Perceptions

How to Do the Right Thing

How to Do the Right Thing

Photo by Fabien Bazanegue on Unsplash

 

“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” – Zig Ziglar

 

When faced with deciding on how to act, sometimes the toughest part is figuring out how to do the right thing. Of course, how you view the right thing, what you think of as the right thing, makes all the difference. And this is often not clear. You may experience conflicting emotions, feel ambivalent about potential choices, or strongly for or against certain action – whether you are convinced that it either is or isn’t the right thing to do. How, then, can you make an informed choice and be confident that you’ll do the right thing?

Start with integrity.

Merriam-Webster defines integrity as, “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” The word refers to moral or ethical strength and the quality of being honest. When you start with integrity, you are being true to your core values, not straying to conform with popular opinion. Acting in integrity is not always easy, for there are shortcuts that will speed the process that may sabotage the outcome, even as they provide a quicker path to the result. Without integrity, you may feel remorseful and guilty at an unfair or unfavorable result, while you have no cause for such negative thoughts when you act in accordance with your beliefs. Ask yourself first what you know in your heart feels right. Your mind may rush in with excuses or propose different courses of action, but your integrity will never fail you.

What about when the right thing isn’t so obvious, or when it’s decidedly against prevailing opinion? If you must act in opposition to what others think or do, will you be considered a disruptor, an outsider, someone to keep at a distance, decry, criticize? Temporarily experiencing discomfort when you do the right thing is likely something you can weather without too much difficulty. The key is to be comfortable with your choice. Again, when you start with integrity and follow through with action that reflects your integrity, you’re reinforcing your commitment to truth, justice and honor.

Be considerate how your actions will affect others.

Recognize that people may not agree with your action, even if they approve of the intent of your decision. Think through the possible ramifications of your action and how they will affect others, as well as how your actions may make them feel. This does not mean you compromise your desire to do what is right, although it may allow you to incorporate softening effects into your action.

For example, if a co-worker consistently shows up to the job with alcohol on his or her breath, or exhibits other signs of drug or alcohol addiction, you may not want to notify human resources, but it is the right thing to do. Your colleague needs professional help, and this may be the necessary wake-up call so that he or she can get the detox and psychotherapy it will take to get clean and sober. If it’s a family member you believe is in distress from substance abuse, poly-drug use, and/or mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions and could benefit from counseling and treatment of some kind, figuring out a compassionate way to approach him/her and the specific language to use may somewhat ease the shock of your words. Note that those suffering from drug and/or alcohol abuse are often expert in denial. Also, you cannot force anyone to get treatment, no matter how desperately it is needed. You can only be there with your support and love and encourage your loved one to seek help. Know that family support is crucial in recovery from substance use and mental health disorders.

Stop worrying what others think.

Suppose you know that what you’re about to do will aggravate, infuriate, confuse or surprise others. Despite being the right thing to do, you fear the retaliation and disapproval that will follow. There’s no point to stewing over what others think. They’re going to vent their emotions, let you know their opinion, maybe even steer clear of you for a while. Stop worrying what they think. What’s more important is to be at peace with your actions.

What about loved ones and family members who take offense or retaliate with rejection, harsh words or withdrawing of affection over your actions they deem harmful to them in some way? The sting may be onerous, yet if you truly believe you’ve done the right thing, you must be able to live with your decision. The offended loved one or family member may come around, even thank you later, although it is also true they may hold resentment for your do-good actions.

There is also a bright side of doing the right thing, however, taking action that others don’t expect, and that is the opportunity for them to see you in a different light, to rethink their perception of you. When you do the right thing, you’re also giving yourself a boost in self-esteem. Knowing what’s right and doing it are the hallmarks of personal integrity.

Doing the right thing can be contagious.

Standing up for what’s right can inspire others to take similar action, to step out of their comfort zone and act in accordance with core beliefs and values. While you may initially feel alone in choosing the course of action you firmly believe is the right thing to do, your example may encourage others to follow your lead. First one, then another, then a few more may do the right thing. Your action can precipitate contagious behavior. Yet, even if it doesn’t, you are content with your decision, knowing that you acted with integrity and followed through to do the right thing. You can lead by example, even if others decide not to emulate your behavior.

 

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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How to Feel Normal Again

How-to-Feel-Normal-Again

Photo by Jad Limcaco on Unsplash

 

“The possibility of stepping into a higher plane is quite real for everyone. It requires no force or effort or sacrifice. It involves little more than changing our ideas about what is normal.” – Deepak Chopra

 

When I was a young girl, I often felt as if I was not normal. It wasn’t that I had a noticeable birth defect or considered myself ugly or stupid, though. My feelings likely stemmed more from a sense that I was too sensitive or fragile or in need of protection and couldn’t stand up for myself. I had an older brother who sometimes was tough on me, yet I loved him dearly. He was my protector against the bullies in the neighborhood. Still, I wondered why I didn’t feel normal. My quest to achieve what I considered to be normal took many years. Maybe some of these hard-learned tips can help others learn how to feel normal, or normal again.

Let go of preconceptions about being normal.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice about how to feel normal again is to let go of any preconceived ideas as to what normal means. Forget ascribing metrics or characteristics or boundaries and limitations to what is possible and what is real, and therefore normal. Instead, expand thought to the point that normal is not constrained, nor is it rigid. Normal evolves, as it should, as nature intended.

Normal is a construct of ideas and changes day to day.

Consider that what we consider normal one day may seem abnormal another time. What seems impossible can be viewed as possible. What never occurred to us before may suddenly pop into our thoughts as an idea that’s tantalizingly accessible and real. We didn’t have a house when I was an adolescent, yet I had school friends who lived in nice homes with big yards. Their life seemed normal, while mine did not. A few years later, however, my parents were able to buy a house and we did have a nice yard with roses and other flowers in neatly manicured gardens. This felt normal. Being able to help my Dad cultivate the roses and peonies (I learned how to graft various kinds of rose bushes together) instilled in me my love of gardening. Today, it’s still one of my passions.

There is no training required to feel normal.

It isn’t necessary to go through physical or mentally grueling tests or regimens to feel normal. Likewise, there’s no need for a mentor or to join a group. A side benefit is that there’s no cost or penalty involved in feeling normal. And there’s also no reason to take mind-altering drugs, alcohol or any other substance to feel normal.

Trust in the simplicity of being true to your feelings.

Normal is not extreme or going to extremes to feel normal. To realize that you’re normal, that you feel normal, it helps to trust in the simplicity of being true to your feelings. Know that you’ll feel awkward and out of place at times, or disappointed, upset, angry, possibly in pain, depending on what’s happened recently, your physical condition, any undue stress or pressure at work, school or home. Know that it’s OK to feel bad sometimes. In fact, it’s a sign that you’re human if you feel emotion deeply during times of grief, tragedy, heartbreak and compassion, as well as happiness, joy, pride and more. Acknowledge what you feel, then go on about your day. In other words, be true to your feelings, yet not enslaved by them.

Create goals and word to achieve them.

I didn’t receive the kind of recognition my brother did and somehow that made me feel like I might lack some innate ability or intelligence. It’s not that I felt stupid because I didn’t. It was more that my brother seemed to always know the right answer. Just ask him. The plus side of this is that I always knew I’d get an answer from him if I asked – and he felt like giving it to me. Still, I saw how he went after goals and I strived to do the same. Each success I earned, however small, boosted my self-confidence and added to my self-esteem. It’s a lesson that stuck with me. Always have goals you’re working toward. When you achieve one, create another to replace it. This allows you to always be forward-looking, motivated and optimistic – all traits that help you feel normal again.

Be good to yourself.

It isn’t being overindulgent to take loving care of yourself. In fact, it’s indicative of a healthy reverence for your overall well-being, a part of feeling normal. Get sufficient rest each night so that you awake revitalized and ready for the day. Eat well-balanced meals. Engage in vigorous exercise on a regular basis. Avoid excessive intake of sugar, fats and carbohydrates, including alcohol and junk foods, for consuming too much can be unhealthy and contribute to jitteriness, bloating, gastrointestinal distress, intoxication, sluggishness and more.

See each day as an opportunity to grow.

What will today bring? If you wake up with this thought – after, of course, you’ve given thanks for the gift of today – you’ll be priming yourself to see what’s good and hopeful in whatever happens. Even if you encounter disappointments and setbacks, they won’t deter you from learning the lessons they contain and seeing opportunities to grow.

Seek professional help if you need it.

None of us has all the answers. Nor do our assortment of loved ones, family and friends. For certain experiences and diagnosable conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), prolonged grief, substance use disorder and others, the only way to regain a sense of normalcy is to seek professional help. Learning how to let go of outdated beliefs and self-perceptions, to learn how to successfully cope with difficult situations or an inability to function through psychotherapy and evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization therapy (EMDR), relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation and others may help restore both functionality and the ability to feel normal again. There is no shame in seeking help. Rather, it is proof of a recognition that you need objective, trusted assistance and that you’re willing to do what it takes to heal.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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5 Ways to Let It Flow

Photo by Rachel Davis on Unsplash

Photo by Rachel Davis on Unsplash

“The mind is like a river, and, as with a river, there’s no point in trying to stop its flow.” – Mingyur Rinpoche

 

You know when you get into a groove, you just want to keep on going. You might say you’re “in the flow,” “going with the flow,” “in your sweet spot,” or some other catchy phrase.

It feels good.

You want it to continue.

Why don’t you let it?

The truth is that everyone is surrounded by distractions. Some of them are pesky and quickly swatted away, like a bug you don’t have time for yet keeps coming back. Others, however, are more beyond or out of your control, like your boss who suddenly interrupts your work with an urgent project. Don’t you just hate that?

Once you stop what you’re doing – and this is hard to do, by the way – it’s even harder to get back into the flow. Once again, most everyone can relate to this, some more than others. I know I’ve experienced this nuisance dozens of times in my corporate career.

Still, back to crux of the matter and what most of us want to know is, what can you do to allow the flow to continue while still tending to what must be done?

Interesting conundrum. While there aren’t any hard and fast answers, here are a few suggestions I’ve used with satisfactory results that may prove helpful:

Hit the pause button.

See if you can hit the pause button in your mind. Without completely disengaging, you might consider saying something to your boss like, “I’ll get to it as soon as I finish this document.” Be sure, however, to follow through on your stated commitment. Otherwise you risk getting into trouble with your boss.

Try going it alone.

Since many of us do our best work when we’re uninterrupted, make it a point to do your best work while you are alone. This is harder advice to follow, and it’s especially difficult in a busy office, corporate or otherwise. If you do have the flexibility to work on your own, perhaps by choosing different hours or working at an alternate location for certain projects, I encourage you to do so. When you’re more in control of where and when you work, you’re abler to go with the flow when you’re in the middle of it.

Commit to the moment.

Be in the moment. Instead of allowing thoughts of what you must do next, where you’re going for lunch, or replaying that argument you had last night with your spouse or partner or one of the kids, commit to being here and now. You’re busy working on something. That needs to take priority. You can devote time to those other items later, most likely with better clarity and attention, not to mention effectiveness. Keep in mind that when that time comes, be in the moment then as well for best results.

Eliminate distractions.

If you want to get things done, help yourself out by turning off the notification sounds and pop-ups for email on your computer. You don’t need to be a slave to these distractions. Even better, close out your email client until you’re finished with what you’re doing. Better yet, set specific times to check email, such as 9 a.m., right after lunch, 3 p.m. – and don’t be tempted to check it otherwise unless you’re expecting something to help you complete your current assignment.

Go quiet.

The adage that “silence is golden” is very apropos here. So, silence your phone. Similarly, avoid the temptation to pick up and answer or respond to texts that come in by shutting off your phone. At the very least, silence it. Your productivity will improve and so will your ability to let it flow. In fact, regularly disconnecting will also help reduce information overload.

If you need any more encouragement to let it flow, simply recall how good it felt in the past to be swept up in an activity or project so that the time just flew. That was being in the moment, fully immersed in what you were doing. Like the swiftly moving river, you just let it flow. You can do this.

 

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

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How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life More

How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Life More-Photo by Jakob Owens/Unsplash

Photo by Jakob Owens/Unsplash

“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” — English proverb

 

No one ever came to the end of their life and stated they wished they’d worried more. Indeed, worry is probably the last thing one would want to hang onto, especially during the last moments of life. Yet far too many of us cling to worry like a well-worn blanket, afraid to let go. It’s not exactly comforting, but it is familiar. That doesn’t mean worry adds to quality of life. It’s frankly time to stop worrying so much and learn to enjoy life more. Here are some thoughts on how to do just that.

Determine the source of the worry, so you can do something about it.

Do vague thoughts plague you? Are you unable to pinpoint just what it is that makes you feel so anxious and out of sorts? Maybe it has a physical cause, something you can readily address. Perhaps what you feel is the result of accumulated stress, an overflow of powerful emotions that’s left you drained. Before you can rid yourself of worry, you need to take some time to figure out what’s causing it.

Take out a pen and paper and jot down whatever thoughts come into your head. For example, if you have a headache, write: I’ve got a headache. I wonder if it’s anything serious. This zeroes in on what you’re concerned about now, identifies it, and robs it of the power to continue to gnaw at you. Maybe finances cause you uneasiness. You can’t seem to get them out of your mind. Write: I’m worried about making ends meet. This both acknowledges the root of the worry and takes the anxiety from the realm of something’s not right to knowing just what it is.

Put some space in your life.

When we worry, we jumble everything together. Unlike the ingredients in a stew that naturally go together, however, a pile of worry does not result in a comfortable or satisfying meal. They’re too close, too disparate, too useless to be any good. This is when you need to put space between the various activities in your day. By adding brief pauses during your waking hours, you’re giving yourself time to reflect, to take a break to do something you like, to exercise, rehydrate, have a meal, socialize, daydream or just relax.

It’s not necessary to go to elaborate lengths or to feel guilty that you’re robbing your employer, loved ones, family or friends by adding space to your life. The simple act of inserting space is very self-liberating and self-empowering. It reinforces the fact that you make the choices in your life and you reaffirm your commitment to living life wholeheartedly and well.

Ditch the small stuff.

The detritus of ruined dreams is rife with mounds of little problems, annoyances and petty grievances that don’t amount to anything worthwhile. All they’ve done is add to a mounting load of negativity, unhappiness and unrealized goals. The key to making room in your life to find the time, energy and motivation to pursue what matters most is to let go of the small stuff. It’s not worth your effort to agonize over every little thing. Besides, in a year’s time, you won’t remember, much less care, about those trivial details.

Put things in perspective.

How many times have you felt the crushing weight of worry on your shoulders? This heaviness literally drags you down, both physically and mentally. No wonder worry never seems to leave. It’s pushed and trampled you until you feel you can’t move. Maybe what’s happening also is that you’ve lost a sense of perspective. Instead of rationally and logically being able to separate what’s a legitimate concern from an amorphous worry is a lack of perspective.

Think about how you approach a task. The best way to be successful in any endeavor is to have a goal, create a plan and get to work. You’re not deterred by obstacles, since you’re committed to seeing the effort through. You can see that what you do now will net results in the long run. That’s perspective, understanding that your input will equal the output.

When it comes to separating the real from the unreal or unnecessary, envision the long view. Imagine how what you do today will affect your life six months or a year from now. Is it worth doing? If so, work on plans to get underway. If not, release this burden so you can focus more on what you find truly empowering and satisfying.

Give in to laughter.

Much has been written about the healing power of laughter. It’s true. When you laugh, you’re releasing feel-good endorphins that contribute to an overall well-being. Like vigorous physical exercise, which also releases endorphins, laughter helps smooth out rough edges, calm overwrought emotions and deliver a sense of peace, calm and contentedness.

If you’re not prone to belly laughs, that’s fine. Chuckling will do, along with smiling, crinkling your eyes, feeling the joy across your face. Let the laugh bubble up without censoring it. This is something you give yourself permission to do and it’s worth every second you’ve got a smile on your face or hear yourself laugh. Worry has no place in a space filled with laughter.

Engage with others.

Ruminating endlessly over what’s troubling you won’t do a thing to change the situation. Neither will stewing over problems and worries alone. What will make a difference is making an effort to be with others, socializing, talking over the issues or problems, participating in a mutually shared activity, even working on a project together. This serves as a distraction and allows your subconscious to put some distance between the worry and what you’re doing now. Besides taking a bite out of worry, you’ll feel better and take some pleasure in life.

Employ relaxation techniques.

Excessive worrying can lead to increased anxiety and stress, neither of which are good for the body. Make use of proven relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, listening to soothing music, yoga and tai chi, even walking in nature. The relaxation response triggered by relaxation techniques produces a physiological state of warmth and quiet alertness. When you start to relax, brain blood flow increases, shifting brain waves to a relaxed alpha rhythm. Relaxation techniques can help reduce the debilitating effects of stress and excessive worrying.

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.com https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-stop-worrying-and-enjoy-life-more/

 

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How To Be Flexible With Your Perceptions

Photo by Anders Jildén/Unsplash

Photo by Anders Jildén/Unsplash

 

“When we become fixed in our perceptions we lose our ability to fly.” – Mingyur Rinpoche

 

How a person looks at the world colors all subsequent action. If the way immediately ahead appears dark and scary, timidity and reluctance to act are the likely results. Being able to discern light amidst the darkness, however, can prove to be a motivating factor – at least to the extent that you’re willing to try something new or different.

What happens when you regard life and the world around you as hopeless, miserable, one failure after another, untrustworthy, unlovable and unloved? You might find yourself retreating from others, holing up in isolation, drinking or drugging too much. You most certainly won’t want to embark on a challenging project, pursue adventure, or dare to discover what you’re truly made of.

Indeed, if your perception remains fixed, so will your horizon. Instead of expanding, the options available to you will appear limited, possibly pointless and a waste of time.

So much for the ability to fly.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to stand up to first impressions and attempt to see the other side, there’s hope that you can move forward – no matter what obstacles you encounter. It won’t be easy to try to glean some insight that isn’t readily apparent and it may not happen every time. Still, the effort is worth it if the result is that you can bypass the logjam where preconceived notions have held you captive. You want to be able to act, not stagnate doing nothing.

How do you become flexible with your perceptions? Is there some trick to this that you can master? As with anything that’s challenging, scary or new, a multi-pronged approach is generally the best one. Be sure to include the following:

  • Recognize that there is always another way to look at things. There is no one way and situations are never totally negative – no matter how they appear at first.

 

  • Be willing to change your point of view in the presence of new information. Even be willing to explore opposite viewpoints with the hope of learning something new. Whether you ultimately change your outlook or not, you’re exercising flexibility instead of remaining rigid and fixed in your perceptions.

 

  • Engage in brainstorming. Coming up with alternate solutions is an exercise in creativity. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your total approach will change, but it may result in a modification or revision of a plan that will culminate in success.

 

  • Study what worked well for others. Undoubtedly, this isn’t the first time such a wall has appeared before you. Others have probably experienced something similar. By reviewing the solutions that worked for someone you know or read about, you might learn a thing or two that will help you modify your own perspective – and arrive at some answers applicable to your situation.

 

  • Never give up. Maybe it seems too difficult to be open and flexible with your perceptions. That’s OK. Just give it time. Acknowledge the challenge and keep on trying to see things in another light. Determination and persistence will help you adopt the ability to be flexible. Think of it as a bird’s fledgling attempts to fly. The winged creature doesn’t succeed the first time out, but with time and practice, the act becomes second nature.

 

  • Flexibility is like a muscle: exercise it. The more you practice being flexible, the easier it gets. This applies as much to perceptions as toning muscles on your body. Get into the habit of keeping a flexible, open mind and your perceptions will change.

Keep in mind that the life you want to live depends on having the courage and willingness to embrace change, to challenge yourself to do more, and to let go of outdated beliefs and perceptions. The potential benefits to doing so are incalculable. It’s up to you to decide how you want to live.

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