Thankful Thursday: Feelings

 Happy Halloween….I was flipping through the photo albums trying to remember Halloween’s gone by.  I remember the costumes, I remember the faces BUT I don’t remember the feelings attached to them.  Some days I struggle with feelings…. Some days I feel numb unable to feel anything.  I wonder if the MS not only stole my memories but also stole some of my ability to feel???

Well, today is all about feelings….. so what are feelings?  We all have them, right?  Feelings is defined as “an emotional state or reaction“.

Many of us have spent our whole lives stuffing feelings (okay, so some of us).  I know I am not alone in this.  One of the reasons addicts become addicts is because they don’t want to feel anymore.  Pretty much we don’t know how to cope with whatever the feeling is we are feeling.  I don’t mean just drug or alcohol addicts…. there are those who stuff their feelings by eating, or shopping or having sex or the list goes on.  Basically an addict is anyone who does something to not feel feelings.   I usually say, anything I can get obsessive and compulsive about to help me not feel is an addiction….. I know I squirreled. LOL.

I am writing on my Fourth Step which is all about feelings.  It is actually about taking a moral inventory of myself.  When it came to the part about feelings, I was lost.  The only feelings I ever remember having were shame, guilt, fear and anger.  Were there any others???  See I had beat myself up for so long over the mistakes I had made in my life I didn’t know how to cope with my feelings.  So, I went from drugs to alcohol to shopping and credit card debt. Anything to help me step out of those feelings I didn’t want to have and feel better about me.  It worked for awhile but then life got unmanageable.  We can only stuff the feelings for so long before they start to bubble up and create a mess in our lives.

I actually had to do a Google search for what types of feelings there were..  I was clueless.  I was amazed at the list I found….pleasant feelings vs difficult or unpleasant feelings.  I had actually felt a lot of them.  The tough part came when I had to remember the time when I felt them and describe the event.  MS has stolen so many memories.  I remember bits and pieces but not always the details.

MS along with my relapse/recover brought about so many negative emotions I am learning NOT to stuff on a daily basis.  The reason I started Thankful Thursday was to turn the things which I tend to view as negative into a positive.  By looking at the blessing associated with the negative situation, I can get a better perspective on my life.

Shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior“.  This one is HUGE for me.  We all do stupid things growing up, right?  Some worse than others but at some point, we need to let go of the shame.  I thought I had my first time in recovery BUT there is still some things buried deep down I have never let go of.  I actually think I wasn’t ready to deal with them until now.  I need to forgive myself and take the positive aspects of the situation and learn from them.  It may be easier said than done but I am giving it a try.

One of the toughest feelings I have to deal with is resentment.  Resentment is “bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly“.  Have I really been treated unfairly? In most cases… NO.  I didn’t know what resentment was for a long time.  There were obvious situations where I resented people but many of those cases I had been treated unfairly.  Now,  when I am talking about a situation with anger and frustration, my sponsor is quick to say this is growing into a resentment.  WHAT!?!?!   Think about the invisible score card you keep in your head of the things you have done for someone.  They do something against you and you want to automatically run down the list of things you have done for them.  Guess what, you have a resentment!  When I do things truly out of love and caring, I forget about them and the invisible list in my head goes away.  Who do you have an invisible score card on?

Feelings are emotions, they are not fact.  When we talk about them, we let them go. Well, most of us try to…. Wrap yourself in the positive feelings…

Have a blessed day!

 

Are Emotions Ruling Your Decisions?

We have all done it, right?  Let emotions rule our decisions.  I am sure there are more time than I can remember where I made impulse decisions based on how I was feeling instead of thinking them through.

When we make an important decision at the height of an emotional state – whether we are angry or ecstatic, frustrated or giddy – can lead to decisions you regret.  How about the shopping spree when you were feeling down?  Or the eating binge? Or maybe you left a job after a bad review or incident?

Emotions are powerful. Sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative, but they always have the power to move us into action.

I have to admit, I take action more often when the emotions are uncomfortable – like fear or anger or frustration.  The end result was to always get rid of the feeling.  Yup, stuffing feelings lead me to my addiction and then to my relapse so many years later.  Those inner gremlins reared their ugly head and made me feel less than in so many ways.  They compared me to what others were doing in similar situations (or so I thought).  The end result was some really bad decisions leading to credit card debt and more negative feelings.

Emotions can  be brought on by the circumstances and events in your life, or by the manipulative behavior of a particular person in your life.  The key is to take notice when you feel pressure to make an important decision in the midst of strong emotion. Is it easy – NO!  The pressure of our emotions is strong.  It allows those inner gremlins we thought we had dealt with so many years ago to gain some strength.  Emotions or stuffing them, allows old behaviors to come back creating more of a mess.

The next time you feel pressured by your emotions, I want you to do something different…

That’s right. Do absolutely nothing. I know it is scary – trust me, I have been there more times than I can count lately.  Let yourself feel uncomfortable, afraid, angry, sad – and don’t make a decision or take an action. Just sit with the emotion.  No, I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little).  Talk it out with someone BEFORE you make the decision.  Over the last eight months, I’m grateful to have found a group of like minded people who help me through the emotions BEFORE I make a decision.  I hate asking for help.  I mean at 61 you would think I could make them on my own.  The truth is I can’t….

We need to embrace the idea that your emotions don’t have to rule. The are not facts they are feelings.  Emotions can actually teach you something. What message is your emotions sending you? What can you learn? And when would be a better time for you to make a decision or take action?

I’m a person who seeks instant gratification.  I hate feeling uncomfortable.  I don’t like people to see me being emotional so I stuff feelings which doesn’t make for good decision making either.  Do you stuff your emotions or do you share them?

The reality is – it is oaky to be emotional. It’s natural. Just don’t let your emotions think for you. Slow down. Take a breath. Be wise.  Remember emotions are not facts!

Today, I challenge you to not let your emotions rule your actions. STOP! Be still. Hold off on making a decision until you are less emotional. When we are emotional, we fell the NEED to make a decision immediately to get rid of the feelings.  But, what would happen if you refused to make a decision or take action in the midst of high emotions?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Why Empathy is Good for Business

Today we are going to talk about “empathy”.  By definition, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  

I know you are thinking you work hard, isn’t it enough for a successful business?  The truth is there are a lot of great traits which go into being successful but in my own life, I have found empathy to be the most important quality.

As a social worker in recovery, I was able to relate to the struggles of my clients.  I was able to share my strength, hopes and experience.  I was able to let them see I had been where they were and had come out of it.  I was able to help some kick drugs, leave abusive relationships, overcome homelessness and get employment.  Was everyone successful? NO!  Some didn’t really want to move forward and weren’t ready to work hard.  I find the same thing when working with other direct sellers.

So why is empathy good for business, especially in direct sales?  

1. Empathy increases the know/like/trust factor

Regardless of the products you sell, people are more likely to connect with, relate to, and ultimately hire/buy from you.  Which of these people would you connect with?

* the person who shares the good, the bad and the ugly of where they were, of their product and offers to help you.
* the person who’s somehow a “natural”.
* the person who doesn’t tell you anything about themselves or their background.  The pushy sales type.

I bet you connected with the person who knows your struggle, didn’t you? It’s human nature! We’re more likely to know, like, and trust people who are similar to us. And – as I’m sure you know – we’re more likely to buy from people we know, like, and trust.

2. Empathy shows you have walked the walk

When you can show your clients you’ve been where they are, found a solution, and emerged triumphant, you’re modeling success.  You are demonstrating you’re empathetic to their struggles.  You are living proof they don’t have to stay stuck where they are! Living proof makes for pretty convincing marketing.

3. Empathy helps your clients/customers/team be more vulnerable with you

When you show them you understand them, you’re helping them feel safe. You’re showing them they can be honest and vulnerable with you. When you say “I get it. I used to be (fill in the blank),” you’re making it easier for them to open up to you.  And the more they open up to you, the more you can help them, and the better their results will be.

4. Data without empathy is meaningless

I look at data to see which blog posts people read, which tweets they liked, and what they purchased. But I want to know more.  I want to understand why they read the blog post or what problem I helped them solve.  It is with this information, we can move forward in our business.

So how can you show more empathy in your business?

  • What have you struggled with?
  • What hurdles have you overcome in your business?
  • And how does this make you uniquely well-qualified to help us overcome something similar?

Whatever your backstory is: share it. Help people to know, like, and trust you. Show them how you can help them overcome what they’re struggling with.

If you don’t know what they are struggling with or how you can help, ASK!  They will tell you.  It’s hard to empathize when you don’t know what they are struggling with, right?

I would love to hear from you.  Share your story with us.  Let us know how we can help you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Assert Yourself…

What do you think of when you think of someone who is “assertive”? Assertion is simply expressing yourself in a honest, straightforward way which helps you get what you need.  It shows respect for yourself and others.  So, why do we have such a hard time with it?  Why does it have such a negative connotation?

This was a recent topic at my Weight Watcher‘s meeting.  This people pleaser tends to have a hard time with being assertive when it comes to anything but food.  I can easily tell you what food I can and can’t have but when it comes to anything else – I am as timid as a church mouse not wanting to hurt other’s feelings.  I rocked being assertive when I was early in my recovery then somewhere along the lines, those nasty inner gremlins creeped in again.

Being assertive is not being aggressive although we tend to lump the two of them together.  We worry when we assert ourselves people won’t like us.  We allow others needs to outweigh our own (those people pleasing gremlins).  Honestly, I think this is a skill (yes, it is a skill) I never really learned.  The reality is, once you master being assertive in an effective way, you will be able to let go of the fear of coming on too strong.

Think about situations where you wish you would have been assertive.  Maybe it was saying “no” to a piece of cake or to adding another thing on your to do list.  Maybe it was simply making time for YOU in the course of a crazy busy day or week.  For me, it is usually about putting everyone and everything before what I would like.  Yup, the proverbial people pleaser.

Being able to respectfully but firmly express feelings and ask for support helps us in so many ways – staying on plan to reach our weight loss goal, overcoming an eating disorder, finding time to exercise, building our business or beating an addiction.  When we learn how to advocate for ourselves and NOT put others’ needs and feelings first, we are more in control of our lives.  We are in a better position to reach our goals, whatever they may be.

I love the DESC model (now I just need to practice it) when it comes to asking for support, or getting someone to stop (or start) something or simply asking what you need.

DESCRIBE: 

First, you need to describe the behavior you want changed.  For example “You watch TV and I have to do the dishes after dinner so I don’t have time to get in a walk”.  What is the behavior you would like someone in your life to change?

EXPLAIN:

Now you need to explain the effect this behavior is having on you.  Okay, here is where I either get emotional or worry about saying the wrong thing.  For example, “I end up not getting in my walk most days of the week”.  Short and sweet.  No need for a lang drawn out explanation.  “Just the facts Dano”…. am I showing my age?  LOL.

SPECIFY:

Now is the big step….specify what you want or need to get the behavior to change.  This is where you ask for what you want.  Not demand but present a possible solution.  For example, “Would you please do the dishes Monday, Wednesday and Friday after dinner so I can walk for 20 minutes?”.  Seems harmless right?  If you don’t ask, you will never know what the other person is thinking.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) mind reading is not in our genes.

CONSEQUENCES:

Clearly state the consequences for you or how it is going to help you.  This is when I have to overcome the inner gremlin which says “you are selfish” or “it’s all about you”.  For example, “I’ll be able to walk three more times than usual and it’ll help me reach my FitPoints goal”.

My challenge to you this week is to identify a situation where being more assertive could help you get what you need then use the DESC model to practice being assertive.  

Thank you Weight Watchers for this lesson which can be applied to all areas of our lives.  Would love to hear how it went, share your success or your challenge with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Fear is Growth

“Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.” ~Unknown

This quote is so powerful.  Think about what your greatest fear is or was.  I don’t mean the fear of spiders or of roller coasters. I don’t even mean the fear of losing a loved one.  I mean what is your deep down deepest fear.  What is the thing that keeps your from reaching your full potential?

A tough question especially for a Friday when you are thinking about the weekend and relaxing, right?

If you can’t think of something you are afraid of, think about a fear that you overcame.  Maybe it was speaking in front of a group.  Maybe it was confronting someone who said or did something unkind to you.  Maybe it was stepping out of your comfort zone.  Maybe it was leaving an unhealthy relationship.  We have all conquered fear at one time or another – large or small.

Fear can be a paralyzing thing.  It can take you from confident and self-assured to a pit of misery and self-destruction.  It can create a mental suffering that effects every aspect of your life.  Fear can take a strong woman and reduce her into a self-pitying, vulnerable little person.

Now that you remember that fear that you conquered, think about how good it felt when you overcame it.  When you stepped out of your comfort zone and succeeded.  When you spoke in front of the group and were applauded.  When you left the unhealthy relationship and gained your life back.

How did you feel?  Did you feel like you left a heavy weight behind?  Did you feel like you had just won one of the hardest battles and now it was over?  Did you feel as light as a feather?

Do you feel stuck in the past or terrified of the future?  Is there a fear that is keeping you from being all you can be?

deepest fear - taco

Here are some lessons I have learned that might help you in your battle against fear.

1. Take responsibility for your feelings.

We live our lives thinking others cause our discomfort and unhappiness. When the truth is that YOU are the writer of your own story.  Take responsibility for feelings like anger, sadness, or jealousy.  It may be difficult, but the truth is that no one else can control what you think or feel.

2.  Deal with the present moment.

You may dislike the way a certain person or situation makes you feel and you can try to distance yourself from it, but you can’t distance yourself from your own feelings. Where you go, they go.  Ignoring your emotions won’t make them go away.  Create a healthy output for unwanted emotions (i.e.: dancing, painting, writing, singing), you will be amazed at how it changes your perspective.

3. Trust fear.

Fear only exists within the mind; it does not exist in the world outside of us. It’s an imaginary barrier we create for ourselves, a barrier that usually appears right before something great is ready to take place in our lives.  When we make the choice to confront our fears there is a reward waiting on the other side. 

So, what fear are you ready to conquer so that you can move forward in the New Year?

FEAR

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!