#6 Stop Being Defensive

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.

#6

Stop Being Defensive

In this series, I’ve talked about Identifying Your Triggers, Arguing Effectively, and Emotional Intelligence. They all speak to mastering awareness in your communication. Perhaps the most important and impactful element of this is the ability to stop getting defensive.

Defenses

We experience a sense of needing to ‘protect’ ourselves whenever we become afraid and perceive that we are at risk for losing something. Whenever we imagine that we are in danger of having less of or never having something… we also may feel afraid and we tend to want to fight. When we feel attacked, we want to fight back. Emotionally speaking, we aren’t taught effective strategies very often and unless the other person we are speaking with is also equipped with similar strategies, the communication is sure to break down quickly. The conversation can resemble a war zone.

Notice Defensiveness

First, you must make the effort to understand when you become defensive and how it feels in your body. Does your blood pressure rise? Your shoulders? Is there a tightness in your jaw? Does your heart race? Notice that they are the same symptoms of fear. It’s your parasympathetic nervous system getting ready for a fight.

Step Back

When you feel your body tightening, that’s the moment you know it’s imperative that you step back. Take a deep breath. Count to five. Get Grounded. Remember who you are – who you want to be. Think about something you love or really like about the person in front of you. If it’s a stranger or an estranged individual, remember that by engaging you are giving them YOUR power. Stop.

Back Down

Backing down from a confrontation demonstrates emotional mastery – not weakness. Think about how much intention it takes to get to this point after your fear or fight is activated. It takes great strength to step back and gain composure. Adopt the attitude that you will not engage in a confrontation infused with negative energy.

Once you take the defensive energy out of an interaction, you’ll be amazed at how it dies down – it’s akin to a fire without oxygen. Your confrontations turn into constructive discussions and problem solving when you get to the point where you can…

Stop being defensive.

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.

#8 Make Decisions

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.

#8

Make Decisions

How decisive are you? Is it easy for you to set a course? To make decisions? To act? If you are not naturally decisive or you struggle to be so, the following suggestions may be helpful.

Information

Information is power. It is the cornerstone to making decisions because we can only act on what we know. The more you know, the more confident you will be in choosing. Do a little research – or a lot – depending on the intensity of the decision.

Pros and Cons

With every decision there are pros and cons, even small ones. Nothing is absolutely perfect. Sometimes, they are almost evenly balanced and its important to see your options clearly so outline them as gradually as possible.

Visualize

Take time to imagine each of the options; or at least the top three. Try to visualize how each of the decisions may play out in your life. Notice which option feels more intrinsic.

Remember

Remember that you’ve made decisions before and even if there are some bad ones in your past, there are more than likely many good ones as well. It’s important to recall that you have the ability to and the history of making good decisions.

Listen to Your Heart

If you can learn to be still and connect to your innermost self, any decision you have to make will be easier. We all have an intrinsic ‘knowing’ – some people call it an intuition or gut feeling. For most of us, it takes practice to connect to it; to feel it. Authentic decisions come from that place.

Practice

If you are are attempting to build your decision making skills, start small. Make decisions about dinner or what restaurant to go to. Build up to more permanent decisions like paint color or furniture purchases. Be prepared to make mistakes. Take small risks and reassess as need be.

Acceptance

Remember that once in awhile, you are likely to make a poor decision or one that you become dissatisfied with. It’s likely to be ok in the grand scheme of things. Forgive yourself and try again.

Learn not to be afraid and build your confidence about …

Making decisions.

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.

#10 Know ‘Your’ Colors

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.

#10

Know ‘Your’ Colors

In the early 80’s, there was a product line distributed at first via the home party platform, called “Color Me Beautiful” based on the book of the same name by Carole Jackson. The principle of Color Me Beautiful is that each individual can wear any of the colors but the richness and undertone (warm or cool) is better on one skin color over another. The idea was that you could have your skin tone assessed and that would direct the color of your makeup, lipstick, and wardrobe colors; because when you wear the ‘right’ colors – it highlights your natural beauty.

Take the Quiz

I haven’t heard of anyone hosting those parties in recent years but many women know what ‘season’ of color best suits them and the information is easily found on the internet by answering a few questions about your skin tone, eye, and natural hair color.

Season Schema

Once you know your ‘scheme’, it’s suggested that you prioritize those colors in your wardrobe and base your makeup selections accordingly. For example, if you are an Autumn – you would want to keep things in the green/rust/brown arena. Springs would choose red, lavender, and teal. Summers lean toward blues, yellows, and pinks. Finally, Winters might choose purple, burgundy, and emerald green.

Additionally, the colors are broken into the categories of warm or cool; winter and summer are cool while spring and fall are warm. As stated earlier, it’s the richness and tone of the color that either does or does not work with your individual coloring.

Why It Matters

There’s plenty of research telling us that when we feel attractive we stand taller, smile more, and engage more fully in our communication. What could be easier than working with the base pallet we were born with? Most of us probably have an experience of wearing a particular color and notice that when we do, the number of compliments about our appearance is elevated. Maybe people don’t say “I like that color on you” but the comment about how pretty you look or how nice you look. They may notice that you look happy or simply “good”. It may be helpful to see if there is a correlation to the increased comments based on a color you wear.

Color Palette

The color palettes are readily available online and once you’ve taken the quiz to determine your ‘season’ – buy the palette and carry it in your pocketbook or keep it in the car so that when you are out shopping, you are matching your purchases to the colors determined to be a best match to your skin tone. It’s as easy as that to look your best once you…

Know your colors!

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.

#12 Argue Effectively

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.

#12

Argue Effectively

In January, I dedicated a post to ‘Stop Arguing’ but in a relationship, the idea that you may never argue is too idealistic. When you live with someone, you’re bound to run into conflict and the solution isn’t to avoid the confrontation, but to approach it effectively.

The following eight suggestions – when followed – will allow disagreements to be addressed with respect and maturity.

  1. Use “I” statements only. Explain your position, your role in the conflict, and your expectations. Identify your triggers, explain your needs, and describe how you will work to bridge the gap in the conflict. Concentrate on your perspective here and work hard not to engage in finger pointing or blaming.
  2. Step back from your ego. In supportive partnerships, it is important to embrace our differences with respect and develop acceptance for the ways that our partners are different. There are mostly differences between us – not always rights and wrongs. If you feel you need to fight for being ‘right’ about something, ask yourself “why?” If it is only ego based, drop it.
  3. Be present.  Don’t focus on the past (unless you are reflecting for the lesson it is teaching you) – or worry about the future.  Try and stay right there in the present moment and what is happening there. Don’t allow your baggage to overwhelm the issue at hand.
  4. Pay attention to the issue. Try to understand why it is important to or distracting you. Is is a failed expectation? Something you didn’t know? Are you defensive? Why? Exactly what are you feeling and why?
  5. Don’t interrupt your partner. You can’t be a good listener if you aren’t allowing their complete thought to be articulated or expressed.
  6. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If necessary, restate what you hear – paraphrase it – based on your understanding so that you get on the same page.
  7. Remember that most of us have good intentions. Try not to jump right to the conclusion that your partner is being an ass. Consider that they are experiencing frustration and give them space to talk about how they feel.
  8. Do not raise your voice or walk out. If you need a break from the conflict – honor that it remains unsolved and ask for a time out. Don’t threaten. People who feel attacked or threatened will get defensive almost immediately. Once that happens, the discussion is doomed.

Communicating with respect is probably the most critical aspect of a healthy relationship. Remembering that we each come into a relationship with different experiences, worldviews, expectations, and methods will go a long way. Resolving conflict is more easily accomplished when you know how to …

Argue effectively.

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.

#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.

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.

#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.

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.

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.

#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.