Mar 222012
 

Recently, I wrote about Pollyanna’s decision to play “The Glad Game” (http://uncommoncourtesy.com/PlayTheGladGame.htm). This week I had the opportunity to play the Glad Game myself. My son, who tends to bring home more than his fair share of viruses, was sick again. One of my daughters was sick as well. That left my husband, my other daughter, and myself all in the line of fire to catch a nasty cold. The bug seemed to be going around my daughters’ school, and I couldn’t help but notice that the variety of responses to the prospect of being ill by those around me. A negative thinker in the bunch used it as another occasion to complain about yet another cold being passed around, as well as other aspects of her life that she viewed negatively.  My husband, who is very easy going, adopted a “What will be, will be” type attitude about the possibility of being infected by my germ laden son. The ever enthusiastic optimist in the crowd, that would be me, tried to act as if the illness did not exist and kept mumbling, “I am not getting sick. I am not getting sick. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow,” while consuming heavy doses of a variety of vitamins and supplements.  

As I thought about the spectrum of reactions, I began to also think about the glasses that each of us wears.  No, I am not referring to corrective lenses. Perhaps you recall the phrase “seeing the world through rose colored glasses?”  It is very much like Pollyanna’s decision to play the Glad Game even when presented with the possibility that she might never walk again. Well, you, and everyone around you, view the world through a set of glasses. Your “glasses” are the outlook that you have adopted toward life.  They dictate how you respond to any given situation, and your overall perception of reality. You may not have voluntarily chosen the glasses you wear. That is, you were born with a particular temperament.  Then you spent years being part of a family that lived life in a certain manner.  These “family themes” are sometimes easier to recognize in other families than in your own.  Consider what we know about the famous Kennedy family of Massachusetts.  The children in that family were taught to take risks and have high aspirations.  Now consider the type of themes that your parents indoctrinated into you as a child. Were they positive themes (e.g., you can be successful) or negative themes (e.g., don’t make a mistake or you will fail)? Were they enabling or disabling? Finally, consider whether you have incorporated those themes into the outlook that you have as an adult.   

As you think about the theme that you live with and by, note how those around you employ themes in their lives. For example, consider how you, your family members, your boss, your employees, and your friends might react to a particular situation.  Imagine being stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for a long freight train to pass while you’re enroute to see a movie.  If there are several people in the car, there will undoubtedly be a wide variety of reactions.  Some people will be angry that they might miss the movie. Their theme focuses on the unfairness of life, or that life can become negative at any time. Others will see the same situation as a good excuse not to sit through all of the trailers that are shown before the main feature. These are people whose theme helps them to adapt or “go with the flow” of life. Still others will begin looking through the newspaper to see what other movies are available or even suggest just stopping off for coffee and dessert at that new restaurant in town. These are the individuals who view any situation as an opportunity to have something positive happen. Each of these individuals is reacting differently to the situation, in part, because of the theme that they have chosen to adopt.  It is clear that each one of these people wears a different set of glasses.

No doubt, you’ve read many articles about how your unconscious attitudes or themes affect your life.  However, I would like you to consider two  ways in which the glasses that you have chosen to wear affect your life.  First, they impact how those around you function.  Second, they also impact how others choose to view you. In order to explore these ideas further, allow me to introduce you to two imaginary individuals who wear very different sets of glasses: Ned (the negative thinker) and Oscar (the optimist).

Ned is a nay-sayer.  He can find the negative aspect of any situation even if it requires looking all night long.  Ned even found a negative point about winning the state lottery when he said, “imagine the taxes, the financial planning, and all the additional telemarketing telephone calls that I’d receive night after night.” Ned views the world as a dark and dangerous place.  Every decision is monumental.  Each life choice must be painstakingly scrutinized.  Consequently, Ned spends much of his free time worrying about the 1001 bad things that might happen to him at any time.  Ned’s brother was surprised when Ned actually had no reaction to a newspaper story that an asteroid might strike Earth within the next 100 years! 

Oscar, on the other hand, is an optimist.  He sees each day as another opportunity to be successful and help others.  The idea of doing something new and different excites Oscar because he likes to contemplate and explore all the interesting possibilities in life that are placed before him. He views life as a journey.  Even the setbacks that Oscar faces now and then are nothing more than life lessons that will ultimately help him to become more successful.

It may seem obvious to you how the glasses that Ned and Oscar wear impact how they function and perform in life.  What may not be so obvious is how others react to Ned and Oscar because of the glasses that each one has chosen to wear.  Ned and Oscar are supervisors at the same company.  Each is responsible for managing a large group of employees.  The people who Ned supervises don’t often approach him with new ideas.  They know that he wants to “stick with what works.”  He leads with an iron fist because controlling others gives Ned a feeling of security.  He sometimes micromanages situations and instills fear in his staff.  Ned’s entire work group has adopted his tentative attitude and is constantly concerned about the possible pitfalls that may result from their decisions.  While Ned’s supervisor views him as a dependable employee, she also sees him as a bit of a “stick in the mud.”  She has given up on passing along motivational material to Ned because she knows he will only see the negative aspects of the information.  At home, Ned’s family is well aware of his penchant for negativity.  His constant ruminations and worrying cause unnecessary tension and anxiety at home.  His wife is afraid to tell him about her problems because he will become upset.  His children have learned that he will be unresponsive to them as he lies on the couch and considers his negative fate.

There is quite another atmosphere in Oscar’s house. Oscar’s offspring can’t wait for him to get home.  He always has a great story to tell them and has time to help them work through their problems.  Oscar and his wife enjoy talking about things that they would like to do in the future.  They also try their best to enjoy each day as well.  Oscar is like a beacon of light at work.  His outlook inspires his employees to do their best.  He is interested in new ideas, strategies, and technology that will help his employees to meet and beat anything that their competitors might be doing.  Oscar has a plaque on his desk that reminds him of the benefits of persistence and a positive outlook. Oscar’s boss doesn’t bother giving him motivational material either.  However, unlike Ned, motivational material is unnecessary because Oscar is always bursting through her door with motivational material of his own to give to her.  Oscar’s employer sees him as a go-getter who will someday be running the whole company or forming an innovative company of his own!

As you can see from this example, the glasses that you put on every morning impact how you view the world, and how you will function in it. Additionally, the glasses that you wear directly impact how those around you behave and react to you.  Consider the overall impression that your boss, your spouse, and your friends have about you.  Are you a fun person to be around?  Are you always down in the dumps?  Do they think of you as one of the most energetic people in their lives?  Have they written you off of their “people who like to try something new” list? If you wear glasses that are similar to Ned’s, you may not realize the opportunities that you have missed, the relationships that have been damaged, and the potential successes that have not been realized merely because you wear a negative set of glasses much of the time. Although everyone has a “dark glasses day” now and then, it is up to you to choose to wear the clear and sharp glasses of an optimist. It is those glasses that will help you to see the opportunities around you and seize success in your life at home and work.

Today is the day to step back and examine how you view the world.  Ask others how they perceive you.  Evaluate how your actions communicate your view of the world to others.   When you get up tomorrow morning, make the choice to put on the bright sunny glasses that Oscar wears.  Then, go out there and have a great day!  Oh, how did I choose to play the Glad Game? I decided to be thankful that I did not get nearly as sick as my kids!

Copyright © 1997 – 2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.


Mar 222012
 

Got Sniffles? Take Zinc!

The past two weeks at our house have been challenging! Two different viruses were being passed around at our local schools. One of my daughters came down with one virus, while my son came down with the other. Naturally, I ended up with both of them! Consequently, I decided to take a look at recent research that focused on preventing and getting rid of the viruses that seemed to be flooding through my front door. What luck! I found a piece of research that should finally lay to rest the question of whether or not zinc is helpful for those of us feeling the first signs of a cold. The author reviewed 15 different trials involving more than 1000 people. What did the findings reveal? Healthy people who took Zinc within 24 hours of symptom onset were slightly less likely to develop a cold than the control group. However, the decrease in school absences, or the need for prescription medication, in the trial group was highly significant! If Zinc was supplemented for a minimum of five months, the incidence of a child developing a cold decreased as well. The side effects from taking this supplement were primarily found to be nausea and a bad taste in the mouth. I don’t know about you, but I would gladly experience one or both of those side effects in exchange for decreasing the length and severity of a cold. Although the author was unable to specifically recommend how much zinc to take, the type of formula to use, or how long the zinc should be taken, this research indicates it is well worth discussing what is right for you with your healthcare professional. Take a look at the research yourself: Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3. Wishing you health and happiness today and everyday!

 

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Mar 142012
 

Here’s a suggestion for helping children improve their conduct: Remember to form a simple and clear set of rules. No matter  if it is at home or at school, children will do best if they have a simple list of rules to follow. Begin with safety rules for young children. “Rule Number One” in my home is: “Safety first!.” As a child gets older, the global rule can be divided into smaller rule sets. That will facilitate discussions such as what constitutes safety at home, at the park, and at school. It also allows for self-analysis about why a certain behavior or action may have violated “Rule number one.” Each year the list of core rules can be expanded.

 

 Here are Dr. Rempel’s rules in her home:

HOUSE RULES:

Safety first!

Share with your brother and sister!

Mind your manners!

Listen and do what you’re told!

Make a mess and clean it up!

Always try your best!

Think positive!

Be considerate and treat others respectfully!

 

Do you have an article, book, or product that is related to children’s conduct? Send it to us by clicking here!

Here are a few of our favorite books on this subject!

Everyday Graces: A Child’s Book of Good Manners – by Karen Santorum

Excuse Me!: A Little Book of Manners – by Karen Katz

Excuse Me! A Book All About Manners – by Nancy Johnston, Cathy Drinkwater Better

 

Mar 142012
 

Admit it. Everyday of your life is a gift. You can do with that gift what you choose. You can waste it worrying about the future or the past. You can stumble through it without making the most of the time that you have been given. But you have an opportunity. You can celebrate each and every day of your life. What a concept! What a BIG concept!! Everyday you wake up with the choice to view life as a wonderful journey. Of course, you can also choose to view your day in a much more dismal manner.  

Here’s a special opportunity that you have as a parent. You can teach your child to celebrate that gift which he has been given. Imagine sending your child into the adult world with the belief that there is hope in every situation. There is a positive solution to every problem. That tomorrow can be a better day. What better gift can you give to your child, than the gift of optimism?

Of course, following your child around the house telling her to, “Think positive,” “Look on the bright side,” or “Change your attitude” just will not work. Your child will run away when she hears you walking down the hall. What should you do? You’ve got to be a role model and a teacher. Yes, that means that YOU have to celebrate each day of your life. Consider this. Do you wake up each day thinking that you have a new opportunity to be successful? Are you thankful for each day that you have been given? Are you making the most of your life? If the answers aren’t yes, Yes, and YES, then you have work to do, my friend.

First, think about whether your past has become an obstacle to forming and maintaining a positive perspective on life. Were your parents optimists or pessimists? What were the themes that ran through your family? There is often a theme or a pattern of thinking that is passed down from one generation to another. It permeates how the family functions. It impacts the expectations for each person in the family, and the agenda of the family unit itself. It often generates a family mantra. Family mantras can range from empowering to toxic. “You can do anything.” “Anything but super-achievement is failure.” “You need only be competent.” “Keep working until you succeed.” “Why can’t you be like (anyone but yourself)?” “You are part of a greater community.” “If it’s not important to me, then it’s not important.” “Life is good.” “Life would be good if only….”  The range of family themes is endless. You internalized themes or mantras from your family as you were growing up. It is important to think about what you were taught. Some of the messages may be powerful driving forces towards success, while others may be creating obstacles that are only present in your mind. In my own family, I learned several valuable mantras including “If you keep working at something, and make small steps towards your goal, you will eventually reach it.” That stick-to-it-ness has been a wonderful driving force in my own life. However, my parents were raised in the Depression, and they also unfortunately passed along a great deal of negativity and the tendency to be overly critical of oneself. One of my challenges, as an adult, has been to adopt and maintain a positive outlook on life. Sometimes those dark and negative thoughts bubble to the surface, but I try to recognize them and put a stop to them immediately. Think about the life lessons that you learned from your parents, and which of those you are now modeling for your child.

Next, consider how you react to success and adversity. What happens when you are successful in an endeavor or encounter an obstacle enroute to a goal? Do your successes in life become overblown, or are they minimized? Do you view success as an end unto itself, or is it an opportunity to set a new goal? Are the obstacles you encounter in life seen as challenges or do they serve as a  reason to give up? Do you ignore your successes only to focus on what you may never be able to achieve? You may not realize it, but your child is watching (and learning from) your reaction to success and adversity both large and small.

Another point to consider is what priorities you have in life, and what are you teaching your child about how to approach life? Is life a struggle? Is life something to be just gotten through? Is life something exciting? Is life full of challenges and possibilities? How would your child describe your approach to life? What are the areas of life that emphasize? Is it all about the material things you collect, or is materialism something you abhor? Are you focused on building your mind, as well as your child’s academic potential, or is that something only “smart people” try to achieve? Is it important develop a wide variety of interests, or are you focused on only one goal by which to define yourself as a success or failure. Are you teaching your child that exercise is a part of a healthy lifestyle, or is exercise just the work that goes along with becoming an Olympian or a professional athlete? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Is your child learning the importance of forming social connections, or will he feel socially awkward all his life?  Do you have a faith-based belief system, or does your child think that this is all there is? Children characteristically parrot or imitate the views and patterns of the important adults around them. Consider whether the things you think of as important will be create a positive future life experience for your child.

Finally (and this is by no means an exhaustive list), what will you consider when determining whether or not your life has been successful? Have you ever stopped to consider what you think it means to be successful?  Have you learned to set goals that are attainable? If your child learns that “success” is only achieved if she is a billionaire, the next Babe Ruth, or a Nobel Prize winner, then being successful may seem an untenable goal. Are you just floating through life without goals or a sense of purpose? If not much is expected of a child, then life may become a series of “good enough’s” or viewed as a flat plateau without much to look forward to on the horizon. Are you able to pinpoint the success you have already experienced in your life, or are you always haunted by the “should have’s” or “never will be’s”? Recognizing and being thankful for your accomplishments in life is important, and is an important component in life satisfaction. A child who is trained to focus on what might have been or what might not ever occur is far less likely to experience satisfaction with life. Have you developed goals that span across many areas of your life, or do you focus on one goal to the exclusion of everything else in your life. Having a life that is hopeful and balanced will help your child to look forward to experiences and be willing to take risks. Your child will internalize a list of what is important in life and what is not. Both the list, and the level that is necessary to achieve “success” of each item on the list, will impact how he approaches life. Focusing your child on setting reasonable and positive goals in many areas will help her grow into an adult who can find something to celebrate each day of life no matter what happens on that day.

As I was thinking about how to teach children to celebrate each day of their lives, I suddenly realized that “bingo” is just the acronym to use as a training tool. Let me tell you why. As you may or may not know, my primary website (www.UnCommonCourtesy.com) is a combination of motivational material and several hundred bingo games and concentration sets. How did such an unlikely combination come about? As the room mother for my son’s first grade class, I was responsible for overseeing a Halloween party. My youngest child was six months old, and still getting up three or four times a night. My other two children weren’t great sleepers, and I come from a long line of poor sleepers. Consequently, I was quite sleep-deprived at the time. My son’s teacher asked me to bring a Halloween bingo game to the party, but she had a very specific type of game in mind. As I recall, it was one with only pictures. I tried to find one online, but didn’t find one that met her parameters. It was overwhelming to think about driving around to find such a specific game, so I decided to make it myself. Armed with a graphics program and some clipart, I produced a set. It was crude in comparison with the sets I create at this time, but it wasn’t bad. Then, I laminated the set because I wanted it to last several years. I didn’t want to make another set when my second child reached the first grade! I took the set to the party and several of the teachers said to me, “This is good. You could sell this.” For many years I had been a children custody evaluator, mediator, and a family therapist. However, that time in my life had past, and I was looking for a new career path. One that would allow me to focus on my children, work at home, and experience less stress. I thought to myself, “I COULD sell this!” I had launched my UnCommonCourtesy.com website as a reaction to all of the negativity in my past life, as well as the pain I witnessed in my private practice. Although I hadn’t published a newsletter or worked on the site for a couple of years, I had just not been able to get myself to shut it down. I kept thinking that surely it would be a part of my future career. Undaunted by the disconnect between the name of the site and bingo games, as well as the reaction from several family members and friends (“You are going to do what?????”), I put together a couple of bingo games to sell at Christmas. I managed to put together an order form, arrange for a secure server, and put the sets online. I made (and still make) all the sets by hand. Although I seemingly did everything wrong, I sold $700 dollars worth of bingo games that Christmas season! Never mind that I had actually lost money because of business set-up costs; my sleep-deprived mind was filled with possibilities. Although my head was filled with things like, “this could be the start of something big,” I heard a lot of “yea, yea, whatever” around me. But I’m a positive thinker. I kept making sets. Making better sets. Finding niches that my bingo games could fit into. I have to say that my unlikely career has been a wonderfully rewarding experience, and something that I can work on when things around me seem a bit dark. Thinking positively, and staying focused, has helped me to develop a very satisfying business and it is all about BINGO!

Well, you’ve heard my story. Now it’s time to learn to teach your child to celebrate life by applying the positive principle of BINGO!

B: BE IN THE GAME. How many children sit on the sidelines because they are afraid of failure or trying something new? They slam the door closed before they even get their feet firmly inside. I certainly did as a child, and I regret just about everything that I refused to try. Do not allow your child to sit on the sideline waiting for the good time to come to her. Teach him to participate! Tell her that the only failure in life is not trying at all. The main point is to jump in and get going. While you are at it, get in the game with your children! Volunteer at school. Sign up to coach a team. Be a Sunday School teacher. There is no question that my own children view me as a participant and not as someone who sits on the sidelines. They love it, and your child will love to see you involved in his life.

I: INTERNALIZE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE IN YOUR CHILD Talk about how good life is. Prompt her to make a list of the things that she has to be thankful for. Help him see that there is hope in, or a positive view of, almost every situation. Remember to be a role model! This is a family project, and you should think about the negative thoughts and actions that are holding you back. What do you have to be grateful for? Are you focused on what’s going right or what you haven’t got? How can you grasp and hold onto a positive attitude all day long. Don’t just say it- live it!

N: NOW IS THE TIME THAT IS IMPORTANT. Some people live in the past. Others focus on the future. But today is the time that you can jump into, start a life-changing pattern, or just savor. Enjoy the Moment! Teach your child to enjoy what he experiences every day. Help her learn to work toward things on a day-to-day basis. Don’t let him fret about the test next Thursday, help him plan study blocks between now and then so the test will be a cinch. Don’t join her in lamenting about not being chosen as the star in the play, work with her to be the best in the part that she was assigned. Those in-the-moment times with your child may be the ones that the two of you have the fondest memories of in the future.

G: GIVE OF YOURSELF. In the world of me, Me, ME, the self-absorption that many children learn is ultimately unsatisfying. If you live a life that is focused on material things, you’ll always think about what you do not have. More importantly, you will waste your life fretting about what other people have, and how much better your life would be if you lived someone else’s life. If everything is all about you, then the other members of your family will be left high and dry. In our house, we sing a song when one of the kids gets a bit too focused on his or her needs. While we sing the tune to “It Had to be You,” we insert the words: “It’s all about me. It’s all about me. Wonderful me. Important me. It’s all about me. Oh can’t you see? It’s all about me!” On and on it goes until everyone is laughing so hard that there are tears in our eyes. I try to give of myself, and I look back on most days thinking how good it felt to do something for a friend, have seen the eyes of my children light up because of the time I shared with them, or have done something a little unexpected for someone in need. It’s been a pleasant surprise to watch my children take note of my actions, and I hope they do the same for others throughout their lives.

O: OVERCOME IT! One of my favorites Authors, Norman Vincent Peale, made a very powerful statement in his book Enthusiasm Makes the Difference: “Every problem contains within itself the seeds of its own solutions.” Life is full of struggles and difficulties. Just because you are an optimist doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. You can think of those problems as another reason to despair or as an opportunity for growth. I often ask myself, “What can I learn from this?” or “How can I use this as an opportunity to grow as a result of my experience.”  Teach your child how to recognize that a problem exists before it gets out of control, how to problem-solve, and how to enlist others to help him solve those problems. Just about every problem in life can be solved or used as a spring board toward a positive outcome.

Now it’s time for you to start teaching your child the BINGO principle. Have fun! Enjoy the time that you spend with your child! Work on yourself a bit too! I’ll be writing future articles about how to teach your child to celebrate holidays and other moments in his or her life using the BINGO principle. I hope that you will stop by www.uncommoncouresty.com to take a look at my latest thoughts and a few of my bingo games as well!

Celebrate today and everyday!

 Susan

Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

 P.S. I’ve written many other motivational articles. You can find an index of them at: http://uncommoncourtesy.com/motivationalarticles.htm

 

Enthusiasm Makes the Difference in the Compenium: Peale, Norman Vincent (1994). The Power of Positive Thinking, The Positive Principle Today, and Enthusiasm Makes the Difference. Wings Books, New York. Pg 511.

© 2007-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Do you like this article? Reprint it (with the following attachment of course) on your site or in your ezine!! 

Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! A multitude of holiday, religious, educational, and patriotic  bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine.  Read Susan C Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog about Patriotism, First Principles, and American History. Follow Dr. Rempel on Twitter: SusanRempel or LinkedIn

Mar 142012
 

In “Avoidance May Actually Be An Opportunity In Disguise (Part 1)”, I talked about how mundane tasks are often avoided out of fear and/or boredom. What about those unpleasant encounters that you would like to avoid at your work place? Have you avoided a discussion with your boss about one of the aspects of your job that you would like to change? How about confrontations with your employees? Possibly, you have avoided introducing a client to a new idea or product. Each of these avoidance situations is really an opportunity to become more successful!

Employees frequently are reluctant to discuss new ideas with their employers. This reluctance stems not only from the fear that their idea will be rejected, but also out of their fear of being ridiculed. “What a stupid idea,” your boss will say. Really? If your boss rejects ideas in that manner, perhaps it is time to look for a new job! More than likely, your boss will take part or all of your idea and seriously consider implementing it. In most companies, managers have become managers because they are assertive, were successful in previous work-related positions, or have focused their talents and energies on the success of the company. Managers are (or should be) constantly looking for new ideas! That’s also true for company assistant vice presidents, vice presidents, presidents, and CEOs. Anyone in a position of authority and responsibility within a business entity should always be interested in ways and ideas that can make the company more successful and profitable.

Have you been avoiding a confrontation with an employee? One client recently told me about his difficulty in dealing with subordinates who seem to enjoy being confrontational or challenging her authority. We talked about her approach to dealing with such employees. She consistently went head-to-head with these people trying to match their level of energy. Although she always won each battle, she felt that she was losing the war. “I’m tired,” she said, “and sometimes I just feel like taking the day off.” The problem wasn’t that she disliked her job. It was that the confrontations consumed all her time and depleted her energy. I suggested that she consider using a different strategy for interacting with difficult employees. Instead of coming to logger heads, she should try to listen to what the employee is saying. Then, she should reframe what was said in the most positive light possible from her point of view.

Another approach is based on the notion that most people have patterns of interaction. An employee may begin with a minor complaint and continue complaining until everyone in the entire corporate hierarchy is miserable and tired of hearing from him or her. Why not put him or her to work changing the situation? For example, try responding to an employee’s complaint by saying, “OK Nick, if you see a problem here, then I want you to come up with three strategies to solve it.” Not only will Nick stop complaining to you, but he may just come up with a new and more productive solution, to a problem that you didn’t even know existed in the first place! Regardless of why a confrontation with an employee has occurred, the next step should be to consider changing the process that underlies your future interactions with that person.

The biggest problem for most business people is introducing new ideas and products to clients. After all, the client holds the power in most situations. He or she can reject your idea on a whim or without any basis. The easiest thing for you is not to make the pitch in the first place. After all, it is difficult to face rejection from a client after you have put forth the effort which is necessary to design and implement a fantastic presentation. I must admit that I have experienced this problem in my own life. As a novice therapist, I sometimes was hesitant to suggest a new behavior pattern to a client because I “knew” that my suggestion would be rejected. As I have become more experienced, I like to think that I have also become more fearless. If the worst thing that can happen is that the client will say “no,” then I am no worse off than before. What I have discovered is that “no” often leads to a very interesting discussion spawned by my follow-up question: “Why not?” Although you cannot just ask a business client “why not,” you can move past the first “no” and explore how you and your product or service can be helpful to the client. Possibly, there is an alternative use of your product or service. Maybe they will be more useful to the potential buyer in a few months. You might even uncover a suggestion as to how you could improve your product to better meet the needs of others. Whatever the response, there can be a positive outcome. If you avoid the interaction altogether, it can only result in maintaining the status quo which is really a failure to move forward. Each interaction with a client can be viewed as an opportunity for success, even though it may not be the same type of successful outcome that you had originally intended.

Now is the time to examine your patterns of avoidance with others in the work place. By implementing a proactive stance with others, you may help turn your avoidance into a successful opportunity to improve your company or career.

© 1998-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! A multitude of holiday, religious, educational, and patriotic  bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine.  Read Susan C Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog about Patriotism, First Principles, and American History. Follow Dr. Rempel on Twitter: SusanRempel or LinkedIn

© 1998-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Mar 142012
 

I have a list. You probably have one, too. It’s that list of things to do that is sitting on your desk. Some of the items get done quickly and are scratched off the list. Then, there are those other things. Those pesky or unpleasant tasks that just don’t seem to get done. These tasks get copied from list to list. They may include mundane things that just take time and effort to complete or maybe a new task that you are just a little bit afraid of tackling. Whatever they are, you do not want to do them and you avoid doing them at all costs!

I have a suggestion: start thinking of your approach to those tasks differently. Your response should be an indication that something needs to change. You see, avoidance may actually be an opportunity in disguise! I spend a great deal of time telling my clients that they need to trust their own instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Your avoidance of a task may be the signal that you need to seize the opportunity to change the task.

I’m not suggesting that you can just stop doing unpleasant or difficult tasks, but you may want to change the way that you handle them. A prime example would be some of the organizational tasks that are associated with any job or home environment. Your job may require you to fill out the same boring sales projection form at the beginning of every month. You have come to intensely dislike filling out that form. Have you ever stopped to consider how you could make the form more useful? Maybe this is your opportunity to change that form and impress your boss at the same time! If you are self-employed, it may be more difficult to see how mundane tasks hold you back from being more productive. Following the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may keep you from seeing that something could be done more quickly and with a more beneficial outcome.

Home is the place where mundane tasks are most prevalent but most often questioned. Has your child ever asked you why he or she must do a certain chore? It might be time to write out a list of all the chores that everyone does on a weekly basis. Then, ask if anyone would like to trade one responsibility for another. You might find that one child would much rather take out the trash, while another would prefer to sort out the laundry. Don’t forget to try this type of chart at work! I often find that juggling tasks and responsibilities can result in a fresher and more creative environment.

Although repetitive tasks are often avoided out of boredom or distaste, sometimes tasks are avoided out of fear. If you have just received a promotion, a new task may be avoided because of your fear of failure. How many of us know someone who avoids using a computer because he or she is afraid of “messing everything up.” In reality, it takes quite a bit of effort to do real damage to a computer, but it is the fear that will stop someone from trying to use it.

Other tasks are avoided out of the fear of embarrassment. For example, you have just been promoted to run the new employee orientation program at your company. You attend the program and listen to the speech given by the person who has run the program for several years. His speech is terrific! Of course, he thinks the speech is boring because he has given it countless times. As you prepare to begin running the program, you develop a strong case of stage fright and avoid setting the date for your first speech. In this example, I would suggest that you recognize that you should not compete with the “ghost of successful presentations past.” Instead, you should develop a speech that is uniquely yours. For example, you could add in a prop, such as a chart, to make your presentation more visually stimulating. You could reorganize the speech so that it flows smoothly for you. Maybe it is time to think of new and interesting examples. Whatever you do, take this opportunity to put your personal stamp on the presentation!

Could it possibly be that you are avoiding a task because of the fear of success? Many potentially successful ideas, projects, and products are left sitting on someone’s list because of the changes that success would bring. The good thing about mundane tasks is that you know just what will happen when you do them. Changing that task may result in being responsible for a new and more difficult task. What will happen if you leave your job in order to start your own company? You may put off that decision for months and years because you sense how much effort will be required to succeed. Conversely, you may be one of the fortunate souls who begin a new venture and are overwhelmed by great success. Of course, that type of success brings its own set of problems! Remember that success is a blessing and the opportunity to be successful will only present itself a few times over the course of your life.

During the upcoming month, I would like you to make another list. It is a list of boring, repetitive, time consuming, or distasteful, tasks or situations. Then examine how each item on the list could be made more interesting, useful, productive, and beneficial. It is time to begin thinking of avoidance as an opportunity to make your life more interesting and successful!

© 1998-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! A multitude of holiday, religious, educational, and patriotic  bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine.  Read Susan C Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog about Patriotism, First Principles, and American History. Follow Dr. Rempel on Twitter: SusanRempel or LinkedIn

© 1998-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.


Mar 142012
 

In the first two parts of this series, I focused on how to establish new connections and deepen connections with your friends. This article will discuss suggestions for improving the depth and breadth of the connections that you have with members of your family.

As with the topic of friendship, countless numbers of books and articles have been written about family relationships. However, let me throw a few more ideas into the mix:

Respect

That’s right! You need to respect your loved ones. Whether the person is your spouse, child, sibling, or parent, you should treat him or her with respect. I often find that people treat their loved ones with less respect than they would a stranger. For example, I think most people will agree there are few things in life that have more importance to them than their children. Yet, I once watched a parent explode at her child because the ice cream she bought for him fell off of its cone and onto the floor. The child had done nothing to cause the accident, but the parent behaved as if he had turned the cone upside down on purpose and shaken it. I doubt if she would have behaved this way toward a stranger or a new acquaintance. Social norms would discourage her from raising her voice in reaction to the misbehavior of a new acquaintance. Instead, she would probably ignore or make light of the behavior.

Don’t Take Them for Granted

This idea goes hand in hand with the idea of treating your family members with respect. Your behavior may have slowly changed over time. It has not happened intentionally, it just happened. It may have began by forgetting to employ those common courtesies. For example, do you still treat your spouse the same way that the you did when you were dating? If not, why not? Do you say “no” to your children’s requests out of habit rather than for a good cause? If you do, how does that benefit the relationship with your children? You should treat those you love better than acquaintances, friends, or business associates. If you do not, consider changing your behavior today.

Do you remember to say “goodbye” to each member of your family before leaving the house? Do you ask them how the events of their day have gone when they return home in the evening? Do you give your spouse a kiss every morning? These are just a few examples of common courtesy that may have slowly vanished over time from your interaction with your family members. Consider whether you treat your family better or worse than new acquaintances and adjust your behavior to give them the proper amount of respect.

Build Them Up, Don’t Tear Them Down

As easy as it is to forget to take those we love for granted, it is even easier to begin focusing on a loved one’s negative points rather than emphasizing what he or she is “doing right.” An old maxim of family therapy is that what ever you love most about someone when your relationship is new will become something that you come to dislike about that person as time goes on. You may come to view your spouse’s strong will and determination as stubbornness after years of marriage. If there are traits held by your spouse, children, siblings, or parents that you dislike, consider whether those same traits could be viewed in a more positive light. Also, consider how you talk to your family members. My mother always said, “you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar,” and she was right. Your opinions are more likely to be heard and responded to positively if you express them in a positive tone. “I know that you are tired after a long day at work, but it would really help me out if you would put your shoes away in the closet rather than leaving them in the middle of the floor” is a message that is easily heard. However, the statement, “I’m not your slave! Pick up your own shoes” is a message that will probably result in the shoes always being left in the middle of the room where you will trip over them. Listen to how you express yourself with your family members. It takes practice, but a message with a positive tone will be responded to much quicker than a message filled with anger and sarcasm. Also, don’t forget to “catch” your family members when they are doing something that you like and compliment them for their actions. It’s a great way to show how much you appreciate them as well as reinforcing their positive behavior.

Be the Same Person with Your Family Inside and Outside of Your Home

As a therapist, I have noticed that families have “inside” and “outside” behavior. They may act like the Nelsons from the “Ozzie and Harriet” television show when they are in public, but like the Bundys from the “Married With Children” series when they are at home. Not only is it confusing for children to have this type of inconsistent behavior, but it is destructive to an adult relationship. Move your “outside” behavior inside your home. You’ll find that your positive statements, behavior, and emotional expressions that you make toward your family members will cause them to behave more positively toward you as well. The secret is: they may not even realizing why their own behavior is changing!

Set up a Family Meeting Schedule

It is important for couples, parents and children, and all the members of a family to have the opportunity to discuss issues and maintain an open line of communication with one another. However, it is difficult to have those discussions with today’s hectic lifestyle. I always suggest to my clients that they have either a specific meal that is attended by every member each week (e.g., Sunday dinner) or that they schedule a specific meeting time each week. That time does not need to be specifically devoted to deep conversation or a discussion about a negative event. For example, family members can spend the time playing a board game that will inevitably facilitate discussion. Children can propose changes to family rules. Stories can be told about how parents handled a problem when they were children that one of the young members of the family is now experiencing. However, family meetings should also be used as a time to discuss a child’s problems at school or a parent’s view of a child’s behavior. Couples should also have separate time to spend together. An “adult meeting”, which is another name for a “date”, for Mom and Dad is also an important meeting that will promote a strong marital relationship.

These are just a few suggestions about how to improve family relationships. Once again, they focus on positive behavior and the expression of feelings. Just remember: my mother was right. Honey is much tastier than vinegar!

Copyright © 1999-2012 Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D. 

 

This article (including the copyright notice) may be reprinted with the following the following attachment:

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Bingo Games, Motivational Material and More at www.UnCommonCourtesy.com! A multitude of holiday, religious, educational, and patriotic  bingo games and concentration sets available . Bingo games for adults and children to play at home, school, church, corporate meetings, and just about anywhere you can imagine.  Read Susan C Rempel, Ph.D.’s blog about Patriotism, First Principles, and American History. Follow Dr. Rempel on Twitter: SusanRempel or LinkedIn

Mar 142012
 

Here is the question that was sent to “Ask Dr. Rempel” at susan@uncommoncourtesy.com : “How do you keep your dreams and goals alive in the face of adversity and depression?”

A Sense of Purpose

          The question from our subscriber is one that is commonly asked of motivational coaches.  Everyone has dreams. You may have formulated achievable goals based upon your dreams. However, you will undoubtedly face stumbling blocks (both internal and external) enroute to realizing your goals.  Therefore, the question arises as to how you can maintain a focus on and move toward your goals when you encounter an obstacle?

From my perspective, the most interesting aspect of the question is that the questioner noted that it is difficult for her to move toward her goals “in the face of adversity and depression.” I have met many people who will encounter an obstacle, feel frustrated and depressed, and then give up. Why do they give up so easily? Most motivational “experts” will talk about feelings of depression stemming from a lack of focus. I suggest, instead, that obstacles may sidetrack a person from achieving his or her goals, and indeed cause a sense of frustration to arise on the road toward achieving those goals, for two reasons. First, the goals you have set are arbitrary, and second, you may not have defined a sense of purpose in your life.

          Most of us have thought about the direction in which we want our lives to flow.  Common aspirations include becoming well-known and earning a significant income. The question is, however, will those goals cause us to have a sense of fulfillment with our lives? One of my favorite authors, Dennis Prager, said in his book Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual

that in order to be happy, a person must have both personal meaning and believe that life itself is meaningful. I agree with that premise and would add that feeling satisfied with one’s life directly corresponds to having a sense of purpose in life and moving toward goals that are connected to the person’s mission in life.

How did you develop the goals that you have set forth for yourself? All too often people develop their goals with the underlying belief that they will be satisfied if they achieve a certain amount of money and power. Consider three titles of junk email that recently arrived in my mailbox:  “Have a six figure income in 30 days”, “earn $100 to $1500 per day”, and “are you serious about making money?” Those ads were designed to appeal to the person who believes that having a sufficient amount of money will give meaning to his or her life. In reality, money can make your life more comfortable, but it will not give it meaning. It’s more than likely that when you continue to search for a sense of fulfillment even after you reach your monetary goal, you will decide that a true sense of satisfaction has eluded you only because you did not set your goal high enough. Unfortunately, It is unlikely that you will ever feel that your life has meaning, no matter how much money you have.

Another goal that you may have set for yourself is to become the president, CEO, or leader of something. This goal may also carry little meaning because you will probably feel only momentary satisfaction once you have reached it.  People who reach this type of goal often go on to aspire to control and direct an even larger enterprise or entity. The problem with both of the goals discussed above is that they carry little meaning in and of themselves. They carry little meaning because they do not enhance your sense of purpose. 

What is your mission in life? The objective of acquiring money and power is no different from a child’s desire to collect and control all the tokens in a game of jacks. Those may be goals that you set as part of a master plan for living a successful life. However, you must also ask yourself what you can do to make a difference for others.  What or who will be changed by your presence after your life has ended? How can you positively impact your family, your community, and the society in which you live? There is no time to lose! Life is indeed a gift that has been bestowed upon you, and it is imperative for you to make the most out of each day that you spend here on Earth.  Now is the time to define your sense of purpose and pursue it to the fullest.