Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

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 

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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

WHEN IS LIFE GOOD?

September 28, 2015

I often hear people talk about the wonderful things that are happening in their lives and while they’re describing the vacations, job promotions, financial gains, good checkups, etc. they often add the words, “Life is good.” I have said the same thing…because when things are going well, life IS good!

The last time I heard myself say those words, I began to wonder why I only say them when things are going my way. Life is a gift and it is good no matter what happens! The problem is that sometimes we can’t see the beauty of our existence through eyes that are focused on everything that’s wrong. It is difficult to feel joyful when we are hurting, for ourselves or for others who are suffering. It’s not always easy to see any beauty in some of the events of the world. The important thing to remember is that lousy situations don’t make a lousy life. It’s the situation that is lousy!

So I set about trying to figure out how to appreciate my life and feel joy in times of difficulty. I made an effort to look for ways to change the way I was thinking. I started to make lists of things for which I was grateful. I tried to recall how often I had gone through tough times that I thought would devastate me…but they didn’t. I wrote down how many times I had been able to turn negatives into positives and learn from the experience. I made a point to laugh every chance I got and to create an environment which would remind me of how good my life is no matter what’s going on at the time, because the problems, negative situations and hurt that is a part of living does NOT define who I am. I can be a person with a challenge, but I don’t have to be a challenge with a person attached!

Life is like a roller coaster. During the down times, we have to hang on so we don’t fling off and go spinning out of control. The upswing always comes, sooner or later. At this time, things in my life are somewhat in a state of upheaval. Some important decisions need to be made and there are some stressful situations with which I am dealing. Things aren’t exactly the way I would like them to be, but I am still here and you know what? Life is good!

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker, trainer and coach who encourages people to embrace joy. visit her website at 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

What Roles Have You Chosen to Play?

August 19, 2015

In a recent workshop, I asked the attendees to think about some of the roles they play in their relationships; personal and professional. The resulting discussion was very interesting and also very revealing.

We all have chosen to play certain roles in our relationships, and we have fallen into those roles for various reasons. If everyone in any relationship is satisfied with the arrangement and it works for all concerned, there is no problem. But if someone feels compromised or less than satisfied with the way things work, it’s probably not healthy and sooner or later, something’s got to give!

Here are some of the relationship roles that people in the workshop listed as problematic. Read them and decide if any of them are familiar to you:

The Enabler: Has a strong need to take care of and please other people, allowing them to get away with negative or abusive behavior. It is easy to become addicted to approval and that is a sure path to low self-esteem.

The Excuse Giver: Woe be unto those who are in a relationship with one who plays the Excuse Card on a regular basis. This person has a well-stocked pantry of reasons why he did or did not or is not able to do something. The Excuse Giver is always well prepared and hones his craft diligently.

The Bully: Sadly, the world will always have bullies. They are Mr. or Mrs. Bossy-Pants and try to establish their leadership through intimidation and being mean-spirited.

The Whiner: When a whiner is in the mix, there is a constant need to call a Waaaaambulance! No relationship is enhanced by someone who consistently contributes to Global Whining!

The Rescuer/Fixer: Inadvertently keeps other people in a dependent position. When we rush in to be someone’s savior, we are sending a message that the other person is not capable of managing his own affairs. When someone constantly arrives to make everything OK for another person, the fixer is depriving him of being accountable for his own life and well-being. Serial rescuers need to take a look at their own motives for their actions and make sure they are not allowing their egos to dictate their behavior.

The Enforcer: Plays the role of “policeman” by monitoring other people’s actions. Unless the relationship involves a minor child, the enforcer needs to stay in a Clint Eastwood movie!

The Punisher: Tries to make other people stay in line by manipulation and threats. We all know these people! These are the ones who make you feel as if you will pay the price if you don’t do what they say! It can run the gamut from the silent treatment to payback!

The Guilt-Giver: Gives guilt; the gift that keeps on giving! If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who acts as a travel agent for guilt trips, you know what it’s like!

The Martyr: Risks his or her own mental or physical health while putting everyone else’s needs ahead of his or her own. There are no medals given for being a martyr and anyone who plays this role in a relationship should realize that when someone drops from taking on everyone else’s responsibilities…people usually just say things like, “Wow, she should have taken better care of herself!”

Throughout life, we all search for our place in our relationships and hopefully, choose more positive roles than those mentioned above. If you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions, you may want to reassess your role choices. We also occasionally encounter people with whom we work or socialize that fill some of those less than desirable roles. We can’t change other people…unless they are in diapers…but we can choose how we deal with them. Choose Wisely!

Drop In To See what Condition Your Condition Is In

August 12, 2015

There was a song in the sixties with the lyrics “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.” I can’t even tell you what that meant, but I think it is a pretty good phrase to remind us to slow down every now and then and take stock of what’s going on in our brains.

Just today, I heard several people make comments about how they were so stressed, they couldn’t even think straight. One said that she keeps forgetting things because her brain is so full of “stuff.” I’m guessing that most of us can relate to that feeling. Sometimes, my brain feels like spaghetti…I can’t separate one thought from the next. I like spaghetti. See? I can’t stay with one thought!

In this age of technology; our brains are receiving so much information every day, it sometimes leads to sensory overload. Add to that; the pressures of daily life and the fact that everywhere we turn there is a news broadcast, magazine headline or YouTube video that we are trying to process and it’s no wonder that sometimes we just short out!

If you are noticing that you’re feeling short tempered, impatient, forgetful, or just find yourself staring into space and mumbling incoherently (maybe that’s just me) maybe it’s time to shut down for a moment and consider what’s going on. I think people used to do that in the olden days…when I was young.

If your electronic device isn’t functioning at optimum level, you get it checked out. If your car starts acting sluggish, you take it in to see what’s wrong. Doesn’t your brain deserve the same respect? There are no medals handed out for exploding or imploding mentally! All of us should be on talking terms with our emotions and occasionally drop in to see what condition our condition is in.

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

Keep Going Even If Your Hat’s On Fire!

July 22, 2015

One of the most cited Shakespearean quotes is “All the world’s a stageand all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

I have spent a great part of my life on the stage, in theatrical and operatic performances. Performing in front of a live audience sure prepares you for a lot that will happen to you in life! Anyone who has ever performed knows that there will be times when the unexpected happens. I have forgotten lines, popped out of costumes, lost hairpieces into the orchestra pit, sung the wrong lyrics and much much more! I’ve even caught myself on fire, which I will explain later. I have stared embarrassment in the face, and I have survived! This is why I feel that Shakespeare got it right when he said that we are all players on the stage of life. Real life experiences often parallel stage experiences. Here are some of the things I have learned:

Sometimes you have to have to jump through hoops to get where you want to go. I have been through lots of “cattle calls.” That’s when you stand in line with hundreds of other hopefuls; carrying your head shot and resume, practicing your vocal scales and keeping limber with knee bends, while waiting your turn to stand in front of a panel of people who often look at you like you are just another prize cow. Think ‘A Chorus Line.” I once did an entire audition for a director who was eating a sandwich and talking on the phone. When you are an actor, this is kind of a rite of passage. Most of us have to put in our time to get where we want to be. In real life, there are steps we have to take in order to achieve our goals and although it takes time and effort, perseverance is the key.

You don’t always get the part you want. There have been times when I was perfect for a role…at least in my head! Instead, I was cast in another part that actually turned out to be a better one for me and one for which I was clearly suited. Had I turned down that role, I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity. I have experienced the same thing in real-time. Disappointments are a part of life, but we can’t always see the big picture. We tend to dwell on what we didn’t get, rather than to appreciate and make the best out of what we have.

Sometimes, you will mess up. Oh boy, have I messed up…on stage and off! After a mistake, I felt self-conscious and inept and I assumed that everybody was judging me. The thing is…most of the time, it was a huge deal to me, but nobody else really even noticed because they were focused on other things besides my mistakes. When goofs happen on stage, the audience rarely even notices the errors that the actors think are glaring, because they are having fun just enjoying the production. The truth is that when I messed up on stage, I finally realized that I was making it all about me! When I finally “got it” that I wasn’t always the center of attention, I felt rather liberated. The same thing applies to our mistakes in real life.

Expect the unexpected. In theater or in life, don’t ever think that you are in absolute control of everything! This was permanently etched into my brain the time I was performing in an opera, in which I wore a glorious costume complete with a much-feathered hat. There happened to be a candelabrum on stage, which was to be moved by my “lady-in-waiting.” As I reached for the high notes, I began to smell a strange odor which could only be described as burning feathers. I kept singing, but my mind flashed to bar-b-qued chicken, before someone threw a bucket of water on my flaming head piece. You can’t always be prepared for everything, because you don’t know what everything is! But life is never boring when you’re open to opportunities!

Keep going! Everyone is familiar with the line, “The show must go on!” No matter what happens, on stage or off, you have to keep going! There will be failures and disappointments and confusion and chaos…but that’s what makes a good show and a great life!

Three Habits of Highly Self-Defeating People

July 6, 2015

Most of us have read books informing us of the habits of highly successful people. We know that in order to be successful, we must program our minds for success and we also know that particular mindset doesn’t always come easily. I think it is equally important to know the habits we should NOT embrace. I call these the habits of highly self-defeating people.

  • Always compare yourself to others.  This is a great way to feel lousy about yourself! If you measure your every accomplishment against someone else, you will probably always be successful in finding some shortcoming in your own performance.  This is because you are NOT someone else and someone else is NOT you!  Every one of us has a unique personality, style and talent. Modeling a successful person whose accomplishments you respect is one thing but it is important to realize that you cannot live anyone else’s life because they are already living it, so blaze your own trail!
  • Always expect the worst and you will never be disappointed…and make sure you always panic.  These are trying times and everyone loves to talk about how we’re going down for the count! Watching the news will straighten your hair if it’s curly and curl your hair if it’s straight! You can’t pick up a magazine without seeing a headline about impending doom and it is getting tougher to muster up any optimism.  Now is the time to just say “no” to despair! Panic doesn’t help anything and it makes you look like a deranged squirrel. We attract what we most often think about so if we expect failure and angst to come knocking at the door, we will probably find it on our front porch. Maintaining an optimistic attitude doesn’t mean believing that everything will be rosy; it means entertaining alternate possibilities, fostering creative ways to meet challenges and being proactive in your own success!
  • Keep old feelings of past failure, guilt, fear and other bad things alive and in the frontal lobe of your brain at all times….and don’t forget the negative self-talk!  To maintain that fearful feeling of never being good enough, be sure to constantly conjure up and nurture your past woes. Right? WRONG! You cannot move ahead while looking backward. Don’t allow your mistakes to define your worth or dictate your future.  Fight the urge to relive the past. Get off of the hamster wheel that keeps you on the same track and take a different path with a different attitude! Refrain from reminding yourself daily that you do not deserve any good things and treat yourself with respect. Deal with the situations at hand, glean the good “stuff” from your past failures, do the best you can and don’t rent your brain cells out to negativity! Above all….don’t be your worst enemy! You may as well like yourself because wherever you go…there you are!