S.M.A.C.K.s for Stepmoms: Refuse to trash-talk.

13 01 2009

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who is not a stepmom but is a divorced mother of one. Her ex is not remarried. She told me about a stepmother she met who as soon as my friend voiced compassion, the floodgates opened and this stepmom spilled her guts to my friend.

In the same week I had a talk with one of my dear friends who is now a stepmom of one. She told me that when I first started talking to her about what it was like to join a stepfamily, she thought I was exaggerating. But then she lived the experience herself and found out just how challenging it can be.

It’s clear that we stepmoms need people we can talk to about our feelings, but there is a line we cross sometimes that moves from venting to living full-time in negativity. So how can we be honest about our feelings, and then move through them and create a more positive life instead of wallowing in the yucky parts?

Let’s try an experiment. For the next two weeks pay attention to how you talk about your stepfamily. I asked you to do this in my book, and I’m bringing it up here again because it is so important. If you find yourself trash-talking your husband or your stepkids to everyone you know, you’re going to make your home life even more challenging. Instead, practice neuro-linguistic programming. For the next two weeks take a vow that you will only say positive things about your husband, stepkids, the ex. Refuse to engage in any trash-talking and see what happens. At the end of two weeks check in with yourself. Do you feel different? Have you had the same old fights? Has anything changed?

For more S.M.A.C.K.s, check out my other blog: www.smackyourinnercritic.com

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New Workshop

25 11 2008

Dear stepmoms:

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota area or feel like visiting, I have put together a new workshop you might be interested in. Though it doesn’t focus specifically on stepparenting issues, the things we’ll cover in the workshop certainly do apply to stepfamily life! Check it out and let me know what you think.

Best wishes,
Jacque

S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic and Live the Life of Your Dreams!

Now you can learn the proven strategies to smackdown your fears so you can identify and create the life you’ve always wanted to live.

 Dear Friend,

In 1994, I weighed 260 pounds. Late one night, I had a vision of what my life would be like if I continued on the path I was on. I saw health problems. I saw unresolved emotional pain. I saw loneliness. And that vision terrified me.

During that long night I made a decision that would change my life. I would stop listening to that voice in my head that said, “You’ll never lose the weight! You’re lazy! You can’t do it!” In that moment I decided I would learn how to be healthy and prove my Inner Critic wrong.

That’s when I first discovered the power of smacking down the Inner Critic. Each day my Inner Critic would attack me with its pessimism about my chances for recovery. And each day I would smack it down with a new technique. I lost 100 pounds.

 

2008

Jacquelyn in 1994 and 2008

Since then I’ve gone on to use the same methods to combat my fear of public speaking, publish a book, and launch my own business. I even used the S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic system to find the man of my dreams and create a relationship that I couldn’t have even imagined 15 years ago.

But I didn’t create these amazing changes in my life alone. I had help. When I met my best friend Clare X. Gailey more than a decade ago while attending Wellesley College, we had no idea we would embark on a journey together that would shape our entire lives.

Two years after college, we were both feeling restless and dissatisfied. I had just finished graduate school and moved home to Minneapolis from Boston with no job, no boyfriend, and a really bad haircut. Clare, still in Boston, was spending half her life reading and the other half temping. She had no particularly special talent, no ambition, no hobbies or specific interests; just a vague hope that something would change. We both felt lost – with absolutely no idea about how to get a life that included romantic partners, families, and careers that gave us a sense of purpose. 

In January 1998, at the height of feeling like clueless losers, we took a vacation together. The trip started with a tank of gas, but the real journey began with a proposition:

“What if we each choose one thing every year that we’re afraid of – one really big thing -and face it down?”

Would we become better at taking risks? Would we feel more comfortable asking for what we desired? Could we actually create lives we wanted to live?

And so we began an experiment to see if we could successfully create ways to smackdown our fears. There were hundreds of late-night phone calls with the latest epiphanies about new techniques to try when we were feeling shy with a boyfriend or unsure that we were walking the right career path. We brainstormed ways to work through our doubts, overcome procrastination, and ride out the times when nothing seemed to be happening.

“How do we develop the courage to create a life that has meaning?” On the tenth anniversary of the snowy January when we first asked that question, the S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic concept came to be. Clare and I wrote a book, started the blog, and created this workshop, not because we had finished asking the question, but because we found ourselves looking back over the last decade with awe. So many of our techniques worked that we wanted to share them with others. 

So are you ready to begin creating your ideal life? Then let us help you. Because it’s easier when you’re not alone.

The S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic and Live the Life of Your Dreams Workshop is for you if:

  • You have a dream but your Inner Critic keeps you from doing it.
  • You desire a life that balances inspiring work, deep friendships, and a loving partnership.
  • There’s something you’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid to try in your personal or professional life.
  • You want to create a fulfilling and inspiring career.
  • You want to find ways to make money that allow you more time with your loved ones.
  • You have graduated or lost a job and don’t know what to do next.
  • You’re dissatisfied with your body, your job, or your relationships and you don’t know how to create change.
  • You want to develop a greater sense of self-confidence and ease.

Now you can learn the proven strategies that people just like you have used to Become Who They Want to Be and Do What They Want to Do. 

 

“I learned A LOT. Jacquelyn is everything it says in her bio – part cheerleader, part strategist. Thank you Jacquelyn!”

-former student

Here’s just some of what you’ll learn:

  • How to tell the difference between your Inner Critic and your gut instinct.
  • The art of the smackdown so you can achieve milestone after milestone.
  • Five steps to reaching your goals without succumbing to fear fizzle or burn out.
  • Three techniques you can use to sustain your energy while you create a balanced life.
  • The smartest methods for finding cheerleaders and mentors.
  • The secret to asking for what you want and getting it.
  • The best methods for motivating yourself.

“Jacquelyn strikes just the kind of balance one wants in a teacher: she provides relevant and incredibly useful information and is also an endless source of enthusiastic support. As an instructor and coach, Jacque lets you know what works and what doesn’t, and helps you both articulate your goals and believe that you can reach them.
You just can’t ask for more valuable help and inspiration.”

-Jennifer, former student

So, What’s An Inner Critic?

The Inner Critic is not your conscience, your gut instinct, your intuition, or your voice of reason. The Inner Critic likes to pretend it is all of those things, but there’s one big difference: The Inner Critic does not have your best interests at heart. Basically, the Inner Critic is the part of you that wants you to give up on your dreams. It’s your own worst enemy, and it’s trying to paralyze you with its pessimism.

 

And What’s A Smackdown?

The Inner Critic has a big, fat mouth. It’s a verbal abuser. So a smackdown is anything you do that quiets the Inner Critic. S.M.A.C.K.s are methods that combine deep knowledge of self plus optimism plus action. They are actions you can do to turn on the reticular activating system in your brain, which helps you see the solutions to problems so you can achieve your dreams.

The S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic and Live the Life of Your Dreams Workshop addresses the crucial developmental dilemmas that people across the country struggle with daily and during major transitions in their lives: How do I identify what I want? How do I maintain the courage to go for what I want? How do I learn to listen to my instincts? How do I smackdown the inner critic that tells me I can’t do it, I’m no good?

You’ll learn battle-tested ways to knock out the excuses so many of us cling to while our dreams slip away.       

The S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic and Live the Life of Your Dreams Workshop is a critical experience if you’ve ever wanted more – in your career, family life, friendships, intimate relationships – but have been too afraid to go for it.

To find out more visit: www.smackyourinnercritic.com





What’s a S.M.A.C.K. and how does it help stepmoms?

26 10 2008

So, what’s an Inner Critic?

Well, the Inner Critic is not your conscience, your gut instinct, your intuition, or your voice of reason. The Inner Critic likes to pretend it is all of those things, but there’s one big difference: The Inner Critic does not have your best interests at heart. Basically, the Inner Critic is the part of you that wants you to give up on your dreams. It’s your own worst enemy, and it’s trying to paralyze you with its pessimism.

And what’s a S.M.A.C.K.?

The Inner Critic has a big, fat mouth. It’s a verbal abuser. So a S.M.A.C.K. is anything you do that shuts the Inner Critic up. A S.M.A.C.K. is a fast, glorious K.O. and the ringing of the bell in a boxing match. It’s not fooling yourself or lying to yourself; it’s realism meets optimism plus action.

Why blog about it?

Because S.M.A.C.K.s are temporary. The Inner Critic is you, so you can’t just kill it off. After every K.O., another boxing match gets scheduled. But we’ve been smacking down our Inner Critics for ten years, and we’ve learned and invented so many ways to do it, we’re going to give you A S.M.A.C.K. A Day… And we’re dying to hear what S.M.A.C.K.s you come up with!

The Origins of the Smackdown

That photo up top is us, the authors of this blog. Clare’s the Punk and Jacquelyn’s the Beauty Queen, and of course, it’s Halloween.

When the two of us first met more than a decade ago at Wellesley College, we had no idea we were starting a journey together, much less a journey that would shape our entire lives.

Two years after college, we were both feeling restless and dissatisfied. Jacquelyn had just finished graduate school and moved home to Minneapolis from Boston with no job, no boyfriend, and a really bad haircut. Clare, still in Boston, was spending half her life reading and the other half temping. She had no particularly special talent, no ambition, no hobbies or specific interests; just a vague hope that something would change. We both felt lost–with absolutely no idea how to get a life that included romantic partners, families, and careers that would give us a sense of meaning and fulfillment.

In January 1998, at the height of feeling like clueless losers, we took a vacation together. The trip started with a tank of gas, but the real journey began with a proposition:

“What if we each choose one thing every year–one really big thing–that we’re afraid of and face it down?”

Would we get better at taking risks? Would we feel more comfortable asking for what we desired? Could we actually create the lives we wanted to live? And so we began an experiment to see if we could successfully smack down our fears. There were hundreds of late-night phone calls and emails with latest epiphanies about new techniques to try when we were feeling shy with a boyfriend or unsure that we were walking the right career path. We brainstormed ways to work through our doubts, overcome procrastination, and ride out the times when nothing seemed to be happening.

On the tenth anniversary of the snowy January when we first asked the question, “How do we develop the courage to create a life that has meaning?” we wrote a book called S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic. Not because we had finished asking the question, but because we found ourselves looking over the last decade with awe. So many of our techniques worked that we wanted to share them with others.

The S.M.A.C.K. Your Inner Critic Approach

If, like us, you’re one of those battling the voice of an inner bad guy on a daily basis, we’re going to show you how to get the upper hand.

It doesn’t matter where the critical doubting voices show up — over coffee as you debate whether to bike or drive to work; on the way home as you weigh the prospects of snacking on sweets vs. heading to the gym; in the evening as you wrestle with whether to watch TV or begin work on a creative project. Every time your Inner Critic rears its ugly head, give it a solid S.M.A.C.K.

Below, you’ll find sample ways to S.M.A.C.K. your Inner Critic in five key categories. Use a different technique every week — or every day, if need be! Over time, you’ll find your Inner Critic losing much of its power, and your own sense of self-confidence expanding.

S.M.A.C.K.

Self-Confidence

In order to beat the Inner Critic, it’s important that you have faith in yourself. Work on building your authentic belief that you are worthy of the life you want.

Example: Tell yourself a different story. Use the power of neurolinguistics to reprogram your brain. Instead of repeating what you “can’t do” or what’s “so hard” for you, simply say that you’ve decided to do it, or better yet, that your ARE doing it. Instead of repeating the story to yourself that losing weight is hard, use a different tactic: tell yourself, losing weight is so easy. Say that out loud every day.

Motivation
Developing the ability to motivate yourself — particularly when you’re feeling discouraged or have lost steam — requires you to know yourself deeply. You need to know what your core values are, and what will compel you to go after a goal, even when it’s difficult.

Example: Look back on your life and consider what types of motivations inspired you to accomplish challenging things in the past. Run through the list of people you admire and explore what values are inherent in the traits you admire. Look for ways to emulate them in small, daily ways. Another good way to build your arsenal of motivations is to ask your friends what they do to motivate themselves (to exercise, eat right, make time for themselves, whatever). Experiment with the most promising-sounding strategies to see if some of them will work for you.

Action
The Inner Critic hates it when you actually do something to move toward your dreams. Taking action (even in small steps) is the most powerful way of proving you’re serious about your intentions to create the life you want. Once you begin taking daily action, you’re really on your way. Every time you’re able to say, “Yes! I did that!” the Inner Critic goes to sit in time out.

Example: Every day make one choice that moves you toward a healthy lifestyle, even if it doesn’t seem like much. Those daily actions add up. Jump on the treadmill for ten minutes. Do a few pushups. Go for a walk. Have one good piece of chocolate instead of a pile of cookies.

Creativity
Keep the Inner Critic on its toes by experiencing new things. Try something silly or scary that takes you outside your comfort zone and helps you see yourself — body, mind and spirit — in a new way.

Example: Sign up for a dance class, a yoga retreat, or an acting class.

Kindness
Make sure self-care is a part of your daily routine, even if it’s just ten deep breaths before you walk out the door in the morning. When you actively embrace pleasurable experiences, you are showing the Inner Critic that you respect and love yourself (and shriveling your Inner Critic in the process).

Example: Make a list of 50 things you love to do and actually do one of them. Right now.

Experimenting with the S.M.A.C.K. techniques is bound to give you a boost of motivation and self-confidence. We hope that you’ll use the techniques you find on our blog to knock out your Inner Critic and begin living your life with greater consciousness. Because here’s what we discovered: When you focus your attention on creating your life on purpose, your dreams come true.

The great thing about S.M.A.C.K.s is that they apply to every part of your life. So on Becoming a Stepmom, I’ll focus the S.M.A.C.K.s on all things stepmom. Your relationship with your partner, the kids, the ex.
So what S.M.A.C.K.s have you tried in order to keep your sanity intact and your relationships growing?

Visit my other blog www.smackyourinnercritic.com for more about how to S.M.A.C.K. your Inner Critic. 





Welcome to Becoming a Stepmom!

26 10 2008

Welcome to the Becoming a Stepmom blog! You’ll find valuable information that can help you become a happy, peaceful stepmother. Here is some of what you can expect to see: 

  • Inspirational stories from veteran stepmoms
  • Educational tools and tips for you and your family
  • Advice from leading marriage and family professionals
  • Stepmom Q & A’s
  • A place to connect with other stepmoms

There’s no doubt about it. Becoming a stepmom is one of the more challenging things a woman can do. And there are times when you might feel stretched to the breaking point. But there are resources that can help. In a country where the stepfamily structure is believed to be the dominant family form, you are absolutely not alone

I want to help you find a way to achieve harmony with your stepchildren. I want you to feel at home in your own home. I want you to create a solid bond with your partner. You can do it! And I hope this blog will provide you with the concrete tools you need.

As a stepmother of three kids ages 8, 11 and 13, and as a stepdaughter, I have spent a lifetime making family out of step-, half-, and blood relatives. I have seen what works in stepfamily life and what the common mistakes are. I have studied the research. I have interviewed stepfamily professionals and stepfamily members across the country.

Today I’ll share with you the single most important thing I’ve learned a stepmother must do to create a harmonious home life: You must believe it is possible. There is such a thing as an empowered stepmother. You can be one. It’s not impossible. You have a voice.

I hope you enjoy this blog. If you have questions you’d like to see addressed in Becoming a Stepmom, post a comment or email me directly. Let’s see how we can help each other. Let’s learn how to smackdown the Inner Critic that tells us we’re second best, that makes us feel guilty, that makes us feel like bad people simply because we’re stepmoms. Enough!

For those of you have received my newsletter in the past, you’ll see archived stories here plus new content and resources. Better yet, you’ll have a place where you can ask questions of me or other stepmoms, brainstorm better solutions to your sticky issues, and connect with women who can help you feel empowered. We can do this. We can create home lives that feel good. Let’s do this together.

Best wishes,

Jacquelyn B. Fletcher
Author of A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom and 101smackdowns.