Category Archives: Self-Help

Making the choice to be a single mom

Being a single mom is incredibly hard. It is doing it all, being everything for your children, and it is taxing on yourself. The reality is nobody actually decides “yes I want to be a single mom,” “yes, I want to do this by myself.” It is not a choice. It is something that comes as a result of another decision—whether it be getting divorced from your spouse, deciding not to marry the child’s father because of your relationship with him, or feeling like you have no other way to have children except to do it on your own. It is the absence of a partner but it is not a direct choice. 

I was raised by my single mom. She had choices to not be a single mom. She could have chosen to stay in an unhappy relationship so that she didn’t have to care for me by herself. Instead I would hear her cry in the middle of the night because this gig is hard. But it was something she needed to do for us, for herself. 

Of course she would have preferred to have someone to help split the parenting duties. Or course she wanted to give us a stable home. But she also wanted to show us that she wasn’t willing to give up on her ideals. That she was strong. That she wasn’t going to compromise her happiness to stay in an unhappy relationship. She was showing us to stand up for yourself and to follow your heart, as hard as it can be sometimes. She did make choices. Very difficult ones. But it was never about a desire to parent by herself. 

Screw the five-year plan

We get asked by our college professors, potential and current employers, our parents, our mentors—what is your five-year plan? You are encouraged to write it down. Put it on paper. Stick to it. The reality is, you need to learn to let go of that plan. 

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have goals, plans, and dreams you want to accomplish. You can choose to write up an outline of sorts but don’t get too attached. 

We change. Life changes. Things happen that we don’t expect. That is the beauty in uncertainty. You never truly know where the road will take you. Events that happen to us shape us as people. Things we learn over time change our way of thinking. Our experiences create deep roots inside our souls, and the people we thought we would become no longer seems as fitting. 

We fall in love, we have children, we move for careers, maybe you end up in a place you didn’t originally plan. The course changes. There is no need to be a perfectionist about the plan. It is ok to deviate, to take another road. We can get so stressed, so exhausted trying to keep things lined up with the plan. But what is the real purpose of that plan? 

You made it to keep yourself focused. To help achieve success and happiness. If those things come a different way than expected, that is ok. I say it all the time, you have the key to happiness inside of you. By letting yourself get so attached and worked up over the plan, you are denying yourself the happiness to enjoy where you are and how far you have come and where you might go if you embrace change. 

Change is good. It is growth. It is learning. It is having an open mind. It is going with the flow. 

How has your five-year plan changed over time?

You have Imposter Syndrome? Hey me too!

It is not uncommon to feel like an imposter in your own body. It is called Imposter Syndrome, and I have it too. It is this deep-seeded fear of being found out. Like you aren’t really good at what you are doing. Like you don’t deserve the success you have. 

These feelings do not discriminate, many successful men and women feel like they are a fraud. 

Actress Kate Winslet told The Mirror, “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.” Actress Emma Watson told Rookie magazine, “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.”

Actor Ryan Reynolds told Men’s Health that he feels like just a “freckled-face kid, faking it until I make it.” Even Tom Hanks said on the podcast Fresh Air that he worries when people are going to discover that he is “a fraud and take everything away from me?”

Why do we feel this way? Why is it so hard to believe that we are capable of such success? The reality is you have earned it but sometimes you struggle with your self-confidence. Evolutionary speaking, humans have an instinct to stay small to protect ourselves and our children. Being big can be uncomfortable, and vulnerable. If we stay small we feel like it is easier to hide. We aren’t in the spotlight, few people are watching. 

We focus on our goals, our values, but then, in the end, deny our own roles in our success. Why? Who are we comparing ourselves to? It is ok to not know how you became successful. To not know how you “pull it off.” Take a moment to really look at yourself and think about who you are stacking yourself up against and then stop. Stop denying that you are deserving of your success. 

If you really have no idea what you are doing—as many of us don’t— that is fine, keep doing it. That is where creativity comes from. 

Do you ever feel like an imposter? Why?

Source: https://www.instyle.com/celebrity/stars-imposter-syndrome#3163080

Sick of people taking advantage of you?

People know a good deal when they see one, which is great, except when that “good deal” is you. Always being the one that is called on to step in, help out, or get the job done, can leave you feeling used, resentful, and overwhelmed.

The People-Pleaser

I am talking about being that person who never says “no,” the people-pleaser. The good news is you don’t have to go on like this. You can establish boundaries and teach the people around you how you want to be treated. You can learn how to say “no,” to do the things that make you happy and turn down the things that do not. Stop enabling. 

First things first, you should ask yourself why you feel like you need to please others? What drives you to never say “no?” Does it have to do with your self-confidence, or wanting to be liked/respected, etc. Are you trying to compete with others around you or prove something to yourself or others? Whatever it is, come to terms with it. Taking on all these things and being “walked” on is not good for you. You are worthy of your time. Your time is important. 

Establish boundaries. Be firm but permeable. I am not telling you to shut out the world and turn down everything. I am encouraging you to figure out the things you would like to be doing and do those things. It will do wonder for the relationships in your life because you feel better about how you are spending your days. You won’t feel the resentment you have felt. For example, if you have a friend or family member who is always expecting you to run errands or always wants to borrow money from you, let them know that ends now. Tell them nicely yet firmly that you are not comfortable helping in this way anymore. They may get mad for a little while, but eventually, they will learn to respect your time and energy. 

You need to take care of you before you can fully take care of anyone else. You need to create your own happiness. Put your foot down where needed and get back to doing the things that leave you going to bed with a smile on your face. 

If you need help getting started seek out a licensed counseling professional, they can help you begin the conversation. 

Embracing interests can determine future success

Clients tell me all the time that they want the freedom to make their own choices, yet they are afraid to fail. Sometimes they end up stalling to prevent missteps that could affect their future. They don’t want to do things they enjoy because they think it is not “useful” on their resume or for their future career. 

Your personal path

Sometimes doing the things you enjoy even though you don’t think they are “useful” at the time end up leading you to bigger and better things. It takes exploring your interests to grow as people. Just because it doesn’t feel “useful” at the time to take the class, or learn the hobby, it can be the first sign of creativity. It can feel like you are wasting your time but in the end lead to greatness. It is all part of our personal path. Life experiences, learning moments, all help us to become who we are meant to be. It may not be easy. Other people may laugh or ridicule us for the things we have done but they are all important to our success—however big or small. 

Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class at Rice University. At the time he was about to be a college dropout and wanted to learn more because he was interested. When developing the first Macintosh computer years later, the attention to typefaces became one of the most important/sellable features of the computer. It was that leap that helped to get him to the success he eventually achieved. It was all part of his path. Every experience can be a learning experience. By avoiding failure or potential mistakes out of fear, you are depriving yourself of a learning moment that could later change your life. You never know until you try. 

Failure can be scary. There is no doubt about that, but don’t let that fear stop you.  Don’t let that feeling of making a mistake in your education stop you from doing the things you enjoy. You never know where your experiences will lead you. 

What interest have you followed that later helped you in life?

Not enough time? Try this to Improve your productivity and fulfillment

In life, there are things that excite us. They make us feel alive and joyful. Then there are the other things, the things that make us say “Ummm…” and don’t provide joy. They are the things we may feel obligated to do or the things we do just to give them a shot but they feel more like work than something we want to be focused on. These things can be time eaters, energy eaters and they leave us less time and energy to focus on the things that truly make us happy. 

As my time gets filled up more and more these days, I have made a “hell yes” list and “hell no” list. Ten percent of my list are absolute “hell yes” items and another 10% are absolute “hell no” items. Those items are non-negotiable, meaning I will either be definitely doing them or definitely not. The other 80% of things are in-between. Of the in-between items, I try to say “yes” to 25% of the things and “no” to the other 75%. Why? Because that way all that energy I was focusing on things that did not bring me joy can be focused on the things that I want to be doing. 

This is a great way for me, as life gets busier and more overwhelming, to keep things in perspective. I want to live a joyful, fulfilling life but in order to do that I need to focus the majority of my energy on the things that make me feel good to be alive. They are the things I look forward to waking up to. The things that make me feel good, and make me a better person. Of course, we have those things we have to do that we don’t really want to but by limiting how much of our time we spend on those things we have more time for the things we really love. Life is short, don’t waste your time on the stuff that doesn’t drive your soul. 

What is on your “hell yes” list?

Smart Persistency vs. Dumb Persistency

Persistency is important in life. But, there are different ways to be persistent. There is the smart way and the not-so-smart way. 

Learning from failure

Smart persistency is having a goal in mind and tweaking things in order to get closer to making that goal a reality. It is getting up when you fail and trying again while learning from your mistakes. It is not letting mishaps get you down but rather taking a different approach. Maybe you have applied for the same job over and over again and you just aren’t getting it. Smart persistency is looking at what isn’t working in your job application. Maybe it is re-working your resume or changing up your cover letter. Or, you could be trying to master skiing, or some other sport, and it is just not clicking. It is looking at what is making you fail and trying to improve on it. 

Dumb persistency is continuing to try but not making any changes. It is getting down on yourself because you keep failing but not trying to improve in other ways. It is ignoring past mistakes instead of learning from them. It is important that you keep trying but you also need to take a deeper look at what is working and what isn’t. Maybe it is making a list to compare each try, or talking to a friend or colleague to get an outside opinion on the matter. If you continue to try in the exact way you have been, you will most likely continue to face failure. 

Being persistent is important. Without persistence, a lot of things in this world would not have been created. If Thomas Edison had given up on the light bulb, it is possible there would be no light bulb. He was persistent in his efforts, and each time he applied something new he had learned from previous failures. Don’t give up, just be smart about it. 

What is something you have been persistent about, and ultimately achieved?

Creating a new ‘normal’ after loss

You lost someone you love, someone near and dear to your heart. Maybe this was a person you spoke to on the phone a few times a week, or someone who lifted you up and supported you. Maybe it was someone that was part of your day-to-day life. Maybe it was a parent, child, sibling, friend, or even a pet. Regardless of the circumstances, losing someone you love is incredibly difficult. It can be hard to “go on” after such a loss. You suddenly don’t know what to do with your time, what to do without that person or pet by your side. 

Honor what once was

The fact is, we are not the same after we lose someone. It is not easy to transition between what once was and what now has to be. Grieving is building a bridge between the old and the new, with each piece being put into place a piece at a time. It is a slow and concentrated deliberate process. You may have heard others say, take it a “day at a time” or even a “moment at a time.” Start slow. Don’t expect to feel better in a day, a week, a month. Yes, you will find that new normal. You will find your place but it is a process. 

For example, maybe you have lost a grandparent whom you visited every Wednesday afternoon for coffee and a chat. Although things have changed, you can create a new tradition. Maybe replace it by going to a coffee shop and reading a book your grandmother enjoyed or visiting a special place of hers. Maybe use the time to call a friend or relative and chat. You don’t have to completely change your routine just alter it a bit to ease the transition while honoring what once was. If you have lost a pet that you walked every morning, replace that morning walk with a jog. These small changes, although full of a emotion and feeling much larger, will help you to build that bridge from old to new and rediscover contentment. 

Loss is not easy but the pain does subside when we acknowledge it and honor it. You can move forward, you can hold on to the old while going forward in the memory of your loved one. After all, they would want you to find happiness again.  We don’t need to gloss over our grief. Grief exists because we love. 

What small steps have you taken to build a new normal after loss?

Don’t Be Nice: Do This Instead

There is a difference between being nice and being genuinely kind. Being nice is on the surface. It is superficial, pleasing, and agreeable. It is making people happy around you but not necessarily meaning it. It is not authentic, not deep, and not always true. 

Being kind goes deeper

Rather than “being nice” as you have been told since you were a child, practice kindness. Being kind goes deeper. It is the practice of being compassionate and authentic. It is establishing healthy boundaries and truly meaning what you say, what you do. When we reach the point of just “being nice” we are damaging our relationships and creating unhealthy situations for ourselves. Running errands for a neighbor “just to be nice” or volunteering at an event “just to be nice” establishes unhealthy boundaries. 

When we, instead, do things out of deep-seeded kindness from within, it means we genuinely care about what we are doing. We have a vested interest in how things turn out and the people around us can see that. It means we aren’t just doing things because we feel like we have to, we are doing them because we really truly want to do them. We really want to bring the neighbor dinner, we really want to help with the shopping for the school event, we want to help a friend out with a project, or hold the door open for a stranger. 

Avoid teaching your children to “just be nice.” Instead, explain to them what it means to be kind and to establish healthy boundaries with that kindness. Teach them how it feels to truly be helpful and to want to do good things for others. In turn, you are teaching them to be genuine, to be truthful and to take care of themselves. You are not teaching them to overextend themselves for the mere purpose of “being nice.” You are teaching them to dig deep inside themselves and determine what they can do to be good people, not superficial or fake. 

It might feel like a thin line but chances are you can think of a few times in your life you have just been nice and differentiate between the times you truly meant what you were doing—those times you were being kind. 

How do you practice kindness?

My daughter thinks another girl is pretty: Part 3

This week’s series of posts (read Part 1 and Part 2) has been all about my five-year-old daughter and how she thinks another girl is pretty, and the many opportunities to help her (and myself) learn more about life that have come out of these feelings. 

Handling Rejection

As I mentioned in Part 2, my daughter decorated a card for this girl and attached a pretty plastic ring to it. When she was done with the card she told me she was “scared” to give the card to the girl. I saw this as an opportunity for me to teach her about rejection. 

I asked her what she was “scared” of. She said, “what if the girl doesn’t like it or is mean about it.” I gave her some things to think about, and put the situation into perspective: 

1.) If it is kind words, you have no need to be scared. The best you can do is be kind to others, and saying nice things — being uplifting— is a good thing.

2.) If someone says “no” to you but remains respectful, we need to respect their choice. Consent is not just for boys. It works across all relationships—whether it be romantically or just a friendship. Everyone has the right to say “no”.

3.) If someone says “no” to you and are disrespectful/mean, you don’t need to worry about what those people think. They aren’t worth your time if they aren’t going to consider your feelings. If they are not going to be nice to you, then you don’t want to be their friend anyway. You deserve to be respected and treated fairly and kindly. Walk away from those situations where you are not treated with respect. 

Rejection is hard. No one likes to feel rejected, but it is part of life. Children, just as adults, need to learn how to handle rejection in a healthy manner. They need to understand what is ok and what is not when it comes to how other people treat them, and how they treat others. As adults, it is our job to help them process these situations so they know (1) its ok to be sad, disappointed (2) it is not ok to be treated unkindly, or to treat others unkindly (3) it is ok to say “no”. 

Do you remember the first time you felt rejection, how old were you? How did it make you feel? How have you helped your child through a moment of rejection?