During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln was greatly respected and greatly reviled. Blamed for plunging this nation into a civil war, he was the president people loved to hate. Those who opposed his views regarding the war and slavery, as well as his efforts to keep them united, were vocal and uninhibited in denouncing him.
One day during one of the darkest periods of his presidency, Lincoln was walking down a street near the Capitol in Washington when an acquaintance caught up with him. As they walked, the man brought up the subject of the growing anti-Lincoln sentiment growing in Washington and throughout the country.
With brutal honesty, the man related to Lincoln many of the stories outlining attacks on Lincoln and his policies. As the man spoke, Lincoln remained completely silent and absorbed in his own thoughts.
Then Lincoln stopped, looked directly at the man and said: “Yes, I have heard you, but let me tell you a story. You know that it is the habit of all dogs to come out at night and bark and bark and bark at the moon. This keeps on as long as the moon is clearly visible in the sky.”
Then he stopped speaking and continued his walk. Confused by Lincoln’s response, his exasperated companion persisted. “Mr. Lincoln, you haven’t finished your story. Tell me that rest of it!”
Once again Lincoln stopped walking and said, “ There is nothing more to say. The moon keeps right on shining.”President Lincoln is an excellent role model for managing criticism.
Although he was aware of his shortcomings and knew many highly respected and influential people disagreed with him, the president listened to the criticism and followed his own intuitive sense that his policies would eventually win over critics and unify the country.
One of life’s challenging realities is that there are always people around who are our fault- finders, people who seldom see the good but are quick to point out the negative. Like Abraham Lincoln, all of us need to find ways of hearing criticism without being detracted or destroyed by it.
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Ever wondered what you could do to increase your odds of winning the race of life, overcoming personal trauma, or pushing through obstacles that could be holding you back?
I believe the key is tapping into the strength that lies within you. That key is resilience.
One definition of resilience is the ability to withstand, adapt to, or rebound from, extreme challenges or adversity.
I have spent a good part of my life working with clients who have had to deal with some of the most horrific traumas one can imagine. Additionally, I have worked as a Crisis Response Specialist, working with school shootings, workplace violence, and natural disasters on an international level.
One of the insights that I have learned from all of this work is that most people have an incredible ability to not only bounce back but to move forward. In the counseling world, we talk about post-traumatic growth.
Many in the media highlight the issue of PTSD, as well they should, we need more awareness of the invisible wounds of war, school violence, and other traumatic events. In addition, we need more funding, research, as well as programs to help people who are dealing with PTSD. The good news, according to the National Center PTSD, only 7%-13% of those impacted by life-changing traumatic events ever develop full-blown diagnosable PTSD.
While it would be easy to do a series of articles on this topic, I want to focus on some of the themes that help people grow through traumatic events. Things that help people prevent PTSD. While no one will experience all of these, here is a list of traits that routinely show up.
Resilient people practice optimism – some people are “born optimists,” others are “trained optimists.” The key is to stay positive and hopeful while confronting the reality of a given situation. They do not deny the awfulness of the event, but they learn to look beyond it to a better day.
In the most recent case, the students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, though deeply impacted by the trauma of the shootings are pushing forward. As horrific as this event was, they students are mobilizing to have a kinetic impact on school safety, mental health, and gun control.
Optimism does not mean some weird type of Pollyanna, “everything is going to be ok.” Instead, it says that as a result of the trauma, these young people will be highly motivated in their recovery, the recovery of their friends, as well as being highly energized to make changes in our country.
Many people who experience post-traumatic growth enhance their resilience by finding a resiliency role model – someone who has done it. If you recall in the first few days after the shooting, survivors of other traumatic events descended to Florida to provide first-hand support to these children and teachers. When this type of sharing occurs between the most recent victims and those recovering from other events a kind of magic happens that enhances the recovery of all. A friend of mine put it this way, “Pain shared, is Pain Divided. Joy shared is Joy Multiplied.”
The next thing that many people who are developing their resilience muscle do is develop a moral compass and firm beliefs.
Faith, in my opinion, is the most important part of this. It means that you are learning to trust that God has a plan for your life and will look after you. You have a growing belief that a power bigger than you will guide you through the storms of life. You are learning to see the Lord as an active participant in your life.
Individuals who are developing resilience practice generosity and kindness – and unselfish concern for others, being kind-hearted, philanthropic.
Another trait of resilient people is they develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility, meaning the ability to learn and adapt their knowledge and thinking to new situations. They remember the lessons learned.
Resilient people are learning to face their fears and learn to control negative emotions.
Folks working on resilience are built an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress.
People who are resilient establish and maintain supportive social networks.
Resilient people are learning to laugh deep and often. Whether it be some “Old School Comedy” like the Three Stooges or more modern comedians like Steve Harvey or George Lopez, Aziz Ansari, Julia Louis Dreyfus, or Kate McKinnon be sure to find something or someone that can help you keep life on the light side.
One foot in front of the other
All that we have is each other
One foot in front of the other
Walk the Moon
Have you ever felt stuck?
You started off the year with new goals and refreshed dreams somewhere along the way you became distracted, bogged down, and may be disengaged.
I have experienced seasons like that in my life. It wasn’t like I intended to get stuck or drift off course, but it happened.
If this sounds familiar you have only three choices:
Live in denial and pretend like everything is fine.
Quit, give up on the goal, the dream, the vision.
Re-engage, begin to move forward again.
It’s funny how life will send you little reminders if you are paying attention. A few weeks ago I was on the road to a speaking event with the leadership team of the Gila National Forest in Southern New Mexico when some great lyrics caught my attention. It was a song by the group Walk the Moon titled One Foot in Front of the Other.
The lead vocalist, Nick Petricca in a Rolling Stone interview noted, “The song is about starting out into the unknown, being faced with uncertainty and what could be an uncertain future and to take the first step anyway.”
Petricca’s words remind me of the words about faith in the New Testament book of Hebrews 13:1, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is evidence of things we cannot see.” NLT
The resonating theme to me in this catchy tune is the theme that one has to keep moving forward, taking one step at a time, one step in front of the other.
I believe that this is one of the key components of resilience which is the ability to resist the manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction that are often associated with acute stress, upsetting life events, and personal trauma.
So is it time to get unstuck? Is it time to refocus? Is it time to use your resilience muscle?
If you are sick and tired of being stuck and you don’t want to live in denial or give up, I have some excellent news for you! I have six things that you can begin doing as soon as you finish this article that will give you some energy to start moving forward again.
Quit staring in the rearview mirror of your life. Quit focusing on the past, let go of it. If you need help with this, see your spiritual leader or get therapy.
Don’t be distracted by the bugs on your windshield, change your perspective.
Begin by taking baby steps. Avoid you little inner perfectionist voice and take action.
Consider your purpose on this planet. Hint: It’s not your job, it’s that thing that makes you tick, your passion.
Believe in yourself. You are a unique person that is fearfully and wonderfully made. You have a unique blend of talents and gifts. Rather than doubting yourself, I want to you make a gratitude list, once you finish this article. In that list, I want to you write down some of this gifts and abilities and be grateful for them. Refuse to sabotage yourself with deep-seated fears and false beliefs.
Change your thinking patterns, and you will change your life and outcomes. Incidentally, I have a free twenty-minute online course that you can sign up for today. It will give you the secret to managing your thought life in such a way as to improve your health, relationships, and business outcome.
To me, this image is the most powerful photo from the high school shootings in Florida, a mom, most likely a Roman Catholic who received her ashes earlier in the day is shown both terrified and comforting as she and others attempt to grasp what is unfolding.
How many of you asked yourself something like, “What would I do in a situation like that?” Here are some tips that I have learned over the years in my work as an International Crisis Response Specialist.
Crisis leadership is more about who you are than what you know.
I am deeply saddened and angry over the shooting that occurred yesterday in Florida. In my work as a Crisis Response Specialist, I have been involved in helping people directly impacted by school shootings, workplace violence, and natural disasters. Having lived in my adopted home state of New Mexico, I have seen, smelled, and have sat with victims, survivors, and first responders as they have shared their stories with me. In the days and weeks ahead many of my friends and coworkers in this unique line of work will be doing the same with victims, survivors, families, firemen, law enforcement and other individuals impacted by the horrific event. I would ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers also.
Over the next several days, let’s not get caught up in all of the political frenzies of this shooting, instead, let’s talk and listen to each other. Let’s comfort one another, pray with and for each other, and grieve this loss together.
The next portion is part of a training program that I provide business leaders regarding Disruptive Workplace Events. I hope you will take a moment to absorb it, and apply it where you need to.
Strategic crisis leadership involves high-leverage skills that are vital to corporate recovery in the midst of a crisis of any sort. To be a crisis leader, you need to have the following skills:
Define the event beyond the obvious
Anticipate the impact on stakeholders
Assess the effect on core assets
Forecast the intended and unintended consequences of decisions
Follow the values and guiding principles of the organization and your ethical standards
Basic Components of Crisis Leadership
Three necessary components of leadership:
Be is all about who you are.
Be calmly assertive – when calmness is not maintained in the fast moving a chaotic of a crisis, a combination of frustration and a need to either dominate or avoid will tend to show up.
Know is about the skills and knowledge you have to acquire.
You must have a vision and know the values of your organization for crisis resolution. It is essential to understand your vision, values, and guiding principles of your organization who you are making decisions.
Do is about the actions you take.
With the core vision, values, ethics, and guiding principles of your organization act in a timely and decisive manner.
Keep communication channels open. Listen carefully and accurately, communicate, accurately, and in a timely fashion.
Five Principles of Crisis Leadership
The well being of people first, with care and compassion.
Assume appropriate responsibility for managing the crisis.
Address needs and concerns of all of the stakeholders. (Know who they are)
Make all decisions and actions on honest, ethical and legal guidelines.
Be available, timely, in communication with all parties.
In a nutshell, an effective crisis leader must act deliberately, quickly, efficiently, and ethically with correct and high moral values.
How can you do this? Have a CIA mindset
C – Core assets-people, reputation, finances
I – involved stakeholders – all stakeholders who could be harmed (real and perceived)
A – anticipation – pray it never happens, but prepare as it will
Four ways you will get the news
Near but not on site
Remote from the incident
Social Media, which is becoming the new, unfiltered prime source
Four Questions you have to ask as an event unfolds.
How bad is it?
What is being done?
What is the potential for escalation?
Psychological First Aid for leaders
Account for everyone and assess immediate needs
Establish calm and order and minimize confusion
Protect personnel from further exposure to traumatic sights and experiences.
Make contact with victims, witnesses, and others that might be experiencing traumatic stress reactions. Listen to and assist with their concerns.
Help meet needs during the event and the early aftermath-from contacting loves ones to finding lost phones.
Maintain timely and open communication.
Have a buddy system in place for your leadership team.
Your Employee Assistance Team in as your Grief Counselors, they have the training and experience.
Lessons from Church and School-Based Incidents
Police will arrive first, make sure you and your team remember that the police will not know who the good guys or the bad guys are. If you have a weapon, put it down, and make sure your hands are visible and your movements are slow.
Media will be right behind the police. As a good rule of thumb, in the immediate aftermath of an event, say nothing to the reporters, and encouraged those involved in the incident to do the same. As a leader, what you say to the press and the police could be used as evidence in any future legal proceedings. It is wise to have an attorney present during all questioning, both in there immediate aftermath of the event as well as during any later follow up. Only when such legal advice is present should statements be made.
You will be inundated with spectators, media, and family members.
Police and first responders, including trained chaplains will be on the scene relatively quickly. Many states and large hospital teams may be available to help with the immediate crisis. There are also some national ministries and agencies that can provide help.
Media will want “exclusives.”
Way too many helpers will show up. Some who will be appropriate, some who are well-intentioned, and some with hidden agendas, or for personal gain. I have seen all of these in my deployments as a Professional Crisis Response Specialist.
Messages should be timely, factual, strength-based and forward-looking.
I have written this post hoping that you will find it helpful and informative, but praying that you will never need to implement any of it.
What do Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Jamie Fox, and Viola Davis have in common?
They reinvented themselves.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, world-famous wrestler to respected film star.
Jamie Foxx started out as a standup comic, turned singer with numerous # 1 Billboard hits and Platinum selling albums not to mention the fact he is an Academy Award winner.
Taylor Swift who has made a dynamic and successful shift from being the darling of country music to a dominating pop artist.
Viola Davis who was trained at Juilliard in theart of classical theater made a successful transition from stage to television to becoming a two-time Oscar winner. One for her portrayal as a 1960’ housemaid in the comedy-drama The Help and another for her role in Fences.
Ed Sheeran who has transitioned from a Gaelic folk singer to a rock vibe, then into a very marketable alternative sound that crosses many genres.
Why do you think these individuals needed to reinvent themselves?
I believe it was to remain viable in today’s marketplace.
The explosion of social media, the Amazon effect, and other massive cultural shifts are changing the way we do everything.
What about you?
Have you ever considered reinventing yourself?
Today, using some of John Manchin’s keen insight on three type of reinvention, I am going to ask you to take a look at where you are.
So, when you are looking to reinvent yourself, you need to realize you only have two options, change or die. Maybe not physical death, but the death of a vision, death of hope, end of a dream.
I recently read an exceptional article by John Manshi, an attorney, entrepreneur, and actor who I follow on Medium..com His words connected profoundly and profoundly, and mirrored my own experience. In the interest of full disclosure, the balance of this post is an intermingling of his article with my story.
Manshi reveals the three types of reinvention people go through in their lives, strategic moves which people can choose to make or not.
The Three Basic Structures of Reinvention
Is there a distinction between change and reinvention? Yes, all reinvention required change, but not all change is reinvention.
The Reactive Reinvention
This type of reinvention is usually sudden and immediately impactful.
You experience a job loss
You suffer an injury
You make a colossal misjudgment or mistake
Your spouse, or significant other cheats on you
Your company’s business model undergoes an abrupt change
Each of these events can lead to a reactive reinvention.
Reactive Reinvention comes about when an external event occurs and compels you to make changes. In this type of activity, you must change to advance your life and those things you hold dear. You cannot go back because the activating event that caused this is irreversible.
I experienced this twice with my work as a ministry professional. The first being when I moved to New Mexico, the second when the Senior Pastor left the church I was serving in New Mexico.
At that point, I had an epiphany. I needed to go back to school, obtain my counseling degree, and become a licensed professional counselor.
While the event shook me to the core, it caused me to take an intense and serious looking into my vocational call as a people helper. The lesson gleaned from this experience is you core calling will not change, but the way you live it out may be radically different from what you thought it would be.
The beauty of this type of reactive reinventions is even though it can and most likely will be an arduous task to start, the person you become will often be better and stronger than before.
The Proactive Reinvention
You want a new job or a promotion
You want to start a new business, write a book, or share your art
You want to improve your health or finances
You want to develop a new skill
You want to have a new adventure or experience
America is the land of dreamers and entrepreneurs who believe there is a better way to live
I have traveled the world in the past several years, and I can tell you from up close and personal experience, there is no other country in the world today which gives its citizens the freedom to fully pursue your dreams.
Proactive Reinvention is when you purposefully and intentionally change to take advantage or a trend or an opportunity that is in front of you.
On a personal note, one of my proactive reinventions was to become a Crisis Response Specialist.
As an ordained minister, chaplain and mental health professional I have been involved in helping people with events ranging from automobile accidents, natural disasters, acts of terrorism for some years. Also, I have served as a Stress Management Consultant Team for international agencies.
Early on I was keenly aware of how people respond to natural disasters; human-made disasters, mass casualty events and other disruptive events. Intrigues by my observations and reading, I began some independent studies in the field of Psychotraumatology, humans resilience, stress reactivity, and post-traumatic growth.
This proactive reinvention has opened the doors for me too as a specialist in both Disaster Mental Health and Employee Assistance Consultant who helps companies with Disruptive Workplace Events.
The crazy things about proactive reinvention are the power to condense an incredible amount of training into a relatively small, intense amount of time if you desire to transform is strong enough.
The third type is a by-product of failure. As mentioned before, I experienced this when I failed to be accepted into the counseling program all those many years ago. Also, the job loss in Albuquerque and the intense financial struggles for the next short season intensely confronted me on the need to rise out of the ashes of what I perceived as some of my miserable failures
The Reflective Reinvention
Reflective Reinvention occurs when you fail at something, but you still have a strong desire to continue on a particular path.
You may have failed numerous times. You may feel like a complete loser because of the number of times you have eaten the bitter tastes of failure. Nevertheless, something deep inside you will not go away.
The key to reinvention and transformation at this point in the game is to change something about yourself.
The only way to change yourself is to reflect on your situation. A simple way to do this without going into a negative spiral is to ask yourself three questions. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What can I do better or differently? After spending some time of honest reflection and counting the cost to make the changes, you will have clarity as you make the necessary adjustment and changes in your life.
Manshi proposed a question: Why do I care if there are three varieties on the theme of reinvention?
He continues, being able to identify the one you find yourself in is the key to determining the strategies you will need to move forward.
First, each style of reinvention calls for distinct, calculated strategies actually to make the necessary changes.
Second, when you utilize the correct strategy to the type of reinvention you are going through you immediately accelerate the desired outcome.
Third, if you fail to implement the suitable strategy/s, you will, no doubt, waste precious time and might not reach your desired outcome nor reach your full potential.
Here are some of very insightful thoughts Manshi shares about reinvention strategies.
The Reactive Reinvention Strategy
When you are trying to reinvent yourself reactively, you have an enormous amount of energy and motivation. Not all of this is positive, edifying energy, much of it can become detrimental, life-sucking energy, destructive power.
That negative energy comes from self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety, depression, loss, and possibly physical pain.
Here are a couple of “must do’s” to make this transition go forward:
Learn to manage the energy, both internally and externally. By doing this, you can use the positive, kinetic energy to propel you forward. If you fail to do this, there is a possibility the negatively could consume you.
To reinvent, it is imperative you use this burst of energy and transform it into your burning purpose.
The Proactive Reinvention Strategy
If you are going to reinvent yourself proactively, you must spend some time reviewing and analyzing trends. You must become opportunistic in the art of seeing what others cannot or will not see. You need preparation, education, and focused learning.
You will have to create margin in your life so you will have free, unencumbered time to prepare, learn and move towards the new opportunity to trend.
Finding time in the nooks and crannies is the most critical aspect of proactive reinvention.
For me, it meant working on my second Master’s degree while working full-time and being deployed for Desert Storm.
The Reflective Reinvention Strategy
When you engage in reflective reinvention, you have experienced multiple failures of something. As for myself, I had this crazy idea I should write. I attended some small writer’s conferences and workshops and began to submit to various magazines, online journals, as well as local outlets. I received many more rejections than acceptances, while these dismissals slowed me down, they did reveal I had something to say.
If your best effort and knowledge does not result in success, then the problem is easy to diagnose; you need information and input from a source outside of yourself. This might come through a mentor, a friend, a personal business coach or consultant.
This step can be a difficult one for many people because it may involve swallowing some pride to realize you are having trouble figuring things out. Being prideful will not allow you to see the back of your head. You need a mirror, a camera or someone else.
There is no shortcut. It is the only way to succeed. You need to consider finding a mentor, coach, consultant, or some source to help you with this step. They may be able to provide a missing or overlooked piece of the puzzle that you are trying to solve.
In my own, small but growing journey as a writer I have been so workshops, seminars, writer’s groups, mastermind groups, as well as critique groups. I have submitted proposals, received multiple rejections, while at the same time, having some things published. I have had friends make helpful suggestions have helped me improve in this area of my life.
So what am I doing to help with this reflective reinvention strategy:
I am learning about my blind spots and am finding workarounds
I am lowering some of the gates of my self-pride and am allowing others to speak to me.
I am growing an accountability group to help increase my effectiveness as a person, spouse, and people helper.
What about you? Are you either entering into one of these reinvention phases, in the middle of it or coming out of it.
I would love to hear about your journey in the comments.
How are those New Year’s resolutions going? In the interest of full disclosure, I am at about 60%, which, at least for me is not too bad.
The New Year is a time when so many of us consider making some changes in our lives; some people are looking to make some small changes others are looking to recalibrate, to reinvent themselves.
On the downside 80% of us will abandon most of those resolutions by mid-February, but what about the 20% that do keep them. So what are some ways to maintain those decisions, to recalibrate?
Resolution makers who have a measure of success move from thinking about making some changes to doing what it takes to make them hold. They intentionally move from a contemplative stage to an action stage.
Most of us have excellent ideas, ideas that will work. It might be to write a book, start a business, make some personal changes, or to suggest some changes in the workplace. The issue is that most of used a pretty lousy job of doing what it takes to execute those ideas. I know in my life, this has been an area of struggle.
I recently read an excellent article on medium.com by John Manshi titled, Only Three Ways to Reinvent Yourself.
He says, “When you are looking to reinvent yourself, you need to realize that you only have two choices, change or die. I will not be physical death, but the death of a vision, or the end of a dream.”
Manshi discusses three types of reinvention, recalibration and they are the reactive reinvention, the proactive reinvention, and the reflective reinvention.
In my personal and professional life, I have experienced all three of these. Some of these recalibration phases were very difficult resulting in job loss, a dynamic loss of income and some short-term personal challenges. Other recalibration phases have led to positive, kinetic changes in my life, business, and marriage. I hope that some of my life experience, as well as my years of working as a professional counselor, will give you some insight and tools to help you make the changes, rekindled the dreams and move forward.
In this series, I am going to show you how each of the recalibration strategies work and how you can take this information and continue to make the positive changes in your life, your business and your relationship.
So, what will you choose to do? Will you choose to stagnate or recalibrate?
Let me give you a personal invitation to join my email list to follow me in this series.
What were you doing when you heard about the incoming missile threat in Hawaii?
When I first hear the story, I had three different reactions, all within a couple of minutes. The first was, Oh, my God, North Korea did it!
The second was a flashback to my childhood which was in the 50’s, and 60’s when school children were taught to “drop and cover,” by a cute cartoon character Bert the Turtle and his human sidekick. Bert and his sidekick taught children what to do in the event of a nuclear bomb detonation. Their little carton taught to drop and cover. Now why in the world would we “drop and cover?” The uncomfortable truth is you dropped to protect yourself from the blast as well as flying objects, the cover part was to keep you from being cut by debris or being burned.
Looking back, this was a very vain attempt by our government to minimized the risk of nuclear warfare.
I don’t know if you and I can comprehend what it must have felt like to have that disturbing message show up on a cell phone.
As I was attempting to get my head around both the announcement and the retraction I wondered if some of my friends were still in Hawaii. So, I reached out to one. My question, “So were you still in the islands for the incoming nuke alert?” His response, Yes, we were driving across the island. All in the car received the alert on their cell phones. Everyone was panicked for a bit. Took about thirty minutes for the reverse announcement to be made.”
As crazy as this event was, particularly for those living in Hawaii, it is a very real reminder that we live in a dangerous world.
Public sources tell us North Korea has the missile power to deliver a nuclear weapon, but they lack two critical components. The first is a heat shield which protects the device from re-entry until detonation. The second element is a reliable guidance system to make sure the nuclear package is delivered to its designated target. The scary part of this is national experts have publicly stated the North Koreans are only a year or two away from having this capacity.
Watching the news clips of people running, people giving what they thought was their final greetings on various social media platforms was a poignant reminder of how fragile life is.
My third reaction as a result of this news story was the somber reminder that you and I are guaranteed nothing.
Life is fragile, and there are no guarantees about anything.
What do we do about this dilemma about the fragility of life? Do we eat, drink, and be merry, and act like all is well or do we hit the pause button for a few minutes.
Two things are certain, death and taxes. The death question is one most of us try to avoid unless we lose someone close to us, have a severe illness or accident or are getting up in years.
That question is how and when will I die? A question which uncomfortably and rudely flashed itself across the phones and minds of thousands as they contemplated what they thought was their last minutes on this earth.
But what about you, how would you handle this type of situation? Is there something you can do to be ready? After all, I don’t know anyone who thinks of death as a timely event.
While I am not signing up for an early checkout, I made a life-changing decision over forty years ago to become a Christ Follower and began a relationship with Jesus Christ. And while I am no saint, I have a deep inner confidence whether I live or die, no matter what I face, he is with me. He will guide me, comfort me, and accompany me wherever I go. I know whether I die of old age in my home or a hospital, in an accident or on one of my journeys, he will be there with me.
How about you? Death is an unavoidable reality, and one thing is for sure you are going to die someday. I want you to have a long, rich, wonderful life, but I also want you to be ok with your end story.
Would love to hear from you in the comments section.
Well, we are officially off to the retail madness of the Holiday Season with yet another Black Friday followed by Cyber Monday. As I pen this post, I am having a flashback about spending three Christmases managing a Christian Gift Shop in at the Macon Mall in Macon, Georgia. At the time, I was grateful for that chapter in my life, but I am glad is in my past.
For many people, this time of year is about as exciting as being told you need a root canal immediately. There are countless individuals feels an overwhelming sense of dread, worry, anxiety, exhaustion, and isolation. If you feel like this, you could be the victim of the Christmas Blahs, the Hanukkah Malaise, Kwanza Dullness, and for my neo-pagan friends, the Solstice Slump.
If you are someone who struggles with this time of the year, I am going to give you some mood lifting, stress-busting tips which could help bring joy into your life.
Santa is watching; please do not do anything that will embarrass him.
The commercial spirit of Christmas is a mysterious force that causes people to max out their credit cards.
You cannot string more lights than your redneck neighbor.
The harder you try to diet, the higher the likelihood you will get candy for presents.
Famous last words-“I have plenty of time left to shop before Christmas.”
A friend of mine who has been a broadcast journalist was interviewing me a few years ago and asked me to come up with Twelve Stress-Busting Tips for Christmas. The good news, he gave me two hours to come up with them. Thankfully, they were a hit, and over the years I have adjusted them to be current. I hope these thirteen tips will help you enjoy the Advent season, lighten up your stress, and help you catch your breath.
13 Tips for Cutting Down Holiday Stress
1. Shop for the significant people first.
2. Stay active, move around, see the lights, do something to break up your routine.
3. Think before you speak. Consider ruling out all conversations which involve your job, health, marriage, the past, the future, or the present. Keep it “Holiday Light.”
4. Re-read the Christmas story, go to a Christmas musical, or even visit a church. For those of you who have not been to church and feel like the roof might collapse when you walk in-I have great news; churches have particular roofing material can handle the shock of your presence.
5. Stay loose; 21st-century families seem to always shift and change.
6. Look for and pray about creative solutions from problems that might arise during the holiday season.
7. Mom and Dad-let your married kids develop their own holiday traditions.
8. Take your medication, supplements, and vitamins.
9. Limit let eating and drinking be the focus of your Holiday gatherings.
10. Buy an Advent calendar, even if you don’t have kids-it is fun to open the tabs
11. Watch movies like The Christmas Star, or a Wonderful Life at least one time.
12. Take some time to be alone and reflect. Relax, catch a breath, smell the fragrances of the holidays.
13. Remember the “Reason for the Season.” The Gospel of Luke 2:11, “The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (NLT).
Would love to hear how you manage holiday stress! Please leave a comment.
I have literally just come back from a two week deployment as a Stress Counselor working with the FEMA Call Center in Denton, Tx. The folks at this facility take the calls from Hurricane survivors in all manner of stress, including life and death situations. My job was to be with them ans share tools and tips that could help them deal with the sometimes intense nature of the calls.
My freind, Maggie Anderson from Albuquerque is currently in Tx working with a ministry team to help the Harvey survivors begin the process of recovery, I am thankful for her photo.
Here are twenty-Four Stress Relief Tips.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know men and women are continually being bombarded with stress. Whether you are married or single, young or old, stress is an ever-present challenge. Stress-related illnesses are on the rise and have you noticed all of the sleep aid ads on television. With all of this stress we are faced with I thought it would be a good idea to give you Twenty-Five Stress Relieving Tips.
Quit whining and try smiling.
Take a walk and walk and walk and walk.
Remember the lyrics to your favorite song, as long as it isn’t Johnny Cash’s version of Pain, you should be okay. Danger, if you find yourself singing an ACDC, Donny and Marie Osmond, or a Metallica tune call me, you might need some therapy.
Remember it’s not about you.
Hold spouse’s hand for ten minutes, with no expectations of anything else. He or she will love it.
Pray and meditate. You could start with the 23rd Psalm.
Get rid of your grungy shower curtain.
Admit you were wrong, confess your mess, and clean it up.
Shake it off. Have you ever watched athletes limber up their arms, legs, and head? Research shows “shaking it off” actually helps release stress.
Go to Starbucks with some friends.
Forgive someone who hurt you. The only one who pays the price of unforgiveness is you.
Go to church.
Water a plant.
Find a great view and savor it.
Let someone cut in line.
Download Tactical Breather and chill out for a few.
Add ten minutes to your Estimated Time of Arrival. Go ahead and drum on your steering wheel or dashboard. A study in Advances in Mind-Body Medicine showed group drumming alleviated stress. A drum solo may bring similar benefits.
Hold your tongue. When you want to answer someone quickly, respond slowly. The Bible says God gave you two ears and one mouth. Apply liberally.
Focus on the good in a situation. Robert Allen, a bestselling author, says, “No thought lives in your head rent-free.” You always have the power to choose your thoughts. If you opt to focus on negative, non-productive thoughts, it will cost you time, money, health, opportunity, and happiness.
Walk barefoot in the park, just watch out for dog flops.
Write a gratitude letter. This message can take one of two forms. First, sit down, with a pen and paper (no keyboarding) and begin to work on a list of things you are grateful. Be creative. Second, think of two people you are thankful for, a spouse, friend, mentor, or parent and write them a gratitude letter. Let them know what impact they have had in your life.
Get out of Debt Denial. Research shows getting realistic about your financial situation can lower your stress.
Drop the butts, if you still smoke, quit.
Trip silence. A tough one for me since I am a little ADHD. Try taking a trip without the radio, CD, or your iTunes or MP3 playlist turned off. Trip silence can be a welcome break from time to time.
I am so excited to share this important principle with you. To be a resilient person, an individual who is moving forward with their lives is connected. Recently I was tasked to write, produce and lead a webinar for a large DoD agency’s civilian employees call Surviving Stress. In my research, I was able to identify six primary qualities of resilient people. I am very grateful for Dr. George Everly’s book Resilient Leadership and some of the fresh insight I gained into leadership. Hopefully; you can apply some of what I am sharing with yourself or any organization. In recent blogs, I have discussed the importance of Active Optimism and Integrity.
In this article, I am going to look at the power of connection.
Research shows that healthy and supportive relationships can reduce stress and improve your overall health and sense of well-being.
Novelist and columnist Stephen Marche recently asked the question, “Is Facebook Making us Lonely?” In his article, “From Facebook to Twitter,” published in The Atlantic. He notes, “Social media has made us more densely networked than ever. For all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)-and that loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.
In one rather striking surgery, Marche says, the mean size of networks of personal confidants in the U.S. was shown to have decreased from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. In 1985, he adds, “10 percent of Americans said they had no one to whom to discuss important matters, and 15 percent stated that they had only one such good friend. By 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to, and 20 percent only had one confidant. I invite you to read the entire article.
I don’t know about you, but these statistics were alarming.
What does this mean? It says that in spite of all of our social media connections we woefully lack in face to face, skin to skin interactions.
Why should we develop our social support systems? Simply stated, if we don’t connect we die. Numerous studies are showing how the lack of social support can lead to increased loneliness, depression and anxiety. I don’t know if you remember the disturbing story of Yvette Vickers, the following excerpt is from Marche’s article:
YVETTE VICKERS, A FORMER Playboy playmate and B-movie star, best known for her role in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, would have been 83 last August, but nobody knows exactly how old she was when she died. According to the Los Angeles coroner’s report, she lay dead for the better part of a year before a neighbor and fellow actress, a woman named Susan Savage, noticed cobwebs and yellowing letters in her mailbox, reached through a broken window to unlock the door, and pushed her way through the piles of junk mail and mounds of clothing that barricaded the house. Upstairs, she found Vickers’s body, mummified, near a heater that was still running. Her computer was on too, its glow permeating the space.
The Los Angeles Times posted a story headlined “Mummified Body of Former Playboy Playmate Yvette Vickers Found in Her Benedict Canyon Home,” which quickly went viral. Within two weeks, by Technorati’s count, Vickers’s lonesome death was already the subject of 16,057 Facebook posts and 881 tweets. She had long been a horror-movie icon, a symbol of Hollywood’s capacity to exploit our most basic fears in the silliest ways; now she was an icon of a new and different kind of horror: our growing fear of loneliness. Indeed she received much more attention in death than she did in the final years of her life. With no children, no religious group, and no immediate social circle of any kind, she had begun, as an elderly woman, to look elsewhere for companionship. Savage later told Los Angeles magazine that she had searched Vickers’s phone bills for clues about the life that led to such an end. In the months before her grotesque death, Vickers had made calls not to friends or family but to distant fans who had found her through fan conventions and Internet sites.
Such a sad story.
Why is it so important to have an active social support network?
First, it essential to life. Even the Bible talks about the importance of being connected on a personal level. Doing life together is good for your health.
Second, many researchers have discovered that social support if one of the key components in recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Third, being connected can have a positive impact on your income.
Fourth, sharing your life with others invites them to share their life with you.
Fifth, having social support makes you stronger both in your personal life and in your relationships. The ancient wisdom contained in the Book of Ecclesiastes says “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” So, how can you begin to be intentionally connected? However, all relationships are not equally supportive. Building a network of supportive friends, or even just one supportive relationship can be vital to your wellbeing. Here are some essential skills that can help you to build relationships with people that are supportive and sustaining.
How to Meet New People
Find and develop a hobby
Join a church
Host a party or get together
Get a pet, and use the pet to meet others
Manage Your Time
Relationships take time, make sure you make time to grow face to face relationships.
Embrace Your Spine
Learn to be a little more assertive with your people skills. These skills will hep you strengthen your relationships, making them mutually supportive, lasting and open lines of communication.
Ask about their life, their feelings and thoughts then listen
Reflect back what you hear.
Instead of always trying to tie the conversation back into your experiences, focus on asking for more details by asking more questions to understand their perspective.
Listen with your ears, heart, eyes, and gut.
Start with Baby Steps One of the most rewarding things you can do to build resilience and enrich your life is to be intentional about building relationships.
I just finished listening to Jeff Goins’ new book Real Artist Don’t Starve.He does an excellent job of revealing how many famous authors, artist, and leaders were able to hone their craft in the context of intentional. It is a fantastic read, which demonstrates the importance of being connected.
I hope you will begin intentionally engaging others.