Tag Archive for: intention setting

seek happiness

Old Ideas About How to Seek Happiness

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“If there are things that are causing you to suffer, you have to know how to let go of them.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

As many of you know, I love the theme of letting go. Sometimes we hold on a little too tightly to expectations we have for ourselves or thoughts of what we “think” we need to be happy, fulfilled and successful. Old habits die hard and it can be difficult to let go of an idea that you have about yourself or your life that no longer rings true.

For example, I was doing a values assessment recently and the things I thought would come up, like creativity and curiosity, these really core ideals I connect my sense of identity to, didn’t. What surfaced were things I already have in my life, that not everybody has. Things like freedom, safety, and security.

And it reminded me that, while as a culture we are always striving for more, perhaps during this time of uncertainty, we should seek happiness from what we already have. To make time to be grateful for what is right in front of us in this moment. Things that many of us take for granted everyday, like freedom, safety and security can bring us so much peace if we allow them to.

So often we wait for happiness.

We tell ourselves that we’ll be happy when “x” happens. We’ll relax when we reach a certain goal, or breathe a sigh of relief as we accomplish a milestone in life, but the truth is, we have everything we need to be happy and at peace right here in this moment, if only for a moment.

So, repeat after me:

“I have everything I need.” 

In times of doubt, stress, you name it, this is a mantra that has brought me calmness, reassurance and gratitude.

I hope it does the same for you.


We Are Worthy Of Surrender

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Let every Exhale
Remind you
You are worthy
Of Surrender.”
Morgan Harper Nichols

What a wonderfully deep and great reminder for letting go! On our Exhale we are letting go of our breath, surrendering and trusting that there will be an inhale to fill up our lungs with the next breath.

The word worthy caught my attention. Perhaps it caught yours too. The idea that we are worthy of surrender speaks to me as “you deserve to let shit go” and even have permission to let shit go.

I’ve been re-reading “Awakening the Buddah Within” by Lama Surya Das and have been reminded of the idea that we suffer (get anxious, angry, annoyed) due to our attachments, especially to ideals and expectations.

Dealing with Difficult People

I have noticed in my own life, when I allow people to be exactly who they are, letting go of who I think they “should” be, I’m not so irritated or frustrated by them. This allows me to be more at peace and less irritated or frustrated with that person because I’m not wasting my energy thinking the person might change or that I could even get them to change.

For years, a practice of mine is to embrace that I only have control over myself. I have no control over anyone else. What I can choose is how I want to show up with others when I experience them as difficult. I choose not to allow myself to react to their current difficult nature even while my heart is racing and I want to scream. I choose not to hand over my power to that person or allow their behavior to control me.

Instead, I imagine as if they just threw me a rope in an effort to play tug-of-war with me. I get to decide if I pick up that rope and play their game or not. My goal is to notice the rope and think, “well, there’s that,” then redirect my attention and the conversation in a different direction.

This has not been easy for me. I have been at this particular practice for 12+ years and still struggle at times. Perhaps you may give it a go?


Choosing Progress Over Perfection

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

As a high achiever, entrepreneur, leader, and CEO, I know how hard I tend to push myself and how critical I can be of myself. Through my own therapy, self-care, mindfulness, and meditation, I’ve been successful at increasing positive self-talk and decreasing doubt, guilt, and criticism.

My Mantra?

Strive for Progress NOT Perfection!

Think about it…we will never reach perfection (especially in our own minds since we’re so hard on ourselves).

It’s just not possible. So why are we wasting our time and energy trying?

We are always in Progress…we are progressing through life.

Even if we hit 60 or 75 or 80% of what we *think* is “perfect” it is likely not “good enough.”

Want to feel *good enough*?

Let go of the idea of being perfect.

Let’s be honest (with ourselves AND others) instead. Besides, who’s judging us anyway? We are likely much harder on ourselves than anyone else is or would be!! This vicious cycle is exhausting!

Want more energy? Want to feel good enough? Give yourself permission to know there is no such thing as perfect. Give yourself permission to be kind and graceful with yourself. And then feel the weight lifted from your shoulders so you feel lighter and more energetic!

Remember, we are works in progress…

If you are noticing yourself reassessing your work, your relationships, or even your location, good for you! It means you are being mindful of what all your options are. While you may not truly entertain most of those options, the more choices you give yourself, the less stuck you’ll feel.

And if you are stuck, no problem!

Pushing and forcing works for us at many stages of our life, but there comes a point when we begin to reassess if we need to keep doing things the same way we’ve done them.

Perhaps it’s time to shake shit up a bit?

That’s what we’re here for!! Working with a therapist can offer you more clarity and focus for your path forward. And you’ll feel calmer, lighter, and more peaceful.


Self-Sabotage: The Ways in Which we Hurt Ourselves, and What to do About it

Written by Ashley Vaden, LMFT

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re familiar with the benefits of mindfulness and prioritizing self-care in day-to-day life. For the most part, we understand how mindfulness can bring awareness to harmful and intrusive thoughts and patterns, help us become less reactive, and is an adaptive, accessible way to deal with stress. We hear over and over again to “love ourselves” and put ourselves first, but as soon as we feel triggered or overwhelmed, our self-care practices are the first to go, if we even implement them at all.

What is getting in the way of our self-care?

What is contributing to our self-neglect, and how can we “fix” it? One obstacle to prioritizing our self-care may be self-sabotage. Now I know this phrase may sound quite dramatic, and your initial thought might be, “I’m not sabotaging myself!” But in fact, all of us can exhibit self-sabotaging behaviors to protect ourselves. That’s right; sometimes we self-sabotage to offer ourselves protection from painful feelings or realities. This becomes problematic when we aren’t aware of how we’re doing this or that we’re doing this, and we over-protect ourselves.

For example, if one has a deep fear of intimacy or commitment, one may continue to pick fights with a partner or even choose partners that are not compatible. Or I may have a project that I need to work on that typically gets put on the backburner as I prioritize running errands or hanging out with friends because I’m afraid to fail or put myself out there. An even more subtle way we can self-sabotage is by experiencing a lot of anxiety or cyclical thoughts to avoid dropping into the physical sensation of grief, which can be a very intense emotion.

What do we do about our self-sabotage?

Let’s go back to the word “fix,” because I think this is an important point: We don’t need to fix ourselves or even work on ourselves. I know this may sound like it’s conflicting with my overall message or point of this article, but let’s go deeper. There isn’t anything about you that needs “work” or “fixing.” In fact, all of the behaviors, patterns and thoughts that you’ve experienced and exhibited are ways that you’ve learned to survive throughout your lifetime to get your underlying needs met. The bottom line is, even if you’re self-sabotaging, you’re doing the best you can!

We all have needs; to feel safe, to feel seen, to have others notice us, and take delight in who we are. However, because we are imperfect humans and thus our parents or caregivers are imperfect, throughout our lives we will experience times when our needs are not met, or we are faced with something that floods our system that we just can’t integrate or make sense of at the time. These things can become “stuck” in us, or become part of our programming.

Understanding is Key

Maybe our parents got divorced when we were little, so we feel fear around close relationships. Maybe we saw a family member pursue a creative dream, and we heard our parents discuss how that person “will never make any money as a ____,” so we push down our own creative aspirations. Whatever the cause, once we bring awareness to our self-sabotage, that’s really all we need to do! Because that awareness and understanding are key. We learn what the underlying need is, and then we can determine how to meet that need in an adaptive way, instead of setting ourselves up for failure. We may also see that we don’t need protection from our worries at all!

How to Increase our Awareness of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors:

Here are 3 simple strategies to increase awareness of self-sabotaging behaviors so that we are in greater alignment with our worth and value:

Identify Core Beliefs

Let me ask you this. If I told you by next year, you would have a dream come true, such as a loving relationship, or double the amount of money in your savings account, what negative thoughts or obstacles come up for you? “Oh that would never happen, I’m too needy” or “I’m terrible with money; I’ll never have a cushion to fall back on.” Write them all down. Now, instead of spending time obsessing over what is getting in the way of you reaching this dream, use these thoughts as guides for what you want to work on and what needs you have.

For example, feeling insecure and desperate in relationships may be an indicator that I need to work on building self-trust and keeping small promises that I make to myself. Poor money habits can lead me to make a plan and keep boundaries around my spending. This awareness is key because once we understand our negative core beliefs and thoughts, we can be awakened to how we are holding ourselves back. When we see that these beliefs are optional, we can then be intentional about our worth.

Develop a Journaling Practice

Type or write from your stream of thoughts without editing, trying to write “well,” or judging your thoughts. This is how you meet yourself! You’ll notice themes that continue to re-emerge, identify triggers much more readily, and even solve your own struggles by being introduced to them more and more over time. When you feel triggered, ask yourself “Does this feeling remind me of an earlier time in my life?” By looking back, we may recall painful memories or experiences where this feeling originates and our needs were not met, or we were not authentic to ourselves. Then, direct your attention to what you need to stay in your worth in the present moment.

Remember that “self-sabotage,” while it may sound scary, is really just a way we’ve protected ourselves when something is no longer working. Sometimes, we get tired of our own stuff or tired of feeling the way that we do. It’s important to remember in those moments that we’re doing the best we can, and we aren’t “wrong” for feeling how we feel. But in order to implement self-care practices that we know will be helpful for us long term, we have to identify ways in which we are holding ourselves back, and how to meet those needs and feel security while attempting to branch out and put ourselves first.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you’d like to go deeper, next time I will be writing about what to do to implement changes in your life and work toward your goals/leave self-sabotage in the dust!


What Story Are You Feeding Your Subconscious?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

Did you know your subconscious believes whatever you tell it?

When we have a story that we tell ourselves that limits us or our abilities our subconscious believes that.

When we have a story that is hopeful and empowering, our subconscious believes that.

Often we take from the past, which has already been experienced and written, to write our story of the future. And, of course, we feel like imposters! We are making this all up as we go. None of us have ever lived this day, this way before.

What if instead, we IMAGINE the story we want, that hasn’t been lived or written yet. When we DREAM about it, over and over and over again, as if we have already lived it THEN our subconscious believes that!

Don’t like your current story? Start writing and imagining a new one. Skip the chapter you’re on and see what’s in the chapters ahead. Or better yet, perhaps put this book down and try out another book. See if you like that story better.

What story are you feeding your subconscious? Remember: What we feed, grows. 

rewire the brain

Rewire the Brain: A 4 Week Guided Meditation Course

Are you looking to experience more joy and peace in your day-to-day life? Are you seeking to be more present in your relationships? Do you ever want to “get out of your own head” and start living more for the moment?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the questions, then this 4 Week Guided Meditation Course is for you!

While utilizing affirmations and attempting to re-structure negative thoughts can be a great practice, sometimes we may feel that we need more to truly manifest what we want in our lives and get more space from negative and harmful thought patterns.
This course uses the power of meditation to help rewire our brain and create new neural pathways so that we can more readily access joy and peace and break out of patterns no longer serving us!

Meditation with others can also help you give and receive the energy from the collective if you’re feeling especially isolated during this time! This course may also be a great practice to help build resilience, peace, and strength before the holiday season is quickly upon us.

All 4 classes are $40 and each session lasts 45 minutes. These sessions will be virtual and held over Zoom Thursday, October 14th & 28th and Thursday, November 4th & 11th from 7-7:45 pm.

Class is structured such that there is an introduction to the mediation. Then I will facilitate a guided mediation for participants. Afterward, the group will process the mediation as a whole and share any insights, feelings, or experiences if they choose! This will also be an opportunity to add additional skills or use the accountability of the group environment to problem solve barriers to consistent mediation practice.

I will be utilizing practices from Eriksonian hypnosis, self-compassion, re-parenting the self, increasing resilience and nervous system regulation. Meditations will be focused on retraining our nervous system. This is to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that are a result of developmental trauma, or complex PTSD. This course is meant to help clients re-parent themselves. Participants will experience less emotional deregulation, and access positive, self-affirming, and self-compassionate thoughts more readily.

Click here to sign up!



January 2022: Napa Valley, CA Retreat “Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit”

Megan, Bartley, Retreat, Napa, Napa Valley, Calistoga, Indian, Springs

Megan Bayles Bartley

is taking the Mindfulness Center


That’s right! We’re headed to Napa Valley, California in January of 2022 for a Women’s Retreat to “Nurture the Entrepreneurial Spirit!”

Who nurtures you, the busy woman that you are? Who Nurtures the Nurturer?!

This is a question I ask many of the people I work with. Oftentimes I get blank stares. No one ever asks us that question. And we tend not to ask ourselves that question because we’re often avoiding the answer…

2022 is my year to offer more group-focused events. We’ve all been cooped up during Covid and it’s time to BREAK FREE. This is the nurturing girl’s trip you’ve always wanted but perhaps just didn’t have the ideal people to go with or for the ideal intentions. (Shout out to all my introverts: THIS IS THE EVENT FOR YOU! I’ve created it with us introverts in mind!)

There will be some light programming to review 2021 and to set goals and intentions for 2022, lots of self-care, self-compassion, laughter, and lightness. As well as pool time, spa time, and wine tastings too!

This is your chance to review the past year and be intentional about the upcoming year.

Is this only for Entrepreneurs?

Nope! It’s for those with the “Entrepreneurial Spirit” – those who are driven, calculated risk-takers, out-of-the-box thinkers, those who follow their hearts, and GET SHIT DONE! (Ahem, calling ALL MOTHERS!)

Also, you’d be surprised by how many husbands and partners think this is an AWESOME idea for their wives and partners! Men are often great at taking guy trips or golf trips. They wish for and WANT their wives and partners to experience the same!

Spots are limited and the Early Bird registration is available NOW!

Want more details? GREAT! Click here for more information!

P.S. Pairing this with the 2022 monthly class entitled “Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit” I offer each year (full-year commitment) is highly recommended (but not necessary!) to keep your momentum for nurturing, self-compassion, self-care, thinking of things in new ways, and working to accomplish BIG things in 2022!

I hope you consider joining us!

the subtle art of not giving a fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

The title of this book caught my attention recently while I was at the airport. Working with many people who have anxiety or feel stressed out I thought it could be an interesting read. I like things that make us question the status quo and may be a bit provocative. The subtitle drove home my decision to purchase it: “A counterintuitive approach to living a good life.” Even cooler!

I was curious about the author and what his credentials are so I looked on the back cover and discovered he was a well-followed blogger. Hmmm… Not your typical (potentially dry) self-help PhD? Not surprising with a title like this. My graduate studies had taught me to be leary about non-scientific based information, but I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I’m usually willing to let things speak for themself. As I read I realized Manson has no specific education or credential as a therapist or in the mental health field. What he does have is his own personal experiences, which he shares freely in the book (which is different than most PhD, self-help authors!). He’s likable and seemingly very open, which is a plus for me. Essentially what I found is a very direct and easy-to-understand and assimilate way to communicate mindfulness (without really talking about mindfulness!). Even cooler!

I have many clients who are not “readers” and I’m always on the lookout for books that may be interesting to the uninterested reader. This book fits the profile. I have recommended it to several people and they *loved* the title and were willing to give it a whirl upon my recommendation.

A few of the premises in the book that caught my attention:

  1. We can never really avoid being in pain and discomfort (he uses the word suffering), so choose what you want to be in discomfort about.
  2. Choose what you want to give a f*ck about rather than giving a f*ck about everything.
  3. Your emotions are there for a very good reason – to give you feedback, to get your attention. So PAY ATTENTION to them!
  4. Make sure you are aligning with your values and priorities. Are the people you surround yourself with people you strive to be like? Are the decisions you are making assisting you in being the best version of yourself?
  5. Failure is to be expected! Welcome it. Learn from it! Perfectionism can keep us from living in reality… I mean really, at what point is “perfection” achieved?! Or are you always telling yourself you’re STILL not good enough.
  6. It’s ok to say “No.” Again, choosing what you do and don’t want to participate in establishes appropriate boundaries.

I found it to be a very enjoyable, humorous, entertaining read, and am glad I read it.

Intrigued?! Give it a whirl for yourself!


setting the bar

Setting The Bar Too High

Our expectations for ourselves are often far higher than our expectations for others. Why couldn’t we see into the future about how that marriage would end? Why did we say the wrong thing in that interview? Why can’t we find the motivation to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G….the list goes on.
It’s like someone told us that we are supposed to get everything right the first time and that we are off the rails if our life map involves various stops and starts.
The more people I meet, the more convinced I am that this is all an illusion. The truth is we all crash down only to rise up again. And again. So my message to you is this: The next time you hear that self-critical voice in your head, pause. Notice it. Grab on to grace. Hold it against your chest. Breathe it in. Listen. Let go of the judgment. And give yourself some rest.
You don’t have enough information to do everything right the first time. Give yourself some grace.
train your brain

Exercises to Train Your Brain to Think, Feel & Behave Differently

Greetings! Megan here.

We know the brain has plasticity, so we know we can shape and mold it. However, many of us don’t know what to do to see a difference.

Oftentimes we see things as black/white, good/bad, like/dislike, right/wrong which are limiting perspectives and keep us stuck in just two options. To increase our flexibility and make training the brain easier, we have to work on the brain’s flexibility and give our brain more options and perspectives from which to see our life and the world.

If you want to decrease your anxiety, anger, irritability, and depression, here are some specific exercises that help you create flexibility in the brain.

Create a Mind-Body Connection

First, focus on your 5 senses.

Take a minute or two, wherever you are, to focus on each sense and be as descriptive as possible. Naming and noticing while not judging (they aren’t good or bad; right or
wrong; they just are).

Sight: What are you seeing? Colors, textures, name the objects, just notice.

Smell: What are the smells around you? Do you smell the grass, flowers, stale
office furniture, someone’s lunch, your deodorant, or shampoo? Again, use your
adjectives: pungent, sour, sweet, stale, fresh, etc.

Taste: What are you tasting? Toothpaste? Coffee? Breath mint? Be descriptive:
Minty, tangy, sweet, bitter, etc.

Touch: What does it feel like in the chair you’re sitting in or on the floor/ground
you’re standing on? Is there a breeze? Warm sun on your face? What do the
clothes feel like on your skin? Tight, loose, itchy, soft, cozy, etc.

Hearing: What are you hearing inside this space (room, car, etc)? What are you
hearing outside of this space (next room, outside, down the street)?

Next,  Count your breathing.

Count to 4 or 5 or 6 on each inhale and exhale for the same number. It
doesn’t matter what number you choose, one’s not better than another, just do what feels
best for you. Counting in and out for the same number is very balancing. As you do this
breathing work, notice the break in breath at the top of the breath and at the bottom where it feels like the breath is suspended for just a moment.

Set Boundaries

Know what you have control over and what you don’t have control over.

The easy answer is: You only have control over yourself. Your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Even if sometimes it feels like you don’t, you can learn how to do this. What you don’t have control over is anyone else – what they do, what they say, how they think, how they feel.

Awaken The Auto-Pilot and be Kind to Yourself (and Others!)

Notice your critical voice. We speak to ourselves, in our mind, with many different voices. Sometimes we’re very parental with ourselves and sometimes we are free and playful. Other times we can be very critical. If you have any sort of perfectionistic tendencies or are a bit Type-A, this may really resonate. When we begin to just notice (no need to try to change it) when we are speaking to ourselves critically we inherently change it. Just the sheer act of paying attention and noticing (without judgment) has the ability to change the issue at hand. And remember, don’t be critical of yourself being critical – just notice it for what it is and move on!

For ultra brain flexibility do a routine task differently.

-If you have “your spot” at the kitchen or dining room table, move to another spot at
each meal.

-If you have a morning routine in the bathroom, change it up. Brush your teeth first,
then take a shower, then floss your teeth.

-Soap up in the shower differently. If you usually start and your head, start at your feet.

Remember, there is no right or wrong, good or bad and we aren’t going for efficiency right now. We’re going for a change of perspective as well as flexibility of thinking and doing, which will help you change other, bigger, things if you want to! You’re building new neural pathways in your brain! Congrats!

I hope these insights are helpful! Let me know if you have any questions!