Archive for the ‘National Speakers Association’ Category

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

Advertisements

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

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

Why Would You Want to Have Your Pants in a Bunch?

January 13, 2016

It seems that there is an abundance of negativity floating around these days! You hear people being snarky to one another and there are some who seem to treat complaining as an Olympic sport! They practice it daily and work to hone their negativity to gold medal perfection. Sometimes it even becomes a blaming and whining competition. People seem to be reveling in speaking their minds, with no filters…no matter who they hurt!

Recently, while sitting in an airport, I was struck by the conversations I was hearing all around me. I began to become aware of the number of negative words that were falling out of people’s mouths! Whether on the phone or in face to face conversations, there seemed to be a lot of toxic energy flowing. There was a lot of talk about stress and people explaining why their lives were not satisfactory. I even saw a really angry man pounding on the desk and screaming that the airline attendant behind it was messing up the week for everyone. Hmmm….he was crediting her with a lot of power to be able to ruin everyone’s entire week! My first thought was that she looked too small and quiet to be able to pull that off!

It started me wondering why we often choose negativity over being positive. It IS a choice, you know. We all have to decide how we are going to deal with whatever comes our way. You can be upset or disagree with a situation without spewing venom, so why do some opt for being negative? Does it make them feel better? There has to be some gratification derived from nurturing toxicity, or they wouldn’t wallow in it. Here are some possible explanations:

  • Negativity could be a result of feelings of frustration, jealousy or a sense of inferiority. If a person has low self-esteem, putting down or blaming someone else is a convoluted way of boosting his or her sagging ego.
  • Being cynical makes some people feel special and even “cool.” Think of the high school kid who was the smart aleck and complained that all the teachers were against him.
  • Some people just like drama! They either think it is entertaining or they like being the star of their own soap opera! If they can gather a receptive audience, they will perform.
  • Sometimes, a negative attitude can serve as an excuse for not participating in something that causes a person to face the possibility of failure.
  • Fear is one of the main factors behind a negative outlook. Some people become like animals who lash out when they feel threatened. Negativity can mask our fears and act as a camouflage when we think we’re going to be put on the spot. If we lay the blame on someone or something else, we can divert attention away from our own accountability.
  • Some use negative talk and action to create fear in others; possibly to gain a sense of control.

Most importantly, is the fact that many people just aren’t aware of the negativity they are exuding. They may attract other negative thinkers, but most other humans will run like ants from an ant hill when they see someone wearing the cloak of despair. As a matter of fact, I am learning that the best way to react to someone who has their pants in a bunch, is to just walk away.

I think it would benefit each one of us to regularly assess our attitudes and make sure that we are not carriers of doom, gloom, anger and angst! Negativity sucks the energy out of the air. You can’t fix anyone else’s attitude, but you can sure adjust your own! Don’t choose negativity because even if you get the results you want for a while…it will turn and bite you in your bunched up pants!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, author and coach. Check out her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

Holding Onto Grudges Can make Your Arms Tired

September 25, 2015

The world can sometimes be an angry place.  Well, at least some of the people in the world seem to be angrier than usual.  I can actually understand that because, as a recent victim of credit card theft, I have been feeling a little cranky myself lately.  I always prefer to think that people basically want to help each other and show compassion. Sadly, some people’s milk of human kindness seems to be skim milk!

Years ago, Randy Newman wrote a song describing the confused state of a world in which people still have the core desire to help and forgive others, yet are afraid that they will lose part of themselves if they give too much, so they hold on to anger and fear. One of the verses goes like this:

“Bright before me, signs implore me to help the needy and show them the way.  Human kindness is overflowing….but I think it’s going to rain today.”

I have had to remind myself that while I might be justified in feeling ticked off in certain situations (did I mention credit card theft?) there is only one letter difference between Anger and Danger. Danger comes when anger runs amok.

There is an old movie, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” In that film, Dorian Gray was an angry, bitter man who couldn’t let go of his anger and he treated people badly.  In his attic, there was a painting of Dorian, which began taking on the manifestations of his negativity. Every time Dorian’s anger got away from him, and he hurt someone; an ugly gash or scar or horrible expression would appear on his likeness.  Dorian, himself, never changed; but his portrait became a hideous image of the monster he had become.

I think that’s what happens to us when we allow negativity, anger and an unforgiving spirit to dominate our lives. Our souls become our portraits and bear the scars of our anger. Eventually, all of that poison makes us sick and the weight of the grudges we are holding crush us.  Lest you think that it might be nice to remain young and unlined while your picture takes all of the beating; the rest of the story is that Dorian’s anger finally caught up with him and he turned into dust. Bummer.

Anger can be productive, if you are standing up for something that is important to you and it gives you the incentive to change something that needs to be changed. But that is a result of healthy and controlled anger…not the kind that stays inside and makes you into a hissy, snarky troll. So, before your anger turns into danger, try to channel that energy into something productive. Do it before you turn into dust!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach who helps people find their funny bones and put things into perspective. Check out her website at  www.lindahenley-smith.com

Boomerang Anger

September 18, 2015

Throwing boomerang with a blue sky in a background

It has recently occurred to me that much of the unkindness that rears its head in the world is the result of how people feel about themselves. I have come to believe that sometimes when we adamantly dislike someone, the person with whom we really have an issue is living in our own bodies! At the core of hatred are feelings of fear and insecurity.

Think about it. If you feel secure and confident about your own choices, beliefs and behavior, why would you really have any reason to angrily judge anyone else’s? With the exception of causing physical harm, another person’s ideas should not intimidate you. Also, there is no need for jealousy or animosity toward another if you have a healthy self-image. When we blatantly harbor prejudice or dislike for someone, that hatred could stem from a fear that somehow we are being threatened.

I have learned that when I find myself being critical of someone, I need to step back and wonder why. Usually, I find that I am judging someone for behavior that I, myself, exhibit or characteristics that I possess. And sometimes, I have to admit that another person’s success reminds me of a lack of fulfillment in myself. Almost always, it has to do with some kind of fear. My anger directed at someone else, usually comes right back to me! I call it Boomerang Anger.

We are human and therefore, flawed. We are full of self-doubt and insecurities which often color how we see other people. Our own fears and disappointments are the lens through which we see and therefore, judge. The way we treat others can be a reflection of how we feel about who we really are. I could write much more about this, but someone else has written a poem which describes what our personal fears can do. She writes about it so insightfully; when I first read her words, it took my breath away. The poet is my sixteen-year-old granddaughter and I am very proud of her depth and wisdom. She is one of my “sheroes!”

There is a girl I always see

Standing right in front of me

She has long hair and hazel eyes;

A color I have grown to despise

For a long time I didn’t know

That her huge smile was just a show

Behind the happy expression

Was a girl with frequent depression.

This girl always wore a mask

And I made it my personal task

To expose the little liar

In emotion hot as fire,

I quickly drew nearer

And ran into a mirror.

——Amanda Isabelle Phillips

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker, coach and proud grandmother. Visit her website at http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

 

What I Learned While I Was Invisible

September 9, 2015

In the Broadway show Chicago, there is a song about feeling unimportant and invisible. A man sings that Mr. Cellophane should have been his name because people walk right by him, see right through him and never even know he’s there.

Although it sounds pitiful, I think that many of us have experienced that feeling at some point in life. You may have wondered if anyone really cared about what you thought or if anyone really even saw you. It can be a pretty lonely feeling, but it’s important to understand that feeling invisible comes from within you and not from other people.

Sometimes it happens when you have long defined yourself by your relationship with another person or perhaps by a job, and that role ends or becomes less prominent. Many people retire from longtime careers and suddenly feel as if they no longer have a purpose. I have known some who worried as they aged, that people would no longer look AT them, but would look THROUGH them. And sometimes people lack self-esteem and believe that whatever they have to say or offer is not worth anything. They convince themselves that nobody would care about their opinion. They feel invisible because rather than defining their own essence, they leave it up to other people! When you feel invisible to yourself, it’s no wonder that you feel invisible to others!

I know these things because I have felt invisible. It happened at a time when everything in my life fell apart and I was catapulted into a world of confusion. I felt lost, betrayed and rather non-existent. Fortunately, I finally realized that I was creating my own cloaking device and eventually worked through it. Here is what I learned during my self-imposed invisibility.

  • I realized that my feelings of invisibility were a result of me abandoning myself!
  • I had to believe that even though my life had drastically changed and I was no longer in the same position as before, I was still a person of worth. Things were different, but I still had a lot to offer.
  • I came to understand that there are those who will only acknowledge people when they need something from them. I chose not to be affected by those people because their opinions had nothing to do with who I really was.
  • I learned that I needed to love and be visible to myself rather than to worry about being adored and praised by anyone else. My feelings of self-worth needed to come from within me rather than to depend on outside validation.
  • I no longer defined myself by what I owned, who I knew, what position I held or how I looked.
  • I took time to reassess my life and my goals. I realized that my faith had to be greater than my fear.
  • I began to understand that other people’s feelings and opinions were not more valuable than mine and I learned that acknowledging my feelings is very important. If I ignore and discount them, others will not deem them important either. Feelings are a kind of inner guidance and they shouldn’t be ignored.
  • I stopped giving situations, circumstances and other people the power to define me. I started to create my own experiences by engaging with others and participating in life! I realized I didn’t have to wait for someone else to make the first move; I was capable of introducing myself and starting conversations!
  • I started to appreciate who I was and where I was at that time. I allowed myself to heal with the knowledge that my wounded self was carrying a sense of rejection which really didn’t really exist.

Now I know that people are only invisible if they allow themselves to be. Mr. Cellophane felt invisible because he apologized for his existence. No one should ever do that! Our lives are fluid and they will change…often many times. Sometimes we’ll be on the top and sometimes we won’t. There will be times when we may not measure up to someone else’s standard of beauty or intelligence or wit, but that doesn’t matter. We are all worthy, loveable and very visible beings. Just remember that visibility begins with the love you show yourself!

Linda Henley-Smith is no longer invisible. Visit her website at

www.lindahenley-smith.com