Losing Hope, Winning Grace

Today, I am going to share a personal story.  It feels like an important personal story.   About five months ago I began struggling with depression.  Five months ago, I began struggling with depression, again.  These feelings and symptoms were not new to me; lack of motivation, low energy, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, tearfulness, and lack of feeling joy.

After my education to become a therapist, I realized that since I was about 12 years old, I had been struggling on and off with depression.  My depression also paired with anxiety.   I later learned that it is common for these conditions to be co-morbid.  These labels seemed dooming to carry and wrong to tell others about.  I worked in mental health but the social stigma was still around.

I want to share this story because it is important for everyone.  You or someone you know may be struggling with depression or anxiety.  It is not something to be ashamed of.  It is crucial to begin the conversations about mental health.

Talking to my friends, coworkers, and family was helpful.  I researched different ways to deal with depression including medication, talk-therapy, exercise, diet, and mindfulness.  I began seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist.  The best thing for me was to know that I was not alone, and to find resources to help me get better.  My depression and anxiety has gradually gotten better.  I am beginning to feel happy again, able to get out of bed and revived with motivation.  I am feeling like myself again.  I am aware of my biological predispositions and of current environmental factors.

May is Mental Health Month. There is hope about educating the public to be aware about the mental health problems that they or people they know may be struggling with.

Lets Look at Statistics and Facts about Depression and Anxiety:

  • Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States.
  • As many as 2 out of 100 young children and 8 out of 100 teens may have serious depression.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about 1/3 of those suffering receive treatment.
  • It is not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression.

(statistics gathered from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

When it comes to anxiety and depression we have to give ourselves grace that these difficult mental health issues take time to get better.  It is important to know that we can learn ways to cope with the symptoms.  It is important that we don’t lose hope.  What is important is that we ask for help.

 

 

Adapting for the Millennial Workforce

How do we prepare for millennials in the workforce?  What are we missing when it comes to understanding this generation?  Why do we want it to be similar to generations before it?

Some people see the millennials as an entitled generation; that they expect things  they didn’t earn.  A generation that is used to instant gratification.  After all, they never had to press rewind on a cassette player and wait 5 minutes for it to rewind.  The millennials are used to anything they want at the touch of a screen.  They are different. They are very different.

millennials-in-charge-640x302

There is a new status quo.  The millennials want quicker, faster and easier.  I mean, can we blame them?  We might see it as collaborative social anxiety and an embellished sense of self.  However, what if we change the way we see it?  How can we begin to adapt for the millennial workforce?

What if we said, they have an ability to collaborate and a high sense of pride for their work to resemble self.

As psychology heads towards positive affirming, we should establish more hope for the future.  Previous generations need to update our attitude while the millennials update their status.  The millennials want consistent feedback and less aggressive micromanaging.

Preparing for the millennial workforce takes a different approach:

  1. Encourage Collaboration – Millennials are encouraged by competition.  They are competing for “likes” and not just on their Instagram, but in the workforce.
  2. Learn from their Tech Savvy– Learn something from your younger counterparts.  They are tech savvy and they have been using iPads since elementary school.
  3. Give them Independence– Independence is important to the millennials.  Micromanaging this generation will cause nothing but headache for you and quitting for them.
  4. Welcome Change – As a hiring manager or business owner you will have to accept where this new generation is.  Change is here and it happens faster than it used to.  This generation embraces change. You need to as well.
  5. Cultivate Inspiration– Cut the coddling, but keep up with the Kardashians.  Millennials are inspired by realities that past generations may not understand.  They are influenced by social excitement and energized by new ideas.
  6. Recognize their Values– Money isn’t enough.  They use plastic or scan apps to pay for things.  They don’t place value on money.  They have barely even seen it.  They want to take a selfie at Machu Picchu instead of buying that new BMW.  The monetary value doesn’t override the freedom.

We are not impressing upon the indulgent.  We are not acting like overprotective parents.  We are building a new workforce that appreciates positive feedback and collective collaboration.  So how do we prepare for the millennials to take over the workforce?  We encourage, we connect, and we inspire.

Lessons of a Mindful Life

When you stop comparing or expecting you begin to see the world for its beauty.  You walk more slowly and you love more fully.  You learn that we are humans and that we need one another.  You learn that fear is really what drives all your worries and that hope is what drives your purpose.  You gain insight with intention.  You listen more than talk and give more than receive.

You learn about yourself.  You understand that in order to be the best partner, you need to love you.  This means leaving behind the years of trying to figure yourself out and enjoying the person you are each and every day.  Be unapologetic in the way you treat yourself.  Take care of your mind, body, and soul.  Do yoga.  Get massages. Read books. Engage in conversations. Be open-minded.  Build a firm foundation in yourself.  Always be willing to give yourself second chances.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t be a victim.  Take risks and chances, but protect your heart.  Learn to sit and breath without the distraction of another person in the room.  Be willing to take yourself to dinner and announce “just one.”  Don’t be ashamed to cry.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.  Leave your bad attitude as quickly as you can.

img_1061

You learn to laugh.  You learn to let go.  You learn to have fun.  Then you stop comparing yourself to others.  You learn that telling yourself you are beautiful isn’t vain.  And that shame and guilt are heavy shoes and walking in them for too long is tiring.

You learn about work.  You learn that working isn’t an option.  You learn that loving your job is a huge step towards a happy life. You learn that having great co-workers is as important as having great friends.  You learn that someone else bad day doesn’t have to ruin yours.  You learn to have an attitude of teamwork.  Suggestions and criticisms become constructive and not offensive.  You engage in the team effort.  You learn that you can’t micromanage and you let go of perfection.  You know that always having to be right is exhausting.

You learn about friends.  You keep the friends around who are genuine.  The rest float on.  You learn that having a small number of true friends is better than thousands of Facebook likes.  To be a good friend, you have to be giving.  You have to reach out to your friends, spend time laughing about the past, enjoying the present, and not worrying about the future.  You learn that being single around your coupled friends is humbling and not feeling lonely is rewarding.  You learn that feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time and reaching your hand out to others alleviates the discontent with yourself.  You learn not to gossip.  You learn that communication doesn’t have to be constant.  That like-minded people make you feel alive.

Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers.  Say hi to someone in the grocery line.  Give a high-five to a kid walking by.  You learn to stop staring down at your smart phone and look up.  Don’t be afraid to smile even when you don’t feel like it.  Act as if.  Act as if you care, love, and have compassion for every person you meet.

The Power of Positive

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

                                          –  Mohandas K. Gandhi

Gandhi was a wise man.  The power of language and our thoughts will influence our feelings and actions.  Think about it. Three things often go together; our actions, our feelings, and our thoughts.  What you say or do has the power to dictate how you feel or think about something.  Our mindset can influence our emotions.  How cool is that?  We can influence our emotions.

img_2967-2

One of the greatest lessons I have learned and now teach, is that have influence in how we feel about things.  That puts us in a better mindset for coping with struggles or maintaining successes.

Here are some quick tips to enlisting this new positive standard into your language.

1. Say goodbye to words like can’t, don’t, and shouldn’t

2. Be cautious with always, never, all and none (extreme words make us feel defeated).

3. Use Self-Affirmations (I am good the way I am, I am happy, I am successful).

4. Eliminate self-loathing.  Try to give yourself grace. When we feel poorly or have poor feelings about ourselves it leaks into other aspects of our lives.  Notice what is going on with yourself but try not to judge it.  I often tell people to use the word, just.  This is just a setback.  I am just working through something.  When you take away the power of words, you take away the power they have over you, your thoughts, and your feelings.

5. Take non-judgmental stances.  The more we critics others, the harder it is to have positive words.  When we take negative stances on things, ideas, or people it rises our emotions for worse.  Criticism is for worse.  When we take a positive or neutral stance it is for better.  Inspire and encourage others, listening and be non-judgemental.

6. Reconnect with yourself.  We live in a busy, beautiful world.  It is important to find clarity in your heart and mind to practice a positive mindset and incorporate them as a part of your life.

Gandhi was a wise man, and he was also a practicing man.  You have to practice and incorporate ways to be mindful in your every day life.  The power of positive takes practice and patience.  You have the power to inspire and influence.

To Be Single or Not to Be Single

This story is about a girl named Mary.  Mary is my friend.  Mary is currently single, but going on dates.  Now Mary and I have known one another for over two decades.  She and I have traveled to the depths of the dating world together and been single to sulk our relationship losses.  We’ve watched every chic flick on how to be good at being a strong but super cool, chill girl.  (Come, on!)  Every woman in the world is trying to be a good wife, partner, girlfriend, dating person, or single chic.  And being “good” is so subjective.

Then we are given dating advice in Cosmopolitan, or told to be rude by outlandish books;  Why Men Love Bitches.  All the information becomes conflicting and overwhelming.   We are inundated with friends opinions and strangers judgements.  We are overthinking, over-trying, and overdoing.

So, lets get back to Mary’s story.  She had been single before and in other relationships before.  Ones that worked and ones that didn’t.  Ones that ended cordially with a hand shake and ones that ended tragically with cheating.  She has played the field, given up dating to pursue a career and come back around again.  Before she began dating again she saw a counselor.  She worked on some fears, then after another year, she got back out there.  She was not active in pursuing men, but she was attracting good and decent men who wanted to take her out.  She was confident, happy, and fun. She had her contagious energy back that she had before her heartbreak.  But it took Mary time to get there.  Before that she laid on the couch with me and cried, she asked for hugs and she figured out what she wanted.  She rediscovered who she was.

Then something happened.  Mary met someone.  She met someone she really liked.   She was overwhelmed by trying to remember the rules to dating because she actually liked this guy.  She thought about texting in 3 days instead of hours; how to keep him interested; when to introduce him to her friends; when he should meet her family; was she actually ready for a real relationship; what if he rejected her; what if she needed to have multiple people to date at the same time while not making him jealous, while keeping him interested, while trying to stand on her head while sitting in a chair and juggling 4 balls in the air while playing guitar and making dinner for 12 people…….. Mary was having overwhelming feelings and emotions of doubt.  She just had to remember, it’s going to be ok.  She had to remember what she wanted and not digress to the conflicting information.  She had to calm her fears, anxieties, and doubt.

410

She had to go back and remember what she had learned.  She learned that just because she grew from an experience that she could not control future situations and that there was no promise she wouldn’t be hurt again. She had to let go of her need to control and she had to be vulnerable.  My point is……we ebb and flow in all stages of dating and relationships.  Relax. Breath. Stop trying to figure it out and enjoy the journey.

Why does it all have to be so complicated?  We get so much conflicting information from so many avenues and it keeps us from developing our genuine selves.  It prolongs the confusion and chaos.   Mary has no idea how to be single.  She has no idea how to date or how to be in a relationship.  Not the “right way”, at least, whatever that means.  But who does?  We are all sort of the blind leading the blind.  This is messy stuff.  This is complicated stuff.  We have to give ourselves room to breath and grow.  We are making it up as we go, learning from the past, and taking notes for the future.  There is no right way to date or right way to be single.  The best you can hope for is good and supportive friends that hang in there with you along the way.  My point is……Relax. Breath. Stop trying to figure it out and enjoy the journey, single or not.

The Customer is Not Always Right

This article begins with a story about a man named Jerry.   Jerry is an Uber driver. He  picked me up today to take me to the airport.  Jerry had moved from a neighborhood near Chicago called Arlington Heights to Orange County, California is the 70’s.  He has four kids, nine grandkids and a dog.  Jerry was friendly and helpful. We chatted about climate change and other miscellaneous topics .  Jerry closed out the ride by telling me, “Well you got 5 stars.”  I giggled a bit and asked if he was kidding. He explained to me that Uber had begun asking drivers to rate their customers.  He explained that when people are just flat-out nasty or inconsiderate of human standards he has the option of giving them fewer stars.  The customer is now being judged.  Consumers have previously been about to rate the drivers on a 1-5 star scale on this taxi app.  Now, they too have the ability to rate the customers. This reminded me of Airbnb, a company that allows hosts to rent out their home or rooms to customers traveling to their location.   House hosts and renters alike can be rated on the site. It helps with accountability on the end of the host and the consumer.
img_0743
Before becoming a counselor, I worked in customer service for 15 years. I’ve had over a decade being the customer and the consumer.  I’ve had over a decade dealing with difficult customers over the years or with poor customer service as the consumer. Sometimes we are quick to yell at the waitress or to be short-tempered to the attendant.   Most of the time the temper had probably been building prior to our interaction, but now we get to take it out on someone.  There was an imbalance and that imbalance is being acknowledged.  Workers and staff have always been the only ones held accountable to serve with respect. We incorrectly assume that service is the action that must be taken seriously and in high regard for customer satisfaction. The saying, “the customer is always right” makes us believe that it is okay to yield power over the worker and thankfully times are changing.   In a world where some people just feel “owed” respect the inequality can take a much stronger meaning then that of the shop owner being faithful to the consumer.
Business is about relationships.  Relationships are about a balance and exchanges of understanding.  This article in no way negates the power of good customer service, but it’s an interaction between two individuals and not a right of power for the consumer.  We must hold every person, customer and worker alike to the standards of politeness, respect and service.  The customer isn’t always right anymore.  Every person is held to the human standards of decency. Interactions with people and places take place frequently.  We are all being measured.  The scoff, the smile, and our tones will all be judged.  It wouldn’t hurt us to all have accountability to be polite anyways.  Kindness is contagious.

Compromise vs. Collaboration in a Relationship

What is the difference between compromise and collaboration in a relationship?  Is one better than the other?  Is there something we can do to make sure that we are not giving more than the other person in our relationship?

Thank you to Dr. Kyle Weir for sparking my interest on this subject.  The word compromise is heard over and over again when we are talking about couples learning how to cope with each other’s differences.  (I have also used it several times myself.)  It was a concept that not only made sense, but had something that it could be measured against: sacrifice.  But is sacrifice really something that we want to do in a relationship?  The dictionary definition states that each side is making a concession.  That sounds easy.  Except for when you have two people inside of a relationship that are unwilling to budge on a matter and just want the other side to give in.

Humans are passionate when it comes to opinions.  Two people working towards a life together are going to come across a lot of them.  Compromise is something that is needed, but it is also something that assumes one partner will give in.  Collaboration on the other hand is working together towards a common goal.  Collaboration supposes that you already have the same goal in mind.  In a relationship, you should have similar or same goals in mind.  These goals include: what the future looks like and what passions you both have as individuals that you can work together towards in the relationship. In this journey, one partner may make compromises for the other, and then when the time comes the positions need to flip-flop.  You should never be the only person to compromise in the relationship.  During these times of compromise you should be collaborating towards the goal.

For example: if you have been offered a new job, your partner may have to compromise to move with you to keep the relationship going.  However, you will both have to collaborate about what this means for the other partners’ job or schooling.  A compromise can not take place unless you have discussed what that looks like.

At the beginning of a relationship, a couple tends to be directed towards either compromise or collaboration.  Too much of one person giving in at the beginning of the relationship can be a red flag that collaboration will not be part of the relationship.  A collaborative person will be present to work towards the relationship and making sure it is successful and happy.  These are items that we can asses early on in a relationship to understand our partner’s and our own investment in the relationship.

A relationship build on compromise (even though we have to make them at times) will not last, but a relationship build on collaboration will be able to stand difficulties and trials.