What’s Wrong With Some Constructive Criticism Anyway?

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What do you think it is about that most of us find it hard to focus on what is positive about our behavior or the behavior of another?  It seems that “constructive criticism” or “advice giving” tends to triumph above noticing what we or the other did well.  I would truly love to hear your thoughts on why you think this is often the case!  Do you find that pointing out what others could do better and what you didn’t do as good as you could have is your tendency?   If so you are not alone.

Here is my challenge:  for the next week I want you to write down three positive things about yourself each day.  If that is too difficult then you can write three positive things that happened in your day.  Notice what this exercise is like for you.  At the end of the week I invite you to journal about the experience.  Part two of the challenge is try and be conscious of acknowledging a positive trait or behavior that another did.  Be more on purpose about noticing what the other is doing correctly or something about the other that you want to compliment and/or encourage.  Then at the end of the week write down what that was like for you.

I can pretty much guarantee that if you are in need of judgment and criticism it is easily available probably in many facets of life.  And most of us tend to be our own worst enemy so I am assuming that a little focus on what is good and positive will not hurt anyone too much!  So why not just try it!

The two most impactful mentors in my life both used this approach.  One was my first boss when I was just 22 years old:   Linda.  She found a way to see the many creative qualities I possessed and focused on those more so than the many other aspects of my personality that had a long way to go to reach maturity!

The greatest example of this is my mentor, training, supervisor, and teacher:  Dr. Nina Garci.  Dr. Garci has been my primary training in the area of psychodrama since 1993.  Psychodrama is a very detailed and complex approach to working with clients.  From the first time I directed a psychodrama to current she always pointed out what she liked about what I did!  I have never experienced anything like it!  I became a wonderful psychodramatist without an ounce of correction!!!  Yes, there was years of training where I was taught intellectually and in practice how to be a good director, so there was instruction; just never pointed out all I did wrong, just what I did right.

That may leave you with a lot of “yes, but…” questions.  I am not saying that you too do it just as Dr. Garci did.  However, I am suggesting that focusing more on the positive truths will most likely serve all of us better.

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Four Sure Ways To Sabotage Your New Year’s Resolutions!

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Sabotaging method number one:  Aim High!    While aiming high can be advantageous in many endeavors I find that New Year’s resolutions stand a better chance of succeeding when they are more specific and realistic.  After all, the goal is to succeed at achieving these resolutions, correct?  The popular resolutions often involve losing weight and exercising more.  Aiming high might be saying “I am going to lose 60 pounds by summer.”  Or “I am going to work out six days a week.”  I would recommend you set smaller goals such as committing to losing five pounds at a time until you get to a weight you are comfortable with.  Or committing to working out a minimum of three times per week.  These are very attainable goals that you are likely to achieve.

Being Spontaneous in and of itself is a wonderful ability.  However, when it comes to succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions you will need a plan.  The idea of losing weight or working out more or spending less money, etc. are just that:  great ideas.  To make them more tangible you will need a thought out plan of action.  How will you lose weight?  Are you going to use a certain diet program?  Have you researched the program and made sure it is for you?  Also, I suggest you have back up plan in case you don’t like the initial program.  Quitting isn’t an option so having a second choice gives you some flexibility!

Devaluing yourself is sabotaging method number three!  While it is true there will usually be too much to do and too little time you have to make a conscious decision to prioritizing yourself if you want to be successful with your goals.  You have to decide you are worth it!  No guilt tripping yourself!  You will have to make your new goals a high priority.  For instance, if you decided to start a diet program to lose weight then it is critical that during the first six weeks you arrange your life so that outside of work and family duties you will be focusing on making you and your program a top priority.  For example, I started on a new diet December 27 last year.  A friend of mine was having a New Year’s Eve party.  I chose not to go because I knew there was no way I could follow my strict food program there.  It would have been a quick trip down the failure road.

Lastly, the command “Be Independent” is another path to failing at meeting your new goals.  While learning to be independent in general is a good thing, when you are seeking to learn new behaviors now is the time to ask for help.  Find a partner or two who also want to achieve similar goals.  Whether it be diet buddies or workout partners reach out and ask for support.  It is important to have emotional support with your goals.  A person you can call or text who can encourage you and help you stay motivated.   Or maybe you need to ask for additional professional help such as hiring a personal trainer, using hypnosis, a life coach or even therapy.

Do I Have To Forgive You?

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To forgive or not forgive! The topic of forgiveness is not a new one.  There are many books written on the subject with numerous variations about what forgiveness is and how to forgive.  I am often saddened by this topic because so many of my clients have been hurt by the beliefs about forgiveness that others have projected onto them.

What is your view of forgiveness?  Is it the often heard “forgive and forget”?  This doctrine about forgiveness seems to be a common one many struggle with.  This message about forgiveness is usually something that was learned via one’s religion or the religion of their family.  Even people who aren’t particularly religious seem to face this simplified view when they are fraught with the idea of forgiveness.  This message of “forgive and forget” seems to permeate through culture and time.

So, am I saying we shouldn’t forgive? Am I supporting you staying angry and full of resentment?  NO!  That is not the point.  However, my guess is that each of you who have been hurt in some way need your own process of forgiveness without being judged by others.  Often I think the one judging is simple uncomfortable with your painful emotions and therefore attempts to avoid these emotions by pushing forgiveness on you when you aren’t ready.

Does forgiveness mean forgive and forget? Well, I will let each of you make your own assessment of that.  However, how do you forget horrific things that have happen to you?  Does forgiveness mean that you tell your offender that what they did is ok?  Do you have to acknowledge to the other that you forgive them for forgiveness to have occurred?  These are all great questions.

I assume most of you have listened to the many terrible things that have happen to others via the media. I have heard people whose child has been murdered say they forgive the murderer and I have heard others share intense venomous rage.  I try not to judge either.

In my view the forgetting is not necessary to forgive. In fact, we don’t forget.  We don’t forget that our partner had an affair with our best friend.  We don’t forget that our uncle sexually molested us for three years when we were young.  We don’t forget the drunk driver that killed our sister.  How would one ever forget these horrific events?

Forgiveness is part of the grieving process, and the grieving process is different for each of us. The most important part of working through offenses that have occurred is for you to learn how to slowly move to a place where you are not full of rage and anger all your days.  That you learn how to move forward in life and become more productive.  How can you turn this hurtful event into something that energizes you for change?  Many people who have been through unimaginable tragedies have created new laws to protect others from the same injury.  Others have formed support groups, written books and more.

Respecting others during difficult times is priceless. It is the greatest gift you can give them and the greatest gift you can receive during these times.  Consider supporting others around you who have suffered hurtful events.  Do not project your beliefs upon them.  Deal with your own uncomfortable feelings. Acceptance is invaluable. Give this to others and demand it from others during times of suffering and loss.

Things Not to Say to People Who Are Grieving – #2

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2.      “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

A while back I did an all-day workshop on loss.  During one of the exercises people wrote on the board the stupid or hurtful things people have said to them.  This response elicited strong negative feelings from those in attendance.   While this may be your belief system and even the belief system that the griever adheres too, saying it to someone who is in the midst of suffering is not encouraged.  I think people often say this because they don’t know how else to comfort the person or they feel a need to make sense of the situation.  Please be considerate of the other person and keep that thought to yourself for the time being.  This is especially true when you don’t know the person’s belief system.

Even people with a very strong faith system question God when they are going through grief.  This is normal. The loss the griever is experiencing in the moment usually feels like much more than they can handle or ever imagined experiencing.  Statements like the above can make the person feel minimized, angry and they may want to distance themselves from you due to their mixed feelings towards God’s role in their loss.  This statement tells the person that God wants them to feel this pain or that God had a part in it.  The grieving person needs time to process their feelings towards God as they move through the stages of grief.

To the griever:  I have no idea why you are suffering the loss you are experiencing.  “Why?” is a normal question that is often asked.  No one has that answer.  The situation is overwhelming.  Feeling like it is too much to handle is normal and natural.  You are only human after all.  I hope you will seek out others who understand the difficult time you are having.  This is a time when you need the safe support of those who can help you through such a confusing and dark period.  Don’t try to handle these feelings all by yourself.  Please allow yourself to lean on safe and understanding people.

Are You Having A Positive Impact On This World?

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It is getting harder and harder to come up with creative ideas each week for my blog. Would love to hear from you! What do you want to hear more about? What do you want to learn more about? What interests you? I am here to be a blessing to you after all! I appreciate any feedback on potential topics of interest.
This week I have been thinking about the small things; the small things we do that may have a big impact on others. It seems all too easy to minimize who we are; minimize the value we each have. Have you often wondered what you are contributing to this world? Maybe not; maybe you are actively engaged in some sort of ministry like Marianne Williamson or Wayne Dyer. Well, if neither Marianne nor Wayne is reading this (and the countless other who are in the public eye) then sometimes you may wonder if you matter; if you are contributing enough.
I don’t think this is a bad question to ask. It is good to evaluate where your energies are directed and if you are happy with that direction. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget the bigger picture. The ‘whole’ if you will. You are more than just your daily routine. However, in that daily routine you can contribute much in ways you may not imagine as significant. Often it is the small things that may matter most.
Maybe it’s giving the person in line the few extra cents they needed to pay their bill. Or maybe it is helping someone pick up their mess after they dropped their bag. Maybe it is letting the person who has fewer groceries than you go ahead of you in line. The smile you shared with the woman on the elevator may be just enough to brighten her day. Taking time to make and deliver a welcome pie to your new neighbors. These may all seem too simple however, you never know what kind of day or week that person has had. You may be just the friendly gesture she or he needs to make it another day. Never minimize these small caring acts.
I remember when I was in graduate school (a long time ago) and I was in need of money. Someone anonymously left me $20.00 in an envelope! I still remember it today! I imagine you can think of small things that meant a lot to you. I am not saying that the big gestures aren’t important too, however, today I want to remind you the importance random acts of kindness. I read a quote yesterday that sums it up. It is written by Desmond Tutu and reads “Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put all together that overwhelm the world.” How awesome is that! Post this quote someone where you can read it daily.

I Don’t Want to Eat My Green Beans!

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Growing up I distinctly remember my mother trying to feed me those awful vegetables. I didn’t do too well with her canned string beans or cooked carrots. Of course she explained to me how important it was for me to eat my vegetables because they have lots of vitamins and nutrition that I needed. Unfortunately her reasoning did not convince me to eat what she said was good for me.

This got me to thinking about our lives as adults and how many things we know are good for us to do, yet we don’t choose to do them. I am assuming now that we are adults that most of us understand how important it is to eat our vegetables. The majority of us logically know about many other things that are also very important to our health yet for many you don’t comply with what you know to be good for you.

Today I want to focus on your physical health and a few areas that you may struggle with doing what is good for you. An important task for us all is to attend yearly physical check-ups and other recommended preventative procedures. Although I do not want to be nor mean to be sexist, I will admit that the majority of female clients, friends, acquaintances that I have are prudent about the need to attend their yearly check-ups and take the time to attend these appointments. I am sure there are exceptions to this and for these women I encourage you to consider what may be keeping you from taking care of and responsibility for your physical health.

Many of the men I know personally, or my friends’ husbands or clients seem to have some resistance to taking time for regular yearly physicals. This is of course not true for all men, but I have witnessed it often. If you are one of these men that don’t usually see a doctor I plead with you to reconsider. Ask yourself what is stopping you. Remind yourself that prevention is always best and it is a good thing when the doctor tells you all is well!

Another essential area is our eating habits. We all know how important it is to give our bodies the fuel it needs to work most effectively. In this area I hear a lot of “I know I should but…” comments. What makes this area so hard for you? Are you eating fast food often? Buying frozen food to pop in the microwave? How is it that for so many the vehicle that moves us about in this world is often treated so badly; even neglected?

Exercise is also something that is good for us. Regular exercise is good at any age and even more important as we age. Exercise helps us cardiovascularly; assists us in keeping our muscle tone; helps our metabolism; and can improve mood. I understand that many of us have excellent reasons why it is hard to fit this into our lives. Life is very hectic. However, exercise is also good for you and needs to be incorporated into your lifestyle.

I hope that this blog today will more motivate you to take responsibility for your body overall. You are given this one body to move about on this earth and it is your job to take care of that body. The healthier your body is the better you will feel in the other areas of your life. Ignoring your body puts you at great risk of suffering unnecessarily.

What Kind of Karma Are You Creating?

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Karma is a word that many of us have heard or even used ourselves. It is an interesting concept. While the meaning of Karma is more extensive than I am going to share, one simple definition by Merriam-Webster.com says that Karma is “the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to people.” While some believe this Karma is transferred to future lives I will focus on our existence in this life time.

Are your actions and words creating good Karma for you? Do you feel good about how you’re leading your life? Ideally I prefer to behave in ways I feel good about. It is an honorable goal. I find it easier to do this when I am being conscious of my choices. I can more easily behave and speak in ways I want when the situation is calm and I am somewhat in control. The challenge seems to come during those other times that are unexpected, dramatic and sometimes hurtful.

I recently read a quote that said something to the effect of “How someone else behaviors with you is there Karma how you respond to them is yours.” Wow! I posted that for a while in my office as a reminder to myself. I recently had a hurtful and surprising experience happen with a medical professional in the community. It set me off balance mostly because it was hard to understand how someone could behave in such a manner. Can any of you relate? Did that then give me permission to behave in kind? I didn’t want that so I had to stay very aware of my choices in responses and also how I elected to view the situation.

What situations challenge your character? Is it the rude person in line at the store? Is it your cranky neighbor? Is it your son’s coach? The person who is driving too fast or too slow? How do you choose to react? How do you deal with frustrating situations? And are you willing to help someone when you see a need; to behave in kindness. I know this can be a challenge for many of us and I certainly haven’t been perfect. However, noticing your reactions to people is a worthy endeavor.

Creating good Karma seems like a wonderful idea. Weather you believe in Karma or not the concept of behaving in ways that display the best of you sounds like a good way to go!