Are you tired of living a dysfunctional and unhappy life? Are you aware that you have the power to change that? First, we must acknowledge that it is dysfunctional. Then, we need to take action to make positive changes. Here are steps to change your dysfunctional living:
1. Acknowledge that we are responsible for creating our own emotional problems.
2. Accept that we have the ability to change disturbances
3. Recognize and distinguish emotional problems from
4. Clearly perceive these beliefs.
5. See the value of disputing self-defeating beliefs.
6. Accept that we must work hard in emotional and behavioral ways to counteract irrational beliefs and dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. Nobody is truly happy living a dysfunctional life. The good new is….we can change that!
Examples: I must have love or approval from all significant people in my life.
must perform important tasks completely and perfectly.
I don’t get what I want, it’s terrible and I can’t stand it.
Are you thinking of changing careers? With the pandemic affecting a multitude of jobs, more people are considering that idea. Are you one of those? Do you need guidance to help you along?
I see clients all the time who are unhappy at work and wish to pursue other avenues. However, they don’t know how to get from where they currently are to where they want to go. They can clarify for me, bits and pieces of what they would love to do, but then, they get stuck. Are you in a similar position right now in your life? Would you love to change professions but feel a bit hesitant to the process of where to begin? So many people hear other people talk about ‘life purpose’, but they have no idea what their purpose is or how to reveal it. They think their purpose needs to be something extraordinary and unique. I try to simplify things so that they begin with small steps and move forward at a pace that is not overwhelming or daunting. After discussing one’s past and highlighting what brings them joy and fulfillment now in their life, a purpose will organically reveal itself over time. Individuals sometimes focus so much energy on possible future scenarios that they can’t take the first steps needed to create their dream. If you constantly worry about something that needs to be accomplished in the distance, you will slow yourself down from even beginning the journey. Let’s say, for example, you want to start your own business. If all you think about is how you are going to get enough help to manage the holiday orders, you are passing up many other tasks that need to be addressed first. Start at the beginning and work your way up. This week I want to help clarify some career options that might be fun for you to explore.
Review life story
This is your chance to review your life and pick out the highlights. Go as far
back as you can and write down what stands out, as far as positive memories. Is
there a similar theme? Do several memories include standing up in front of
people? Do many highlights include when you traveled to other parts of the
world? Maybe every time you were around children, you felt alive and full of
energy. These highlights in your life stand out for a reason. Take a good look
at what you wrote down.
What do you hate?
A tactic many career coaches use to help clients determine a possible new
profession is to have them describe in detail what they hate about their
current profession. You need to be extremely specific here, if you can. Do you
dislike the never-ending hours and week-end hours you have to work? Do you hate
sitting in a cubicle typing numbers when you are a creative person? Do you
dread office politics? List everything you dislike about your current position,
and then, list the exact opposite for every dislike. If you hate sitting in a
cubicle, the exact opposite job would allow you freedom and travel.
What do you value?
Are you still thinking of changing careers? If you are going to explore new possibilities, it is important you go about it the right way. Don’t pursue a profession that is not in alignment with what you value. I guarantee, you will be miserable years down the road, if you do. For example, let’s say you value family time. Then, let’s say you interview for a position that requires a lot of travel and evening hours. It may seem like the perfect job, and at the beginning, it may feel that way. However, spending a lot of time away from your family, something you value more than anything else, will wear on you over time. This job will not seem so fantastic down the road. Know what you value and then pursue professions that honor these values.
It is important to declutter your life to gain self-confidence. A lot of people carry around with them a lot of “baggage” or “clutter” in their minds. They are holding onto things they say they should do but don’t, people they are not speaking with but want to, all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘coulds’ in life. All of this emotional clutter negatively influences your confidence and self-esteem. It is important to analyze your life from time to time, answer a series of questions, in order to get back on track. Give yourself a “life tune-up.” We all need it in order to stay true to our priorities and values in life. Are you currently happy with your life and the direction it is taking? Are there things you have been putting off that would make your life more peaceful and meaningful? Why is there hesitancy? What are you fearful of? Remember each one of you has the power and potential to live an extraordinary life. It is just a matter of being committed and consistent with the process of always evolving and growing. Take some time this week to declutter your life to gain self-confidence, answer some questions and then decide the steps you need to take to move forward.
1. What are you putting up
Make a list of
ten things you are putting up with at home. Make a list of ten things you are
putting up with at work. Make a list of ten things you are putting up with in
any other area of your life. Now start to pencil in the action steps to tackle
these items. When, how and what do you need to do to cross these off?
2. Unfinished matters
Make a list of
things that are unresolved or unfinished in your life. This includes people.
Who do you need to touch base with in order to bring some healing or closure?
Forgiveness is the first step to healing. Life is far too short, so just do
it. List the coulds, woulds, and shoulds
in your life. Release all of these, unless you are committed to making it a
3. What are your
What are your
personal standards? What do you want to live your life by? List your top 5
standards, such as integrity, honesty, joy or tapping into your creativity.
What are the standards you want to uphold yourself to? List five people you
admire the most in your life and the standards they have. What standards of
theirs would you like to live your life according to? Get to work.
Reprioritize and Declutter Your Life
1. Fears and unknowns
What is going on in your life right now? Are you fearful financially? Is your job secure? Are you focusing on the near future and the uncertainty with that, or are you confident in what your future holds? Just the act of being more aware is a great first step. The next step is to reprioritize and declutter your life.
Is there an opportunity in your life right now to make some positive changes? The first necessary change would be to reprioritize and declutter your life. If life has dealt you a difficult hand right now, is there a way to find the silver lining? Can you look past your immediate fears and see if there is an opportunity for growth?
3. Create a new vision
Sometimes when life throws a curveball our way, we need to redesign a new vision for what we thought our life would be like. Just because a career, relationship, or project did not work out the way you envisioned it, it doesn’t mean something extraordinary is not right around the corner. Never stop dreaming or creating new goals based on what life provides for you at that moment.
January is the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Often, this comes when making New Year’s resolutions, or a commitment to yourself to let go of unhealthy habits and create new, healthier ones. The problem with resolutions is that most people fail at following through. This can perpetuate feelings of inadequacy, decrease self-confidence, and be a detriment to mental health. Therefore, it is essential to replace resolutions to make lasting change.
A study done by the fitness app, Strava, showed that most people will ditch their resolutions completely by January 19th (also referred to as “Quitters Day”). If you want to build lasting habits that can increase your overall health and happiness, resolutions might not be the way to go. Instead, replace resolutions to make lasting change by using positive afformations.
That’s right – afformations. More than likely, you have heard of positive affirmations. Yet, you might not be familiar with the concept of positive afformations. An afformation is similar in sentiment to an affirmation. But, instead of repeating a statement to yourself, you’re posing a question to invoke further thought. The idea behind this is that the subconscious mind is more receptive to questions than statements. Asking yourself an empowering question changes your beliefs by forcing your brain to search for the positive, not the negative.
As many have found, it is all too easy to disagree with your own affirmations. For example, you can say, “I look great today,” each morning in the mirror. But, if you don’t truly love the way you look, it probably won’t yield positive results. You’ll simply follow the affirmation with, “Actually, no, I don’t look great today.”
When using positive afformations, you get to dig deeper and focus not on what’s wrong with you and what you lack, but what’s right with you and what you have.
There are 3 simple steps to using positive afformations to reframe your thoughts from negative to positive:
Step 1: State an affirmation (I look great today)
Step 2: Ask yourself how or why this affirmation is true. Why do I look great today?
Step 3: Answer the question. I look great today because I’m having a good hair day and my necklace is beautiful.
Notice in the answer, I didn’t mention that my pants are snug, or that my shoes are scuffed. I focused only on the positive evidence to support my affirmation.
Here are 5 examples of afformations you can try this year to shift to more positive thinking.
Example Affirmation: People enjoy talking to me. Example Afformation: Why do people enjoy talking to me? Example Answer: People enjoy talking to me because I am a good listener. I make them laugh, and I have interesting things to say.
Example Affirmation: I deserve happiness. Example Afformation: Why do I deserve happiness? Example Answer: I deserve happiness because I am a caring human being with good intentions.
Example Affirmation: I am successful. Example Afformation: How am I successful? Example Answer: I am successful because I work hard. I pay attention. I am capable. I am committed to success.
Example Affirmation: I am resilient. Example Afformation: How am I resilient? Example Answer: I adapt in the face of adversity. I am strong. I can make it through anything.
Example Affirmation: I am true to myself. Example Afformation: How am I true to myself? Example Answer: I stand up for what I believe in. I set healthy boundaries. I value my happiness.
Of course, your answers will vary. The more in-depth, detailed, and positively you answer your own afformation, the better your results. Try one of these each day. And, really consider your answers to the questions. These answers come from your positive thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Repeating positive afformations can help to shift your beliefs and allow you to see your true value.
While these tips can help many people, they may not help everyone. If you struggle to switch your thoughts from negative to positive, consider making an appointment for a free consultation to see if therapy could be right for you. Simply contact me so I can learn more about your goals. Then, I can explain to you how I can help you reach them.
When we’re in the middle of a stressful situation, it can be tempting to let ourselves be swallowed up by the sense of overwhelm.
But, there’s a powerful question to consider that will help you bring yourself back to center. Are you focusing your attention to the obstacles and problems in your life, or are you noticing the blessings and opportunities?
Here’s the truth: If you focus on your problems and how much pain and stress they are causing you, your negative feelings will only grow.
So, the first step I recommend you do in any stressful situation is to take a deep breath. Notice that you’re breathing. Feel the air flowing through your nostrils, going down into your belly, then rising back out of your body.
Next, notice that you can notice. Notice that you have that faculty, just like you have hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling and tasting faculties.
Notice the tip of your nose, your right index finger, your left kneecap, the bottom of your right foot, the tips of all ten toes, your cheeks, your chin, the top of your head.
You have a choice at this very moment – you can choose what to notice. Notice that you’re alive. Notice that you can choose to pay attention to the positive things in your life, or you can choose to keep thinking about your problems.
Use this practice to bring your awareness back to yourself and your body, and take a moment to let your mind rest. Become present again by focusing on the simple sensations that let you know you’re alive.
2. Ask yourself, “What good could come from this situation?”
Every challenge has within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.
But, before you can experience these benefits, you need to find that seed, nourish it, and let it bloom in your mind.
When we’re in the middle of seemingly adverse situations, this can be easier said than done. Still, I encourage you to try this practice. Looking for the possible good in any situation opens you to receiving the greatest secret gifts from the universe!
The key to seeing the possible good when you’re facing challenges is to stay open and curious. This is how opportunities present themselves to you.
Ask yourself, “What gift could there be for me inside of this challenge?”
Then, stay open and write the answers that come to you. Write anything you could think of. All possibilities are valid! Let the infinite intelligence support you in your journey with something even better that you could have imagined.
3. Ground yourself with the Rectangular Breathing Exercise.
When we are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, we can actually feel physical symptoms – rapid heartbeat, sweating and even shortness of breath. This state is called “fight or flight,” and when you’re in it, you may feel panicky and unsure how to move to a state of calm and relief.
A really helpful tool in this situation is the Rectangular Breathing Exercise. Changing our breathing can very quickly change our energetic state, helping us to find calm in a stressful circumstance.
The technique receives its name because it consists of four steps, breaking down each breath into two long periods and two short periods.
The first step is to breathe in through your nose for a count of eight seconds (this could be considered the long side of the rectangle). Pause for a count of four seconds (this would be the short side of the rectangle). Next, breathe out for a count of eight and pause for a count of four.
Do this for five minutes whenever you feel anxious and upset. While you repeat this breathing pattern, you will feel your physiology change.
The Rectangular Breathing Exercise is used to move your physiology from “fight or flight” (sympathetic nervous system), to “rest and digest” or parasympathetic nervous system.
This way, you will use the power of your breathing to regain a peaceful state.
If you knew with complete certainty that you were going to take your last breath tomorrow, what would you do? Would you call all of your loved ones? Would you travel the globe? Would you spend some time thinking about everything you wish you had done in your life? We all have dreams and visions of what we will do “someday”. But, what is “someday?” The fact is, that most of us have no idea exactly what tomorrow will bring. The past is in the past and so the only guarantee is the here and now. Why not take the time to list everything that you’ve ever dreamed of accomplishing in your life? Randy Pausch, who became famous after his “Last Lecture,” knew with certainty that his life was coming to an end. He lived his life more fully in his forty-seven years than most of us live in our lifetimes. He made his life list and actively engaged in achieving the majority of the items on his list. He didn’t have “someday” like the majority of us do. I want you to think big on this list. Have you ever dreamed of scaling a fourteener? What about sailing around the Mediterranean Seas? At some point, you need to stop wishing and start living. Take some time this week to put this list together and then take the next step of acting on some of your wishes.
ACTION STEPS FOR THE WEEK:
1. Make your list
away all of your old lists. It’s time to bring life to a new list. Create
a new list of everything you intend to achieve in this lifetime. Have fun with
this list—dream big! You are your biggest obstacle when it comes to making
it happen. You are the only one who can plan, research, and, ultimately, follow
through on your dreams.
2. Break it down
Looking at this list and determining where you are in your life right now, select a couple of items that you would love to accomplish this year. Highlight them, and then start detailing a month-by-month plan to make it happen. Creating a realistic timeline and breaking down your tasks into smaller accomplishments will allow you to feel less overwhelmed.
3. Enlist support
It is critical to surround yourself with people and resources who will help you stick to your goals. Do your homework, research the details and then, ask for help making these dreams your reality. Use your friends and family as accountability partners who will check in on your progress.
Stress isn’t always the bad guy that it’s made out to be.
The hormones created by stress can actually strengthen neural connections in
our brain, and can help us be more productive and focused. Furthermore, stress
motivates us to succeed and makes us more resilient. But when stress strikes, most of us don’t
think about its positive side-effects. Instead, we think……this really sucks. Something
that differentiates the mediocre from the extraordinary is strength and
resilience, and the way we manage stress is a great indication of those two
qualities. When I come upon a stressful situation, my goal is to be as
intentional as possible with my thoughts, and the way I perceive and process
the circumstances. I ask myself these three questions to help me stand in my
own power and handle stress with dignity…and sometimes even with a little
1. What can I control here? And the
answer is never people or circumstances. You are only in control of
your own actions and your own response to a circumstance. Others are
responsible for their actions and responses.
2. What can you do to smooth out the
situation? When you react to a stressful situation in a way that
positively influences others, you have the power to turn chaos into a learning
experience, for you and others. Act authentically and consider the
personalities involved. How can you guide things to a place where the situation
can be diffused or resolved? And if you can’t, don’t stress about it. Refer to
question #1 about control.
3. Where can I find acceptance? Sometimes
there’s simply nothing we can do to influence a stressful situation. That’s
where grace comes into play. Being able to recognize when efforts are futile
and take a step back from the situation altogether is a true sign of strength
and resilience. It’s not easy, but once you hone your ability to accept
situations that you can’t change, you’ll find the most amazing sense of
serenity…even in a world of chaos.
There are self-care techniques that can help us be mindful and intentional during stressful situations. Some are fitness, meditation, getting plenty of rest, and eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet, and being authentic and true to ourselves. Those who manage stress are not only more effective leaders, but they are also happier, healthier, and more productive. Start adding self-care practices into your daily routine, and try to be more mindful the next time you’re in a high-stress situation by asking yourself the questions above. You’ll be surprised at the contrast between how you respond instinctively versus how you respond after a moment of thought!
Studies show that older adults are more prone to mental disorders than
Usually, these include post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, and specific phobia or generalized anxiety disorders. If you have reached your golden years, and feel that your stress exposure is higher than normal, try these steps to relieve your stress and anxiety.
Deep breathing meditation – Meditation is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Actually, it helps you relax your body and mind and manage any nail-biting situation that presents in your way.
On top of that, meditation
exercises are so easy to perform. The main goal is to shift all your focus to
your breathing, which can keep any negative energy and thoughts at bay.
All you have to do is sit
comfortably with an erect back position, breathe in slowly through your nose,
and breathe out through your mouth, as simple as that.
Food – It may come as a surprise
that the food you eat plays an important role in your mood swings, as well as
your stress level.
A healthy diet program can help your body cope with stress-induced physiological changes. Beyond that, your adrenaline level is triggered by your blood sugar levels. Therefore, a diet rich in sugar can result in abnormal stress.
Whenever you feel like reaching for a sugary snack, opt for plain foods with
a high nutritional value, such as fruits and veggies. Incorporate more fish
into your diet, as the high doses of omega 3 fatty acids can lower your stress
Music – If you feel anxious and stressed, take a moment to relax and listen to some music. Music is literally the food of the soul. It helps calm your nerves and reduces the level of cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone.
Furthermore, it can reduce your high blood pressure, also known as
hypertension. To alleviate stress, try some relaxing nature sounds, like ocean
waves, or the sound of a bird or tree. Close your eyes, relax every muscle in
your body, and imagine you are sitting in a peaceful place where the beauty of
nature surrounds you.
Social activities – senior
citizens who do not take part in social activities could become more
susceptible to isolation, loneliness, and depression.
Isolating yourself from your friends, family, and relatives can cause your stress level to soar and make you feel lonely and depressed. However, maintaining your social relationships, and participating in social events is likely to bolster your mental well-being.
In case you live in a retirement residence, join a book club, or a fitness class. This not only has various social advantages but can boost your physical health as well.
I believe it is basic human nature to want to grow as individuals. I believe, at some level, everyone wants to learn more about themselves, grow emotionally and continue to expand their beliefs. Through growth and change, sprouts fulfillment. Of course, the majority of us would like this all to happen overnight. Nothing ‘life-changing’ happens easily or without a long-term commitment to the process. What are you willing to do in order to become the person you want to become? What sacrifices are you willing to make? Would you be willing to observe yourself from an outside perspective? All you really need is the desire, openness, and consistency to move forward in your life. Sometimes just the recognition of feeling frustrated or stressed may be a sign to open yourself up to new possibilities. A client of mine had a great life but was constantly unhappy. She was involved in a wonderful relationship, had a job she enjoyed, was very active outside of work, but she woke up every day preparing for the worst. Not until she stepped away from herself and really examined what role her attitude and behavior were playing, was she able to bring the joy back into her life. She needed to push aside beliefs that were holding her back and choose new ones that were more empowering. You can continue going through your life “settling”, or you can become your biggest advocate and take control of your life and the destination.
ACTION STEPS TO TAKE:
1. Be open to new ways
If you continue doing things, the same things that
aren’t working, you will continue to get the same results. Don’t limit yourself
to only one philosophy. Be willing to add a little variety to your
routine. Drive to work a different way. Ask an unfamiliar colleague out to lunch.
Sign up for a class that sparks your interest.
2. Take small actions
To get what you want in life, you need to take small
actions on a consistent basis. Break down your overwhelming goal into smaller,
manageable steps. If you are seeking more “me” time,
set aside 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night. You
can increase your time as you go. Be patient to this process. The end result is
worth the initial work.
3. Incorporate gratitude
Set aside time every day to express gratitude in your life. Being grateful for what you do have, keeps you grounded and in the moment. The intention of gratitude will keep you focused on the larger picture. List 5 things daily that you were grateful for that day.
When you find yourself in any situation where you feel invisible, ask yourself what has happened, and what you are really feeling: left out at social gatherings like parties or family get-togethers? Not paid attention to when you speak, or having your opinions discounted? Isolated because of your age? Excluded by your married friends because you are alone? Ignored for gender reasons, particularly if you are a woman?
These are different kinds of invisibility, so try not to let them blend into each other. Only when you understand what you’re feeling, can you find a solution. Here are a few steps that may help.
Step 1: Take responsibility. It’s too easy to blame others, and that never works. Even the people who are closest to you aren’t responsible for how you feel. By taking responsibility, you can completely turn your perspective around. “My kids never call anymore” can be turned into “I’m glad my kids don’t feel burdened by me.”
Step 2: Look at your situation objectively. Most of us get wrapped up in our own emotions, and when you feel resentful, alone or anxious, you are too vulnerable to do what you need to do. Try looking at your situation as if it’s not happening to you but to a friend who has asked you for advice.
Step 3: First, sit down with a pencil and paper and make a list of situations where you feel invisible. At parties? At home? With friends? At restaurants? With younger people? With couples? With your family? At work? Now make three columns. The first column will include things you really want to change. The second will include things you want to change but feel slightly less urgent about. The third is the place for things that it would be nice to change but that aren’t crucial or don’t need to be addressed right this second. Now, insert each of the situations into the proper column.
Step 4: Wait a day or two, and then return to your list to check if you still agree with the priorities you set down. It also helps, at this point, to consult a confidant. Don’t pick a friend or family member who will try to dismiss your problem and tell you that everything’s fine. (They will secretly think you are trying to guilt-trip them). Also, avoid people who are in the habit of telling others what they want to hear. The best choice is someone who has experienced the same situation that you are in and has successfully found a solution.
Step 5: Make an action plan for each of your columns. This is necessary even if column #3 doesn’t feel like a pressing issue. The point of this step is to exercise your imagination. The more ideas you can devise, the freer you can be from getting stuck. Write down as many creative solutions as you can think of. Take your time. There’s no deadline, and you can return to this step over a few days, if that’s what it takes. Feel free to brainstorm with other people, making sure that they realize your intention isn’t to lean on them, but to arrive at your own independent solution.
Here are a few examples that may help jump-start the process. For instance:
Symptom: Neglected at parties.
Solutions: Simple behavioral changes are usually what’s needed, as follows:
Come prepared with topics, such as the most recent news stories.
Keep standing: Sitting down means that you are avoiding contact. Use a tried-and-true tactic: Walk up to someone, introduce yourself and ask them what they do for a living.
Eavesdrop on conversations, and if you hear one that’s interesting, walk up and say, “What you’re talking about really interests me. Can I join you?” Move from room to room, looking around with an interested gaze. When you meet someone’s eyes, smile. If they smile back, walk up and engage. If you feel sorry for yourself as the evening goes on, leave. You have better ways to fill your time, and parties aren’t for you.
Symptom: Not paid attention to by family.
Solutions: A little analysis is needed here. This symptom is frequently a variation of familiarity breeds neglect. You have allowed yourself to be put into a box. Other family members react in one of two ways: They leave you in your box because it’s the easiest thing to do, or they leave you in your box because they assume you like being there. If you complain about feeling neglected, then complaining becomes your box.
The solution is to approach someone in your family whom you trust, tell them how left out you feel and ask how you are viewed by the family. In other words, discover which box you have been placed in. Once you have a reasonable answer, you can begin to change their perception. If you are seen, for example, as quiet, accepting, unobtrusive and useful only when others need something from you, turn the tables. Start talking, speak up for yourself and ask others to help you for a change.
Symptom: Friends no longer seem close.
Solutions: Friendships start to fray for two reasons: The first is that you and your friend are no longer in the same place. One or the other has moved on, which happens. The second is that a hidden grievance has been simmering and eventually created a rupture.
Both of these things can be corrected, but it takes both of you to do that. So you need to have a candid discussion. Choose a comfortable time and place. Don’t bring up your hurt or resentful feelings while you are having them. Once you sit down, state the problem clearly and then immediately ask for feedback: “I don’t think we’re as close as we used to be. How do you feel?” That’s an intimate question, and the other person will usually be startled. But you will be fine as long as you avoid the big turnoffs that kill an honest discussion, which are (1) making a speech right off the bat (2) blaming the other person (3) whining or acting victimized and, (4) showing that you don’t actually care about your friend’s point of view.
You must avoid these mistakes, and if your friend resorts to these discussion-killers, walk away as soon as you are able. You’ve tapped into some kind of resentment or defensiveness that is blocking a solution. But, don’t give up. Returning tactfully to the issue will often work, because your friend has had time to think.
Your aim is to establish whether the two of you are moving apart, or if there is an unresolved issue. Once this has been determined, and you both agree, that’s enough progress for one meeting. Now go home and decide if you want to get on the same page and move in a new direction together, or if the underlying issue can be worked through. I’ve only described the start of how to renew a flagging friendship, but it’s these initial steps that are the most important.
Feeling invisible is a condition you can change with time, effort and creativity. You deserve to be noticed, cared for and valued. All you need to do is to learn the tactics that make these expectations become a reality.