Posts Tagged ‘stress’

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.

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!

Here’s to Better Success!

January 9, 2015

Happy New Year! Here we are, embarking on a new journey around the sun, which will take about 365 days to complete. When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, people usually welcome the year with toasts and kisses, and in my case; chocolate. In my world, chocolate is always appropriate.

This New Year, I noticed how many people expressed their hope that this year would be better and more successful than the last one. That started me thinking about what “better” really is and how most of us would define “success.” The word better is often defined as “improving on or surpassing” and success usually indicates that one has reached a goal. So how do we have a better, more successful year?

I guess it all begins with one’s assessment of what has happened. If there have been losses, trials, tribulations and struggles in the past, it would seem to be an obvious conclusion that a year without hard times would be better. But looking back on troublesome days, consider the fact that you survived! Anyone who makes it through a dark tunnel usually emerges with a new wisdom and a renewed strength! I would consider that a success!

We do ourselves a disservice when we categorize challenges or imperfections as failures. We all live in a flawed world and there will always be disappointments and losses. When we speak of success, I believe that we often place too much emphasis on the concept of winning. In truth, the measure of our success is in direct proportion to the obstacles we are willing to overcome.

If we want to have a “better” year, we are going to have to go about it with an attitude adjustment. Better can mean that we navigate life’s curves with the knowledge that we have the ability to keep going and not fall apart when things don’t go as planned. Better can mean that we accept the fact that life can sometimes disappoint and even hurt, but we only have one piece of the puzzle. We can’t always see the whole picture, which could very well be more wonderful and beautiful than we can imagine.

I wish us all a new year full of wonderful experiences, abundant laughter, healthy attitudes and of course; lots of chocolate!

Rebuilding With Hope

May 19, 2014

Those who know me well are aware that I often refer to the lyrics of songs to illustrate my points. Sometimes the words of a song or a poem will express what I want to say in far better ways than I could ever present it.

There are times when life throws us some unexpected lemons and we really don’t feel like using them to make lemonade. As a matter of fact, it would probably give us a lot more satisfaction to throw those lemons at the ones who have caused us pain!

When someone or something pulls the rug out from under you and it feels as if your foundation is crumbling, you have a choice as to how you are going to let it affect you. Feeling anger, disappointment and confusion are normal reactions…for a little while. We need all of those emotions in order to process what has happened but if we allow them to linger too long in our minds, they begin to take root.

Before too long, it’s a good idea to replace those negative feelings with something that will actually allow us to heal and grow rather than to keep us feeling empty and hollow. That is where hope comes into the picture. Hope fills up all the broken and empty places and helps to make us whole once again. I like to think of it this way: Holding On to Positive Expectations.

If you replace fear, doubt and frustration with the belief that you can recover, regroup and rebuild; you will enjoy a future of possibilities rather than continue to live in remnants of the past.

Consider these words from the musical “Godspell”…


If You Keep Doing What You’ve Always Done……

January 29, 2014

I recently had a very enlightening conversation with a young athlete. She is a runner who is working hard to improve her time. I am not an athlete; but as a motivational speaker, I gave her my thoughts on how she should just keep practicing and eventually she would break through the wall.

She listened politely and then stopped me in my tracks. “Actually,” she said, “I think I need to change something in my running style because just practicing doing what I have been doing doesn’t seem to be working.” Well, it hit me that my words of wisdom were about as helpful as a screen door on a submarine! I thought I was being supportive and encouraging this young woman, but I was just scratching the surface of her challenge. Sometimes “just keep trying” is a valid approach, but in some cases, it just sounds a little fluffy.

She started me thinking about how we should deal with problems realistically. If things aren’t working the way we planned, perhaps we do need to stop, reevaluate the situation and try something new. After we have examined the options, if we determine that we just need to work harder and keep at it, so be it! But there will be times when we might need to consider tweaking things a little and trying a different approach. After all, if we walk into a room, flip on the light switch, and nothing happens; how long should we stand there flipping the switch on and off before we consider that we may have a burned out light bulb?

We can expect to encounter difficulties and even failures every now and then, because that is part of moving forward…and perseverance is a good thing! But even when we are sure that we are on the right track, it doesn’t hurt to pause every now and then to take stock of what is happening on our journey. There is a lot to be said for “If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” but it needs to be tempered with “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting what you’ve always gotten!”

What Is On Your Name Tag?

December 5, 2013

I get to wear a lot of name tags. Every time I speak at a conference, I get another one and that is a good thing; because as I get older, it is helpful to have a reminder of who I am. On these name tags is also written my title, which I have provided for the conference leaders. This is usually either “Speaker” or “Owner of For the Good Times Programs”. However; sometimes the meeting planners have labeled me in different ways. For instance, one group decided that since I was speaking about the healing power of humor, I should be billed as a Humor Therapist, but something went wrong in the spacing and when I picked up my tag, I was surprised to read “Linda Henley-Smith, Humor The rapist.” Hmmm. Another time, I was one of three women speakers who were to present on consecutive evenings. We were the only women at this conference and were known as “The Ladies.” On my appointed speaking night, my name tag designated me as “Lady of the Evening.”

So, that started me thinking about name tags and how, if we wrote our own, we would define ourselves. In one of my seminars, I gave each of the participants blank tags and asked them to write their names and a word or phrase which they felt would describe them. Some used words like Optimistic, Happy, Hopeful and Friendly. Then there were those who wrote Depressed, Angry, Fearful or other words with negative connotations. One woman sadly had printed the word LUPUS under her name. When she introduced herself, we learned that she had the disease well under control and her prognosis was excellent. Yet, she had allowed herself to let lupus override any other words that she might use to describe who she was.
It is dangerous to let fear or past failures or even an illness to dominate the other parts of us! I can be a person who is going through a tough time without thinking of myself as a tough time with a person attached!

Maybe we should all put on new name tags every morning, and label them with a word expressing an attitude that we want to have that day. Then, we might be more likely to try to live up to that description. Perhaps that is why I have a license plate which reads DIVA. Of course, that stands for Delighting In Victorious Attitude. Yeah…that’s what it means.

Are You a Caterpillar Running Around the Rim of a Jar?

November 6, 2013

We live in a busy world. We hurry, hurry, hurry to do things and sometimes, we work ourselves into a state of frenzy and weariness, only to find that we have not really accomplished anything! Most of us realize that the more we work, the more we will achieve; but the problem lies in our inability to recognize the difference between being productive and just being busy.

I once read of a scientist who placed a caterpillar on the rim of a jar and watched as it ran around and around the rim until it finally dropped into the jar out of sheer exhaustion. I cannot imagine why this person decided that this would be a good experiment, and I feel that the poor caterpillar got the short end of the stick in that deal. But the message is clear: running around in circles is pointless and it accomplishes nothing but exhaustion.

We are a culture which promotes the idea that to appear successful; a person must work extended hours, take on too many obligations, deprive him or herself of rest and relaxation, burn the candle at both ends, and above all, live in perpetual stress. We are not machines and we certainly don’t want to become like the caterpillar that fell into the jar.

Sometimes, I think I wear my stress like a badge of courage; as if endangering my health and sanity is a thing worthy of praise. Ding dong…that is wrong. I don’t think I am alone in this, either. It’s as if we feel embarrassed or guilty if we stop and recuperate every now and again. Just listen to a group of people coming out of an office or gathered in an airport. You will hear a “stress-a-thon” competition; everyone claims to be more stressed than all of the others. The problem with this is that if you work yourself to death, just to prove that you are strong and capable of juggling too many obligations, everyone else will say, “She should have taken better care of herself!” It is a losing situation!

Remember that there is a time for work and a time for rest; just as there is a time for salad and a time for a big chocolate sundae with whipped cream and nuts. But that is another topic for another time.

“But”-Kickin’ Affirmations

September 19, 2013

We all have a supply of excuses that we can pull out to explain why we hang onto things that are no longer serving us well. I call these big “buts” because they find their way into our conversations which sound something like this, “I would take more time out to have a balanced life, BUT….” or “I’d be less stressed, BUT…..” or even, “I’d try (fill in the blank) because I’ve always wanted to, BUT….”

So, I put before you, some “But”-Kickin’ affirmations, which might remind you of your priorities. Pick the ones that apply to you and post them in a place where you can see them on a daily basis. Then, use and apply them!

I will evaluate troublesome situations in my life and set boundaries.

I will change one thing which is making me feel stressed, unappreciated or crabby!

I will stop making excuses for not trying new things.

I will hang up my super-hero cape and resign as “Fixer of All Things in the Universe!”

Knowing that there are only so may hours in the day, I will decide what responsibilities can be delayed, delegated or dumped!

I DO deserve to enjoy life and will make no apologies for it!

I cannot change anyone else (unless they’re in diapers) but I CAN change my attitude.

When the elastic of my life is stretched to the max, I will take time to find balance in mind, body and spirit.

I will not measure my appearance, success or life against anyone else’s, nor will I live my life to please others. Instead, I will strive for self-improvement.

I would rather climb the mountain and slide down, than to sit at the base of the mountain looking up and wondering what it would feel like to be at the top.

I know that laughter won’t make everything better, but it will make me better for everything. Therefore, I will laugh at least two times per hour. If I can’t think of anything funny, I will fake it ’til I make it! I will continue to connect with the elf in mysELF!

Spin the Wheel and Guess My Stress!!!

May 15, 2013

Do you ever feel as if you live and work in a battle zone? Do you awaken every morning expecting to go through your day ducking the slings and arrows of stress, frustration and anger? Do you ponder how stress will zap you? Will it come in the form of traffic jams, negative people, budget cuts, increased workloads, impossible schedules, sick kids, or some other equally overwhelming form?
Sometimes, we set ourselves up for stress from the moment we open our eyes. We have prepared ourselves to expect the worst. We spin the stress wheel and play “Guess My Stress! What will make me anxious and possibly sick today?”
So we start our day girded in battle array…ready for the stress snakes to wrap around us and squeeze out all of our air….and we usually get what we expect. Sometimes it feels as if we are stress magnets! We are so used to accepting it, that it becomes a part of us.
Often, we tend to expect the worst because we are creating a reality before we even have all of the facts. Anticipation and presumption can be our enemies. And whether the danger is real or imagined doesn’t matter to our bodies! So, when we convince ourselves that trouble is ahead, we are setting ourselves up to get sucked into the stress spiral and down we go! If we can learn to resist catastrophizing and jumping to conclusions, we will have a better chance to meet whatever comes our way, with calm and clear focus.
It helps to remember that we do have the power to choose the thoughts that we allow to rent space in our brains. It isn’t easy because most of us have been entertaining and nurturing the “Stress is Going to Get Me!” attitude for a long time. We have accepted stress as an acceptable way to live…and die! We program our brains to go into ANT mode (automatic negative thoughts) and ANTS attract the stress snakes
A successful personal stress management program includes identifying stress triggers and stress busters, but just as important, is a person’s ability to step away from the stress wheel and refuse to hang out with ANTS and Stress Snakes!
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
~ William James

Don’t Let Trolls Block Your Goals!

January 29, 2013

There are a lot of well-meaning people out there, who insist upon telling you things “for your own good.” I have found that whenever someone begins a comment with, “I don’t want to discourage you, but I feel that for your own good; before you attempt this, I need to tell you something”… I am about to have a pitchfork pop my happy bubble.

I’m not really sure why it seems to be in some people’s nature to want to derail another person’s dreams, but I’m guessing there are a few reasons. It is possible that a warning is issued out of genuine concern, which is probably the case when a parent sees a child heading in a dangerous direction. But, as for the rest of the “goal trolls” out there who just seem to want to burst balloons….maybe it is because of jealousy, or fear that another person will do something that they want to do, or maybe they are just trolls. Who knows?

If you have ever had a passion to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, you may have heard some of these Troll “buts”:

“You can try, BUT only a very few people ever make it!” Well, that is probably because those are the ones who got off of their “buts” and tried it!

“You can try it, BUT I’d hate to see you fail!”  You can tell the troll that he or she needn’t worry about you failing because you know that the only way you would feel like a failure is to stay stagnant and never try to get out of your box!

“You can try if you want someday, BUT don’t you think you should be more careful now?” This is an interesting one because it means that the issuer of this question has put himself in the lofty position of knowing what is best for you. It is an assumption that you are not wise enough to weigh the pros and cons of a decision and be smart about it. Besides, when is “someday?” It isn’t even a day of the week!

The world is full of dream stealers who may not even realize what they are doing when they offer misguided advice. They just may be frightened and sad that they don’t have the courage to step out and dare to follow their own dreams. Whatever the case, each of us has the ability and the personal responsibility to make the most out of every day with which we have been blessed.  We can listen to the words of the naysayers and then make our own decisions. I love this quote by Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuitions.”

If you have a dream, decide whether you want to keep it in your own head or make it a reality. If you choose the latter….claim this triumphant victory call: “Goal Trolls…. be Gone!”