Archive for the ‘boundaries’ Category

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 

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

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 www.lindahenley-smith.com