“Ask yourself: What’s mine?” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Lacey Sites

Even though this season may be incredibly challenging, and you may not know how this is going to end or where you’ll be when it does, you can fully decide what your outcome will look like. You can affirm that you grow from this. You can affirm that you are still always taken care of. […]

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Even though this season may be incredibly challenging, and you may not know how this is going to end or where you’ll be when it does, you can fully decide what your outcome will look like. You can affirm that you grow from this. You can affirm that you are still always taken care of. You can affirm that you have enough time to do what you have to do and that this serves you and your life in a big way.

Asa part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lacey Sites.

Lacey Sites (M.S., M.B.A.) is a Business Mentor and Success Coach who helps high-performing women entrepreneurs build and grow service-based businesses. Throughout the last 4+ years of running her company, A Lit Up Life, Lacey has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs create life-changing results from seven figures in revenue, to leaving corporate jobs, to multi-six figure salaries on 20 hours (or less) each week. With an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling and an M.B.A in Ethical Leadership, Lacey is also the creator of the innovative podcast, LITerally®, and the co-host of the Happy Thoughts™ Show.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Mybackground started in undergrad and graduate school in mental health counseling, where I wrote a thesis on distress tolerance and how we psychologically tolerate physical symptoms of stress in the body (which seems more relevant now than ever). I then went on to work in therapy as a substance abuse counselor with clients court-ordered to six months of inpatient rehab. That time taught me so much about navigating life in the most uncertain of situations. That said, it was quite tolling on me personally, and I eventually moved into the non-profit space as a Director of a $45 million/year non-profit.

I grew in that space quickly and found myself with the “dream job,” but after a while, it didn’t feel like a dream. I went back to school, got my MBA, and continued to push through, but I knew there had to be more to life than a crazy commute and the feeling of never getting it all done, so I eventually left to start my own business and haven’t looked back since. Now I get to do work that combines all of the things I love, like business strategy and mindset, and I have the dream job that really does feel like a dream.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer is one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. I’m someone who has lived her life as a high-performer and high-achiever. For most of my life, I thought the best way to get what you wanted was to “control everything.” This book was so eye-opening because it truly showed me how counterintuitive that had been.

By the time I picked up The Surrender Experiment, I’d been working on detachment for quite some time. However, after reading Michael Singer’s journey and seeing how surrender guided all of the amazing things in his life, I felt affirmed to go deeper on that path.

I am so grateful for this book because, during these unprecedented times, I can see how being deeply in the practice of surrender is serving me and my business. I credit that book so much for the permission to prioritize surrender in a way I hadn’t before.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Reason #1 to be hopeful: You can make it through this, and it will undoubtedly ensure that you end up even stronger than before.

A few years ago, I went through a difficult divorce. One of the things I took away from that experience was a deep trust that I could feel any emotion (such as grief, loneliness, fear, or uncertainty) and continue to take action in alignment with what I wanted (even if it was contrary to the emotion I was feeling). At the time of the divorce, I was running my company, A Lit Up Life, and needed to continue showing up for my clients and my team even during those times of deep sadness and uncertainty.

Learning that I could go through something incredibly difficult from a personal standpoint and yet still show up how I needed to move forward in my career was one of the greatest gifts I never expected to get. I now have a deep sense of trust within myself that I can move through any challenging situation, like the Coronavirus, and come out on the other side stronger than before.

That’s the opportunity we have right now: a chance to deepen our sense of trust. While things may look different in this season, or while you may need to process your emotions in new ways, take this opportunity to build trust with yourself so that when you get to the other side (and you will), you feel more grounded and sure of yourself than ever before.

Reason #2 to be hopeful: You can decide things will work out for you even if you can’t see how that will happen.

With so many unknowns in our lives right now, it’s normal to feel out of control. But the one thing we can still decide is that this season will work out for us, even if we can’t see exactly how it will unfold.

After going through the divorce I mentioned above, I wanted to finish paying off the $200k in student loans I had taken on thanks to an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling and an M.B.A. in Ethical Leadership. At that point, I’d been paying on those loans for years and only made a $17k dent due to interest.

I had no idea how I was going to pay off those loans, but I decided it was possible anyway. And I don’t mean I just “hoped” it would happen. I mean that I FULLY decided on that outcome even though I was utterly unable to see the path that would take me there. As a result, in just one year, I paid off $183k in loans and became completely debt-free.

Things unfolded to allow this to happen that I could have never imagined. Had I even tried to guess how it would all come together, I wouldn’t have been able to.

Even though this season may be incredibly challenging, and you may not know how this is going to end or where you’ll be when it does, you can fully decide what your outcome will look like. You can affirm that you grow from this. You can affirm that you are still always taken care of. You can affirm that you have enough time to do what you have to do and that this serves you and your life in a big way.

Reason #3 to be hopeful: This is the most epic opportunity to develop your ability to make yourself happy (and not count on external circumstances to do it for you).

As a teenager, I struggled with anxiety and depression, though I’m not sure I had those labels back then. There were many days that I didn’t go to school because I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed, put on clothes, and open my bedroom door.

I dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression from a young age, and while my parents are the most wonderful and loving humans, it was not as obvious back then how to get help. I struggled for many years without professional support. By 19, I was in therapy and on medication for both depression and anxiety.

Through this, I became equipped not to have regular panic attacks but still hadn’t figured out how to equip myself to be happy. I had the tools to survive, but I didn’t have the tools to thrive, so I looked towards the external circumstances I hoped would get me there.

I spent years “doing the right things”, getting the right degrees, and chasing the right promotions until I finally “had it all” and realized that didn’t make me happy either. At this point, everything changed for me. I started getting happy on the inside FIRST.

Ironically, the more I first got happy with myself, the more my external circumstances became better than I could have imagined. But they still weren’t the things sparking my happiness. I was making myself happy, and there is nothing more powerful than that.

As so many of our normal external circumstances have been taken away — such as jobs, hobbies, and daily routines — we’re given an opportunity to develop the internal tools that allow us to thrive and be happy both in difficult situations and outside of them.

While you might feel like your world has flipped upside down, remember that the tools you develop to soothe and process your emotions will help you now AND later. If you can find ways to be happy internally right now, that will serve you for the rest of your life. Not only will you rely less on your external circumstances for your happiness, but you will also likely find that your circumstances improve dramatically as well.

Reason #4 to be hopeful: This is temporary. You can use this season to pause, reflect, and reset.

When I was working at my “dream job” with the husband and the graduate degrees and the life that should have been great, I would drive to work every day and think, “This can’t be all there is.”

Interestingly enough, not long after pushing down my unsettling desire for more, I had an unexpected work experience that completely changed the course of my life. After a huge ethical disagreement with the chair of our Board of Directors, I left my position.

In many ways, I felt like my entire identity was taken away in an instant. At the same time, as much as I was questioning who I was now, I drove away from the office that day, thinking this could possibly be happening FOR me. As upset as I was, there was a piece of me that knew this was an opportunity (and one that I had been waiting for).

However, I do want to say that it’s easy for me to look back on this journey and share these pieces of the story with you now. But that doesn’t mean this transition wasn’t incredibly hard. Something can be hard and STILL work out for you.

When I left that job, I intended to get a new one, but I kept hitting wall after wall. I couldn’t even get an interview. With two master’s degrees, lots of experience, and an impressive resume, I had a choice to become the victim of my circumstance and decide things were unfair, or to see it as the opportunity it was. Looking back, I am so glad I used this unexpected pause to reflect, reset, and figure out what was most important to me because it led me to the career I have now.

Remember, this season is temporary. Things will return to “normal” at some point. We will go back to restaurants and offices and resume our daily lives. You can use this time to question why things are happening to you, or you can use this time to reflect, reset, and come out stronger than before. There are always opportunities if we decide to look for them.

Reason #5 to be hopeful: There are more needs now than ever. If you want to solve a problem and start a business, now’s the time.

The good news is that, while many things have changed, two things are still the same. One, the Universe still works the same way: If you are of value, you will get value in return. Two, business still operates under the same principles: Give value, build relationships, and solve problems.

I find hope in knowing that these two things have always been (and will always be) true, even now.

Every business is built to solve a problem. This doesn’t change during a pandemic. Not only are businesses still built to solve problems, but more problems than ever need to be solved.

That’s why restaurants are still looking to solve problems even after the entire way they operate changed. They know their customers still have needs (people want food, need to eat, and don’t want to cook) and are asking themselves how to create a solution amid new circumstances (people can’t leave their homes or sit in restaurants). Their customer’s problem hasn’t changed, but they’ve had to change the way they solve it.

Fundamentally, principles still apply even though circumstances may look different. However, what has changed is that there are more needs than ever to be met. There are more problems than ever before in our current experience and reality. So, if you’ve ever wanted to solve a problem or start a business, now’s a great time to do so. Opportunities still exist, and in some industries, more opportunities exist than ever before. Now might be the perfect chance for you to get out there and be a solution.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Remind yourself and each other that things aren’t necessarily more uncertain than they were a few weeks ago.

As mentioned, I worked in substance abuse as a therapist. My clients were court-ordered to six months of inpatient rehab, and they had dual diagnoses. They felt they were at the most uncertain place they had ever experienced in their lives.

I bring this up because I know we are all feeling a very high level of uncertainty right now (and that’s normal). One of the conversations I used to have with my clients that created turning points for them was to realize that things aren’t necessarily more uncertain now than a few weeks ago, even though they felt differently. For my clients, things were actually more uncertain when they were out on the street using drugs; they were just more aware of that uncertainty once they were in treatment.

For many of us, things like the uncertainty of running a business, working for a company, becoming ill, etc. have always been there. Uncertainty is a core piece of daily life. We’re just typically not this “aware” of that uncertainty.

What a situation like COVID-19 does is bring that uncertainty into focus. It shows up on our TVs, on social media, and in conversations in a way that it simply wasn’t before.

That’s why things feel so much more intense right now. Our awareness has changed.

Life has always been uncertain to an extent, right? Entrepreneurship and the stock market, for example, have always inherently had some level of uncertainty. The possibility that our loved ones could get sick or pass away has always been true.

Much of what we’re experiencing right now has always been there. It just hasn’t gotten our conscious attention until now.

I am not saying this to pretend everything is the same, nor ignore the very real challenges many of us are facing. Instead, reminding ourselves (and others) of the ways things are actually still very much the same can often bring a sense of relief and, ironically, comfort. When you change your focus, you can change your experience.

This one reminder often created a shift with my therapy clients because they felt more grounded, knowing that things weren’t necessarily worse. Things were just more in focus, which helped change the intensity of their feelings and experience. The same can be true for us now.

Focus on the ways you and your loved ones can “up” the amount of good in your day-to-day life.

As many of us spend more time consuming the news, make it a priority also to increase the amount of time you spend consuming more uplifting content. Read inspiring books, listen to your favorite podcasts, and intentionally do things that feel good.

Some of my favorite books right now are:

  • The Untethered Soul
  • The Surrender Experiment
  • Love Warrior
  • Untamed
  • When Things Fall Apart

Spending more time consuming positive content is one of those little things we sometimes tend to ignore (for example, what we’re listening to on a walk or while doing dishes). Still, these are the hacks that can make a BIG difference in how we feel and, therefore, how we show up.

If you’re feeling exhausted or like you can’t catch your breath, consider how much time you spend watching the news (or talking about what’s going on in the world) and how much time you spend taking in uplifting, positive content.

Now, I’m not suggesting we stop consuming the news. We, of course, should stay informed. However, I am suggesting that we make an effort to tip the scale more toward the positive because that will significantly impact how we feel each day.

Cultivate a COVID-19 toolbox.

Similar to the above, it’s the small, everyday things that empower us to feel better. That’s why having a toolbox at your disposal is immensely valuable.

What I mean by “have a toolbox” is having a list of activities that you can use to feel good, feel better, or turn a bad day into a good one (or at least a neutral one).

Personally, I have journaling, tapping, meditation, reading inspiring books, the ThinkUp App, phone calls with friends, and walks with my dogs. These are some of the activities that make up my toolbox, and they’re so simple.

Nine times out of ten, if I’m not feeling great, it’s because I’m not using my tools. The days I don’t feel good are the days I consume too much news, don’t do the things that feel good, or get caught up in turmoil. The toolbox is the antidote to that. These are things I strive to use daily and things that are incredibly impactful in times of stress, transition, and change. (So, right now!)

The tools that will make the biggest difference (that will help you feel good and move through hard times with more ease) really are the small, everyday things like movement, mindset, and support.

If you use your toolbox consistently and pull out a tool or two when you need them, you will feel better more often than not or, at the very least, you’ll feel empowered to do so when you’re ready.

It might sound cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Being happy and finding ways to feel good yourself will help you be there more for others during this time.

I recommend to my clients that they literally create a written document of what their toolbox is, so when they have a hard day, they can reference said toolbox and pick one thing to do. Having this reference allows us to act so much more quickly, and to remind ourselves that we DO know what we need to do to feel better.

Check-in with your loved ones and listen without fixing or making anything wrong.

There can be so much pressure that comes with this unprecedented time. Pressure to be productive, pressure to not be productive, pressure to feel all your feelings, pressure to stay positive, just to name a few.

It seems like everywhere we turn, someone is telling us how we should be handling this, and most of the advice is conflicting. The best we can do for ourselves and our loved ones right now is to check-in and listen without making their experience wrong (or without trying to fix it).

If they’re feeling great, let that be okay. Support them without suggesting they take things more “seriously”.

If they’re feeling awful, sad, or in grief, allow them to sit with those feelings as well. Being with someone without suggesting how to feel (or without sharing what they can do to feel better) is often the greatest gift we can give.

Plus, it also takes the pressure off of you. Meaning, we so often feel like we have to have all the answers, always be able to make someone feel better, and carry the weight of another person’s challenges as our own. But that’s not the case. Allowing yourself to just be with someone where they’re at without changing or fixing their experience will feel amazing to them, but it also allows you to be a support system without having to take on the challenge yourself.

Ask yourself: What’s mine?

There’s a lot of anxiety in the world as a whole right now, and especially if you’re an empath, you’re likely feeling it very intensely. That’s normal. It’s okay to feel anxious at times like these. It’s okay to feel worry, panic, or uncertainty.

That said, one thing I encourage you to do is notice what’s yours and what’s not. Because while you might feel the weight of the world, you don’t necessarily have to also feel like your world is falling apart. Maybe it is, and that’s valid. Here’s full permission to feel your feelings. But also? Keep finding the separation between what is yours and what is not. One thing I find helpful is asking, “What’s mine?”

For example, one of my clients had a panic attack last week after watching a story on the news that impacted her. However, when we look at the truth behind that, the intensity of the story truly wasn’t hers. She was safe, at home, with her family, and all was well in her world at that moment. It doesn’t mean we can’t empathize with everything going on in the world, but it does mean we don’t have to take it all on as our own and carry that weight with us.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?



Reading mindset books

I find journaling to be so useful to get what you’re thinking out of your head. There is something about putting our thoughts on paper that gives us a different perspective. I find that we may feel like something is true in our minds, but then when we start writing it down, we realize that many of the thoughts we’re having don’t make all that much sense. Journaling is so useful, especially now when your mind is more likely to run wild. It can help you release anxiety and also keep things in perspective.

Tapping is another great resource because it works with acupressure points and has been shown to significantly support those dealing with anxiety. It takes a mind-body approach and can dramatically reduce stress and support your nervous system.

I also highly recommend reading books that support your mindset, remind you of your power, and give you permission to be where you are during this time. Tipping the scale of what you’re putting into your mind to the positive is so key in times like this and is one of the simplest things to do. I love listening to audiobooks while I’m doing other things like working out, walking the dogs, folding laundry, or making dinner.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“What you focus on expands.”

This quote has been relevant to my life in so many ways.

When I focus on uncertainty, uncertainty seems to expand in my life. When I focus on the good, I always feel and notice more good in my world.

Where you focus your energy matters, and I think that’s important to remember now more than ever.

I see this quote present itself throughout my own experiences a lot.

For example, here’s how I could look at my life:

  • I was divorced at 31 (it was a very costly divorce) and spent ten years in a difficult relationship.
  • All my extra income in 2018 went to paying down $200k in student loans for degrees I don’t even need.
  • I don’t have kids at 33 (nor will I anytime real soon, if ever).
  • I’ve been in business for four years, and I don’t make seven figures/year.

However, truth be told? When I read these bullets, they don’t even feel like me.

Here’s what deeply feels true instead:

  • I have the greatest fiancé in the whole world because I committed fully to being happy in a relationship (even if that meant I had to leave an old one).
  • In less than two years, I got a costly divorce AND paid off $200k in student loans (which is unfathomable to most) by building a business that gives me so much freedom and fulfillment.
  • I am so in love with my business and my clients. The fact that I can make $500k+/year and take home the vast majority of it is life-changing.

How we feel and look at our lives is so much about where we chose to focus our energy. When we do this intentionally, we can consistently see the good in our lives expand (often in ways we could never have even imagined).

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement to bring good to the world, I would start a movement to help people be happy NOW.

It’s really easy to find ourselves in a trap with happiness where it’s only and ever behind some goal, available once circumstances look a certain way, or only after something else happens first. We think we can only be happy when we get through a hard time. We can only be happy when we hit a goal (and that goal keeps changing). We can only be happy when we lose weight, get into a relationship, or (for example, we might be thinking now) things go back to normal.

What I’ve found to be true is that happiness is actually the most powerful tool at your disposal, and it’s guaranteed to get you more of what you want. It truly is the missing link that will help you not only reach your goals but also feel good on the journey there.

The key is to cultivate happiness from the inside out (and not the outside in). Now, don’t get me wrong. This takes effort and is challenging if you’ve never practiced it, but it’s also the biggest game-changer imaginable.

So, even when it feels like a very challenging circumstance in which to find happiness, there’s nothing more important you could be doing. Focusing on the things that feel good and doing the internal work is one of the most valuable ways you could possibly spend your time (because you can invite more happiness into your life no matter what’s going on).

Plus, if there’s one other thing I know for sure, it’s that you being happy only adds more happiness to others, and that’s what the world needs more of now.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

You can find me on my website, hang out with me on Facebook inside The Lit Up and Loaded Entrepreneur, or listen to my podcast, LITerally®.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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