If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago. Cheri Huber, author of There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate
For the December issue of Vanity Fair, the British author Zadie Smith completed a questionnaire which asked: What do you dislike most about your appearance? “I like it all,” replied Smith, 41. “Self-hatred is for younger, prettier women.” I say self-hatred is for none of us!
Negative self-talk can be destructive not only to ourselves but to our relationships. Here are a few tips to help you tone-down the negative self-talk:
—Name the negative “person” in your head. I call mine the Gremlin. Talk back to the Gremlin, argue with him/her, challenge the Gremlin with the truth.
—Track when your Gremlin is speaking to you. One of the first steps to changing a habit is recognizing when it occurs. Journaling is a helpful way to do this or simply stop and make a mental note of unwarranted negativity.
—Affirm yourself. If your Gremlin is invading your space, affirm yourself. Gremlins hate affirmations because they take away their power. You may not rid yourself of the Gremlin but you can tame him.
Affirmation: I will tame my Gremlin.
Coaching questions: When does your Gremlin use negative self-talk on you? What does he/she say? What will you do the next time this happens to dispel the negative self-talk?
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If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. CS Lewis
Occasionally, we all have the experience of being distracted. Perhaps you’re trying to finish a creative project, sort through photos, or plan a vacation and you can’t seem to stay focused and complete what you set out to accomplish. If you’ve had a recent loss or other trauma, staying focused can be doubly difficult. There are many antidotes to this dilemma but today I’m posing just one.
Researchers in the United Kingdom found concentration can be improved after less than ten minutes of strolling through green space. They speculate that it’s the combination of gentle exercise and views of nature. The study found positive effects when the walker traveled through green space but not when the path wound by urban buildings with many pedestrians. No green space near you? Is all of nature covered in ice and snow? Another study found that even looking at pleasant photos of nature can increase both happiness levels and the ability to perform tasks involving creativity and problem solving.
Affirmation: I can move beyond distraction.
Coaching questions: What distractions do you experience regularly? What’s your antidote? I challenge you to try out the “walking through green space” theory.
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Remember Pearl Harbor, never again. The Pearl Harbor motto.
On the morning of December 7, 1941 there was a surprise military attack on Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base in Hawaii. The battle was the tipping factor that convinced the United States to enter into World War II.
As we come together in remembrance, we celebrate the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. However, no matter the result, war is always brutal and ugly. My dad (shown here in his WWII uniform) hated all war. Besides WWII, he also served in the Korean conflict and spent his civilian career working in a Veterans’ Hospital. He witnessed the human devastation of war everyday. I pray that we learn from our past and embrace the motto–never again.
Affirmation: I remember.
Coaching questions: How do you connect to this day in history? What contribution can you make to “never again?”
I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. Michael Jordan
Although I’ve been using weight machines and handheld weights for over eighteen months, I was recently disappointed when I learned that my bone density had again declined. I was hopping the weight training would move me in the opposite direction.
I’ve decided to add at least one percent to my training every time I go to the gym. One more push with the weight, one more mile on the bike. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits argues for the power one percent. “If a pilot leaving from LAX adjusts his heading just 3.5 degrees south, his plane will land in Washington, D.C., instead of New York. Such a small change is barely noticeable at takeoff — the nose of the airplane moves just a few feet — but when magnified across the entire United States, passengers end up hundreds of miles from their destination.”
My take-away is that if I make even a tiny change in my workout routine, or any other aspect of my life, I can move myself to a different destination. It’s worth a try.
Affirmation: I can do a bit more.
Coaching questions: In what area of your life do you need to adjust just one percent? What difference will it make in the long run? Are you willing to give it a try? When will you start?
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The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved. Mother Teresa
Nearly half of Americans report that they sometimes or always feel isolated or left out. But this loneliness epidemic isn’t just happening in America. Experts from many countries are looking at the scientific facts of loneliness and what health implications the emotion carries including heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s.
Michelle H. Lim, scientific chair of the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness, states, “You might meet people and be embedded within families, be married, but you might still feel a sense of disconnection from other people.” Lim sees loneliness as more to do with the quality of the relationships people hold than the quantity of people they’re encountering day to day. “You can have social isolation but not feel lonely, or you can feel lonely and not be socially isolated.”
Hiding our loneliness from each other makes the problem worse. December is a particularly difficult time for those who feel lonely. Be aware of the people around you and notice who might be feeling isolated and lonely. Experiencing a recent loss of a loved one can magnify these feelings. Ending on a positive note, Lim says, “Humans are designed to be kind to each other, and we’re designed to rely on each other and to thrive.”
Affirmation: I strive to be kind and to help others thrive.
Coaching questions: When have you felt lonely? What has caused you to feel this way? If you know someone who is lonely, how will you reach out to them?
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When trying to go to sleep, instead of counting sheep, try counting things you’re grateful for— in alphabetical order. AJ Jacobs, author
Thanksgiving, a national day of gratitude in the USA, is Thursday. However, I believe every day should be a day for giving thanks and AJ Jacobs, author of Thanks a Thousand, is just the guy to emulate. Jacobs’ book recounts his mission to thank every single person who played a part in making his morning coffee, over 1,000 people. His journey took him from his coffeeshop barista to the Colombian coffee farmer who grew the beans to the guy who designed the lid for his daily brew. Jacobs also thanked the lady from pest control who kept the bugs out of the coffee warehouse. He thought of everyone!
Scientific studies prove that demonstrating gratitude is good for our physical and mental health. Keeping a gratitude journal, for instance, helps patients in their recovery. We humans are naturally negative. Spreading gratitude is a way to make the world a better place.
Affirmation: I’m grateful.
Coaching questions: Who have you personally thanked today? What difference does it make when someone thanks you? Think of someone who rarely receives appreciation and thank them.
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As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. President John F. Kennedy
Tomorrow is the fifty-sixth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. If you were an adult at that time, you undoubtedly remember the day very well. As a nation we felt not only sadness but hopelessness that this could happen in our country. Today, in the midst of impeachment hearings, we may be feeling hopeless once again.
When our world looks bleak and we feel like we’re drowning in grief, pain, regret, or anger, sometimes we must rely on hope to get us through. Tightly hugging hope to our chest is a way to stay on top of what has/is happening in our world.
Affirmation: I’m hopeful.
Coaching questions: What do you need to be more hopeful about? Where do you find hope? To whom do you turn?
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