This is a helpful website that is growing quickly. Check it out to see if there is anything on there that could be beneficial for you.
Summer is now in full swing. Graduation parties. BBQs. Weddings. Vacations. And wondering whether all your spring ambitions will become summer realities. More free time but also less. At the beginning of the summer I get excited about all the books I will read. At the end of the summer I get excited for all the books I will read…next summer, because I didn't get to read them this year. I never seem to have as much free time as I anticipate.
Part of the difficulty is the time we do have is less structured during the summer. Families don’t have the school routine and many of us have work schedules that are a bit different during the summer compared with the rest of the year. This summer I am trying to keep three things in mind: priorities, structure and what I like to call being ok with not solving each of the world’s problems simultaneously.
Prioritizing helps me recognize that I actually don’t have an infinite amount of time or energy to accomplish goals. Prioritizing helps me identify what I truly value. Structure is important because it helps keep my mind and body in a rhythm. I like rhythm. Even one or two consistent events per week can make a big difference. Finally it is important for me to find time to be unproductive. With technology constantly at my finger-tips the best way for me to be unproductive is to get away from my phone and computer. Ironically, I find that the more consistent I am about being unproductive the more productive I become during the times dedicated to work. As we approach the midway point of summer I encourage you to join me in prioritizing, structuring and making time to be unproductive. My goal for this summer is to get less out of it, and be ok with that.
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Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of relationships. Disagreements are often a catalyst for growth, and fresh perspective. Dealing with conflict in productive ways can lead to greater connection, better understanding and improved productivity. Whether the conflict arises at work, home or among friends, there are two dangerous traps that many of us fall into. As you read on you may find that you have a tendency toward one or the other of these ends of this spectrum. For now I will call these folks at the extreme ends of the spectrum Steamrollers and Houdinis.
The first trap that many of us fall into when experiencing conflict is to respond to the other person or issue in an overly aggressive manner. Many people attempt to avoid conflict by steamrolling over the other person or people. Sometimes this is done for the steamroller to get his or her way. Sometimes this occurs because the steamroller is unwilling to think creatively to come up with solutions. Steamrollers also have a tendency to be overly sensitive to criticism. If someone feels that the only options are steamroll or be steamrolled he or she may prefer to be the one doing the rolling.
The other trap that many of us fall into is passively disregarding our wishes, desires or preferences. The trouble with this is that this response to conflict often results in bitterness, anger and resentment. These Houdinis may be so uncomfortable with conflict that they would rather disregard themselves and vanish than experience the discomfort and anxiety of conflict. Some Houdinis are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or making someone else angry. Sometimes Houdinis are reluctant to share their views because they are afraid of being thought of as stupid or wrong.
Where do you fall in the spectrum? What would others say about you and your style of dealing with conflict? I invite you to consider with me what might happen if we could all move toward the center of the spectrum. What would happen if the steamrollers could become more open to criticism and willing to work cooperatively and creatively toward solutions? What would happen if the Houdinis, rather than vanishing in the midst of conflict, could become a bit more assertive in expressing their views? I don’t mean to oversimplify the intricacies and difficulties of conflict. But I can’t help but wonder if moving toward the center would be a beneficial starting point.
Do you know anyone who manages conflict well, someone able to reap the benefits of conflict without becoming a steamroller or a Houdini?
Picking a counselor can be tough for several reasons. The first reason is that many people who visit a counselor want to keep their experiences private. If someone has a great experience at a new restaurant in town they are likely to tell a friend or neighbor about the food, service and overall experience. If someone has their sink repaired by a trustworthy and affordable plumber most people would have no problem recommending that plumber to others. What makes counseling different is that even if someone has a great experience with a counselor, they may not want to broadcast to friends and family that they are having difficulty in their marriage, are struggling with depression or are feeling unsatisfied with their life. Occasionally the stigma of counseling may keep people from sharing that they are seeing a counselor. Of course some people are more than willing to share that they are seeing or have seen a counselor and are happy to provide an account of their experience. But for many others the sensitive nature of what is being discussed in counseling prevents them from making recommendations to others. It may be worth asking friends or family if they know of any good counselors. Bear in mind some people may inquire about why you are asking. It may be wise to ask people selectively.
The list of things to consider when trying to find the right counselor is seemingly endless. The counselor’s age, gender, specialty, location, fee, availability, religious beliefs, reputation and approach may all be important considerations. Thinking about what your top priorities are would be a great place to start. For example, perhaps a counselor specializes in what you are looking for help with but doesn’t have any availability for the next 6 months. Perhaps a counselor has an office near your home but charges more than you can afford. Perhaps a counselor has affordable rates and is close to your home but comes from an approach that would clash with your personality. Ideally you could find a counselor that meets all of your criteria, but if not, prioritizing which factors are most important to you can be helpful. Many counselors will offer a free consultation to help you decide if he or she would be the right fit to help you overcome the obstacles you face. Feel free to take advantage of this. Counselors should be willing to answer questions you have, to help you decide if a particular counselor would be a good fit. Ultimately there is no substitute for actually talking to the counselor and deciding for yourself. These are just suggestions. Don’t let fear of choosing the right counselor prevent you from getting the help you need.
I've had to say goodbye a lot recently. Some goodbyes have been personal, some have been professional. Some came through unexpected death, some as a result of new opportunities. Some goodbyes were accompanied by tears, some with laughter and fond memories. As painful, and at times awkward, as these goodbyes have been, I have also experienced a profound richness in honoring relationships that have come to an end.
Each goodbye has been unique just as each relationship is unique. For some, a discussion of good memories, advice and blessings are in order. For others, a nod and warm smile is sufficient and communicates just as much. Some goodbyes are accompanied by ceremonies. Some goodbyes are so subtle that only those saying goodbye realize they have occurred.
In reflecting on all of these goodbyes, I was hoping to gain some deeper awareness of what makes a goodbye special, but I came up empty. I have no deep wisdom to impart but what I have learned is this: as clumsy and uncomfortable as goodbyes can be, I am grateful for them. Saying goodbye has reminded me that a relationship is not defined by the goodbye but by everything that came before it. However you say goodbye, may you be reminded of, and be grateful for, the relationship that makes saying goodbye worthwhile. I think that is what makes a goodbye good.
Free throw #1 Nutrition (If the free throw reference doesn't make sense check out what I wrote about making free throws last month)
When was the last time someone said “No thanks I am on a nutrition?” Just the mention of the word diet can create anxiety and frustration. This is because diet has become about the food you give up or deny or reject rather than what you use to fuel and rejuvenate your body. If the health of our diets is defined by rejecting unhealthy food, then the healthiest people would be found in coffins.
It seems that every day we encounter another article or news report regarding the latest diet trend. What I appreciate about this fascination with diets is the desire to learn more about how our bodies work and figure out ways of making them healthier. What I dislike is that much of the health trends appear to be geared toward generating profit rather than bringing health and healing.
Nutrition means nourishing and being nourished. Is this how you would characterize what you are doing when you eat? Do you take time to consider that you are nurturing and sustaining your body and that how you feel, and what you think and do are intertwined with what you eat?
I could tell you about pseudostressors, food substances that produce a stresslike response in our bodies and how they are not so good for you. I could tell you about how chronic stress can deplete the vitamins in our bodies that are so essential to our wellbeing. I could tell you about the ills of excess sugar consumption. Many of those topics are fascinating and I am sure you could find someone far more capable than me to enlighten you on the dangers of an unhealthy diet. My hunch is that much of what they would say would be things you already know.
What does all of this have to do with mental health and making freethrows? It is difficult to think about making free throws if you are consumed with a fear of missing. Similarly, if you stress over all the bad stuff you eat you probably won’t be thinking about all the nourishing and delicious food you could be eating to make yourself a bit healthier.
The connection between diet and mental health is fascinating. Do your own research on how eating more nutritious food can impact your life. Read books and articles, watch videos, talk to friends. Find out what the healthy people are doing. Become an expert on your body. Notice how you feel when you eat certain foods. Pay attention to how your diet impacts your sleep. Be gracious with yourself when you have one too many slices of pizza or an extra scoop of ice cream. Thanks for reading. Now get back to enjoying your ice cream/fruits and veggies.