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Tag Archives: success

How To Be Generous Without Feeling Used

 

If you’re like me, you want to be generous to others, and give help in an abundant, loving way to those who need it. You also want to feel like you’re making a difference, that you aren’t stingy with your heart, time and knowledge. But if you’re like me, working in a helping profession or support capacity as your livelihood, that can be really difficult at times.

I hear from hundreds of people each month who are deeply longing for assistance with their lives, work and businesses, and I can find myself frustrated and exhausted, feeling disappointed that, as one person, I’m just not enough. And sometimes, I stretch myself too thin, and then feel resentful.

Every year, I’ll have a period of time where this conflict – feeling generous vs. feeling used – comes up for me in a new way that makes me stop in my tracks. This month, I had an experience once again that prompted me to rethink the issue once more.

After reading the powerful book The Diamond Cutter, by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally (a powerful, thought-provoking book – check it out!), I was led to recognize once again just how potent our thoughts are, and how they impact our reality. The book helped me see that, while I long to be generous with others, and give the help they need and want, without an appropriate boundary and a more positive mindset that I must continually nurture, people will cross into the realm of being extremely needy, demanding and grasping. Or that’s how I perceive it, anyway.

I’ve found that thinking through these three powerful questions helps me feel more generous and helpful in my life and work. They prompt me to give more freely, while at the same time preserving and protecting my life energy, time and well-being.

Perhaps these three questions will help you too:

1. What does “generous” and “giving” really mean to you?

It’s critical to think about how you personally define “generosity” and “giving” and to assess if your personal definition is working for you in your life.

So, when you think of being “generous,” does it mean you are obligated to say “yes” to every request that comes to you? Does it mean that you have to catch every single ball that’s thrown at you? Which requests make your heart sing to fulfill, and which make you cringe? Do you put parameters on the types of people you are happy to help, versus those you may need to walk away from?

I’ve found that when I think a bit more deeply about how I want to be generous in the world, and dimensionalize that more clearly with specifics that make sense in my life, the road becomes smoother in terms of my giving in ways that fill me up rather than deplete me. And once I become clearer about the types of help I want to give, and those I don’t, I begin to experience less of what is undesirable in my life.

2. Is your inability to say “no” – your lack of boundaries — making you feel resentful when you help?

To me, being generous doesn’t mean that you can’t say “no” to anyone. It also doesn’t mean that, if your work involves offering a helping service, that you can’t ask for payment for what you do. If you are besieged with endless requests for free help, think about how you feel about asking for money and charging appropriately for the help you’re giving. If you can’t do it, or if you feel reluctant, ashamed or confused about when and how to ask for money, there’s a critical issue you have to work out.

For me, I’ll stop, breathe, and ask myself, “What feels right here to do?” And I’ll go with my gut and my heart. If I’m simply unable to offer any kind of help, I will do my best to point them in a direction that will be of assistance. I’ve also found that having a range of high-quality free and low-cost programs, support, and materials is a wonderful way to offer help to the thousands of people who may not be able to afford working with me directly. Or directing them to another high-quality source of help, or another individual who might have the resources they need, is a great form of support.

Opening just one door for another is generosity in action. Help doesn’t have to take hours and hours, and drain you to the point of exhaustion.

The key is to look at what is underneath your resentment and conflict around offering help. If it’s a reluctance to charge enough money or be fairly compensated for the service you’re offering, heal that reluctance (here’s more about changing your wealth programming.)  If it’s about not having any other way to help people than to charge them, brainstorm some new ways to be helpful. And finally, if it’s about your needing some help yourself, go out and ask for it today.

3. Are your negative thoughts about receiving requests for help coloring everything?

Finally, take a look at your chronic pattern of thought when it comes to people asking for help. When they come to you, do you immediately go to the negative place, thinking “Oh, no – not this again!” or “Can’t she just help herself for once?,” or “How dare he keep asking for help when I just gave it.” Perhaps as a child you were influenced by how your parents thought about people who asked for help.  Or maybe you were taught that asking for help means you’re weak and lazy. Examine how your negative thoughts about these requests may in fact be coloring your entire work-life experience.

Every time a request for help comes in, stop, breathe, and consciously make a decision about how you want to feel about it, and address it. Our thoughts shape what happens in our lives, and how we experience our work, so it’s important to gain awareness of them, and choose to think and feel the way we want to.

I’ve found that when we engage in this simple process – stop, breathe, and choose – not only do we feel better in the process of giving, but we set up the conditions to receive more respect, appreciation and gratitude for what we’re doing in the world.  We lose the resentment and the struggle, and that’s critical if we want more success and happiness.  If you’re angry and resentful about people reaching  out to you, then you’ll push away the positive as well as the negative.  Once we decide to consciously choose our reactions instead, life changes for the better. That, in turn, fills us up to be of greater help in ways that nourish and enliven us all along the way.

Are you feeling beleaguered by constant requests for free help?

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.)

How To Tell In 60 Seconds If You’re In Denial About Money

In the past eight years, I’ve spoken with or consulted for hundreds of entrepreneurs, mid- to high-level executives, consultants, private practitioners or small business owners who are, as I was at one time, in complete denial about their money situation.  They know they’re not earning nearly enough or they’re spending too much, and money is slipping through their hands, but that’s as far as their understanding of the problem goes.

In short, their heads are deep in the sand about their money relationship.  They’re working hard to ignore the obvious – that they’re heading towards a dangerous precipice unless they change directions fast.

Helping people who are facing denial about money is very important work to me, because I was there.  Years ago, after I left corporate life and became a therapist and a coach, I hung out my shingle and thought “I’m a good therapist and coach – it’ll all work out fine.”  Truly, I had a “Build It And They Will Come” mentality. The problem was, I built and they didn’t come. At least, in sufficient numbers for me to make the living I needed and wanted.

I struggled for years, trying everything I could think of to improve my financial situation and my business’s return. But nothing worked.

Slowly, step by step, inch by inch, I started to figure things out. I learned that how I dealt with, and approached, money was based on what I learned as a child in my family. And these teachings were no longer serving me.  I learned that my own sense of worthiness in the world needed to be revised. I had “debt and goal trauma” that kept me locked in fear.  I learned that my business model was deeply flawed – and that how I was earning my living wasn’t sustainable (or enjoyable, for that matter).  And I learned that I had to change personally, before my professional life and business could improve.

But before things began to shift for me, I remained far too long in denial, and didn’t want to see reality.

If this resonates with you, and I hope you’ll stop in your tracks, and gain greater awareness of your situation and what it’s trying to tell you.

How can you determine if you’re in denial about your money situation?

Here are 8 glaring signs that you need to change your money course:

1. You can’t pay your monthly mortgage or your rent without tapping into savings, retirement, home equity loans or other funds.

2. You are using your credit cards each month to buy essentials such as food, clothes, and gas.

3. Your small business, consultancy or private practice is losing money each and every month, and despite your valiant efforts, nothing you do is changing that fact.

4. All the ways you’ve made money in the past are not working now.

5. You don’t have a Plan B in the event your Plan A fails, and you don’t have the necessary benchmarks and signposts to tell you it’s time to change course.

6. You’re hanging on by a thread to your “Build it and They Will Come” mentality, but they’re not coming.

7. Someone you love and respect has been telling you over and over that you’re in denial and things must change, but you’ve ignored them or argued against them bitterly.

8. Finally, when you get quiet (and very honest) with yourself and ask, “What can I personally do to change this situation?” your mind goes completely blank.

If these signs sound familiar, it’s time to do something dramatically different from what you’ve done before.  Your money situation cannot improve unless you begin to take new steps that will help you change your course.

What should you do differently?

I’ve found that there are six vital steps that will help you go from “I’m broke and overwhelmed” to “I know what I want, and I know how to get it.”

For more about these critical steps, CLICK HERE to read my latest post on Forbes. 

I hope these steps are helpful and move you in a more positive, rewarding direction.  Please share your thoughts below.  Are you struggling with money, and can you answer the question “What can I do personally today to change my money course today?”

(For help to build a more rewarding career or business, visit my Prosperity Marketing programs.)

Are You Toxic To Deal With? How To Tell, and How To Change

 

Last week, I posted a piece on LinkedIn about toxic behaviors that I see everyday in the work I do, and the response has been quite amazing.  Here’s the post:

6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them

When I write an article, I truly never know how it will be perceived and received. I just write about what matters to me, and what emerges on the forefront of what I’m thinking about and focusing on that week.  In this case, I felt compelled to write about behaviors I see daily (and that I’ve engaged in as well), that wreak havoc in our lives and careers, bringing with them unhappiness, pain and suffering to those participating in them, and to everyone involved.

What’s shocked me about this post is that it went viral (1.8 million views to date), and that some of the direct responses I’ve received were evidence of the exact same toxic behaviors I’ve described.

I’ve heard from people who:

1) Attacked me for my views, and called the post dangerous

2) Accused me of thinking I was “better” than other people

3) Put me down for not seeing their “specialness”

4) Demanded I help them now

5) Criticized me for not having more time and ability to personally help everyone who needs it

6) Called me judgmental and haughty for pointing out toxic behaviors

The lesson I’m learning in my life and work right now (and it’s an important one for me) is that when something reaches millions of people, there will be just that many different types of responses (good, bad, and the ugly), and my boundaries need to be sufficient to withstand that.  And I need to focus on the positive and be grateful that the post had an impact, and made people think.

About toxic behaviors, my wish from this piece is that people can begin to identify these 6 toxic behaviors in themselves but from a loving, compassionate standpoint, not to beat themselves up about it.  I believe we’ve all engaged in some form of these behaviors throughout our lifetimes – they’re universal.  The key to increasing your happiness and having more satisfying human connection is gaining greater awareness of when you are hurting yourself and others. Greater awareness equal greater choice.

The six toxic behaviors to watch out for are:

1. Taking everything personally

2. Obsessing about negative thoughts

3. Treating yourself like a victim

4. Cruelty – lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes

5. Excessive reactivity

6. Needing constant validation

Once you can recognize these behaviors in yourself, and accept that you have the capacity to be self-obsessed, negative, self-limiting, cruel, emotionally reactive, and overly needy, you can do something about it.  But if you continue to hold yourself above self-scrutiny, you can’t change or grow.

Thank you for looking at yourself in the mirror today, and being honest and open in identifying what you see, both the things you’d like to change, and the things in yourself you’re grateful for and appreciative of.  Writing this piece has deepened my commitment to identifying these toxic behaviors in myself — and also appreciating what is positive, loving, and helpful — and doing something about it.

Let me know what you think about these 6 toxic behaviors. Do you see yourself in any of these? What have you done to shift away from them?

 

How to Identify Your Passion (and Use It To Fuel Your Work)

I hear from hundreds of women each month asking a fascinating variety of career and work-life questions, hoping for some guidance. But one question emerges more frequently than any other, from women of all walks, levels, and capabilities.

The one question I hear more than any other is, “How can I figure out what my passion is?”

I had a powerful personal experience this week that I think exemplifies the answer to this question and I’d like to share it with you.

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend two important conferences in New York City that opened my eyes to new insights and learnings. The first conference was on business innovation and “disruption,” sponsored by WOBI, and the other was Claudia Chan’s S.H.E. Summit, a global women’s leadership and lifestyle event.  WOBI on Innovation focused on the many, multifaceted disruptions that are impacting business today, and the tremendous upside opportunities they present for those flexible and aware enough to both spot and react to them quickly.

The next day I attended the 3rd annual S.H.E. Summit which convened more than 60 thought leaders and partners igniting change and offering a global conversation and celebration of female potential and possibility.

Both conferences featured renowned experts, and both focused on exciting topics at the forefront of culture and business.

After the first day on innovation, my mind was full with new ways to think about business and career problems, how to turn these problems upside down and perceive and analyze them differently. I was inspired and motivated, by Andy Cohen, on Overcoming Barriers to Disruptive Thinking, and by Stephen Ritz, on Transformational Innovation. Ritz’s story is deeply inspirational – it reveals the transformation that’s possible when we challenge assumptions, think very differently, and refuse to accept the unacceptable. Ritz is a Bronx County science teacher leading a double revolution – of education and urban renewal. His world is New York City’s South Bronx, a place traditionally associated with gang activity, poverty and crime. As the leader of the Green Bronx Machine, Ritz is driving a movement that is changing people’s perceptions and transforming lives, based on his belief that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one. The best quote of the day for me was his, “I don’t want to accept what I cannot change. I want to change what I cannot accept.” (Now THAT is passion.)

The second day offered the same high level of educational and informational information and experiences – with fabulous speakers including Claudia Chan, Marlo Thomas, Sallie Krawcheck, Nigel Barker, Gary Barker, Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, and many more. I was engaged and upflited, and also had new flashes of insight and revelation about the current state of affairs for women around the world, and new solutions to improve that state.

But one thing grew very apparent to me throughout the two days’ experiences – my heart, spirit and mind were much more actively engaged by discussions, research and information that touched on global women’s growth and advancement.

Throughout the S.H.E. Summit, for example, I cried, I laughed, and felt deeply moved by the speakers’ experiences and often contrarian viewpoints on gender equality, violence against women, fostering diversity in corporate America, integrating men in the support of women, women’s economic independence, education, and more. At times, I wanted to jump up on stage and join the conversation myself, and (dare I say), add my different views and perspectives. I was “buzzing.”

The important lesson I was reminded of from this experience is that when you find yourself learning about an area in which you desperately want to help and simply can’t stop yourself — that’s your passion. And you are happiest in your work when you’re tapping into that passion – giving form to your life intentions in ways that help others (as Maria Nemeth explains in her great book The Energy of Money).

Based on my coaching and training work with hundreds of women around the globe who’ve found their passion, and are leveraging it in their work, here are the hallmarks of the experience when you’ve discovered your passion and are working in your sweet spot:

  • Despite all your concerns about how crashingly busy you are already in your life, you want to DO more to help this situation and are ready to act NOW
  • You’re enlivened by the people you meet who are involved in this cause or area, and they inspire you
  • You feel like a beginner – you realize you have many things to learn and can’t wait to learn them
  • This area of focus for you is deep, rich and inexhaustible – there is so much that needs to be done and explored
  • You feel more alive, valuable, and contributive when focused on these issues, and that makes you happier and more engaged personally and professionally
  • Being involved in this area helps you marry up everything you’ve ever cared about, and everything you are, and allows you to draw on your many talents, skills and capabilities in new, exciting ways
  • This area of focus gives your life meaning and purpose
  • You feel humbled at the enormity of the task ahead of you, but thrilled to be part of it
  • You feel more love and compassion in your heart, and more connected to the world around you

But many women say, “Kathy, I’m not sure what I’m passionate about. How do I discover that?”

To identify what you’re passionate about, dig deep and answer these questions:

  1. Look carefully at what you’re drawn to in life. What do you read, watch, listen to, follow?
  2. What agitates and upsets you in the world and compels you to DO something?
  3. Where are the people who inspire and uplift you? What are they focused on?
  4. If you could take one college level course or program for free on anything at all, what would it be?
  5. In what areas are you drawn to helping others?
  6. What “mess” in your life can be turned into a “message” for others?
  7. What skill or talent do you wish you had, that would be exciting to pursue?
  8. What area do you secretly fantasize about being involved in but feel foolish to say it out loud?
  9. If you knew you couldn’t fail and it would all work out beautifully (financially and otherwise), what would you try?
  10. What did you adore doing as a child that you’ve let slip through your fingertips?
  11. What (or who) holds you back most from pursuing what excites you most?

Before my current career, I lived through 18 years of a corporate life that was devoid of passion and purpose, and that led to depression, illness, and misery. I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that being lit up by your work is a far happier and more productive way to go.

Are you ready to identify your passion and get moving doing important work that fuels that passion?

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit the Amazing Career Project. And check out my latest Forbes post on how to pursue your passion without going broke.) 

 

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