Monday, February 23, 2015

How To Deal With What You Feel: 4 Breakthrough Guidelines for Facing Difficult Times

Good Morning Everyone!

Today I wanted to share an article from elephantjournal.com on how to deal with difficult times. This is a great article which helps break down ways to work through difficult times with some simple, yet understated steps.
Enjoy!

How to deal with what you feel: 4 breakthrough guidelines for facing difficult times

Author: Emma Derman Teitel
Editor: Cat Beekmans

Just when it seemed like things were going smoothly and in the direction that you wanted, bam! You get hit with the unexpected and even the unimaginable.

Sound familiar?

Perhaps it takes the form of a difficult internal challenge, an external disappointment or a major loss. These experiences can take your breath away, sometimes with awe at the power of life and other times like a punch in the stomach.

With each passing year, I am starting to soften more and more deeply into the unpredictable nature of life. I’m realizing that to live is to stand with two feet fully in the ocean without any certainty as to when a wave will come or go, or whether I will live or die.

We do not get to know exactly how big a wave will be, but we can guarantee that at some point it will arrive. Inevitably the wave will crash, and eventually it will also recede. With this wave might arrive a jubilant thrill or a terrifying fall. There is an inherent vulnerability to this human life, and it is imperative that we consistently care for ourselves amidst the ever-changing tides.

Below are four guidelines to support you on your journey, wherever you may find yourself in the great sea of life.

4 Essential Guidelines for Facing Difficult Times:

1. Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Most women are keenly aware of the people and needs that surround them. Whether you believe this instinct originates from nurture or nature is not what matters in this moment. Instead the caretaker impulse is something to be aware of. When a stressor of any sort comes into your life, it is essential to prioritize yourself first. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” Wait and listen for a response that feels authentic. There is no “right” or “wrong” here, simply honor what is true.

Often times, when we feel overwhelmed, anxious or sad, there can be an unconscious instinct to ask what someone else needs or to fill our time with activities that serve someone else’s agenda, not our own.

In order to avoid this habitual pitfall, I recommend you create a list of 10 things that reliably nourish and support you. Ideally, make this list at a time when you are not in crisis or overwhelm, so that when challenge does arise, instead of getting swallowed in a swamp of debilitating emotions, you can seek out items on your list for a lifeline.

If you’re having a hard time knowing what you need in the wake of a difficult experience, here is a list of some possibilities to inspire you:

1. A 30 minute walk outside
2. 15 minutes writing in your journal
3. Getting in the bath or shower
4. Listening to some relaxing music
5. Calling a supportive and loving friend/family member
6. Scheduling an appointment with a therapist, mentor or spiritual guide
7. Delegating a task at work that will alleviate additional stress
8. Asking your partner, housemate or friend to do something you normally do in order to relieve some pressure
9. Reading an uplifting book
10. Meditating and/or praying and asking for support and guidance

2. Ask for what you want and need.

Once you have taken the space and time to attune to yourself and figure out what you want and need, determine which of the items on your list you can fulfill on your own and which might require support. For example, if we were to refer to the list above, you can meet your own needs by taking yourself on a walk, getting in the bath or listening to some relaxing music. Some of the other items on the list such as scheduling an appointment with a therapist or delegating a task at work or at home require something from someone else.

Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for what you need. More often than not, people want to help out and will be glad you asked.

Particularly, if you have already done the hard work of tuning into yourself, others are even more likely to support you because they don’t feel that you are desperate, needy or demanding something from them. Instead, they can feel you making a solid and clear request for help as you navigate whatever difficulty you are facing.

For many women, asking for support can be one of the most difficult tasks. If you notice that you are having trouble requesting help, inquire within as to why. Very often when this happens, it is because you are afraid of something.

3. Feel your feelings, don’t push them away.

Doing things to soothe yourself and asking for the support you need creates a solid foundation and safe container to then begin the hard work of feeling your feelings.

In my experience, there are two primary ways that women relate to their emotions. Either we deny, repress and ignore the true depth of what we are feeling or we become completely consumed and stuck in extreme emotional states for very long periods of time.

Whichever way is your tendency, both approaches are a mechanism for remaining disconnected to the present moment.

With courage, support and an internal witness, there is the possibility to feel the full extent of our feelings in any given moment, without becoming permanently paralyzed and stuck in our emotionality. Ask yourself, which tendency is more typical for you.

If you tend to be the type to push away your feelings, notice what you are doing instead of feeling. Perhaps you are eating, exercising or habitually checking email. Whatever you are doing does not make you “bad” or “wrong,” simply notice and acknowledge to yourself that you are avoiding your feelings. The acknowledgment itself can create immediate permission for the part of you that is sidestepping your emotions, and often opens the door so you can start feeling your feelings.

If you are more of the type to get lost in your emotions, try creating some boundaries for yourself. This could look like setting a timer for 15-30 minutes and giving yourself full permission to feel your emotions. Make sure you are in a safe place and not harming yourself or another. Make a solid commitment to yourself that when the timer goes off, you are going to transition to something that will support a shift in your perspective.

Perhaps, commit to doing something from the list you created above. If you are facing a particularly intense challenge in your life, you may need to carve out a solid amount of time every day focused specifically on creating space for your emotions. Honor yourself by creating conscious times and places to do this, so that you can also stay present with the ever-changing states you will go through.

Often times when we are experiencing extreme disempowerment, for example, we can get locked into a mentality that this is the only thing occurring, when in fact, if we stay attentive to the more subtle nuances of each moment, many other things are also emerging in our minds, bodies and emotions in addition to the feelings of disempowerment.

4. Remember that what you are experiencing right now will not stay the same forever.

The only promise of the present moment is that it is ever-changing. This is simultaneously terrifying and liberating. The terror exists because nothing lives forever and this presses against one of the most painful aspects of human life, that of loss and separation.

And yet the liberation arrives in the very same fact: nothing lives forever—not the sorrow, nor the pain, nor the grief.

Our souls are in a constant journey and they desire to move towards balance. When we can start to view the challenges and heartache of life as an opportunity to become just a little more alive, a doorway opens and there is a choice to walk through it.


A note to the reader: This is not a quick-fix strategy. Disappointment, grief, trauma and loss are very real parts of the human journey, and can sometimes take years to integrate, feel and heal. Have compassion with yourself and get the support you need. May these four guidelines serve you deeply and offer solace in difficult times.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself -- And All The Women Around You

Good Morning!

Today, I want to re-post an article that really speaks loudly to me in case you missed it the other day!

The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself -- And All The Women Around You
By Elizabeth Gilbert

Nearly all the women I know are stressing themselves sick over the pathological fear that they simply aren't doing enough with their lives. Which is crazy -- absolutely flat-out bananas -- because the women I know do a lot, and they do it well. My cousin Sarah, for instance, is earning her master's degree in international relations, while simultaneously working for a nonprofit that builds playgrounds at woefully underfunded public schools. Kate is staying home and raising the two most enchanting children I've ever met—while also working on a cookbook. Donna is producing Hollywood blockbusters; Stacy is running a London bank; Polly just launched an artisanal bakery...

By all rights, every one of these clever, inventive women should be radiant with self-satisfaction. Instead, they twitch with near-constant doubt, somehow worrying that they are failing at life. Sarah worries that she should be traveling around the world instead of committing to a master's degree. Kate worries that she's wasting her education by staying home with her kids. Donna worries that she's endangering her marriage by working such long hours. Stacy worries that the capitalistic world of banking is murdering her creativity. Polly worries that her artisanal bakery might not be quite capitalistic enough. All of them worry that they need to lose 10 pounds.

It's terribly frustrating for me to witness this endless second-guessing. The problem is, I do it, too. Despite having written five books, I worry that I have not written the right kinds of books, or that perhaps I have dedicated too much of my life to writing, and have therefore neglected other aspects of my being. (Like, I could really stand to lose 10 pounds.)

So here's what I want to know: Can we lighten up a little?

Can we draft a joint resolution to drop the crazy-making expectation that we must all be perfect friends and perfect mothers and perfect workers and perfect lovers with perfect bodies who dedicate ourselves to charity and grow our own organic vegetables, at the same time that we run corporations and stand on our heads while playing the guitar with our feet?

When I look at my life and the lives of my female friends these days -- with our dizzying number of opportunities and talents -- I sometimes feel as though we are all mice in a giant experimental maze, scurrying around frantically, trying to find our way through. But maybe there's a good historical reason for all this overwhelming confusion. We don't have centuries of educated, autonomous female role models to imitate here (there were no women quite like us until very recently), so nobody has given us a map. As a result, we each race forth blindly into this new maze of limitless options. And the risks are steep. We make mistakes. We take sharp turns, hoping to stumble on an open path, only to bump into dead-end walls and have to back up and start all over again. We push mysterious levers, hoping to earn a reward, only to learn -- whoops, that was a suffering button!

To make matters even more stressful, we constantly measure ourselves against each other's progress, which is a truly dreadful habit. My sister, Catherine, told me recently about a conversation she'd had with a sweet neighbor who -- after watching Catherine spend an afternoon organizing a scavenger hunt for all the local kids -- said sadly, "You're such a better mother than I will ever be." At which point, my sister grabbed her friend's hands and said, "Please. Let's not do this to each other, okay?"

No, seriously -- please. Let's not.

Because it breaks my heart to know that so many amazing women are waking up at 3 o'clock in the morning and abusing themselves for not having gone to art school, or for not having learned to speak French, or for not having organized the neighborhood scavenger hunt. I fear that -- if we continue this mad quest for perfection -- we will all end up as stressed-out and jumpy as those stray cats who live in Dumpsters behind Chinese restaurants, forever scavenging for scraps of survival while pulling out their own hair in hypervigilant anxiety.

So let's drop it, maybe?

Let's just anticipate that we (all of us) will disappoint ourselves somehow. Go ahead and let it happen. Let somebody else be a better mother than you for one afternoon. Let somebody else go to art school. Let somebody else have a happy marriage, while you foolishly pick the wrong guy. (Hell, I've done it; it's survivable.) While you're at it, take the wrong job. Move to the wrong city. Lose your temper in front of the boss, quit training for that marathon, wolf down a truckload of cupcakes the day after you start your diet. Blow it all catastrophically, in fact, and then start over with good cheer. This is what we all must learn to do, for this is how maps get charted -- by taking wrong turns that lead to surprising passageways that open into spectacularly unexpected new worlds. So just march on. Future generations will thank you -- trust me -- for showing the way, for beating brave new footpaths out of wonky old mistakes.

Fall flat on your face if you must, but please, for the sake of us all, do not stop.

Map your own life.


To see the original article, click here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Depression In Teens Looks Almost Nothing Like Depression In Adults

Good Morning!

Today we want to share a link to an article recently featured on Upworthy.com. The article is entitled, 'Depression In Teens Looks Almost Nothing Like Depression In Adults,'  and brings up some really good points of what to look for with your kids. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a depressed teen will experience the same symptoms of depression as adults (profound feelings of unhappiness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, relentless fatigue, etc.), but those symptoms manifest themselves in ways that can be difficult to distinguish from normal teenage behavior.

To check out this article and read more, click here: http://www.upworthy.com/depression-in-teens-looks-almost-nothing-like-depression-in-adults?c=ufb2


Monday, February 2, 2015

Why Courage Is More Important Than Creativity: The first step of all innovations is destruction--and that takes courage

Why Courage Is More Important Than Creativity
The first step of all innovations is destruction--and that takes courage. 
Post published by Jeff DeGraff Ph.D. on Feb 02, 2015 in Innovation You


At these seemingly disastrous moments, the risks and rewards normally associated with innovation are reversed: you have a little to lose but a lot to gain. It is only when a firm is compromised that it truly engages its people and enlists them in their own survival. Out of the apparent chaos can come wildly generative energy.

This is exactly the situation I faced when leaders at a financial information services provider on the verge of collapse called me to help them navigate through their dire situation. I had worked with them five years earlier to develop an executive-training program. Back then, we discussed potential game-changing innovations over sumptuous meals in beautiful locations. The atmosphere was a carefree one--things were looking good. The disruptive future seemed too far away to warrant immediate action. Now, five years later, the organization was close to bankruptcy in an industry that was changing more quickly than they could keep up with. All the time they spent focusing on their current corporate clients and known competitors, they failed to pay attention to the trends emerging in the world around them and the wide array of small upstarts that were quickly capitalizing on these new opportunities. The company was looking for a new start.

They asked me to help plan their upcoming annual meeting. Usually an event held in a sunny, tropical place where the organization's best and brightest could enjoy themselves as they celebrated their successes, the annual meeting this year would be something very different. We agreed to have the meeting at a renovated truck manufacturing plant in the company's home city--a large open space with no chairs, where everyone would have to stand or move about to get their creative juices flowing.

We created a frenetic, experimental process where individuals from all levels and sectors talked through the five central problems that we collectively diagnosed: the speed at which the organization moved to adopt new technology, the development of a 21st-century workforce, the mining of big data, superior client management and a culture of innovation.

On the first day of the retreat, we approached the future in a three-step process:

We started with an honest evaluation of the things that worked and the things that didn't work now. Instead of dwelling on the things that didn't work, we focused on building onto the things that were already working.
We looked at macro trends--larger forces outside of the organization--in the world, specifically things that had both high probability and high impact.
We brainstormed initiatives and projects to run that would offset all the barriers we anticipated.
They conversation was hot and moved too quickly for many of these bright leaders who wanted more time to study the situation carefully. But there was not time. They needed to take action now. There was a deep sense of foreboding at the end of day one.

On the second day of our retreat, we determined precisely what kind of talent the firm would need to make all of these plans a reality. Everyone reported back to each other the concrete steps they would take as individuals in contributing to these larger efforts. They began to see real opportunities to reinvent the business and were gaining momentum. The mood had shifted from despair to possibility.

At the end of the summit, one of the organization's most talented leaders stood up with a piece of paper that he originally intended to be his official resignation. He ripped the paper into many pieces and threw them all around him. The session had been so promising and encouraging to him that he not only abandoned all plans to resign but also publicly pledged to buy thousands of shares of the company. He sat down and someone else stood up, doubling his pledge. Next, one of the organization's senior executives vowed to buy triple the shares. This continued as several others followed suit. The spark of hope spread through the room like a wildfire.

This story has both a happy and a sad ending. Rebuilding the company from the inside-out required major downsizing. This meant thousands of layoffs and massive restructuring. In short, the organization had to give up a lot in order to reinvent itself. The next three years were painful, yet the outcome was overwhelmingly positive. The company found itself once again at the top of the industry.

When things are good, there is little immediate reason to change your business, your customers and look beyond your current competitors. The perceived distance between now and then, cause and effect, makes the best of us delusional. This is why those of us who were once entrepreneurial find ourselves surprised when the next wave of innovators arrives to find out of position.

Innovation hurts. There is no way around this fact: innovation entails tough sacrifices in often drastic circumstances. It's harder to stop doing old things than it is to start doing new things. The first step of all innovations is destruction. For this reason, innovation takes something much stronger than creativity: it takes courage.