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How to Spot a Toxic Individual and Find the Courage To Walk Away Quickly

ToxicRedFlags

One enormous benefit of working with thousands of people each year is that you learn to detect in 10 minutes or less an enormous amount about people – their energy, how they operate in the world, their sense of entitlement, generosity and consideration (or lack thereof), boundaries, degree of self-love, values, worldview and much more.

In my line of work, where hundreds of strangers reach out on the phone or online to connect, I have had to develop the capability to discern who I want to move forward with, and who I need to walk away from quickly, in order to protect myself, my time and my energy. If I fall down on that, I suffer, as do my family, colleagues and clients (and my health and well-being).

I’ve learned to see the red flag warning signs of behaviors I know I need to walk away from, and my list of warning signs might be of help to you too. I need to add that even though I walk away from these toxic individuals without guilt or shame, I endeavor to access love in my heart and deep compassion for them. I’m not cruel, harsh or dismissive (at least I try not to be), but I’m as respectful as I can be. I realize that we’re all doing the best we can every day.

But I do know where I end and they begin, and I know when it’s time to end our connection, and fast.

Below are the top 3 signs that help me know when I’m dealing with a toxic individual, and when to walk away:

1) It’s all about them
I’m astounded by people who call me at all hours of the day and night, without a thought to ask for an invitation to talk about their struggles. They launch right in, not checking in if it’s a good time to talk, and it’s all about them.

These types of people are chronically unhappy, stuck in feeling victimized, lacking in awareness of the impact of their own actions and words and that they are co-creating their problems. They’re often angry, frustrated and highly critical of others, and feel that their problems deserve immediate attention, without regard for the world around them. In other words, they believe that their urgency is your emergency.

Anyone who thinks that life is all about them and that their problems are more important or pressing than anyone else’s needs a wake-up call. But the truth is – you don’t have to be the one to deliver that call. Walk away.

2) They have no regard for your boundaries

In my work as a therapist, I’ve connected with many folks with serious psychological disorders, including severe personality disorders. One such disorder is labeled “borderline personality disorder,” and while I’m not a fan of labels, the hallmarks of this disorder are apparent: there is total lack of personal boundaries, and complete disregard for others’ boundaries. It’s virtually impossible to build a positive, mutually-supportive relationship with people who disregard or violate your boundaries, who won’t take no for an answer, and who don’t t even recognize when they’re walking all over you.

Take a look today at the people in your life – do they respect your boundaries? Do they act appropriately and honor when you assert yourself and say “Yes” or “No?” Or do they continually demand of you what you’re not comfortable to give and what you have said you would not give?

Your boundaries are the invisible barriers that separate you from the world around you. They define who you are, and keep you safe and secure, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Having well-developed boundaries ensures that you are shielded from behaviors and actions that are injurious, disrespectful and invasive. Those with healthy boundaries know their limits and are able to express themselves with quiet strength and authority.

Those with unhealthy boundaries push and pull on you in uncomfortable or aggressive ways, and don’t know when to stop. They can’t regulate their behaviors or language to honor and respect the boundaries of others.

Who is trampling on your boundaries today? (BTW, If you have a narcissistic boss who is treating you terribly, check out my Forbes post on How to Tell If Your Boss Is a Narcissist – And 5 Ways to Avoid Getting Fired By One.)

3) There’s no grace, kindness or appreciation

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I speak to a stranger or potential new client or colleague, and they connect with grace, generosity, kindness and appreciation. It’s a beautiful thing – to be greeted by a gentle voice, a kind, open heart, and sincere appreciation for what you do and who you are.

The flip side of this is when people engage with you in ways that are brusque, inconsiderate, demanding, or disrespectful. Givers – who approach life with a generous, giving mindset – are a true blessing in our lives. Insincere, self-absorbed takers, on the other hand, who are always looking for “what’s in it for me” and critically demand of you more than is fair, appropriate or realistic, need to be led out the door of your life.

How do you walk away from a toxic potential client or partner you’ve just met? Here are a few key tips:

1) Be kind and courteous, but make it clear that an engagement or partnership with this individual or his/her business isn’t a good fit for you at this time

2) Be honest – explain what an ideal partnership looks like and why this isn’t it

3) Be BOLD – Thank them for their time, but explain that you have a set of non-negotiables and standards of integrity that you live by. With love in your heart, share that these non-negotiables are just that – immutable rules that help you thrive. Explain your feeling that your non-negotiables would most likely not be honored in this arrangement, and for that reason, you’d like to leave things as they are and part ways.

Who’s toxic in your life right now? What bold, candid conversation do you need to have today to protect yourself from narcissistic, demanding takers and self-absorbed individuals who can’t or won’t respect or appreciate you?

(To learn more about building a happy, successful career, join my free career breakthrough teleclass on April 9th — Make the Right Career Move Now! And to learn how to develop healthier boundaries, read my book Breakdown Breakthrough and check out my one-on-one coaching services.)

5 TraitsTo Embrace To Live Without Regret

Today I had a shock. I heard from a mother of a lovely young woman I had spoken with on the phone nearly three years ago about career coaching. I learned from her mother that this beautiful, vibrant young woman was gone. She had passed away in her home in June 2011, just one month after I spoke with her. And amazingly, the young woman was from my home town.

I was truly rocked by this news. I was so touched by the mother’s beautiful note to me (she hadn’t wanted to just “unsubscribe” her daughter from my newsletter, but wanted to explain, and share the sad news personally). I was rocked because I have beloved children myself who are so precious to me, and I can only glimpse of the pain a parent feels at losing her dearest child so young.

And finally, I was rocked at the idea that this young woman’s life and my own had intersected only for a brief moment in time, and I wondered how she would have experienced and remembered our interaction. I prayed she would have thought of it as helpful and caring. If not, I would deeply regret it.

That got me thinking. We strive so hard to live good lives, to be “happy,” to find our way, and to create success and joy, and share it with others. But I’ve realized lately that it’s just not that complicated. It’s very simple, in fact. Maybe living well, with happiness and without regret, is simply about demonstrating in physical reality five essential traits that help us leave this world a better place than we found it.

If it were truly this simple – just five essential behaviors — would we all do a better job of living without regret, of embracing and sharing joy and love with others, and feeling much better every moment of our existence? I think so.

What are these 5 traits that are essential to regret-free, joyful living? I believe they are:

Kindness

Kindness is the sweetness of life. It’s a gentle hand when we’re down, a non-judging, listening ear when we have a problem, and it’s an unselfish act that puts the best interests of others first. It’s giving without looking for “what’s in it for me.”

I, like you perhaps, interact with hundreds of people each month, and I endeavor to be kind to each one, but sometimes I fail. When I’m tired, over-worked, stressed, frustrated – you name it – my kindness wanes.

Truthfully speaking, I can often get grumpy and agitated when strangers desperately want and demand something from me. But I have found that I can overcome that agitation, and I am more successful at that when I’m more “present” in my life. When I can step back from what’s at hand, take three deep breaths and remember what I’m doing here on this planet, and when I connect to a higher dimension of myself that isn’t so worn down from the obligations in front of me, my access to kindness opens. Then, I’m able recalibrate and re-energize, and find my heart again. It’s not hard – it just takes commitment and practice.

Kindness heals sorrow, binds broken relationships, and mends souls (our own and others’). So why then are we so unkind?

What takes you away for your kindness and what helps you restore it? Can you make a habit of rekindling your kindness each day?

Caring

To me, caring is about taking the time to give a hand to someone, to show that their issues and problems are important, and their worldview matters. Caring means that you validate the individual before you, and show that you understand who they are at their core, and love and respect that essence.

The opposite of caring is the snarky back-stabbing, gossiping, hateful behavior we see around us every day – online and in person. Making someone wrong and judging them mercilessly is a hallmark of it. This lack of caring reveals that you’ve forgotten one core truth – that everyone is inextricably connected, and each person is a facet of you. So if you’re hateful to another person, you’re hateful to yourself.

Are you as caring for those around you as you’d like to be? Are you caring to yourself in equal measure (that’s where most women fall down.) What holds you back from exhibiting more care and concern for yourself and for others?

Compassion

Of all of these traits, I believe compassion is the most powerful to heal the world. Compassion represents the feeling of empathy for others, the emotion we feel in response to the suffering or experiences of others that inspires in us a desire to help. In my work as a therapist and coach, I’ve observed that those who were raised without compassion, without empathy – by parents who were narcissistic, cruel, distorted, and unable to feel compassion – are those who suffer the severest forms of pain, isolation, and suffering.

Is your compassion for others and the world somehow being strangled by your current struggles and your mindset? Can you find a new way to grow your compassion for yourself, and for others?

Helpfulness

In working with women to move away from careers they dislike, there is inevitably a sense of meaning, purpose and helpfulness that is missing and that they long for. As Maria Nemeth shared in her powerful book The Energy of Money, we are all happiest when we’re demonstrating in physical reality what we know to be true about ourselves, when we’re giving form to our Life Intentions in ways that help others.

I know too many people who focus only of what they have in front of them – either their struggles and strife or, on the flip side, their wealth, achievements and outer “things” (toys, cars, houses, bank accounts) they are amassing — with no regard of how they can be of help in the world.

In the end, if you focus only on yourself and your tiny sphere of influence, you’ll be wasting your talents and your abilities, and losing a precious opportunity to make a real difference in the world. The result will be that, at the end of your life, you will experience deep sadness, regret and remorse that you wasted your precious time, energy and your life looking out for only yourself.

Who can you help today?

Truthfulness

Finally, I’ve seen that people experience deep pain and suffering from the lies they’ve told – to themselves and to others. Lying reflects a deep-seated fear that we are not “enough” – not strong, smart, courageous, good or powerful enough – to deal with the real consequences of our true actions and beliefs, so we lie. But lying hurts. When you lie to yourself, you rob yourself of the chance to evaluate accurately and fully how best to move forward. And lying to others limits their ability to make the right choices and decisions for themselves. The bottom line: lying stops you and others from growing, living and loving life to the fullest.

The flip side – truthfulness – does indeed set you free. Truthfulness allows you to be free with and accepting of yourself, and lets others be themselves, and act with honesty, authenticity and transparency as well.

Where are you being false, and what truth can you share today that will change everything for you?

* * * *

These five traits can be viewed as agreements you make with yourself. If you commit to being to being more kind, caring, compassionate, helpful and truthful each day, I guarantee, without reservation, that your life experience will improve dramatically, and regrets will fade.

(For more on the power of giving, check out Adam Grant’s great new book Give and Take. For information on helping others and the world through your career and professional life, check out Breakdown, Breakthrough  and the Amazing Career Project.)

 

 

Why Is Creating What I Want So Hard?

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Welcome to Episode #9 of my video blog Work You Love!  I’m happy you’re here!

This episode examines the question of why it can feel so hard to create and launch into the world something you desperately long for, and helps you determine if you’re potentially heading in the wrong direction.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Am I doing something wrong here?” this video will help.

 

Here’s my take:

 

The key concepts to understand to determine if you’re heading in the right direction are:

1. Realize that everything we create of meaning, value and import requires WORK. It won’t just fall in your lap.  “Build it and they will come” is not a sound business strategy.  The real question is, “What does this work ‘feel’ like to you?”  If it’s exhausting, debilitating and draining, it’s time to rethink your direction.

2. Overly-attaching to how it has to look and to unrealistic expectations only leads to suffering.

3. Think about “essence vs. form” – have you chosen the right “form” for bringing forward the essence of what you want to create in the world?

 

Today’s top message:

CLICK TO TWEET: Bringing something important into the world requires work.  If that work feels overly burdensome, rethink your direction. @kathycaprino

Thanks for watching, and wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a joyous 2014 full of happy breakthroughs!

All Best,

Kathy

How To Create Your Own Breakthrough

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Welcome to Episode #8 of my video blog Work You Love!  I’m happy you’re here!

Ever wondered why, despite all your hard work and efforts, you can’t seem to get a break or move forward as you long to?  There are reasons for it – it’s not random or just coincidence.

This episode explores the critical blocks to creating the success and happiness you want, and also shares 5 key steps to creating your own breakthrough.

If you have the sense that no matter what you’re doing, the needle isn’t moving as it should in your life and work, you won’t want to miss this video.

Here’s my take:


The key steps to creating your own breakthrough are:

1. Do the inner work required to know who you are authentically, and what you really want.

2. Don’t fight against what’s happening – see what your life situation is trying to teach you.

3. Take concrete steps to change how you operate in the world.

4. Release your subconscious blocks to greater wealth, happiness, power, and success.

5. Bring more happiness into your life NOW, regardless of your external conditions.


Today’s top message:

CLICK TO TWEET: Doing the work of becoming MORE in this world is up to you. Realizing who you are is a great place to start – @kathycaprino #WorkYouLove

Thanks for watching, and wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

All Best,
Kathy

 

What Do I Do When My Boss Is Threatened By Me?

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Welcome to Episode #6 of my weekly video blog Work You Love!

Today, I’m addressing a powerful question I received from Tina about a challenging relationship with her boss:

“My boss is out to get me. I have more experience than she does. She’s threatened by my work, and my solid community of friends and supporters. She undermines me, and keeps me from gaining exposure to senior leadership. I’m considering going to HR to talk about this situation, but I’m reluctant to take that step. What do you think?”

Here are my thoughts on that:

 

 

Don’t despair – you CAN deal with these challenges, and find a way to take control. Get some outside support in the form of a sponsor, mentor, or coaching buddy to help you brainstorm and pursue new, effective ways to address this problem.  There are other alternatives besides fight or flight.

Today’s top message (and tweetable):

CLICK TO TWEET: If your boss undermines you, take control of the situation – you don’t have to remain a victim.

Thank you for watching Work You Love, and many happy breakthroughs. See you next week!

(If you have a burning career question you’d like me to answer, SUBMIT IT HERE! I’ll do my best to address it in some form in the weeks to come.)

Also, join me on November 19th from Noon to 1:00 pm for my FREE teleclass Breakthrough To Your BOLD Plan for More Happiness, Success and Reward.   Find out how to take your career to the next level of success and happiness!

 

 

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Kathy's CAREER PATH SELF-ASSESSMENT SURVEY!

 

Finally, gain the self-knowledge, insights and answers you need to improve your career today!

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