YESTERDAY YOU SAID TOMORROW
How many of you can relate to substance abuse or addiction? I, for one, am addicted to tobacco. I don’t use tobacco now but the addiction remains because tobacco feels good to me. I like the drug. Whether your drug is tobacco, alcohol, heroin, or self-pity, addictions are tough to overcome. What you just read is correct. Self-pity is as addictive as drugs. The problem with self-pity though is awareness. At least a heroin addict knows he is addicted.
It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. We are barraged with images of superstars with charmed lives we should aspire to, and in this age of easy debt, Botox, plastic surgery and liposuction, it is impossible to know if that person you’re comparing yourself to is real or if their outside situation remotely resembles their inside reality!
The SP addict may draw conclusions that everyone has it better than they do. According to noted author Dr Jeffery Bernstein, self-pity is highly addictive and difficult to quit and stems from this unenlightened, unfavorable comparison to others.
Some of the difficulty with quitting self-pity is that it feels good. SP addicts like the obfuscation of the “why me?” question. It makes it seem like what they pity about themselves is out of their control and trying to talk themselves out of self-pity is like going to the enemy for advice on how to win a war; the inner dialog is the core of the problem!
The answer on this one is outside. Honing gratitude skills is key as is getting outside of yourself and helping others.
Dr. William James, the father of American psychology said, “If I ever felt myself getting depressed, the first thing I’d do is go across to the poor side of town and find someone to help.” Seems to me that that would work with self-pity too for the same reason; it takes the emphasis off of SELF.
2014 Motto…“Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”
How many of you hate your job? This is for you.
I’d like to go through an exercise with you now. Think back to when you first interviewed for your current position. Did you hope it wouldn’t go well? Did you pray that you didn’t get the job?
How about when the call came in that you’d gotten the position? Did you curse your luck, kick the dog and go on a two day bender?
What about that first day? Did you come home to tell your family what a horrid, stupid boss you have and what an unfair, inept company you work for?
So what’s happened since? Familiarity, the saying goes, breeds contempt.
I think that what happened is that you forgot about applying, interviewing and starting. I think that rather than feeling gratitude for having the job and remembering that joy, you are focused only on what you don’t like. “But Frank”, you say, “My company really is inept and my boss is horrible!” Then quit.
Here is the deal. Think with gratitude about having the job, remember why you took it and what you expected. Act like a person who likes their job and try to change things OR GET OUT. Complaining doesn’t change things. Moping doesn’t change things. Carping with other employees by the water cooler doesn’t change things. Nothing changes until something changes and I suggest that the first change is you. A good job, a good life and good anything comes from the inside out.
2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day
“You can’t think your way in to a new behavior but you can behave your way in to new thinking.”
“The difference between knowing and becoming is doing.”
The great Dr. Rob Gilbert taught me this: Action adjusts attitudes, Motion changes emotion, and Movement alter moods.
Have you ever been in a stadium when everyone stands up and claps and shouts and waves their arms and jumps around in excitement? Do you think that you could sustain a bad mood if you were in that crowd?
Have you ever come back from a run or a good workout (without experiencing an injury) and been angry or in a foul mood? Action, movement/motion rule.
Try this simple test. At some point tomorrow decide to keep a slight smile on your face for about 30 minutes. See how differently you feel and how differently people react to you.
You can’t always decide to be in a better mood but if you behave like you’re in a good mood you will have trouble sustaining a bad one and the behavior will often change the way you are thinking.
Here is a good behavior that will definitely influence your thinking and your mood!. Call Dr. Rob Gilbert’s Success Hotline for a new three-minute motivational message everyday, seven days a week. I have been calling for 20 years and he never disappoints me.
I used to joke that if I said to my Dad, “Hey Dad, can I give you a million dollars?” He’d say “NO!” No was my Dad’s default answer. He said no to everything but not because he meant no; he said no in order to give himself time to think. As a teen asking permission for this or that, I learned early on that if I challenged the no right off he’d be forced to defend it and I’d lose. If I said “OK”, and walked away, oftener than not, he’d call me back in, ask a few questions and reverse the no.
Perhaps you are one of these naturally negative response people and your first response to new ideas and experiences is no. Recognize that you really want to buy time to think a bit but end up defending your no because it is the position you took.
Try replacing the no response with, “I’m not sure, give me a minute on that.” You can always come back with a no if that’s really how you feel but in this way, you won’t wind up defending a “No” position just to maintain the integrity of having said it.
Abe Lincoln said “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Your happiness is not determined by what other people do but by what you do. If you don’t make an effort to be happy, you have no right to whine about your lack of happiness. Happiness is strictly and inside job.
If you’ve ever called me and gotten my voice mail recording you will hear me say that, “I am having a fantastic day.” It says that EVERYDAY. It is my intention to make it a fantastic day everyday and I believe strongly, that it is mostly in my control. The question is, can we really be happy all the time?
Let’s go back to what Lincoln said about happiness being a choice. I won’t say that genetic make up isn’t a part of it. Some people certainly do seem have a naturally happy disposition but I believe that Abe hit it this one the head. Happiness is a choice we make in a dozen or so moments throughout the day.
Even more than a choice, i also believe that happiness is nothing more than an acquired skill set. That’s right; I believe that regardless of genetics and upbringing, you can learn to be happier.
Most of us are generally good at getting a quick dose of happiness like a quick vacation or a shopping spree and that’s fine but I also know we overestimate how happy the quick shots will make us and, worse, we recognize and lament the fading glow as we feel it wane even before the vacation or the shopping trip have ended!
Real happiness comes from contentment and satisfaction. It comes from gratitude and from giving. It comes form appreciating and being appreciated.
These are things we can work on. Try one of these exercises this week and let me know how you feel. Then write back to me with some results or add a few things to my list below.
- · Wake up and think of three things you are grateful for in life.
- · At the end of the day do the same thing.
- · Consciously smile more. (Make it the first item written in BOLD on your to do list so you see it all day)
- · Bring home a small gift for your significant other (a favorite candy bar, flowers, lottery scratch offs, whatever!)
- · Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you.
- · Call someone who is lonely. Especially someone you usually avoid because of how much time the call will take.
- · Consciously look for opportunities to compliment people and hand out 5 sincere compliments a day. Keep track!
I really do want your feedback on this one so please, don’t think someone else will do it, make believe I wrote this only to you.
2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and Grateful for every day!
People who have high levels of cynical distrust late in life, defined as the belief that self interest is the main motivation for other people’s actions have been found to be more prone to dementia and higher mortality rates according to a recent study of 1,146 people reported in Neurology.
This surprises me…NOT AT ALL!
The brain and the body are one. Thoughts, your outlook on life, your personality, your levels of distrust and anger will do you harm.
There is irrefutable evidence that a strong community connection and a good network of friends and family to love and be loved by is one of the largest contributors to good health and longevity.
How are you going to amass that network and bask in that love if you are a hyper-cynical ass?
2014 Motto:…”Mindful in Every Moment and Grateful for Every Day”
“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” This is true in all aspects of life. Whether you are requesting a favor from a family member, managing a work relationship or asking the barista to make your cappuccino extra hot, people respond well to kindness. This is especially true in a position of leadership. Eisenhower said, “Leadership is getting people to do what YOU want because THEY want to do it.” He held the rank of general but I don’t hear anything in there about giving orders.
Being nice isn’t always easy. Even the nicest people lose patience or get angry from time to time and I’m certain General Eisenhower had to dress down a few soldiers in his time. I’m not advocating that you adopt a Stepford wife’s saccharin sweet affectation as you go about your day but I believe strongly that a genuine interest in people and a smile is your best foot forward and I know that those attributes are the foundation of the leadership quote above.
The key here is consistency. “Turning on the charm” when you need something is manipulation and while you can fool some of the people some of the time, if your inner feelings don’t match your outward behavior that incongruence will show and more perceptive people will see what’s inside and respond accordingly.
Being nice carries through to business correspondence too. This week I got a note from Sears telling me that if I didn’t use my Sears card soon, they would cancel it. I thought, “So cancel it. I don’t even like Sears” Not so coincidentally as I listened to the radio later in the week I heard the business reporter say that Sears reported a loss of a half billion dollars. Perhaps a coupon to entice me in to the store would have been more effective…
2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day
“We have a HUGE problem!” she shrieked as she rifled through her closet looking desperately for a bag that would perfectly match her shoes.”
“We have MAJOR issues in the accounting department!” he said as he related the story of a transposed number that caused his group to receive some errant sales information.
When EVERYTHING is a MAJOR problem; nothing is. What I mean by that is that language needs to be appropriate to the scale of the issue or it loses its effect.
I recently heard the story of an army general who had this particular quirk of language imbedded in her everyday speech. When she was a young lieutenant speaking in meetings with her fellow officers, she would escalate, with tone and word choice, even the most benign personnel incidents being reviewed by the group. She said, “My language was too intense and my voice always carried more emotion than the situation warranted. The result was, I lost my vote. In those meetings and others my opinions were subtly ignored.”
The general went on to say that she was coached out of that language pattern and went on to be a more effective speaker and team leader which resulted in her achieving the rank of general. She said that that language pattern came from a place of non-confidence and a belief that she wasn’t being taken seriously enough.
This is another of example of those, “How to NOT get what you want” situations (See my August 7th blog post http://www.franksomma.com/2014/08/) People who catastrophize constantly are really just trying too hard to bring our attention to a situation they want us to see and don’t realize that the result of this over-emphatic style is, in fact, the opposite result. Over time, they are dismissed like Chicken Little, and The boy who cried wolf.
2014 Motto: “Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day”
I remember getting mad and then jumping in my car to go buy a pack of cigarettes a few months after I’d quit. Sometimes when we are faced with a very stressful situation, a threatening situation, a crisis or at least a perceived crisis, we reach for something that will reduce the tension or at least begin to assuage our anger or anxiety. Then after medicating ourselves with tobacco, food, alcohol, drugs, or yelling and swearing, we spend the next hours (days!) cursing ourselves for engaging in these self-destructive behaviors.
An alternative might be to get in touch with ourselves. When crisis, fear, anger or panic hit the first thing to do is to notice how the stress manifests in you. Is it neck pain? Head? Stomach? Once you notice the physical sensation you can focus on letting that particular tension go. Breathing is a huge part of that. Simultaneously it is important to identify your anger or fear. Did you connect the dots in way to produce this pain? (My boss didn’t accept my invitation to coffee, so she obviously doesn’t enjoy being with me, which means she thinks I am incompetent and she is going to fire me. Where will I find another job!? How will I pay my mortgage!?)
Perspective is the real key here. Few situations we encounter should inspire the level of fear and anger they often do. Someone cutting out in front of you on the highway shouldn’t warrant horn blasting followed by a string of expletives. Sure it was frightening when you had to hit the brakes but in the end, you weren’t hurt, you were just startled.
I find it is that way with most things. That isn’t to say that real life-altering, catastrophic, things don’t occur but , day to day, I find that if I take a minute to get in touch with myself I can often gain the perspective I need to avoid self-destructive behaviors.
2014 Motto: Mindful in every moment and grateful for every day!