#13 Lean In to Fear

#13 Lean In to Fear

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#13

Lean In to Fear

Maybe one of the hardest things in life is to face those things that we are afraid of. In October, I wrote a post about vulnerability but didn’t directly speak to the idea of facing fear in general. Being vulnerable is the first step in facing a fear and absolutely necessary in conquering them but there is more.

Understand Fear

Perhaps it’s important to begin by understanding fear. It’s the thing that our brain uses to move our body in such a way as to improve it’s chance for survival. No matter if it is physical or emotional… fear let’s us know that danger is pending. Sometimes though, the problem is that our fear is based on a perceived danger, a false danger, or an imagined danger. That’s right… the danger doesn’t have to ‘actually’ exist for us to literally feel fear. We just have to believe it exists.

Hard Wired

Because our very existence depends on surviving and surviving means that we must avoid great danger, we are hardwired to constantly be on the lookout for things that are wrong. (It’s one of the reasons we may not notice the ‘good things’ in life.) It’s literally in our best interest to be fearful of those things that we don’t know or that aren’t certain.

Having said that… fear can be very limiting and deny us opportunities to enjoy what life has to offer. A fear of airplanes may prevent you from visiting places you want to go. A fear of heights may prevent you from seeing amazing views. A fear of animals may prevent you from walking along magnificent forested trails.

Lean In

What does it meant to ‘lean in’ to fear? It means moving toward it instead of backing away. It means allowing the discomfort to encompass you instead of resisting it. Leaning in means taking a risk with that thing that you fear. Feeling uncomfortable and accepting risk takes courage so the idea of leaning in means to act courageously.

Identify Fears

We can often learn about our fears when we look to our emotions. Anger, anxiety, frustration, hate, bitterness, and resentment are the consequences of fear much of the time. We may be afraid of failing, of letting someone down, of not being accepted or loved. Perhaps we are afraid of disconnecting, of leaving, or of staying. When we zero in on our fear we will know exactly what to ‘lean in’ to.

A best life is when you are living the most authentically – that takes courage. It also may require you to…

Lean In to Fear.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

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#14 Practice Self Discipline

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#14

Practice Self Discipline

One of the most important elements of maturity, emotional intelligence, and good health is developing self discipline and engaging in it more often – than not. Self discipline is the thing that allows you to control your impulses and stay focused. It will help you to helps us establish habits that allow us to obtain the goals we set in life.

Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Self discipline is most difficult where our weaknesses are concerned. It’s important to understand our weak points so that we can develop strategies that will work. It’s not hard to get up at 6 am if you are a morning person but if you are a night owl, you will need to acknowledge that mornings aren’t your thing before you can effectively manage discipline in that area.

Learned Behavior

Self discipline is a learned behavior. It’s the practice of doing the same thing with purpose over and over. It’s the practice of denying yourself the thing that prevents you from reaching your goal. Because of this – learn self discipline the way you learn anything else… start at the beginning, take small steps, and build up to the harder chunks.

Mental Attitude

Research has demonstrated that our belief about our ability to practice self discipline will ultimately determine how successful we are. Imagine that you are building your personal capacity for discipline as you move forward; giving yourself the opportunity to expand your belief.

Reward Yourself

Almost a century of research indicates that we are likely to perform better if we are rewarded. B.F. Skinner demonstrated the theory of Operant Conditioning where learning occurs most efficiently when there is a positive reinforcement. Building your capacity for self discipline can be accomplished in this same manner.

If there’s a goal you’ve been working toward and haven’t been able to quite get there, consider redirecting your focus and make the effort to …

Practice self discipline.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

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#15 Eliminate These Words from Your Vocabulary

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#15

Eliminate These Words from Your Vocabulary

After years of working with couples in crisis and helping families communicate better, I’ve noticed a pattern of vernacular that is a part of most dysfunctional relationships. Our language matters; the words we use are important and paying close attention to your vocabulary will help you communicate better… improving your relationships and your overall sense of happiness. Here are the primary culprits:

“Should”

I wrote a post early in this project about eliminating the ‘should’s in your life and that was mostly from the perspective of identifying the internal expectations that guide you. However, they often interfere in our relationships as well because we think others “should” do something. When we impose our own ‘should’s on others, we are really attempting to convey an expectation and it’s better expressed that way. Instead of “you should take a day off so we can spend time together” you might eliminate the word should and offer this: “It would be great if you could take a day off so we can spend time together”. Simply replacing the word ‘should’ with the word ‘could’ – makes all the difference.

“Right & Wrong”

“Do it the right way”, “If you did it right the first time”, “No, you’re wrong”… all of those phrases are likely to incite a defensive reaction almost as soon as they are spoken. When someone is defensive – they probably aren’t listening and so the conversation is broken at that point. When we understanding that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are generally spoken about perspective and values and that they are different for different people we can shift the way we speak about them. Try to adopt the ideology that there is no right or wrong – only differences.

Instead of the phrases above, try these: “I was thinking it could be done this way”, “Generally, I do it like this”, “I’d like it done this way”, “that’s an interesting perspective” or “I don’t see it that way”… notice that in each of these statements – you are using the “I” voice and describing YOUR thoughts/perspective. That’s the key.

“Make”

In the English language, we often use the word ‘make’ to mean ‘cause’ which, is one of the secondary definitions and yet when it is in reference to feelings or behavior – it creates a problem of responsibility. Under the assumption that we – each of us as individuals – is personally responsible for our behavior – no one can force us to behave in a particular way. Literally speaking – WE are the cause of our behavior. Thinking anything different is deflecting responsibility and handing away our personal power. Each time we utter the phrase “you make me…” or “you made me…” etc., we are inferring that the responsibility for OUR behavior is on another. That is simply untrue. While it is true that we may react to another person’s behavior – it is still OUR choice on if, when, and how we react.

When we feel something and react – that happens inside our own being and is OUR responsibility. Try these phrases: “I get really angry when you….”, “I feel really disappointed when [that] happens”,  “I have a lot of feelings about…” – notice that in each case again, the communication is about what is happening for YOU. It’s always about communicating your experience from your perspective.

When we pay close attention to the language that we use in our communication, we can significantly reduce the amount of defensiveness that is generated by…

Eliminating these words from your vocabulary.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

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#16 Create a “Make Me Happy” List

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#16

Create a “Make Me Happy” List

When my children were young, I made a list of things that “made mama happy” so that if they wanted to ask me for something such as running them to the basketball game after I’d gotten home and put on my jammies, they could look at the list and do something nice for me in return. And, while I don’t generally promote a ‘tit for tat’ attitude in most relationships, it’s no surprise that humans are more apt to concede when their needs are also met.

What is it that makes your mama, your partner, or your roommate happy? [know that the word “makes” is being used in the context of ‘generates’ – what ‘generates happiness for your partner, etc.,]

Love Language

There’s an old fable that goes like this:

A man and a woman show up in a counselor’s office after 40 years of marriage stating that they were on the verge of calling it quits. The counselor asks “why after all this time are you opting to end the relationship?” The gentleman replied with a frustrated and loud voice “Every time she walks by me, she pats my God Damn head. I’ve asked her a thousand times to stop and she won’t. I’m done!”. The counselor looks at the woman who is sitting demurely and asks “and you? What’s your position in this?” to which the woman replies sadly and softly… “he never pats my head.”

The point here being that she patted her husband’s head as a way of telling him she loved him… and because it irritated him so – he never considered that she may actually like it. We each have a different way of understanding and feeling loved. It’s the premise behind Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages and a common problem in many relationships. We are inclined to treat our partners and family members the way we want to be treated instead of stopping to recognize how they want to be treated.

Speak Up

One simple way to have your needs met is to blatantly tell those who matter – what is is that generates happiness for you. Are flowers important to you or would you rather have the house cleaned? Do you value a romantic dinner or a couples massage? Does it bring you peace when the kids pick up their shoes and put away their backpacks? Or when they empty the dishwasher? (assuming you need to choose).

Write It Down

I am suggesting that you make a list and tape it all over the house… on the mirrors in the bathrooms. On the back of the bedroom doors. In front of the Playstation or to the top of the laptop. Wherever it is most likely to be seen most.

You don’t use the list just at those times when you want a favor however… if that’s the only effort – it is manipulative. You use the list when your partner has had a bad day, feels sick, or has gone above and beyond. When a child feels appreciated, they will often step up without being asked so know what is important to them as well.

Appreciation

Finally – be sure to be appreciative! We only have so much to give without a consideration of appreciation before we adopt a sour attitude. Even though appreciation isn’t the motivation – once again, we’re human and unless you are a strongly evolved individual – you probably have limits on how much you are willing to give without any acknowledgement of the effort.

A simple and effective method of having your needs met and meeting the actual vs. perceived needs of others to to have everyone in the household…

Create a ‘make me happy’ list.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

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#17 Host a Clothing Swap

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#17

Host a Clothing Swap

Were you ever dismayed to find out that your friends sweater – the one you loved – got sent to Goodwill? Are you in the habit of dipping into your roommate’s closet more often than your own? Are you on a budget but really tired of your wardrobe? The solution may be as easy as hosting a clothing swap.

This is an activity that mom’s often engage in when they have friends with children just under or over the ages of their friends. Kids, especially babies, frequently outgrow their clothes before they can wear them out and so it’s financially prudent to swap clothe as you go along. Since we so easily think of this for our kids, it’s equally sensible to do it for ourselves.

It’s easy.

Clean out your closet just as you would if you were going to donate clothing to charity. Invite a few friends over after directing them to do the same, open a bottle of wine, and take turns choosing something from one another’s discards. Don’t limit the items to clothing. Jewelry, shoes, bags, and other accessories will also be “new to you”. These items are especially considerations for those friends who may not be the same size. Whatever is left can then be donated.

This particular suggestion hits the mark on all levels by promoting recycling, inspiring financial sensibility, upgrading your wardrobe and boosting the happiness that ensues from all of that.

If you’re looking to refresh your closet, why not invite a few friends and have a fun night by…

Hosting a clothing swap.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#18  Sit With Yourself

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#18

Sit with Yourself

Do you know someone who can’t sit still? Or others who are uncomfortable with being alone? Are you able to go to a movie or eat in a restaurant by yourself? Learning how to be comfortable with time by yourself turns out to be a critical component to true happiness. Having alone time is important.

An Hour or Two

Spending as little as an hour or two each week is all it takes to improve your sleep, your attention, your commitment, and your stress level. It doesn’t matter if the hour or two is in one fell swoop or if it is broken into segments. Perhaps it’s only a half hour at lunch four days a week. Maybe it’s getting up a half hour early or going to bed before everyone else. At the very least, it may be an hour on Sunday evening while the rest of the family is watching a movie or reading.

Alone Time

The kind of alone time that is suggested here is being ‘still’ with yourself. It’s not intended to be a time where you clean, work, or talk on the phone. It’s not taking an hour to scroll through social media or even read, or watch television. It’s quiet time; sitting and being. It’s for introspection, creative thinking, and thoughtfulness. It’s for mental planning, self nourishment, and emotional recharging.

Doing so may be the antidote you need for the stressors of daily living or a stressful work environment. It may be the time you need for the creativity spark that will help you finish a story, inspire a painting, or adopt an idea. It may settle you mind long enough so that the solution to a problem becomes crystal clear. It will likely help you find your voice – to sort through your thoughts sufficiently enough that you are able to articulate more fully in the process of communication. It will likely help you hone into your perceptive energy, encourage deep thinking, and hence, improve your relationships all around.

There is much to be gained when you commit to spending time alone where you just…

Sit with yourself.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

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I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#19 Realign Yourself

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#19

Realign Yourself

This post is NOT about your spine although I could definitely do a post about visiting a Chiropractor… this post is about realigning your behavior with your value system. You see, as the driver of our lives, we do many of the same things we do when we drive our cars… we hits bumps in the road; we go too far without routine maintenance; and we can spin our wheels so long that we get worn out along the edge. When that happens on our vehicle, we take it in for an alignment and this post is suggesting that we do the same for our mind/spirit/body connection.

Off the Straight Line

You know when a car needs an alignment because the steering is a little wobbly and it won’t go in a straight line when you take your hands off the wheel. It takes more effort to steer. The same is true for life. When you despise going to work every day – or home… when your stomach turns each time the phone rings or mail gets delivered… when you run into someone you know or when you get invited to a party – any negativity that arises may be indicating that your action(s) may not be consistent with your value system.

Physiological Evidence

Our bodies are great barometers for when our actions are out of alignment with who we want to be. We feel bad, guilty, or ashamed. We get defensive, argue, and raise our voices. We may get headaches, have stomach trouble, or back pain. We may even break out with zits, pimples, or hives.

Real Examples

Let’s say you made a decision to value honesty but you – out of habit – told a series of ‘white’ lies in an effort to avoid confrontation…  or you go to work everyday to a department that has historically reported jacked up results to look good… or you volunteer with someone who helps themselves to product when ‘on duty’ – all examples of dishonesty. The migraines you began having last year soon after you committed to being a more honest person may be indicative of the discord between your value and the dishonest environment in which you find yourself.

Or perhaps you’ve made a commitment to have a closer relationship with God by living the doctrine of your faith more passionately. Now, you find that every time someone uses the Lord’s name in vain or curses up a storm – the hairs on your neck tingle. Or perhaps those are habits that you are finding difficult to break. The angst you feel getting up each morning may be your body reminding you to pay close attention today – to the commitment you made.

Values Change

As we grow, mature, and experience life as too do the values that we hold dear. As a young twenty-something, I valued parties and social variety much more than I do today where sharing a bottle of wine with one or two friends in a quiet, relaxed environment is my idea of meaningful engagement. Were I to step out and try to ‘party’ every weekend, it would be inconsistent with my current ‘value’ and I may find that I am ‘off’. If I keep doing it… If I keep dishonoring the value that I’ve adopted, being ‘off’ turns into something more obvious and I am left with the need to figure out why I have developed insomnia or a bad attitude.

Just like you do when the steering wheel starts to wobble… step back every once in awhile and take stock of your values – matching them against your actions & behavior. Pay attention and notice when it is time to …

Realign yourself.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#20 Expand on What You Know

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#20

Expand on What You Know

As a therapist, I am frequently talking to people who feel stuck in their lives and relationships. Sometimes, we can trace the ‘stuck’ feelings to the fact that people keep doing the same thing over and over again. It always reminds me of the old quote…

“The true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over with the expectation of getting different results.”

Of course, much of the time it is a behavior or action we continue because we just don’t know what else to do. We move through the actions almost rotely, unaware that it is because our knowledge is limited and the solution is most often – learn more. I am sensitive to the fact that we only do what we know because we ‘don’t know what we don’t know’. You can only change something or grow when you become aware that you don’t know.

Simple Solution

The solution is pretty simple: expand on what you do know – assuming that there is always something more to learn. It’s my belief that we stagnate when we adopt the belief that we’ve ‘been there, done that’ and stop investigating. Learning isn’t just about the depth of our knowledge… it’s about the breadth as well. Most educators already know this as it applies to children’s education. It’s one of the reasons that the team approach works well – incorporating reading, history, and English together with the arts can help a child maximize their understanding of a topic. When they are composing poems or writing plays about the period of history they are studying and painting backdrops they researched in books… you get the idea. It fosters a much richer educational experience than a single liner assignment.

Your Life

We can do this in our day to day life as well. If you like plants, build a garden with landscaping and make it bird friendly. If you like organic food – grow your own. If you are creative, make things and sell them online; build a website and expand your technical skills. If you enjoy cooking, experiment with recipes and ingredients to reshape the original into something unique then start a blog. If you like to build things, find ways to repurpose things you have or pick up cheaply and donate them to organizations where you spend time volunteering. If you like to write, build a story and write a book… use resources from the internet to research and add character to the plot.

It Only Takes Time

Growing your body of knowledge doesn’t have to cost a dime or require much physical effort. It’s as easy as visiting the library or hopping online. Most university libraries will also offer the public free or very inexpensive access to their facilities – opening the door to more learning than can be obtained in a single lifetime. If you know how to read – you can learn. It may not be easy if you’re a more ‘hands on’ kind of learner but it’s possible with dedication. Time and desire are the only mandates as proven by Maria Beltran proved when she taught herself English and went on to become a lawyer while raising six children as a single mother. If she can do it, most of us will never have a valid excuse.

There’s no reason for your life to be stagnant… you already have a bank of knowledge. All you have to do is…

Expand on what you know.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#21 Give Some a Homemade Gift

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#21

Give Some a Homemade Gift

Valentine’s Day is coming up and it’s one of the best times to give someone a homemade gift… in this case, a homemade card depicting your affection – is perfect. Who wouldn’t prefer a few well thought out sentiments that come directly from the heart?

A handmade card is lovely and a handmade gift is often just as appreciated, especially when it is made with the recipient in mind. How about someone’s favorite cookie, pie, or cake? A member of my family prefers to receive baggies of my well known shredded pork barbecue (nothing special really) anytime it’s his birthday or if I draw his name for our Christmas exchange. Knowing that you have a home cooked option in the freezer after a long day of working really is a ‘gift’ at times.

Personal Thought

When we offer something we made, it frequently symbolizes that we spent time and energy thinking of the individual; crafting something specifically designed for the person receiving the gift. A friend of mine is involved in a community gift exchange every year and they make something that is reminiscent of the community in which they reside. It might be a collection of leaves from the trees specific to their street, another year it was made out of driftwood that washed up on the shore of their community. Later yet it was something crafted with the motto of the neighborhood. All of the gift were specific to the broader connection between the giver and the recipient.

Ideas

There are tens of thousands of ideas on the internet or in the aisles of big box stores catering to crafter’s such as Michael’s, AC Moore, and Joanne’s. It can be cooked, baked, knitted, crocheted, stitched, sewn, painted, drawn, stamped, burnt, carved, glued, built, burnished, adorned, or woven – just to cover the basics. There are classes upon classes if you need ideas or support. There are how to videos all over YouTube not to mention basic instructions on almost anything you can imagine in blog posts and articles in the Do-It-Yourself genre.

Really, there isn’t any excuse or reason one may offer to avoid the sentiment of offering something homemade the next time there is a gift-giving occasion. Now may be the best time to put on your thinking cap and start a list of ideas so that when it’s needed, you can…

Give some a homemade gift.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

TTAH

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