Monthly Archives: December 2011

6 Ways To Avoid New Year’s Resolutions Failures

Are our New Year’s resolutions doomed to fail? Maybe not. Just because they failed last year, and the year before that, doesn’t mean that you can’t change the pattern and experience the success you desire.

Let’s look at the ways to avoid failure:

1. Steer clear of planning on a grandiose scale
Too big a goal can result in too quick a failure. Think smaller. Break your goal down into bite sized, measurable milestones.

2. Anticipate difficulties
Any resolution will have inherent difficulties. Anticipate ahead of time the types of situations that will cause you to lose a grip on reaching your resolution. For example, if you want to stop smoking, avoid settings like bars, where cigarettes are in abundance.

3. Avoid procrastination
Your resolution requires a change in action, behavior or thoughts. Postponing these changes will sabotage your hope for success. Watch out for the myriad of excuses to not follow through on your resolution that may arise.

4. Select changes for the right reasons
If the changes don’t accomplish hidden goals, then it will be difficult to stay the course. For example, if the goal to lose weight is for the purpose of having more suitors, the diet is likely to fail if the latter doesn’t occur.

5. Cut the self-deprivation
Set realistic goals for yourself, and establish rewards for short goals accomplished. In other words, if the end goal is the gold ring, set up some brass rings along the way. Take a few moments to give yourself a pat on the back for having accomplished said goal.

6. Be alert to subconscious expectation of failure
If, deep inside, you expect failure because of previous failed New Year’s Eve resolutions, you may be setting yourself up to fail once again.

This year, when you decide to stop smoking, lose weight, reduce expenditures, etc., approach it differently. Recognize that January 1 is just one of 364 other similar days in the year. There is nothing magical about any one day of the year. If you experience a setback, that’s all it is; a setback. Keep moving forward, enjoy the process, and all you learn about yourself along the journey towards your goals.

Eileen Lenson

You Don’t Have To Be Lonely Anymore

There’s nothing worse than being surrounded by friends, family, colleagues and strangers, but feeling lonely. All too often the holidays magnify our feelings of loneliness.

It is human nature to want to connect with others. We are social beings, and as such, want companionship. But oftentimes our fear of rejection stands as a barrier. Connecting with others isn’t just trivial, it is important for both our mental and physical health. Social isolation can impact negatively on our health.

Two barriers, shyness and unrealistic expectations, usually contribute to loneliness:

1. Shyness: Not all people want to resolve their shyness issues. Why? Because of the secondary gains, which include being able to avoid criticism, playing it safe, or not having to become emotionally invested in other people’s lives.

2. Unrealistic expectations: Too often we disengage from people when we discover them to possess human limitations. We need to expect and accept the human fallacies that exist in all people. The great thing is that if we accept others for who they are, they will in turn be accepting of our imperfections.

Intimacy with others takes time to develop. You’ll gain the feelings of closeness with others when you dig deeper into your relationships and cut through the superficial connections you have with them. You can do so by sharing thoughts, feelings, ideas, interests, concerns, beliefs – anything that is authentic to you.

By expressing genuine interest in others, and truly listening to them, you will establish an empathy with them. You will discover that the bonds of intimacy and caring will be greatly enhanced between you and them.

Self disclosure means moving out of your comfort zone and permitting yourself to be open and honest with others. To do so, you will have to drop your mask and be your true self. Being open with others will result in deeper and more meaningful relationships with others. You’ll find yourself developing tighter bonds with others; bonds that will help you combat feelings of loneliness and isolation both today and in the future.

So why not try taking a risk over the remainder of the holiday season with someone you already care about? Take the first step towards developing a deeper level of an authentic relationship. The rewards can last a lifetime.

Photo: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Emotions_g96-Team_Solitary_p20848.html

Eileen Lenson

Combating Holiday Depression: 6 Tips

You’re listening to the radio and the sounds of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” pours out to you. You’re in the shopping mall and you walk by kids lining up to sit on Santa’s lap. You visit a friend, whose kitchen smells of cinnamon and sugar.

And yet, as these sights, sounds and smells remind you of the holiday traditions of years ago, you may find yourself fighting off the chronic emotional pain known as ‘holiday blues’.

Holidays often result in our getting in more in touch with our sadness and anger than at other times of the year, causing the darker, ‘blue’ mood during or prior to the holidays. This is due to a multitude of reasons.

1. Santa myth. Many of us, as adults, still carry an unconscious fantasy known as the ‘Santa Myth’. We continue to expect the day that was perfect for us in our childhood, when we still believed in Santa. As adults, we feel sad and disappointed when we do not experience the ‘perfect’ day and receive the ultimate gift, or when our holiday falls short of those depicted in Hollywood musicals.

2. Acting out unresolved conflicts. Any unresolved upset feelings with family can negatively influence our happiness over the holidays. Grudges are carried over, leading to resentments and misinterpretations.

3. Grieving a loss. Anyone who has experienced a loss, either recently or in the past, may feel especially sad leading up to, during and following the holidays. The more recent the loss, the more incomplete one’s grieving and the stronger one’s attachment to the loved one, the greater one’s sadness will be. Such losses can include a new move, divorce, loss of job, or a death in the family.

4. Unrealistic expectations of family. How quickly we forget that dad is very dogmatic and opinionated. Or that when Aunt Sue drinks too much, which is often, she isn’t funny but is rather nasty. Or that her children are completely undisciplined, bully the cousins and damage your home.

5. Parents not accepting growth and change. Parents may subconsciously strive for the holidays of years ago, and have difficulty accepting their children’s maturity and autonomy. Siblings come back into the fold and pick up unresolved conflicts, marring the family harmony.

6. Guilt at not doing enough. This can be in the form of not spending as much as you might have wished on a gift this year, or not cooking enough special food.

The key to successfully combating holiday depression is to put everything in perspective. Recognize that conflict can be healthy if the issues are brought out in the open, because they can then be addressed and dealt with. Strive to pace yourself and schedule in time for personal relaxation, exercise and sleep. If you are experiencing a loss, give yourself permission to step aside from some of the festivities if you wish, while surrounding yourself with a strong support system.

Don’t strive to have a Hallmark holiday. Instead, have a real one, with real people, real feelings, and the real desire to be together despite everyone’s imperfections.

Photo from http://www.clipartoday.com/clipart/holiday/christmas/christmas_166709.html

Eileen Lenson

6 Ways For Blended Families To Enjoy The Holidays

Holiday time is family time. But the holidays can be challenging when the family includes one or two sets of step children and two sets of parents. With proper planning, flexibility and a lot of love, the holidays can be a success for all.

1. Discuss financial concerns. Often times the men are supporting two families, and money is tighter as a result. Adults need to come up with a workable budget. Gifts can be homemade, coupons for a parent and child to spend together engaged in an activity the child likes, all making gift-giving affordable.

2. Children react to change with behavioral changes. In a new family, children may not want to listen to their parent’s expectations of how they should respond to the new parent. Be patient. Children may not have a solid relationship with the stepparent. Respect their unique way of relating to others.

3. Recognize that traditions have already been established in the children’s previous families. You can’t necessarily start over fresh and discard the past. It is best to plan ahead, discuss options, determine which traditions to have or throw out, and negotiate agreement on how to celebrate the holiday.

4. If children are spending time with both sets of parents over the holidays then be careful to not set up a competitive relationship. Give the children time to adjust to the different rules and environment after visiting the other parent. After all, having two separate holiday celebrations can be over stimulating, stressful, and tiring for the children.

5. Parents of children who are with their other parent over Christmas may feel depressed. These dark feelings can be combated by establishing new traditions, planning activities with one’s spouse that could not be done with children around, or getting together with friends/colleagues.

6. If the blended family consists of ‘his’, ‘hers’, and ‘ours’ children, be vigilant about treating all equally. Children are aware of favoritism in gift giving, and can end up resenting both the parents and the perceived favorite child, negatively impacting on family relationships.

As with all plans, the needs of the children should be foremost in the holiday decision making process. I know of one woman who epitomizes this by inviting all the children, the ex’s, as well as the in-laws and out-laws to celebrate part of Christmas at her home each year. They don’t all come, and everything doesn’t always go idyllically. But over the years, the adults are learning to put aside their resentments and provide lifelong happy memories for their children.

Eileen Lenson, author, is available for life and business coaching sessions. For further information, call 949-244-5100.

Photo: http://www.istockphoto.com/file_view_gateway/14240892-gingerbread-cookies?id=14240892&ConcreteTypeID=35&Token=452144047&Collection=PayAsYouGo&downloadAction=RegularLicense

Eileen Lenson

7 Tips For Working with Difficult People

We all have to work with difficult people from time to time. While their behavior varies from being manipulative, dominating, attacking, undermining, controlling, dismissive, confronting, negative, unreliable, critical, or dependent – to name a few – the result is the same. These people cause stress in our lives and hamper our work performance.

It is easiest to understand why others are difficult by asking that same question of ourselves. What motivates us to be difficult to others? Usually it has to do with wanting to get our needs met, and find success in the past by using these undesirable traits.

Difficult people are everywhere. At work they can come in the shape of boss, colleague or customer. At home they can come in the shape of spouse, in-law, PTA president, or neighbor. But rather than allowing the difficult people to negatively impact on our lives, we can work at developing productive techniques for relating to such people.

Whether they decide to change is their decision. You have no control over them. What you do have control over is how you choose to react to them.

7 suggestions for reacting to difficult people:

1. Ignore the behavior. That’s right. Don’t provide them with an audience when they become difficult. By paying attention to the appropriate behavior and ignoring the bad, you will be reinforcing the conduct you want them to exhibit around you. In time, this may help to modify or even extinguish the negative behavior.

2. Use empathy. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand their point of view. By doing so, your body language will be different, indicating more acceptance, tolerance, and openness. You will be breaking the pattern of responding to their difficult behavior with your defensiveness and resistance.

3. Respond to them differently. If their anger has typically elicited an angry response from you, then try responding in a quiet, less emotional manner.

4. Find something positive. Listen for something, even a thread of something, in what they are talking about and give them positive feedback. This will help the difficult person feel more connected with you and more likely to be able to listen to you in response.

5. Establish boundaries. Draw that imaginary line in the sand to protect yourself from abuse, and do not allow the other person to impinge on you in an unhealthy way.

6. Scrutinize yourself. Identify why the other person’s behavior pushes your buttons. Is your reaction a learned behavior that could be substituted for another, more productive, behavior? Are you doing something to provoke the other person?

7. Don’t personalize it. Don’t assume that the other person’s difficult behavior is about you, unless you are told so. This attitude will help you detach emotionally from the other person’s actions and view it more objectively.

Eileen Lenson