Haven’t Got Room for the Pain!

August 30, 2016

It doesn’t take much for me to get clogged up and it can be painful! Don’t jump to conclusions….I’m not talking about digestive woes, I am referring to Brain Clog.

From what I am hearing from other people, this is a common condition and it seems to be worsening with all of the things that are currently going on in the world. So many seem to be living with brain clutter and they are finding it difficult to turn down the noise in their heads. I can relate! When my head is stuffed full of worries, anger, fear, and negativity, it almost seems as if my brain can’t breathe! I know that sounds odd, but that’s the way it feels sometimes.

Brain Clog can be dangerous and can lead to suffering overload. Maybe you remember the Carly Simon song, “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain.” Of course she is singing to someone who has ended the pain of her loneliness and bad relationships, but I see the words being applicable to what happens when we are spinning into a cycle of hopelessness and negativity….when we begin to believe that suffering is all we can expect in this world. That is what happens when we constantly anticipate trouble and don’t allow ourselves to look for the good things like possibilities and hope and kindness. It’s what caused an acquaintance of mine to say that if it weren’t for stress, she would have no feelings at all. Yikes! Take a look at these lyrics:

Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive…thought that’s just how much it costs to survive in this world, ’til you showed me how to fill my heart with love; how to open up and drink in all that white light pouring down from the heavens. Now I haven’t got room for the pain……. 

Now apply those words to what happens when you allow yourself to step away from the madness of the news reports and the unkindness that seems to rear its ugly head every now and then. If you take a mental broom and sweep out the stuff that is not serving you well, you make room for the good things to come in! When you “drink in all that white light pouring down” you fill your brain with more productive thoughts and you no longer have room for the pain! Does it mean that your life will be carefree? Probably not….but it will be a heck of a lot better when you learn how to process the bad times and don’t store them up. If you keep them too long, they soon will be like garbage and stink up your whole mind!

Joy, laughter, friendship, kindness, and hope are some of the best brain de-cloggers I know! They are the main ingredients in Braino! I made that up, but I like it.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, trainer and life planning coach. http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

Earth-crying2

Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness!

• Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

 

Don’t Try to Put Pants on a Snake!

April 12, 2016

I was recently facilitating a workshop on building healthy relationships and several people mentioned how frustrated they were that others didn’t always listen to their advice. This seemed to apply to personal and professional relationships. It made me chuckle because of course we all want to be heard and most of us feel as if our wisdom and advice are golden. We just can’t understand why people don’t consider it as valuable as we do. I’ve learned that while I can offer an opinion, based on my experiences; people aren’t always going to think of it as a gift from heaven.

For a long time, in my relationships, I made things more complicated than they needed to be. I would try to push a square peg into a round hole and then allow the frustration to make me nuts. I finally realized that I wanted to feel important and also, I guess it was a control thing. I was always a stubborn and bossy child. I once spent two solid weeks trying to train a pet turtle to roll over at my command.

Fortunately, I began to realize that although it is a virtue to try to help people, there is also a benefit to realizing that when someone ignores your advice, it is often futile to keep trying to change his or her mind. And unless it is a life or death situation, you may have to accept that other people are as capable of making their own decisions as you are!

I have adopted the motto “Never try to put pants on a snake….it frustrates you and annoys the snake!” On the surface, it seems goofy and meaningless, but if you really think about it, it’s very wise. So many times in life, we try to make other people do what we want them to do and then get angry when they don’t live up to our expectations. I’m not suggesting that these people are snakes; I’m just using that phrase to make a point. You might have the answer or the solution or the experience that you just KNOW would benefit someone if only they would come over to your way of thinking, but if that person isn’t receptive to your ideas…well, you know the rest.

In order to live a happy and well balanced life, I think each of us needs to find our own barometer by which we can measure and monitor our frustration level. It’s all about choosing our battles and prioritizing and deciding what’s worth the effort and what’s not. If something’s not working, we should rethink the way we’re doing it because if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we’ve always gotten!

If we insist on writing the script for everyone else’s life and will not be flexible when things don’t go our way, we will always be in turmoil. There are just some things that will keep frustrating us…like trying to teach a turtle to roll over, trying to make someone else agree with everything we say, or expecting people to always do the right thing, as we see it. Is it really worth it? It’s like trying to put pants on a snake. It’s not really necessary, it never really works out and it just frustrates you and ticks off the snake!

 

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and life coach who sometimes still tries to put pants on snakes.  www.lindahenley-smith.comsnakepants

Step Away From the Hamster Wheel!

April 3, 2016

hamter-wheelI just heard someone say that she is just too exhausted to continue to compete in the rat race. I get that! Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed, I feel like dropping out of not only the rat race, but also the human race! And I think there are very few people who are past puberty and have never felt that way at some point in their lives. The world is full of people who are running as fast as they can like little hamsters on their exercise wheels; running faster and faster and never getting anywhere. It works for pet hamsters…not so much for people!

So many of us get up every morning, put on our Super Hero capes, and set out to do the nearly impossible! We juggle work, social and family lives and then take on extra responsibilities which pretty much assure that we will not have even a minute of relaxation time. This often ends badly. Our super-hero capes end up being our shrouds! OK, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.

So why do we do it? Some feel that their value is measured by how busy they are. If a person is running in all different directions and constantly taking on more responsibilities, he or she certainly must be very important, right? It seems as if people participate in stress competitions, because they think the more stressed you are, the more official and professional you appear. I have even heard people arguing with each other about who is the more stressed…kind of an “America’s Got Stress” show.

Of course, there are some situations in which it is difficult to lighten your load; it’s not easy to tell your boss thanks but no thanks to a new assignment. But when it comes to other people, it is possible that some of us take on more than we can handle because we just can’t say no. Maybe we’re afraid that people will be offended or even dislike us if we turn down their requests. The reasons are many and different for each one of us, but the bottom line is that after we wear ourselves out trying to be everything to everybody, what then?  Here are some of my personal rules for you adapt to your specific situation, the next time someone asks you step onto that hamster wheel:

  • Whether you are living in my house or a guest therein, please understand that sometimes I choose to put my sanity above having a living room out of a decorating magazine. If you see dust on my table and cannot restrain yourself from writing your name in it, feel free to do so but please do not date it. If the “protective coating” of dust really offends you, you are welcome to fetch a can of Pledge and a cloth and go for it. And if you should see a really large dust ball roll by, please humor me and play along if I call it by name and try to pass it off as a pet.
  • If you are absolutely swamped and just can’t fit one more thing into your busy schedule, please do not automatically assume that I have more time on my hands than you do.  If I can help you, I will. But, if I can’t sew, shop, host, volunteer, or bake, please do not groan, whine, roll your eyes or sign heavily and hold your back in pain.
  • To my family: acknowledge and accept the concept that although it may not be your favorite thing to do, you ARE perfectly capable of picking up your belongings from the floor, tossing your dirty laundry into the hamper rather than flinging it across the room, rinsing off your dirty dishes, escorting the trash out to be collected, and flushing the toilet. These are basic skills that can be taught to a chimpanzee. Do not take this to mean that you are off the hook if you find a chimp to fill in for you.

I hope you find these useful and once again, if you begin to feel tense, I’d like to remind you to hang up your Super Hero cape, move away from the hamster wheel, rediscover the joy and peace of living simply, and resign as understudy for one of the Guardians of the Universe!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and life-mapping coach who encourages people to get off their hamster wheels!   http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Does Being Kind Make You a Doormat?

March 16, 2016

Hi-Im-Mat

I recently was part of a conversation with a group of people and I left feeling bewildered and a little worried. After discussing a variety of topics, including the one about dealing with people who are snarky; one of the participants made a declarative statement with which most of the others agreed. Here it is: “I see no point in being kind anymore because nobody else is kind and I don’t want to be a doormat!”

Yikes! This is sad on so many levels! First of all, the words “being kind” and “doormat” should never be spoken in the same sentence! I wish I had been able to continue the conversation with the Doormat Lady, because I would have asked her to talk more about her definition of kindness and also about why she feels like something on which people wipe their feet. Here is what I think:

  • It could be that someone has taken advantage of her kindness in some way. We all know that happens, but really…nobody can make you feel like a doormat. If your kindness is not appreciated and someone is overstepping their boundaries, just move on. Someone else’s anger does not negate your kindness or make you less of a person, and it certainly does not make you a doormat!
  • Another possibility is that she has encountered a bully or two. There seems to be a lot of that going around! When someone is mean, even in the face of kindness, it helps to look past the snarling troll exterior of the person and see what is behind the mean spirit. Chances are you will find a tiny, shivering, insecure and frightened person who doesn’t want you to know who he or she really is all about! It’s like the little man hiding behind the curtain and pretending to be the Wizard of Oz!
  • What I wish I could share with Doormat Lady is this: the most constructive response to meanness is to think of the snarky person with compassion. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but there is no benefit to striking back or as she put it, becoming a doormat. You never need to apologize for being kind and respectful, but you also never need to accept abuse of any kind. It is sometimes difficult to muster up any positive thoughts about a troll, but the meaner they are, the more they need them!

Kindness isn’t about pleasing others or winning accolades. It should come from a genuine desire to help someone. When you are kind to another person, it is a gift that you are offering. It is up to the recipient of your gift to either accept it or remain snarky. Think of it this way; being kind to another person elevates you to a place where it is impossible to be anyone’s doormat!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach who helps people and organizations deal with trolls. www.lindahenley-smith.com

 

 

You Might as Well Face it, You’re Addicted to Approval

February 18, 2016

seal-of-approval Do you remember the Robert Palmer song “Addicted to Love” which was popular in the 80s? If you don’t, then you are probably younger than most of my shoes. But I think of those words when I see people trying so desperately to please everyone in their lives. Just as with every addiction, the first step toward recovery is recognizing and acknowledging that you have a problem. You may be an approval addict if:

  • You have cultivated a hectic and unsustainable routine of pushing yourself to the limit in order to satisfy the demands of everyone in your life. You often fall into bed while still wearing your Super Hero cape.
  • You continually acquiesce to the desires of other people, for fear of rocking the boat. You haven’t yet understood that sometimes it is necessary to rock the boat a little, lest it hit an iceberg and sink!
  • You are not willing to draw boundaries for fear of making someone angry or causing them to dislike you. People often push you until you lose yourself, but you keep trying, justifying your willingness to sacrifice your health and well-being in the name of love or friendship.
  • You require the compliments and assurances of other people in order to feel attractive, smart, talented, etc. You need these assurances daily. You constantly check to see how many “likes” you are receiving.

Approval addiction is not rare; it is really quite common in today’s world. The truth is that many people have lost the ability to feel OK just being who they are and are constantly seeking validation from outside sources. Here are some tips for approval addiction recovery:

    • Try being a friend to yourself! If you don’t like yourself and are always looking to others for love, acceptance and validation, you will find it hard to feel confident and comfortable with who you are. Don’t always look for a “fix” to make you feel worthwhile. When you are addicted to approval, you find yourself constantly needing someone else to validate your worth; how you look, how smart you are, etc. It’s an endless cycle.
    • Remember that your opinions are just as valuable as anyone else’s. Stop second guessing yourself and being shy about what you believe to be true. Open your mind to other ideas and opinions, but don’t always assume that yours are wrong or inferior. And by the way, your opinion of you counts!
  • Accept that everyone is not always going to like you. For most people, that just doesn’t happen. There are a lot of people in the world and there are plenty who like you and some who won’t. Big deal! Other people’s opinion of you is their perception. If you are kind, authentic, and true to yourself, don’t depend on other people to define who you are. If people will only like you if you always agree with them and do what they tell you, guess what? They are not worth your time and energy!

 

  • Don’t outsource your self-worth. We all want to be liked and held in high regard, but the feelings of validation that come from outside sources can be short lived. Don’t hand over control of your confidence and self-esteem to anyone else. Do the best you can to be the best person you can be, but YOU decide who that person really is! Remember these wise words: You may as well like yourself, because wherever you go…there you are!

 

Please feel free to share this with anyone who may benefit from it, and comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, trainer and author who believes that we all have unique gifts to share.

www.lindahenley-smith.com 

Angry People Throwing Cauliflower

February 9, 2016

I was just assaulted in the grocery store checkout lane. I am now a victim of an unprovoked vegetabling. I will set the scene: I was second in line to check out and could tell that the woman in front of me was already having a bad day at 8:30 in the morning. I had unloaded my shopping cart, and the cashier had turned on the conveyer belt which was carrying my items closer to those of the already unhappy shopper. As sometimes happens, when the belt stopped moving, some of the items got bunched together and my little head of cauliflower jumped over the divider and into Angry Woman’s area. She grabbed the offending vegetable and threw it at me. Really. She threw it. As she did so, she screamed, “Keep your “beep”ing cauliflower to yourself!”

Now, I thought that was a rather harsh reaction. I also thought that no cauliflower deserves to be called a vulgar name. It is not the most attractive food and some may not like it, but it really is just an innocuous, non-threatening cruciferous vegetable.

Obviously, I know that she wasn’t mad at my cauliflower. But this is a humorous example of what is going on in the world today. Many people seem to be extraordinarily angry and simple situations can heat up and escalate pretty quickly. There are many reasons for people’s anger but what are we to do when their rage is directed toward us?

  • Take responsibility for your reaction to other people’s anger. Realize that allowing someone else’s rage to affect you is handing over control of your own emotions.

 

  • Telling an angry person to calm down is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Their anger is based in insecurity or fear and suggesting that they relax and take a deep breath will probably cause them to think their feelings are being ignored or discounted.

 

  • Try to look at someone’s anger through the lens of compassion. I know it sounds strange to feel compassionate toward someone who has just exploded, said unkind things or thrown a cauliflower at you, but entertain the possibility that the angry person has just experienced some sort of incident, trauma or perhaps heard some news that has rocked their world. It is possible that they could just be a troll….but give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

  • Understand that acknowledging someone’s anger is not saying that they were justified in their bad behavior, but it is a kind thing to do and it elevates you above the fray.

 

  • Do not engage in the tantrum. Even though you may feel like slapping someone who is spewing venom or throwing vegetables at you, try to take the higher road and de-escalate the situation by refusing to participate in the drama.

 

So, who knew that a grocery store experience would prompt an article? But here it is and I leave you with this valuable tip: When you see a flying cauliflower coming your way…duck! And be grateful that it isn’t an airborne tuna fish can!

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach who uses real life situations in her presentations. http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

 

 

How to Find Your Porpoise

February 4, 2016

jump porp

Anyone who has ever taught in a classroom has a plethora of funny anecdotes about things that students said, did or wrote. One of mine involves an eighth grade student who chose, as his English class theme subject, the philosophical topic of finding and pursuing one’s purpose in life. The finished product came to me with the title, How I Found My Porpoise.

At first, I thought that his purpose involved a porpoise and he intended to pursue his porpoise purpose. I was rather looking forward to learning about how he came up with that, but then I realized that he had obviously misspelled the word…probably because he had waited until the last minute and no doubt had hastily finished the paper that morning before class.

I had to give him credit for choosing such a complex topic, since most of us spend a lot of our time trying to figure out what we really want to do in life. Trying to find your purpose; why you are here on earth, and what you are meant to do, can be confusing and frustrating. Even though you may have a genetic predisposition for a specific talent, sometimes it isn’t always as easy as just writing a mission statement and carrying it out.

First of all, there is a big difference in having a purpose and living WITH purpose! Don’t get too caught up in the word “purpose.” The best any of us can do is to live life in the kindest, most compassionate, joyful way we can! Although some people claim that they have always known in their hearts what they were meant to do, most of us find meaning in many different life experiences along the way. The way I see it is if you are here on earth, you’re here for a reason and sometimes you may never really identify one particular purpose!

But if you ever get stuck and wonder what you are meant to do, here are some tips:

Use your emotional intelligence. Check your passion! Purpose and passion are related so if you are extremely passionate about something, your emotional intelligence is leading you to move toward fulfilling one of your life’s purposes. If you are meant to do it, you’ll find a way.

Review your patterns. If you look back on your life and think about the things you have always enjoyed and to which you find yourself gravitating, you will get a pretty good idea of the things you hold most important.

Your purpose doesn’t have to be your job. What if your purpose in life is to be kind…to others and to yourself? What if it is to forgive…others and yourself? What if your purpose is to encourage and to be a mentor? Don’t think that because you don’t get paid to do something, it isn’t your calling.

Listen to your gut. You are smart. You know what feels right and what you are meant to do! Don’t wait for other people or circumstances to make decisions for you. You have the power to make the rest of your life the best of your life!

Live life with an exclamation point! The worst feeling of all is to be wishy washy and never be able to lock into any goals. We all want to live with an exclamation point and not a question mark! You can’t feel jubilant about everything all of the time, but your moments of exhilaration, curiosity, and contentment should outnumber your moments of boredom, frustration, or despair. When you are living on purpose, you feel a sense of harmony, satisfaction, comfort, peace and hope. If you are living with a porpoise, you are probably in the ocean. Lucky you!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

Tend to Your Most Important Investment

February 1, 2016

Everybody seems to be concerned about their investments; they watch the stock market activity and with white knuckles, experience the ups and downs like they are on a roller coaster. We are told that if we aren’t going to end up living in a big cardboard box, we need to invest wisely and be prudent about our finances. Good advice….but just as important, is how we invest in ourselves!

When you really think about it, the reason we feel we need money is to take care of the basic needs of ourselves and our families and also to have the ability to do the things that we enjoy. Well, no matter how much financial wealth we accrue, it won’t do us a lot of good if we aren’t around to reap the benefits! And also, we can’t take care of anyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves!

How do you go about investing in yourself? Here is a starter list:

  1. First of all, nurture yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A truly successful person doesn’t adopt the motto: “I am strong. I am invincible. I am pooped!” You can work yourself to the point of dropping and tell yourself and others that you’re doing it for all the right reasons, but when you are nothing but a puddle of goo on the floor, you won’t be very convincing. It is better to set boundaries for yourself, so you don’t push yourself too far. Make sure you get proper rest and get out every now and then and exercise. Take some time to quiet your mind and empty your brain of earthly woes. That isn’t being lazy or irresponsible; it is being wise! Believe me, those who love you will be glad that you are still able to function rather than becoming a zombie. Zombies are not fun. Zombies are scary.
  2. Don’t stress for success! Those two things don’t have to go together! There is way too much information about how to manage stress to include in this article, but one thing you should remember is the origin of the word “stress.” It goes back to the fifteenth century when people used to draw and quarter their enemies. That means they used to literally pull them apart. Yikes! But that is what our modern day stress can do to us; physically and mentally. Invest in yourself by finding ways to avoid, alter or adapt to stressful situations.
  3. Make regular deposits into your laughter account. This is one place that really deserves attention and if you want to be healthy, you need to invest in your sense of humor…big time! The world isn’t always a funny place, but there sure are pockets of humor everywhere you look! The physiological benefits of laughter are countless; there is no better medicine and there are no bad side effects! Surround yourself with things that give you joy; pictures, toys, cartoons, bubbles and anything that will break a negative mood. The world really is a laugh lab if you just start to focus on the funny things that are out there.

There is nothing in this world as important as the investment we make in our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Laugh long and prosper!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life-mapping coach. Check out http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Rediscover the “Elf” in YoursELF!

January 20, 2016

Sometimes I think people put way too much emphasis on being a grown-up. I know it’s a strange thing to say, but the world seems to be full of lots of cranky, whiny folks who must think that being a grown-up means “groaning” all of the time.

I have to admit that like most other people, I sometimes I get my pants in a bunch…usually over something that I have made into a bigger deal than it really is! When I feel myself morphing into a troll, I try to remember that perhaps I am taking myself too seriously and not properly nurturing the elf in myself. That’s when I know that I need a recess. Remember recess? We all looked forward to it because we could break out of the classroom, put work aside and run outside to be free for a while. Then we would have a snack. It made everything better.

So when did we decide it was no longer appropriate to take a recess sometime during a busy and stressful day? When did we cross over from having the wisdom to appreciate the value of taking a play break to thinking it is necessary to drive ourselves into the ground every day?

The transition takes place when we lose our childlike sense of wonder about life. It happens when we give up living in the present moment in favor of worrying about the future and holding on to grudges from the past. It happens when we put limits on our imagination and our curiosity. And it happens when we stop taking recesses!

I know that very few businesses have playgrounds, although I have visited some who do! But we can all take the initiative to take little mini-breaks when we feel we are about ready to either explode or collapse. We can connect with the little kid we used to be by doing something fun every day…not counting going out to happy hour. I mean we should keep things around us that remind us of who we used to be before we started to carry the pressures of the world on our shoulders; things that can provide us with a little mental recess!

I’ve always loved to color and now it is all the rage! Get yourself a coloring book and see how it reduces your stress. Try keeping bubbles in your car and when you’re stuck in traffic, see how many you can blow before you start moving again. Don’t be afraid to act silly every now and then! Remember that we are really just children in stretched out bodies! In chronological years, our childhood may be over, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to play! Will it fix the world’s horrible global problems? No…but it just might get you through the daily frustrations and stresses in your own little world.

If you really want to get it right, follow a little child around and just observe. Of course, you really should know the child you are following! True, they don’t have the burdens and responsibilities that we have, but if we could recapture just a fraction of the joy they get out of simply being alive, we would probably never have our pants in a bunch again…at least they wouldn’t stay that way for long!

Linda Henley-Smith presents keynotes, workshops and coaching on how to find more joy in life. Check out www.lindahenley-smith.com