I Get So Mad. Are Your Emotions Holding You Hostage?

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I get so mad. Are your emotions holding you hostage?

Husband: “Why are you always talking in the middle of a tv show? You know I can’t follow the show when you are talking.”

Wife: “Humph! I was just asking the dog if she wanted out. I wasn’t even talking to you.”

Wife to her friend: “He makes me so mad. Everything must be his way. He can talk to me when I am watching something or on a ZOOM call, but everyone must be perfectly quiet for him.”

How often have you said something like this, or heard someone else say it? “She made me so upset.” “He really hurt my feelings.” We say these things often not even thinking. But was it really the other person who made you mad, upset, or hurt? No. Those feelings come from your response to that emotion. What if you could control your response?

Sure, that sounds ok. But does it really make any difference? And what does it have to do with the way I lead?

You can control how you respond. I will share a bit more about that shortly. And as a leader, you are setting an example. Furthermore, as a leader you want your team to function optimally, and to do that, they also need to be able to be in control of their emotional responses.

Let’s examine more about emotions; where they come from, and why we react the way we do. First, we don’t want to get rid of our emotions. What we want is to be in control of our response. Emotions aren’t good or bad, but they do drive our physiology. Some emotions drain our energy, while others recharge our energy, like your cell phone battery. Some emotions are more intense than others. Regardless of the emotion, they affect our energy, how we perform, how we communicate, and our ability to self-regulate, or be in control.

Without going into a lot of detail I will explain what happens to our bodies when we are experiencing stress. After all, when we are angry, frustrated, or frightened we are experiencing stress. Knowing what is going on physiologically might help you to understand why you want to be in control of your emotional responses.

Within seconds of sensing a threat – real or perceived – fear, anger, or frustration your body is at work releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline to increase your blood pressure and heart rate. This is needed to ensure that you get the required oxygen and blood to where it is needed – the brain, muscles, heart, and lungs. You need this to ensure you are physically strong enough to protect yourself. (Remember, your brain doesn’t know if it is anger or a lion attacking, it merely knows there is stress.) When your heart rate increases you are stressed. There is also less blood going to the skin, digestive system, and kidneys – that is what causes the ‘butterflies’ in your stomach. Noradrenalin also hones your senses making you more alert, causing your facial muscles to become tense, you might clench your teeth, you might get goosebumps, and you are likely to look more aggressive.

Cortisol is also released and converts stored fat into energy to drive your muscles. However, too much cortisol weakens your immune system. Have you ever noticed that after the big project is completed, or the exams are written you get a cold, cold sore, or other infection? I often got ill when I took a vacation – why? – because I had been under stress, knew it was time for a break, but I had waited too long and there was just too much cortisol that had weakened my immune system.

Learning to control our response to emotions will help keep our stress down. It won’t make it go away, but it will help keep it in control and less cortisol will be released.

What are we going to do about this? There are numerous things that we experience daily causing us stress. Some of them we don’t even notice anymore because they happen all the time – your daily drive to work, your rush in the morning to get the kids off to school and you to work, or standing in the grocery store check-out line.

When you react to your stress you are prevented from thinking as clearly as usual, you can’t solve problems as easily, and your production decreases.

Have you ever found yourself saying something along the lines of

“that made me so mad, and when I get mad, I cry, which makes me angrier cause that looks like he had hurt my feelings, rather than I was angry”?

I know I have certainly done that a time or two. I have learned over time to have better control of my emotional responses. Of course, that doesn’t mean I will never do that again. Being in control of my emotional response is the way I expect to respond most of the time.

Have you noticed the use of the words react and respond? They are not the same. In this situation ‘react’ means what happens is spontaneous, without thought. Respond means you have taken a moment – now or at some point in the past, to evaluate how you will behave to the words or activity that stimulated a specific emotion. That time between the action and what you say is where you choose to either react or respond. When you choose to respond, you are in control. When you react, your emotions are in control. Most of us like to be in control of our actions, words, and behaviours.

Learning to respond rather than react isn’t easy. We have probably been reacting all our life. This kind of change takes some work, but with a few simple steps, it can be done.

Gaining Control of Your Emotions

  1. Acknowledge and name your feeling.
  2. Focus your attention on your breathing – the chest area or your upper lip where you can feel the cool air going in and the warm air coming out. Picture your breath flowing in and out of your chest area. Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual. Choose a rhythm that is comfortable for you. Do this for 3 – 5 breaths, or more if you feel you need to.
  3. Identify a positive attitude or regenerative feeling – calm, peace, sitting on a beach enjoying the sun, something you appreciate, petting or playing with your dog, or just relaxing and reading.
  4. Now ask yourself – what would be a more appropriate, effective, or efficient way for you to respond to the feeling you identified. (What would be a better solution than displaying your reaction?)
  5. Notice the very subtle change in how you perceive the situation, your feelings, and your attitude. Make a promise to yourself to sustain this feeling and your attitude in this and similar situations.

You have now taken a few minutes to go through this process and in doing so you have not reacted to the emotion. Will this happen the next time an emotion overcomes you? Good chance it won’t. But, as soon as you realize that you reacted and were not in control, go through these steps. Continue to do this practice until it becomes comfortable, and you can do this before you react. You will find that as you do this with each emotion you will be establishing a new pattern for yourself.

What if you don’t identify a better way to respond? Don’t worry about it, just repeat the process later, or the next day until you identify a better response. The more you practice the easier it will be to have the response come naturally.

You can use this technique at times when you feel frustrated, angry, impatient, worried, or scared. Identify your emotional reactions that could benefit from being controlled with a response.

Check out an earlier blog for some more about stress and emotions and the video that accompanies it:

Emotions – Heart – Stress: Be in Charge of Your Emotions!

Our world is full of potential stressors. We aren’t going to be able to control all of them. But there are many emotions connected with these stressors that can be tamed. You can avoid some stressors – don’t have the news on constantly or even take a few days to not listen to the news, consider a change in your morning routine, or maybe change the time or place you do your grocery shopping (or maybe get someone else to do it occasionally).

Your health includes managing your response to stress. Give me a shout and we can discuss this in more detail and plan what you can do that is specific to your needs.

Let’s talk: drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

or set up an appointment on my calendar: https://koalendar.com/u/drelaineleadershipcoach

Thoughts on Leadership

Something is missing from our ideas and styles of leadership. Forget about the various theories – Great Man, Trait, Charismatic, Situational, Transformational Transactional, Contingency, and the list continues to grow. My doctoral degree focused on leadership. There was no clear definition of leadership when I started my doctorate and now many years later there is still no agreed-upon definition.

Everything around us is changing.

If you choose not to change, what will you gain, what will you lose?

The well-known leadership theories and styles aren’t cutting it today. New ways of thinking about leadership need to be considered. The hierarchical systems, prominent in most organizations, don’t make for ideal working environments and often promote a toxic work environment. Lack of recognition, poor leadership, favouritism, gossip, unhealthy communication, and bullying are some of the causes of toxic work environments. If we keep doing these same things, we are going to keep getting the same results. What is new in leadership? Let’s think outside that box that we often find ourselves stuck in – quantum leadership, Mobius leadership, and leadership from the heart are a few to consider. Leadership cannot continue to focus on today and the next six to twelve months, or even the next five years because there is too much change occurring too rapidly to focus on such limited time spans. Technology changes daily. Opinions, beliefs, and ideas thought of today are shared around the world by tomorrow. What is shared isn’t always the ideal and in some cases is harmful and results in damage to the economy, the environment, and the world and universe in general.

Leadership and relationships.

Do they need each other?

Leadership needs to have its eye on the future. Not just tomorrow’s future, but the future extending to 20, 50, 100 years, and more. What we do today is going to influence the universe for centuries to come. Linear thinking needs to go the way of the dodo bird. Remember when we were encouraged to save the forests by using plastic bags instead of paper bags?

Sustainability

If Leadership isn’t supporting sustainability, what is it really doing?

Good leaders, bad leaders, formal leaders, informal leaders, coaches, mentors, bosses, managers, political leaders, religious leaders, the famous, the stars, and once again the list can go on and on. We look to others for guidance and for setting an example. Who do you want to be like? Who do you admire?

What do you look for in a leader? What makes a good leader? Can anyone be a leader? Great questions and always good for discussion. I have my own thoughts about leadership, and they revolve around quantum theory and Mobius theory. There is no separation among the elements of the universe. Yes, we are all connected. We have gotten a better idea of that with the recent pandemic. Or have we? Did we work together, or did we focus on our own wellbeing only? The same can be said for our environment. Are you influencing the environment and is the environment influencing you? If I look after myself – eat nutritious food, get appropriate exercise and activity, sleep enough – but not too much, have relationships that provide social support, caring, and love, do these things have any influence on you – you who does not know me?

Is what President Putin doing with the war in Ukraine demonstrating leadership? Have the wars throughout history identified leaders or helped develop leaders or a better world? Have we learned from the past, and if so, what did we learn? Are we really just selfish and concerned with our own wellbeing and success? I want more – more money, more love, a bigger house, and a cottage and another house in another part of the world, I need more clothing, I want more expensive food – something rare that not everyone can have. Is this what has come to be the prevalent thoughts of the people? And what do we do to attain our wants, desires, and supposed needs?

Now let’s look at leadership from a different perspective. Put on your rose-colored glasses. The health, wellbeing, and success of each person on earth is my dream. Yes, I have a dream. I have a dream where there will be no more killing, where everyone will have clean water to drink, enough affordable healthy food to eat, a shelter that will provide warmth, coolness, and protection from the elements of nature. I dream of a world where we can share our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs without fear of harm. I dream of a world where there would be no pandemics because everyone would work together to discover the cause, the treatment, and prevention of spread before an organism ever spread to the pandemic level.

What if… every one of us took the oath “first do no harm” to heart and made this our practice, what would we see changed? To evaluate this idea, we would need to examine everything – health, wealth, education, spirituality, religion, gender and sexuality, laws, the land, and all environment, and everything we think we control. Let’s look at just one area, very briefly because a thorough examination would be far too in-depth for the purpose of this article. Because I have a healthcare background, I am looking at health.

I want to be healthy, what do I need to do?

Eat nutritiously – but nutritious food is expensive and not readily available and takes longer to prepare.

   Get adequate activity and exercise – but my job is sedentary, the hours are long, and I can’t afford to go to the gym – that is ok – exercise at home – but I have trouble being motivated, I’m tired when I get home.

Get enough good quality sleep – but I don’t have enough hours in the day to get enough sleep and the quality isn’t good because I have many thoughts about how I will care for myself and my family.

Social support systems are important for our health – but we’ve been isolated and now I’m nervous about going out. I’m a bit of an introvert and meeting new people causes me stress. Outside of my nuclear family, I don’t have any family within 1,000 miles. 

I know I need a good education, but I must work and can’t afford not to, so more education won’t happen. 

I need to have access to healthcare – but there isn’t much available in the evening and on weekends.

I take too many medications – how can I cut those back? There are so many side effects and then I just get another medication to get rid of the side effects, but a new side effect comes with the new med.

I can’t get to the dentist and even if I could it is too expensive.

Sometimes I drink too much alcohol – I know it is self-medicating and not good for me, but sometimes I just need that escape from reality.

Of course, there can always be reasons or excuses for not doing the best things to maintain our health.

What if… it wasn’t so hard to live a healthy life? Where would the change begin? Healthy food that is affordable – but won’t that mean the chocolate bar company will go broke and all those people will be out of work? All those people out of work won’t be able to afford to get healthy food. What will we do for them? What would that do to the economy?

What if… you have high blood pressure and are on medication. But it makes you tired, nauseated, and anxious. So, the doctor puts you on an anti-psychotic for the anxiety. It just makes you feel like you are not quite here. What if instead of medication you were guided to making some lifestyle changes to lower your high blood pressure? Think nutritious food, increased activity, and adequate, good quality sleep would all help to get your blood pressure into a healthy range.

Though your doctor might suggest all or some of these things you are left on your own to make them happen. But our habits, dependencies, and addictions make this exceedingly difficult. For one thing, you aren’t going to park further away from your workplace, so you get exercise walking the extra distance – good grief your workday is long enough already, and parking is incredibly hard to find at a reasonable rate.

Get the idea?

What if… we decide, as a global initiative, to reduce plastic waste? We start by recycling only to eventually find out that most of the plastic isn’t really being recycled and it is just being sent as garbage elsewhere? In that case, we better quit producing plastic. Plastic manufacturers go out of business. Plastic parts of machines need to be replaced by something else and that something else is more expensive.

What if… instead of looking at what we can’t do, and consider what we can do?

What if… every leader, every person, only did what they knew to be the best for everyone? Could that be a reality? What would that look like? Remember, we aren’t starting from a clean slate. Doing what is best isn’t going to necessarily mean all businesses are going to survive as they are now. There will be job losses, which can’t be good for everyone? There will also be job creation. But that will mean change. Can you change? How much are you willing to change?

Would you be willing to change to save your life or the life of someone you love? How far could you go with the change to make that happen?

Could we make enough change to end wars, hunger, poverty, and disease? Would you be willing to try? Where would you start?

I believe we start with ourselves. We start by looking at how each thing we do influences another person. That is an overly simplistic way to do this, but I think it gets the message out there.

Scenario

It is a workday and I have overslept. I grab a coffee and doughnut at the coffee shop in the building where I work. I obviously haven’t had my coffee yet and the barista is being incredibly slow, I am fuming. No smile, no tip for this person taking so long to get my coffee. Finally, at my job and only 20 minutes late. My colleague asks if I am ok. I snap back – “yes.” No smile, no kindness.

The barista’s feelings are hurt as they were doing their job the best they knew and had been pleasant and smiling. They now feel like they are failing, and they rely on tips to make enough money to get by, and there was no tip from you. The barista isn’t quite as upbeat with the next customer who only leaves a mediocre tip. The day continues in this way and by the end of their shift the tips have been much lower than usual, and they are now wondering if they should be considering doing something else. Once home they are feeling down. Their partner asks about their mood and only gets an “I’m fine” response. Trouble in paradise – the partner now is thinking that maybe the relationship is on the skids.

All this because I overslept.

A ridiculously small and somewhat minor scenario. But we can take these to different levels – an airline pilot isn’t focusing as well as they should because their mind is still on the argument with their partner before leaving. The doctor isn’t focusing for a similar reason. What could be the consequences of these situations? The plane crashes, everyone is killed – a minor argument has changed the lives of the families and friends of the over 100 people on that flight. The doctor misdiagnoses a patient and cancer treatment is held up by three months – how many people are affected by this. Get the idea??

Of course, we can’t always be pleasant and upbeat. But we do have the ability to choose how we respond in emotional situations. Leaders must be aware of this, strive to live this, and share and guide others to learn appropriate ways of responding. How do you respond when adversity hits?

Dr. Elaine Leadership Coach

Gratitude, Happiness, and Leadership

As a leader are you demonstrating gratitude and happiness?

Does a leader need to be happy and grateful?

Are you promoting gratitude and happiness in your workplace?

My belief is that everyone would have a much better life if they demonstrated gratitude and made the choice to be happy. This does not mean you need to hide your troubles, not pay attention to what bothers you, to ignore your unhappiness or your illnesses, and struggles; these need to be addressed. As a new friend of mine says “you have to feel it to heal it.” As humans, we have oodles of emotions to which we react or respond. Some emotions lift us up while others bring us down or lead to outbursts. We can learn not to react to emotions but instead to respond in a more efficient and effective way. Of course, this will not happen all the time, but it is what we want as our usual response. We are human, and as such we have a wide variety of emotions some uplifting, but not all of them. Embrace your emotions as you learn to be in control of your responses. Where your thoughts go, your energy will flow. Make sure your energy is used for enjoyment, and for what you are grateful.

Gratitude has been identified as a feeling or emotion that promotes happiness. Gratitude can be hard to find now with a pandemic and a war in Ukraine. Much has happened to leave us feeling beat down, and that the world is against us. However, if we focus on being thankful for the small things like sunshine, life, food to eat, clean water to drink, and no war (yes, that is a big one), we are making a good step in the direction of discovering more things for which to be grateful.

I want to make sure we are all talking about the same thing when we use the word gratitude. According to Harvard Health Publishing’s article, (Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength – Harvard Health)

“Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, you acknowledge the goodness in your life.”

You can have gratitude for events or people in your past. Think about the people for whom you are grateful, do they know you appreciate them? Take a few minutes and write a thank you note. Once done, send it to them (electronically or by snail mail), or even better take it to them and read it aloud. Plan to do this once a month. And don’t forget to write a thank-you note to yourself every once in a while.

If gratitude and thinking positive are so important, why do we often have negative thoughts and remember the bad things that have happened? Our evolution primed our brains to focus on danger or anything bad that might be able to harm us or kill us. Our brains were wired for our protection. The dangers of the cave dweller days are not the same today, and our brains do not have to remember quite so many ‘bad’ things. We are now ready to retrain our brains to be aware of and enjoy the ‘good’ things in our lives. Today, if we focus on what will harm or kill us, we aren’t likely to make ourselves safer, but instead, leave us worried, stressed, and unhappy.

Don’t take what you have for granted. Harvard Health Publishing’s article, Positive Psychology (Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength – Harvard Health) shared this scientific evidence:

Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Mike McCullough of the University of Miami examined the impact of keeping a gratitude journal. All participants in their study were asked to write a few sentences each week, focusing on five things. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily hassles or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on hassles. Numerous other studies have pointed to the beneficial effects—not only for adults, but also for children and adolescents—of regularly making lists of things for which we’re grateful, keeping a gratitude journal, or expressing gratitude to others. Cultivating gratitude in these ways may also help us deal with common forms of psychological distress, such as anxiety or depression.

You deserve appreciation too. I appreciate me for being strong and successfully getting through chemotherapy and feeling so much better, two years later. There are many other things about me for which I can be grateful. If you don’t write yourself a letter, write your gratitude and appreciation in your journal or on post-it notes, and if writing isn’t your thing, take time to contemplate your blessings. We all have much for which to be grateful.

Those in leadership often arrive in that position because it was their turn for promotion. Education and development in leadership are often absent. These leaders are flying by the seat of their pants, learning through trial and error. There is no need for that with all the programs, books, and courses available. Leaders are responsible for determining the culture of their workplace. With that being the case, why not strive for a culture including happiness and gratitude?

I’m more than happy to chat with you and direct you toward a life of happiness.

What is Happiness?

Is Happiness a Choice?

Don’t worry, be happy” – that is how the song goes. The song is very uplifting, and I find myself singing along. At times it is hard to be happy. We tend to worry a lot, and are anxious, sad, or unhappy. Worrying can use up a lot of energy, as does anxiety, and sadness. Worrying usually doesn’t solve anything, it just tires us out and makes us miserable.

Happiness – joyful, excited, content, calm, relaxed, ecstatic, sometimes this results in a warm feeling, causing us to smile. Have you ever walked down the street and smiled at people as you walked past? If you haven’t,  try it and notice the reaction of others. It is a fun exercise to do. An article I recently read suggests smiling at the first ten people you meet today – I love this idea. Just smiling can make you feel better. I’m a Certified HeartMath Trainer and Coach, I practice breathing to help me get into coherence and I have found I can increase my coherence by smiling.

We don’t need to be unhappy. There are things we can do to help make us feel happy. According to Positive Psychology, a Harvard Health Publication, the following things can help make you happy (I’ve added a few of my own):

  1. Feeling good – seeking out pleasurable activities
  2. Being fully engaged – going after goals and activities that are important to you. Do you know what these are? Have you identified your values?
  3. Being of service – helping others, volunteering
  4. Children (to a certain extent)
  5. Gratitude
  6. Vacations and special events, if you live in the city – get out of town for a hike
  7. Being mindful and focusing on one thing only – i.e., no multi-tasking
  8. Enjoying simple things like sunshine, being outdoors – a walk around the neighbourhood or a park, curling up with a loved one, popcorn, and a movie
  9. Not taking on too much, or being a workaholic – spend time with yourself, family, and friends
  10. When is the last time you coloured, painted, or did something that you enjoyed as a kid – hide and seek, tag, a snowball fight, a pillow fight, a board game?
  11. Look through old photos, reminisce, and plan some fun activities for the future.
  12. You can also try meditation or going on a retreat (I have done at-home retreats; they can rejuvenate and be fun).
  13. Get yourself out of a boring routine, turn off the screens, don’t listen to the news for a few days, try new things – cooking classes, dancing, swimming, sports, reading a book
  14. Put on your ‘thinking cap’ and come up with some fun things to try, some boring things to get rid of, be active, be with others. You don’t need to spend money; you only need to think and get active.

Research has also shown that being grateful helps a person be happy. Though not having enough money, being ill, and being in a country at war certainly give you the right to be unhappy. Nonetheless, to get through such times with a bit of hope, and taking the time to think about what you do have, rather than what you don’t have can lead you to a state of gratitude. As nice as it would be if money could buy happiness, it just doesn’t.

Happiness is a Choice

Young people, those in their late teens, report being happy, but people in their eighties report being even happier. Positive Psychology also reports that happiness and enjoyment decline until about 50 years and then steadily increase over the next 25 years.

Where you live can also influence how happy you are. The following are the ten countries identified as the happiest:

  1. Finland,
  2. Norway,
  3. Denmark,
  4. Iceland,
  5. Switzerland,
  6. the Netherlands,
  7. Canada,
  8. New Zealand,
  9. Sweden,
  10. Australia.

The happy countries, according to Positive Psychology, are often those where the culture and economy allow the people to experience pleasure, purpose, and security. I don’t want you to dwell on this, but what is the culture and economy of your country now? The current state of the world has created economic concerns in many nations – this could decrease happiness worldwide. If that is the case, we need to be paying attention to our own state of happiness and take every measure we know to maintain and build our own happiness and that of our family and friends.

We have learned much during the pandemic. We have become very aware of the need for social contact. Social support has been identified as one of the Social Determinants of Health, it is not a new concept. Additionally, social support is also important for happiness. Accessibility to healthcare, another Determinant of Health, and “healthy years of life expectancy” also support happiness.

Marriage can assist in happiness, but that happiness can decline after the birth of the first child and not recover until the child(ren) leave home (these days they are often at home for an exceptionally long time – don’t wait for them to go to be happy). Personal relationships are important to happiness, as are having friends and frequent sex. Though we sometimes take our partners for granted, we don’t have to, and it does nothing for happiness. Plan for time together doing something you both enjoy. Plan for family time and learn to enjoy the children, they can be fun, and family fun is important. That is how great memories are made.

Life has many ups and downs, how you choose to respond to them will make a difference in whether you are happy. Happiness is a choice.

As a leader, you want to instill happiness in the workplace. The benefits are numerable. I can help you focus on achieving the happiness you want in your life, and in the life of your organization, you do not need to do it alone.

Book a ‘get to know you’ call: https://calendly.com/fromtheheartwithdr-elaine

More to come on Happiness, Mindfulness, and Inner Strength in the next few weeks.

08/04/22

The Search for Happiness

Girls Nature Happiness Kids Happy  - Adelkazaika / Pixabay
Adelkazaika / Pixabay

Most of us want to be happy. Many people search for happiness unsuccessfully. Many people don’t need to search, they are happy. Some people are happy, sometimes. Where do you fall?

What is happiness?

Merriam – Webster Dictionary gives the following definition:  

a: a state of well-being and contentmentJOY

ba pleasurable or satisfying experience: I wish you every happiness in life. I had the happiness of seeing you— W. S. Gilbert

Wow! That sounds almost simple. Well-being can vary from person to person, and contentment can be a bit obscure. Nonetheless, most of us know if and when we are happy. Let’s dig a bit deeper into happiness and how we can achieve that beautiful state.

What we might be wanting is a good quality of life. Is this different than happiness? My guess is that it is part of happiness. My quality of life has deteriorated over the last several years. However, it has now improved significantly. It isn’t what it once was and probably won’t get back to what it was 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I continue to be happy, and I am learning to adjust – slowly, but I am getting there. I am also noticing that my health seems to be improving daily and I am also calmer, less likely to get upset, and when I do it doesn’t last very long. Part of that is because of meditation, spiritual practices, and HeartMath. Focusing on my strengths and what I can do, rather than what I can’t make a huge difference. Positive Psychology (A Harvard Medical School Special Report) suggested supplementing traditional mental health treatments with positive psychology, focusing on both a persons’ strengths and weaknesses, as this is beneficial to achieving happiness and improved quality of life.

Dog Pet Animal Cute  - Pexels / Pixabay
Pexels / Pixabay

There is also a belief that Happiness Is a Choice You Make, (I believe there is a book by that name) by choosing to live in the moment, appreciating what you still have, and building on your strengths. I have found this to be true and am seeing more validation of this as the years go by. Autoimmune disorders and a bout with cancer have not dampened my overall happiness. This has not always been easy: I have gotten benefit from increased meditation, paying attention to my spirituality (I’m not religious), developing spiritual practices, increasing my use of HeartMath, and focusing on all for which I am grateful. I am incredibly grateful for my life. I find I have more patience and when I do get upset or pissed off, it just doesn’t last as long.

Because happiness is very subjective, you might determine if it is worthwhile to find a way to track how you are feeling. You might discover identifying your emotions a good method to track your feelings. Identify some words that resonate with you: content, excited, calm, enthusiastic, happy, peaceful, sad, angry, frustrated, down, or any of the multitude of words that can be found. Happiness can often be equated to inner peace. You might find spirituality or religion beneficial to you.

Numerous online tools are available to help you assess your happiness. You can also consider Maslow’s Hierarchy. Maslow’s 5 levels include:

1) basic physiological needs – food, water, clothing, shelter, breathing, sex, homeostasis, excretion.

2) safety needs – police, fire department, medical care, schools, employment.

3) love and belonging – family, friendship, sexual intimacy, interpersonal relationships.

4) esteem – self-confidence, self-esteem, achievement, sense of accomplishment, self-respect, and the respect of others.

5) self-actualization – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts, personal fulfillment, sense of accomplishment, being the best you can be.

Supposedly if you have all of these you will be happy and fulfilled. What do you think? Is it enough for you to have all of these or do you need something more? If you need something more, can you identify what that is?

Easter Child Baby Spring Children  - gabbrielleite / Pixabay
gabbrielleite / Pixabay

You might find that your happiness is based on emotions. Emotions can lead to a good feeling, or a not-so-good feeling, to down-right miserable. More often than not, it is our reaction to the emotion that is the actual cause of our feeling. How you respond to your emotions can be learned and changed. I have written about this in the past and will soon be doing another blog on emotions including some brain information. This is one of the things with which HeartMath can help.

I am planning a series of blogs related to positive psychology. Look for my next blog Monday, 11 – April. Till then be happy and content with your life, seek out all for which you are grateful.

Learning to Breathe

Yes, We Need to Learn and Practice Breathwork

Breathing Exercises

Street Art Breathe Inhale Exhale  - kathleenport / Pixabay
kathleenport / Pixabay

Why is breathwork important?

Who thought we would need to learn how to breathe? Yet as we go through life we don’t often pay attention to breathing unless we are having difficulty. Think about how often we tell ourselves or others to ‘breathe’. When we are scared or upset someone is apt to tell us to ‘just take a deep breath’, during labour a mom is instructed how to breathe, playing a wind instrument or singing requires breath control, as does swimming and other sports activity. Anyone with lung problems knows the importance of breathing and breathing properly. However, we don’t often think about why our breath is important in various circumstances and how our breath can affect the body and mind.

According to Deepak Chopra’s information, there are numerous benefits related to breathwork:

  • helps relieve physical, mental, and/or emotional tension
  • causes activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which then slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure and thus causing a sense of calm
  • helps reverse the effects of cortisol and adrenalin (released during stress) and relaxes the body
  • deep breathing can help you slow down the monkeys busy in your brain
  • helps you reach a deeper state of mind; calms the mind and helps you focus
  • helps you attain inner peace and awareness

One of the first things I encourage you to do is notice how you are breathing. When you breathe in you should see your belly rising, and then with breath out, your belly will relax. A good deep breath helps increase the amount of oxygen you are getting and gets more oxygen to the brain – more oxygen, better brain activity.

There are many breathing exercises available. I am sharing a few for you to try if you are healthy. If you have any health concerns check with your physician or healthcare provider before launching into any of these exercises.

Warning!!! If you feel lightheaded at any time stop & breathe normally. Though these breathing exercises are generally safe, if you have any health problems check with your physician before giving any of these breathing techniques a try.

Abdominal/Belly/Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Place one hand on your chest & the other hand on your belly, just below your rib cage.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose & feel the air move down & your abdomen rises.
  4.  Breathe out through your mouth. Let your belly relax.

Don’t force the breath in or out. Breathe in & out smoothly. Start with doing this 3 times. Eventually, you can work up to 5 – 10 minutes.

You can do this several times a day for short periods.

Box Breathinga powerful, yet simple, relaxation technique to return breathing to its normal rhythm. May help to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve focus.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
  3. Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
  4. Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.

Sistali – Cooling Breath – builds breath awareness, is said to calm hunger & thirst. As well as cooling the body, it adds moisture to the system.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes, and practice diaphragmatic breathing for several minutes.
  3. Open your mouth & for an “O” with your lips.
  4. Stick out your tongue & curl it into a “U” shape.
  5. Inhale deeply across the tongue, into the mouth as if drinking through a straw.
  6. Focus your attention on the cooling sensation of the breath as your abdomen & lower ribs expand.
  7. Draw your tongue back in & close your mouth, exhaling completely through the nostrils.

Continue Sistali for 2 – 3 minutes. Then return to diaphragmatic breathing for several minutes & repeat cooling breath for another 2 – 3 minutes. You can gradually work up to 10 minutes.

Bellows Breathingboosts your energy, eliminates morning doldrums, and strengthens your immune system. This is not a relaxation practice – it will invigorate you. Don’t do it at bedtime as it could cause insomnia.

  1. Sit comfortably.
  2. Take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths through your nostrils.
  3. When ready to begin, exhale by contracting the abdominal muscles quickly & forcefully.
  4. Immediately follow the exhale with a quick diaphragmatic inhale of equal force, letting the abdominal muscles relax.

There is a challenge to this breathing technique. You want to coordinate the action of the diaphragm & abdominal muscles, so the air is moving quickly in & out of the lungs. As the abdominal muscles relax at the end of exhalation, the diaphragm contracts to begin inhalation. After your peak inhalation, the abdominal muscles immediately contract.

This exercise takes practice. I find it to be a good abdominal workout. You will have noise as you breathe in & out through your nostrils. Goal: make inhale & exhale equal.

Heart Focus Breathing – is a useful technique that can be used before, during, or after a stressful situation. Heart-focused breathing is about directing your attention to the heart area & breathing a bit more deeply than normal. You can practice this anywhere. In the beginning, you might want to start by:

  1. Sitting comfortably.
  2. Direct your attention to the heart area & breathe a little more deeply than normal.
  3. As you breathe in imagine you are doing so through your heart.
  4. As you breathe out, imagine you do so through your heart.

(In the beginning, placing your hand over your heart as you breathe can help you direct your focus to your heart.)

Breathe in about 5-6 seconds & breathe out 5-6 seconds, or at a rate that is comfortable for you.

We all need to breathe for life. Breathing can be difficult for some, be grateful if you are able to breathe without thinking about it. Then take some time to learn breathing techniques to help you maintain or improve your health.

Stress vs Burnout: What Is the Difference?

Do you feel disillusioned, helpless, exhausted? You might be on the path to burnout or burned out. What to do?

We have heard of stress and burnout, especially in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, with the current state of the world, I don’t think we will see a decrease in either stress or burnout anytime soon. We also know that many people are experiencing one, the other, or both. What can we learn, how can we help ourselves, and others?

According to the referenced article, burnout causes physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion because of prolonged stress. I think we are seeing these signs of burnout and stress in many people.

I found the following information about Stress and Burnout.

StressBurnout
Characterized by over-engagement.Characterized by disengagement.
Emotions are overreactive.Emotions are blunted.
Produces urgency and hyperactivity.Produces helplessness and hopelessness.
Loss of energy.Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope.
Leads to anxiety disorders.Leads to detachment and depression.
Primary damage is physical.Primary damage is emotional.
May kill you prematurely.May make life seem not worth living.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms in the chart above, please seek help from a physician, psychologist, coach, or whoever is your source of support. If you know of someone experiencing these symptoms, be a friend, and encourage them to seek support.

Do you tell your employer? Tough question. If you choose to let the employer know, don’t go into much detail, at least initially. However, see about taking a vacation, a few days off, sick day(s), and don’t take on extra work. Speak up for yourself. Are others at your place of work feeling the same thing?

If you don’t work for someone else, don’t work outside the home, or are unemployed – the same things apply. What can you let go of? What can you do to lift yourself up – something you haven’t done for quite a while, that will make you feel good. Consider reconnecting with friends and family. Go outside. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and activity. Also, look at what you are doing to cope, are you using too much alcohol, drugs, food, tv, gaming, gambling, sleeping a lot, and decide which of these things need to go. They all need to go, but you can start with one or two. Have a reasonable plan that will ensure you succeed.

You want to get yourself feeling better, have hope, feel positive and be healthy. I can’t state this too much – find someone to help. If you don’t know where to look or who can help, contact me – I can guide you to someone or I can help.

We deserve to live a vibrant, fulfilling, beautiful life. Together we can have such a life.

There are physical, emotional, and behavioural signs of burnout, and thus it can affect all areas of your life. Identify how you have changed. Because burnout doesn’t occur overnight, the signs and symptoms might sneak up on you. Consider talking to those around you, help each other do a check on how you are doing. Maybe even set up a group to work together to help each other, to hold each other accountable, and maybe even prevent burnout.

Life is more than surviving, don’t let the troubles of the world take over. There is likely nothing you can do about the state of the world, you can only control yourself. Take charge of you! Be the best at whatever you do.

Let me know how you are doing and if I can be of help.



The Farmer Who Grew Excellent Quality Wheat

I received the following message on FB today. These words are not mine and I don’t know who the originator is. I googled the words and found numerous entries from people who were sharing this message, but I couldn’t find an original. These are great words of wisdom and wouldn’t it be nice to see much more of this in the world today?

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality wheat and every season he won the award for the best grown in his county. One year a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed the farmer and learned that each spring the man shared his seed with his neighbors so that they too could plant it in their fields…“How can you afford to share your best wheat seed with your neighbors when they are entering their crops in the competition with yours?” the reporter asked….“Why that’s very simple,” the farmer explained… “The wind picks up pollen from the developing wheat and carries it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior wheat, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of all the wheat, including mine. If I am to grow good wheat, I must help my neighbors grow good wheat”…The reporter realized how the farmer’s explanation also applied to peoples’ lives in the most fundamental way… Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

How to Attract High-Paying Clients: Is This Your Goal?

Everything we do influences everything else. How are you influencing the world?

I receive emails, Facebook notices, LinkedIn information on numerous courses and programs to attract high-paying clients. I have even taken one course. That course was highly valuable. The only problem is that I don’t want to attract only high-paying clients. There is nothing wrong with getting high-paying clients, in fact, if coaching is your full-time job, it is probably a good idea. However, I am retired, I don’t want to work full-time. I also want to make coaching services available to people who cannot afford the thousands of dollars often associated with receiving coaching.

Why would I want to do this when I can potentially make much more money? Several reasons: 1) I want my services to be available to everyone, 2) I value myself but I don’t believe that has to be attached to dollars, 3) Everyone deserves to be their very best and that usually means they need some sort of guidance, 3) I don’t want to have to work that hard, I am retired and full-time work is not for me, and 4) I don’t like making cold calls. I’m a retired RN, both my master’s and doctoral degrees are in leadership (Master of Health in Leadership Studies, and Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership), can you guess where my interests lie? I like to help people.

How do you define wealth and success? I don’t equate success and wealth with money. I am highly successful and wealthy. My success is because I have a beautiful family, a home, I’m retired from a job I loved (nursing), I have returned to school many times and have enjoyed it. My wealth is similar, it is my beautiful family, my dog, my home, jobs I have enjoyed or loved, I am alive, and in remission from cancer, I feel good about myself – most of the time. There is more I could add to these lists, but these are the first ones to come to mind.

I have been fortunate to have had support for all that I do. I haven’t always had that, but I have for most of my life. I have not become successful and wealthy (not monetarily) on my own. I have had a wonderful education, mentors, coaches, family, and friends who have helped me along the way. I am also an avid reader and have read oodles of self-help books over the years. At 71-years I am still learning, and I love sharing what I learn.

Some of the greatest support I am receiving right now is from HeartMath®. I am putting together an online course and HeartMath® people and information has been invaluable. I am a Certified HeartMath® Trainer so I am fortunate to have access to incredible people and information. I also belong to numerous groups which provide me with information and support. My husband is a constant support in all that I do. Numerous friends also help me, especially now as I run programs by them for feedback. I believe everyone deserves access to support, coaching, mentoring, and information, and these things should not be only for the financially wealthy. I also believe that those who work shifts, have more than one job, are unemployed or underemployed, or who have chosen to not work at a paying job also deserve access to these same things.

Am I underselling myself? You can decide that for yourself. If a financially growing company wants to hire me, I will expect to be paid accordingly. If individuals are financially wealthy, they also will be expected to pay accordingly. One thing to remember, my wealth does not rely on dollars. Seeing others become satisfied with their life, learning, being in control of their emotions, improving their health (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual), and living the life of their dreams is incredibly rewarding. If I can be successful, wealthy, and happy without the huge income I can offer my services to everyone, regardless of what they can pay.

I haven’t found an ideal way to advertise my wide variety of pricing, but I believe this is my start. I have some ideas for advertising and will be getting started with putting those on my website soon, some wordsmithing is in order.

How do you define your success and wealth?

If I can be of service get in contact drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach, www.leadnurses.

I am at your service.

Neuroplasticity, Development, Leadership Do They Go Together?

I love this topic. Neuroplasticity is incredibly interesting and holds so much potential for our development. What more will we be able to do? How will neuroplasticity influence our health in areas such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autoimmune disorders, brain injuries, and mental health? According to Britannica:

… neurogenesis has spurred an interest in stem cell research, which could lead to an enhancement of neurogenesis in adults who suffer from stroke, Alzheimer diseaseParkinson disease, or depression. Research suggests that Alzheimer disease in particular is associated with a marked decline in neurogenesis.

Interesting information I recently found can be accessed through the following link neuroplasticity. This is an easy-to-understand one page of information I hope you will read and learn a bit more. As someone with autoimmune disorders, in remission from cancer, and a long history of depression I am excited to check out all the possibilities.

I have confidence that with my ongoing use of HeartMath and incorporating neuroplastic behaviours into my routine I will see amazing improvements in my health. There remains much to learn about neuroplasticity and according to Positive Psychology there are two main types of neuroplasticity:

  • – Structural neuroplasticity, in which the strength of the connections between neurons (or synapes) changes.
  • – Functional neuroplasticity, which describes the permanent changes in synapes due to learning and development.” (Demarin, Morovic, & Bene, 2014)

Of course, neuroplasticity is not going to cure everything. Britannica goes on the suggest, some neural functions seem to be hard-wired in specific locations of the brain, while other neural networks are able to deviate from their specific functions and reorganize themselves.

The information I have found points to medical uses for neuroplasticity. The information tells us about developing new neural pathways. This suggests an opportunity for our personal and professional development, education, leadership development. The way our brains work allows us to jump to conclusions. This could be connected to the notion that the brain loves patterns. We will go along with those already formed patterns whether they are right or wrong. The things we have learned can result in unconscious bias and judgmental behaviour resulting in low workplace morale. (Reference)

Leaders need to be on the ball, life-long learning is a must for a leader to be truly successful and a true leader. Neuroplasticity can be implemented in ways to promote a positive work culture “where every worker feels valued and respected, helping employees to thrive“. What employer wouldn’t want that? If this can be done in the workplace it seems to follow that the same or similar approach could be used in numerous areas i.e. education, communities, family, and other relationships.

Where else might we be able to incorporate what we are learning about neuroplasticity?

How does neuroplasticity work with the heart-brain connection? How can it be used with HeartMath(R)?

I encourage you to keep seeking information about neuroplasticity and its uses to help us all achieve the beautiful life we deserve.

Let’s work together to make a start at achieving your beautiful life – be what you want to be – do what you want to do.
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