I know many brilliant, principled, and beautiful women who were leaning in way before Sheryl Sandberg wrote her book.

Leading, being assertive, taking care of business, changing the world—yawn, yawn. These women have been doing it with one hand tied behind their backs. They don’t need a book on leadership to tell them how to carry even more of the load on their shoulders.Leaned On

What I’ve found is that the more women lean in—and the better they get at it—the more they get LEANED ON and have to deal with the incompetency and dependency of others around them.

It probably won’t surprise you that this mostly has to do with the men in their lives who don’t step up willingly or who wait for instructions on stuff that clearly needs to be done. “If I’ve got to tell him where the oatmeal is, how long to cook it and which bowl Callie will eat out of, I might as well do it myself.” And then comes the contempt. “I feel like I’ve got another kid.” And then the inevitable backlash from his side of the fence: “I feel like I’m married to the bitch from hell.” (Sound familiar?)

How did this happen? Socialization. Hardwiring. For starters, women are purportedly designed to be better at multitasking (a.k.a. multi-switiching). It’s like muscle memory; they’re just wired to take care of things. As for socialization, for women, it’s instilled early on that women are meant to keep the circle unbroken, and they get loaded up with guilt and anxiety if they don’t put others before themselves.

How to stop the madness

I could tell you to just let it all go and stop cleaning all of the messes up, stop cutting the crusts off of your kid’s sandwiches, stop making the dentist appointments. But you wouldn’t be able to do it. The brain is plastic, but not very elastic; you just can’t unlearn some things like effectiveness.

So what I’m going to suggest is that you don’t get hijacked by waiting on your significant other to be as mindful, conscientious and efficient as you. If you can stop this, you’ll stop investing in a lost cause that only breeds resentment and passive aggressiveness, both of which are much more painful for you than anybody else.

I recommend you acknowledge how and with whom you are unequally yoked. Realize that the idea of having it all is preposterous. An impossibility. A waste of time. And most importantly, it’s disrespectful to your partner because it means you’re continually asking him to be something he’s incapable of being.

Also, being caught in that blame game loop keeps you from looking at the rest of your life and acknowledging that you’re not so perfect either. When was the last time you got on your sexy lingerie and beckoned your man to the bedroom? I know what you’re going to say: “How could I after teaching my 11 year old how to diagram sentences, cleaning up the kitchen, and choosing a Medicare plan for my mom who doesn’t know how to turn on the computer.” Yes, I hear you. You’re getting things done, but you’re not giving very much juice to your relationship.

So here’s a prescription. Break free of the loop by thanking him for being an excellent provider or for always being able to get your kid to laugh after a long day or, as a last resort, for taking out the garbage.

By focusing on what he does provide—and not what he doesn’t—it just might provide the incentive for both of you to rekindle a more equal relationship, one that you can really lean into without worrying that you’re going to be leaned on too much.

I’d love to hear how you’ve dealt with your experiences of trying to have it all. Tell me about it in the comments!

Be peace, be love,





How can I stop myself from being ticked-off at somebody who’s stealing all my joy?

A client once shared with me words of wisdom straight from her grandmother’s mouth. She said, “My grandmother told me you should get married with both eyes wide open and you can stay married by keeping one eye closed.” Wow—now that’s keeping it real. (Secretly, I wondered what this client was doing paying me when her grandmother was imparting straight-up wisdom for free!)

Honestly, I really liked this story. And I agree with her grandmother—at least half-agree with her. I actually think it’s impossible to fall in love with your eyes wide open. We’re just not hardwired that way. When the “love juice,” oxytocin, starts flowing working its magic to bond two people together, we’re wired to acknowledge the emotional truth, which ain’t necessarily the real truth. Eyes wide open still can’t see that your beloved is a felon (white collar) or that your sweetheart has been married four times (no offense to you who have either background).

Now as to the advice to keep one eye shut to stay married,  I wholeheartedly agree with what grandma says. Actually, I’ll raise her one on this: I think you need to put a patch over your eye, and your dominant eye at that! You can minimize a helluva lot of negative sentiment in your relationship if you cut wayyyy back on scrutinizing, looking for the bad, looking for the lame, and playing “gotcha.” The patch over one eye might really help keep you from carrying out Gottman’s “four horsemen of the apocalypse”—criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling—behaviors that sink the ship.

So what has this got to do with your question? A lot, actually. When someone is doing something, saying something, being something that keeps ticking you off, there’s a lot going on on your side.

I suspect you’re ticked off because you’re not getting what you want. I suspect you feel like you’re being treated unfairly. I suspect you think you’re right. I suspect you think things ought to or should be different than they are. I suspect you’re over giving. Anything here sound familiar?

So when you’re looking to get out of the negative loop, get out the eye patch so you can stop looking to find fault at every turn and to help you ease up on the criticism. Even when the evidence is plain and clear and staring both of you in the face, it’s always good to seek clarity about your own agenda and motives (and taking your eye off someone else is the best way to do that).

Most importantly, you might ask yourself: What’s up with my need to participate in something that leaves me so dang unhappy and dissatisfied?

So if you’ve decided you don’t want to be walking around feeling ticked off all the time, but yet it’s worth it to you to maintain the connection with the person who’s arousing this feeling in you (spouse, boss, mom, sister), here’s what I suggest:

1) Take some deep breaths and engage that parasympathetic system so you can calm down a bit. Remember: your brain presents a second-hand rendition of what really happens. In other words, your story is not gospel. Distance and breathing sets the stage for getting some perspective.

2) Undo your innocence. You know what you want you want, and you know you want it from someone or something that doesn’t offer it to you willingly. But because you want what you want, your brain’s gotten hijacked trying to get it and made it seem like you getting what you want is more important than what the other person wants. You’re innocent in all this, right? (Not!) Remember, we’re all guilty of such ruminations: If you or your friend files for bankruptcy it’s because of health care costs or a lay off; if somebody you don’t know or value files for bankruptcy, it’s because they are lame and poor money managers. Attribution errors are so easy to make.

3) Grieve the loss. Deal with the sadness that lingers behind being ticked-off. You want to cry—not whine and ask “why me, god?”—but straight up sob and lament that things didn’t turn out like you and your life coach expected. Mourn that the record deal wasn’t signed, that the fertility treatments didn’t take, that you got outbid by trust fund babies for the house you wanted, that somebody whose daddy plays golf with somebody making the hiring decision got the job.

Don’t let anything get in the way of this grieving. Not ribs and ice cream. Not porn or shopping. Not taking care of others (even though it is a good thing any other time). Grieving the loss of something you love is a good thing. It’s constructive. It’s smart. So cry a river. Tears mean you’re losing something you love –for real—and sadness often lurks behind being pissed off.

Reflect on your how lifeless your life has been because of this. Wallow in it and feel the dread of the impossible really not ever coming to pass. Soon all will turn to ashes, and before you know it, your emotional truth will match the real truth. You will experience both a surge of enlightment and a sense of calm. Your blood will flow differently. Shoot, I’m willing to bet you might even feel the urge to go make out because of the rush of awe you get.

Because you’re no longer locked in conflict, you can see the truth. The straight truth. And experience love. Real love.

And believe me, once you go through something like this, you’ll be in a place that makes all the struggle worthwhile. Tilling and plowing your soil—your soul—makes you perfectly primed for new growth.

Sound interesting? I invite you to call me or your other favorite coach and say: I wanna follow my broken heart to find my real purpose in life. Because that life is there waiting on you to find it. Don’t wait!

Big peace, big love,



Why does self-improvement bum me out?

October 9, 2012

I feel like the more I concentrate on myself (as in working on myself, my issues, etc.), the less happy I am. What’s the deal with “self improvement”? Your question reminds of a time when an acquaintance told me that she finds bliss when someone witnesses how she is a screw-up. When I asked her […]

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How to help a friend (when you haven’t been asked)

June 16, 2012

I’ve got a friend who’s wreaking havoc on her life. How can I help her? Are you trying to put my colleagues and me out of business? Kidding! In all seriousness, I think this a really important question. For me, being anything less than a real good friend is against my religion. Love they neighbor […]

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How to stay up when your partner is down

May 5, 2012

My husband is always down when I’m trying to be up, stay open, get energized. It’s not that he’s depressed. And I’m not a Pollyanna. But I feel like his lack of energy affects my attempts to live more fully. What can I do?   This question made me think of my mom. She taught […]

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Give your old, familiar stories the pink slip and get a promotion for the real you

April 14, 2012

When you start living a life of Straight Truth, you’ll quickly find you have a desire to shed a lot of those old stories, beliefs and habits that keep you stuck in a rut. But sometimes it’s hard to see in yourself what’s grist for the mill and what’s dead weight. So why not use […]

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The not-so-secret secret to getting exactly what you want

March 14, 2012

No matter who your hero is—Oprah, Steve Jobs or Justin Bieber—all successful people have one in thing in common: They are obsessed. They eat, breathe and sleep whatever they’re into. And whether they encounter rain, sleet, snow or tsunami, they keep marching.  These people are not deterred when they can’t get a venture capitalist to […]

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The real truth about finding your true path

March 1, 2012

Q. I’ve lived a lot of different places and done a lot of different types of things for work, but now that I’m getting older, I worry that I haven’t chosen a true path. I guess I think I might be afraid of committing. What should I do? A. I know it’s heartbreaking to think that […]

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How one conversation can amp up the excitement and creativity in your life

February 27, 2012

My job is definitely a “job,” not my passion. I’m okay with that for now, but how can I infuse more creativity into my life until I have it in my work? Woo-hoo! I love where your head is on this question. So often we get hung up trying to tweak our life’s work when […]

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

January 25, 2012

When things are really, really hard—relationships, job, life—how do you know whether you need to work harder to improve them or it means it’s time to make a change?   If you’re Elizabeth Gilbert, you go into a quiet place like your bathroom at 3 a.m. and cry and pray to God for the answers. […]

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