Do you ever find yourself ruminating about the past? Maybe you are caught in a loop of “if only” – wanting to turn back what happened in the past or stuck in a feeling of why is this happening to me today. Perhaps you worry you made a stupid comment at school, work or with friends or family? You surmise if you had talked more on your date then s/he would have called you back. Maybe you are afraid other parents think you are a bad mother because they heard you yell at your child at school.
STOP. Realize that these negative thoughts are harming you so take immediate action to combat them.
1. Put your thoughts in prospective by considering that you are looking at only looking at part of the picture. You may be focusing on one comment in the meeting and come across splendidly for the rest. Even if you did make a “stupid” comment, did anyone notice? Will they remember next week? We tend to focus in on the one negative thing we hear and exclude most of the positive.
2. We only know our own thoughts. It is frustrating and a waste of time to try to guess at what others are thinking. You don’t know why your date didn’t call and you are torturing yourself by questioning your date’s behavior. Take action instead. Get out – find an activity you enjoy and meet people. Your mood will improve so you will be ready if the right person comes along.
3. We all make mistakes. Try not to judge yourself at a higher standard than you would your friends. If you saw another mom yell at her child in public, you would probably relate well to the frustration she was feeling and even feel empathetic towards her. It makes sense to let yourself be imperfect the way you would a friend.
So, if you sitting at home, feeling anxious and depressed about the past or the future, put all the energy you can into challenging your thinking and force yourself to take action and distract your mind by getting out.
The hardest part of stress and anxiety is often thinking about the “what ifs”. What if I never find someone to love? What if I never find a job? One way to calm these restless worries is the practice of Mindfulness or Mindful meditation.
Mindfulness is a heightned awareness in one’s present thoughts or feelings or sensations without judgment. These Buddhist principles were popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the U.S. in his psychologically based stress reduction program.
You have probably heard that taking things one day at a time can help reduce your anxiety about the future. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of trying to break it further down to the moment. In these mental exercises, one might take an ordinary task, like washing the dishes and try to achieve this alert mental state.
Yesterday, instead of my usual program of cursing the task of doing the dishes and speeding through it, I slowed myself down and adapted to its rhythm– the heat of the running water, the softness of the suds, the circular motion of the rinsing of the plates and bowls and the clanging of the silverware. If my mind wandered to a “what if” place, I refocused my attention on just the task of “doing the dishes”. It was a momentary escape!
What else could I add to my day, as I begin my practice of mindfulness? Stop to pet my cat’s luxurious fur as she sits next to me by the computer, with her black tail curled tightly around her body in a ball? Experience the taste, textures, and smell of the variety of tropical fruits in my salad? Hear the sounds of the city outside my window- garbage trucks, ambulances, and backhoes and try not to judge them?
In trying to make sense of it, it seemed kind of like stopping to smell the roses, which seems like a good idea. And noticing, but not judging the unpleasant stuff, though perhaps more difficult, sounds like its worth a try, too.
This post is also published in www.myculturemagazine.com
Last year, my husband managed to shoehorn a small IKEA desk over a radiator in our bedroom to create my “home office”, my space, my escape. Ah! What JOY! I soon added my calendar, my pictures, my stuff.
The demands on women increase daily whether from our relationships, our work or our families and we need to develop personal strategies to incorporate physical and emotional space in our lives.
1. Find a space in your home you can retreat to that makes you feel relaxed. Maybe you like to hide out in the bathroom to shower or bathe. Perhaps you enjoy being alone in the kitchen cooking. Explore places that makes you feel most comfortable and then personalize them.
2. Find your favorite physical spaces to go to outside the home to clear your head – perhaps the gym, the library or a coffee shop.
1. Tell the people around you when you need a break. If you take a 10 minute break from work to get some fresh air, you will feel better and it will increase your productivity. Tell the people in your household or outside family that you need some time alone. Give yourself a “time out” from your kids.
2. Do you have any hobbies? Lose yourself in playing or listening to music or knitting or painting. Sports are also a great emotional release.
3. Become ensconced in a book or movie.
4. Immerse yourself in nature by gardening, hiking or wandering through the park.
5. Practice meditation – as little as ten minutes a day can provide restorative energy to the brain.
Experiment with these strategies and develop new ones. Don’t be shy about demanding your space, your improved mood will benefit you and those around you.
This article is also published at www.myculturemagazine.com
My daughter has a hand-me-down white Benetton shirt with a purple marker stain on the elbow that has a simple message for women that they often forget.
I love my style,
I love my wear,
I love my shirt,
I love my color,
I love myself.
She loves it. Her style is smart and sassy in her sparkly gold Hello Kitty shirt with purple polka dot leggings and black fashion boots. She explains that of course she loves herself, and because she loves herself, she can love other people.
Do you remember that sense of love you had for yourself as a young child? Did you struggle through the tween and teenager years to feel good about how you looked and if you were “good” enough?”
Do you love yourself enough now?
Here are my ideas for loving yourself more:
Be Yourself– The more you can be yourself, the more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more you can love yourself. If you compare yourself to others and try to dress or act like someone else to feel better about yourself, you’ll end up feeling worse.
Don’t sit around with your feelings of inferiority! We all feel insecure at times but the more we focus on it, the worse it becomes. Find ways to go out in the world and do things that you enjoy to distract you from these feelings. The more you are successful in these interests and passions, the sooner you’ll gain confidence and love yourself more.
Understand it’s not necessarily your fault. Women often follow the rules and do all the “right things” and feel responsible if they:
- Can’t find a partner
- Can’t find a job
- Their marriage/ relationship ends
- People don’t like them
Life is easier if you realize that you aren’t responsible for external factors.
Don’t try to be perfect.
You can only learn if you take some risks, make mistakes and learn. You don’t have to be perfect- it’ll just get in the way of loving yourself.
Take Your Time. Find Your Style. Love Yourself.
When we have children, we immediately add on a new identity of “MOM” that we hold near and dear to our hearts and at other moments wish we could shed, if only briefly, so we wouldn’t have to constantly worry so much.
I’ve talked to many mothers who don’t appreciate themselves enough for all they do. I remember when I was a stay-at-home mom, at times frazzled and overwrought, I felt like I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t keeping up with my career. When I began to meet other stay-at-home moms around me as my children grew I was shocked at what they did (and I realized I did, too). They were juggling a schedule for feeding, changing, cleaning, teaching and amusing children and keeping them SAFE, which may not be rocket science, but it is an art – as well as a demanding job.
I am impressed by moms who hold demanding jobs both inside and outside the home, like my sister-in-law. She travels all over the world- Singapore, China, South Africa, Poland, and more for her job. Still, she has the energy to stay connected with what is going on in her daughters’ lives and catches up with the family routines as soon as her plane touches ground.
I know low income struggling moms who are working, studying and raising kids and I have no idea how they manage to do what they do. I am in awe.
Moms are doing amazing things. Why not blow our own horns?
Do you think that women and men are treated the same in the workplace? Of course not! I was reading an article in Psychology today that explained that men were penalized for being less aggressive and moral whereas women who were less aggressive and moral earned more.
Really? So as I woman is it wrong to be aggressive? ask for promotions? higher wages? Where is the line between assertive and aggressive?
I asked myself the other day if I were a man would I be charging more for my coaching and counseling. Maybe. Maybe women are still undervaluing themselves but are we being given a choice if we are rewarded for being “moral and less aggressive”.
In my research, it seems that women who are assertive are often seen as get seen as aggressive or bitchy. Further, if women get mad they are out of control and incompetent whereas for men it’s reasonable and can be a plus.
There is hope.
Quoting Amy Gallo’s article in HBR
“Don’t feel you have to muster interpersonal coldness to accompany your assertion. Feel free to be friendly and empathic while asking for your needs to be met,” says Ames. Find your own style instead of trying to imitate others. This is especially true for women. “Women need to be aware that becoming more like men is not sustainable,” says Cox. Nor do you need to be more assertive in every context every day. “You can bring out your competitive side when it’s useful and you can dial back and be accommodating when it’s helpful,” says Ames.
Play around with setting small goals and see how others react. Spend time with co-workers so they know who you are and understand your ambitions. Feel strong and self confident as you develop your style of assertiveness that will bring you maximum success.
I was starting to panic as I approached my 30th birthday. Unhappy with my job, unhappy in love, and feeling disconnected from others. I would walk around New York City by myself and frequently pass the tiny storefront of a dive bar in Chelsea called the B.M.W. (Beer, Music and Wine) bar. I was intrigued by the musicians playing on the stage and wanted to go in and listen, but I would have to pass by the stage and people would stare.
One Sunday, courage and curiosity won out and I boldly took my two steps forward into that bar. They were having an open mike with guitarists blasting out their two original songs as if it were The Bowery Ballroom. I hadn’t played my guitar in about seven years and never in front of an audience. I was asked if I wanted to try to write my own song and perform it next Sunday. I didn’t know if I could do but I couldn’t wait to go home, dust off my guitar and try.
I did it and it flowed from there. There, I meet the man who was the recording engineer on my CD, which is called “Two Steps Forward”, based on a song I wrote about moving on from your past. He is now my husband. I am now at peace with my career choice, and my relationships.
I often think about what my life would be like if I didn’t step in that bar on that day. Step outside your comfort zone and see what happens.
As the New Year approaches, women begin contemplating their resolutions. This can be a disappointing process as we often aim high and are surprised when by January 5th, we are already eating pints of Haagen Daaz, have stopped exercising, are working long hours and are spending too much time on Facebook.
Here are some smart ways to make resolutions based on Neuroscience Coach David Rock’s SMART model for goals.
First- A goal must be:
Specific– A lot of women want to drop the holiday pounds they put on or a few pounds or more in 2013. If you are going to achieve this goal, be specific. How much weight? Am I going to count calories or eat less carbohydrates? Drink more water? Eat many small meals? Am I going to do Zumba classes three times a week or 20 pushup and sit ups a day? List as many details as possible. Don’t forget to make the goal Attainable.
Measurable– Health experts say that measuring waist size is a more accurate measurement than pounds. Whatever you are going to measure (whether you can fit in that black dress or not), be consistent. Measure yourself in the morning when you first get up.
Attainable– Don’t set yourself up to fail!!! Make a reasonable goal that you can achieve and you will start the new year with a sense of accomplishment. Have someone help you be accountable for your diet and exercise program.
Relevant- Goals are only realized if they are relevant to you. Only if losing weight is important to you and you are motivated to succeed, can progress be made. Maybe this is a goal for you, but you are preoccupied with something else more important right now.
Time Limited– Your goal has to be completed within a certain time frame. Pick that time frame and stick to it. If you succeed, congratulations! If not, find a new goals when you are ready and make it SMART!