Most often, my clients tell me that they make certain drastic decisions and changes in their lives based on their intuition. However, a lot of times what we think is intuition, is actually simply negative thinking, thoughts of fear, doubt and frustration, that we are feeling in our body and misinterpret for intuition. On this episode of the Life Coach School podcast, we discuss the process of setting specific goals and the part our intuition plays in this process. Tune in to find out how “cleaning up” your mind will reveal your true intuition and desires. We also cover the topic of intuition versus negative thinking and how to tell one from another. Don’t miss this value-packed episode that will help you understand when you are in a negative thought spiral and when you’re really tapping into what you truly want and what’s important to you.

What you will discover

  • What we as humans can learn from puppies.
  • The process for setting specific goals.
  • How to uncover what your true desires are.
  • How to reduce your struggle with balance in your life.
  • How I make sure my prioritized tasks get done, even if I don’t feel like doing them.
  • What “Dream Stealers” are and how to avoid them.
  • Why so many people don’t commit to things.
  • How to tell if you’re truly using intuition or if you’re driven by negative emotions.

Featured on the show

Episode Transcript

Welcome to The Life Coach School Podcast, where it's all about real clients, real problems, and real coaching. Now, your host, master coach instructor Brooke Castillo.

Hey there, everyone. How are you? I'm recording this in the wee hours of the morning. I usually record it in the afternoon, so it's so nice to have y'all with a cup of coffee. As some of you may know, if you are over a member at The Life Coach School email list, where I send out Friday Coach Like, you will know that I have two new puppies in my household, Rory and Rocket. They're Boston terriers, and they're puppies. They are ridiculously cute.

My husband and I, right before we got pregnant, we got two baby dachshunds. We have had those dogs for 16 years. We still have Zorro, who is our 16-year-old dachshund, who is very creaky, and old, and grumpy, and just precious, because we love him so much. He's always been in our life, but he's been biting, and he's in pain. He wants nothing to do with these puppies. Chris and I have been taking care of Zorro and been used to having an older dog. When we have these new puppies, it's like this brand-new burst of energy into our lives.

Chris and I took them on a walk yesterday, and we were looking at each other. We were like, "Is there anything better than puppies? God, everybody should have a puppy." We're walking the dogs, and here's what I'm noticing. Rory and Rocket, whenever there's another person that's walking on the trail or is driving by in a car or is anywhere within the vicinity, what they say is, "We must go say hello, right? There's a person. We have to go say hello to the person immediately," and so we do. We say hello to everyone now. People that we would have walked by, maybe smiled, maybe said hello, we go up to and engage. The puppies must kiss them, of course, because they're a person and they're in our vicinity. Why aren't we kissing them?

I've met more people in the past two months in my city than I've probably met in all the time before, because the puppies are like, "It's a person. Hello." I told Chris, I said, "First of all, people come up to us, as well, because we have puppies, because it's a puppy and we must say hello." I had a woman come up to me, and she's like, "I know people must do this to you all the time when you have this puppy." I said, "You know what's funny is we should do this to each other even when we don't have puppies."

I was telling Chris, I'm like, "Wouldn't it be cool if we were all like puppies, if every time, Chris, you, my husband, came home, I lost my mind with excitement, like, 'Oh my God! You're home, honey! Oh my God, I'm so happy to see you! Come kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me!'" He wouldn't even have to come home after a long time. He could just walk outside, and when he came back in, I would always be that excited to see him. I would always be that excited to see any person that came into my world. Can you imagine if we were all like that, like, "Hi!"? We're all puppies. "Hi! How are you? Hi! How are you? Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. What's your name?" I just think it would be fantastic.

Anyway, we're learning so much from these beautiful puppies about what it means to be new, and engaged, and loving, and also what it means to be aware, because Zorro will have nothing to do with these puppies and will bite them if they come near. I watch them really want to connect with Zorro and really want to play with his tail, and Zorro is having none of it. They avoid him very peacefully, because they know that he's just a little cranky. They don't know why. They don't have to understand why, and they don't get too upset about it. They just understand.

I know that there's been so many books written about dogs and how dogs are amazing because they have unconditional love for everyone. I love unconditional love, so that's a huge benefit of having a dog. I would say that puppies are just such amazing teachers to what it can mean to really be alive, to really be in love with life, because they really are so excited about everything. I want to be like my puppies. Rory and Rocket, I'm sure there will be a book coming out soon.

All right. Today, I want to talk about some of the topics that you guys have been bringing up to me, and some of the things that aren't clear to you, and some of the things that you want to know more about. This one's for Hannah. She wants to know, "What's the process of setting a specific goal?" I do have an episode, and I will put it in the show notes, on outcomes and goal settings that you can listen to. I also want to address it here. "When I ask my clients, 'What do you want?', when the answer is unclear, hidden, or vague, how do I dive deeper and get more specific?" She says, "You seem to be able to set big-picture goals, but do you ever set smaller goals and hope that will reveal a big-picture goal to you?"

Okay. When I set bigger goals, I have an idea of what I want, and it's very clear. I would say that a lot of you are not clear on what you want. You're not clear on what your goal is. I think that part of the problem is that you don't spend enough time with yourself. You don't know yourself well enough to know what it is you truly want.

I really can relate to this, because when I was first going through my weight-loss process, and really connecting and getting to know myself, I've told the story where I didn't even know what kind of flowers I liked. I went to the store to buy myself flowers, and I didn't even know what kind of flowers I'd like. I'd always bought flowers that I thought someone else would like, or I bought flowers for someone else, or I bought flowers for a party, and what would everyone like to look at. I had never purchased flowers with me being the only consideration. What will I like to look at, with no one else looking at it? I really had no idea.

It was a stunning realization. That was the least of the issue. I really didn't know myself. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know who I wanted to be. I didn't know what I wanted to develop in myself, and I didn't really know what I loved or what I wanted. I spent a lot of time getting to know myself. For me, that looked like, at the time ... because I didn't understand how my mind worked, and I didn't understand how to look into my brain and decipher what was a negative thought and what was me. I just spent a lot of time alone with myself, listening to what I wanted, not knowing that I was listening to my brain.

I actually had someone ask me a question about this idea of intuition versus thinking. A lot of times, what I will get clients telling me is that, "Well, I'm leaving my husband because my intuition is telling me," or "I'm leaving my job because my intuition is telling me." A lot of times, what I think we think is our intuition is just negative thinking. It's thoughts of fear, and doubt, and frustration that we are feeling in our body, and we're misinterpreting those feelings for our intuition. Then the question becomes, "How do I access my intuition, then? How do I know what is the right guidance that I'm receiving?" Because I do believe that our desires are our guidance. What we want is where we're supposed to go. So many of us can't even tap in to what we want, because we're so buried under negative programming.

To go back to what Hannah's talking about, it's really important to clean up your mind and to get to know yourself in a really deep way for you to access what you want. The truth is that our desires and our goals will not reveal themselves. We have to go find them, and we're not going to find them out in the world as much as we will find them within us. Does it help to try a lot of different things and to go out into the world and be active in it? Yes, absolutely, because as Abraham says, when you figure out what you don't want, you get a lot closer to what you do want. Trying different things and really putting your heart and soul into things that you do will really help you discover within what it is that you want to do.

To answer that question, yeah, maybe you set some small goals. You go out there and you try those, and you see if maybe that leads to something bigger. I think that the more important activity that you can be doing is really cleaning up your mind so that your true intuition, your true desires, will be uncovered, so to speak. The more you start living in line with deliberate thinking, the more you're going to access and connect to yourself.

The reason why most people don't do this process, and it's a biggie, is because when we start connecting with ourselves, when we start paying attention to our mind, usually there's a lot of negativity going on. There's a lot of negative emotion, and there's a lot of negative feelings. I've had more clients than one tell me that they feel worse before they feel better, because they've all the sudden become aware of all the negativity. They'd rather just turn the lights back off and go about their business of avoiding themselves. That's not going to work. You have to be willing to go through the process of uncovering what's in the way of knowing what your true desires are.

That's really the most important thing. If you don't know what you want, that's how you find out. Okay. Then once a goal or focus is set, then how do you set up the structure to pursue it? What Hannah is saying is her lifestyle is constantly rescheduling and answering emails. She finds it difficult to carve out time to work on her craft. When she does, she feels so much pressure to accomplish. It's really difficult to create from an agenda-filled place.

She asks me if I struggled with balance. Here's the thing. I do not struggle with balance. It's true. I really don't. I know that a lot of people struggle with this, but I really don't, and here's why. I am really clear about two things. One, I'm clear about priorities. I talk about that in another podcast episode, and I'll put that in the show notes if you want to check that one out. Really clear of what my priorities are in order, and I revisit them weekly so I know what I need to do.

The things that I want to do that are really important to me, I'm not responding or reacting to but are really important to me, get a space on my calendar, and I honor that calendar. It's very easy to get caught up in, "Okay, I have two hours. What should I do?" Most of us are not going to say, "Okay. Right now, what I'm going to do is this non-pressing creative process." Most of us are going to go, "I have emails to do, and I got to clean the house, and I got to do this, this, this, this, this." We're always in reacting mode, and we're never honoring what it is we really want to do.

What I do, I have a sheet of paper, notepad, that one of my friends and colleagues, Lin Eleoff, gave me. She gave it to me last year at Mastermind, and it has quotes on it. It's amazing. Every week, I sit and write down everything that is a priority to me that week, in order of priority. I include everything on there, and everything gets a spot on my schedule. I schedule time to be with the kids. I schedule time to drive them to soccer practice. I schedule time to pick them up from school. I schedule time for dinner. Actually, I don't literally put the time for dinner on there. I just know when it is, but I do put everything else on there, anything else that needs to happen. It is such a relief, because I just look at my calendar, and yes, there are some times I just don't feel like doing it, but I do it anyway because I've put it on my calendar, and I like to honor my calendar.

When it comes to goals, that's how I roll. That's how I do it, is I put it on there, and I make it happen, so I'm not constantly in reaction mode. Emails are not an emergency, and neither are phone calls. This is something that is very different about me. I don't always answer the phone just because it's ringing. I don't always call someone back just because they called me. I don't always reply to an email just because someone sent it to me, because if I was constantly replying to every email that was sent to me or constantly answering every phone call that came in, I wouldn't have time for the things that are really important to me.

I'm willing to not reply, and I'm willing to not call someone back, in order to prioritize the other things that are true. I do want to call people back, but I need to do it when it's not an urgent thing for me. Obviously, if there's an urgent phone call from the school, my kids are hurting or something, that is an urgent thing. Most everything in our lives is not urgent, and I refuse to create urgency around something that isn't a priority. That's really the way to manage your life. It sounds like, Hannah, that you're in a space where you're really just allowing everything to be urgent. If you have emails to answer, my suggestion is you schedule time. You have two hours a day to do emails, and that's when you do them. The rest of the day, you don't even open your email box.

I know this freaks some of you guys out. I taught a class a while ago. I had so many emails in my inbox, and I didn't like it. I didn't want all those emails in there, so I just deleted them all. Everyone in my class was having a heart attack. They're like, "You did what? How did you just delete them?" I go, "I just did." People say, "That's inconsiderate. You're not replying to people. They've spent the time to send you an email." I go, "I hear what you're saying, but if it's really important to them, they will probably email me back, or it wasn't that important." If that's what selfish is, I'm willing to do that, just because I need to focus on my priorities in my life and not be constantly responding to someone else's agenda. Call that what you may. That's how I live my life, and I think that's why I'm able to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish in my life.

Okay. I think the other thing is ... Let me just see. You say, "I'd like to begin with working time instead of constantly thinking and fighting against it. I like I am kind of getting this done, but instead uncertain of what needs to be done, and therefore, you're in dabble mode." Yeah. It's almost like you've energetically snacked all day, because you're afraid to commit to choosing one meal and enjoying it. I really like the way you put that, too, just because I like eating metaphors, because I am first and foremost a weight-loss coach. Everything seems to be an eating metaphor for me.

I really like that, because if you don't commit to something ... You refer to it as your craft. If you don't commit to it, then there's no chance of failing. I think that's what so many of us do. We get lost in, "I'm confused," "I don't know," or "I don't have time." Those are the dream stealers. I want to offer that to you, because those seem like legitimate excuses. No one's going to hold that against you. If you don't know something, then don't do it. If you're confused, you don't have to move forward. If you don't have time, look at your life.

I was just coaching a couple of my intensive students. I let them have it a little bit, because I love them so much. They were making excuses as to why they weren't getting stuff done. I basically told them, "Listen, you're just making excuses. You do have the time to get all of it done. Stop making excuses, because all you're doing is stealing your own dreams from yourself." They knew it was true. We all know that it's true, because when you look at how you spend your day and you look at your priorities, it's usually so out of whack.

The amount of time people spend on Facebook, just dabbling in Facebook, is unbelievable to me. It's unbelievable. I totally get it. I'm not on Facebook in terms of I don't have any friends on Facebook. I have a business page, but I don't have a personal page. My husband does, and so sometimes I go on his personal page. I get sucked in. "Oh my God, what's that a picture of? Who's that? What's going on there? Ooh, look at that ad." It sucks me into the world of Facebook that I can see how that happens.

Actually, two years ago, when I did my master coach training, one of the things that I asked everyone to do for six weeks was to not be on Facebook. Literally, some of them went through withdrawal. Some of them were unwilling to do it, and some of them literally went through withdrawal from Facebook. I'm not suggesting that you have to quit Facebook. I'm just saying, is it in line? Is the amount of time you're spending on it in line with your priorities? For some of you, it may be yes. It may be a huge priority to connect with your friends and see what's going on in their life. I'm not saying that you shouldn't do that. Just make sure it's a conscious decision.

Committing. We talked about this in the Tony Robbins episode. Committing to your decision is the hardest part of accomplishing any goal. It sounds like you haven't committed. It sounds like you haven't gone to the place where you really are saying, "This is what I want, and I'm going to go get it." The reason why people don't do that is because they're afraid they may fail. They're afraid they won't get it, and so they don't want to commit to it. As long as they don't commit, they can be in this vague wonderland of, "I don't know," "I'm confused," and "I'm too busy."

I would say, even if you don't know if it's exactly what you want, I would say be willing to commit and go all out, because even if you end up getting something you don't want, you will have learned the skill of committing to something and working towards it. That you can apply to anything else in your life, as you discover more and more about yourself and have a deeper relationship with yourself so you understand it.

For those of you who've been married for a long time, or you've had a friend for a long time, or your kids are older so you've been with them a long time, you know exactly what they want. You could order a sandwich for them at Subway. You can order them a meal at a restaurant. You just know them. You know what they're going to like to do on vacation. You're going to know how they like the car to be kept, anything like that. You just know them so deeply.

That's how you want to get to know yourself. You want to get to know yourself that deeply so you know exactly what you want. The process of doing that is really through paying attention, acceptance, and then accessing your wisdom. It's really important that you take that time to spend with yourself getting to know yourself. That's really the difference between setting a goal and achieving it, and not. Are you committed to it? Are you going all out to get it?
Okay. The next topic I want to cover is related. It taps in to the same idea of intuition versus negative thinking. [Brianna 00:22:16] brings this up in a different topic, but it's the same concept. Brianna's issue is she has developed anxiety when it comes to her boyfriend. She's been in a relationship with him for two and a half years, and she feels like they have a very loving relationship where they respect each other.

Throughout their relationship, there's been a few events that she thinks weigh her down. She's found out on different occasions that her boyfriend was talking to an ex-girlfriend in secret, or exchanging flirtatious emails with another girl. When this happened, she totally flipped out and told her boyfriend that she was completely uncomfortable and incredibly hurt that this would happen. This has happened with three different women over the course of the relationship, and continued on and off for two years with one girl in particular. Regardless that nothing went beyond writing, she was crushed by it.

Because of this, she believes that that's why she developed anxiety and then getting gut feelings that something isn't right, fearing that something's going to happen again and letting her mind chase horrible thoughts down dark rabbit holes, and then going through his phone, assuming that something is happening. She's driving herself crazy, and it's hurting her relationship, because it's incredibly difficult for her to stop doing these things. She's really struggling with it.

This is the same concept that I was talking about in relation to, how do you know what goals to set? How do you know what direction to go in your life? How do you know what you want? How do you separate out your intuition, your deepest desires, from all of the noise and the negative thinking that's in the way? I think that's the exact same thing that's going on here with Brianna, because she's like, "Okay. I'm having these gut feelings that he might be doing some inappropriate things in our relationship. He might be emailing girls, and he might be flirting, and he might be doing this stuff on the side. How do I know? Am I absolutely out of my mind and crazy, and having these negative thoughts because of what had happened before, or am I on to something? Is this really happening? Am I tapping in to what's true?"

That's a really challenging question. It's negative thinking versus intuition versus the truth. How do we know what is what? Do we make ourselves crazy when we have a gut feeling and we don't know if it's a gut feeling or just a negative thought? She understands this concept. What she brings up here is that she understands this concept about the manual. She has this idea that, in what she's calling the manual, is that, "In my manual, he doesn't talk to other girls and doesn't flirt with other girls. That's unacceptable." The concept that I teach about the manual is that we all do have these expectations of how other people behave. When they don't behave that way, we are crushed. We are upset.

There may be a mutual understanding in these relationships. You may say, "Look, I'm not going to cheat on you. You're not going to cheat on me." You have that manual for each other, and you expect that that person will honor that manual. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It's just knowing that, if they don't follow what you have set out for them, that you are going to be crushed.

The truth is ... This is so hard for so many of you to hear. The truth is, people are allowed to do whatever they want in their lives. I have a client right now who's been married for 35 years, and her husband has been cheating on her. That is one of the hardest things for her to wrap her mind around. I love her so much. I know that it's excruciatingly painful the way that she's thinking about it. I have to let her know, and everybody know, that other people are allowed to do whatever they want in their lives, with or without your consent. Everybody's allowed to do whatever they want in their lives. We can try and control them, and we can try and change them, but they're still allowed to do whatever they want in their lives.

Here's the best news. You're allowed to do whatever you want in your life. Where you are right now here is trying to understand, are you crazy for thinking these things, or are you on to something? You don't know, and so it's making you behave in a way that you don't want to behave. The first thing that you have to do is your own coaching on yourself, and cleaning up your own thoughts about this.

That is not to say, just because other people are allowed to do whatever they want in their life does not mean that you have to stay with them. It doesn't mean that you have to not say anything about it. It doesn't mean that you don't have conversations, and it doesn't mean possibly that you get upset about it. Just know that the reason you're getting upset about it is because you have a manual agreement, you have an expectation of them of how they'll behave, and they're not following through on it. You get to decide what you're going to do about it.

Here's the big difference. This is the difference I've been teaching you guys between manuals and boundaries. Manuals are you have a book for how you want someone else to behave that is typically going to cause you a lot of pain if they don't follow that manual. It's no problem having a manual for someone if they follow it perfectly. For example, I have a manual for my husband Chris that he would never hit me. He's never hit me, and he has no intention of hitting me. It's not a problem.

If I have a manual for him that he always remembers to ... I'm trying to think of something that he doesn't do that bugs me. Oh, okay. Here's something that he does. He likes to clean my coffee cup. I know this sounds so funny. Who has problems? I do, right? Chris likes to pour out my coffee and put my cup in the dishwasher before I'm done drinking the coffee. Yes, my husband is very clean and very neat, and he takes amazing care of our kitchen. It makes me insane. I'm halfway through a cup of coffee, and it's gone. I'm like, "Where's my coffee?" "Oh, I thought you were done." "I'm not done with it." Yes, this is a huge, huge problem for me. Not really.

Anyway, I have this manual, "You will not take my coffee cup and pour the coffee out, please," but he still does. My expectation is that he won't, and so I'm going to be upset if he does. That's just a really silly example, but it's one of those things that he's going to do what he does. That's how he's going to roll. I can either be upset because he does it ... Of course, it's well intended. He's cleaning the house, for goodness sakes. I need to understand that my expectation and my rulebook is not going to be something that is followed ever. It's just not going to happen. I can either make myself upset about it, or I can roll with it. There are some things that I won't ever roll with, like if he were to hit me.

If you have a manual for someone and they follow it, it's not a problem. If you have a manual and it's constantly causing you disappointment, that's when you have to have a look at it. That's that issue. The other issue that's important for you to know is, are you tapping in to something that's important for you to be listening to in your own intuition, or are you just spinning in negativity? How do you access your wisdom? How do you access the truth of what's going on with you?

It sounds to me like you have a lot of negative thoughts going on. The key is to work through that. When you ask yourself these questions, "How could he do that to me? Why would he hurt me like this? Why does this keep happening? Is it going to happen again? I can't trust him," all of those thoughts need to be cleaned up and answered. You need to ask yourself, "How could he do that to you? What does it mean to you, and what do you want it to mean to you?" Because you get to decide that he did that to you.

You get to really tap in to your thoughts, and make sure that you like the thoughts that you're having. Are you trying to go into denial because you don't want him to have done it, or are you really just trying to have a healthy, wonderful relationship with your boyfriend? Only you can know that. You have to clean all of that thinking up so you can really know if what you're feeling is based on the truth and you're trying to access that, or are you just spinning in negative emotion.

What I recommend you do ... This is for you, too, Hannah, with your thoughts about all the stuff that you have to do, and that's why you can't work on your craft. For you here, Brianna, all of the thoughts you have about your boyfriend, and so you can't access your true wisdom. Really write them all down and have a look at them. Really pay attention to, "Are these just buzzing noise in my head? What do I want to believe here, and why do I want to believe it?"

It sounds like you really want to believe that your boyfriend has changed and that he won't do it again, but why do you want to believe that? This is so key, because if the reason you want to believe that is because you're afraid that he's going to do it again, you need to clean that up, too. If the reason you want to believe that is because you genuinely know that he won't do it again,... which, by the way, you can't ever know, but you genuinely want to believe that ... then that is your reason behind it, and it's coming from a really positive place.

I want to offer just one thing here. I think people do what they do. I think if they've done it once, there's a likely chance that they could do it again. If they've done it more than once, there's a higher chance that they'll do it again. It doesn't mean that you have to leave him, either. It just means that you get to decide what it means to you to be with someone that does that. It doesn't have to mean something really negative. It can mean something that works for you, but you really need to tell yourself the truth.

One of the things that I'm working with with my other client that I was telling you about is that she kept giving herself ultimatums, that if her husband cheated, it meant she had to leave. I told her, I said, "It doesn't mean that. You're in control here. You can decide whether you leave or not. When you give yourself an ultimatum and you don't really want to leave, that's when you go into denial, because you don't want to find out about these things."

The energy, Brianna, that you're bringing to your relationship is you're trying to find out something, but you don't really want to find it out. You're going through his phone and doing all that, but you don't want to find out that he's cheating. That's what's creating this tremendous amount of anxiety in you that has nothing to do with him, actually. You get to decide. Imagine, if you're in the relationship and you believe this could happen again, ... and I know that, I'm not pretending like it couldn't ... you're going to be in a much more peaceful place than if you are constantly trying to convince yourself that it would never happen again. That's what brings up so much anxiety, because you don't know that for sure.

Really allowing other people to be what they are, and knowing that it might happen again, and finding a way to be at peace with that is going to help you be so much more in tune, because if you're at peace with yourself and the reality that other people are allowed to do what they want, you're going to be able to tap in to that intuition and tap in to that connection with yourself in a much deeper way that you'll be able to recognize true wisdom, as opposed to negative thinking.

That's been the whole point of both of these examples, is to really help you guys understand when are you in a negative thought spiral, and when are you really just tapping in to what you truly want and what's truly important to you. I think that's the work of our lives. I think the more time we spend understanding that difference, the closer we will be to our truest desires, our truest life, and then ultimately our destiny.

This has been a pretty heavy topic. We've gone into some pretty deep stuff here. If you have any questions about any of it or you want to make a comment, please come to When you go there, it will take you to this podcast on my website, where you will be able to leave a comment. Some of you have asked how to leave a comment. That's how you do it. I'd love to see you there. I will talk to you all next week. Take care. Bye bye.

Thank you for listening to The Life Coach School Podcast. It would be incredibly awesome if you would take a moment to write a quick review on iTunes. For any questions, comments, or coaching issues you would like to hear on the show, please visit us at

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