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Tag Archives: Empowerment

5 Strategies For Staying Mentally Strong In the Midst of Emotional Challenge

 

In late 2013, I was intrigued to watch a friend’s article on Forbes.com begin to balloon and reach millions. Cheryl Snapp Conner’s post featuring psychologist Amy Morin’s insights on Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid, hit an international nerve and is now one of the most read post on Forbes.com.

Interested to learn more from Amy about the back story of this piece, and how she identified these 13 critical ways mentally strong people stay resilient and retain their strength, I asked Amy to share her events that led up to this tremendous hit. Now an internationally recognized expert on mental strength, Amy is a psychotherapist, speaker, college psychology instructor and the author of the great new book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.

Amy shared this:
In the Fall of 2013, I found myself in a surreal situation. Celebrities were tweeting my work, national figures were talking about me on the radio, and I was being interviewed by major media outlets across the world.

A mere 600 words, written just weeks earlier, had launched me into the midst of a viral super storm. Within hours of being published to the web, my work was read and shared millions of times. Just a few days later the list was reprinted on Forbes, where it reached nearly 10 million more readers.

It seemed like everyone in the media had the same question – “How did you come up with your list of the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do?” I always responded by explaining the concepts were based on my training, education, and experiences as a therapist. While that was true, it certainly wasn’t the whole story. But, I wasn’t ready to reveal the painful situation that was still unfolding around me on national television. Now I am.

In 2003, my mother passed away suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Then, on the three year anniversary of her death, my 26-year-old husband passed away from a heart attack. While publicly helping others deal with their emotional pain as a therapist, I’d spent years privately working through my grief. It was hard work but I made slow but steady progress.

A few years later, I was fortunate enough to find love again and I got remarried. Just as I felt grateful for my fresh start however, my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I found myself thinking, “I don’t want to go through this all over again.” But just as quickly as I began to feel sorry for myself, I was reminded that self-pity would only make things worse.

I sat down and created my list of the unhealthy habits I needed to avoid if I wanted to stay strong while facing my inevitable circumstances. When I was done, I had a list of 13 thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that would hold me back from facing my circumstances with strength and courage. Although the list was meant to be a letter to myself, I published it online in hopes someone else may find it helpful. I never imagined millions of people would read it.

Throughout my painful experiences, there were five critical strategies that helped me personally stay mentally strong during my time of emotional trauma and pain:

1. Exchanging self-pity for gratitude
When life became difficult, I was tempted to exaggerate my own despair. Losing my loved ones was certainly terrible, but I still had much to feel grateful about.After all, I had a job, a roof over my head, and food to eat.

Whenever I’d begin feeling sorry for myself, I’d create a list of all the things I had to be grateful for. It wouldn’t take long to recognize all the loving, supportive people I still had in my life. And it served as a wonderful reminder, that although some of my loved ones were no longer here, I was fortunate to have had them in my life.

2. Focusing on what I could control
The repeated losses in my life served as a reminder that there are many things I didn’t have any control over. Wasting energy focusing on all those things however, wouldn’t be helpful. Instead, I needed to focus all my energy on the things I could control.

And no matter what, the one thing I could always control was my attitude. I could choose to allow my difficult circumstances to turn me into an angry, bitter person or I could choose to remain a hopeful, positive person with a desire to become better. Focusing on all that I could control – whether it was helping a family member with a practical task or making a decision about my finances – helped me recognize that I wasn’t simply a victim of my circumstances. Instead, I was able to create a wonderful life for myself by making the most of every day.

3. Living in the present
The loss of my loved ones tempted me to dwell on the past. After all, the past was where my loved ones were still alive. And I feared that if I didn’t constantly think about the past, or if I moved forward, I’d somehow be doing them a disservice.

It takes courage to make the conscious decision to live fully present in each moment, rather than ruminate on how life used to be. But once I was able to shift my focus to honoring my loved one’s memory – rather than trying to prevent life from moving forward – I was able to begin fully enjoying life again.

4. Retaining my personal power
When I was going through tough times, everyone had an opinion about what was best for me. Although their intentions were well-meaning, doing things simply because others advised me to wouldn’t be helpful.

I had to deal with my grief in my own way and I needed to create my own plan for how I was going to move forward in life. Taking ownership meant I couldn’t blame anyone else. Instead, I had to accept personal responsibility for my thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.

5. Embracing change
My world changed drastically over the course of a few years. And, although it was tempting to dig in my heels and try to prevent my world from changing, it wasn’t going to be helpful. I had to embrace change – whether or not it was welcomed.

I had to create a new sense of normalcy without my loved ones present. Often, that meant giving up certain goals or activities that were no longer meaningful and searching for new opportunities that would give me purpose. Embracing those changes allowed me to move forward and create a fulfilling life for myself.

* * * * * *
Amy’s advice is both powerful and empowering. As holocaust survivor and renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl shared in his life-changing book Man’s Search for Meaning, “…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Check out Amy’s new book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, and learn more about her work at http://amymorinlcsw.com.

(To build a more successful and rewarding career, visit kathycaprino.com and take my 6-day Amazing Career Challenge.)

What Will People Remember Most About You?

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I’m very excited – today I begin working with an amazing group of women committed to building rewarding careers they love, on their terms.  We’re coming together in my Amazing Career Project Group Coaching Intensive. They come from all walks, situations, and experiences around the globe, but they share one critical thing – they’re ready for more, different and better in their lives.

One essential question we’ll be looking at is this: What will people remember most about you? and What do you WANT to be remembered for?

In the past, my answers to those two questions were very far apart.  My professional life didn’t stand for anything that I wanted it to, and I wasn’t making the impact in the world I deeply longed to.  The problem was, I just didn’t know how to bridge that gap. No clue even where to begin.

I know now (after leaving corporate life, becoming a therapist, coach, writer, and studying energy healing work) that it’s a fabulous journey with many twists, turns and detours – to dig deep, discover your right work, and shine in it.  But it’s very doable, for everyone, with the right steps and mindsets (and a little help).

Today, why not make a start on that journey and ask yourself, “What will people remember most about me?”

Please share your answers to that critical question below.

Go ahead, BRAG! It’s scary, I know, because women in particular are trained NOT to do this, and sometimes there’s even backlash when they do.  But we have to do it in the face of our fears.

Tell me…what are you amazing at, how do you make the world a better place just by being here. If that’s too challenging to do, share what other people have said about you that makes you blush and smile from ear-to-ear.

I can’t wait to hear.

Love to you.

Don’t Let Yourself Forget Who You Were At 16

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Part of the work I do in helping women feel happier and more successful in their work, is excavation – digging deep and peeling the layers to uncover the richness and the amazing natural gifts inside. And one critical dimension of that process is remembering who you were when you were just starting out in life.

When I look back at what I loved to do when I was 16, and the natural talents that began to flow forth, I see that everything I enjoy in my work now is exactly what I felt joyous and exuberant about then. I loved to write (I became an English major and studied journalism, and was a reporter for my school paper), I was a singer and a performer, I loved psychology and figuring out what made people tick, and I enjoyed helping my friends (boys and girls) sort out solutions to problems they were grappling with. I remember my beloved dad too commenting about my nature. Once day, when I was trying to sort out why someone was behaving really badly to me, he said “Honey, you really love to get to the bottom of things – figure out what drives people to do what they do. You love to know why.” He was so right.

I didn’t realize then – or for 20+ years more in my unhappy corporate life – that we’re all happiest and most alive when –

“…we’re demonstrating in physical reality what we know to be true about ourselves, when we we are giving form to our Life’s Intentions in a way that contributes to others.” – Maria Nemeth, The Energy of Money

I love this quote, and I feel that no truer words have ever been spoken.

In your adult life, have you ever demonstrated behavior or spoke in ways that you later realized were NOT you at all? That were jarring, hurtful, disrespectful, catty, destructive? If you’re in touch with your emotions, you’ll feel a jarring pain when you’re being your lowest self – you feel it in your soul. Or have you ever struggled with a problem (like chronically being unable to repay your debts or not telling the truth on something critical) and you know that what you’re demonstrating in life is not true, good, or worthy of your self-respect? I have, and it’s a horrible feeling. We are terribly unhappy when what we’re creating in life is out of alignment with everything we know to be true about ourselves.

Secondly, I’ve seen through 10 years of career coaching that the most alive and joyful people on the planet are those who feel that their natural gifts are useful to others – to a great company, an important cause, to people in need, or to their community and world. I believe that’s why were on the planet today – to find a way to use who we are in benefit to those around us.

But life is challenging and exhausting today, and most of us are so beleaguered with what’s on our plates that we’ve forgotten who were when we were young, and what we’re capable of. We’ve lost sight of how amazing we are, and the gifts we are supposed to be sharing.

How can we reclaim those talents and capabilities and find new ways to utilize them?

Here’s a challenge for you. Every day for the next 21 days, when you get up in the morning and are washing your face or taking a shower, take 3 minutes to think about what you loved about yourself at 16 (or pick an age where you were shining). Think about:

- What people noticed about you, and raved about
- What made you feel joyful, free, and alive
- What made you feel strong and confident
What you did that made others say, “Wow! I could never to that so beautifully or well!”
- What your friends and family adored about you
- And finally, what you thought was pretty darn amazing about yourself

Just bring these things to mind each day, and get back in touch with yourself – who you were, and who you are, deep down.

Do this for 21 consecutive days and you will experience a shift. You’ll remember more clearly what you’re capable of, and you’ll start believing that it’s time to shift your life and work so that you’re using more of your natural gifts and talents, and finding more joy and satisfaction in your life and relationships.

It’s time to dig deep, find your right work, and illuminate the world with it. It’s YOUR time to shine.

For some inspiration to build a happier, more satisfying career, visit the Amazing Career Project, and watch my new video Time to Shine.

5 Critical Ways To Unplug On Your Vacation

Photo by Elliot Lipner

As summer is that wonderful time for so many to take off for vacation and detach from their job stresses and strains, it’s time now to think about exactly how you’ll plan your exit.

Throughout my career, I’ve had every manner of work situation and crisis emerge while I was on vacation, and sometimes I handled it well, but other times not so well.  If you want to truly unplug, relax and get away with your family and friends, here are 5 critical ways to unplug and make it work:

1)  Make a firm commitment to yourself and your family about how much work you’ll do, and guard that commitment fiercely.

For example, decide up front how many times you’ll check your devices , and stick to it. If you check your phone and email every fifteen minutes, you won’t be able to unplug and detox from the stresses of your job and professional life. Your mind can’t disengage sufficiently to focus on your vacation, your family and friends, and your new surroundings.   If you have to check in, do it in a limited way, perhaps three times in a week, and make it after work hours if you can.

2) Communicate to your colleagues and supervisors about your vacation well beforehand, to inform everyone who needs to know.

Well in advance of your vacation, make it clear when you’ll be gone and that you will have limited access to email on vacation. Clarify that if they need something from you, they’ll need to ask for it and get it before you leave. Don’t set up the expectation that they can bother you day and night and that you’ll be responsive to those requests.

3) Build a clear boundary – set your vacation reply on your email.

This will inform everyone who contacts you that will have limited access to email and will respond as soon as you can after your return.

4)  Assign someone you trust as your key point person.

If you can, assign someone reliable and who knows you well as the key point person for you when you’re gone. This individual — be it your assistant or a colleague or manager in your department – can field questions and issues effectively, and will reach out to you only in true emergencies or situations that truly require your attention.

5)  Decide up front what issues you WILL deal with at work if they arise, and what you won’t.

Prioritize in your mind what constitutes a true emergency, or work issue that you wouldn’t want to miss out on, and what you DO want to leave behind. For example, once when I was on vacation in Cape Cod I received a request for an interview from the Wall Street Journal to comment about a hot news item about pregnant women’s rights in the workplace. You bet I took that call, and was happy to!

* * * * * *

I know that many will read this and say, “No way, Kathy. This can’t work for me.  I’m too needed at work! They won’t leave me alone.”

To that, I say it’s up to you to build a strong and clear boundary around your private, personal time. If you fail to make it crystal clear what your requirements are for unplugging, then people can’t help but intrude on your private time, because you’ve communicated – either consciously or unconsciously – that it’s acceptable for them to do it.

Be bold, unplug, and enjoy your vacation!

What strategies have you used to successfully unplug, relax and restore on vacation? Please share!

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit kathycaprino.com and The Amazing Career Project.)

Why You Don’t Invest In Yourself, and 4 Critical Ways to Start – Work You Love Episode 13

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Greetings, and welcome to Work You Love – Episode 13!

My Forbes post this week on The Top 5 Reasons Women Resist Investing In Themselves and How It Hurts Them generated so many powerful comments, emails, questions and reactions (including a radio interview with Charles Adler in Canada!) that I wanted to share my thoughts via video with you on what holds women back from saying YES! to investing in their own growth, and what we can do about it starting today.

Here’s my take:

I’d love your candid feedback. Do you resist spending both time and money on your own development? Why? And what outcomes are you denying yourself because of it?

Please share your candid thoughts and comments below, and most importantly, PLEASE – make an investment in yourself today.

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