22 May

My Struggle With Endometriosis

endometriosis; mindset shift; jennifer merchant

Since I was 15, I’ve struggled with endometriosis.

You might even struggle with this yourself as 1 in 10 women have it.

The first time I noticed it, I ended up going to the hospital because the pain was so bad except on the way I ended up getting sick and it was relieved enough so that I didn’t actually go in.

This continued to happen and my mother and I finally linked it to my period and self-diagnosed myself with endometriosis considering she has it really bad and so do the majority of the women in my family (it is a hereditary condition).

When I brought it up to my doctor, they agreed that was what was going on. She immediately put me on a birth control pill to help with the pain and prescribed me some heavy-duty painkillers to take when I needed them.

Basically, she said that was all she could do unless I opted to have surgery or until I was done having kids so that I could get a hysterectomy.

Unfortunately, this is the case for most people who have this condition and I took their word for it.

Except, it kept getting worse over the next 6 years to the point where I would occasionally have to call off of work because I was in so much pain and was stuck crying in bed. I would eventually decide to take the painkillers (I’m not a fan of medicine so I resist as long as possible) and they would kick in enough to let me fall asleep but not enough to let me be a functional person for about 1-3 days.

Then, I discovered my first naturopathic doctor through a podcast (about 1 year ago from today).

I started hearing about how people were healing from these diseases that were supposed to be chronic or incurable and something these people were told they would just have to live with for the rest of their life. It sounded a lot like what I was going through.

This doctor didn’t have the answers for me, but after listening to his podcast almost every day (which I still do), my mindset around my endometriosis started to change.

I had been told that there was nothing that I could do but here were all these other people who were told the same thing and were still changing their situations.

So, I started researching natural remedies for endometriosis and I discovered another naturopathic doctor, Lara Briden, who solely focuses on women’s health. She has a book called The Period Repair Manual. I bought the book and read it and learned so much about the female reproductive system and natural ways to help it.

I started implementing some of her suggestions. I was already taking a good quality multivitamin for a couple months and I also started to cut out gluten and dairy from my diet which was some things that she recommends to start with.

If you are interested in learning about her exact recommendations, I would highly recommend getting her book and reading it as what works for me will most likely be different than what will work for you. She also has a blog you can check out as well.

I started noticing some positive changes so I decided to go off the pill (as I said earlier, I’m not a fan of medicine so I never really wanted to be on this in the first place.) It took about two months to get my period back after stopping the pill but then I got it and guess what? I didn’t even feel it coming!!!

There was a little normal cramping but nothing like what I was used to!! Did I cure my endometriosis? No. But I was able to make some changes to my lifestyle that dramatically made a difference in the way that it affects my life! Who knows how much progress I will be able to make going forward!

I share this story with you to encourage you to trust yourself before anyone else. When someone tells you that you can’t change something or do something, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even try! I was told by everyone who knows about endometriosis that there is nothing I can do other than go on the pill, take painkillers, get temporary surgery, or get a hysterectomy. On my own, I discovered ways to improve the condition myself without using any of things!

I used to wish that I could just get a hysterectomy at the age of 21 just so I didn’t have to deal with this anymore. Now, I have no plans to get one ever!

So, the next time someone tells you that you can’t change something in your life (even if it is a doctor or everyone you know is saying it), I encourage you to start trusting yourself to do your own research. Because those people might be wrong and you will just end up wasting years dealing with pain that you don’t even need to deal with!

– Jennifer
Mindset & Habit Coach

P.S. – All it takes to start changing something is to change one of your habits! Are you ready to start the process? schedule a free Strategy Session with me today!

17 Apr

Where Do Your Thoughts Lie? The Circle of Influence vs. The Circle of Control

positive thinking, jennifer merchant

This topic is a hard one for me because I am a borderline control freak. I love knowing what is going to happen and having everything planned out so there are no surprises. Unfortunately for me, the majority of the time this is not possible.

I used to get so stressed out when I couldn’t control situations or when things didn’t go according to my plans. This is no way to live considering how few things we actually have control over in our lives.

Once I was able to change my mindset of needing to control everything, I became so much happier and stress-free. It takes a lot of practice but here is how I did it, why it is so important, and how it relates to everything in your life, including setting your goals.

Your Circle Of Influence

One book that I recommend to every single person is the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In this book, Covey talks about your Circle of Influence versus the Circle of Concern. He says that most people spend their time focusing on their Circle of Concern when they should instead focus on their Circle of Influence.

Your Circle of Influence is everything in your life that you can actually do something about. For example, you have control over your health, your job, your relationships, and things of this nature.

Circle of Influence, jennifer merchant

Your Circle of Concern is everything you cannot do anything about or change. For example, you circle of concern might include getting a flat tire, the state of the economy, other people’s actions, natural hazards, and things of this nature.

Why This Is Important

I used to spend the majority of my time stressing about all the bad things that could happen in any situation or worrying about the what-ifs. As you can see, I was focusing too much on my Circle of Concern. But once I realized is that no matter how hard I focus on these things or think about them, there is nothing I can do to make them happen or not happen. I was basically just wasting my time and stressing myself out over nothing.

Now, I try to focus my mindset on my Circle of Influence which includes things that I can actually control. I think about my business and how I can make it better. I think about my relationships and how I can strengthen them. I continuously work to improve my health to make sure that my body can keep up with all the things I want to do. Now, this is a much better use of my thoughts if you ask me!

When you start to focus on things that you can actually control, it does a couple of things for you. First, you feel like you are making a difference in your life and your efforts are working. When you spend all of your time worrying about things you cannot change, you will never get anywhere and that can be really frustrating!

Second, letting go of all of the things that you cannot control or change is so freeing. There is really no point in stressing-out or worrying about something that you won’t be able to change anyway right? Instead, you now have time to focus on building things in your Circle of Influence that will make you even happier!

How This Relates To Your Goals

I’ve also been able to relate this idea to goal setting for myself and for my clients. When I create a goal for myself, I try to choose things to go along with that goal that I can actually control.

For example, a common goal that I see in regards to health is that the person wants to lose 5, 10, or 20 pounds. However, if you actually think about this goal, it is extremely difficult to have a direct impact on the amount of weight you lose. Instead, you could make your goal to go to the gym 4 times a week, eat a whole foods diet, and drink 8 glasses of water every day. The difference is that you actually have control over whether you do these actions or not.

Goal-setting, jennifer merchant

This is the process that I go through with myself and all of my clients so that we can make sure we are focusing on the things that actually get us results and is in our Circle of Influence.

How could you re-create your own goals so that you can move them from your Circle of Concern into your Circle of Influence?

How You Can Start Today

The most important thing that you can do today is to start becoming aware of where your thoughts lie. Do you spend more time thinking about your Circle of Concern or your Circle of Influence and actually making an impact? If you find that you typically focus on your Circle of Concern and become stressed-out or overwhelmed like I used to, there are a few things you can do to start shifting this process.

1. Meditate
Meditation is a powerful tool to help you become more aware of your thoughts so that you can change them when necessary. Check out my recent posts Meditation and How It Can Help You and My Favorite Meditation Apps if you would like to learn more about the benefits of meditation and app that you can use to assist you in your journey.

2. Journal
Writing in a journal is also a powerful way to gain more control over your thoughts. You can also practice writing about things in your Circle of Influence so that you can get used to thinking about things you can have a direct impact on.

3. Let go!
Throughout my journey, I realized that if I could control everything in life, then that would be a pretty boring place to be. Celebrate the fact that every day is an adventure and that it is okay if you can’t control everything! You will be so much happier once you do and I can say that from my own personal experience.

How do you remind yourself to let go of things that you cannot control?

– Jennifer
Mindset & Habit Coach

P.S. – If this is something that you struggle with, I would love for you to sign up for a free Strategy Session where we can go through this process together! Click here to schedule your session today.

20 Mar

How To Use Positive Memories to Change Your Current Emotions

How to change your emotions, jennifer merchant, positive emotions

Did you know that your brain cannot tell the difference between past and present emotions? I didn’t! But now that I do, I’ve been able to use this information to manifest positive emotions throughout my days!

This idea makes sense and I’m sure you have experienced it to a certain extent. Have you ever remembered a sad time in your life and then, once you started thinking about it, you became sad and maybe even started crying at that present moment? Have you ever been talking with a friend about a situation that made you angry and realized that your blood was pumping faster, your face started flushing, and you became just as angry about the situation at that moment as you were when it happened (even though you thought you were over it).

These things happen to me all of the time! When we recall a memory, we also recall the emotions that are attached to that memory and because our brains cannot differentiate the past emotions from the present, you start to feel the emotions that are connected to that memory. This can be upsetting when it comes to negative memories but we can also use this to our advantage.

Now that I am aware of how my memories can affect my present emotions, I have been able to use positive memories to improve my present state of mind! Here are a few examples of how I use this theory:

I focus on positive memories to increase my happiness levels:

I’m not always a happy person. Like everyone, I sometimes become sad or upset and other times I just feel down even if there seems to be no reason for me to be sad. Now, when I notice that I am not in the best mood, I deliberately think about a time that I was really happy. For example, I will think about the last time I was home visiting my family, the last time I was hanging out with my friends, or memories from beach vacations. When I think about these memories, I instantly become happier because I feel the same emotions that I felt when the memories actually took place.

I recall times when I was brave to give myself courage:

I also use this technique to find courage when I am nervous about a situation. I have done this for a long time without even realizing it! For example, I used to perform in dance shows since I was 5 years old. Even though I had been on stage so many times in the past, each time I had a show I would still get stage-fright just before I went on. To cope with this, I would think about a really good performance and that would give me the courage to go out and not be afraid anymore.

Now, I am able to recall past accomplishments to give myself the courage to face the present situation. When I am afraid to travel alone, I remember the time when I studied in Japan for 3 weeks and was able to navigate the public transportation system on my own every day. When I am nervous about introducing myself to new people, I recall memories of times where I stepped out of my comfort zone and was able to make a new friend!

I think of good memories of people when I become angry with them:

In the same way that you become angry when you recall memories of past fights, you can also calm your anger by recalling positive memories of the person that you are currently angry with. This is the one that I struggle with the most because when I am upset with someone, it can be extremely difficult to remember the positive experiences that you have had with that person. However, when I am able to successfully recall positive memories of someone that I am angry with, I am able to calm my emotions to the point where I can have a rational conversation with them.

Chances are, you have probably experienced this phenomenon without even realizing it. Now that you know, you can start using your positive memories to influence your present emotions and create more happiness throughout your days! I would encourage you to start practicing this in your daily routine. When you wake up, think of a positive memory so that you can start your day in a good mood. As you become better at using your memories to change your emotions, try using them to give yourself more courage and to even calm your emotions when you find yourself in a heated discussion.

This will take practice but the more you use it, the better you will become. I have been able to improve my mood so many times by simply recalling a time that I felt happy and I know that you can too!

Is there a time that you have had your memories affect your present emotions without you even realizing it?

-Jennifer
Mindset & Habit Coach

20 Feb

The Best Time to Start Working Towards Your Goals

goal setting, when to start working towards your goals, mindset and habit coach, jennifer merchant

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Trust me, I know how it goes. You set these goals for yourself but have tons of reasons as to why you can’t start working on those goals until some point in the future.

“I’ll start my diet once the holidays are over.”

“I’ll start working out once I have more energy.”

“I can’t start my business until I have all of the details figured out.”

“I can’t go after my dream job until I have more experience.”

Have you been there? Because I know I have! For any goal that you set for yourself, you can probably think of a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t start now, but the truth is there is no better time to start except for now!

You can start working towards any goal or dream that you have for yourself right now no matter what it is. For example, if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you can start making small changes today that will get you headed in the right direction. You can decide to skip that afternoon cookie or trade it for an apple, you can add an additional serving of vegetables to one of your meals, and you can take the stairs rather than the elevator. These are all simple steps that you can start immediately that won’t disrupt any plans you have and they will help get you into the mindset of becoming a healthier person.

The most important aspect of accomplishing a goal is actually deciding to take actions towards that goal. The specific actions you take are not nearly important as the decision you make to start taking small steps towards your success. In the example above regarding becoming healthier, the three actions will not make you healthier by themselves. However, they will help you get into the right mindset of becoming a healthier person. Once you start taking small steps towards your goal, you will be even more motivated to start taking the actions that will get you there even faster!

So, what if you have a really big goal? Can you still start right now? For example, what if you are not happy with your job and your goal is to find a job in a different industry. In this case, I would not suggest going into work today and quitting your job, even though that would definitely be considered taking action towards your goal! However, you can take much smaller steps to get you closer to your desired results. If you are looking for a job in a different industry, one step you could take is to start researching jobs in that industry and requirements that you would need in order to get one. Then you might start getting applications out there and keep moving forward from there. Just by starting to research other opportunities, you can get yourself into the right mindset of accomplishing your goal rather than just saying you want something and never going after it.

The point is, no matter what goal you have for yourself, you can find small action steps to take today that will better set you up for success in the long run. Why start tomorrow when we already know the best time to start is now? I want you to find one small step that you can take today, tomorrow, and every day moving forward that will get you closer to the results you want!

-Jennifer
Mindset & Habit Coach

P.S. – If you would like guidance in finding the right actions steps to get you started on your journey towards success, you can sign up for a free Strategy Session with me where we will find and implement habits that support your success together!

19 Dec

The Power of Gratitude

using gratitude in the morning, how to find things you are grateful for; gratitude; gratitude exercise

Finding things that you are grateful for every morning is a great exercise that can set you up to have a day full of positive thoughts. It is such a simple and easy habit to adopt but can have great benefits. By starting your day by thinking about things that you are grateful for, you automatically fill yourself with positive emotions from the start of the day. You can be grateful for anything from your cell phone, to how someone treated you the day before, or for anything that you are happy to have in your life.

I personally have a planner that has a designated place for me to put three things I am grateful for in it each day. The first thing I do when I open my planner in to fill that section out. This gives me positive emotions at the start of my day and puts me in a good mood which has a positive affect on how the rest of my day will go. It also helps me see things in a different light at time. For example if something that made me upset happened the day before, I can deliberately try to find something I am grateful for about the situation that might change my perspective a little. For example if a friend makes me upset, I can be grateful for a time they supported me which might make me less upset about the other situation.

You can easily adopt this habit by laying a notebook next to your bed and each day when you wake up, grab the notebook and write at least three things that you are happy to have in your life. Try this for one week and see what kind of mood you start your days out with. Additionally, if you are having an off day or feel down, you can use this exercise again to improve your mood. Finding things to be grateful for is surprisingly easy and can positively affect your mood, so why not try it!

I am grateful for:

  • my cat “Sapphire”
  • my supportive family and friends
  • my job where I have the flexibility to take the time I need for myself

What are three things that you are grateful for today?

21 Nov

Expectations and Enjoying the Present Moment

dealing with expectations, healthy habits, the nectar shack, finding enjoyment in your life

One thing that interferes with fully enjoying our lives are the expectations that we carry around with us.  Everyone has expectations in many areas of their lives but the key is acknowledging them so they do not interfere with our happiness.  Our lives will never 100% match our expectations and if we expect them to then we will always be disappointed on some level.

I’m not saying that you should not have expectations or that you are not allowed to think about how you want things to be.  You should definitely make plans and create goals to create a path to where you want to go.  The problem is when we get so narrowed in on our expectations that we cannot enjoy the present moments as they come along.  Something may not happen exactly as you would want or expect, but this does not mean that it is necessarily a bad thing.  Expectations sometimes do not allow us to enjoy the life we have because we are too busy thinking about how it should be.

Take a look at your life and try to see where you might have some expectations that get in the way of your happiness.  Perhaps there is a person in your life who you expect should treat you a certain way.  This person may not be treating you exactly as you expect but they are still putting effort in and caring for you.   Sometimes, it is hard to recognize other people for their efforts if they don’t match the expectations that you have for them.  However, if you are able to let go of your expectations, you might realize that you are pretty lucky to have that person in your life.  This is one example where expectations can interfere with your happiness but there are so many more.

Here are some tips for dealing with expectations:

  • Planning and creating goals for the future are great! Just make sure you keep the mindset that it is also okay to deviate from those plans and adjust when things don’t go as expected.
  • Rather than silently expecting people to act and treat you a certain way, try asking them for what you want and then accepting whatever happens.
  • When situations do not go as you expected, take a step back and try to remove those expectations and then see how you feel about it.  Chances are it will not be nearly as bad as you thought.
  • Understand what expectations you have so you can recognize when they might be getting in the way of enjoying the present moment.

If you are able to recognize what expectations you have and how they affect your view on life, it will be so much easier to enjoy the present rather than thinking about all the things that should or could have happened.  The reality is that life almost never turns out how you expect and sometimes what actually happens is way better than what you could have ever imagined.  So while expectations are okay to have, make sure you don’t let them get in the way of enjoying your life.  The most beautiful thing about life is that you can never fully predict what might happen in the future.  You can either dwell on unmet expectations or love every minute of the ride!

Make sure you leave a comment letting me know what kind of expectations you see holding you back and how you plan to change it!

14 Nov

The Power of Positive Thinking

power of positive thinking, positive thoughts, healthy habits, the nectar shack

Your self-talk has much more influence on your daily emotions than most people realize.  One thing that I continuously try to improve on is keeping my thoughts and reactions positive at all times.  This is not always easy.  The most important thing to remember is that we all have 100% control over the thoughts and reactions that we have each and every day.  Here are some tips that I have found helpful in keeping my mind positive.

 

1. Focus on the present

Every negative emotion that you have comes from either the past or the future so if you focus more on the present moment, you will have less negativity.  For example, if you have regret then you are focused on the past.  If you are anxious about something, you are most likely focused on the future.  If you are angry or upset, you are typically thinking about an occurrence that happened in the past.  If you are afraid, you are thinking about something that may or may  not happen in the future.    In order to remove these negative emotions, you can change your thoughts to think about the present moment.  I notice that when I am more focused on the present moment, I become more positive and have less negative emotions.

 

2. Understand that your emotions come from your interpretations

You may think that other people are the cause of your emotions, positive or negative, but the truth is our emotions come from the interpretations that we tell ourselves in response to other’s actions.  Have you ever noticed that you react differently to the same actions coming from the same people based on your mood?  This is because every time a person takes an action, we tell ourselves a story in order to interpret that action.  If your thoughts are negative, than you will most likely chose a negative story to tell yourself about why that person did what they did.   However, if your thoughts are positive, you will have an entirely different story.  I think this is freeing in itself because I can decide how any person will affect my emotions by changing the story I tell myself.  Rather than telling yourself that person was rude because they were personally attacking you, change the story to they are just having a bad day or are stressed out and you will be able to let it go much faster.

 

3. Look at failure and struggle as opportunities

It is often hard to stay positive during times of failure.  The best thing that you can do is look at every failure as a learning opportunity or another door opening.  Each time you encounter a failure, you either will learn something to help you succeed in the future, or your failure will lead you to try something new that ends up being better anyways.  A great belief to adopt is that there is no such thing as failure, only learning ways that do not work in order to help you figure out what will.  When one thing doesn’t work, try something else.  Hard times and struggles are inevitable but if you learn to look at them as opportunities, they become a little less daunting.

Bonus Tip:

Make sure to take time for yourself in the morning before you start your day.  Think of it like this: every day you wake up with an empty bowl that will be filled with energy.  If you fill it up with positive energy before you even leave your house, there will be no room for other’s negative energy to come in.  If you do not start your morning by filling yourself with positive energy, then you will be susceptible to the energy that you encounter throughout the day, and there is a good change there is some negativity in that mix.

The most important thing to remember is that  you can chose and you can change your thoughts.  If you want to start living a life full of positivity, the first step is to change your thoughts because what you think about has a huge influence on your life.

I hope this helps keep your thoughts on the positive side!  Please leave a comment and let me know what you find the most beneficial in staying positive!