Emotional Awareness and Resilience Coach, Author, and Speaker

Lou’s Bio

As an Emotional Awareness coach, author, and speaker, Lou’s mission is to help people of all ages understand and gain ownership over their emotions, so they can live the life they choose.

Through his personal experience, having successfully completed a multitude of endurance athletic events over the past decade, including the Boston Marathon, Ironman, and ultramarathons, as well his study of eastern medicine and philosophy Lou has developed tools for building mental and emotional tools that have the ability to benefit anyone looking to bring their best selves to every situation.

Beyond his own practice, Lou transformed his knowledge into an accessible methods and tools that anyone can use in their own life. Through his presentations, workshops, as well as individual and group coaching Lou helps students, parents, mentors, caregivers, teachers, athletes and leaders gain ownership of their choices by knowing how to use their emotions in a way that serves their goals.

YOU are the Author of Your Emotions!

I’ve been listening to a book by Malcolm Gladwell call David and Goliath. I’m on my way to give a keynote talk at a university, so I am up at 4:30 in the morning and really focused.  This book talks about advantages and disadvantages. Specifically, Gladwell defines what constitutes an advantage in our minds as something being bigger and stronger and having more resources.  But he goes on to explain that this doesn’t necessarily transfer over into the real world as an actual advantage all of the time. 

Gladwell uses the example of a young woman who goes to a premier school and has an absolute love for science.  However, the kids at this school are so competitive and understand science so well that it is actually a disadvantage for her because she feels that she isn’t up to par.  So, while I’m listening to this, there’s something irritating the deep recesses of my mind. I truly can’t figure out if there is something wrong with this logic. Gladwell also talks about Monet and his buddies in the impressionist movement. It seems a certain contest in Paris was what determined whether you were a very good artist.  If an artist didn’t do well in the competition, Gladwell pointed out, some would actually go and kill themselves. Pretty severe self-judgment I thought as I sipped my coffee and tried to keep my focus on the road. Finally, I started to read between the lines, and the one common link amongst all the stories that was bugging me –

Every single person or group of people that Gladwell had described was finding their self-worth, their self-esteem, and their emotions outside of themselves.  

If you were looking to do well in school the answer was to go to a smaller school, so you would feel better about yourself. The answer for Monet and his buddies, actually, was to stop going after getting their paintings in that specific competition in Paris, and to make their own competition amongst one another, so they’d feel better about their paintings. Either way, their worth was being pursued outside of themselves.

I’m getting two things out of this book. The first thing is obvious and I believe it’s what Gladwell wants us to know, which is extremely valuable: we do not always know what is an advantage or disadvantage just by appearances or by our social constructs. In fact, it takes a little bit more digging by the person, a bit more exploration, and the willingness to put in the time of being aware of the actual situation to find out what is an advantage or disadvantage.  

But here’s the other thing I’m getting from this book: it’s true, if an environment breeds emotions that are unhelpful to you, this can be a disadvantage…if the only place you’re looking for your emotions is outside of you.  Another truth is that a more difficult environment can actually be an advantage if you use it as such. You can see this with people who have achieved greatness in various arenas who have been in environments that were not necessarily supportive.  Those people found ways to use the emotions that the environment provided them in a way that supported their goals and how they wanted to feel about themselves. 

Let’s use a little bit more of a modern artist as an example: Eminem.  An incredibly gifted rapper that had to be better than everyone else because he was caucasian.  He lived in Detroit, which was a hotbed for rap, but only if you were African-American. If you listen to Gladwell, Eminem might’ve done a hell of a lot better if he was in an environment where white rappers were plentiful or simply chose another profession altogether!  Instead, his desire to rap, to be accepted by the peers he respected, who were African-American, and the fuel of an environment that was probably very unlikely to have him to feel emotions of success, happiness, confidence, and capability drove him towards greatness. In this instance, having an environment that was less than hospitable allowed him to sharpen his skills against the stone of his uncomfortable emotions.

I finished Gladwell’s book, and what it came down to for me was that advantages and disadvantages are in the eye of the beholder.  Uncomfortable emotions such as anger, fear, and uncertainty have a way of pushing us forward towards our goals, while the promise of joy, confidence, and having our own backs pull us forward to take action!  Regardless of what kind of environment we find ourselves in, if we put forth the tremendous effort to go after what we want, we find ways to build the mental-emotional tools that allow us to create our emotions within us.  If you know how you want to feel, you can create the emotions you are looking for in any environment. You are truly the author of your emotions.

Emotional Mastery at Dunkin’ Donuts

I woke up feeling a bit beat up a few weeks ago mentally and physically.  I was awake off and on most of the night feeling fear, anxiety, and just having nasty dreams.  Truth be told, I had made a stop the night before at Dunkin’ Donuts for my sugar fix. This is common. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed with all that is going on: a university keynote talk coming up, coaching cross country season starting, and 50k and 50-mile races I’ve signed up for.  Turning to sugar as a way to numb out any anxiety is as familiar as breathing to me. The only difference is that I actually need air and it’s good for my health.

I remember just needing my sugar fix.  A bit of a reprieve. I know it usually has me wake up feeling even more anxious about what’s coming up in my life.  But I tell myself what I believe at the time to be some solid truth: I actually helped myself last night when I nonchalantly strolled into DD’s and grabbed two of my favorite donuts.  I knew I’d feel crappy today, and I’d have to work through it, but I did it anyway. I can see it now. The woman behind the counter looking at me, hands folded up to her chest, “But sir, won’t that cause you even greater stomachache and fear in the morning!?” 

“I can handle it! It’s building my emotional resilience!”  

So, here’s the thing…

It’s true.  If I want to be vulnerable, emotionally and mentally all in, then I have to allow myself to be available.  I have to show up and be present for myself and others. This means feel all my emotions: true joy, love, excitement, pride, and confidence, as well as anger, frustration, fear, sadness, and uncertainty too.  What is also true is that last night I used sugar to numb my feelings, and when you numb or disconnect to protect yourself from feeling difficult emotions, then you numb across the board. This means you might not feel fear or anxiety, but you won’t feel joy, happiness, and excitement either.  So, this is where my faulty “ego induced” heroism argument comes in: “I shouldn’t avoid Dunkin’ Donuts! I should embrace my emotionally numbing, sugar-loaded donuts! They’ll create more resilience in me the next day when I have to feel those uncomfortable feelings from my sugar hangover! It’s for my own good really…”

So now here’s the other thing.  That’s crap.

What I said above is like saying you’re going to eat crappy fattening food tonight, so you actually lose more weight when you start your diet tomorrow.  Smells of something right? Fear can be justified. Fear can help you succeed if it elicits action in you. Fear can also freeze you up and stop you from doing things you KNOW you need and want to do.  Fear can even have you take short-term action for temporary relief (I call these ‘microwave emotions’ and they are sold at my local Dunkin’ Donuts 🍩).  

Now you may feel a temporary break, but those emotions usually come back stronger (basically meaning it’s not good for you).  You can justify the momentary “numbing” that your microwave actions provide you, or at least give it a shot, by saying you want more fear, so you can practice dealing with it.  But the fact remains, most of us have a problem dealing with the fear we already have, or WE WOULDN’T BE LOOKING TO NUMB OUR FEAR IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

If you want to train yourself to deal with your uncomfortable emotions, don’t avoid them when you are truly living your life.  Don’t gobble donuts, chew tobacco, eat candy, verbally beat someone down, or avoid situations that could lead you to succeed in anything you want to do even if it promises to be uncomfortable.  Use your tools to bring yourself back to your emotional center after the uncomfortable emotions. This is practicing emotional resilience. 

There are a HOST of things I have fear and anxiety around (races, talks, coaching, parenting, relationships, training, traffic in New York City, etc.) and these things require me to take action.  Sometimes those actions may just be a catalyst for fear, and I can work through it quickly. Other times, I may have fear with me for the whole ride. I have tools that I practice day in and day out; mental-emotional tools that have become habit.  How much I practice them, develop them, and cultivate them will determine whether or not I can “weather” walking by a Dunkin Donuts side by side with my desire or not. And in those moments when I can’t? How quickly I pick myself up (mentally and emotionally), stave off self-judgement, and get back to practicing, centering and moving forward, will determine my emotional resilience, not eating a dozen Boston cremes.  Still sounds really good though…

Emotions: Is Your Intention Coming Through as Static or a Clear Signal?

“The bus driver before you just told me that if I get your bus you can bring me closest to the Golden Gate bridge…”  I barely get the last word out of my mouth when I pick my head up from Google Maps and look the bus driver square in the face.  I am suddenly no longer engaged with the nervous energy of whether or not I’m going to make it back to the hotel, but instead feeling the full energy of the bus driver right in front of me.  I can see by the wry smirk that she is not too pleased with me telling her where her bus can go. There’s also the fact that, before I could get the word ‘bridge’ out, she cut me off saying, “Where do you want to go?”

It wasn’t that kind of friendly ‘where do you want to go’ that you hear from a 60’s cab driver on TV who is smiling and ready to drive you around the city and show you the sights.  It was more of a ‘where do you want to go and I will tell you whether or not I can take you.’ I actually got out of my own way, meaning put my own emotions aside and realized that it was probably more important to see how my words and my energy were affecting the person from whom I was seeking help.  By doing this, I was able to use my frontal lobe to ascertain that it would probably be best to actually ask for help instead of telling her what someone else said she could do for me. 

I backtracked a little bit and said, “Sorry.  I’m a little anxious. I’ve only been here for two days.”  It was a genuine statement and my energy was conveying the intention that ‘I’m sorry for telling you instead of asking you.’  

She gave me a little bit more of a smile, as if I was forgiven, and said, “That’s all right, Honey.  Where are you looking to get to?” I had reset myself emotionally and described how I was feeling. The honesty, and the apology, allowed for her to open up a bit, hear my request, and then see if she could actually help me.  

How many times do our emotions disrupt the signal that we’re trying to get across to another person. Our emotions can override our actual message requesting help.  Sometimes it’s only by getting out of our own way, and this may just mean acknowledging to ourselves and to the other person that we are nervous, anxious, uncertain, or out of our depth.  We are afraid that this exposure of our emotions makes us weak. But the alternative is not being understood at all. Our message comes out as static. As the old saying goes: what we are feeling is shouting so loudly, others can’t actually hear what we’re saying.  

Basically, our reactivity creates reactivity in others.  Our static can be contagious. If we’re truly trying to do no harm to ourselves or others, and if we would like to use our emotions as information to let us know where we’re at, then we have to first acknowledge what we’re feeling and sometimes that means letting others know what we’re feeling as well. 

The bus driver kindly told me to take a seat and she would let me know when we got close to California Street. I said, “Thank you.”

“Don’t worry, Sugar, I got you.” she replied.

The intention behind her words, or at least how it felt to me, was of someone who had felt the same kind of feelings before.  She actually understood what was going on for me. I turned my phone off and put it back in my pocket. The device was only causing me static.  And besides, I had heard my bus driver’s signal loud and clear. I was getting home today.

What people are saying

  • “I was having real difficulty, not just creating a relationship with my son and daughter,
    but being able to
    parent him without getting caught in my anger all the time.
    After being in Lou’s workshop, I definitely feel more in control
    of my emotions and actions at work, with my kids, everywhere.“

    – Educator and mother of two

  • “Lou is able to take things that most of us feel and have difficulty expressing and give words to them. He makes what we’re feeling accessible to us through humor and great story telling.”

    – Social Worker, mother of three

  • “Lou is one of those special peopl who gets kids AND adults.  You see it in his coaching cross-country as well as his books and workshops.  His compassionate treatment of children and adults alike as we learn to help each other grow in emotional awareness and skills is so needed today, so centering and enlivening.  Thank you Lou for all you are and what you do with it!”

    Sally Kendall, MT and Intructor

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.