Category: Positively Positive

If They Don’t Want to Be With You, That’s Closure


“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” ― Ellen Goodman

Relationships are one of the most rewarding experiences we can have as humans. Yet, they can also be one of the most painful when that relationship ends. Especially if it’s unexpected. Breakups are difficult and stressful, and what once made us happy often turns into the opposite. We are heartbroken, and we seek answers for what happened.

We, as humans, can also be quite complicated. We have a tendency to search for meaning when there is none to find, and that keeps us stuck in a place that leaves no room for healing or moving on. Many times, we take those complex feelings to the extreme, especially in relationships. In reality, many of the situations we find ourselves in are simple, but we make them difficult.

There are many articles on Medium and elsewhere about closure in relationships — what you should and shouldn’t say; signs to know when you have it; even “the secret” to getting it (maybe that’s why people are looking for it so much, you aren’t really supposed to know).

But what is closure?

In a review written in 1996 titled Motivated Closing of the Mind: “Seizing” and “Freezing”, authors Arie W. Kruglanski and Donna M. Webster state that the need for cognitive closure “refers to individuals’ desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion toward ambiguity.” Furthermore, that need “may prompt activities aimed at the attainment of closure, bias the individual’s choices and preferences toward closure-bound pursuits, and induce negative affect when closure is threatened or undermined and positive affect when it is facilitated or attained.”

So, we seek a “firm answer to a question.”

Typically, that question is why?

Why did they break up with us?

Especially if we didn’t expect the breakup, that why is the question at the forefront of seeking closure. And when we seek the answer, that biases our choices.

We’ve all acted in stupid ways after a breakup. That’s normal. When hearts are involved, we sometimes leave our brains out of it.

However, the major problem I see is that we seek closure from the other person.

It’s that lack of clarity about why the breakup occurred that keeps us stuck in a loop of seeking closure. We search for meaning and look to the one who broke our heart to help close that loop. And often, we contact them in the search for a definitive answer because we believe that once we have that answer, we will feel better and be able to move on.

But all this does is keep us connected to that person and unable to get over the breakup. And what if the answer doesn’t make sense or you don’t get the response you wanted? It will only lead to more contact, hoping the reasons for the breakup will become clearer. When I found myself doing this, I realized it was because I didn’t want to move on. I wanted to stay connected to that person and seeking closure was an excuse to do that.

I am an overthinker. That description really doesn’t do it justice, but if there were a continuum for analyzing everything too much, I would be on the extreme end. And after looking back on my life and my relationships, I realized most of the problems which I was overthinking (and the answers to the questions I thought were unknown) were actually quite clear and right in front of me. The signs were flashing bright and blinding me; I chose to ignore them because I really didn’t want to know the truth, and mostly, I didn’t want to be thrust into the unknown of being alone. But when it comes to overthinking (and needing) closure in relationships, I’ve noticed it is a common problem for not just me, but for many.

But the answer is there, we just choose to not see.

It’s similar to mixed signals in relationships — the signals aren’t mixed, they are actually very clear; we decide to muddy them because it’s easier to be in a confusing relationship than to be alone. Right?

Guilty.

However, they’ve already given you the answer by breaking up with you. In that moment, they don’t want to be with you, and that itself is the message we seem to be missing. As painful as that is, the answer is really in the breakup itself. By saying I don’t want to be with you, that is closure.

Processing that is up to you, and only you.

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” ― Cheryl Strayed


Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.

Image courtesy of RODNAE Productions.

How to Handle Other People’s Bad Moods like a Pro


Here’s a question I get asked a lot as a therapist:

How do you sit there and listen to people’s problems all day? Don’t you get depressed?

To be honest, not really.

You might imagine all that sadness, frustration, anxiety, and shame my clients tell me about would start to rub off on a guy after a while. But, if anything, I feel like I’m a little better at managing both my own emotions and other peoples’ because I get to practice all day long as a result of my job as a therapist.

The point is: Managing other people’s bad moods and difficult emotions well is an ability that can be practiced and strengthened.

In this article, I want to share five specific skills that help me to effectively and respectfully handle other people’s difficult emotions.

If you can learn to cultivate them, these skills will help you keep your cool in every relationship in your life, especially the most important ones like spouses, bosses, parents, children, etc.

1. Treat strong emotion as a puzzle, not a problem

When someone close to us is racked with anxiety, overwhelmed by sadness, or just incredibly frustrated, it’s natural to see their emotion as a problem—something to be taken care of and resolved quickly. This is why we so often turn to advice-giving when people we care about are upset.

But as I’m sure you’ve come to learn, giving advice to someone in the throes of a bad mood is typically unhelpful at best and often counterproductive.

Instead of viewing someone’s bad mood as a problem to be fixed, what if we shifted our perspective slightly and tried to see it as a puzzle?

Viewing someone’s emotion as a problem puts us in a moral frame of mind—we think of the emotion as something bad to be gotten rid of quickly.

On the other hand, thinking of it as a puzzle puts us in a mindset of curiosity. And when we’re curious about another person’s emotion, it’s far easier to be validating, understanding, and empathetic, which is what most people experiencing strong, painful emotions really need.

So, pay attention to your own self-talk when someone you care about is very emotional. How are you thinking about their emotion to yourself? Try to catch and hold back on thoughts like:

  • Don’t they see this isn’t doing them any good!
  • If only they knew how much they impacted other people, they’d never be like this.

And instead, substitute more curiosity-driven questions:

  • What could be going on in their mind that would lead to so many painful feelings?
  • What kinds of external situations or circumstances might have set them up for feeling this way?
  • Even though they don’t like feeling sad, is there some kind of benefit they might be getting from it?

When you shift from problem-thinking to puzzle-thinking, your mindset becomes driven by curiosity rather than morality, which is far more helpful in an emotionally-intense situation, both for you and the person across from you.

When someone you care about is in a bad mood, try to understand how and why they’re feeling the way they are rather than how it can be fixed.

2. Try some Reverse Empathy

Empathy is the act of putting yourself in another person’s shoes and trying to imagine what it must be like to live in their skin—with their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and circumstances.

And while empathy is obviously an important skill to cultivate for all sorts of reasons, there’s a version of it that’s especially helpful for managing other people’s bad moods. I call it, Reverse Empathy.

Reverse Empathy: Rather than putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, try to remember a time when you wore the same shoe.

In other words, try to recall a time when you struggled in a similar way and with a similar set of difficult emotions and moods.

For example, if they’re really frustrated and angry, think back on a time when you were so frustrated you couldn’t seem to think straight:

What happened to get you that angry?

What kinds of thoughts and emotions were racing around your mind?

What did the people around you do?

And maybe most importantly, what do you remember wanting, needing, or wishing for when you felt that way?

Often, Reverse Empathy can be a more powerful way to appreciate someone else struggle because it’s based on your own experiences rather than hypothetical ones.

And the more you can relate yourself to what they’re going through, the better your odds of being genuinely helpful and supportive to the person next to you, not to mention being less reactive and emotional yourself.

3. Be a Mirror, not a Mechanic

Without a doubt, the number one mistake I see people (especially couples) make in their communication with each other is that they get stuck in “Fix-it Mode.”

Bob feels bad and starts describing how he feels and why he thinks he feels that way to Shelly. Because she sees that Bob is in pain and struggling, Shelly’s natural reaction is to try and alleviate or eliminate Bob’s suffering.

But here’s the thing:

Most people struggling emotionally don’t want someone to fix their pain, they want to feel understood.

Bake that into your brain because it’s one of the most counterintuitive but universally true laws of human psychology I can think of. And once you really believe it and start acting accordingly, everybody starts feeling better.

So, how do we get out of a Fix-it Mindset and start helping people feel understood? The best way is to practice a technique called Reflective Listening.

Reflective Listening means that when someone tells you something, you simply reflect back to them what they said, either literally or with your own slight spin on it.

For example:

Your boss: I can’t believe Teddy embarrassed me like that in front of the whole staff!
You: Sounds like you were really embarrassed.

Your husband: You never listen, you’re always just giving me advice.
You: It seems like you feel as though I tend to just give advice without really listening to what you’re saying.

Now, I know this might sound silly or condescending at first blush, but I promise you it works.

The reason is, it’s not about the content of what they’re saying, it’s about how they feel. Yes, they know and you know that they were really embarrassed at work. The real value of your reflecting back what they just said is that it helps them feel like you are with them—that you’re connected, and understanding, and on their side.

By mirroring another person’s experience you’re giving them something far more valuable than advice—you’re giving them genuine connection.

4. Validate Your Own Emotions

One of the hardest things about other people’s bad moods is the emotions they tend to stir up in us:

Our spouse is sad and melancholic and we get frustrated.

Our boss is anxious and overbearing and which makes us feel anxious too.

Our parent is angry and irritable, and we respond with annoyance and sarcasm.

The trouble is, once we’re deep into a spiral of our own negative emotion, it’s hard to have enough mental and emotional bandwidth to navigate our own mood and that of someone else. This is why we often react to other people’s bad moods in a way that ultimately isn’t helpful to them, us, or the relationship.

The solution is to get better at noticing and managing our own emotional responses early so that they don’t balloon out of control. And the best way I know of to do that is through a process called Validation.

Validation simply means acknowledging our own emotions and validating that they’re okay and reasonable.

For example, suppose your spouse or partner has been worked up all evening about some incident at work. They’re frustrated, angry, a little bit anxious, and there’s no sign of it letting up. While you’ve been able to tolerate it for the past couple hours, you feel yourself starting to get annoyed with them.

Rather than A) acting on this annoyance and saying something unhelpful to your spouse, or B) becoming judgmental of yourself for feeling annoyed with them, you could validate your own annoyance.

You could pause for a few seconds, acknowledge that you’re feeling annoyed and frustrated with your spouse, remind yourself that it’s okay and natural to feel that way, and then ask yourself what the most helpful way to move forward might be.

5. Clarify Your Responsibility

A common pitfall I see people make when trying to deal effectively with other people’s bad moods is to overextend their responsibility to that person to include how they feel.

Let me unpack that a bit:

We can only be responsible for things that we can control.

Emotions, by their very nature, are not directly under our control.

Because we can’t control emotions directly, we’re not responsible for them—either our own, or crucially, those of other people.

However, we are responsible for our actions—for how we choose to behave and think.

When we assume responsibility for things beyond our control, we set ourselves up for unnecessary frustration, disappointment, and resentment.

On the other hand, when we are clear about what we actually have control over—and therefore responsibility for—we’re able to deploy our efforts and resources as effectively as possible.

In short, because you can’t directly control how someone feels, you’re not responsible for it.

So much unnecessary struggle, conflict and wasted energy come from a fundamental misunderstanding about what’s really under our control. On the other hand, it’s amazing how much genuinely helpful energy gets freed up when you remove the burden of excess responsibility from yourself.

When you stop expecting to be able to make someone feel better, you can start taking real steps to connect with them in a heartfelt way and become genuinely supportive.

All You Need to Know

Bad moods and painful emotions are hard to handle, both in ourselves but also in the people we work and live with. While it’s not possible to “fix” another person’s emotional struggles, there are a handful of practical skills you can learn to help you be more genuinely supportive and helpful in the face of other people’s bad moods.

And even if you fail completely to help the other person—or have no interest in doing so—skills like self-validation and reflective listening will help you stay calm and effective instead of reactive and impulsive in the face of other people’s bad moods.


Nick Wignall is a clinical psychologist and writer interested in practical psychology for meaningful personal growth. You can find more of his writing at NickWignall.com.

Image courtesy of Liza Summer.

11 Books to Help You Grow in Life

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We Need More Authentic Leaders


We live in a time of fake news. Fake politicians. Fake social media followers. Fake advertising clicks. Fake genetically modified foods. Fake body parts. Everywhere we turn, there is some scandal followed by another one. It’s hard to know who to trust, and more importantly who to turn to for genuine care.

Employees are disengaged with lack of trust, and loyalty in both directions. Relationships have become dispensable fragile temporary alliances, not rooted in trust and authenticity, but on the benefits that can be derived from them.

At the heart of all these issues facing our way of life today, is a severe lack of authentic leaders. We need genuine, authentic leaders at the helm of companies, organizations, and governments. Leaders that genuinely care about other people, and who have developed self-mastery.

The path towards becoming an authentic leader is not easy. It requires taking complete and full responsibility for your life. Being willing to confront aspects of yourself, that in some cases, leave a lot to be desired. However, the gift of learning and owning your character flaws, is that it can help you begin to reshape them and take control of them.

Anything worth having is always met with great adversity.

Self-Realization

Mastering the skills of leadership requires identifying the qualities of a great leader. A great leader exercises good moral character, is compassionate, is accepting, is open, is accountable, has high integrity, and is on a constant quest to acquire knowledge, invests in self-awareness, self-growth and seeks ways to apply wisdom, not just knowledge. Finally, a great leader exemplifies perseverance, and resilience.

A leader’s goal is to set the example, and lead by example.

To become a great leader, you must become someone lead by core values, and someone who is committed to self-realization. The hardest person to lead is your own self.

An authentic leader is not defined by how many people work for them, rather by how many people their example influences for the betterment of humanity.

Authentic leadership starts at home, in your community, at the office, in your town, city, country, and it extends out to the world. A truly authentic leader can influence the course of thousands of lives, without ever coming in contact or having any communication with any of them. How is that possible?

Say a friend comes to you with a problem he/she is facing, and it happens to be something you are also struggling with yourself, leadership in that case isn’t shown within the words of advice you give your friend, but by your commitment to take on that challenge and overcome it yourself. The consciousness behind that decision is so that you can make it possible for your friend to overcome his/her problem, by way of your example.

To further explain this, imagine you struggle with pornography, and a friend comes to you revealing in confidence that he/she may have a problem with watching too much porn. There are no words or wisdom you can share with your friend that will help them overcome the problem. If you really want to help your friend, overcome your own problem with pornography first.

This is the true essence of leadership. Taking on other people’s problems as your own, overcoming your own challenges as a means to helping others do the same. An exceptional leader is tuned in to his/her surroundings as a way to identify his/her areas of self-improvement.

Be the Example

If someone that works for you does not make it to meetings on time, is it possible there are areas in your own life where you don’t show up on time? Perhaps you are supposed to have dinner with your family at 8:00pm but you work an extra 30 minutes and show up at home 30 minutes late.

Most of us will use the excuse “I had to work another 30 minutes, the project needed me”, but the family needed you too… so don’t be surprised if employees show up 30 minutes late to work, or to an important meeting… because it is a reflection of you, and your lack of commitment to being on time in all aspects of your own life.

Most people live a duplicitous life, thinking that what they do at work, is different than their home life.

There is no such thing as separate work life and family life, what you do in one affects the other and this is true in all aspects of life.

Most who don’t realize this, end up repeating the same patterns with the people they attract. The truth is, the problem is not with the employee who isn’t meeting your expectations, the problem is buried deep inside you as the leader, and the only way to fix it, is to look within yourself, and fix yourself.

When you change yourself to be someone who shows up on time in every aspect of your life, magically people start to show up on time. Yes, that is the power of authentic leaders who harness that inner spirit that creates everything that resonates outside themselves.

Self-Direction

Having a system of self-realization is more important that an MBA, or any other educational investment you can make. If you look at the most exceptional leaders of all time, some of them never went to College, but all of them left behind inspiration, because they understood the greatest secret of leadership of all time. Invest in self -awareness through a path of self-realization, or as some call it spirituality.

Becoming a self-leader is about becoming inner self-directed and a person that exudes or emanates positive attributes that contribute to the betterment of humanity.

It has been proven by science that it isn’t what we say that influences everyone around us, it is our vibrations. The waves we give off influence everyone we come in contact with.

Many talk about self-care, it is an important practice and very much needed. However, the desire to take care of yourself so that you can take better care of others, is based on an even higher consciousness. That’s the true essence of an authentic leader.

Leadership is about giving. To become an exceptional leader, one must become an exceptional servant. I am not talking about altruism; I am talking about creating for others that which you want to experience yourself.

When you care deeply about the people that voluntarily get behind your vision, be it your family, friends, employees, peers, you begin to transform within yourself the very things that those you lead need help to overcome.

Any flaws you identify outside of yourself is simply a reflection of something you need to become better at yourself. You must lead yourself out of chaos in order to remove chaos from other people’s lives.

Next time you are bothered by someone’s behavior or actions, know that the only reason it bothers you is because you possess that character flaw within yourself, otherwise you would not notice it in them. See it as a gift, a mirror of what you can improve about yourself.

To improve the world, to make the world a better place, you must lead the world out of chaos; the first person to lead is yourself. That’s the beginning of authentic leadership.

*Originally published at tulliosiragusa.com.


Tullio Siragusa is an expert level Certified Life Coach, a pioneer of disruptive technologies, an emotional intelligence (EQ) thought leader, futurist, speaker, and author. For the past 30 years, Tullio has built world class leadership teams in technology companies and startups. Tullio currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at Nearsoft, he co-produces and hosts DojoLIVE! a platform that gives voice to emerging technology luminaries. He also hosts Rant & Grow, an entertaining and heart-centered reality podcast where each episode explores people’s personal blockages and how to powerfully move forward with careers, relationships, and self-realization by developing healthy habits. As a founding member of Radical, a social justice movement, Tullio is a strong supporter of human-dignity in all aspects of life, including freedom in the workplace.

Image courtesy of Fox.

What Dogs Can Teach Us about Joy


My dog Edison was due for a physical and vaccinations recently so we headed to the vet. Edison is, in my unbiased opinion, the cutest dog ever.

He’s large and goofy with white fur and black spots. He has deep soulful eyes. He also has the funniest ears, very expressive, and usually one is lying on his head while the other is popped out like an old antenna searching for a signal.

Sadly those ears don’t actually work, so we’ve taught Edison doggy sign language.

When I take him for a walk, random strangers stop their cars to tell me how cute he is. Everyone is his friend. He even has his own Instagram account.

Edison is very exuberant and finds joy in everything we do. When Edison is happy he vibrates with joy. He wags his tail so hard his whole butt moves with him. And when he smiles, it’s a thing of beauty.

We get into the car to go to the vet and, oh my god, we’re going for a ride, it’s the best thing ever! Then we get to the vet and people are oohing and ahhing and petting him and it’s the best thing ever! The vet tech gave him a treat of liver spread on a pretzel, and it was the best thing ever! We came home and took a nice long walk and… well, you get the idea.

Seeing Edison’s joy in something as mundane as going to the vet made me reflect on how dogs seem to find joy in everything. A pat on the head, a piece of jerky as a treat, a game of tug of war, me coming home from work, a walk, seeing his best friend Buddy… it’s all very joyful for Edison.

As adults we don’t pay attention to these little things, and we lack the joyful enthusiasm we had as children. But dogs never seem to lose their sense of joy.

I might be happy to see my best friend, but I am not overwhelmed with excitement the way Edison is when he sees someone he loves.

If I have a treat I might think, this is good, but I don’t take the time or the effort to take joy in the taste of the treat or how it makes me feel. Edison does: He has some treats he will savor all day.

I’m never excited about going to the doctor. I never roll around in the grass. And I never stick my head out the window to feel the breeze when I’m in the car.

But what if I did? What if we found joy in the mundane? What if we were joyous for everything we were given? How would our attitude change if we looked for the joy in the little things of everyday life?

Today I resolve to be more joyful. To take pleasure in the simple things. To be in the moment and embrace the experience. Today I resolve to experience joy like a dog named Edison.


Rose Bak is a freelance writer, author and yoga teacher who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. As a dedicated multipotentialite, she writes on a variety of topics including self-care, aging, inspiration, business, and pop culture. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. In addition to writing, she teaches accessible yoga and sings. Sadly, she has absolutely no musical talent so she’s forced to mostly sing in the shower. For more of Rose’s work, visit her website at rosebakenterprises.com or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Image courtesy of Blue Bird.

Let That Stress Go!


Stress is the worst, am I right?

You feel it creeping up on you throughout the day, adding tension in your body, and souring  your mood. You were certain that when you woke up- you’d be a happier person for the day. By noon, though, if you’re lucky, you feel that icky, spiky monster taking over your world.

The trick to dealing with stress isn’t to manage it, or control it. Rather, the best way to handle  stress is to truly acknowledge that it’s there, and then let it flow through you and back out into the universe.

Imagine your stress as wind that’s just passing over you, and then moving beyond.

When we allow stress to stay in our bodies, and we lock it up tight, because we think that  pushing it down is easier than acknowledging it- that’s when illness begins. Stress not dealt  with becomes stagnant, and it begins to affect more than just your mood. Stress can upset  your sleep habits, your moods, your digestion, and a whole host of other things.

Too much stress, especially the stuff held onto from decades ago, and from past trauma, could  be eating you alive inside, and you won’t even notice until you start to face it, and let it go.

Yes, imagine it like that song. Let. It. Go.

Want a simple trick for how to start that process?

It’s incredibly easy. Like, super easy and all it takes is a moment of focus.

Letting go always starts with taking deep breaths. Breaths that you feel from your head to your  toes. It helps because it forces you to focus on a moment, and focus on yourself. When you  breathe in deep through your nose, and turn your attention inward, you’re very aware of how  you’re feeling. You can literally sense the emotions that are probably in control instead of you.

Deep breaths also force you to fill your lungs with fresh air, and that moment of centering  yourself helps you realize how much tension you are carrying. Once you recognize that tension,  you can work to remove it. Take those deep breaths, and roll your neck. Drop your shoulders.  Wiggle your fingers and toes.

Let that stress go.

It’s not serving you. It’s not helping you. It’s just mucking up your day, like mud splattered on a  windshield. Each day is a precious gift, as tacky as that sounds, and it’s just not worth wasting  the beauty that each day can be by living with stress goggles on.

When I feel stress taking over, I forcibly hit pause (as long as it’s safe wherever I am). I close my  eyes, and prepare to take as many deep, conscious breaths as I need until I feel myself back in  full control of my body and my mood. Deep breaths- inhale through the nose until you feel your  lungs full of air, and then slow exhales out the mouth. Start by taking a few deep breaths until you feel yourself centering in that moment, and then begin to remind yourself that you are  relaxed, supported, and that whatever you are feeling is temporary.

Remind yourself that you are in control of how you feel, and that each day is meant to be a  beautiful journey. We are not meant to be stressed all the time, and it’s not fair to your own life,  and your goals to be constantly stressed.

Every time we remember to consciously breathe, our body heals and we reclaim the beautiful moment of life that is before us. It’s not possible to live entirely without stress, but it is possible  to learn to allow it to move through you instead of ruling you.

So remember, as many times a day as you need, take those deep breaths. Loosen your body, and remind yourself that you are supported, and that you can relax. You don’t have to let stress  run your life like a bad driver.

Try it now. Close your eyes, and take five big deep breaths. In and out. In and out. In and out, until you feel loose and free.

You’ve got this!

In Gratitude,

Robin


Robin Lee is a medical intuitive, author, mentor, gratitude advocate, and speaker who has helped thousands of people around the world understand the language of their bodies. Robin believes that our bodies innately know how to balance and heal themselves if given proper care and support. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter, where she shares tips, tools, and techniques to honor our bodies and heal our lives!

Image courtesy of Karolina Grabowska.

The Burnout Equation


What if I told you that caring deeply and doing impactful work does not have to lead to burnout?

(Seriously, check in with yourself as you read that question.)

Are you skeptical? Does it make you feel hopeful? Are you pretty sure that I’m just trying to sell you something?

What I have learned after twenty-plus years of activism and caring work is that burnout does not have to be a given part of that work.

And if you are feeling burned out, it is not the result of some sort of weakness or failure on your part.

In fact, I have identified a clear equation that leads directly to burnout—that has little to do with the person experiencing burnout. This is true for people across the care-taking and change-making spectrum: parents, teachers, medical workers, coaches, kids of aging parents, activists… the list goes on.

And yes, it’s true that often when we find ourselves in these roles, burnout often follows. But once you understand the equation, you can start to shift each part of it in order to create a bit of breathing room between yourself and full-on burnout.

In my experience, there are three main contributing factors to burnout:

  1. Too much work
  2. Too few resources
  3. Unclear and/or impossible goals

(Please not: these factors can take place on both the systemic and individual levels.)

This is why quick fixes like that bubble bath and sheet mask might not fix your burnout. It’s why we end up in burnout not once, but over and over again. Because the odds—and our environments—are often not stacked in our favor.

The good news is that there are small, mindful steps we can take to start unwinding that burnout, and interrupt the cycle of burnout.

Get a feel for the landscape.

When it comes to the question of “too much work,” we often feel overwhelmed and don’t even know where to start. This is because we aren’t able to really see everything it is that we do.

The first step is to make a list of everything that you do—big and small—in a day or in a week. This will help you to gain perspective on how you’re spending your time and what it is that you really do.

Once you can see this, perhaps you’ll appreciate all of your work a bit more—and have room for negotiating some places to cut back.

Develop a sense of what you really need.

Before we can address getting you better-resourced, you need to understand what it is you really need. Often, when we begin or ramp-up our self-care practice, we’re simply adding more to our plates, without considering whether these are things that will truly nourish us.

Make a list of—in a dream life—what you would outsource first. These are your most-dreaded tasks and things you tend to avoid or procrastinate.

Then make a list of how you would spend that time instead. Between these two lists, you may be able to see a pattern of that kind of help or reinforcements you need, and what would resource you deeply in place of the thing you dread.

Start to cross things off your list.

When burnout rears its ugly head, sometimes we truly need to triage. We order takeout a bit more often. We leave the vacuuming for next week. Our email response times get a little more lax.

We do this in service of our physical and emotional well-being because we know that in deep burnout, our wellbeing needs to be our priority. In short, we let things get a little messy and imperfect.

I wonder what might happen if we started this process before the burnout strikes. With this in mind, the question becomes: are you ready to let go of perfection to have more peace?

I know, all of that is easier said than done. And I’m not suggesting that we fail to be accountable or become rude and selfish. (Honestly, if you’ve gotten this far, I’m pretty sure you’re not at risk of becoming a selfish jerk.)

Instead, when we endeavor to understand where our burnout comes from and start to ask questions about it, we can start to transform it. And that benefits not just us, but everyone around us.


Christy Tending is an activist, educator, and writer. She teaches online courses about sustainable self-care to students all over the world, and hosts the podcast Tending Your Life. She lives on occupied Ohlone territory (Oakland, CA) with her family. You can learn more about her work at www.christytending.com.

Image courtesy of Anna Tarazevich.

How Daily Journaling Can Grow Love In Yourself and Relationships


It’s amazing that something so simple, and somewhat old-fashioned, can have such a powerful impact on your inner peace, confidence, and success. Just by writing down your thoughts, experiences, and dreams, you can completely change the game.

Are you using the power of journaling to improve your life and relationships?

Journaling is a powerful tool that completely transforms your life. It’s one of the essential tools I’ve used to revolutionize my own life and part of what I share with my clients and students.

Daily journaling was instrumental in my transformation from being an insecure and fearful person into a radiant and vibrant human who’s in Love with life. Trust me, it’s awesome in every way!

If you want to make changes in your life for the better and become the best version of yourself each day, use what I share with you here. Trust me, it will make a massive difference!

More than meets the eye or paper

It’s no secret that the act of writing things down has incredible power. Too often we try to rely on just our memory to get things done, to stay organized, and to move us forward.

Also too often, we keep things stuck in our heads, trying to “figure it out” up there where things just get more complicated and convoluted. Journaling is about taking all those ideas and plans and getting them out so they can be seen and understood.

By writing out your thoughts, beliefs, and dreams you can see yourself more clearly. This fresh perspective gives you clarity on what changes you can make to move in the direction you want to go.

When you combine journaling with other personal development resources (check out the Growth Farming podcast for insights into my essential tools) you change the way you think in a positive direction.

One way of doing this is through the practice of writing affirmations. Writing affirmations that empower your beliefs in self-love, including expressing your dreams, plants seeds of Love in your mind that produce the life you want.

This is one key way to improve your own self-love and grow healthier relationships.

My journaling origin story

I started journaling when I was in high school. I used my journal to write down my experiences. But really I was writing down my thoughts and feelings, even though I didn’t realize that was what I was doing at the time.

I’d have an idea for a song I was writing and I’d put a few lines down in my journal. Then I’d write about the girl that the song was about. And I’d write about how much I liked her, or why I liked her.

I’d dream about stuff I wanted to experience. I was playing in a band at the time but we didn’t have any shows going and I didn’t think we’d get any. So I wrote that down.

And guess what? We played maybe two shows in front of an audience the entire time we were together.

I dated a girl in my junior year of high school and broke up with her and then tried to get her back and wrote all that in my journal. Lack of belief in myself is evident in those old journal entries.

The struggle was a consistent theme in my journaling back then. And I experienced more of it. This is why being intentional about what you journal is really important.

I’m not saying to not write down your pain and suffering. Do that if it helps you sort through your emotions and let the pain go. Then ask yourself what you’ve learned from these experiences.

Journaling helps you become a stronger student in life and in self-discovery.

Journaling is a powerful way to learn about yourself

Using a journal daily is also a great way to change your story. Because what you write down is like a contract you’re making with yourself.

If you’re someone who’s into manifestation, you know the power of journaling. Here are five ways to use journaling to manifest a better life for yourself:

  1. Write down what you want to have and experience. Believe that it’s happening or that it has already happened.
    Example: “I had a great conversation with my friend today and we healed from an argument we had last week. Our relationship is strong again and it feels great to reconnect with her.
  2. Affirm to yourself the power and the GOOD that you are.
    Example: “I am strong and whole in myself. I am chosen. I feel Love all around me.”
  3. Write yourself love notes. That’s journaling.
    Example: “I appreciate how kind and considerate I am to others. It feels really good to bring a smiling face to people I see throughout the day. I love that about myself! I am beautiful and amazing and am very proud of the person I am and the person I am becoming!”
  4. Write yourself stories about you succeeding in your dreams. That’s journaling.
  5. Write about your experiences, the good and bad. Write what that showed you about yourself, your strengths, and your powers. And your weaknesses. Not to focus on them, but to be accepting and gracious with yourself exactly as you are. That’s real self-love.

Let your journal be a conversation with yourself that you do FOR you.

Love yourself enough to write down your thoughts. Use this to change your beliefs about yourself.

Want more help with changing your beliefs and growing in confidence? Use the Reshaping Your Beliefs ebook for a step-by-step process.

The most successful people all use journaling to level up in life

Some people I’ve learned a lot from in the realm of journaling are best-selling author Benjamin Hardy, who blogs a lot about the power of journaling regularly. Oprah Winfrey has taught me a lot too. In her book, What I Know For Sure (reviewed in my 2020 reading list), she describes how journaling had such a transformative effect on her life during some of her most difficult and trying experiences.

The more I read biographies of super-successful people, one common denominator they share is journaling.

If following in the footsteps of successful people is something you want to do too, I highly suggest you utilize and use this tool.

Plan your journaling practice to grow consistently

Nowadays my journaling happens usually first thing in the morning.

I write myself a Love note about how much I love myself. Affirming my inner strengths. I claim what I want to experience and trust God is bringing me everything I ask for (on paper) in divine timing.

The pages of my journals also talk about my experiences. And what they are teaching me about myself so that I can continue to grow.

I use journaling to document my experiences. That is what I used to only do before I gained a conscious awareness of the power of writing down my thoughts. I also use my journal to teach me where my actions, attitudes, and beliefs are not in alignment with my true self. That true self is Love.

After meditation or a spiritual experience, I write down what I saw or heard, or felt. Or both. Journaling empowers all the other self-love and personal development methods because it puts everything out in the open to be seen.

alexandra lammerink

Be creative to bring this practice to life

Sometimes writing the same things down every day can seem boring. I get that.

My friend Adam uses his journal in a unique and creative way. He takes his affirmations and draws them out in word pictures or quotes in different font styles. He’ll add drawings and pictures that bring a creative spark to what he’s empowering himself with.

Let your creativity flow. It’s your journal and your experience. Add doodles or quotes you’ve read that really empower you.

There’s no one way to do this. Allow yourself the space to let your imagination flow. These little sparks add new levels of interest and fun to the whole process. Which helps with continuing the practice daily.


Estée Janssens

Why journaling makes such a difference

There’s immense power in taking our thoughts and transforming them into words through pen and paper. It’s a constructive way to organize our dreams and goals.

Usually, some of the best epiphanies and realizations happen after you think out loud. And writing it down gets these thoughts into a tangible form where they can take shape to become something greater than just a thought or idea.

Writing them gives them breath. All living things have breath. Think about that for a minute.

Breathe life into yourself by writing out your thoughts, feelings, and dreams.

When you put energy into your creative expressions, powerful things happen. Infusing these thoughts with Love is the key to transformation, both for yourself and for your relationships.

There’s power in the written word. It sinks into your subconscious mind and takes root. All beliefs and thoughts influence behavior, attitudes, and actions.

Use your journal as a vessel for planting and cultivating Love inside of you. Give this a try daily for thirty days and watch how your life transforms!


D Grant Smith is known as the Growth Farmer, which means he has an old-fashioned approach to living a whole & healthy life. Get his free ebook called Love Is The Seed To Success, that gives help in healing relationships and growing healthy ones. His new book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole is about the journey into self-love and self-care after heartbreak and personal loss. He’s an empowerment superhero who would love to give you encouragement so feel free to reach out!

Being Naked in Public Brought Me Closer to God


Do you ever feel like you’re missing out because you’re not feeling God or spirituality the way people around you are? You probably don’t admit it out loud if you do, right? Most of us tiptoe around spirituality and keep that topic to ourselves in an attempt not to offend or to avoid being judged about such a personal part of our lives, but I wish there were more letting each other in and asking questions to share our experiences. 

I’ll go ahead and take that first step to let you in because I think it’s a conversation worth having. I feel God in a big way, but to be honest, there are times I…just…don’t. I can’t tell you with one-hundred-percent certainty what my beliefs are, and it weighs heavily on me because I’m thirsty for some cozy convictions and community. I do try to go deep and let spirituality and God light me up and start my life on fire, but most of my experiences have been quiet, subtle moments. 

I keep assuming I will one day feel this overwhelming spiritual change if I just keep looking for it, but it has come to me in moments almost always outside of church where I am being authentically myself during everyday activities like being immersed in nature, snuggling with my kids or husband, listening to music, laughing with friends and family, or connecting with a stranger and making them feel seen.

The more real I can be and as far away from religion I can be, the closer I feel to finding God.

A few years ago I was in my car, and I just sort of chuckled out, “Just take over, God. Whatever ya want, ya got it. Just show me the way.” No glitter came dancing out of the sky. The heavens did not open. Car horns still sounded. The prices at the Whole Foods store I was parked at did not magically drop to an affordable level. The world was still the world, but it feels different when I take a step back from my ego and ask God to make sense of the mess I have a tendency to make

Another unlikely location I encountered God was when I was naked in public. Did you just re-read that sentence? Well, yep, it’s true. You read it right. My best friend Erica and I went to a Korean bath house in Chicago where everyone gets naked and relaxes in hot tubs. I know it sounds bizarre, but try it if your life needs some shaking up, okay? Seriously, please do it.  

We got into the locker room, took off our clothes and headed out into the public bath area. There were women of all races, ages, and shapes sitting in enormous hot tubs, chatting and relaxing. The layers that separate us were totally peeled back, and it was more of a relief than a feeling of being exposed. 

Erica and I made our way to the hot tub, and she was moving slowly because she had a serious foot injury. She is a talented dancer, choreographer and performer, so this injury had been a dark cloud for her. We were in the hot tub talking about how her injury has altered her life when here comes another naked woman who was watching us and politely explained she wasn’t trying to be creepy, but she noticed we could use some prayers judging from how Erica had limped to the tub.

The three of us sat in the hot tub as this woman prayed over Erica’s foot, asking God to give her movement and energy back, asking that her pain exit her body now because it was time for it to go. 

So there we were—three naked women with three very different body types and that was the least attention-getting part of the scene. My eyes filled with tears as I watched this naked stranger pray with us and for us, all of us as stripped of any pretense, fear or walls.

I realized right there that this too is God.

This raw sincerity from a stranger to see a struggle and want so badly to offer assistance that she has the boldness to come over in all her nudity and say, “I see you’re struggling, and I want to help.” The spirit of God and goodness and the power of raw humanity landed within me so profoundly more than any church setting.

Did this magically make Erica’s pain go away, and did she suddenly walk out of the spa as if nothing had ever happened to her? Not even close, and in fact, her foot is still healing as I write this, a year and a half later. But that’s not what God is to me. God is speaking through us to each other, and God was in that moment of three naked women holding hands, heads bowed, praying together for something to fix all the pain and brokenness.

Moments like these are a gift when we can slow down and take in life around us.

Do you need to be naked in public to experience it? I don’t know. It doesn’t hurt. 

As I age, I know my own belief in God and my faith in the mystery of it all, is actually where my connection with God lives. It doesn’t live in the constant wondering why I’m here or what my purpose is. My faith lives in letting God lead me and confuse me. I’ll keep facing my spirituality with the same steady pace I’ve been going at my entire life, remembering what I feel is what I feel, and it’s where I’m meant to be, while also being humble and curious to hear the experiences others have with God, even when those paths are different than mine. 

This spiritual path I’m on is one that will keep challenging me, I’m sure. If I stop being challenged by it, it means I’ve given up, and I don’t want that either, even when I feel I fall so short of where others are and feel like a fraud. When I embrace who I am, stop going about my busy life, look up at the stars, breathe, and let it all in, are the days I feel like I’m getting somewhere. I will keep reminding myself to be open to it all, open to change, and open to total acceptance of where I am. 

Whether you’re a seeker or not, when do you feel connected to life in general? How can you take more moments to dig in deeper?

This is an excerpt from my book of essays called, “What Waits Ahead is Way Better and Way Worse Than You Imagined: True Stories of Balancing Joy and Poo in Life” that is now available in most online bookstores. It’s geared towards empowering women to tap into who we authentically are instead of who we think we should be, to have more fun, and to remember to not let ourselves disappear.


Rebecca Rine is a writer and speaker at RebeccaRine.com where she writes with raw honesty about the joys and challenges of an ordinary life, feeling it all and living simply and deeply while not being a bag of turds to others. Readers say her writing connects with them because she openly writes about her life and shortcomings regarding marriage, parenting, spirituality, and aging with a goal of embracing your imperfect, authentic self. She is an opinion contributor to Dayton Daily News and public radio, and has been published in places such as: Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, Fatherly, and The Write Life. Her podcast “Real Life out Loud” can be heard on various platforms, and her short videos about “one thing to think about” can be found on YouTube. You can follow her on Facebook, and subscribe to her website to get updates on her upcoming book of essays,“What Waits Ahead is Way Better and Way Worse Than You Imagined”.

Image courtesy of Pavel Danilyuk.

5 Steps to Learning Something New


“I always wanted to learn the guitar. Maybe THIS summer.” Or…. maybe not. It’s a shame how quickly we dismiss our heartfelt dreams and relegate them to the “someday” bucket list. Why is that? We have many reasonable-sounding excuses. Work is hectic, there’s never enough time, the kids, the spouse, the Facebook , etc. Reasonable, sure. But not true.

At HG, we call this inner voice the “chicken,” and boy does it keep us playing small. Instead of branching out and learning a new skill, a hobby, or anything fun and out of the ordinary, we choose the ones that are safe and familiar – movies, dinner, happy hour. Then we wonder why we feel bored and stagnant in our lives!

This summer, lose the excuses and set your sights on something more fun and fulfilling.

A commitment to learning is a commitment to your own brave evolution and improvement. 

Summer is the perfect time to give yourself the gift of a new hobby, skill or activity that you’ve always been curious about. The possibilities are endless!

Consider gourmet cooking, speaking a foreign language, guitar, singing, painting, sculpting, photography, making films, writing stories, running, surfing, tennis, biking, golf, swimming, learning yoga, scuba diving certification, fishing, sailing, juggling, swing dancing, learn to Dj with real records, become a drink mixologist, water ski, make jewelry. Surprise yourself! Impress yourself. Don’t wait until the summer is over to accept this awesome challenge.

5 Steps to Learning Something New

1) Brainstorm

Write down all the activities, skills or abilities you wished you had time to do or you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. Rate them in order of importance.

2) Choose your activity

Really look at your list and decide what you want to make happen this summer. What would make you happy, and proud, and inspired? This is supposed to be fun and fulfilling for you. If you feel like it’s work, you will resent it.

3) Answer “why are you not doing it?”

It’s something you would love to do and it would make you happy, but for some reason it’s last on your priority list. What is holding you back from learning this new skill or doing this activity? Time? Money? Fear? Face why you’re not doing it and remember, it’s just an excuse.

4) Make a plan

Find time in your schedule to fit in your new activity every week. Start today. Make promises to do your activity. Implement consequences if you don’t do your promises. If you don’t enjoy your activity, you are allowed to change it! This is not school. This is about learning how to do something you love.

5) Declare an end result

What do you want to accomplish by the end of the summer with your new activity or skill? For example, if you are learning how to cook, plan a big Labor Day dinner party with close friends, where you cook the entire meal.

The possibilities are endless! Get to it!

Love,

Marnie

P.S. Inner.U is a 12 session online course that gives you the tools to hack into your own life, hone your dreams, and have every last thing you want in the areas that matter most to you: CAREER, MONEY, LOVE, TIME, FAMILY, and HEALTH. Do this life thing better from wherever, whenever.


Marnie Nir is Senior Vice President & Chief Content Officer and Expert Life Coach with Handel Group. She finally returned from Florida (a period in her life she likes to refer to as “witness protection”) to her home state of New York, but has shuffled around from New York to California and back again throughout her life. Marnie’s professional and personal life have come full-circle as well. A student of Slavic Language and Literature at UCLA, Marnie graduated with a BA and an understanding of Russian Literature as “purification through suffering”. Years later, after several jobs in publicity and production, most notably for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle live tour (can’t make this stuff up), she began to see that, at least in her own life, suffering was not mandatory.  After marrying and giving birth to her first child, Marnie started coaching with her sister, Lauren Zander, creating the dream of who she wanted to be as not-her-mother. However, her work with Lauren took everything in her life to a much deeper level. More than a decade later, she is now an empty nester of two, co-author with Lauren Zander of Maybe It’s You, SVP of Chief Content Officer, and an Expert Life Coach in The Handel Method. She has also continued her creative work, namely as co-creator of the animated series Mother Up!, which aired 13 episodes on Hulu and starred Eva Longoria, serving as an expert at Campowerment, blogging for the Huffington Post, as well as writing her own blog (The Sour MILF).

Image courtesy of Startup Stock Photos.