Article contributed by Amy Sargent
I have this terrific fear of karaoke.
It is unfounded, ungrounded, and unreasonable. “No one cares what you sound like”, they tell me. “Have a few drinks and you’ll be fine”, they reason. “No one is listening anyway”, they say in a most convincing tone. I get it and I hear it and I agree with it – but I’m still scared, to the point of getting sick to my stomach and weak in the knees when I see the red neon “Karaoke” sign on the side of a building my friends are leading me toward.
It’s one thing if I got up on stage, belted out a few notes, and it went really poorly. Picking a song I thought I knew (but didn’t), the entire audience pointing at me and laughing because I looked funny, or choking on the remnants of the hot sauce from that last bite of wings…these would be solid grounds for fear. But I’ve never gotten up there and tried it–in fact, I usually flee the scene before the strains of the first tune begin. My fear is completely and wholeheartedly a fear of the great unknown.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
Karaoke is a silly topic, I know. But I’m finding that fears in one area of life are all too quick to spill over into other areas of life, more important ones like work and personal relationships. Fear is a shape shifter. It can take on many forms which can deceive us into not recognizing it for what it is. And because it doesn’t always show itself blatantly in the telltale sweaty palms and a rapid heartbeat, it can lurk unknowingly in the shadows, causing us to behave in ways we don’t exactly want to. Procrastination, worry, nagging, complaining, arrogance, using humor at the wrong time, poor treatment of coworkers and/or employees — all can be the damaging results of unchecked fear.
Fear has a direct impact on our personal power, that inner knowing that we can meet life’s challenges head-on, and a vital component of emotional intelligence. And who doesn’t have a few challenges that they could use a little personal power toward these days?! I can’t name one friend or colleague who isn’t battling something rather difficult at the moment. You? Personal power is so vital because without it, we begin to think that we have no control over our situation. When it’s not present, we lose confidence in our own judgment begin to avoid change, allowing ourselves to feel powerless. We become risk-adverse and do what we can to stay safe instead of stretching into what could be new, positive opportunities.
Part of tackling a fear of the unknown is learning to be present in the moment, which is what’s referred to as mindfulness. Human nature in and of itself has a tendency to either ruminate on the past or worry about the future, but the ability to be in the moment can be arduous. Our fears often revolve around things that could happen, not what actually is happening. I’m afraid I’ll have an all-out coughing fit when I get up to sing in front of everyone. Sure, that could happen, but what are the chances? Think about the times when you had a solid career but worried about getting fired…when you were in a relationship but worried about them leaving…when you had financial security yet worried about losing it. Instead of relishing the present, we tend to fear what is not known.
If you’re one of those people who is unabashedly brave, going boldly where no man has gone before, kudos to you. I admire you. And I ask that you use your gift, not only to promote your own successes, but to reach out to someone beside you who could use a hand. And if you lean more toward being a scaredy-cat, regularly giving your fears permission to dictate your day-to-day affairs…how’s that working for you? Are you ready to make a shift?
Here are some ways you can begin to develop your personal power and push past the fears that may be holding you down:
- Let the past be past. So you’ve failed at a few things. Sure, the thought of failing again can be terrifying. But you’ve got to let them go and move on. I love the words of Thomas Edison when he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
- Stop being the controller. There are some situations that you cannot fix, and worrying about them isn’t helping either. Learn which things you can change (your behavior) and which you cannot (others’ behavior).
- Learn your enemy. Often our fears arise from a lack of knowledge. Take a class, seek out a mentor, study up on that thing you’re avoiding.
- Revel in your successes. Jot down a list of accomplishments, the things you’ve done well, and remember how good they felt. Isn’t that feeling worth working toward again?
- Try it, you’ll like it. Pick one unknown thing you’re intimidated by this week and give it the ole’ college try. Start small – little successes lead to bigger successes. For example, if you dread giving that upcoming presentation to a tough client, practice first with a group of forgiving friends.
A lack of personal power can be crippling and a huge waste of time. When we succumb to our fears, they devour our confidence, bind our wings and blur our vision. Fear is a powerful, controlling force that imprisons us, keeping us behind the bars of doubt and worry, locking us away from living our lives to our fullest potential.
Maybe it’s time to grab the microphone and start to sing.
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
Article contributed by Amy Sargent
I sat down after finding my name inscribed in calligraphy on the place card. It was a delightful night to be out on the town — the warm, summer breezes and city lights danced well together to create a jovial spirit for this fundraising event. Though I knew no one in attendance–yet–my plan was to turn on my extroverted switch and add some new acquaintances to my social network on this festive evening.
Within moments a good-looking couple sat to my right, holding hands, and a few others filtered in across the way, but the seat to my left remained empty. The table was so large that conversation with guests across the expanse of linens and silk flower arrangements would be in vain, so I decided to hone in on the lovebirds. But despite my open-ended inquiries, it was quickly obvious that they’d rather spend the evening whispering in each other’s ear rather than engage with me, which was fine, but left me sitting alone.
As our salad plates were cleared, she swept in and sat to my left. Attractive, mid-forties, with short, well-coiffed hair, a smart navy business suit, and power pumps. She was one of those very-well-put-together business professionals that somehow always left me feeling inadequate. But that was my issue, not hers. Masking my intimidation, I smiled confidently and put out my hand for the firm-enough-but-not-too-firm handshake and welcomed her to our table. She looked me over with a nonchalant glance, pursed her lips, and began texting someone (obviously more important than me) as she sat down.
Not one to be quickly daunted, as she finished her text I introduced myself and asked her about her work. As she answered, with a clipped, succinct sentences, I hurriedly formulated my own response in my head. I honestly didn’t hear a word she said, as I was contemplating what I could possibly say when she asked about me that would make her raise her perfectly plucked eyebrows with interest. I never got my chance. She didn’t reciprocate nor showed any interest in conversing. After several failed attempts to draw her out, I caved and turned to my chicken dijon with rice until the presentation began. So much for connecting that evening. It just wasn’t going to happen.
There is a quality of social and emotional intelligence called interpersonal effectiveness, and it’s the ability to tune into others with compassion and sensitivity. You know the type. They have a contagious, positive enthusiasm that puts you at ease the moment you meet them. They demonstrate a genuine interest in you and you can tell they actually want to know you. These people possess exceptional listening skills, interact smoothly with others, and are able to make even the most uncomfortable situations comfortable.
Not only were my table partners lacking this quality that night, but so was I. Instead of knowing how to navigate the icy situation with my well-dressed companion, I eventually mirrored her coldness and gave up. The once-cheerful evening quickly became a disappointment and I longed for dessert to be served, not so the decadent sweetness could delight my mouth, but because it signaled the welcome end of an uncomfortable evening.
Does it matter if we really connect well with others? Theodore Roosevelt stated,
“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
I admire people who can build rapport with all types, no matter the situation. But specifically in the workplace, interpersonal skills are an important value add because it is our relationships, with bosses, managers, coworkers and customers, that — get this — have the greatest impact on our happiness and contentment in our roles, more so than our workload or tasks or responsibilities or opportunities. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/chriscancialosi/2014/09/22/4-reasons-social-capital-trumps-all/#352a5e0e7b24)
“Financial capital is the funding you need to get off the ground, sustain growth, and develop operations. Human capital is the team that brings value to your organization. And while both are essential resources for your business, social capital — the connections and shared values that exist between people and enable cooperation — is the key to entrepreneurial success.” — Chris Cancialosi
If you’ve ever experienced conflict with those you work with, you understand the depth of stress these strained relationships can cause, and we all know the ill-effects of stress, let alone it being downright miserable. Interpersonal relationships also directly affect our productivity. If you’re a leader with disengaged employees, prepare yourself to watch your resources wash right down the drain. Studies show that companies with engaged employees earn twice the net income of those with disengaged employees. How does the saying go? “75% of people quit their bosses, not their jobs.” When you have a chance, check out this surprising infographic of stats: http://www.dailyinfographic.com/10-shocking-statistics-about-employee-engagement-infographic
Max Messmer, who wrote Managing Your Career for Dummies, says this:
“Your career success in the workplace of today – independent of technical expertise – depends on the quality of your people skills.”
How do you know if your interpersonal skills could use some work? Self-awareness is a key, and if that is lacking, we may miss how we come across, and may need the help of an outside opinion. If you have a close friend and/or colleague that will be up front with you, and you’re feeling brave, ask them these questions:
- Is the first impression I give cold or warm/inviting?
- Do I ever come across arrogant or unapproachable?
- Am I a good listener or do you feel I’m too quick to share my own stories, opinions, and insights?
- Do you feel safe to come talk to me about anything?
- Do you feel like I know you well? Do I allow you to truly know me?
- Do I ever come across like I’m judging you or devaluing your viewpoint?
If you don’t have someone who’ll give you honest responses, you may consider working with a social + emotional intelligence coach to do a 360 assessment, where others have an opportunity to evaluate you. These can be very eye-opening and give you revealing insight as to how you come across as you interact with others. The beauty of a 360 as well is that the raters can remain anonymous which encourages participant authenticity.
In the meantime, in the words of Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand.” Try focusing on just one of these suggestions this week to see if you can begin to make a shift in your interpersonal effectiveness:
- Ask open-ended questions. Most people like to talk about themselves, and rarely get asked how they are feeling. Learn to draw people out.
- Make yourself maintain eye contact if you are one who tends to look “out there” when communicating. Don’t they say the eyes are the window to the soul?
- Force yourself to listen and not be thinking about what you’ll say next. I’m terrible at this. This can be tricky, especially if you’re concerned about having the perfect response. Really tune into what they are trying to communicate by staying present in the moment.
- Watch for cues that demonstrate not only what they’re saying, but not saying. Is your presence making them uncomfortable? Are they bored because you are talking too much about yourself? Did your last comment make them wince? Again, watch for reactions in the eyes.
- Develop an understanding of cultural, religious, socioeconomic, and gender differences. It’s too easy to offend someone by our ignorance. Read, read, read to educate yourself about diversity.
- Withhold judgment. It’s one thing to have your own opinion. It’s another to think it’s your way or the highway. Remain open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
- Share details about yourself when appropriate. The whys are much more interesting than the whats. Learn to be a storyteller.
- Check your own non-verbals. Are you frowning? Are your arms crossed? Are you fidgeting? And by all means don’t check your phone while others are trying to talk with you!
- Ban complaining. No one wants to hear it, really, and it puts colleagues in an uncomfortable position. (“If I nod, then they think I agree, if I don’t, they think I’m not being supportive…!”). Find a close friend to share your struggles with — or a counselor or coach — but make an effort to keep complaints and negativity out of relationships, especially at the office.
There will of course be people that we just can’t connect with. It’s normal. But with some brushing up on our interpersonal skills, we can at least make those situations a little more tolerable, if not pleasant.
Do you want to be an emotionally intelligent leader? Do you want to manage your stress better? Do you want to improve your health? If so, I highly recommend embracing mindfulness and starting your own journey.
Article contributed by Amy Sargent
Hurdles. Obstacles. Hang-ups. Shadows.
Many of us are aware of the things that slow us down in life, that keep us caged up. Some we can put a name to and others remain obscure. But whether they take the form of an event from the past, or a discouraging thought, a looming dread, or a fear of the unknown, or — fill in the blank — we all have issues, like bars on a prison cell, that prevent us from living the life we dream of. Oh, the joy if we could be set free from these chains that seem to continually prevent us from moving ahead!
What is freedom anyway? Merriman Webster defines it like this:
- The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
- The quality or state of being exempt or released from an oppressive burden
- Boldness of conception or execution
Is there anything in life you do out of necessity, or because you feel like you have no choice? Are you currently experiencing any heavy burdens you’d like to be released from? Do you wish you had a little more boldness in creating a new idea or carrying one out? Dr. Gary Wood, psychologist, life coach and author, says this:
“Coaching should be all about helping people to live a life of freedom.”
Working with a social and emotional intelligence coach can help you begin to take steps toward a freedom you’ve not yet experienced. Or better yet, becoming a social and emotional intelligence coach can enable you to help others do just that! Imagine learning how to help others become more self-aware, then showing them how to manage their behavior based upon that newfound self-awareness, empowering them to be free to make the behavior changes they’ve been longing for. Imagine setting others free from relationship woes by teaching them to learn how to tune into the emotions of those around them, and understand how navigate and manage those relationships toward health.
Consider becoming a social and emotional intelligence coach to lead others toward the freedom of living out who they truly are to the best of their abilities.
We still have seats available in our online class starting August 11th! Learn to coach social and emotional intelligence and become certified to administer the Social + Emotional Intelligence Profile (SEIP)® on Thursdays, Aug 11 – Sept 29, 6-7:30pm ET. You’ll earn 12 recertification credits from the ICF, HRCI, or SHRM.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for this online course: https://isei.worldsecuresystems.com/BookingRetrieve.aspx?ID=54430
Article contributed by guest author Grant Herbert.
People with a low personal power or self-worth are generally fearful of what they perceive to be attacks on them as individuals. They have experienced and internalised the consequences of failure and rejection and it really scares them. The most unfortunate thing is, in this all to prevalent scenario, they usually have a distorted view of what failure truly is.
This counterfeit appears real when you allow others to set the values and standards from which success or failure and acceptance or rejection are measured. Your goals and dreams may have been battered an bruised, but your ideas of rejection and failure are usually based on what others have said to you. You seem to have relinquished control over your future and are completely at the mercy of the forces around you.
People who exhibit a low self-worth think that because they have failed in one part of their life’s journey, they have also failed at being a good person. They can not separate their act of failure from the destruction of their identity, so they equate their perceived failure to meet other people’s standards with low self-worth. Self-destruction is as painful as the rejection, so they will eventually end up fearing not only failure but their own self-abasement as well. The American author and advertising executive, Bruce Barton, summed it up in this brief but powerful verse. “How curious it is that men who will die for the liberty of the world will not make the little sacrifice needed to free themselves from their own bondage”.
During certain stages of my own journey toward a healthy level of Personal Power, I have reflected the above definitions perfectly. Building an identity, based on my ability to gain acceptance, drove me deeper into the bondage of the performance trap. If only I can do more it will make up for my failure to be a good husband and father which led to being rejected, judged and labeled. Then one day someone encouraged me, and I cannot for the life of me remember who, to use the self-affirmation “What other people think of me is none of my business”. I was looking for unconditional acceptance from people who were not wired up to give it to me. Their own journey had conditioned them to see things the way they wanted to see them and therefore their view of me was based on my actions going through their unique filtering system. It wasn’t until I learned that true unconditional acceptance could only be gained from within, that I could overcome the fear of what other people thought of me and move forward into my full potential.
Fear of others opinions can be overcome by not relinquishing to them your Personal Power. Positive self-talk, practiced every day, can negate the negative words of others. Remember, you are more qualified than anyone to have an opinion about yourself.
Have the best week possible, you deserve it!
Article contributed by Amy Sargent
I tried to lie once.
I had decided to take my three kids skiing, and was stressing about spending the money. As we approached the ticket window, plodding along in our ski boots and bundled in our ski gear, I noticed on the sign that children under the age of 5 were free. My youngest had just turned 5 a few weeks back, and I realized I could save $35 by pawning her off as a four-year old! She was small for her age, I rationalized, and will hardly ski anyway — it will be fine. However when I got up to the ticket counter, and told the attendant I needed two child tickets (for my older two) and “this one’s free”, pointing at her, he assertively smiled and said, “Great, what’s her birthdate?”
I panicked. Should I add a year to her year of birth to take one away? Wait–she is 5 now — so I go down a year — no — up a year — oh, why didn’t I listen better in Math?! I blurted out a date and he replied, nodding, with a comical look on his face, “Yeh, that would make her seven!”
He caught me in my lie. I sheepishly paid the full price for her ticket and walked away in shame. Worse than my flushed cheeks, my three little kids witnessed “mommy’s temporary memory loss” which obviously wasn’t that at all. Later they asked me why I’d lied, and I told them I wanted to save money, and my middle child said, “But that wouldn’t be fair to others who have to pay, would it?” She had me there. Was my attempt to twist the truth really worth the $35? A few months later, my little one asked me something, and when I answered, she responded, “Is that true or is that like when you tried to tell that man I was four.” Ugh. What seemed like such a small thing actually turned into a much bigger hurdle for me to overcome in establishing trust with my kids again. And while living in integrity is much more than not telling a little white lie now and then, what comes out of our mouth is a reflection of who we are. Albert Einstein said it well,
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
Our integrity (or lack of) defines whether or not we are someone who can be relied upon, trusted, and believed. Do you lie often or do you mostly tell the truth? I say mostly because a research study was published in 2002 by Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts, who discovered that most people lie every day. The study showed that 60% of people aren’t able to have a ten minute conversation without telling at least one lie, and those in the Pinocchio category tend to tell two to three lies in the same ten minute period! (http://mentalfloss.com/article/30609/60-people-cant-go-10-minutes-without-lying)
I know, we’d like to think that we are the ones who fall into the 40%, but listen to closely to yourself in your next conversation. Did you stretch the truth — just a little bit? Mention a few extra details that didn’t exactly take place to get an extra laugh? Not tell the whole story leading the listener to believe something about you that just isn’t quite accurate?
Integrity is defined by most as the quality of being honest and possessing strong moral principles. And it’s our integrity — especially when we’re in a leadership role — that establishes a sense of trust and reliability from those we work with. Integrity is a key competency of emotional intelligence and truth-telling is just one of the factors that make up one’s integrity. Barbara De Angelis, relationship and personal growth advisor, puts it this way:
“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less that what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”
Take this short quiz to see if you are living in integrity. Ask yourself and answer with a yes or no:
- Do I always follow through on my commitments?
- Do I know my values and live by them at all times?
- Do I accept accountability for my actions, even if they “get me in trouble”?
- Do I take a stand for what I believe is right, even in the face of opposition?
- Do I give credit to those who deserve it?
- Do I treat all people with respect, not only to their face, but behind their back?
- Do I attempt to obey the ‘spirit of the law’ (the whys behind it) as opposed to just the letter of the law?
- Do I do the right thing when no one is looking?
If you can answer yes to these questions, then you are well on your way to being a person of high integrity. Now, turn to a friend or colleague and ask them to answer the same questions about you. Are their findings the same as yours?
If you came up with “sometimes”, or even a few no’s, then good news!, you’re now seeing the areas of your integrity that could use some work. The first step in building more integrity is to truly know your own personal values. What is really important to you? Take some time to write them down, in any order. Then go back, and circle the ones that are most valuable to you. Prioritize them.
Now, take a good look at your day-to-day life. Are you living out these values? An easy way to find this out is to look at your calendar app and notice if the things you’re spending your time doing are matching up with the values you circled. If you’re seeing a miss between your highest values and how you’re spending your time, then it’s time to lay out a personal action plan to remedy this. Note in which situations are the conflicts most often arising (be specific — in meetings with your boss, or when you are working alone at home, or when you are out making new business connections, or when you feel nervous, etc.). You may begin to see a trend as to the specific situations that challenge your integrity. Recognizing these moments as ‘trigger points’ can help you prepare beforehand to make a stronger attempt to live out your values when the situation arises.
Finally, think, “What is one action I could take, today, when in that situation, to make a shift toward living out my values?” Then get out there and give it a try. As with most things, practice makes perfect.
Since that fateful day at the ski ticket window, I have been much more conscious of speaking the truth, even if I fear the retributions…and even if it costs me a little extra money. As a side note, I’ve also taken some time to brush up on my math skills, just in case I stumble along my walk towards integrity again in the future.
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Learning to coach social and emotional intelligence can enable you to help your clients unlock their fullest potential and move them past the hurdles that are slowing them down. We believe that behavior can be changed, and as a social and emotional intelligence coach, you can learn how to guide others to begin making behavior shifts to enhance their growth. Add this unique skill set to your coaching expertise!
From our highly-acclaimed Coach Certification Course to our interactive and informative Specialty Courses, you can fill your schedule this fall with social and emotional intelligence classes at the Institute. All of our courses are online and recorded in case you need to miss one or two. Our courses are highly interactive and rich with applicable tools you can begin using immediately in your coaching practice or with those you lead. And you’ll earn recertification credits from the ICF, HRCI, or SHRM upon completion! Payment plans are available.
“This was an excellent course and one that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in coaching social and emotional intelligence. The course was very well designed and the facilitators were excellent. Thank you for the wonderful and informative experience! ”
— Jan O’Brien, Social + Emotional Intelligence Certified Coach®
Earn 6 recertification credits from the ICF, HRCI, or SHRM in this highly-acclaimed, six-week online course from the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence.
Leader As Coach
Tuesdays, August 9th – September 13th
6-7 pm Eastern Time
This course is designed for coaches and HR professionals who wish to bring a complete turnkey training program on coaching skills into their client organizations and teach supervisors, managers, executives and others how to take a coach approach in their leadership and management. In this 6-session, 6 weeks, once per week course, you will learn how to teach your executive coaching clients:
- What managerial/leadership coaching is, and why and how it works
- The tools and skills they need to develop to take a coach approach to leadership and management
- How to conduct a coaching conversation
- An overview of the leadership coaching process (including gathering data on performance, how to discuss and provide feedback on recent performance, how to develop an action plan for moving forward, how to implement the development / action plan and how to evaluate continued progress and performance)
- How they can support and challenge their best performers to greater levels of success
- How they can integrate coaching seamlessly into their everyday interactions with their direct reports
- How they can shift their mindset from supervisor to coach
This course provides you with a complete set of materials to do a two-day training with your executive clients (and their teams), including PowerPoint slides and interactive participant exercises. The course meets 6 times, once per week for one hour. Cost is $795.
Article contributed by guest author Fern Weis
Go here, do that, make the calls, pay the bills, quantify, measure, check it off. Are you living the checklist life?
“Who me? I don’t have time for this!” You may think that a week before school starts is the wrong time to hear this message. In fact, it’s the perfect time. As you gear up for highly structured days, running your kids here and there, supervising them, meals, homework, your own job, and everything else it takes to run a family and a household, consider how stressful it all is. How can you include some peaceful, mindful time in your day? It’s not optional anymore, not if you want to be more patient, healthy and creative.
I don’t believe we are supposed to be always doing; arranging our calendar so we can fit in just one more thing; attaching a measurement to everything we do. When was the last time you really paid attention to where you are without thinking about the outcome or checking it off your to-do list?
My family has a little vacation home in the Poconos. We don’t come up nearly enough, but I’ll take what I can get. Time seems to stand still here and I embrace spending my days reading, talking, eating meals on the porch. I can’t seem to do that at home without feeling guilty about it, but up here it works.
This morning I took the dog for a walk, and also set my phone app to track time and distance. (It’s one tool I have to motivate me to get the exercise.) Mid-walk I was so tempted to check it. How far had I walked? Had I hit the 30-minute mark yet?
You can’t know (well, maybe you can) the self-control it took to not give in to that impulse. You may consider this a non-issue, but in a world where we’ve come to expect instant information and gratification, it’s a big deal to resist. I consciously shifted my focus to the sounds of the crickets and the wind in the trees, and to noticing my surroundings. It took an effort to make it about the experience, rather than about accomplishing something. I arrived home more relaxed, and with less of the chatter that clutters my brain. Mindfulness works.
The more structure and stress, the more you need these moments. Whether you call it balance, self-care or calm, mindfulness will give you a much-needed break from the checklist life. Here are a few ways to get started:
1) Meditation. (I can hear the groans. Please, keep reading.) I was resistant to it, too, until someone helped me understand that meditation isn’t something you have to do for an hour, and it isn’t about completely clearing your mind.
Meditation helps me shift my attention away from my thoughts and onto my breath. That mind-chatter can be constant, draining, anxiety-producing. Meditation, even for a minute or two, changes that energy.
Check out The Mindfulness App 1 & 2 to get started. It has guided and silent meditations, from 3 to 30 minutes. You can read about the other features yourself. No pressure, just the gift of a few quiet minutes.
2) Focus on the task at hand. This is a technique borrowed from Family Recovery Resources. Its original purpose was to help people when they are ‘flooded’ by intense emotions, and it can work just as well for our purposes.
It’s pretty simple. Notice what your hands are doing, and pay attention to the experience. If you are washing the dishes you may notice, “I’m squeezing dish liquid onto the sponge. I’m turning on the water, and putting the sponge under the running water. The water runs over my hand. It is warm and smooth. I rub the plate with the soapy sponge…” and so on.
Take the focus off of just ‘getting through’ the task so you can move on to the next thing. Experience it. Be mindful and in the present moment. Again, it’s a way to ease the stress of all that fills your day.
3) Add a couple of minutes to your shower and let your mind wander. Many people report that the lack of distractions and the warm water are not only relaxing, they spark creativity! (I know this works.)
4) Pay attention to details and the natural world around you. Look at the brushstrokes in a painting; notice the patterns in wood furniture; be aware of the tastes and textures of your food; or contemplate the clouds. Give yourself a break from the to-do list, just for a few minutes. You will feel refreshed.
There are many ways to be mindful. If you want to be more peaceful and patient and reduce the mad rush of life, try one of the suggestions above, or do your own search for mindfulness methods. Which one will you try?
I love to hear what you do, or are going to try, to take a break from the checklist life. Share your best tips below.