When Drama Overwhelms You

You’ve seen it at work and at home. Someone is anxious about something and suddenly you are feeling anxious too. You know this isn’t healthy and that you shouldn’t feel this way which only makes it worse. Now you’re self-judging for not distancing yourself from the drama and begin to doubt your own effectiveness. You start losing sleep and wake up in the middle of the night, running the day’s conversations over in your mind.  

Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and sucked in by another person’s angst. Drama is created when a person can’t accept the way they feel so they try to externalize it or put that feeling off on others, usually in a highly demonstrative or desperate way. This behavior provides them a temporary yet unsustainable relief from their discomfort. Thus, they continue the drama dance to try to unload their despair. 

I notice I have been feeling anxious and assuming the anxiety of this person. I’ve...

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It Touched Me

This week I was refelcting on having had the good fortune of visiting the beautiful town of Copacabana and the city of Rio in Brazil for New Year’s Eve. Ten barges of fireworks are parked in the water all day on New Year's Eve awaiting three million people of all socioeconomic levels from all over the world to descend on the beach in white clothing at sundown. As the late evening approaches, seven cruise ships pepper the water behind them perched for the perfectly coordinated midnight extravaganza in perfect unison. I’ve never seen anything like it. I now know why they call it the best New Year’s Eve celebration in the world. 

In Brazil I was profoundly touched by the natives' desire to work hard and thrive. The lust for life is palpable. There are no entitlements in the country so indeed there is poverty too. But the people are not an angry. They have light hearts, play soccer all over the beach, collect empty cans for money, work tirelessly at whatever they...

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Undoing the Wicked Toll of Comparing Yourself to Others

Recently I listened to a client who is struggling in her marriage discuss how difficult it is to watch other happily married couples. I understand the feeling. I spent a lot of time in my first marriage wishing I had what others had and comparing myself to them as well as enabling bad behavior by making excuses for him. Then my third child was born with a developmental disability and I used to sit at playgrounds comparing her to other children while somewhat insensitively pushing her and her therapists like machines because I became so outcome focused. 

What I realized is that when we compare our lives to others and grasp at what isn’t ours we lose sight of all the good things we do have and this strips our fulfillment. This “less than” focus keeps us from letting go of what boundary maven Dr. Henry Cloud calls ‘necessary endings’ to allow for things to bloom in our lives. A healthy rose bush needs to be pruned for new buds to grow. If not,...

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What are you going to remember about Christmas? – The Happy Holiday’s Plan

What do you actually want to happen this Christmas? Are expectations already making you tense? After all we have been fed for two months via television, radio and print what the ‘perfect’ Christmas should look like. You know you don’t want to feel loneliness, fear and anxiety. Be the creator of what you want.

The Happy Holiday’s Plan

  1. Discard the goal of the magazine or TV perfect holiday. Perfection is not a strategy to happiness. Actually, it is the antithesis. Seeking it distances us from the intimacy of kinder and gentler moments. 
  1. Discard expectations. They are an excuse for not welcoming and accepting the people we love just as they are – that includes ourselves. 
  1. Create a vision of what you want from this holiday. Imagine it is January 2nd and you are reflecting back on Christmas. What will have happened for this to have been a great holiday? Were you present with people who are most important to you or did you commit to so much...
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