly force that blights our existence. And treating it as an external enemy to be battled is both a losing endeavour and a lost opportunity. (We could also talk about the machismo involved in his approach, but that’s a subject for another post.)

Internal resistance is not a free-standing inherently malevolent tendency of the universe. It’s not the freaking Dark Side! It’s a part of us, and it is grows from the exact same soil as every talent and skill and goal we have: our brains, our personal history, our families and our culture.
Because that soil is unique to each of us, every person’s internal resistance has its own particular causes and flavours and effects. But what every experience of internal resistance shares is a prediction and fear of pain.

Internal resistance is an attempt to avoid the pain we associate with successfully doing the thing.

The causes of this pain are as individual as we are, but in my experience it is usually tied to some kind of predicted loss of love and connection, whether it’s love from others or for ourselves. Which makes sense: what else would be universally terrifying enough that we would block our own talents and goals to avoid it?

What can you do with your internal resistance?

If you think about internal resistance this way, I think it becomes clear why approaching it through ideas of laziness or lack of discipline is so unhelpful. Internal resistance is not lazy — it’s fucking energetic as hell! It takes a lot of work to push back on our desire to move toward our goal, day after day.

And if we try to use discipline to increase our movement toward the goal, we wind up with another version of the same problem, because we ultimately increase the resistance: the more likely it looks like we’re going to make it to the finish line, the greater the fear and the stronger the resistance.

Basically, we’re already locked in a mental tug of war, and trying to apply discipline just means both sides pull harder.
So what can we do instead?

Here are some places to start:

1. Recognize that internal resistance is on your side. Part of what is so awful about the cycle-of-not-doing-the-thing is that it feels so self-destructive. But internal resistance does not want to destroy us; it literally wants the opposite! It only exists to protect us from pain.
You are not being self-destructive. You just have two deeply rooted and fundamentally contradictory ideas about what is best for you: doing the thing, and not doing the thing.

2. Get curious about this pain that your brain is so worried about. When we understand exactly what pain we fear and why, we can work on reducing those fears. This is why I think treating resistance as an opaque external force is such a mistake. Internal resistance is not immovable — it responds to reason, to alternative scenarios, to making space for the emotions that seem like such a threat — but to shift it you have to understand its particular content for you.

3. Negotiate. You may not be able to figure out what is motivating your internal resistance immediately, and even once you do, it can take some time to figure out how to address your fears and worries about pain in the offing. In the meantime, I suggest haggling. Will your internal resistance allow you to work for 10 minutes? What about five? If you can’t work formally, could you talk into your phone? How about brainstorming in the bathtub?

You can create so much increased space in your brain just moving from “I need to apply will power so I stop being so bad and lazy” to “I’m experiencing a lot of internal resistance, let me get inventive in working with it today”.

4. Recognize that you are not alone in this. Even if resistance is not a superhuman force, I think Pressfield is right to envision it as something that besets most of us. Yes, there are rare people who do not — or at least don’t seem to — experience much internal resistance, who seem to just produce and produce. But I am willing to bet that you also seem like that kind of person to someone in your life.

Listening to your resistance

There’s another reason why I think we should treat internal resistance as a form of wisdom rather than a malevolent opponent. It holds a lot of knowledge about what we secretly believe we might be able to do. As in: your brain wouldn’t be so afraid of the costs of you doing the thing if it thought you were going to do something forgettable and inconsequential.

Likewise, it can be helpful to remember that the force of your internal resistance is also a measure of how much you actually want to do the work, no matter how many days you don’t quite manage to get there. The only reason the tug of war isn’t over — the only reason every day feels so fraught— is because you’re still pulling toward your goal, because you’ve got your heels dug in.

Right now, it’s exhausting and sad because it feels like whichever side wins, part of you will lose. But that’s why we work to understand the internal resistance. When we do, we can stop the tug of war and start dealing with the emotional landmines that a part of us is so certain lie ahead. Sometimes the fears turn out to be imaginary, and sometimes the pain is very real. But either way, they become just one part of the experience of doing the thing we want to do, rather than a barrier to doing it in the first place. counterarts/you-are-not-lazy-or-undisciplined-you-are-experiencing-internal-resistance-755a02673aa9


Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member
Just because you feel awful doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong

We don’t give up on our goals because we feel bad. We give up because of what we think feeling bad means. Here’s how to think differently.

Let’s say there’s a task that’s really important to you, but somehow you can’t seem to work on it. You’ve tried a lot of solutions, but nothing seems to help.

Then one day, you stumble across something that seems like it could actually make a difference. Maybe it’s my post on internal resistance. Maybe it’s someone else’s writing or podcast or whatever.

When this happens, we start to feel a tiny bit of hope. Maybe we won’t actually spend our whole lives stuck between the rock of wanting to do the work and the hard place of somehow still not doing it.

In my experience, this hope feels incredible. Like rain in the desert. Like we won’t have to act like our own worst enemy forever.
So we decide to try yet again.

I want to pause before I go further just to say that this is fucking heroic and you should try to actually notice that. The amount of not-being-willing-to-give-up-on-yourself involved in making another attempt, when you’ve had so much painful negative reinforcement, is profound.
But once you get started, you quickly notice you’re feeling more and more awful. You hate what you’re doing. It’s stupid, you’re stupid, this whole attempt is stupid. You’re getting more and more anxious.

What’s worse: the more you notice how bad you’re feeling, the more it seems like this time isn’t actually any different. That realization feels so awful that the bad feelings grow even faster, until they’re so intolerable you have to tap out.
It seems like you’ve failed, again. And that precious little flame of hope you brought to the task winks out.
But no matter how many times you’ve had this experience, it does not have to keep happening. The key is in how we understand those moments when the bad feelings start to mount up, and it feels too hard to stay.

The electric fence
As I’ve said elsewhere, many of us have deep fears of loss and pain attached to our goals that create resistance to working on them. When we’ve been struggling against this internal resistance for a while, we can build up a cluster of ingrained thoughts about how we can’t do it, we don’t have what it takes, we’re totally failing, etc.

When we try to work, these habitual negative thoughts start up. We start to tell ourselves we can’t solve the equation, we aren’t smart enough to understand the reading, the sentence we have just written is SO FRICKING BAD. The more we think these thoughts, the worse we feel.
But we don’t know these are habitual thoughts. We think they’re just true. Even more important, we think the feelings that come with these thoughts are true. By which I mean: we think that feeling terrible while we’re working means we’re doing terrible work.

That assumption then creates a feedback loop. We have negative thoughts, we feel awful feelings, we mistake the awful feelings for a sign we’re doing awful work. Which creates even more awful feelings. And on and on. Go through that cycle enough times and your brain will understandably start telling you that trying again is an extremely bad idea.

At this point, something that once made you feel curious, excited, and engaged starts to feel emotionally radioactive. It’s like we’ve inadvertently surrounded the work we want to do with an electric fence supercharged with anxiety and despair.

And longer the cycle goes on, the worse we feel, the taller and more charged the fence appears.

Feelings are an independent variable
Taking our bad feelings as diagnostic in this way feels so intuitive in the moment that it can be hard to see them otherwise. But the bad feelings have nothing to do with whether or not our work is going well.

They come from a repeated pattern of negative thoughts we bring with us to the task — all those thoughts about failing and not having what it takes and it being just too hard. For the time being, our brains are going to think those thoughts whether what we create is gibberish or genius.
So the first step to breaking down the fence is to work on believing that these negative feelings contain zero diagnostic data about the quality of your work. In fact, their diagnostic value is less than zero, because those ingrained habits of mind have so primed you to see your efforts as flawed.
The crappy feelings you’re having don’t reflect anything about the actual work you’re producing. They don’t tell you how your work is, they just tell you how it feels to work.

Treating them as some kind of accurate performance rating is like going to the movies with food poisoning and thinking your stomach ache means the acting sucks. It’s correlation, not causation.

When we start understanding our feelings as unpleasant bystanders rather than knowledgeable commentators, we can stop amplifying them. And over time, we can create the space to build new habitual thoughts that help rather than hinder us.

Dismantling the fence

Once the electric fence has gotten charged up, it’s hard to see it for what it is, because the negative emotions feel so overwhelming there isn’t much room for anything else. We’re so busy just trying to survive getting zapped that we don’t have the space to understand what’s actually happening.
So the first thing we need to do is give ourselves a chance to witness the fence for what it actually is: a set mechanisms constructed over time that can also be taken apart over time. Then we can grow our capacity to stand aside from the experience and let the feelings be present, without internalizing them as salient diagnostic data.
Here’s what I recommend:

1. Set aside 10 minutes.

2. In the first five minutes, make a list of the things you are afraid you’ll think and feel when you try to work. Be specific. Will you feel like throwing up? Will you think you’re an idiot? Will you compare yourself to someone you think is doing it better or faster? Get it all down.

Note: you will likely start to feel some amount of these emotions even just making the list. This is actually good, because it gives you a chance to observe how little the feelings have to do with your actual work. How could they, when they are happening before you’re even doing any?

3. Decide right now that these thoughts and feelings WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN this time. You will for sure feel anxious and like there’s no point and every single thing you’re doing is the worst.

4. Then ask yourself: am I willing to feel this stuff for five minutes today? If you’re not sure, remind yourself that you have felt it a million times before and you have survived.

5. If the answer HELL NO, that’s perfectly fine. You got through the first five minutes! Plus you actually identified some negative feelings. This is big. Now you’re not just facing an undifferentiated mass of unbearableness. As a next step, spend some time with the question: what if these feelings do not mean anything about my capacities for work or achievement?

6. If the answer yes, then set a timer for five minutes and engage with your task. THE POINT IS NOT TO GET WORK DONE. The point is to practice letting your brain freak out without believing everything it’s telling you.

To help create this distance between your emotions and your observing self, try naming the thoughts and feelings as such. So: I notice I think I can’t read this code, I notice that I am afraid I’ll get too anxious to work, I notice my heart is racing, etc.

7. When the timer goes off, take stock of what you experienced. Did you notice any gaps between what your brain wanted to tell you and what was actually happening? Did planning for the feelings ahead of time make the experience any less fearful? These are the little steps that will start to build your way through the fence.

8. Then do something to discharge the energy. Take a walk, take a bath, dance around the living room. You got zapped with a bunch of negative feelings, so give yourself time to de-zap. And give yourself props for doing a hard thing!

It gets easier from here

The most crucial thing to remember when you start this practice is that you have already endured a way worse version of this process. You’ve done it when you had no hope, when you thought you were the only one having this experience, when you accepted every horrible feeling as the gospel truth. And you still kept trying.

Compared to what you’ve already done, what’s in front of you is more do-able, not less. It’s not just throwing yourself at the fence over and over; it’s starting to create a way through. And once you begin to drive a wedge between feeling bad and believing your work is bad, you’re going to start to see daylight. You’re not going to need to hope that you can work, because you’re going to have proof. just-because-you-feel-awful-doesnt-mean-you-re-doing-it-wrong-3e38f65d209


Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member
Use Your Existing Leaf

Why trying to turn over a new leaf winds up keeping us stuck .

Several years ago, I was on an academic fellowship and pretty sure I was failing at it.

I’d envisioned myself getting to my office early every day, spending several hours virtuously writing, and then knocking off at 3 pm for a run. Instead, I was lying awake all night agonizing over everything I’d said that day, sleeping until 11, and rolling into my office just in time for lunch.
By the time I got to my desk at around 2, I’d be drowning in self-recrimination. My office — this hard-won space I’d been so excited to occupy — now felt like the scene of a crime I had committed against myself. I’d killed off my chance for a good day before I’d even gotten out of bed, and there was nothing I could do to resuscitate it. So I’d occupy myself with some busywork, just trying to tolerate being there until I could go home and try again tomorrow.

If you don’t get why I didn’t just do some actual work when I sat down at 2 pm, then this article is not for you.
It’s for everyone who 100% gets it, because you’ve had similar mornings or afternoons or weeks or months. It’s for everyone who has abandoned a project or a programme or a commission or a degree after making a mistake or dropping a ball or letting yourself down, because clearly there was no coming back from that.

When you’re inside this logic, it seems totally self-evident. Like: No, I clearly can’t start work at 2 pm, wtf. Or: No, I obviously can’t reply to the email now when I should have done it six months ago. Or: No, I can’t ask my advisor for help when I didn’t take her advice last time.
When people offer us these kinds of options, it’s like we’re being asked to feed a fish that’s floating belly up in the bowl. Like: what part of beyond repair do you not understand?
There are good reasons we wind up thinking about change this way, but it’s a problem in the guise of a solution. The more we try to do it right from the beginning, the more stuck we become. But we don’t have to stay stuck, provided we’re willing to think about self-transformation in a different way.

New-leaf thinking

Apparently the phrase ‘turn over a new leaf’ actually refers to book pages, which used to be called leaves. The idea is that when we turn over a new leaf, we get a pristine, unsullied page — a new chance to do things properly. And if we do make a mistake, well, then there’s an obvious solution embedded right there in the metaphor: just turn over a new, new leaf. Start fresh, again, with another blank page.

This is how I was thinking those afternoons in my fellowship office. There was crappy, old-leaf me, slinking in at 2 pm to do some busywork, and there was optimal, not-yet-created new-leaf me, sailing in at 9 am to put in a solid six hours. Either total success or total failure.

Which meant that, once I’d started my day with less than total success, there was no coming back. Mistakes had been made, and the gauge was set at ‘fail’ for the remainder of the day. That’s why I couldn’t take advantage of those afternoon hours: I literally couldn’t see any advantage in using them. Making a little bit of progress was just Failure Lite.

The problem is, that in-between space between total success and total failure is where change happens. Trying to improve your life without small steps and big mistakes and occasional backsliding is like deciding to throw your shovel away because you want to do some digging.
When we’re thinking this way, we never give ourselves enough time and space and credit to create the bigger changes we want, because we can’t see any value in incremental progress. So we quit before those efforts can start to build up to something powerful. We get stuck in a perpetual new-leaf loop that takes real transformation off the table.

Existing-leaf thinking

Now imagine that instead of writing off my afternoon, I opened up my document and did even one hour of work. Now imagine that I did that every day for a week. Yes, I’d only have done five hours work. Yes, this would bear no resemblance to the Perfect-Shining-New-Leaf-9-am schedule I had in my head.

But think of all the ground I’d have gained. I’d have kept contact with my work every day, which would mean I’d be thinking about it, turning it over in my mind even when I wasn’t working. I’d build integrity with myself by showing up for that one hour a day. By breaking through the anxiety I had about working each day, I’d start to build up more tolerance. Plus, I’d learn that the anxiety didn’t stay at a fever pitch, that after 10 minutes or so I was absorbed enough for it to wane a bit.

Perhaps most important, I’d start to remember why I wanted to do this work in the first place — i.e., not to be worthy of inhabiting that office but because I loved the project.

This is more or less what eventually happened. I didn’t fix myself. I didn’t ever have that ideal fellowship day that I’d imagined, not even once. NOT. ONCE.

But over time I whittled away at my anxiety and my insomnia and started to write a little in the afternoons, until the afternoons started to seem like a viable working time. And eventually I wrote the fucking book.

This is how real change happens: we lessen our death grip on the new-leaf fantasy we’ve got in our heads, and we start to take a baby step from where we are instead. Change happens when we begin to use our existing, imperfect, starting-at-2 pm already-screwed-up leaf.

Why is this so hard?

So, why do we fall prey to this way of thinking about change? Why do we keep doing this new-leaf thing that is so clearly not working for us?
In most cases, I think it’s because we really, really, really want to leave the things we don’t like about ourselves behind. That’s at the core of the new-leaf fantasy. We think in order to get what we want, we have to be someone else. In large part, being someone else actually IS what we want.
We want a new leaf so we can be that good, improved, more lovable version of us we think is somehow both totally different and just out of our reach. If we could only keep it together and do everything right for once, then we’d get to be them.

Except we can’t do everything right immediately and totally. And the more we fail to live up to our nice new leaf ideal, the more frustrated and inadequate and miserable we feel, and the more imperative it seems to leave this failed, not-doing-it-right version behind.

As I’ve tried to show, this way of thinking will keep us stuck because it isn’t how progress happens. We can’t get to the other side of the leaf because there is no other side, not in the way we imagine. Every single path to progress contains mistakes and failures and disappointments, because that’s how humans work.

Which means, no matter how much it might look like it, no one gets to keep their new leaf pristine. Change is never binary and nothing goes perfectly forever. No one gets to be their fantasy selves. Every single one of us is working with our existing leaf. We’re all just living in varying levels of denial about that fact.

And the denial makes sense, because we so firmly believe that our existing leaf is too flawed to be useful. Being told that there’s no new leaf can feel like being told you’re just going to suck forever.

But that’s what new-leaf thinking gets so very, very wrong. Because here’s what I can see now about those sad afternoons in my fellowship office: that person I was trying to leave behind, who I was afraid wasn’t really smart enough to turn her dissertation into a book?
She was the same fucking person who wrote the damn dissertation in the first place, the one who won the fellowship, the one who showed up for it every day even though she was fricking terrified of failing — even though she was totally sure she WAS failing. I was so busy trying to leave her behind so that I could belong, I couldn’t see that she was the reason I was even there in the first place.

The same thing is true of the person that you think is on the bad side of your leaf. The one you think you need to jettison in order to apply for an MFA or start playing piano again or talk to that famous guy about your business plan. That supposedly failed, crumpled, old-leaf self you can’t wait to leave behind? The one full of self-doubt and anxiety and all that stuff you want to get rid of?

They are actually the ones who did every single thing you are proud of in your life. They thought up the big goal you want to go after and kept you from giving up on it. They made every one of your friends and listened to every song you’ve ever loved. They got you from a baby that couldn’t hold its head up to the person you are right now, reading this post.

Our existing leaf is the only one we have, and that’s not the tragedy we think it is. It’s where our power and aliveness and uniqueness resides.
Think about it: your leaf is the only one exactly like it that has ever existed and ever will exist in the universe. And you are the only one that can grow it the way it is meant to be grown. Don’t try to throw it away. Use it. Your existing leaf is the good stuff.

https://janeelliottphd. use-your-existing-leaf-ba8756a5bf97


Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member
7 Psychological Reasons You Don’t Trust Yourself
Let these bad habits go and your natural self-confidence will rise

Not being able to trust yourself comes in all shapes and sizes from chronic self-doubt and imposter syndrome to indecisiveness and low self-esteem.
And while all of them are painful in the moment, the real tragedy of all self-doubt is that it leads you to miss out on life:
  • How many amazing careers were abandoned because people didn’t trust themselves?
  • How many incredible works of art never came to be because people didn’t trust themselves?
  • How many beautiful relationships never formed because people didn’t trust themselves?
Sadly, many people’s low self-trust goes unchecked and even gets worse over time because of one basic misunderstanding about what actually causes it:

It’s not events from your past that make it hard to trust yourself — it’s your habits in the present.
If you want to start trusting yourself more, look out for these subtle psychological habits sabotaging your self-trust and work to eliminate them.

1. Dwelling on the past
If you struggle to trust yourself, it could be because you’ve gotten in the bad habit of ruminating on the past, especially mistakes or misfortunes.
See, a lot of people convince themselves that they need to continually analyze and replay their past mistakes in order to avoid making them in the future.
And while there is a place for healthy reflection, you can always tell when it’s slipped into unhealthy rumination by these two signs:
  • It’s not productive. Healthy reflection leads to new insights and behavior change. Unhealthy rumination keeps going and going without actually resulting in any benefit.
  • It’s compulsive. Healthy reflection is deliberate and intentional: you’re thinking about the past for a specific reason and for a specific amount of time. Unhealthy rumination, on the other hand, is something you just find yourself doing — like a bad habit (which it is!)
Unfortunately, besides making you anxious and depressed, chronically ruminating over past mistakes and failures also trains your brain to believe that you’re not trustworthy.
Think about it…

If you’re constantly reminding yourself that you’re a screw-up, is it any surprise that you have a hard time trusting yourself?

If you want to trust yourself more, live your life going forward, not in reverse.

Take responsibility for your mistakes, of course. And learn from them if you can. But after that, have the courage and self-compassion to let them go and get on with your life.
“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.”
— Deepak Chopra

2. Worrying about the future
Worrying about the future is the flip side of ruminating about the past.
People convince themselves that their chronic worry is inevitable or even necessary because, well, somebody has to think about negatives in the future, right?

Absolutely. But here’s the mistake:
Worry is fundamentally different than effective planning and problem-solving.

By definition, worry is unhelpful thinking about negatives in the future. Planning and problem-solving can be difficult because they’re negative, but they lead to results — they’re productive and generative.
The only thing worry leads to is stress and anxiety in the moment and low self-confidence and lack of trust in the long-term. Which makes sense if you think about it: How much trust are you engendering in your mind if you’re constantly worrying about every possible negative outcome in the future?
So why do we do it? Why worry so much if it only makes us anxious and kills our self-trust without actually getting anything done?
We worry because it does do something for us…

Worry gives us the illusion of control.

Life is full of sad, disappointing, and frustrating things. And our ability to actually change most of those things is far more limited than we like to believe.

But confronting our limitations and helplessness (and all the grief that would go along with it) is profoundly scary. So we worry because it makes us feellike we have control and can do something.

But ultimately it’s a trap: You can’t control nearly as much as you would like.
Better to get used to that reality than continue to live in denial, chronic worry, and low self-trust.
“There were many terrible things in my life and most of them never happened.”
― Michel de Montaigne

3. Trusting your emotions
I love this one because it always gets people riled up:
It’s just so WEIRD to hear a psychologist telling me not to trust my feelings… I thought the whole point was to get more in touch with my feelings and emotions?
Here’s the thing:

There’s a big difference between listening to your emotions and trusting them blindly.
A few quick examples:
  • When your partner makes that sarcastic comment to you during dinner, your anger boils up and tries to convince you to say something equally biting and sarcastic back… Should you trust your anger?
  • When your boss offers you a promotion, your anxiety might immediately start yelling at you to say no because it would involve more pressure and responsibility and you might not be able to handle it. Should you trust your anxiety?
Culturally, we tend to put emotions up on a pedestal and romanticize them. But in reality, they are just one of many aspects of the human experience — not any more special or authoritative than any other mental capacity like sensation, perception, or logical thinking.

Your emotions will lead you astray just as often as they will help you.

This means that while you’d almost certainly do well to improve your emotional self-awareness but trusting them blindly and impulsively is a recipe for suffering and low self-trust.

How could you trust yourself to focus and get important work done if you always trust your anxiety and use procrastination to assuage it? How could you trust yourself to be a loving partner if you always trust your frustration and act out all your anger with your spouse?
By all means, listen to your emotions. But never trust them.

4. Perfectionism
Perfectionism is a result of all-or-nothing thinking:
  • If I don’t get an A+ I’m a failure.
  • If she doesn’t love me, I’m unloveable.
  • I can’t publish this article because I know a bunch of people aren’t going to like it
If you’re holding yourself to impossibly high standards, of course you’re never going to trust yourself to reach them!
But why do we do it? Why do so many people fall into the perfectionism trap despite all the stress, anxiety, and low self-trust it leads to?
Here’s the thing about the psychology of perfectionism:
Perfectionism isn’t about doing perfect, it’s about feeling perfect.

Most perfectionists will freely admit that their excessive standards for achievement are totally unrealistic. But they keep holding themselves to them… Why?

Because deep down perfectionism is less about being afraid of failure itself and more about having a low tolerance for feeling like a failure.

For example:
When the perfectionistic artist refuses to display her work in public, it’s not really because Joe Schmo Nobody is going to think it’s not good. It’s because the thought of somebody thinking her work isn’t good creates tremendous anxiety. And because she’s unwilling to tolerate that anxiety — that imperfect feeling — she lets yet another piece of art sit dormant in her studio.
Ultimately, perfectionism makes it hard to trust yourself because it kills your emotional confidence — your belief in your ability to do the right thing despite not feeling the way you want.

If you want to start trusting yourself more, practice feeling bad and doing the thing anyway. Emotional tolerance is a superpower.
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
― Michael J. Fox

5. Procrastination

Procrastination means that you’ve broken a promise to yourself. And your brain is paying attention…

For example:
You said you were finally going to finish up that slide deck this afternoon. But because working on the presentation makes you anxious, you avoid doing it and do clear your office instead. You rationalize this decision by telling yourself that you can’t work in a messy office.
That rationalization might make you feel better in the moment, but let’s be honest: you’re not fooling anyone — definitely not yourself.
When you procrastinate and break a promise to yourself, you’re teaching your brain that you can’t be trusted to follow through on your commitments.

So if you’re in the habit of chronically procrastinating is it any surprise that you also struggle to trust yourself?
Now, I don’t want to imply that procrastination is something you can just get over with a snap of your fingers. No, it can be a very thorny problem with all sorts of subtle psychological causes.
But at the end of the day, if you want to get over your issues of not trusting yourself, you have to address your habit of procrastination.
“Motivation often comes after starting, not before. Action produces momentum.”
— James Clear

6. Reassurance-seeking
Reassurance-seeking is essentially outsourcing the hard work of managing difficult emotions to someone else.
And besides leading to resentment and conflict in your relationships, reassurance-seeking has the other downside of absolutely killing your self-confidence and ability to trust yourself.
Which shouldn’t be all that surprising…
  • If every time you feel anxious and worried about something you immediately call your spouse so they can calm you down, what message is that sending to your own brain?
  • If every time you feel disappointed in your self you immediately go to your best friend and they make you feel better by telling you how great you are, what message is that sending your brain?
  • If every time you feel frustrated at work you vent and complain to your coworkers, what message is that sending to your brain?
If you habitually shirk the responsibility of managing your own painful emotions, you’re telling your brain that you can’t handle them yourself.

I mean, why would your brain trust you if that’s the message it’s getting all the time?

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with leaning on other people for emotional support sometimes. But if you do it to the exclusion of working through things yourself, it’s a setup for low self-trust.
Ultimately, your emotions are your responsibility, and yours alone.

7. Ignoring your curiosity
As a psychologist, one of the saddest stories I heard over and over again was how people gave up on childhood dreams and passions because they weren’t approved of by parents or other authority figures:
  • Surgeons who secretly hate their profession because they’re actually passionate about architecture or basic research.
  • Attorneys who are chronically burned out at work because they’re really interested in music or mental health.
  • Civil engineers who can’t stand their work because what they really loved was carpentry or graphic design.
What are you telling your own mind if you spend decades suppressing your genuine interests and curiosity in favor of what society or your family thinks is important?

Yeah, you’re teaching your mind — yourself — that what you want and are curious about isn’t important. And even worse, that your wanting is not as important as other people’s wanting.

And that, my friends, is a setup for chronic struggles with not being able to trust yourself.

Because, if you think about it, you took one of the most important decisions of your entire life — your profession and career — and said “I can’t be trusted to follow my own curiosity and interests when it comes to my work so I”m doing to rely on other people to make that decision for me.”
I’ll say it again: Why wouldn’t you have self-trust issues if this is the case?!

On the other hand, one of the best ways to start rebuilding trust in yourself is to have the courage — yes, sometimes it takes courage! — to follow your curiosity and pursue the things you are authentically interested in, even if it goes against the grain of what society or your spouse or whoever thinks.
“Not being you is risky way of becoming.”
― Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

All You Need to Know
If you want to trust yourself more, learn to identify the habits in your life that are interfering with self-trust and work to eliminate them:
  • Dwelling on the past
  • Worrying about the future
  • Trusting your emotions
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Reassurance-seeking
  • Ignoring your curiosity


Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member
The Nine Habits to Increase Your Energy

Running out of energy too quickly? Try one (or all) of these tricks to boost it back up and get more out of your day.


Energy, not time, is the basis for productivity. Having all the hours in the day won’t help you if you’re exhausted for most of it.

Your habits define your energy levels. If you have good habits, you’ll feel energized and be more resilient to burn out, both physically and mentally. If your habits are misaligned, you can get into a cycle where you feel worse and worse, until your it’s a struggle just to keep up.

Here are nine habits you can work on this year to increase your energy levels.

Habit #1: Go to Sleep Early

Sleep is the foundation of your energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll start to under-perform.

While some people claim to work best on six or less hours of sleep, research says they’re kidding themselves. Seven to eight hours are pretty much mandatory if you’re going to stay cognitively sharp in the long-run.

For some people the sleep deprivation may have mentally plateaued, meaning they feel slightly tired all day, but they don’t think they’re getting any worse. An interesting experiment showed that sleep deprivation caused continuous declines in mental performance, even though subjects felt like they were holding steady.

Try this: Go to bed by 10pm every night, including weekends, for the next thirty days.

Habit #2: Exercise Every Day

Exercise is a long-term investment in your energy levels. It’s easy to cut in the short-term, but over time you’ll reduce your overall fitness, making it harder to think straight and stay alert throughout the day.

If you struggle to find time for exercise, don’t make going to the gym your prerequisite. Make a habit of doing some pushups or burpees every day throughout the day. These will get your heart pumping and blood moving, and they don’t require setting aside two hours from your already busy schedule.

You can add gym or fitness classes on top of this foundational habit, but this basic investment in exercise will keep you sharp when you can’t make it to the gym.

Try this: Do at least 10 burpees every day from your home.

Habit #3: Twenty-Minute Naps

Napping may feel lazy, but there’s research showing it has a range of cognitive benefits. This is particularly true if you’re doing a lot of learning, since the short burst of sleep can help with memory.

I used to feel guilty taking naps, believing it was a sign of weakness. Now, I think it’s definitely a strength. A short nap can turn you back on for work in the afternoon, when you’d normally be exhausted. Even if you work in an office that doesn’t encourage napping, you can use a slice of your lunch break, to quickly rest.

The key is to learn how to take short naps. Many people take naps which are too long, pushing them into deeper phases of sleep which cause them to feel even groggier when they wake up (although the benefits to even these naps often occur after the initial grogginess wears off). The key is to wake up immediately with your alarm. If you start adding more time, a quick nap can become a long sleep.

Try this: Insert a 20 minute nap after you eat lunch to recuperate your energy for the afternoon.

Habit #4: Do Your Hard Work in the Morning


Aim to get your most important work done in the first four hours of the workday, starting as soon as possible.

The benefits to your energy here are mostly psychological. My energy levels depend a lot on my mood. If I’ve gotten some important work done, my mood is usually good and I feel productive. If I’ve wasted time on emails, meetings, calls or failed to produce something valuable, I’m often frustrated and exhausted entering the second half of the day.

The other reason for this approach is that deep work isn’t always sustainable for the full workday. Better to concentrate it into a specific period than randomly insert it across chunks of time.

Try this: Make the first four hours of your morning a quiet, deep work zone.

Habit #5: Set Your Intention the Day Before

Energy is often about momentum. Start working hard and you’ll overcome procrastination and keep going throughout the day. Start slow and you may end up struggling against your own impulses, wasting the energy on things that aren’t productive.

One way to avoid this is to set a very clear intention of how your day will go, particularly in the beginning, the night before. Visualizing this intention and writing it down into your schedule can make it happen more automatically when you wake up.

Try this: Before you go to bed, write down your plan for the next day and visualize it.

Habit #6: Sell Yourself on Your Goals


Many people simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs: that other people (marketers) are really good at persuading them to do all sorts of things they wouldn’t do otherwise, but that they themselves have no ability to change their own motivation to do the things they have to do.
The truth is, you need to become the salesperson for your own goals. Not for other people, but for yourself.

Part of that starts with packaging—how you frame your goals and projects can have a huge effect on your motivation. Is this something you have to do? Or an exciting challenge?

Next it comes from refreshing and reminding yourself of your inspirations. Why did you get started down this path? What were you hoping to achieve. Good marketers know to focus the customer on visualizing what they want to drive sales. You can focus yourself on what you want to have the energy to get it done.

Try this: Set aside ten minutes every day to think about what today’s actions are helping you build towards.

Habit #7: Get Better Friends

You may not be able to choose your parents, colleagues or your boss. But you do have some control over the friends in your life.
You know that some friends you leave a conversation with them feeling excited and energized. Others you leave feeling even worse than you did beforehand.

You don’t need to exclude friends who are going through temporarily rough times, but you should consider who you spend your time with when there are people who consistently create one-sided emotional exchanges as the basis for your relationships. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes, but some people will expect you to be their permanent shoulder.

Try this: Set a time limit on friends who leave you feeling drained.

Habit #8: Read Better Books


One of the great benefits of reading books isn’t simply to give you ideas and information. Rather it’s to reinforce a mentality that often occurs at a subconscious level. The best books aren’t those that teach you facts, but those that subtly change your entire thinking patterns.
Audio books can be very useful for this, since you can listen to them and re-listen to them on the go every day. A good book for this is one that, when you listen to it, automatically adjusts your thinking onto the things you need to work hard on. Just like a good song can be the background for a particular emotion, a good book can be the background for a particular energy of thinking.
Try this: Always have an audio book that motivates you to work on your goals.

Habit #9: Align Your Life

The last habit isn’t a one-time process, but an ongoing effort to bring the different elements of your life out of conflict and into alignment with one another.

A lot of energy is squandered because the different parts of our lives, both internal and external, are in conflict with each other. That could be the colleague at work who doesn’t want you to get promoted, the friends who make fun of your goals or even the internal fears and assumptions that keep you hesitating.

Spend some time untangling the different conflicts in your life to see how you could resolve them. Sometimes that can be done in the short-term, by making a change. Sometimes, it requires a long-term plan to escape the toxic environment, social circle or belief system that holds you back.

Try this: Sit down for an hour and brainstorm all the things which assist your goals and all the things which hold you back. How could you resolve those tensions?



Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member

How to Adopt the Japanese Approach to Accepting Life’s Challenges, “Ukeireru”​

Experts explain how the concept may help you overcome almost anything.

Life since the coronavirus pandemic has been a lot to swallow. But in terms of how to cope and carry on, the best first step may indeed be accepting the realities we’ve faced, however difficult or grim.

In Japan, the concept of acceptance is fundamental to the traditional culture. There are many Japanese words that translate to “acceptance” – “ukeireru” is just one of the more current choices, but people may refer to the concept using others. Regardless of word choice, psychologists say acceptance is a value that can go far in helping us manage stressors big and small, from coping with a Wi-Fi outage to living through a global pandemic.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to accept who you are, what you do, and what society does to you,” explains Masato Ishida, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Okinawan Studies at University of Hawai`i at Manoa. It’s not the same thing as resignation, he adds. Rather, it’s more so accepting the current situation in order to make peace with it and either make the best of it or move on.

Shigenori Nagatomo, Ph.D., a professor of religion at Temple University specializing in East Asian Buddhism research, uses the English word “harmony” to describe how acceptance or ukeireru is part of Japanese culture. “Human beings are understood to be ‘beings in nature.’ Hence the importance of establishing harmony with it and with everything else in the world,” he says.

A lot of people in Japan have an aim-high, work-hard attitude, which makes it tough to accept anything less than perfect, Ishida explains. So this underlying way of acceptance helps in those times when everything doesn’t go according to plan.

How to embrace “ukeireru” in your own life:​

Ukeireru goes beyond self-acceptance. It’s about accepting the realities that surround you, too – your relationships, your roles in the communities you’re a part of, and the situations you face – rather than fighting them, according to Ishida.

What’s more, psychology research tells us being more accepting of our own thoughts and emotions without judging them promotes improved mental health and helps us better cope with the stressors we do face. Scott Haas, Ph.D., a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based psychologist, wrote a book on the topic of ukeireru after studying Japanese culture (Why Be Happy? The Japanese Way of Acceptance). He explains that by practicing acceptance, you make space in your life to move on from negative or unpleasant situations. For example: To find motivation to get a new job, you first have to accept you're ready to move on from your current role — or, to start grieving the loss of a loved one, you have to accept they've passed away, Haas explains.

Acceptance is much different from resignation, which is when you submit to something you’re facing and give up in terms of making a change for the better, or getting out of that situation. Its also isn’t necessarily something you block out a half hour in your calendar to practice. Rather, it’s a mindset to guide your thinking day after day. Ishida describes it as a “slow-cook philosophy,” meaning the more you bake it into how you interact with people and the world, the more naturally you’ll find yourself using it in response to stressful and negative situations.

So how do you get started? Here are some tips:

Make time to connect with nature.​

When it comes to accepting reality, the very ground we stand on is a good place to start, Haas says. Get a houseplant. Go for a walk. Spend more time outdoors! It will help you establish that harmony with nature that Nagatomo is talking about, which is fundamental to acceptance.

Recognize what’s actually stressing you out when you’re feeling wound up.​

It’s going to be tough to accept situations if you’re misinterpreting what’s upsetting you, or what stressors you’re actually facing, Haas says. Are you arguing more with someone in your household because they’re behaving differently – or because you’re both stressed about the hardships brought on by the pandemic, for example? Are you really stressed about your dry cleaning not being ready – or because you have a big work deadline that week that’s putting you on edge outside of working hours, too?

“It doesn’t always feel obvious when you’re experiencing it,” Haas says. But oftentimes the problem isn’t you or the other person (in whatever situation you’re stressed about), it’s some underlying problem that’s ramping up tension. Try to practice connecting more with the root issue and not burying it with timely stressors.

Remind yourself that every situation is temporary.​

We tend to feel stressed when we feel trapped, Haas says. And one way to make any situation immediately less stressful is to remind yourself that it’s temporary – and whatever unpleasantness or burden you’re feeling won’t last forever, he explains.

Practice mindfulness or meditation.​

Take time to do things that help ground you in the present moment. Take time to do things that help you tune into your thoughts and feelings over the noise of whatever outside stressors you’re facing. Mindfulness and meditation practices can help you do this, Haas says – so can journaling, going for a walk by yourself, or listening to music. “Anything that helps you remove yourself from a situation to create space away from the stress can help enormously,” Haas says.

Make incremental changes.​

Change doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t expect it to. Whatever new situation you find yourself in that you’re trying to accept and adapt to, do so by making small, incremental changes to your routine, Haas says.

For example, don't compare a new significant other to your past relationships; but instead work to appreciate each trait that makes this person who they are. This kind of mindset can be applied elsewhere, too: Focus on making one new friendship at a time after moving to a new place, familiarize yourself with each process at a new job gradually, or learn to move with your body after a major injury (you won't wake up on day one feeling back to normal!). It takes time for something new to become familiar, feel routine and truly meaningful to you.

Don’t be afraid to abandon routines that aren’t working for you.​

And when it comes to adopting those new routines, be flexible. If something isn’t working, figure out something else to do, Haas says. For example, a lot of people picked up new hobbies (like baking bread, doing needle point, or birding) or habits to help them get through 2020 and the pandemic. If those routines are no longer making you happy, helping you find joy in the present moment, or no longer feel worthwhile in 2021 and beyond, move on and try something else, Haas says.

Be kind — to others and to yourself.​

Remember, it’s okay to feel fear, sadness, or anxiety about all the uncertainty we’re experiencing right now. Rather than beat yourself up for those feelings or try to fight them, be kind and compassionate toward yourself. It’s part of acceptance, Haas says. You have to be okay with feeling the way you do. And then you can go ahead and figure out how you can make yourself feel better.

If your feelings of anxiety or sadness have become unmanageable, it's important to seek out help immediately. Professionals at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a national nonprofit with local chapters in each state, can assist you in finding the appropriate resources to manage your anxiety at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or


Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member

You Haven’t Wasted Your Life. Here’s Why.​

It’s a common element I see in a lot of motivational videos. They’ll start with the secret to growth (or whatever they think that is), and then they’ll go into personal accounts: Stories of people who discovered this new, magical approach later in life. I hear it a lot, and it makes me wince every time.

People will say, “I can’t believe I wasted so much of my life doing x when I could have been doing y.”
And then there will be a call to action: Don’t waste any more of your life. Don’t spend your time (or money) on things that don’t work. A reasonable conclusion, right? Kind of.

My problem with this style of thinking is its emphasis on not letting your life ‘go to waste’. And while the idea of enacting change into your lifestyle can be motivating, that motivation can be short lived, and very quickly replaced with guilt.
Why? Let’s have a look.
  1. If you’re only going off of motivation, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (contrary to popular belief, some things are worth failing at), but it is something that’s important to acknowledge when you set out to do the things that are important to you.
  2. In this day and age, it is very rare for anyone to be satisfied with where they are. There will always be things we ‘could have’ done better. Maybe you could have dedicated more time to mastering the violin when you were eight. Maybe you should have learned four languages before the age of ten. Maybe you feel like you wasted your athletic potential by focusing too hard on books or video games. Whatever the case, no one starts out perfect, and very few people feel that they’ve done enough.
  3. Growth is a process, not a state of being. To say that you ‘wasted’ your life is counter-productive. I’ve had a nagging feeling of inadequacy since I was a very young child. Would you tell a fifth grader that they’re behind in life? That they’ve wasted their potential? That they’re going about things all wrong?
So how do you know if you’re still young enough to start something new?
Spoiler alert: You are.

Stan Lee didn’t write a hit comic until he was almost 39.

Toni Morrison wrote her first novel at 40, won a Pulitzer Prize at 56, and won her Nobel Prize at age 62.

Martha Stewart didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was 41.

Julia child didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was 50.

Betty White didn’t become famous until she was 51.

Wally Blume, founder of Denali Flavors (the creator of Moose Tracks ice cream), didn’t start his business until he was 57.

There are countless examples like this, many of them starting their passion even later in life. It feels ridiculous to think that we’re supposed to have everything figured out in our twenties, or our thirties, or even our forties. If you’re still alive and kicking, you have time.

Don’t get caught up in the cycle of feeling guilty for where you are. You’ve done enough. Now you can do even more.


Kitchen Wench #TeamQuaid
Staff member

Overcoming Inadequacy​

And Learning to Be Enough for Yourself​

I’m not fully sure how to start this article. I’m sitting at my laptop, staring at the page, trying to muster the courage to put into words something I don’t feel qualified to talk about.

Since almost as early as I can remember, I have felt a deep sense of inadequacy. I have never been exactly where I want to be. I built my life on daydreams of the potential I thought I was wasting. I built my motivation on goals that felt just a few steps away, and I hated myself when I wasn’t able to take those steps.

Everything I’ve ever been good at, I’ve done on accident.

Technically, that isn’t true. But it feels more true than I can fully put into words. Everything I’ve been praised for, everything I’ve been proud of, and everything I’ve achieved has been purely situational.

Everything I’ve actually worked hard on has come up short.

And if I’m only good at things that I’m not trying to be good at, where am I going?

This is where I stop. This is the part where I quiet my spiraling thoughts and let myself think of all this in a new light. Have I done well on accident, or have I decided that the things I do well are just not good enough? Have I acknowledged my smaller goals, or am I laser-focused on the things I haven’t been able to do yet?

The balance between living in the moment and striving for improvement has never been something I was able to master. Only focusing on the moment leads me to feel hollow and unsatisfied. Solely planning for the future — all the things I’m going to do, and all the things I might fail to do— leaves me waiting for the moment my life will finally begin.

My life has begun. I’m just scared to watch the stopwatch run.

Twenty years in, and I feel like I’m still waiting for the whistle to blow.

So how do we overcome this? How can we choose to be enough for ourselves without feeling like we’re admitting defeat?

Short answer? Lots and lots of practice.

Step One: Be Kind to Yourself​

Easier said than done, I know. But sometimes starting is the hardest part. My brain used to be hard-wired to be self-critical. If I messed up, I wouldn’t let myself live it down. I was my own worst enemy, and my own greatest hope.

That was a lot of pressure.

Nothing changed overnight. Sometimes you have to start with the uncomfortable things, like telling yourself you did a good job. Sometimes you have to force yourself to celebrate your successes.

It gets easier with practice. Start by changing your self-talk, one moment at a time. Eventually, those old pathways in your brain that led you to be so cruel to yourself will grow thin and bumpy.

The road less traveled doesn’t have to stay that way.

Step Two: Set Measurable and Achievable Goals​

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals. Everyone’s talking about them, but are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

If you go about them the right way, yes.

For me, the most important aspect of SMART goals are the fact that they’re achievable. Sure, the other letters are important too, but as someone with a nasty habit of setting myself up for failure, the A is my favorite.

Achievable doesn’t have to mean easy, but start with something you know you can do. Don’t start by setting a goal to change the entire structure of your day (unless that’s something that you feel able to do quickly and comfortably). As odd as it sounds, small achievements are often the best motivators. Show yourself that you can make progress, then challenge yourself to go farther.

It’s good to think about your future, but it’s counterproductive to think only of a future that is completely detached from the present. Pick a goal you can see clearly, and when you get there, it will be easier to see what comes next.

Step Three: Separate Your Sense of Self-Worth From Your Achievements​

This is another one that’s much easier said than done. Perhaps in another article, I’ll break this one down into much smaller steps. But just like step one, this is best achieved by slowly re-routing your mental pathways.

In order to improve in any way, you need to have a plan for coping with failure. Most important things aren’t done on the first try.

I try to approach failure and shortcomings from a constructive perspective. I try to understand what went wrong and what I can improve. Most importantly, I work to separate these from my self-identity.

I am a failure becomes I failed.

I’m bad at this
becomes This is something I can’t do yet.

I’m not good enough
becomes I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped.

It’s perfectly okay to be upset when things don’t go as planned, but try not to let disappointment become shame.

Concluding Remarks​

This is far from an extensive guide to overcoming feelings of inadequacy. This is an article I wrote all in one sitting after taking a two hour nap in the late afternoon.

I don’t know everything, I just know where to start. I have to believe that what comes next will get clearer as I move forward.

Everything I’ll ever be good at, I’ll do on purpose.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider checking out some of my other work and following me. If you want to go above and beyond, I’d love it if you would buy me a coffee to support my writing.

Thank you for reading!