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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Thrive Despite Difficult Times


'Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.'  Howard Thurman

A Dream of Hope   

Do you ever have dreams that profoundly affect you? I do. 

One night I dreamt I allowed myself to be killed over and over again to show others how I came alive again. Although I died again and again in the dream, it was in fact a dream of hope--not a morbid one—and that's why it had such a profound effect on me.

At the time I had been contemplating how to help other laid-off and unemployed people maintain hope for their future--

"What was the secret to turning around those feelings of hopelessness so people beat down by life could reemerge victorious and fully involved in life?"

What I realized was my dream showed me the answer to how I maintain my own ability to thrive despite discouraging times--

"When I am 'deadened by life experiences' I refocus my attention away from the deadening experiences and put it back on things that make me come alive. By choosing to be among 'the living' again, I reemerge triumphantly and show others I have come alive again."

Within You is the Desire to Serve the World Fully Alive

Sure, your life difficulties and this economy can still make you feel like a quivering bowl of Jell-O--stuck in indecisiveness and failing to act because you don't know what the right step is that will work out for you.

But here's the thing--within you is a desire to serve the world--fully alive--using your unique skills and talents. But what are they and how do you access them when you feel deadened by your current circumstances?



What makes you feel Fully Alive?

When you're in the midst of dealing with major life issues--like caring for aging parents, dealing with divorce, being laid off, or graduating from college into a poor job market--it creates an emotional cloud around your thinking. Trying to make logical, rational or heart-felt decisions about your purpose or life calling can feel like you're asking the black 8-ball a question and getting 'reply hazy, try again'

This is when you must choose to actively take steps to rediscover your passion.



Have Faith in Your Inner Wisdom--and Take a Step

Act as If: When your senses are numbed have faith in your inner wisdom to shines a light on the path that makes you come alive--then act as if--and take a step. 

Trust, but Verify: This is a variation on 'trust, but verify'. In this instance you trust your inner self to know your path--but you test the truth of that wisdom by taking action. You'll know soon enough if you want to continue down this path or choose another direction.

Life is an Experiment

All of life is an experiment. You start with a hypothesis--or idea of the truth about what makes you come alive--and you actively test your theory through taking practical steps to see if you indeed come alive by taking that path.

Ready to Come Alive? 

  • Make an active choice to be back among the living.
  • Refocus your attention.
  • Act as if.
  • Trust, but verify.
  • Choose actions that show others you've come alive again.
  • Choose actions that show you care about life.

Don't let your life experience keep you down. Choose to triumph over the obstacles that get in the way of you coming alive. You always have another step to take.

What Makes You Come Alive?

  • What puts a twinkle in your eye?
  • What gets your blood boiling?
  • What makes your heart race?
  • What's something you'd really like to sink your teeth into?
  • What captures your mind's eye?

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."   H.L. Mencken


Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts

Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.

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For more than 30 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.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Moving Past Disappointment and Public Failure: The Resiliency to Bounce Back



'The point isn't to learn to fail it is to learn to bounce back.'   Rosabeth Moss Kanter Harvard Business Review blog
How do you handle Public Failure?

Think about your past moments of 'public failure'--what did you want to do? How did you handle your disappointment? How did you feel about failing in full public view?

Perhaps You:
  • Put yourself out there to a new love interest, but your advances were rebuffed.
  • Worked for an organization for many years and then you were laid off.
  • Let everyone know you really wanted a job you applied for, then you didn't even get an interview.
  • Left your job for another 'better opportunity' but it didn't work out and you ended up unemployed.
  • Were married for years then your relationship ended in divorce.
  • Worked hard to get a contract or grant then you failed to get it.

Public Failure--The Crisis


Failing sucks--especially when we experience it in a personally meaningful area. 

In those moments we experience failure--after we've put everything we have into meeting a goal or achieving a dream--we're left exhausted and disappointed. The natural reaction is to retreat and hide--and never ever stick our neck out like that again.  

Last year I had one of those moments.  After spending two solid days working on a grant application with a very short window to complete and submit on-line I experienced technical difficulties during the submission that resulted in our missing the deadline. I'd failed the team pure and simple.

Ugh. I wanted to hide. I'd let the team down. I screwed it up. But where can you go to hide your head and lick your wounds when your actions are so public?
  



The Chinese symbol for crisis is two pronged, meaning 'dangerous opportunity'


The Dangerous Opportunity

The Chinese symbol for the word 'crisis' is two pronged--meaning dangerous opportunity. In our moments of crisis--such as a public failure--we always feel the danger but how can we also recognize the opportunity that gives us the resiliency to bounce back?


Anytime we put ourselves out there in a public way we run the risk of feeling vulnerable and exposed. But we also increase our chances of experiencing the thrill of success--and that is the first place the 'dangerous opportunity' lies.

When I told my daughter about my disappointment she repeated a phrase back to me I say to her all the time, 'All things seemingly good or bad work in our favor'

Hearing that from my daughter made me feel really good. Why? Because it isn't about whether we succeed in every situation, its about how we handle failure and put everything to good use--including modeling how to deal with disappointment.



How to Thrive despite Public Failure

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the difference between those who thrive despite public failures and those who throw in the towel in defeat is how we handle the losing or failure. 

Rosabeth Moss Kanter HBR blog
"The difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing," says Kanter. "That's a key finding from my ongoing research on great companies and effective leaders: no one can completely avoid troubles and potential pitfalls are everywhere, so the real skill is the resilience to climb out of the hole and bounce back."

Kanter goes on to say that even the most successful people face setbacks--and to have the resiliency to bounce back from mistakes or failures we must be willing to learn from our mistakes.

Embrace the Daily Dangerous Opportunities

While we'd all love to succeed without facing public humiliation in the process, it isn't the way it works. 

We must accept the danger as well as the opportunity with each public step we take. The only way we can avoid public failure is by failing to step into life and actively go after things of importance.

To achieve our goals and dreams we must embrace the daily dangerous opportunity inherent in life.

Choose to move past your disappointments and feelings of shame for public failures. Learn to embrace each of your failures as evidence of your active participation in a successful life. Choose to learn from your failures--and as soon as you are able, take the next step to make a contribution, or connection that propels you toward your dreams.

Be brave. 


"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." 

Helen Keller



 



For more than 30 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.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Break Free! Prove Yourself Wrong



'We must not allow our own limited perceptions to define us.' Lightarted Sue (with a nod to Virginia Satir)


Frozen in Fear? Failing to Move Forward?

What's the secret to dealing with what ails you? You've got to get up, get out, and keep going doing things that will both calm and energize you!

How do you do that? Stop proving yourself right and start proving yourself wrong!

Stop Proving Yourself Right 

We all like to be right, right? So why, you ask,  would I ever want to prove myself wrong? How can proving myself wrong help free me--and of what? 

The answer lies in what it means to break-free and prove yourself wrong. We all carry around beliefs with us that act as barriers to taking actions on a daily basis.

Our beliefs prevent us from seeking work and relationships, starting new adventures, and from following through on healthy choices.

In this season of New Year Resolutions, I started to observe my self-talk to find why I fail to take action.  Here's what I found about a couple of my beliefs-in-action:


  • I'm too tired to walk the dog at the end of the day. So if I fail to go out before work--that's it--the dog doesn't get a walk.
  • I'm too tired to go to the gym after work. If I fail to go at the beginning of the day, I won't do it.


And you know what? Every day I failed to walk the dog or get to the gym before work I headed home to sit down for the rest of the evening--and proved myself right every time! Amazing--100% accuracy!

You are no different from me in proving yourself right on a daily basis that you can't do things you want yourself to do. 

"If we are to break free and move forward in some aspect of our lives we must give up being right--and choose to prove ourselves wrong."



Break Free: Prove yourself Wrong

Breaking free by proving yourself wrong means you step past belief barriers preventing you from moving forward by moving into action one step and one day at a time.

Start by making a short list of beliefs that may be preventing you from taking actions that would improve your life. Then choose one belief barrier to step past by taking action

Belief Barriers


  • The job market has changed. I'd just embarrass myself by walking into an organization to drop off a resume or to talk to someone directly about a job.
  • I'm too tired to go out after work. 
  • I'm too busy to meet anyone.
  • I should have started saving for retirement earlier. Now it's too late.




How do you want to Prove yourself Wrong?

  • Get a job by walking in and asking for one.
  • Drop off 3 resumes to places you'd like to work.
  • Ask 1 person for a job referral. 
  • Ask one person to go out for a friendly night on the town.
  • Spend one hour setting up a LinkedIn account.
  • Drive to the gym after work instead of driving home.
  • Leash up the dog when you get home from work and go for a walk.
  • Make a contribution to an IRA.


Prove you can do things differently.The more you prove your belief barriers wrong through taking daily actions, the sooner you'ill set yourself free to pursue the life you want.

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For more than 30 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.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.



 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Dealing with a Bad Case of 'I Don't Care'?



'Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.' Virginia Satir

Dealing with a Case of I DON'T CARE

Do you ever deal with a case of I DON'T CARE? I do--especially around winter when spring is a ways off.

Although I don't think of it as SADS--or seasonal affective disorder syndrome--if it is SADS I certainly don't get a case as bad as others living in the Pacific Northwest. I simply experience a case of the 'I don't care' on individual gray days rather than an entire season.

According to Michael Craig Miller, M.D., Senior Editor, Mental Health Publishing, Harvard Health Publications:

"People with seasonal affective disorder syndrome lose steam when the days get shorter and the nights longer. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include loss of pleasure and energy, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, and uncontrollable urges to eat sugar and high-carbohydrate foods."

Okay--when I think about it that way, maybe the way I feel is related to the changing seasons when we have less light. Perhaps if I'm honest I do experience a subtle loss of pleasure and energy and that's what I interpret as a case of 'I don't care'.

Yet I wouldn't go so far as to say I get feelings of worthlessness or that I experience an inability to concentrate...I'd just say 'I don't care'.


The way We Cope makes the Difference

If this sounds like you, what can you do about it?


Seek Perspective and Acceptance

Stop thinking life should be another way in winter and start accepting things as they are.

Put your 'pulling-inward' energy in perspective: Bears hibernate during the winter so why shouldn't we? In some ways this is just part of the natural ebb and flow of life--we are in a resting or gestating period where we allow our brains to work off-line as they quietly hum below the surface. 

By accepting the quietude of winter as the natural precursor to the brightness of spring we can create a lighter experience around this understated season.

Actively Participate in Tranquil Activities

Enjoy a nap covered with soft fleece blankets or take a leisurely Epson salt bath or warm shower to ease the cold.

Take a good book or journal out to a coffee shop to enjoy the hum of human conversation around you as you sit quietly in a warm, bright environment.

Find ways to create a sense of peace in the misty days.


Get Outside to Get More Light

Bundle up and get outside for a walk or engage in your favorite winter sport--skiing, ice skating or snowshoeing. Being energetic outside will pick up your mood even if it's foggy and grey. 

Keep Expectations Down

Yes, overcoming inertia can be a challenge when you're in the 'I don't care' mood. So keep your expectations down--make a plan to step outside for the walk or make a plan to drive with friends to the ski lodge. 

If after you step out you don't want to walk much, don't. If after you drive to the ski lodge you don't want to ski, enjoy a hot cocoa and book in the lodge. Don't force it--allow possibilities to emerge by taking the first step.

As the old Aesop's Fable said, 'gentleness can succeed where force will fail'. Instead of overwhelming yourself with what you should do to overcome the darkness, find ways to embrace these days to create a more soothing, tranquil tone that lets you replenish your energy before you head into Spring.

Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts

Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.

Sign Up for Free E-mail updates

For more than 30 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.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Shut Up and Let Others Figure Things Out


"Never miss a good chance to shut up."  Will Rogers

I Know you're Wise, But what am I?

Test Yourself:
  • Your 8 year old son is up to bat. Are you likely to yell helpful comments to him like 'keep your eye on the ball' and 'wait for the swing'-- or do you allow him a moment of quiet to center himself?
  • Your 20-something daughter tells you she's depressed staying in her current job. Are you more inclined to tell her 'stick it out until you get another job' or 'trust yourself--you're smart. You'll figure it out'
  • An employee practices a new skill as you watch. When he makes a mistake are you more inclined to let him work it out with a little coaching or do you step in and say 'No--this is how you do it'?

Is Your only Vice Ad-vice? Listen up!

While you may have the best of intentions when giving advice to your child or colleague, when you over-advise or support others they learn to second guess their decisions and abilities instead of learning to trust themselves. 

Dr. Sian Beilock, author of Choke--what the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to, is a human performance researcher intent on figuring out why people choke under pressure. Her own failures led her to study why our brains fail to perform at their best when we're under the gun.

I was struck by one aspect of her research that provides insight into why we should shut up and let others figure things out for themselves:


"If we are to become competent people able to perform at our best--especially under pressure-- we need to learn to trust ourselves--our muscle memory, our instincts, our intuition and our problem-solving abilities without over-thinking. We can't do this if others are always telling us what to think and what to do."

Prefrontal Cortex Over-Thinking 

The problem with well-meaning advice is all that chatter from you takes others out of the area of their brain that lets them 'do what comes naturally' into their prefrontal cortex--the area of the brain that over-thinks. This ultimately leads to freezing and messing up as they second guess their decisions and abilities.

Looking at it from a personal perspective, the last thing you want to do when you're performing under pressure is to become self-conscious--i.e. hyper-aware of yourself and analyzing your thoughts and actions. Others' well-meaning comments at that moment get in the way of you trusting your instincts and swiftly executing an action.

Elevated Expectations 


Beilock also points out that too much support can become an unnecessary burden that lowers performance.


"When we encourage others to shoot high, we may unwittingly cause them to feel an unnecessary burden of expectation which in turn can make the goal or task more difficult than it is. The energy that should be going into mastering the activity and performing it well goes into worry about not meeting an expectation."




The Ultimate Goal: For All of Us to Trust Ourselves to Figure Things Out

We all need time to let the learning sequence get processed through the correct parts of our brain. When other people do the thinking we fail to learn for ourselves and learn to trust others instead of ourselves.

In the not too distant past, I had to let go of worrying about my adult children--and let them learn to trust their own decision-making. 

When these young adults come to me for advice it is always tempting to give it, but I've learned the more I practice asking them how they're going to handle a situation, the better they get at figuring things out themselves.

Children talk to themselves as they learn a skill--then suddenly the self-talk disappears as the skill becomes fully integrated. Adults do the same. Sometimes all we need is someone to listen to us as we figure things out ourselves.

So the next time you start to open your mouth to give a little friendly advice, close it and listen a moment more. You just might be helping to create a more confident, competent person.




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For more than 30 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.


If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.