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Monday, July 30, 2012

Calm Down!



'Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively'. Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

'You're Okay, Jessica'

Years ago I heard the story about a reporter who observed a mother in the grocery store calming her screaming toddler in full tantrum-mode. The reporter watched as this mother very calmly talked to the out-of-control child saying, "You're okay, Jessica. Everything is going to be okay, Jessica. Be  calm, Jessica. Just breathe and calm down, Jessica."

The reporter was so impressed with how calmly this mother talked to her child she followed the young mother out into the parking lot to talk to her as she strapped her child into the car seat.

"I just have to say how impressed I am with how calmly you talked to baby Jessica in the store, " she said.

The frazzled mother turned toward the reporter and giving her a tired, little smile said, "I am Jessica!"

Calming the Beast

I can't tell you the number of times that story--and punch line--has popped into my head.
I'll be in the middle of a crisis of other's creation swirling around me, thinking 'stay calm', 'breathe', 'relax'--when suddenly I see myself with that tired little smile saying 'I am Jessica'.

Most of us hate that stressed-out, out-of-control feeling. But face it--many times throughout the day we're hit with situations pushing us out of balance and giving us that anxious, queasy feeling in our gut.

So many things happen outside of our control, but our own response to those out-of-control situations IS what we have power over. The question is how do we best calm ourselves when stress happens?

Calm Begins Within

You are the only one who can calm yourself. Jessica knew this and made a valiant effort to calm herself as the situation unfolded. This is no small feat when the stress-producing factor is another human being who is tired, hungry and over-stimulated (i.e. a bundle of reactions and emotions with no ability to rationally negotiate).

But before you assume I'm just referring to the difficulty of dealing with a toddler, think again. Consider how often you begin your day frazzled when you encounter another adult who is also on her last nerve and sparks fly. We all become a bundle of reactive emotions when we're tired, hungry and over-stimulated.

How to Step Down to Calm

1. Dis-engage. Find a way to dis-engage your emotions when stress happens. If you can, walk away from the immediate situation and keep your mouth shut. If it's not possible for you to leave the situation, dis-engage your mind  by talking yourself down like Jessica did so you don't engage your mouth (WWJD--what would Jessica do?).

2Nourish Your Body. Get in the habit of keeping your body well-nourished--eat protein every couple of hours to help keep your blood sugars even. If you discover you forgot to eat and hunger contributed to your reaction to stress, grab nourishing food as soon as you can.

3. Get Physical. Your stress response--or fight or flight response--is set up for you to take action. To dissipate the stress hormones in a positive manner, engage in something physical--pull weeds, take a walk, clean the house, dance or do yoga--anything that will burn off physical energy and calm the nerves.

4Sleep and Do Nothing. Sometimes the very best thing to do is to do nothing. Stop thinking about what happened. Do something you enjoy. Sleep on it.


5. Stop and Start Over.  When you're ready, let go of the anger, stress, anxiety and resentment. Restart your day and relationship.



'If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.' Chinese Proverb


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For more than 25 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule life change coaching, weekend retreats, or engaging Lightarted experiences to share with friends.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Recapture the Idle Days of Summer

Photography by SRG

Remember those Care-free Days of Childhood?

Amid the haste of daily life, do you long for a return to days gone past?

Why not take the time NOW to renew your spirit, recapture the idle days of summer, and find time to re-live the care-free days of childhood.

Chose Peace and Contentment

You are where you are today because of the choices you made in the past. Where you end up tomorrow will be the result of the choices you make for yourself today. Choose to relax into the present moment and find your sense of peace and contentment.

Rekindle Your Innocence
  • Use quiet moments to reflect on life's possibilities instead of life's limitations. 
  • Reach out to others in support and friendship instead of focusing on things that are disappointing. 
  • Wake up each morning with a full heart and a deep love for ALL.



Plenty of people miss their share of happiness,

not because they never found it,

but because they didn't stop to enjoy it.

William Feather


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For more than 25 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule life change coaching, weekend retreats, or engaging Lightarted experiences to share with friends.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life Suck? Deal with it!



'If you're going through hell...just keep going.' Winston Churchill

Sometimes Life Sucks. It's How You Deal with it that Matters.

I get it. Sometimes life sucks. Things don't always go your way.  But here's the thing: You either deal with it or you don't. And if you choose to deal with it you either deal with it well or deal with it poorly.

I'm Angry all the Time

No one is immune from getting stuck and dealing poorly with life.  I recently talked with a man filled with anger. His anger was directed at the economy, and 'the train-wreck coming down the track no one is paying attention to'.

And like the person who ineffectively speaks louder to make a person who is deaf hear, he became more insistent in his angry talk. His days were consumed with talking about 'the train-wreck' and trying to get people to pay attention. As a result, most people stopped listening and walked away, and his level of frustration and anger grew more intense.

"Nobody is listening to me," he said. "I'm trying to get them to wake up to the corruption and how their rights are being taken away, but no one cares. I am just so angry all the time."
From Creating Your Own Reality to Creating Your Private Hell

The funny thing is this self-made man is financially set for life. He has--more than anyone else I know-- lived his life believing 'you create your own reality'. As a result, he has successfully navigated life's challenges and enjoyed making money doing what he loves-- being a highly creative and influential person.

So what's up? What happened to turn this powerfully creative and influential man into a person currently stuck in his own private Hell feeling life sucks and everyone's stupid? Look no further than the usual suspects--a huge bout of stress due to major life upheaval and transition.

  
He's human. And like the rest of us mere mortals who deal with prolonged periods of intense life change, he has temporarily lost his resiliency and way.

After an intensely stressful period in which he uprooted his life--selling the house he built and lived in for more than 30 years and moving 1200 miles away he burned out. The spark igniting his true passion and drive has been falsely replaced with raging anger. He hasn't yet had time to regain his balance and rediscover his direction for this new phase of his life.

 Things aren't Always what they Seem

Sometimes we erect convincing false fronts--things that seem to be true, but are really hiding the truth. These false fronts aren't erected for other people, but for ourselves. For example, if this man exhibits intense righteous anger about the world outside (the false front), he doesn't have to pay attention to the war he's raging with himself inside.

Fear and depression often masquerade as anger. 'Fear managed by anger' is one way many people deal with the uncomfortable out-of-control feelings of fear or dread. Anger looks and feels more powerful. Yet the truth is anger only boils over when we feel out-of-control and/or powerless.

Knowing the Right Questions to ask is Half the Solution

Sometimes asking the obvious questions can help you or another in distress get back on track.

I asked this gentleman three important questions:
  • What do you want to create in your life right now? 
  • Is this obsession to talk about 'the train-wreck' helping you create what you want in your life?
  • How effective do you feel bludgeoning people with this conversation?

The obvious questions produced the obvious answers--putting them front and center for consideration:

  • I want peace, harmony and creativity in my life right now.
  • Harping on the obsession puts me 180 degrees from where I desire to be.
  • I am totally ineffective getting others to pay attention when I bludgeon them.

To Get at the Truth: List Your Complaints

To regain power and control over your life you must reclaim ownership for it. We all want to be in charge of our own lives, but sometimes life sucks and we lose our sense of being in charge.

If you, like this man, find yourself out of sorts, and dealing with life poorly, try this exercise for putting you back in the driver's seat:

1.  On paper, make a list of all your complaints about the people around you--what is it they won't let you do, or what they do/don't do you don't like, etc. Go ahead--let the complaints fly. Look over your list of complaints about others to be sure you've got them all.
2.   Rewrite your list of complaints about others replacing they/he/she with 'I'.

For example:

My Complaints About Others

  • No one is listening to me.
  • They won't listen to me.
  • They're creating a train-wreck.
  • They're being stupid.
  • I have to bludgeon them to get them to wake up.
  • They won't wake up.
  • No one cares.


Rewriting my Complaints to 'I'

  • I'm not listening to myself.
  • I won't listen to me.
  • I'm creating a train-wreck.
  • I'm being stupid.
  • I have to bludgeon myself to get myself to wake up.
  • I won't wake up.
  • I don't care.

 We don't have control over other people, only over ourselves. When we feel frustrated and angry we can't make others do what we want them to do, life sucks and we deal with life poorly.

When we bring our focus back to ourselves, we regain the ability to influence and direct our own lives. When we have complaints about others and life, it pays to ask the obvious questions and refocus those complaints on ourselves.

What about You?

  • What do you want to create in your life right now? Take steps each day towards renewing your goals and regaining your focus on the present.
  • Are your current actions and beliefs helping or hindering you getting where you want to go?
  • What are your complaints about how others and the world are getting in the way of you having a great life?
  • When you refocus your complaints from 'they' to 'I' what do you learn about the role you're playing in getting stuck?
  • If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?
  • If life feels flat and uninspiring, act 'as if' you want to do something and take a step.
  • Goals change as we transition from one life stage to another. If making money is no longer the driving force, what can be your driving force?
  • Which do you choose--to deal poorly with the life you've dealt or to deal well with the life you've been handed?
"Life is not a matter of having good cards, but of playing a poor hand well" Robert Louis Stevenson

"What I say is, patience, and shuffle the cards." Miguel de Cervantes

The Heart has its reasons that Reason knows nothing of...


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For more than 25 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule life change coaching, weekend retreats, or engaging Lightarted experiences to share with friends.


  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good Communication May Begin with Avoidance





"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King Jr.


I'm Not Ready to be Nice!

When I was younger I was responsible for getting my younger sister to do the dishes on the nights it was her turn. One night as we were arguing about her failure to clean the kitchen my father had enough of listening to us argue.

"Suz! Nanc! Go outside and don't come in until you're ready to be nice!"

We both did as we were told and went out on the back patio to cool off. After a few minutes my sister simply walked back into the house, but not me. I just sat out there and stewed.

Finally after so much time passed my father stuck his head out the door and said, " Suz, come on in."

But indignant I was yelled at for just trying to get my sister to do her job I was still too mad to come in and replied, "No! I'm not ready to be nice!"

Still Sitting on the Back Patio

That was one of those defining life moments for me. Over the past  45 years I've found myself 'sitting on the back patio' when someone hurts my feelings or inappropriately chastises me. There I am--totally unwilling to come in out of the cold to 'make nice'.

It's just how it is--there's a distinct period of time after a perceived injustice when I'm just not ready to deal. If I was to face the conflict before I was ready, it would only produce a poor outcome so I retreat into myself until I'm ready to come out.

Maybe Good Communication Begins with Avoidance

It's a no-brainer: If you're going to resolve conflict with someone you must face the issue and talk directly to the other person.  But sometimes you're just not ready.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, we all have those private moments of feeling like a chastised child when someone gets mad at us or 'does-us-wrong'--especially if we're working hard to do good or 'get it right'. The unfairness of it all throws us into our own private childish funk.

Think about it: What was your private reaction to a recent unfair situation or perceived injustice? What conversation went on in your head? What did you want to say to that person but didn't? How did you blow off your anger?  What's your 'sitting on the back porch unwilling to come in from the cold' experience?

Sure, as we mature we learn the art of waiting before we react when we're upset. But that doesn't stop the immediate feelings of being a reprimanded or discounted child. So maybe our path to good communication begins with avoidance. Avoiding a confrontation allows us to work through the child-like feelings before proceeding to facing the difficult--or crucial—conversation so we are better equipped to handle it well.

Self-Calming Activities Restore Your Mature Self

We all need time to let the heat of the moment subside. Stepping away from your hurt or anger to engage in self-calming activities is key to restoring good relationships and your mature self. Take a walk, talk to a friend, take a nap, play with your dog or participate in any pleasant activity that serves as a distraction from dealing with the issue.

The more time you put between when you first get upset and when you choose to talk with the other person, the more time you have to allow calm thinking and options to appear.

 Go Ahead--Sit on the Back Patio Until You're Ready

There's nothing wrong with taking your time sitting in your feelings. Don't rush to deal with an issue before you're ready. Sit out in the cold for as long as you need to. Then, when you're ready, find a way to deal with the other person so your relationship is restored.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." George Bernard Shaw


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For more than 25 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule life change coaching, weekend retreats, or engaging Lightarted experiences to share with friends.