Posts tagged with ‘growth’

26 sep

Stressed Out? What’s in Your Coping Toolbox?

MaricleMariclePost25SeptHow Do You Cope with Stress?

Something my clients talk about a lot is how to cope with stress and anxiety. What does “coping” really mean? Coping is simply what we do, think, or feel that helps us deal with our feelings, without getting too overwhelmed. You already have a number of these skills that you use all the time, whether you think about it or not.

People who cope well with stress and change have a large “toolbox” of skills. Examples of skills might include:

• Telling yourself, “It’s not worth it,” instead of getting into an argument
• Seeking the positive in difficult situations (See a more detailed post here)
• Journaling
• Talking to a friend about your troubles
• Taking a walk to “cool off”

I like to think about having a coping toolbox. My toolbox is comprised of skills in two overlapping categories: self-care and coping skills.

Self-Care: Self-care is the time I dedicate to myself daily, whether alone or with someone else, in order to meet my basic needs, relax and have fun, or enrich or benefit myself in some way. I like to think about self-care as “useful selfishness.” Without taking care of myself, I have nothing to give.

Coping Skills: Coping skills are the techniques I use in the moment to relieve stress, anger, fear, or anxiety.

Taking Care of Myself

When I let my own self-care fall down on my priority list, it shows. I feel grumpy, snappy, and not my usual happy self. Self-care for me includes: running and exercise, talking with my husband, social time with friends and family, being goofy with my kids, making art or music, spending time with my dogs, cooking, and getting enough sleep.

Adequate coping skills also help me stay on an even-keel. Talking directly with someone about what is bothering me, looking for solutions to my problem, reframing a difficult situation in terms of the benefits it brings, running, making art, and journaling all help me deal with very difficult feelings.

Usually though, coping well with stress requires more than just good self-care or one good coping skill. We are complex and dynamic beings, and so our responses to our problems need to be too. Any one skill will probably help me feel a minimum of about 10% better, so I need to use a combination of good self-care and coping skills to cope effectively.

What’s in your toolbox?
Which tools work the best for you? Do you take a shower, go for a drive, dance, build things, or vent? What’s a sure sign that you are letting go of your self-care? Share your insights in the comments section. Thanks for reading and be well.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

02 aug

When Negative = Positive

MaricleHow Negative Thoughts Can Lead to Success

You wish you could make a change, but feel stuck. How do you move forward? One way is to tune into your doubts and negative thoughts. We don’t do this very often. Most of us get stuck in a cycle of criticism, “What an idiot. I did it again,” or we make excuses: “I’m just not that kind of person.” Periodically that inner voice that believes in us might speak up and say, “Wow, you could do that!” but once we hear that inner doubt, we get discouraged, and give up.

Rather than begrudging these negative thoughts, why not invite them to say more? Find out what’s driving all this negativity. When you say you “meant to eat better,” one part of you is on board, but another is not. (Hence the empty box of donut holes on your desk.) So what do those negative thoughts have to say?

Write it out:
Sit down with paper and pen (or computer if that’s your style). To get yourself internally focused and centered, close your eyes, take a few moments to breathe deeply, and focus on your breath.

1. In one sentence, write down the change you want to make. If there were no boundaries, and anything was possible, what would you do?
2. Now write down all the negative thoughts that come up in response to that idea on the left side of your paper. (i.e. You don’t have time. You won’t do a good job. You aren’t attractive enough.)
3. On the right side of your paper: Each statement conveys a belief about yourself and the world? What is it? Can you challenge these beliefs?
4. Looking at the right column, do you see any valid roadblocks? How can you address them? Start brainstorming and researching how others do it.
5. If you have concluded that the negative voice is just speaking out of fear of failure, rejection, or not being good enough: What would it look like if you asked this part to take a back seat and let the positive part(s) take action?

How I Used Negativity to My Advantage
For years I had fantasized about having a private therapy practice – a large art studio where folks could come to explore the contents of their hearts with humor and grace. However, as someone who thrived working as part of a team, I was anxious about a solo practice. I vacillated between visions of feeling fulfilled, independent, and effective with clients, and seeing myself feeling dazed and overwhelmed. This was my problem: part of me saw myself as the “type of person” to have a private practice, and part of me did not.

When I began to entertain the idea of starting my own business, I knew that in order to move forward, I needed to explore my doubts and negative thoughts. Using the questions above, I defined some key roadblocks and came up with creative ways to clear the path to success.

I realized that feeling “alone” was my biggest concern. A key part of my research into building a private practice was identifying how to build contact with other professionals. I joined two local clubs, subscribed to professional blogs, signed up for weekly clinical supervision, set up regular peer supervision meetings, and began inviting other professionals to networking lunches. I have been surprised by how satisfying all this is, and how much I enjoy the time I am working “alone.” Without having tuned into those negative voices, I would not have cleared these obstacles and would never have had the courage to pursue my dream.

Have you surprised yourself recently by reaching a goal you never thought you would? Has tuning into a doubting voice helped you get un-stuck? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Amy Johnson Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is a psychotherapist and art therapist in Foxboro, MA. She loves helping teens and adults find ways to live happier, healthier, and smarter. You can find out more at: www.amyjohnsonmaricle.com

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on August 2nd, 2013 in New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

14 jul

OperationsRx: Change and the High Cost of Conflict

MichelleKerrigan“Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him.”—Thomas Carlyle

I live and lead by this quote, especially during change, which, in today’s workplace, is often an everyday event. I have led teams through 20 years of change, and have learned that the most important thing you control is how you react to it. Your reaction is key to your success as a leader because it’s vital to the success of your team. An open mind can break barriers; a resistant one can break companies. To coin another phrase: you reap what you sow.

Conflict doesn’t just come in color, gender or sexual orientation, it comes in generations X, Y, and BB, industry, corporate hierarchy, even area of expertise (think marketing vs. finance, production vs. creative, creative vs. legal, technology vs. everyone—at least in this story).

Case in point: When I led operations for a startup, our chief technology officer created enormous conflict between his management team and just about everyone else. He ran his division tightly, and spent most of his time criticizing what other departments were doing. Here was an officer of the company who was intelligent, articulate, and expert in his field, but who disputed everything, so couldn’t learn from anyone. His intolerance and uncooperativeness were a huge drain, and were often reflected in his senior managers. It was easy to see he wasn’t a leader to help an organization grow.

Our marketing team had launched a premium product a month before I started, a high-ticket item for our VIP elite that included a custom card (similar in look and feel to a credit card), that gained them access to entertainment events, and special backstage access at concert venues. Orders were pouring in, but only the first batch went out, with incorrect information, no less. Why?

In any company, especially a startup, new processes need to be walked all the way through during implementation to ensure all the dots are connected, including who does what and when. This is where I come in. It’s painstaking and detailed, but it’s necessary and worth it because it’s where barriers to productivity are found, and where revenue can be made or lost. In this case, there were about $500,000 worth of reasons to figure out what was going wrong.

I spoke with our fulfillment partner, who had yet to receive any new or corrected files, and worked my way through every department responsible until I found the problem: data was being generated, but not being delivered. All these new members, and not one file had left the building. The files were stuck fast in the technology department waiting for someone to pull the trigger. Extraordinary!

I also discovered that certain people knew the files were still on our side of the fire wall, but they felt it wasn’t their responsibility to push past it and help resolve our problem. What???

The fulfillment house told me they could make up lost time if they received the files that day, but organized the correct way. Our support tech told me it would take only an hour to do, but warned of repercussions from the CTO and his VP. I gave the go-ahead, and got the VP on the phone. All I heard was concern over how the CTO would react…..but no realization of how our customers would react.

The CTO was, of course, furious, and wasted even more time arguing his point with anyone who would answer his call. Yes, I did speak with him. Unfortunately, his was a reaction that would repeat itself often, and looking back, quite possibly, cost us the company.

Growth means change, which means the ability to learn, adapt, and shift gears quickly. Resistance impedes progress—you want a corporate culture that reflects your best strengths, not your worst nightmare. You need all the positive energy you can muster when you’re poised for growth and change. Just think how different things would have been if the CTO’s negative energy was channeled in a positive direction.

How often does this happen in your organization? How often is a line drawn in the sand that stops the flow of progress? How often are business leaders unwilling to yield, making decisions based on resistance rather than revenue?

The chief technology officer was my superior, and I did learn from him. I learned that some managers are not leaders: they over react, don’t set the right tone, and are incapable of creating a sense of unity. I learned that leaders need to grow, to be invested in expanding their own capabilities, as well as their team’s.

I learned that an open mind is the fast track to change. It’s not about who makes the final decision, but why it’s made. I learned that you get the behavior you tolerate, and if you expect to have a global dialog in this world of change, you have to learn to be open to (and communicate with) all those X,Y, BBs, designers, lawyers and tech people sitting right in front of you.

One final note: an interesting thing happened when I ran this article by some people I know, prior to posting. When they read the opening quote, they focused on the word “man” which sent up a red flag right away. I learned from this too…if you only focus on what you don’t like, you may miss the big picture. Wow.

Copyright 2010 Michelle Kerrigan.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at www.MichelleKerriganInc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on July 14th, 2010 in Global/Social Change, Uncategorized | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , ,