How many thoughts did you have today that you also had yesterday?
Ever think about it? We’re broken records, ruminating on the same events, people, hang-ups, and to-do lists over and over again. Are you ready to hear about the impact those thought loops have on our actual, well, lives?
As co-founder of Handel Group and a life coach for over 20 years, I’ve seen countless numbers of people stay stuck in their day-to-day lives until they make the conscious decision to change and evolve into something better.
Photo Courteys of Langley Group
Luckily, you don’t have to wait another day or be stuck any longer. I have a quick roadmap to use when determining what is keeping you “stuck” at any time of year, and it has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with you:
Personal Integrity: When what you say and do aligns with your highest values.
You can break integrity down into three connected components: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In any given moment, from the lens of these three categories, you can understand why you are where you are in reference to how you think and see your life. I’ll elaborate:
Physical: Exercise, diet, sleep, personal space, and any actions you are taking in this arena.
Emotional: How your physical actions are making you feel and how you react to the actions of others.
Spiritual: In a macro sense, how you feel about your life, how you see your path, and how you relate to the bigger picture. How connected you feel to what’s going on around you.
Here’s a fact: whether you know it or not, these three factors are already at work in your own life. So often, we can’t see their patterns because we invented the patterns ourselves, through our beliefs, habits, and character traits. Many of my clients come to me fully aware of their space in those three arenas, but totally oblivious to the connection between them. Like a little black box in our head, that information reveals the how and why of what’s really going on in our lives.
Photo Courtesy of Parenting Hub
So how do we change the message?
Breaking into that inner black box is the key to becoming unstuck, but it requires a thorough investigation of your inner dialogue (thoughts). Most people are hesitant to admit that their inner dialogue is controlled by fear and negativity, or they don’t even realize it’s happening. They continue to self-sabotage and then feel all the worse for dropping the ball, breaking their promises, and selling out on their dreams.
You can gain insight into your own Personal Integrity by asking yourself the following 10 questions, and being honest:
1. What have you accomplished in life that you are most proud of?
2. How were you the driver in those accomplishments?
3. What areas of your life are not working for you?
4. How are you responsible for those things that aren’t working?
5. How would you rate your integrity in these areas on a scale of 1-10: physical, emotional, and spiritual?
6. What are you saying to yourself about your life in the areas that aren’t working?
7. What actions are you taking (or not taking!) in the areas of life that aren’t working?
8. What are your dreams in the areas you want to improve?
9. Can you spot the pattern linking your actions to the way you feel on a daily basis?
10. How do you think changes in one area would affect another area?
Truth is, in areas where you are succeeding, you have harnessed your mind. If you have a great career, a hot and healthy body, an awesome family, you have indeed figured something out in those areas. You have figured out how to smell the fresh bread at a fancy restaurant, hand the bread basket back to the waiter, and order and eat the kale. You can be powerful in a meeting, even if you’re premenstrual (or your partner is). You know how to harness your mind and tell it to stop talking smack to you. Heck, you have even figured out that if you don’t listen to that inner voice of yours, it shuts up.
But in every other area of your life where you are not winning (yet), you haven’t dealt with this. You haven’t separated yourself from your inner dialogue, your thoughts, and your theories. Who is catching them?
Answer: no one.
Except now you are going to start separating yourself from them. This exercise does more than just revisit the New Year’s resolutions you’ve half-committed to. It’s the “why” of your promises, and connects you back to your dream for the big picture of your life. It lets you see how any one thing you’re doing (or not doing) has a ripple effect on other areas of your life, and shows you where your attention is most needed. More than anything, it addresses the voices in your head that are calling the shots, and gives you the opportunity to change the message you are sending yourself.
The good news is that every single day is a chance to experiment -- with a new plan, a different practice, or a modified perspective. “How will I feel if I meditate four days in a row?” “What will happen if I alter this one thing?” Experiment, and then watch the changes as they happen before your eyes.
Whatever you do, don’t wait for spring cleaning to take an inventory of your current situation and do a thorough integrity check. Just as an action plan for “bathing suit season” starts months in advance of summer, an action plan for your life starts today, and it starts with changing your mind.
Give it a try!
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.