How To Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

It’s this simple.

Either we are our own best friend or we fast become our worst enemy.

When a parent asks a child with 4 A’s and a B on their report card, what did you get the B in – we’re teaching impressionable people to be negative.  Let them start with the A’s.  There is plenty of time for the B.

When another person criticizes us, we should reject that criticism.  After all, no less than Dale Carnegie himself said, “don’t criticize, condemn or complain”.  Who are we to judge another?

When we feel that everything we do isn’t good enough, then we are being ungrateful because we can only be what we are and that is good enough if we’re giving our best.

We can either try to make everyone else better one criticism at a time or enjoy the other person exactly the way they are.  We can’t have it both ways.

Some adults laughed at TV’s Mister Rogers who always told his audience of children “I like you just the way you are”.  But Fred Rogers was right. And hearing that phrase every day is something we need to say about ourselves.

You can spend a lifetime feeling badly about yourself.

Or choose to live a life accepting yourself as the fine person you are.

There is, of course, always room for improvement but what good is improving when being perfect is not the secret to happiness.

Most people are good enough the way they are.

Pogo’s great line “We have met the enemy and he is us” is so true.

What if we revised that a bit and made it “We have met my best friend and it is me”?

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Hope – How To Lose It & How To Find It

We have seen victims of earthquakes hopelessly trapped in buildings survive for many days not on food, water or medicine but only hope.

Hope is that powerful – so important that when we rob other people of it or someone takes hope from us, life becomes more difficult to live.  More dark.  More depressing.

Hope is the burning desire that something positive will eventually happen.

We don’t need hope when things are going our way.  We need hope when things are bad.

Hope is a decision we make when we are not satisfied with the present.  It is not a feeling.  It is a choice.

Unfortunately, many people make the decision to give up hope because times get tough.  Isn’t it fortunate that those trapped in that earthquake rubble decided to focus on only the positive outcome.

Bad things happen in life – no two ways about it.

But starting today, we can vow not to contribute to adversity by giving up the one thing that over the ages always seems to overcome all things bad – hope.

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Living With Self-Absorbed People

Face it, we all live with self-absorbed people.

Sometimes, we are the self-absorbed.

People who can focus only on themselves are boring.  They are rude.  And they are missing out on the closeness that can come by showing sincere interest in other people.

I know a person who only needs one sentence from me and from there goes on to talk about herself for as long as you are willing to listen.

Remember that Bette Midler movie line:  “So enough about me, what about you, what do you think about me?”

Dale Carnegie always advised talking in terms of the other person’s interests.

This seems so not possible in a world where it is all always about “me”.

So I promised some strategies for living with self-absorbed people, here goes:

  1. Keep interrupting them and ask the question you want to know.  If they continue to go back to their long diatribe, get up and leave.  Taking the oxygen out of the room puts an end to self-absorption.  Same is true of self-absorption by text messaging.  Stop.
  2. Do not attempt to talk about you – self-absorbed people will circle back to themselves so the only defense you have is to cut it short.  If it’s your boss who is self-absorbed, start looking for a new job.
  3. You won’t be surprised that no matter how many times you say supportive things, the self-absorbed person will just continue to ramble on.

The HBO series “Girls” is a parody on self-absorption.  It’s funny and true. Fans may remember the episode when Hannah (Lena Dunham) attended a funeral and somehow made the funeral about her not the deceased.  Now, this is a parody, but it is also close to the truth.

We live in a Twitter world – what if our response was no longer than a “tweet” and just as creative?

Something tells me we have discovered a new tool for putting an end to self-centered people commandeering our lives.

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A Huge Step Toward Conquering Fear

Isn’t it sad that almost all of us have to battle the fear of something?

Even in spite of the reassuring reality that 99.9% of the things we fear will never come true.

And on the small statistical chance that it does, that fear is nothing like what we were dreading.

When you talk to people who have overcome fear, they will tell you two things.

Do the things you fear to do and the fear will go away from you.

And, small steps are just as effective as big leaps.

In the past, some airlines used to offer courses for fearful fliers.  They would start the classes on the ground, graduate to an actual airplane that never takes off and finally, a test flight for a very short duration that returns the fearful passengers to the airport from which the plane took off.

Understand the fear and even feel it.

Take a small step (in this case) to an airliner that is not going to take off.

Then, a very short flight to build up confidence.

No matter what worries us, ruminating over it only makes it worse.

The breakthrough invariably comes when we confront our fears and then take small, positive, reassuring steps to conquer them.

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Letting Go of Multitasking

I asked a classroom of USC students if they would like me to share with them a way in which they could do only 20% of everything they had to do each day and yet be 80% productive.

There was silence.

Finally, after a long uncomfortable pause, a young woman said “Yes, Professor” and she was the only one.

I share this because it amazes me what kind of crazy culture we live in where we feel we are required to do everything that comes our way so much so that we are willing to do more than one thing at a time (multitasking).

My students looked at me like I was crazy for suggesting that they prioritize what is important and focus on only that.  And to keep prioritizing all day long.

In other words, not everything on our shoulders has to be done today or at this moment.

Life is too stressful.  We are battling anxiety every minute of the day.

By making constant decisions as to what is the best use of our time at any given moment we discover the antidote for stressful multitasking.

An “A” priority must be done today – now, before we leave.

A “B” is tomorrow’s potential “A” and it waits to be elevated up in priority.

And a “C” is a holding list for items we want to do, are asked to do and other things that haven’t in our opinion been elevated to “A” or “B”.

I have found that most “C’s” never make it to “A” meaning you’ll never need to do them if you constantly ask yourself the question what is the best use of my time right now.

And as if I needed another reason to reject multitasking I never forget that there is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all.

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