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Learning When to Walk Away

walkawayPhoto courtesy of Rocky Lubbers

As you continue on the path to your best life, it’s only natural that you want to be (now, more than ever) surrounded by like-minded people. After all, the crowd you spend the most time with is very likely to have a significant influence on your state of mind.

Many times we may think that we can help someone else grow and change along with us. If we’re getting better, why can’t they?

If a friend and/or family member expresses an interest in making improvements in his or her life, you’ve struck gold, and the two of you can cheer each other on – all the way to the finish line. However, just because you’re making changes for the better does not mean that everyone else is, too, and this can cause you quite a great deal of strife if you don’t do something about it.

What should you do?

First, you’ll have to silently take stock of which people in your life are the most beneficial to your psyche, and which people are bringing you down. You may find that there are some neutral players in your circle of friends and family – people who neither boost you up nor pull you down. They aren’t causing any problems, so shift your focus away from them and onto anyone that feels like a happiness bandit.

Chances are good that you already know who the Negative Nancy is in your life. Of course, you may have a Pessimistic Paul and a Debbie Downer, too. Determine exactly what it is about these particular people that brings you down the most. Do they constantly complain? Perhaps they always think the worst is going to happen, and are quite vocal about it. Overly controlling people can be quite stress-inducing, as well.

Have a face-to-face discussion wherein you clearly but kindly explain what they do that is upsetting you, or bringing you down. When having this talk, remember to:

  • Start with a positive.  Be sure to express something you love about them before launching into a conversation about what you’d like them to change.
  • Be kind.  Lead by example. Rise above their negativity by showing them respect and kindness during your discussion.
  • Be clear. It’s important that they walk away from the conversation with an understanding of what you need.

Once you’ve taken the time and energy to have a heart-to-heart chat with someone whose values and goals are contrary to your own, give it some time. Remember that significant life changes don’t happen overnight, and the shift may be very small at first.

If, after a pre-determined amount of time, you still feel as though an anchor is attached to both of your legs when in the presence of certain people, you will need to distance yourself from him or her in order to continue your upward momentum. I’m a firm believer in second chances, but I also believe that you reap what you sow. Assuming you’ve been clear about what you need from others during this time in your life, anyone who isn’t responsive to your needs is simply disregarding you, and doesn’t deserve a third, fourth or fifth chance.

Although you may scoff at the idea of ‘walking away’ from a close friend or family member – the alternative is that you continue to spend your precious time with someone who is sucking the life out of you. Whether it is your sister, ‘best’ friend, or even your spouse – you have the power to decide who you want to surround yourself with.

Luckily, “it’s never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot

 

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7 Simple Steps to Overcoming Laziness

lazy

Photo courtesy of Matt Erasmus

There have been times in my life when I struggled to overcome what I usually refer to as “sloth-mode.” Many people struggle with this problem – especially in recent times. Virtually everything in our modern world offers increasing amounts of convenience, now allowing us to work, eat, and be entertained all within our own homes. Unfortunately, all of this convenience has led to a society that appears to be rather “lazy.”

What I’ve discovered though, is that while it may seem like laziness, there’s usually something else at play.  Laziness is just a term we’ve invented, and it covers a pretty wide range of behaviors that are, in fact, much deeper than simple laziness. Once you’ve figured out what you’re really dealing with, it’s much easier to get your motivation level up to snuff again.

Do a little self-assessment and determine which of the following best describes what may be causing your so-called “laziness.” Then take the accompanying advice to kick your butt back into gear:

  1. You’re bored. It’s extremely easy to mistake boredom for laziness. If you’re not excited about something, why bother, right? If boredom really is the issue, you’ll need to make a few changes and pursue something that interests you, if possible, or find a way to make what you are doing more interesting.
  2. You’re tired. When you’re not well-rested, the chances of you feeling inspired and motivated are extremely low. Work on getting an extra hour of sleep every night and see if your slump lifts.
  3. You’re disorganized. It’s difficult to get started on anything before you’ve got a good handle on organization. If your work area is a mess, what you may be calling laziness is probably procrastination instead. Set aside a decent chunk of time to clean and organize before you attempt anything more ambitious.
  4. You love pajamas. Sometimes, just getting dressed into a nice looking outfit will give you the kick you need. Ditch the pjs and don some attire that makes you feel attractive. Smile at yourself in the mirror, and get to work.
  5. You’re scared. If the problem is that you’re afraid to fail once you put yourself out there, remember this: “You always pass failure on your way to success.”  ~Mickey Rooney. In other words: Get out there and try anyway.
  6. You have a poor sense of time. If the hours in the day just seem to get away from you, start setting multiple alarms that alert you to begin certain tasks. For me, putting time limits on how long I work, clean, and even play, helps keep me focused and productive.
  7. You don’t know where to start. This happens to the best of us, and the best way to fix this problem is to make lists. I suggest getting a big calendar and writing a To-Do list for every day of the week. Crossing things off your list feels really good, and will give you the boost you need to keep being productive.

Believe it or not, another good practice is to allow time in your life for laziness to be ok.  Everyone needs time to decompress, and your productivity level will actually be higher if you have designated “down time” to look forward to. Make Saturdays “Pajama Day” or watch movies on Lazy Sundays. My advice is to pick only one day, so the behavior remains an exception rather than the rule.

 

 

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How to Recover From a Professional Faux Pas

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Morrall

I’ve committed several really embarrassing faux pas in my life, and in hindsight, I really wish I had known the best way to make them right. Unfortunately, my worst infractions occurred when I was young and fresh, without the experience of life to teach me when to keep my mouth shut (or when not to reply to an email.)

As a matter of fact, one of my infamous slip-ups was pretty serious – and could have potentially cost me a job, had I not been working for an extremely cool dude at the time. Now, 13 years later, I don’t have nearly as many instances of foot-in-mouth disease because I’ve gained some perspective and a lot of self-control. It still happens to me, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve got a much better handle on fixing the fallout.

If you put your foot in your mouth in a professional setting (say, meeting at work with the higher ups), here are some things you can do to mend fences:

  • Keep your tongue wagging – If you’ve managed to hurl an insult about a coworker without meaning to be heard, the only thing to do is to keep talking. In the form of an apology, that is, and be sure that the apology is a grandiose as the blunder. In other words, a simple, “Sorry” isn’t going to cut it if you dogged on the boss’s wife. A good rule of thumb is to avoid talking badly about anyone you work with, unless you really enjoy eating humble pie.
  • Unmix your message – Sometimes the things we say have well-meant intentions but come out sounding like a garbled hot mess. Don’t worry, I’ve been there too. If what you said just came out wrong, you can (probably) make it right by clearing up any misunderstandings. Be sure to restate your message clearly, but only once your audience fully grasps that what came out initially really wasn’t what you meant.
  • Know your place - This may sound demeaning (to you), but if you spoke out of turn and ended up making your company and/or boss look bad, you’ll probably have to apologize, even if you don’t mean it. Ingenuous? I don’t think so. Although you may not necessarily agree with them, company policies are something you’ll have to abide by as long as you want to keep getting a paycheck from them.
  • Hold the emails - Another easy place to unintentionally offend someone is through the magic of email. If someone said something that upset you, don’t put anything in writing until you’ve cooled off first. Also – always triple check the recipients of your outgoing messages before hitting ‘Send.’ Be ultra careful of that sneaky little ‘Reply All’ button too - unless you want the entire office to know exactly what you think of Becky’s idea for Dave’s going-away party.

These days, I no longer work in an office environment, and the people I collaborate with are all supremely awesome. We communicate via e-meetings, Skype, emails, phone calls, and occasional in-person sessions. There’s still room for error, though, so I always err on the side of caution when it comes to my professional relationships. The keyword in that sentence wraps it up nicely: professional. Knowing what to say and how to handle yourself are all part of having a successful relationship in a professional setting.

“If you have a job without any aggravations, you don’t have a job.”  ~Malcolm S. Forbes

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Lies: Why We Tell Them and When to Stop

Photo courtesy of Katie Tegtmeyer
Ask anyone how they feel about lying, and the vast majority of adults and even children would respond that it is wrong. They might also tell you that they don’t do it.

They’d be lying.

While we’ve all been conditioned to strive for honesty, truth and honor - the fact remains that most of us tell “half-truths” on a semi-regular basis. In fact, the act of lying is  a natural human trait. When questioned, most of us would say we fight against that trait, but in reality, we just can’t help ourselves.

But why do we do it?

Psychologists have been scratching their heads over this very question for a long time. Since the mere concept of lying has such a negative connotation, being dishonest is not something that many people like to admit to, making it a complicated phenomenon that is difficult to study and therefore, understand.

The fact remains that lying has interested psychologists for years precisely because of its complexity. Thus, many studies have been completed with the goal of discovering the motivation behind lies and what types of people tell the biggest whoppers.

One thing’s for certain: the ability to lie effectively is actually a sign of intellect and high cognitive ability. For me, that information conjured up a mental image of playing Truth or Dare with the likes of Hannibal Lector, but you don’t have to be an evil genius to tell a tall tale. Here’s what researchers know about the why behind the lie:

  • Saving our butts – The vast majority of lies happen when we’re attempting to stay out (or get out) of trouble. Yeah, sure, we know that honesty’s always the best policy, but we want to look good, even if we have to lie to make that happen.
  • Keeping the peace – What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, right?
  • Flattery – We bring out these little white lies to make other people feel good about themselves. Who knew distorting the truth could be so altruistic?
  • Power imbalance – There’s a power dynamic in every relationship – it may shift in different situations – but in general, the person with less power often resorts to lying to the person in control because it just seems easier.
  • Societal rules – As was demonstrated in the movie “The Invention of Lying,” life would be a very different experience if we blurted out truths 24/7. Imagine admitting to your boss that you think she’s ugly, or telling everyone that you were late to the party because you had an episode of explosive diarrhea.  Societal norms keep us at arms’ length from people we don’t intimately know, thus making it necessary to be less than honest, or risk embarrassment nearly constantly.

What I found interesting is the fact that even animals have the ability to lie to each other! Disappointingly, however, humans are the only species who have ability to lie to ourselves (and not even realize it.)

The truth is, as humans, we’re primarily motivated by maintaining our sense of self and maintaining successful relationships. These two gigantic motivating factors are at play every time we interact with other people. Thus, we stay mum about the negative parts of ourselves, and put a little “twist” on our accomplishments and merits. As long as you aren’t harboring a huge, life changing secret (like the fact that you’re having an affair), sticking to little white lies is probably not going to get you into any trouble.

I said probably.

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Cool, Calm & Collected: A How-to Guide

fonzie

Photo courtesy of Pat Williams

Throughout my life, I’ve been told numerous times that I always seem to have everything under control. “Cool as a cucumber,” is how I’m described, even when faced with what may seem like an insurmountable challenge.

I attribute my ability to “keep it together” to several very influential factors. First, I have to give a nod to both nature and nurture. My parents certainly have their wits about them and did a good job raising me to be capable and tenacious. Second, I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of difficulties - starting at a very young age.

During a crisis or emergency, it’s a normal reaction to feel panicky or to lose control of the situation at hand. Many people struggle to reign in their emotions when the pressure is on. If you’re someone who feels out of control or helpless in complicated or stressful situations, luckily there is hope for you.

By following a few simple guidelines, you can learn how to react more effectively and efficiently the next time a problematic situation arises.

  1. Step outside of the situation. In order to handle crisis situations with aplomb, remove yourself from the equation.  Look at the scenario from a third-person point of view in order to assess what needs to be done, and how to do it.
  2. Use a quiet voice. It may not come naturally at first, but I learned this particular tip a long time ago from one of my teachers, and it’s extremely effective at calming people down.  I always noticed that she spoke quietly whenever chaos was about to ensue, and the practice stuck with me to this day.
  3. Choose your reactions. The power of choice can be quite momentous if you actually put it to use. In situations where your mind and body seem to have an ‘automatic stress response,’ practice choosing a different reaction. Make this happen by becoming astutely aware of the very beginning of stressful situations and your natural reactions to them.  By acknowledging that you are no longer going to react with emotion or panic, you will have taken control over your own behavior.  Your brain will begin to respond accordingly by creating new automatic responses - if you consistently choose to react calmly to stress.
  4. Diffuse with humor. Let me preface this with a disclaimer: Not all situations are joke-appropriate. With that being said, if you can find the funny in the face of a challenge, use positive humor instead of sarcasm, which can have a negative impact on your psyche instead of making you calmer.
  5. Look to the future. A very good friend of mine once helped me through an extremely difficult time, and her tactics really resonated with me. Perhaps the most impactful was that “nothing lasts forever,” and the general sentiment that “this too, shall pass.” This mindset has gotten me through dozens of challenging moments and situations over the past decade, and it can help you, too. Picture yourself in the future – whether that’s tomorrow or next year. The crisis you are currently dealing with will be a thing of the past, and you will have survived to tell about it.

It always helps put things into perspective when you ask yourself, “How important is this to the big picture of my life?” Even though some of the things life throws at us can be messy, complicated, trying, annoying and undesirable – they may not have much bearing on your future at all.

keepcalm

Photo courtesy of Yeseren

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What Not to Do When Starting Your Own Business

facebookingPhoto courtesy of Small_Realm

You’ve come to the conclusion that a traditional nine-to-five job in an office building somewhere in Corporate America just isn’t for you.

What now?

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in the new millennium, especially among Americans aged 18-35. Reports from the 2012 business year show that 84% of start-up company owners predicted that their business would become profitable in the next twelve months. The question is - what will it take to make this prediction ring true?

In general, entrepreneurs are creative-types with spirited personalities – full of ideas and vigor. However, no matter how great your idea is, you always need a solid plan to make it into a viable business concept. And keep in mind:

“In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time.”  ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

Granted, there are a select few who somehow hit it out of the park on their first attempt, but the vast majority of business owner wannabes must face the reality that they’ll probably fail quite a few times before they find success.

From the wisdom of several (now successful) business owners who’ve gone before us, comes a list of potential land mines to steer clear of when launching your very own start-up.

  1. Excessive virtual socializing – The most successful entrepreneurs are very good at tuning out distractions and focusing on what they need to accomplish. It’s easy to get sidetracked by all of the fun things on your laptop rather than putting in the hard work it will take to get your business off the ground. Spend less time Facebooking and more time taking actionable steps toward opening your company.
  2. All talk and no action – When you’re excited about a project, it’s natural to want to shout it from the rooftops, but don’t stop there. Telling everyone about your big idea is a good way to hold yourself accountable, but half of the people you tell probably think you’re going to fail. Prove them wrong by coming up with a business plan that includes specific short-term and long-term goals. Then put that plan into action.
  3. Go solo and reap all the glory - Almost every entrepreneur can benefit from a business partner, assistant or intern (and later when you can afford them, employees). Without a partner or mentor, you risk early burn out and confusion. You’ll have to share the spotlight, but your chances of success are much higher when you have someone to collaborate with.
  4. Wish-wash applesauce – Many businesses fail because their founder is too indecisive. As an entrepreneur, you’ll often be the one pulling the trigger on important issues, and if you constantly keep the safety on, you’ll never produce any ideas that go anywhere.
  5. Trying to do it all at once – Some of the most successful small business owners say they realized early on that success just doesn’t happen overnight. Multi-tasking can spread you too thin, causing your work quality to suffer. Keep your mind open to new ideas, and be ready to move forward when it’s time, but don’t move faster than your feet can carry you.
  6. Walking with the dinosaurs – As a business owner in today’s technologically savvy world, you’ll need to be up-to-date on all things electronic. Businesses just don’t run on paper anymore, and you’ll need to adapt to the virtual world if you plan to succeed.
  7. Excusing yourself – It’s time to stop complaining about all of the things “holding you back.” Those entrepreneurs who spend all day whining about the fiscal cliff are the ones who aren’t going to build a successful company.
  8. Going big or going home - Ever hear the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” The same concept applies to business. Instead of relying on a few big customers, spend more time focusing on a wide variety of clients. That way, losing one or two won’t mean the end of your start-up.

Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to avoid all mistakes when you begin a new venture, but it is possible to minimize the number of bad moves you make and the effect they’ll have on your livelihood and happiness. Do your research before making any big decisions, and be prepared to learn from any mistakes that just can’t be avoided.

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How to Do Something When You Really Don’t Want to

unmotivatedPhoto courtesy of Jamelah

You know the feeling: you’ve got an endless To-do list and you’re drowning in deadlines, but you just cannot seem to find the right motivation. Regardless of what particular goal(s) you’re trying to reach, dealing with a lack of motivation can really slow down your progress. In fact, allowing your slump to continue can cause a hefty set-back, undoing some of your hard-earned progress you have already made.

I am presently lacking the motivation to get my butt in gear and get in shape. I’m well aware of the health benefits I will enjoy after my body drops a few pounds, and I see my skinny clothes beckoning me from my closet every day. I’m also cognizant that regular exercise and healthy eating are the key to getting fit. The problem? How to overcome the “I don’t wanna”:

  1. Question your motives. The first step in finding your way past a roadblock is to reassess why you set that particular goal in the first place. Make sure that the goal in question is attainable, necessary, and will lead you to a happier and better place than where you are currently. Evaluate whether or not you really need/want to make the changes required to reach this goal. It’s possible that your goals have changed since you set out to change your life, which is why you should reevaluate frequently. If, however,  you discover that you’re on the right track, renew your confidence in the idea by imagining a future in which you have accomplished this goal. Come back to that visualization of yourself succeeding anytime you struggle.
  2. Rename your goal. Sometimes, word association can get the better of us.  For me, “exercising” brings up thoughts of sweat and exhaustion. What I really need in my life is to improve my physical endurance to overcome some of the hurdles that a connective tissue disorder throws at me. From now on, I’m going to tell myself, “Let’s go get stronger!” It may seem too simple to work, but I know that it is possible to mind-trick your own mind.
  3. Forgive yourself. One of the worst things you can do when you’re already in an uninspired frame of mind is to berate yourself to an even lower place. I know this to be true, and I’m working on being nicer to myself when I slip.
  4. Make a tiny shift. After all, that’s how we came up with our name! Most often, people feel unmotivated to do tasks that seem overwhelming. To avoid this, make your tasks as easy and simple as possible. Want to get more fit? Walk for 3-5 minutes every day. Cutting caffeine out of your life? Drop one caffeinated beverage out of your meal plan every week, or move to half-caff.  Trying to get better at keeping your house clean? Organize one room at a time, or set a timer and clean for only 30 minutes. Doing a little every day may not seem like a big deal, but what you’re actually doing is creating habits.
  5. Try to have fun. I hate reading self-help articles that say “It’ll all work out!  Just do it!” While they may be right, that doesn’t solve my problem – not wanting to do it in the first place! There’s a reason we struggle to do some of the things that will improve our lives – they’re hard! So, instead of forcing yourself to do something you hate - change it up a little bit first. Find some way to add even the tiniest pleasure to the task at hand – like adding fresh mint into your decaf tea, or buying new cleaning supplies. For me, it meant finding fun ways to get exercise with other people, like playing kickball with my kids, having a nature walk with my best friend, and taking a swim with my husband.

Finally – even the best of us have moments when all we feel like doing nothing. Give yourself permission to do nothing for a bit, because it’s your mind’s way of telling you to slow down and take a break. When you’re finished doing nothing, get back up and try again - because as the old saying goes:

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

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How to Stop Being Tardy for the Party

late

Photo courtesy of Steve O’brien

On my way to lunch with some friends yesterday, I received a text, letting me know they were running about ten minutes late. “No problem!” I responded, and, true to their word, they strolled into the mom and pop café at exactly 1:10pm.

Not only were they only negligibly late (I don’t really consider someone late until it reaches the 30-40 minute mark), but they were conscientious enough to shoot me a text anyway.

I have awesome friends.

With that being said, I do know a few people who run on a schedule that pretty much deviates from every other human being in the modern world. I’m willing to bet that all of you know someone who has earned the reputation as the latecomer in your group of friends.

As it turns out, chronically tardy people aren’t typically showing up late just to get your goat. In fact, many of these people have repeatedly attempted to fix their chronic lateness, but have failed time and time again.  Even when their lateness means being reprimanded at work, arguments with friends, and problems in romantic relationships – being late is much, much more complicated than it seems.

Recently, a study was conducted at San Francisco University, aiming to examine why certain people struggle so immensely with being on time. The results showed some clear patterns. When compared with their on-time peers, the chronically late participants struggled with self-control in at least one area of their lives (overeating, shopping, substance abuse, gambling). They also had a much harder time staying on task in a manner similar to ADD sufferers. Many of them also admitted to some moderate to severe anxiety or phobias, displayed a great deal of ambivalence, and/or an affinity for thrill-seeking behaviors.

The good news is that tardiness doesn’t have to be a permanent factor in anyone’s life. Just like many other psychological issues, there are steps that one can take to be on time more and more consistently. If you or someone you know is always late to the party, be aware the changing this behavior takes time, and a lot of understanding from friends and loved ones. Consider the following:

  • Practice self-reflection and self-awareness on a more regular basis in order to discover what lies behind your chronic lateness.  Figuring out if you’re always late to the same type of events can be telling – the answer might be as simple as situational anxiety.
  • Determine what you consider ‘late’ to be.  Are you always the same amount of time late, or does it depend on the situation?  What types of events do you show up to on time, if any?
  • What do you get out of being late?  Does it give you a rush? Do you like to cause a scene? Perhaps you’re afraid of being the first to arrive.
  • In general, how good are you at estimation? Many latecomers think they can do more than they really can in a set amount of time. You may need to retrain your concept of how much time you really have.
  • How forgetful are you? Another type of latecomer is constantly distracted, loses things frequently, and has difficulty focusing. If this sounds like you, it’s possible that you may have an attention deficit disorder, and you may actually benefit from seeing your physician.

Making the leap from lateness to promptness is a challenge, but one that can be conquered with the right attitude. Setting small, achievable promptness goals will help you learn how to tell time all over again. Your internal clock needs to be re-set, and you can do that by promising yourself to be on time first. Once you’ve mastered honoring your own time goals, start planning to arrive early – everywhere you go. Always leave room for traffic, forgetting something, or getting lost. Before you know it, you might just be the first one to the party!

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Optimistic Realism: An Attitude Worth Having

 

optimism

Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo

Constantly seeing the glass as half full may seem like the “in thing” to do these days, but do yourself a favor and leave the pure, unadulterated optimism to someone else. It’s definitely beneficial to have a generally positive outlook, but there’s a big difference between that kind of unrealistic optimism and optimistic realism.

All of the recent talk about mindfulness has some people under the misguided impression that if they visualize success, it will arrive on their doorstep. ”If I believe it will happen, it will happen!” Unfortunately, this is a completely unhealthy way of thinking, especially if all you’re doing is believing.

Living a mindful life means being aware of and accepting things exactly as they are – even as you’re mindfully aware of being caught in a downpour without an umbrella. Mindfulness isn’t about reaching your goals at all, actually; it’s about being present enough in any given moment to appreciate all aspects of that moment, taking the good with the bad.

Adopting a mindful attitude does generally mean approaching life with a positive outlook - that part’s true, but it doesn’t mean you should become blissfully unaware. Observing and experiencing your life’s moments mindfully and then taking meaningful, realistic action is the key.

The most successful people are full of optimism but are keenly aware of reality, as well. To achieve your goals, you’ll need to master the fine art of balancing the two mindsets. As it was once said by William Ward, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

Pessimists never get very far toward their goals because they spend most of their time and energy complaining. Uber-optimists tend to spend most of their days in La-La Land, fantasizing about the future and assuming that their destiny is already decided for them.

Optimistic Realism: An Oxymoron?

It all boils down to this: actions speak louder than words. The only way to get where you want to be is to get up and start moving. You’ll need to have a realistic mindset about the road ahead of you on your journey. Bumps in the road will challenge you, for sure, and instead of wearing blinders, you’ll fare much better if you’re on the lookout for any detours you may need to take along the way.

So, keep your (moving) feet on the ground but leave your mind wide open. Your continued optimistic belief in yourself will help you succeed, but true success will only come when you put forth effort, careful planning and dogged persistence.

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How to Find Happiness After Divorce

walk after divorcePhoto courtesy of Ahmed Sinan

When a marriage ends, it’s normal for both parties to feel a wide array of emotions, including: anger, anxiety, confusion, disappointment, fear, freedom, guilt, loneliness, relief and sadness. Most people go through a mourning period after a breakup or divorce, even if the relationship had turned sour.  This happens due to the loss of a future that no longer exists.

Three years ago, my ex-husband and I just weren’t working as a romantic couple any longer. Deciding to divorce after ten years of marriage was a painful and difficult decision for both of us. During the time surrounding the separation and divorce, unanswered questions ate at me. How would I support my children financially? Who would I turn to for emotional support? Would I lose the close friendships I’d formed with my in-laws? How could I protect my children from feeling insecure during such an unsettling time?

Since the end of a marriage or long-term relationship is one of the most emotional hurdles that you’ll ever have to face, make it your goal just to clear this one without falling flat on your face. A little stumbling is to be expected.

  • Feel the pain. Like physical pain, being mindfully aware of emotional pain is crucial and will help you overcome the worst of it much faster. Allow yourself to sit with your feelings. Give yourself permission to let the grief and sadness wash over you. Sit with your pain and really feel it. In doing so, you release the power it has over you.
  • Then feel happy. Although it may not be as instantaneous or complete as you’d like, mindfully releasing your grief will make room for a degree of happiness to eke its way back in.
  • Accept the change. As you begin to feel little twinges of happiness again, you’ll also want to mindfully accept this new life as your life now.
  • Talk, talk, talk. Whether it’s a paid professional or a close friend, verbalizing your feelings is another great release. Speak your worries, and then let them go.
  • Keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. Your life isn’t over; it’s just different. Although it may seem impossible at first, your life at the end of the grieving period may be even better than before.

Once you’ve been able to accept the changes that’ve transpired, you’ll want to focus on moving forward and living your new life to the fullest. Dr. Phil says:

  • Explain to your kids what Mom and Dad’s new relationship is. They need to understand that you’re still a team, but they also need some clarity on your new roles. Don’t try to “outparent” your ex. Do you really want your children to have a bad parent? Focus on the future and begin to see your ex from your children’s point of view instead of your own.

If you don’t have kids, you’ll get to the next part faster:

  • Make some time to get reacquainted with yourself.  This might take quite awhile; you’ve probably been getting at least part of your self-awareness through the feedback provided to you by your significant other. Re-visit some of your old hobbies or explore something new. Let yourself be a little selfish and take the time you need to strike a harmonious balance again.
  • Don’t play the blame game. Instead, focus your energy on what you can do to make your life better now. Keep your eyes facing forward and give yourself permission to be happy regardless of what has transpired in your relationship.

As a newly single person, you’re not up against the world – but you are up against two version of yourself. Whether you find happiness after divorce has nothing to do with the world around you. Dig deep, find your inner strength, and let your best self prevail.

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