#162 Ask Friends and Family for Feedback

We have a deep seeded belief that if we bring attention to them, somehow people will think less of us.

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.

#162

Ask Friends and Family for Feedback

One of the most basic tenets of self-awareness is to understand how you are perceived by people in your environment. There’s no better way to get honest feedback than to ask those who know you best. It’s one of the homework assignments that students in The Elevate Class complete and the results are always a major part of our coaching conversations.

Be Open

Being open to the constructive criticism that people share is a necessity. Your ability to hear their perspectives without feeling attacked or ‘bad’ can help you understand how you are perceived by others. Try to remember that people who love you offer a view that is shared from a place of acceptance; they love you – anyway! It’s always interesting to see things about yourself that can’t be seen from the inside out.

Changes

Not everything that is observed needs to be changed. You are who you are! If an observation suggests offensive behavior, of course you’ll want to consider how it is impacting someone you love and ask yourself if that’s what you’re goal is… It may be just something you want to stay aware of so that you can mitigate its negative impact – where applicable. Perhaps it is something that when changed, would benefit your relationship.

Seeing Ourselves

Sometimes, we look at something so long that we stop seeing it – having become so accustomed to its presence. The feedback we receive is important for a complete picture. If you’re concerned that the response may be too critical – qualify your request by asking this:

“Please offer gentle and constructive critique about my behavior/actions and how they impact our relationship: a mix of positive and negative observations would be appreciated.”

I suggest the response be written so that you can take time to consider their perspectives and your memory won’t be challenged in recalling the comments; email is fine… texting not so much.

Fear

The biggest pushback that I typically see to this suggestion is the fear we experience when we think that our faults are going to be highlighted. We have a deep seeded belief that if we bring attention to them, somehow people will think less of us. Interestingly enough – those traits are always exposed… just because we don’t acknowledge them, doesn’t mean they don’t show through. It’s always better to brave the exposure. Nothing changes if it stays packed away… even if no change is desired, keeping it out in front will make sure that it stays healthy.  So, give yourself an opportunity to grow and …

Ask friends and family for feedback.

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

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

#243 Start Your Day with Motivation

Grab your tablet, your smartphone, or tune your smart TV to a speech geared to energize your mental energy and listen to something inspiring instead of the morning news while you eat breakfast or prepare for the day.

#243

Start your day with motivation

Your Daily Start

How do you start your day? Do you grab a cup of coffee and turn on the news? Pick up a newspaper? While it’s helpful to check traffic and weather to get your commute organized, it can be a real bummer reading or listening to the day’s headlines. When you get ready for your day do you pick through your closet and reject most of the pieces you grab? Are you frequently complaining about a bad hair day? Are you reeling with negative self talk about your weight, your wrinkles, or your schedule?

Make a Shift

If any of the above is true, is it any wonder that your day starts on a low note? Shifting that routine just a little my in fact completely turn around a dull perspective and give you a much more positive beginning each day.

Instead of listening to the news and all of its negativity, begin your day with something uplifting. Once again, we are living in a time when any information we want is at our fingertips via the internet making motivational messages only a few keystrokes away.

Watch & Listen

This is not a new concept… YouTube channels such as BeInspired and TED Talks are libraries for morning motivation. Searching motivational speakers will return inspiring lectures from Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Brene Brown, Brian Tracy, Marianne Williamson, and hundreds more. Almost any topic you find interesting is covered from finance and professional development to spirituality and personal growth. What area of your life do you want to grow? Grab your tablet, your smartphone, or tune your smart TV to a speech geared to energize your mental energy and listen to something inspiring instead of the morning news while you eat breakfast or prepare for the day.

The way we view life is greatly determined by the lens we begin our day with. Technology makes it easier than ever to make that choice for ourselves. Make your day better by making the decision to…

Start your day with motivation.

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

#351 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

I would pick up the book and without reading the cover, I would open it haphazardly and read what was there. IF it resonated, even slightly, I considered it.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#351

Self-help books on the nightstand

Heraclitis, a Greek philosopher stated “Change is the only constant in life” – a quote you’ve probably seen a hundred times as you moved into adulthood. We know it to be true and some of us experience an unequal amount of change through the course of our lives. Typically, I find that we attribute this quote to external things; our jobs, our environment, our friends, perhaps spouses… Rarely do I find that people are introspecting about personal change.

Unless of course, they are of the ‘self-help’ mindset and/or focused on their mental health as a habit. I’d love to encourage everyone to adopt a ‘self-help’ mentality – in part so that we each take personal responsibility for our actions, reactions, relationships, and lives. The broader part though is that we too, are always changing and if we are not doing so in awareness, we get caught off guard.

Keeping a ‘self-help’ book on your nightstand or in your kindle/e-reader will help you stay present with where you are and what you are thinking. If doesn’t have to be heavy duty stuff all the time. It can be a book of inspiring quotes that reminds you of the progress you’ve already made. It can be a bible that reinforces your faith (yes, I put the bible in a ‘self-help’ category).

I’ve been known to have a stack; a variety of books on a variety of topics – all designed to make me ‘think’ about myself and my life below the surface of where I am living it. Some books are the kind that I am reading from beginning to end – perhaps slowly so that I can absorb new ideas as I go along. A few are the kind that I can just open randomly and benefit from the words on that arbitrary page. Others are ones that I began but didn’t connect with right away and they’ve gone to the bottom of the pile for future contemplation.

I don’t pick self-help books – I let them pick me. In the days that I began my collection, I would peruse the personal development and/or the spirituality section of the bookstore; allowing my eyes to roam across the titles like a gentle wave until something specific caught my attention. Once it did, I would pick up the book and without reading the cover, I would open it haphazardly and read what was there. IF it resonated, even slightly, I considered it. I still use that method, but I buy half as many bound books these days as I’ve fallen in love with Audible and the ability to listen no matter what I am doing. I often listen to books over music and find that I’m ‘reading’ more than ever with this option available to me.

I will caveat this idea with the warning that one can ‘overload’ on information and it’s equally important to allow yourself to step back from ‘self-improvement’ from time to time so that the things you’ve learned can take root. Personal growth is best accomplished the way we physically grow – in spurts with solidifying periods in between. I found the best way to keep myself motivated along the way is to have…

Self-help books on the nightstand.

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

Time to Teach

“Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

In the book ‘Big Magic’, Elizabeth Gilbert spends some time talking about ideas – how they come in… swirl around to see if you want it… and then move on. I found it to be an amazing concept because I am always having ideas and every once in a while, they stick around.

Recently, I had an idea. It wasn’t new actually. It was a returning one but it looked a little different and this time, I liked its appearance. The timing seemed right – actually – it seemed perfect.  Although I am tempted to keep things status quo so that Harlan’s energy in my surroundings doesn’t get disturbed. In reality – I sense it is HIS energy that is stirring things up. I can feel him pushing me and I dream that he is encouraging me – he was always so good at that.

The idea said “TEACH”.

I was momentarily hesitant to start something new and exciting because well… I’m still grieving, right? It’s not the right time. But the idea wouldn’t budge. It was there constantly and it was loud. I considered that in actuality – it is the right time – right now in the middle of all this coping – while the tools are being used and put to the test. The time is perfect for me to aggregate the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated over the last 30 years.

I got busy and created The Elevate Class – an online class designed to motivate and inspire you to discover and live your best life.

Elevate Banner aa

I’ve poured more than one hundred hours now,  digging through my bookcase, my graduate syllabuses, academic papers, and inspirational heroes of mine. I’ve assembled the best of them into ten categories and outlined them in a way that helps me explain how I’ve coped all these years; through the ongoing parade of yuck that life keeps dishing out. I will explain how to make your own life lemonade!

I do so by walking WITH the people who take the class. It’s one thing to watch a video or read a book — but having someone to digest it with, to dig into the deeper questions they evoke, to validate or dismiss its value… now that’s helpful – and fun!

After a decade of working with clients as a psychotherapist and examining the tips, tricks, and techniques that have allowed me to stay positive and focused – no matter what – I am positioned and ready to teach.

To learn more about The Elevate Class visit the website. I hope you’ll read more and get excited to start a journey yourself!

 

TEN TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OUT OF THERAPY

There are as many different types, styles, and personalities of mental health professionals as there are people.

People go to therapy for various reasons certainly. Some are coping with stress or anxiety; others with depression or grief. Couples may seek counseling for infidelity, communication, or intimacy deficiencies. Perhaps others may go to bolster self-esteem and/or confidence.

No matter the reason, there is a distinct difference between those who get the most out of the experience and those who decide that ‘therapy didn’t work’.

Here are my tips for getting the most bang for your buck.

Find a therapist you like.

Obviously, you won’t ‘know’ the therapist but it is imperative that you feel as though you connect to that person. You will be sharing your deepest self with them and a certain level of trust and comfort is needed for you to experience the kind of vulnerability that will ultimately help you. It may take a couple of tries with a few therapists to find one. Be patient and persevere through the process. Most therapists will refer you to someone ‘different’ than them if you let them know it’s not a good fit.

Be honest.

A therapist can only work with the information they receive. If you don’t lay all the puzzle pieces on the table, you are wasting your money and their time. If it is too difficult to throw it all out there in the beginning – say that. Let the counselor know that the story is hard for you to open up about but you hope to tell the whole of it as time goes by. We are trained to be patient and guide you gently to the truth.

Keep a Therapy Notebook.

And take it to your appointments. You only have an hour and in that hour your therapist may share some important information with you. It’s difficult to remember everything when you get home especially if the session was emotional. In addition, there may be ‘homework’ and you’ll have more success if you know exactly what is recommended. If you can’t write in the session for some reason – when you get to your car – write down your thoughts; as many as you can while it is fresh in your mind. In addition, keep the notebook near you in between sessions so that you can write down thoughts and/or questions you want to discuss at your next meeting.

Do the Work.

Not only is it important for you to do the ‘homework’ but you only spend an hour (on average) a week with your counselor. What are you doing the other roughly 150 – 180 hours in between therapy appointments? It’s vital for you to *think* about your situation, your growing opportunities, and the ideas / suggestions that your therapist makes after you leave the office.

Read.

There are thousands of books about various mental health topics and a few of them are excellent in each subject matter. Your therapist has one perspective that is beneficial and either supporting it or gaining another by reading is often valuable. Many counselors recommend supportive reading, so ask. Read, underline, earmark, highlight the parts of the book that resonate with you – ignore the parts that don’t. Not every paragraph or chapter applies to your particular scenario so don’t let the parts that you don’t connect to rob you, deter you from the parts that speak to your heart. Furthermore, if you find you are stuck on something, make a note and bring it up in therapy; perhaps it is a point that you can pull apart and digest in session.

Keep Going.

One of the biggest mistakes people make regarding therapy is that they stop going when they begin to feel a little better. However, lasting change needs reinforced and cemented into place. Clearly, the frequency of sessions can decrease as you improve but maintaining change is a supportive process and your therapist is the key support person.

Be Patient.

Change takes time! Sure, you want to feel better now; we understand. Realize though that true change, the kind that lasts longer than a few weeks – happens slowly. In many ways, you are learning a new language; a new way of being. Chances are your situation didn’t evolve over a short time span and so it’s irrational to think that it can change right away.

Be Kind.

Going to therapy is one of the best ways to practice self-care. You are making time to look at yourself and make a change. That’s great! It’s incredibly important for you to express internal kindness – be a friend to yourself – throughout the process. Many, many people struggle from time to time because no one is perfect and no one can go it alone ALL the time and stay healthy. Make learning to love yourself part of your growth.

Get Support.

Let your peeps – those who know and love you – know about this important step you’ve taken to feel better about yourself and your life. Again – no one is without some element of hardship or challenge from time to time. Working to make positive change in one’s life is an extremely respectable step.

Offer feedback.

Therapists don’t know everything. Sometimes, we hypothesis as we collect information from you and our suggestions don’t work or need to be reworked. Let us know what is helping you and what isn’t. If we make a recommendation and it feels really ‘off’ to you – say something. Our job and our passion is to help you feel better.

There are dozens of different therapeutic ideologies that counselors practice from. Some are solidly positioned inside one frame (i.e., Psychodynamic Theory) and others are eclectic – pulling strategies from a variety of platforms. There are as many different types, styles, and personalities of mental health professionals as there are people. For the best result – first and foremost – find someone you like!

Feel free to share and distribute as long as this source is credited.  www.ThisIsLeslyn.com – author Leslyn Kantner

 

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Who You Are

When I can see my imperfections and LOVE MYSELF ANYWAY, my ability to be in the world authentically is greatly enhanced.

The most common form of despair is not being who you are… ~  Søren Kierkegaard

One of the most common conversations I have in my office is the one that focuses on personal authenticity. It seems like a ‘no-brainer’ – “just be yourself” and some of us believe that we are – yet depression and anxiety live in the space between how we behave out in the world and how our hearts wish we would.

There are a couple of obvious examples that are stereotypical, commonly known – the Doctor’s child who is guided toward medical school but internally, yearns to be an artist or an accountant. Or the person who yearns for same-sex intimacy yet believes he or she is only ‘acceptable’ as a heterosexual.

I see problems with authenticity with people who believe that no matter what they do – it’s not ‘good enough’… perhaps what they are doing IS the best and authentic to them yet they are unable to recognize it as so.

We are so driven to meet standards from outside of ourselves. First – our family or teachers and then from our society or culture and then again, our partner/spouse and social circles. The struggle I faced as a kid to ‘fit in’ in terms of body shape and physical fitness was real. I grew up in the era of ‘Twiggy’ where pencil thin was in and my Victorian physic had been out for hundreds of years. Standards of education, socioeconomic class, sexuality, language skills… they exist in every realm of our lives and so we strive to meet them with little regard for the ‘truth’ or the sincerity with which we present those standards to the world.

Earlier this week a client was expressing frustration that interacting with a relative often produced a gross reaction, sending the client into throws of ugly and spiteful thoughts while she spewed derogatory remarks that came from an unknown place inside of her. “That’s not who I am”, she says. She emphasized that she didn’t like that kind of reaction and she really hated herself when it happened. “How do I make it stop?” she was pleading for relief of the ‘despair’ she experienced when she found herself tackling sarcasm and malicious sentiment, tit for tat.

While some may argue that her behavior in that moment was indeed ‘part of her’, it was notably not part of who she ‘wanted’ to be. She saw herself as a kind person, warm and considerate most all of the time. She never wanted to represent herself as someone who could be enticed into a verbal warfare of inflammatory and debasing commentary. And so, when she gravitated there – for whatever reason – she experienced a sense of ‘inauthenticity’… that particular behavior was NOT part of the person she genuinely wanted to present to the world.

I remember taking family photographs the fall before Hubby and I were first separated. We met with a photographer, wore similar outfits, and snapped photos all over a local Civil War battlefield on a cool Fall day. By the time we got the proofs back, our relationship was feeling more strain and the pretending I was actively engaged in was becoming tiring. I looked at those photos and thought about how disingenuous I was in almost every one of them. There was a smile on my face and we posed well together, but Hubby and I were definitely NOT authentic. I didn’t feel the happiness that was represented in the picture – I knew it was a lie.

Sometimes we don’t notice or understand – there is no conscious awareness that we are living inauthentically. Several years ago, my family deserted me for a weekend, doing their own things – scouts, golf, etc… I found myself in the house alone for a whole weekend. It was just before Thanksgiving and so I began my Christmas crafting – making a disastrous mess out of the kitchen and dining area but loving the fact that I could leave my stuff out – and all over – without impacting anyone else. I never even noticed that time was passing. I was content, satisfied, at peace.

By the end of that weekend, I realized that I was ‘fed’ by utilizing my creative energy. I knew that about myself and yet, over time, I had allowed the opportunities for artistic expression to become unimportant, or at least very low on my list of priorities. I noticed how charged and full of enthusiasm I felt by Sunday evening; I was glad to see everyone when they came home. I had utilized my energy in one of the most AUTHENTIC ways possible and my psyche understood. I’ve never allowed myself to forget that experience and I always have something in the works. In reality, I had to open an Etsy shop in order to have an outlet from where to part with all of the ‘creations’ that I had generated. They are simple, imperfect things but they are made from a Zen place… at least that’s where my mind is when I am in creative mode.

Today, I am using that energy to write (and maybe fitting in a craft or two).

I believe that the most important part of being authentic is accepting ALL of you – the parts you don’t like, the parts you want to change, the parts that will never change, and the parts that you think the world will reject along with all the wonderful, amazing, and talented aspects of yourself. My life completely turned around when I understood that the whole of my person wasn’t all great – and accepted it. When I can see my imperfections and LOVE MYSELF ANYWAY, my ability to be in the world authentically is greatly enhanced.

I can’t tell you how many times in a session when I ask a client to say “I love you” to themselves – there is an emotional block or a strong emotional reaction. When we accept ourselves AS WE ARE and strive to present ourselves to the world bearing the values and qualities that WE aspire, we are living authentically and then… despair cannot exist. Learn to love everything about yourself – even the things you want to change. You don’t have to like them – only accept that they are there. Then – change begins and you can be WHO you are.

Looking at Layers

I took my responsibility for change seriously. I knew that I had to learn how to give in ways that I hadn’t before.

“I’m like an onion. You can peel away my layers, but the further you go, the more it’ll make you cry.”  ― Laura Carstairs-Waters

I really connected to this therapist and it turns out that a ‘connection’ with your counselor is vital to your healing. I tell my own clients this all the time; if there is no rapport, find a new one! Of course, one of the first things she wanted to know about is how my child hood was. I recounted the many moves, my parents’ divorce, my sibling connections, how I was a primary caregiver, etc., and praised the job my mom and dad did overall. I talked about how great it was to grow up in a small town and to see my parents happier with the partners they chose the second time around. I talked for almost the whole hour and her eyes got bigger and bigger as the clock ticked. I really do laugh about this today but then – I was dead serious. I thought I had a great childhood!! I was completely oblivious as to how my childhood shaped my thoughts, feelings, or perspective about the world. I just hadn’t ever given it a second thought. I was who I was and I had an image of who I needed to be. I strived to be that person regardless of the obstacles of distorted cognition’s that developed in childhood.  [We therapists are not looking back to BLAME anyone but to understand who the person on the couch really is – so many clues!] Nonetheless, she was wide eyed and I was smug. When I said, “it was great”, she said “well, OK then.” Little did I realize she was probably thinking about how much work there was to do!

I began to learn about myself bit by bit as she ‘peeled back’ the proverbial onion. I realized that I was a caregiver. Something that was blatantly obvious to many others was just being awakened in my consciousness. I knew that I always jumped in and took care of people but I never thought about why. I also learned that I took care of these people without regard to what I needed. In fact, I wasn’t aware of how to discern what my needs looked like and really wouldn’t for several more years. I realized that I did very little for myself and resentment of it lived in my subconscious, leaking out in the form of passive aggressive behavior more often that I would have liked to admit. I learned that I thought people would not like me if I said “no” to them. I had lots of thoughts really that were fairly misconstrued, some of which were based on ideas in my mind that were just plain false and others that I had due to some assumption that I had made over time. More on the specifics of these – later.

Most importantly, I learned how many of these things impacted my ability to be a good partner to my husband. I love to argue a point. I cherished my time on the debate team in school and probably should have become an attorney. I enjoy defending a position, especially if I feel like I am educated on the topic. In fact, my father and brothers are very much like me in that regard and I grew up in an environment where debating was the way that we communicated with one another on various levels. Well, Hubby did not. In actuality, Hubby felt like each time I entered into debate mode I was simply trying to be right, to run him down, to be better than or ‘one up’ him. That’s not what was happening in my mind – ever – but with counseling, I was able to see how my ‘debating’ behavior could have been interrupted in that manner. I never really cared to be right – only engage in the argument. Although, I will admit that I rarely entered into a full on debate unless I was certain of the information and the odds that I was ‘wrong’ were quite low.

I learned that having children was all consuming for me. I loved those kids to the moon and back – more really. They started my day with love and even though I was usually really ready for them to go to bed by eight, I tucked them each in with hugs and kisses, full of gratitude for their sweetness and genuine naiveté. Francis was growing into such a great young man, so self-sufficient and helpful. I was incredibly protective of him, often to the demise of Hubby’s discipline because I thought there was too much responsibility placed on him. Hubby was tough. He never had time to ‘grow into’ fatherhood – it just happened with my six-year-old. I believe that his interest was in developing character and integrity but our values on how to foster those qualities varied significantly and I often disagreed with his approach. As such, I became a defender and interfered perhaps too much (although I may do it again under the same conditions). The dedication with which I embarked on mothering used the majority of my ‘giving’ energy and generally left little for Hubby. On many occasions I recall asking him to be ‘an adult’ about this – that the children were only young for a while. In retrospect, I needed to assimilate ‘balance’ into this area of my life as well so that Hubby time was also a part of my day.

I learned also that I am a fast processor. I am quick on my feet to render information, decipher it, and respond on point. This, generally was in contrast to Hubby who had to think and consider what he heard before he could constitute a response that felt appropriate to him. Essentially, this made me ‘hot headed’ even though I didn’t have a temper per se, I sought a response quickly and would ‘chase’ down an answer. There was more than one occasion where I literally followed behind him demanding resolution with tone and frustration. It also was not perceived in the way that I intended but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I took my responsibility for change seriously. I knew that I had to learn how to give in ways that I hadn’t before. I was all geared up to be better, to be the wife that would be hard to walk away from, to be ‘all in’. It was possible that I had been ‘holding back’, unwilling to be completely and totally vulnerable in case something happened. I needed to be more open and emotionally available. I know I didn’t ’cause’ him to behavior poorly or cause him to be disrespectful but I was one half of this partnership and I wanted to own my part.

We learned about ourselves and about one another in so much as we were open to hearing. One can only absorb so much at a time. We both knew that we had to individually change some behaviors if our relationship was going to progress. I saw what I needed to do and I clearly communicated what elements I needed from him; fidelity, honesty, and respect. I think he tried, but it wasn’t meant to be.