Wednesday, January 25, 2012


A while back, I got a call from a friend who was struggling with a frustrating situation involving her workplace, and she felt helpless to do anything about it. Unfortunately, she was having panic attacks because she was so anxious and fearful about the situation, and needed some help. It was clear to me that this young woman, whom I'll call Sara, was unable to see her options, and as a result was trapped in an uncomfortable and unfortunate position.

In my experience, feeling trapped in a situation is a very common challenge we all face at various times. After all, we are creatures of habit, and even though we may claim we like change, when something threatens our status quo, it can feel more like the rug has been pulled out from under us rather than an opportunity for us to move ahead. I advised Sara to spend time thinking about what was most important to her in her current work position.

I also asked Sara to consider how much joy and comfort she was actually getting from her job in light of the current situation. Was it so important to her to remain in a situation that was causing her so much grief? Was it the only option she had? In asking these questions, I had a specific intention. I wanted to help Sara look at what her job meant to her and to see if she should consider other options. Sometimes, when we examine our motivations, we begin to realize that they aren't what we thought they were.

I am happy that soon after that meeting, Sara contacted me and confided that the work we had done together had given her a new perspective. She concluded that her job wasn't really the best thing for her, and had started exploring other options that she wouldn't have considered previously. She had decided to look for another job doing something she had always wanted to do. And interestingly enough, her panic attacks had completely disappeared!

As you can probably guess, Sara is now glad that the circumstances at her old job forced her to take stock of what she really wanted in life and to let go of a situation that was unhealthy for her. Letting go isn't always easy, but choosing to let go when you realize it is time can change your life for the better.

I hope this story prompts you to look at your own life to see if there are aspects of it that are no longer serving you as you need them to. Then you could see how to alter them to suit your best interests. Now that's a worthwhile goal for the New Year!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Many people go through life disappointed and dejected because they have lost faith in their ability to realize their dreams. Their excuses are often due to a lack of money, fear of ridicule or failure, and feelings of being tied to the present situation with no way out. I imagine that all of us have experienced these feelings at one time or another. While for some of us, this negative feeling is only temporary, for others, it may be hard to accept that our dreams are actually within our reach.

I think we all have the ability to achieve our dreams, but we may just need to adjust how we look at them. In other words, we may need to look at them from a different perspective. That starts by brainstorming all of the various ways our dreams could be accomplished, no matter how silly or crazy these solutions may seem. By writing down and considering every single idea that crosses you, vis-à-vis your dreams, you actually open your mind to all of the possibilities and that brings them that much closer to reality.

One easy thing is that, after considering the possibilities you come up with, pick a solution you can do right now, and then DO it. If you want to be a professional chef, enroll in cooking or classes on running a restaurant. This will give you a chance to find out if it is really what you want. Taking steps toward achieving your dream, may take you in slightly different directions that are even more attractive to you. Serendipity happens, and it happens more often when we are actively engaged in achieving something important to us.

You are probably familiar with the saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I am sad to say there is a lot of power in those words. I encourage you to let go of old excuses and start thinking about ways to realize what you desire. Think about steps that could help you get there, and take those steps. And then just imagine how wonderful you will feel once you begin your journey!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


This morning I saw a man lose his temper with a store clerk. I was in a store, and a clerk was trying to carry several boxes to the checkout for him and dropped one, and when he squatted down to retrieve the box, another box fell from his arms. The customer he was helping lost his cool and began berating the poor guy. Fortunately, the store manager stepped in to soothe the situation for the man and stood up for his employee as well. I think we all have experienced moments when some small thing triggers a release of anger that has more to do with what's been building under the surface than the actual infraction.

Of course, anger is a natural and important part of our emotional life. It helps us to survive and to express our discontent. Interestingly, a flash of anger can actually release a flood of chemicals in the body, and not all of them unpleasant. This is why some people who are perpetually angry. People like that are often addicted to the hormone release of anger. Others may suppress their anger until some small incident puts them over the top, and they end up releasing it on someone else, much like the incident I witnessed this morning.

Neither holding our anger in, nor laying our anger on others is good for us. It raises our blood pressure, threatens our relationships, and can even make us sick. Fortunately, there are ways to express anger naturally that are healthy both physically and emotionally and that don't berate others. When you find yourself in situations that make you angry, step back for a moment. Take time to examine what is making you angry. When speaking about your anger to others, use non-blaming statements, and maybe even take a few moments to sort out your feelings before continuing your conversation.

Consider if your anger is attached to a specific issue or if it is the result of a buildup of something else. Then consider if your understanding of the situation is accurate or if there could be another possible explanation. For example, if you get cut off in traffic you might first think that the other driver did it intentionally, but another explanation could be that the driver just didn't see you. Another helpful solution is to talk it over with someone you trust. Sometimes another opinion will help diffuse your anger or at least help you understand your feelings better. Once you have a better understanding, you can act rather than react and calmly discuss the situation.

I use these tools all the time and find that they serve me well. Anger is a very natural form of human expression, but the trick is to be able to express it and to be heard.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Post Holiday Blues

I've noticed that this time of year some friends complain of feeling listless and a little depressed. “Sort of like something's missing,” as one client put it. Of course, it is not surprising that after all the buildup of the holiday gatherings, gifting and end-of-the-year celebrations, there might be a letdown once the last eggnog has been drunk and the last package unwrapped. There is most definitely a kind of lull that settles in once daily life returns to a more normal rhythm. So it's not surprising that many experience a bit of the post-holiday blues. However, such feelings don't have to last long because I can tell you how to chase those blues away. This week I am sharing tips that I have used and passed on to clients to get through the post holiday season with ease and grace.

If you begin feeling sad or depressed after the holidays, resist the urge to “hole-up” and isolate yourself. While you may have to fight that pull, think of a fun or soothing activity to do. Call a friend and invite them over for tea. Or go out for a meal with friends or take in a movie with someone whose company you enjoy. If you receive a party invitation during this time, definitely take advantage of the opportunity to socialize. Maybe you can plan your own small party with friends and family early in the year to help boost everyone's spirits.

Another great activity to follow up the holidays is to reflect on the positive aspects of the prior year and consider what things you'd like to accomplish in the coming year. Having new goals to plan for and take action on can really boost your enthusiasm for life and give you something to look forward to, especially if some goals require regular daily action. Just try to keep those activities at a level that you are likely to follow through on and you may be surprised at how well the year starts out.

Another area to give added attention to whenever you're feeling stressed or a bit down is your body. Getting out for a brisk walk, making it to an exercise class or signing up for a course, hobby workshop, or dance class, can really make a difference in your attitude and outlook on life. Also eat nutritious meals; remember to take your multivitamins; drink plenty of water; and let yourself get the proper rest. You will feel better for it.

Post-holiday doldrums can affect all of us. So, if you're feeling down or a little off-kilter, give these tips a try and bring just a bit of stimulation and holiday into your everyday.

I wish you a stimulating start to our new year!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Welcome 2012!

Many of us make resolutions at the start of the New Year. This year, I have a suggestion resolution to my friends, which involves “living in the moment?” This is the ability to be fully present and aware of yourself and your surroundings as you live each moment. Achieving this state requires observation, appreciation, patience, quiet, and the ability to turn off the clock and put away the calendar.

While most of us don't experience such times frequently, this is when we feel the most alive. In theory, being present involves learning how to pay attention, and the process of getting there is far easier than you might think. There are a few simple things you can do right now to help you stay in the present and pay attention to your life experience in a very positive way.

Start by setting a few quiet minutes aside each day to close your eyes and take stock of what you are feeling, no matter how good or bad those feelings may be. Don't judge your feelings, just allow yourself to become aware of the emotions behind them.

Next, send your attention outward and become aware of things around you. Notice if you feel warm or cold, what your clothing feels like against your skin, the feeling of the air moving in and out of your lungs. Let the sounds around you filter through you and notice the underlying noises that you may have been tuning out. Next, open your eyes and notice the colors and sights around you in this same subtle, attentive way.

By the time you are halfway through this little exercise, you may be surprised at how much you actually notice about your internal and external presence. If you try this, you will probably find that “paying attention” will take on a whole new meaning, and it will be a very nice one at that.

I hope that you can take some time to practice “living in the moment.” I feel sure that it will change your experience in “now” time and that's not a bad goal for the year.

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