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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A Social Dummy’s Tips On Doing Well 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 my awareness of myself and others has gotten 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, my tips may be just what you need to break old social habits that aren’t working for you, and learning some new effective techniques:

  1.  Old way to start a conversation:  I would 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 that you are sitting with:  I automatically feel afraid to sit silently in a social setting because I don’t know what to do with myself.  I 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 am sitting with is not a big talker who takes over the conversation, I pepper them with questions.  This gets very uncomfortable after asking questions for several minutes when they simply answer 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 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 mistakenly have thought a certain type of person wants to hear all about me when they simply ask how I am.  When they walk away from me, I 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 that I want to unload.  I can now recognize them, 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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Beating Depression & Negativity by Changing Your Stories: Exactly How To Do It

Like many of you, I’ve suffered from depression on occasion, and have been paralyzed by worry other times, unable to shake my negative thoughts until something happened to relieve my worry. Try as I might, I couldn’t block these negative thoughts and feelings as they were happening, even though I was aware that I was missing out on all the lovely things happening in my life at the same time. After reading some methods of beating depression and worry, and trying them out, I have successfully diminished these periods of negativity so that they are small and much less painful, and I’ve been able to turn them into opportunities to improve the conditions of my life. To make a long story short, here are the instructions on how I was able to do it:

  1. Whether the incident you are depressed or worried about is large or small, take a minute to examine it, and identify the story you are telling yourself about it. For example, the job you thought you loved has taken a turn for the worse, making you feel upset and unhappy. You might feel upset or depressed because the story you are telling yourself is that you are hopelessly unhappy there, there is nothing you can do to improve the situation, and you can’t leave your job because you will be a failure, and you won’t be able to find anything better.
  2. Now that you have identified your story, retell it in a way that makes you feel happy. For example, you have become aware that you are no longer happy at your job because you have outgrown it. Your soul is ready to move on to something better, and you will be successful at finding something. You are a smart capable person, and you are ready to make some changes despite conventions or social norms that say you should stick with a “good” job no matter what. Then take some action based on your happy story like looking for a new job or finding a way to move out of the situation you find yourself in at your current job.
  3. What about worrying about someone else? This can be more difficult to shake because we feel powerless over the poor decision-making or conditions of someone we care about. Again, start by identifying the story you are telling yourself about their situation, then tell yourself a positive story about what is happening to the person.  Remind yourself of the positive qualities the person has, and imagine them becoming the best version of themselves.
  4. This doesn’t mean that you bury your head in the sand, or give yourself permission to ignore a troubling situation. In fact it means to opposite. It means you are brave enough to fully acknowledge the hard truth about something, so that you can clearly see why it is causing you worry or depression. It means you are strong enough to do all you can do to confront the situation, but then trust that what you have done is enough, without torturing yourself until it is resolved. Sometimes there is nothing you can do right away, and in that case you must trust that if you are meant to share words of wisdom or direction, the time will come when you will be made aware that the person is ready to hear you.
  5. Every time you find yourself worrying about the same thing or feeling depressed about it, remind yourself of your happy story about it again. Your happy story is also actually true! This may be hard to do at first. While you are training your mind to think of happy stories, doing things that demand your complete attention is an effective way to shake your negative stories lose. For example, playing a musical instrument, learning a new craft or skill, or going somewhere new are all ways to distract your worrying tendencies. Yes, it’s OK to do things that make you happy when something worrisome is going on, in fact, it is imperative that you do so.
  6. Now for the magic: in her book “Finding Your Way In A Wild New World,” best-selling author and Life Coach Martha Beck says that these positive thoughts can actually cause positive outcomes to manifest in real life. International dream guide, author, and scholar Robert Moss also cites examples of the power of conscientiously engaging in the bigger world through our dreams and meditations in his seminars and books. They believe and have experienced a connectivity in the universe between all living things that react to each other and from each other. In fact, just focusing on the big picture of life changes your mood by changing your prospective.  Nature is inherently happy, and you can feel that happiness even during the worst times if you take a minute and focus on it.
  7. The final step is to be open and aware of the positive things that begin to happen once you have told yourself your new happy story and imagined the best outcome in a situation. Make a mental note of each some good thing that happens, this is very important!

This method may be hard at first, as your worries overtake your positive stories. You may have to battle yourself to keep the happy stories coming, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, I promise you. The battle is part of our human evolution as we evolve from a primitive species whose survival depended upon our ability to identify danger quickly.  It takes the power of our brains that have evolved over time to stomp out the warnings from our primitive animal, and actually create better living conditions as we imagine the best outcomes and possibilities for all.  This is not to be confused with wishing for a particular outcome of a situation, rather it is imagining a positive outcome, letting go of your personal wish for it, and accepting and celebrating the resolution as being the best outcome for all in the big picture of life.

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