I feel for men. We women want them to listen not just try to problem-solve everything. But sometimes problem-solving has it’s place.
I feel for men. We women want them to listen not just try to problem-solve everything. But sometimes problem-solving has it’s place.
Whether from circumstances that are forced upon you or – as is often the case – from saying ‘yes’ to too many things, being in overwhelm feels like drowning in the ocean. In fact the official test for overwhelm is to take a deep breath. If you swallow water, you’re in it.
Overwhelm is a state of mind where decisions – normally made wisely and easily – become difficult, stressful or irrational. Initial signs include irritability, negativity, self-downing and/or anger at others. More serious cases look like depression and include discouragement, hopeless language, shutting down or making no decisions at all.
Overwhelm can be triggered by any combination of the following:
Shines a new light on your toddler’s meltdown, your teenager’s disorganization, your co-worker’s lack of initiative and your own pissy mood doesn’t it?
But overwhelm is more less about the specifics than about whether you tell yourself you can handle those specifics. That’s why having wise mantras are especially helpful. Consider these 10 steps to getting out of overwhelm and the mantras that go with them.
For immediate overwhelm take these 4 steps now:
11. Get smarter. The really wise work for dealing with overwhelm happens before or after a near-drowning experience. Avoid the water under some conditions and also become a stronger swimmer. Improve your skills. Think better organization and prioritization. Think practice. Think stress management.
Go deeper and uncover any beliefs that are pulling you under. It could be a time frame expectation, a perfectionism issue or a belief that you have to help everyone and say ‘yes’ to everything. Doing the work you need when you are not overwhelmed is crucial for getting smarter, lighter, happier and not drowning.
I hope this helps. Feel free to share your solutions below. Here’s to keeping your head above water. ~ Annie
“One of us is wrong…
and it’s not me.”
That’s the way every single conflict begins. Of course it does, because if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be a conflict, would it?
…[But] The thing that’s worth addressing has nothing much to do with the matter at hand…We cure disagreements by building a bridge of mutual respect first, a bridge that permits education or dialogue or learning. When you burn that bridge, you’ve ensured nothing but conflict.
Posted by Seth Godin on April 11, 2013
Here are my thoughts on Seth’s thoughts: First, I love these insights because they are so true. We get stuck in conflict because at least one person thinks that there can only be one person who is right.
And what if that person is you? When you are in the ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ (fight or flight) part of the brain, it narrows your focus to only yourself, to only what will help you win this moment. You lose perspective. You lose sight of the bigger picture and the fact that this moment is connected to a timeline and a relationship. It is not separate from it.
To do a better job in the moment means you must stay connected to that wiser part of the brain. The one that does the best, long-term thinking. The one that remembers that other people matter and – believe it or not – have relevant points too – even if their experiences are different from yours.
To get to that wiser self, you have to remember a few things. First you have to remember that two people can be right. Or at least each have valid points.
Start with curiosity. Be curious about why it matters to you. Be curious about your triggers. Be curious about what the other person’s point is. Be the kind of person who is more interested in learning something than proving something. And you can always learn something. About the situation. About the other person. About yourself. About what works better, what – not so much.
Then invite your partner (not your opponent!) to address these differences with a win-win attitude. Of course – they may not have buy-in or trust in or desire for win-win but you can still build the bridge.
Inviting someone to cross starts with the confidence to know that there are solutions that can be had if people are willing to look beyond their own smaller versions of success (the ones that only include themselves). If you believe that there are answers then you tend to waste less time getting worked up and spend more time being creative in finding those answers.
Besides creativity you need caring. And while again – you can’t make others care, you might want to consider that often people care more when they know that you care about them as well.
Of course, getting your fight partner to think bigger too is a great goal, and one that you should seriously commit to, but it helps to never forget that you can’t make other people meet you on that bridge. You can and should build it but for it to be mutual is out of your hands.
My advice? Build it anyway and extend a genuine invitation. Invite them to join you in curiosity. Invite them by listening to why they have a good point. And then ask them to hear your excellent point as well.
I hope you try it because when it works, it can feel extremely powerful. And both sides, get to take credit and hopefully remember the way for the next go round.
Thanks for a great prompt Mr. Godin. Wise indeed.
I bought it.
But when it arrived, it wasn’t just the size that threw me, but that there were no quick tips on how to do those quick shifts. Disappointed that I didn’t get the book I had expected, I thought, maybe I should write it then.
My intention was to create a very simple little instruction guide with a little wisdom and a few tips on how to catch and change one’s thoughts and shift them so we could become less stressed, less angry, more relaxed, calmer and happier.
I started gathering mantras and stories of my own, then I reached out to the world. I was unprepared for the overwhelming response.
It too me a while to wrap my head around just how to organize and share all the awesome pearls of wisdom I had received, but I am very happy that that little project grew into the full-fledged series called: What’s Your Mantra?
The first of the series is out: A Pocketful of Mantras: A collection of 200+ deceptively simple phrases to help you think positive, reduce stress, lighten up, and be happier.
And stay tuned… What’s Your Mantra? A collection of mantras and stories to help you think positive, reduce stress, lighten up, and be happier with stories and more mantras is due out in January 2013 and Powerful Parenting Mantras in Spring 2013.
Have a mantra to share? Send them to email@example.com or join us on facebook at www.facebook.com/whatisyourmantra
What are the best things to do to overcome a recent separation from a married man. I was deceived by all his promises and one day he just left. Only to find out that he is with a second mistress.
Its been 6 months now and I am still sending him messages and asking him to give me a second chance because I am still longing for his presence and company. How can I get over him and move on?
Your insight on this would be highly appreciated.
~ Heart Stuck
Dear Heart Stuck,
There is a saying that goes: The heart wants what the heart wants. The problem with this statement is it makes you a victim of your heart’s desire. So the first step forward has to be to stop fooling yourself into thinking it’s love and start seeing it for what it is – an addiction.
Like an addiction to alcohol or drugs, your body (heart) craves attention and connection with this guy (I won’t say man because men don’t behave like this). And as with all addiction, this craving works on your brain to shut down more healthy thinking and becoming helpless to it.
Once you started down that path, those actions – contacting him even though it is clear that he does not want you; perhaps offering belittling compromises; begging, pleading, or crying to get him to show you some warmth, etc – degrade you even more which can really convince you that you don’t deserve better.
But as long as you are willing to look this in the face, there is hope. The fact that you contacted me is a great place to start. That part of you that wrote the e-mail, that knows you are worth SO much more than this, needs to stand up and be heard. You need to strengthen that voice so that in moments of weakness, you can call upon her to remind you that – while you crave contact – you will not act on that thought.
What you need first are in-the-moment strategies to get yourself through these momentary compulsions. Healthy activities that are ACTUALLY good for you. Here are some suggestions that can all help:
Fortify yourself with the understanding that these moments will subside. As you begin to detox, your healthier, stronger head and heart should re-emerge. (Though be prepared to fight longing or reminicsent moments for a while).
Also consider doing something really bold, different and life-fulfilling. Something that you have thought about but have been too afraid to do.
It should be something that is good for you and that will require your energy, focus and commitment. It should also be something that can give you new perspectives on life. Though don’t be too impulsive – create a good plan. (Some bold ideas are: Move; Change Jobs; Go after a promotion; If you aren’t already – Go to school; Learn something you have always wanted to; Plan a new adventure; Go on a big trip far away; Join the Peace Corps – you get the idea…) Notice I didn’t suggest going out and getting another guy? That’s because I hope you do some work on yourself first. So that when you are ready you will attract healthier love.
And of course, please consider counseling to explore why you are stuck.
I hope this gives you some good suggestions on how to move to a healthier place. Your better self is waiting for you to figure this out. I hope she doesn’t have to wait too long.
I would love to hear how your story continues. Please keep in touch.
Take care, Annie
~ ~ ~
I believe this is true with bullying. Taking on a situation where someone is trying to take you down can make you feel stronger. Unfortunately when you aren’t successful – whether due to skill, wit, strength or being up against too sophisticated a foe – it can kill you. It can kill your spirit, your sense of self worth or in extreme cases make you think that killing yourself is the only answer. That is why we all need to take this issue seriously.
Recently, I went with my 18 year old son to see Bully a newly released movie that attempts to shed some light bullying and its effects. Here are my thoughts:
Bully exposes viewers to some of the very challenging situations too many children face when trying to survive and thrive in their worlds. It offers us a chance to see and feel for children, parents and communities trying to figure out better ways of getting along and what can happen when we can’t – including the loss of children’s lives.
I appreciated the ability of this film to get at the emotional costs to children and their families who are often dismissed by school officials and left feeling helpless and hopeless.
In one tough scene, we see Alex – a meek young man who has been nicknamed ‘fishface’ – being viciously taunted, harassed, stabbed with pencils and head-slammed into the seat in front of him on the bus. In another heart-wrenching clip we watch parents forcing themselves into a funeral home to “put their son to bed one last time” after he has killed himself due to harassment at school.
Perhaps though, some of the less shocking moments were more poignant. Like when Alex’s mom challenges him on the fact that kids that would do this to him aren’t really his friends. His response, “But if they aren’t my friends, I don’t have any friends.”
The theater audience - which was mostly the entire 7th and 8th grade classes of Ann Arbor Open, their teachers and a dozen parents - all seemed effected by the content. From occasional outcries or quiet sniffles, to clapping at the film’s end followed by a noticably subdued calm, it clearly had an impact. Which is the greatest value of the movie and the most important first step in altering the dynamic of bullying. It is critical to reach the hearts of children so they don’t bully, step in when they see it happening and stand up for themselves if they are being targeted.
Getting at the hearts of administrators and school staff is also essential to inspire change. As the movie exposes this is a big challenge. In fact Alex’s mother sums it up well after an ineffective meeting with a phone-it-in principal stating, “She politicianed us.”
While acknowledging that the clips were edited for effect, that principal was the most difficult to watch. Her pat answers, platitudes and bandaid attempts to get a victim of harassment to shake hands with the source of his torment were offensive not only to me and my son but to the teens in the audience – many of whom cried out in disgust.
As a professional who presents to school communities on this very topic, I must admit that I am often underwhelmed by administrators’ dedication to fostering an environment of safety in their schools. I call them ‘head nodders’ – administrators and staff who say the right things without a real commitment to doing the work. Working off a checklist – did the bullying prevention talk – rather than understanding that these are children’s lives.
Perhaps it is because the issue seems so intractable and they don’t know what to do. Because it is hard to change. Even with the caring that I often do see from dedicated teachers and desperate parents it is difficult to get ahead of this issue.
Educators and parents can and most definitely should use the Bully movie as a valuable tool in their efforts to stem the tide of bullying. But to make headway, it requires serious commitment and support from the entire community – on-going and proactive. It requires a real political and societal will.
That is why I give the teachers of Ann Arbor Open great credit for arranging the screening, inviting parents to attend as well, and for both the pre-discussion and the follow-up that is planned. These are the elements needed to make a real difference. And the message must be repeated often.
Would I have changed any of the movie itself? Yes. I would like to have seen statistics, professionals who are doing it right, deeper exploration of girl bullying which was seriously under-addressed, even one clip the helps us understand why children bully in the first place, and an example of a bystander having a positive impact on the situation.
Those are on my wishlist for that further discussion at Ann Arbor Open and other schools who do make the effort to get students to see this movie. Which is my biggest wish of all – having more schools, administrators and teachers watch this movie themselves AND have their students watch the film as well. It can’t end there, but it would be a start.
As Kirk Smalley, the father of 11 year old Ty who committed suicide due to bullying said – “Be the difference.” Bully, the movie, though not perfect, is trying to do just that.
Annie Zirkel is a Relationship Consultant, Speaker and Author based in Ann Arbor, Michigan who offers Don’t Take The Bait - a presentation designed to teach children about bullying and to encourage them and their schools to create cooler, safer places of learning. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
We have this little cousin 7 years old that has brain cancer and she is getting chemotheraphy every week. She is starting to lose her hair and we do not know what to do or say to make her feel better. She says that she does not want to lose her hair and cries. Please help us and let us know what to do.
~ At a loss over child’s hair loss
Dear At a Loss,
Thanks for your e-mail though I am sorry for the reason.
As for your question on how to help you 7 year old cousin, it is hard to watch someone you love, and someone so young, have to go through such a tough ordeal.
As for her sadness about losing her hair – the first thing I would say is to just give her space to be sad. Yes it is about the hair but it is probably also about the fact that she has little control over all that is happening to her. She got no say in getting cancer or having to go through chemo or dealing with all the side effects. The hair is such a visual thing that it means that anyone who sees her will know and she will have to deal with their reactions. This is a lot for a grown-up to deal with, let alone a child.
Statements like, “I know it is sad.“, or “I am sorry that that chemo made you lose your hair.” and then allowing her to be upset for a little while can help her deal with her emotions.
After a pause or if she seems open, I might follow up with more positive comments like, “Hair or no – you are so beautiful.“, or “I’m sorry that you lost your hair but I am glad that the chemo is in there helping you get better.“, or “You are very strong girl to deal with all of this.”
One thing that is often offered but sometimes doesn’t help because it feels dismissive is to remind the person that it will grow back. So instead of just saying this you might consider: “I know it might not feel very comforting right now but does it help to be reminded that it will grow back?” Just remember that she may say ‘no’ which is a completely reasonable answer.
If she is open to a little humor (which can often help at the right time) you might jest about whether it will come back purple or something like that.
In terms of actions of things you can actually do: experimenting with scarves or a wig can help a little. You can find some ideas by clicking here.
In a recent development, Mattel has created a Bald Barbie that will be offered to hospitals where children are getting chemo. Whether that would help or if it inspires you with ideas, I don’t know but it is encouraging.
Finally, as a sign of solidarity with your cousin, you or others close to her might even consider shaving your own heads to help her feel like she isn’t quite so alone. Of course that is a grand gesture and may not be something you are open to but it is something people have done for those dealing with cancer treatment.
I hope some of this advice helps. I do feel for your cousin and all of your family. Obviously you care about each other deeply to be seeking ways to help and this in and of itself is probably the most important thing at this time.
Please take care,
P.S. Feel free to get back in touch with an update or more questions.
~ ~ ~
Money can buy things that give temporary pleasure but because we are adaptive creatures by nature, things only bring fleeting joy.
However when money is used to help you survive – food, shelter, safety – or when you are using it for experiences or to help others, it effects your happiness levels more deeply.
If you are lucky enough to have seen Happy: The Documentary by director Roko Belic, you’ve already learned some powerful – and surprising – findings about what truly contributes to happiness. (If you haven’t seen the movie, I hope you do. Its strength lies in finding happiness even when the world does not cooperate.)
The movie has so many inspiring ideas that you might not know where to start. So here is a list of ideas to help you on your journey. But don’t get overwhelmed – just pick one that you can see fitting into your life and get started. (You are always welcomed back for another):
10 Tips for Happiness
- Explore your expectations of happiness. Are you ready for happiness? Do you think you deserve it? What does it look like? Don’t just wish for more happiness. Be specific and decide what are you going to do to make that happen.
- Connect with people you like. The research is clear. Our happiness is tied to having good people around us. So first – be that person for someone else. Then – make sure you are investing in relationships that support your happiness. Reach out, join groups, say ‘yes’ to quality social connections.
- Find experiences that offer deeper meaning. What is important to you? How can you engage in experiences that tap into your values? You can’t find deeper happiness if you don’t dig deeper into this source. Connect your values to how you spend your time. Reinvigorate the roles you already have: Find the deeper value in your parenting, in your intimate relationship, in your creativity or your special gifts. Volunteer, be part of a solution to a problem, change jobs to more align with what you would like your legacy on this earth to be.
- Go with your Flow activities. What is an activity that engages you so much that you lose yourself in it? Not for money or accolades but for the pure purpose of instrinsic pleasure? That’s Flow. It could be building a fence, playing a game of tennis, jogging, working through a tough dilemma or a tough crossword puzzle, tackling a yard full of weeds or writing a satisfying article. When you are done you feel refreshed, accomplished, maybe even sweaty but very satisfied. And to be happy, you need to make time for it – hopefully often!
- Practice Kindness meditation. The research is very strong here. Spending time meditating – especially in kindness meditation – can seriously boost your happiness quotient. Think of it like healthy eating for the heart. And it is simpler that you think.
- Do kind acts. Help someone else. You might think this is counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t happiness come from someone helping or being kind to you? And while receiving kindness can be wonderful, waiting for it sets you up to be passive and possibly even a hostage of your unhappiness. Turn it around. Instead of wanting the world to make you happier – set out to give to someone else. Turns out it’s like a boomerang.
- Do something novel. This one can be challenging because novelty – by definition – must be created again and again which competes with the comfort and safety of routine and familiarity. In fact saying ‘yes’ to novelty requires being open to being open. Need practice? Start with doing familiar things in novel ways.
- Get physical. Play. Spend time in nature. Lets face it – we get too good at the opposite – being sedentary, working in spending time in artifical environments. Challenge yourself to increase your pleasure activities. They may seem fivolous but only if happiness is not your goal (see Tip #1).
- Express gratitude often. Gratitude is the mother of happiness – as in it is where happiness is born! Without appreciation, you cannot really know that you are happy. So find a way to practice gratefulness in your thoughts, words and deeds – often.
- Combine several tips into one activity! Possibly the only good use of multi-tasking. Why not combine a few happiness tips like 3 & 7 or 2, 6 & 9. In fact feel free to get creative if that puts you in Flow and come up with something that combines 4 or more? And if you do and want to share – post it below (but only if you do it for real
Here’s to being happy on your quest for happiness.
Annie Zirkel, LPC is a Relationship Consultant with a specialty in Optimism and Gratitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
Not only that but the happiness of your friends’ friends (people you may not even know) increases your happiness potential by 10%. And perhaps most surprising, the friends of your friends’ friends still impacts your happiness by 6%! In contrast increasing your income by $10,000, according to author Nicholas Christakis only increases your chance of being happy by 2%.
These findings are some of the most compelling (though possibly selfish) reasons to bring Happy: The Movie to your town – on February 11, 2012 – World Happy Day. By increasing the happiness of those around you, you increase your own.
It’s what I’m doing in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Why? Because having seen the movie I already know that it is filled with extremely powerful insights for people seeking happier lives. And the way it presents this information, switching between the science behind life satisfaction and poignant stories from places like Japan, Bhutan, Brazil and the Louisiana Bayou makes this a truly memorable film.
How happy is your state, county, town, neighborhood, street, next door neighbor, home, family? How happy are your friends? How happy are you? You all have a ripple effect outward. I hope you take that to heart and doing something about it such as:
Here’s to your happiness and to the happiness of those around you! ~ Annie