Archive for December, 2015

What to Do When You’re Falling Apart and You’re Out of Glue!

December 10, 2015

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that even my hair is tense! When this happens, I can almost see myself as a cartoon with my body parts dropping off one by one. I feel like I am coming apart and I’m out of glue!

I can always tell when I am approaching my limit of overwhelm, because I begin to resemble a deranged squirrel. I must mention that even on my good days, I am not one of those women who roll out of bed with sexy tousled hair and sultry eyes. I arise with my hair looking like monkeys danced in it during the night and my eyes are more squinty than sultry. But usually, after taming my crazy hair with a comb the size of a farm tool and wearing tea bags on my eye bags….I can pull it together.

However, when I am overwhelmed, it has been pointed out that I have the look of a terrified rodent! I’m pretty sure that other people experience these times as well and they react in a variety of ways when they feel this way. Some folks get angry and lash out at others, some withdraw and pull into themselves and others become unable to function and eventually fall apart.

There are lots of techniques to help reduce that panicky feeling of being pulled in a hundred different directions, but none of them work if you don’t take the time to implement them. Coming apart at the seams is a helpless feeling, so here are some tips which will help you glue yourself back together:

Draw a line in the sand. Most of the time, we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed without even realizing it. By refusing to draw boundaries, we are inviting others to take advantage of our willingness to help. There is no need to feel guilty if you are feeling like you need to lighten your load. Taking care of yourself does not make you a bad person!  There are nice ways to say “no.”

Put yourself on your “To Do” list. While you are busy taking care of everyone and everything, make sure you don’t forget to pay attention to yourself. If you consistently put yourself at the bottom of the list, you will soon run out of steam and if you fall apart, you won’t be able to help anyone!

Prioritize and purge: If you are wondering why you are feeling squeezed out of your own life, try making the ever-popular pie chart. Estimate how much time you spend on various tasks every week and give them the appropriate slice of the pie. If you find you have less time dedicated to your health and well-being than to everything else, you will know that you have a “pie chart of death.” Ask yourself, “Does this really need to get done now? What will happen if I don’t do it? ”Choose the things that critical and cannot be delegated to anyone else and dump the rest.

Take time to recharge. Although it seems counter-intuitive to take a break when you are really busy, it is essential for you to carve out some “time outs” each day.  If you don’t take brain breaks, you might short out! Utilize stress management techniques, meditate or just sit and vegetate!’ When you return to your work, you will have a fresh perspective.

Remember what you like to do and then do it! In my stress management workshops, I often ask people to make a list of activities that make them feel happy and fulfilled. Then I ask them to write next to each one, the last time they participated in that activity. Almost always, they are shocked when they realize how long it has been since they have done the things they most like to do. When we ignore the things that give us joy, we are cheating ourselves out of the best “glue” to keep us from stressing out and falling apart.

We are never going to be able to eliminate all stress from our lives, but if we keep that glue bottle handy, at least we won’t fall apart!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach who often looks like a deranged squirrel, but has finally learned how to pull herself together! Visit her website at

Aim for Progress…Not Perfection

December 1, 2015

In facilitating a recent workshop on personal development, I heard many in the group express frustration over not being where they thought they would be at this point in their lives.  They felt as if they hadn’t reached the perfection for which they had been striving and had fallen short of their goals. Wow, I can relate to that one! As the saying goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.”

Seeking perfection is a lofty ambition, but chances are, it’s not going to happen…at least in the way we picture it in our minds. Real life takes time and sometimes we get side-tracked or things don’t fall into place quite the way we planned. But consider this: we are human and our imperfections are what make us perfect.

In my own endeavors, this is what I have learned: When I focus on making progress and getting better with every step rather than achieving perfection, I am happier and less frustrated. When you see your goal as a journey rather than an end-point, you get pleasure in every incremental improvement along the way. This doesn’t mean that you don’t always try your best; it simply offers a way to reach your goal in a healthier way. Expecting and demanding perfection of yourself 100% of the time is a prescription for frustration.

Many things in the world contribute to our belief that we must achieve perfection or we will not ever be worthy or able to fulfill our dreams. Take the advertising business, for example….we are bombarded with air-brushed beauties and surgically enhanced bodies in magazines, movies and on our televisions. Every time I see a Victoria’s Secret model, I want to wear a sleeping bag to cover up my imperfections! I think Victoria’s biggest secret is that not many real women with their original body parts look like one of their “angels” in underwear! Whether it is appearance, athleticism, financial success or anything else we hold as a goal, we are healthier and more balanced when we realize that if it takes us a while or even if we never reach perfection, the journey is the most important part because that’s where we learn.

We also deal with competition in most areas of life and we tend to focus on the end point rather than the process. When we expect immediate perfection rather than steady progress, we become frustrated.  It helps to remember that our struggles of today will be our strong foundation in the future.  Also, focusing only on perfection can sometimes inhibit creativity.

Most people who achieve perfect scores in any life event, have traveled a long journey to reach that end because there aren’t many shortcuts. When we are working toward something, we need to feel like we are on the road to somewhere and that we’re growing while we’re going. Those growth spurts take place through mistakes, failures and setbacks. They are a part of reaching goals, and perfection really doesn’t need to be the only prize! And actually….not achieving the goal of perfection could mean there is a greater destiny waiting to be discovered!

And finally….remember that imperfections are what separate the true art from the manufactured products!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and coach who is full of imperfections! Her latest book is titled “Slightly Irregular Underwear…Sometimes Imperfections are Perfect!”