Author Archives: Kathy

Is Ignoring Your Fear Courageous Or Foolish?

Everything you hear these days, from spiritual leaders in Oprah Winfrey’s book “The Path Made Clear,” to Life Coach Martha Beck’s advice in her best seller “Finding Your Way In A Wild New World,” seem to be giving two conflicting messages. On the one hand they say that in order to live your most authentic, fulfilling life you should live your truth, and let fears of social objection take a back seat. On the other hand they say to be still and listen closely to your body, and to use negative physical reactions as guides to making choices that are more harmonious and healthier for you. So which one do you do? Do you tremble in fear, sometimes getting to the point of being physically ill while you charge ahead making bold life choices, or do you let your fear serve as a warning signal of dangerous situations and actions, and avoid them, perhaps cheating yourself out of enriching your life?

After experiencing the consequences of taking some risky action lately, even though a voice inside me was fearful, to the point where I had some clear dreams of danger ahead, I came up with a simple method to help make the best decision. First of all, if you are thinking of doing anything at all risky, that in itself warrants taking a moment of stillness to check in with yourself to see if you are feeling fearful. This sounds easy, but when you’re determined to do something, it can be hard to think to take a minute and let it settle in you before taking action.

Once you are aware that you’re feeling somewhat fearful, let that be your cue to take a step back, and apply some wisdom to the situation. In other words, be W.I.S.E.

W – Weigh
I – In
S – Social
E – Ego

I have found that it’s easy for me to take bold action, marching past my fears, if I believe I’ll get a reward that will serve my social ego. In other words, if I’ll get approval or a feeling of accomplishment or superiority according to our social rules and expectations, I am more likely to forge ahead, possibly discovering unwanted consequences in the end. If I take ‘receiving social rewards for my ego’ out of the picture, and let myself reflect on taking the action without any social recognition of any kind, it is much easier to evaluate whether it is worth the damage it could cause, or benefits it could create. In my experience the universe tends to keep my soul on track, and my ego in check.

So next time you consider taking bold action, take a minute, weigh in the reasons why your social ego might want you to do it, and consider if those reasons are really in the best interest of having a calm, happy, creative worry-free life. Sometimes courageous moves break us free to do the things that make us the happiest in the quietness of our souls, and sometimes they simply bring pain, struggle, and drama, minimizing any social reward they might bring. The only one you really have to answer to is yourself, so be kind, thoughtful, and WISE.

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How To Close The Trap Door Of Worrying About Others (Once & For All!)

There it is, waiting for you to step out and fall through the hole in the floor, gently disguised by a small decorative rug.  It looks inviting enough, but bam, there you are falling and landing with a big emotional bruise on the floor of the room below.  That is what it can feel like when you calmly approach a situation where a loved one is in turmoil.

Being middle-aged, we have enough life experience to recognize pitfalls and poor life choices so that we make better decisions, and can enjoy the fruits of our lessons, while dealing with the problems of adult children, aging parents, and aging ourselves.  We do this because we value our relationships, and want to remain close and engaged, but sometimes the cost of staying close with others is too much, especially when loved ones are in turmoil.  It can consume you with worry, robbing you of enjoying the life you have worked so hard to build, landing you with a hard thud on the floor of worry and fear.

After another ride on the roller coaster of emotions, leaving me battling fear and worry, I decided enough was enough!  Having my happiness depend on the ups and downs of someone else’s life was not fair to me, and exhausting to say the least.  But how do you maintain a close relationship with your loved ones without letting their ups and downs influence your happiness?  Here are the reminders I started using that helped me cover that trap door securely:

  1. When you sense you are feeling fear and worry about someone, do something that occupies your attention completely that you enjoy.
  2. Remind yourself that it’s OK to let go of someone you love, letting them make their own mistakes.  They will learn just as you did.
  3. Remind yourself that your time in this life is limited.  Your wonderful timeless spirit is occupying your body temporarily.  You will move on when your body dies, so everyone and everything in your life is a gift to be enjoyed, and not controlled.
  4. Remind yourself that having a close relationship with someone doesn’t mean you have to know everything about them.  Set limits on subjects you will talk about with certain people.  You don’t have to go deep to love them deeply.
  5. Believe in the magic of “acting as if.”  This is powerful magic!  Act as if everything will be OK, even if you don’t fully believe it, things magically turn out OK.  Acting carefree about someone’s situation changes the dynamic and focus between you, and helps the rough edges dissolve and vanish.
  6. Remind yourself of all the things that have worked out for you, and continue to work in your favor, big and small, that could’ve easily turned into a disaster.  A loving universe and higher power is really on your side.

When you remind yourself of these truths, they work like nails, securely covering that gaping hole of worry with a strong platform, allowing you to build upon it with love, joy, and family.

 

 

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How To Improve Your Social Skills, & Relax At Social Events

Yes, I’m a social dummy.  I’ve apparently been one all my life but had it confused with social anxiety, so I forced myself to plow ahead making the same mistakes in social settings time after time, leaving me feeling bad about myself without understanding what had happened.  Fortunately self-awareness has grown keener as I’ve aged, leading me to the place finally where I have developed a strategy for not only having a relaxed experience in social situations, but also walking away feeling good about myself.

If you find yourself dreading social events, but feel like you’re missing out on a fun and important part of living if you avoid them, my tips may be just what you need to break old social habits that aren’t working for you, and learn some new effective techniques:

  1.  Old way to start a conversation:  I’d have some topics of conversation prepared before the gathering.  Approach people and start talking about your subjects.  This works for a limited time, but I soon found people would just walk away from me, leaving me blabbing by myself.
  2. New way to start a conversation:  I wait quietly until someone comes near me or approaches me.  I let them start the conversation, or I comment on something in the moment, like complimenting their outfit or making an observation of the room.  I found natural conversations evolve from this approach, and no one walked away.

1. Old way to chit-chat with someone you don’t know well that you are sitting with:  I felt afraid to sit silently in a social setting because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.  I’d panic at the thought of being at an event and having no one to talk to, and walking away feeling lonely and rejected.  So if a person I was sitting with was not a big talker who would take over the conversation, I’d pepper them with questions.  This can get very uncomfortable after asking questions for several minutes when the other person simply answers the question without asking anything back.  I would foolishly keep on asking until one of us left.

2.  New way to chit-chat with someone you don’t know well that you are sitting with:  I ask a question or two, and if they don’t ask me questions, I just sit silently, and I find it is OK.  I focus on my breathing, and sit there until someone else joins the table, or I leave the table.  In other words, I relax and don’t let my fear of being alone get me into an uncomfortable conversation.

  1.  Old way of reading social cues:  being an extrovert, I enjoy talking about myself, and I found I would mistakenly think a certain type of person wanted to hear all about me when they simply ask how I am.  When they would walk away from me, I’d realize I gave way too much information and misread them.  Becoming aware of this about myself was transformative.
  2. New way of reading social cues:  I recognize now that just because someone seems to be very nice, has maybe known me all my life, and seems to ask me sincerely how I am, they most likely do not want to know everything about me.  I can now recognize the situation, give them a simple friendly answer, and wait to talk about deeper issues when, or if, they ask specifically about them.

Simply put, if you find yourself standing or sitting alone, don’t panic and overcompensate.  Ask yourself, “what would a relaxed person do?”  Take some deep breaths.  Keep yourself sober, but relaxed, having a drink or two at the most.  You will find, as I did, that by letting go of the need to control conversations, the most amazing talks with unexpected people develop.  It will leave you feeling calm, confident, and relaxed, which allows humor and genuine connections between people to happen.  Now that’s the way to enjoy a party!

 

 

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