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The Working Mothers’ Syndrome


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Is it the first time you hear about the “working mothers’ syndrome”? It’s probably new to many. I’ll explain about it below and give you some answers to frequently asked questions. The “Working Mothers’ Syndrome” is the frustration and its consequences experienced by working mothers who have to joggle between the multiple demands dictated by being a mother and having a career. It results in many negative physical and mental signs that exert their toll on the mothers’ daily functioning. Parenting is already a 24 hours job, so adding to it an external job with more working hours surely adds more stressors to handle. Being a parent and having a career at the same time results in conflicting demands that most parents (both fathers and mothers) have to accommodate for. Since ancient times, society handed down the parenting responsibility mainly to mothers; hence, those mothers who have a career usually carry a heavier load in making all ends meet. The working mothers’ syndrome afflicts mainly high achieving, driven, and ambitious women who want to perfect it all. These women multi-task well; and assume a conscientious responsibility in both roles (at home and on the job). This, however, does not come without a price. Their bodies, eventually, yell to take a break from all the commotion by giving them various signals to slow down.

How does the “Working Mothers’ Syndrome” manifest itself?

Usually it is detected by signs of chronic fatigue (adrenal fatigue) especially if the mother has to work long working hours on the job. She wakes up too tired to go to work and is drained already when she comes back home to continue running errands for the house and the kids. If the kids are very young, her duties are physically more taxing; and this makes the fatigue more pronounced sometimes resulting in burn-out. With excessive and continuous stress, her immunity is diminished and this renders her more susceptible to diseases. Sugar cravings to boost up her energy levels are very common; and depressive mood swings attack often. This is all topped up with overwhelming “guilt” feeling on having to miss out responding, in time, to the conflicting demands necessitated by each role. Stress levels keep rising and her coping mechanism to accommodate to the demands of both the job and the house dwindle with time. This puts the working mother at a high risk of serious chronic diseases (e.g. cholesterol problems, diabetes, heart conditions, etc….).

Does the “Working Mothers’ Syndrome” differ in the Arab culture from that of the Western societies?

The “Working Mothers’ Syndrome” is quite prevalent around the world, as the division of gender roles has existed globally for a long time. The man is expected to be the “bread earner” and the woman is expected to attend to the family’s other needs mainly as a “caretaker”. Such expectations have put women under pressure if they aspired to deviate from the norm of being only a caretaker in the house. To pursue a career that either adds to the family income, or to merely enhance her self-worth, the working mother faces a big challenge in proving she can accommodate to all. The division of gender roles is more defined in the Arab culture, at a time when many women are picking up on the trend of establishing themselves outside the family context in line with Western societies. With fewer Arab men being open to assume household responsibilities to help – unlike the Western societies – Arab career seeking mothers are challenged even more to balance their lives with the added career role.

How can the working mother control the stressful effects on her personally?

A working mother needs to be clear that she wears several hats a day to suit the multiple roles she is involved in (a mother, a career woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister, etc…). The “super mom” notion is a heavy burden, as it is never too easy to balance it all – let alone perfect all roles. If she belonged to the “sandwiched generation” (i.e. being torn in responsibilities around aging parents and growing kids), having a career to top it up is even more taxing. She needs to be realistic that she cannot satisfy all ends impeccably. She already does too much. A working mother needs to intermittently recharge her batteries and de-stress by engaging in self-enhancing activities. This is the only way to remain sane, as giving, and productive. With no strength to hold it all, how else can she keep things together?

How can the working mother protect her children from the negative effects of the Syndrome?

As I mentioned, a working mother is already stressed out from handling too much. Many times that boiling stress spills over in dealing with the kids especially upon returning home from the job to carry on with her motherly duties. Having not seen their mom most of the day, the kids (especially at a younger age) become so clingy and demanding. They become like a shadow following their mom around the house. The mother is advised to create some space – before meeting her kids – to engage in some deep breathing exercise and shift her focus from “job mode” to that of the “house mode”. By giving her kids quality time, the working mother, by far, can make up for her absence compared to a stay-home mom who is just physically around. She needs to gently communicate with her kids her multiple responsibilities and her time availability specifically for them. She, also, needs to constantly remind herself that: “now I will be working on my long-term investment project (i.e. my kids). Before I know it, my kids will be on their own. Let me enjoy them as much as I can now.” A little positive self-talk can change her attitude and arm her a great deal against mounting frustration. And it’s true, at one point, the house will be empty and she has to deal with another challenge: the “empty nest syndrome” (i.e. kids growing up and leaving the house).

What are the effects on the partner?

A working mother would be really lucky if she had a supportive husband who understands how nourishing it is for his wife to have additional value outside the family context. In this case, the mother is better fulfilled; and this has positive effects on the dynamics between all family members (including her partner). When the mother is having an external job to boost the family income, not all husbands release their wives from all the household duties. The latter remain an obligation she carries on her shoulders; and this when the syndrome intensifies affecting everybody around the house. She would probably need to recruit any other family support to help her cope better. If she was working just to enhance her self-satisfaction (not for the added income) and her husband isn’t supportive and she feels burned out, she may need to re-assess the nature of her current job and whether she can find less taxing external duties. Whining about her inability to make all ends meet pushes the husband to suggest her quitting the job (especially if she did not need its income). The decision to work or not is, indeed, a tough one when family responsibilities are overwhelming. In both cases, there are costs entailed. Having the added career is physically taxing; not having one, is psychologically costly. It’s about setting priorities – at each stage in one’s life. Opting to balance to the best she can puts the working mother forever on the seesaw to meet her partner’s needs together with all her other duties.

Are there any more recommendations to handle the negative effects?

Most working women are, in fact, more productive than stay home moms. They become skilled at managing their time better. The negative effects, actually, kick in when the mother drifts endlessly in attending to others’ needs without stopping to “refuel”. She is to schedule short fun activities on her own every so often. By involving their husbands more with the kids, a working mother would surely allow herself some time to catch her breath. If that is not possible, she needs to delegate some of her duties to other family members. A “reality check” is much needed continuously whenever a working mother finds her tolerance levels peeking. Let her ask herself these questions:

–          Do I really need that external job? (Is it a priority?)

–          Am I better off shifting to a part-time job? (What are the opportunities out there?)

–          What can I do to make my life easier?

–          Who can support me? And who can I delegate some of my duties to?

–          How can I re-charge my batteries and attend to my bodily needs?

–          How can I give my kids quality time instead of just being there?

Remember working mothers out there: Parenting is one of those most difficult jobs on earth. A job, you can never easily quit. Your kids, however, will grow up and help you with time. They will be proud to have had a mother who had a career while attending to their needs. Perfection is unattainable. Just opt at balancing to the best you can without forgetting your own physical needs.

How Are You Feeling?


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How are you feeling today? Compare it to yesterday. Better still, compare it to an hour earlier, 2 hours, 3 hours earlier…. Let’s be honest: did you notice how much your feelings generally change? And they sometimes oscillate like a roller coaster…. & then it’s like: “Oh, boy, what a ride!” 🙂

Are you fully aware of your feelings? They are so part of daily living that, sometimes, you don’t give them your full attention. Still, they do affect your reactions to your surrounding circumstances & to people around you. Feelings speak; yell, sometimes…. And “of all existing languages, that which speaks your emotions is most profound…”.

Allow me to remind you of this: one key to your own psychological health is to notice your feelings (especially the more negative ones), label what you’re experiencing, and properly deal with your emotions. This is the exact process used in any area of self-development.

Not noticing your feelings can get you confused; denying your feelings can lead to implosion; suppressing them may lead to ultimate explosion; shoving them under the carpet only makes them creep from way under disguised differently into harmful ways over and over again.

So what are you to do when you notice & identify those negative feelings? Stay with them for just a little while, understand why they emerged, & then change them. And the latter is simple. It’s all about how you interpret what happens to you. Think hard: what could be a more positive evaluation of the situation?

Voila…. Feeling better?? It’s all self-service….  Really…. 🙂 Let’s remain sane. Deal?

Your Personal Coach

          Dania

Reflections of 2012 – Lessons Learned


DDD Progress is

I’m not claiming to be another Einstein, Oscar Wilde, or Zig Ziglar yet, but I am leading my own crusade in understanding life and human nature. My learning journey is that of continuous discoveries through observations and reflections.  I learn a lot through my own experiences, through observations around me, and from inspirational quotes of successful people.  Yes, I’m a big fan of powerful statements that say a lot with only few words. Over the past few years, I started coming up with my own.  What you will read next is a collection of my random thoughts (more like my own formulated quotes).  Most are made short to fit twitter’s 140 characters confinement. Some others are longer, so I’d throw them out there on facebook as a status. Oh, and I designed many into pictures to share on my facebook page (Coaching Your 3Ps; see example on the right). When I compile those of 2012 into one post now, I realize they make a good collection. Read on and please let me know which you like most…

–      “I have clients not patients. I have an office not a clinic. I describe, I do not label. I’m a counselor not a therapist.” ~ 3Ds a positive psychologist irritated by the use of negative language

–      “When I think of how much I still need to learn, to still do, and to look forward to, I could almost hyperventilate!” ~ 3Ds

–      “Of all shadows, that which hovers over your whole being is the scariest. Surf ahead…” ~ 3Ds

–      “The best love you’ll ever find is that which propels you into becoming a better version of your true self….” ~ 3Ds

–      “There is always confusion before clarity just as there is darkness before dawn” ~ 3Ds

–      “Of all the lies I hear, I find those reflecting one’s life being trouble-free as most appealing” ~ 3Ds

–      “When happiness seems to have gone on a long vacation, just remember, it always returns…. many times, fully charged.” ~3Ds

–      “What’s the point in calling “principles” “principles” if they’re OFTEN bended, then mended, or amended?” ~ 3Ds

–      “Perhaps one of life’s dictums is “Not having it all”… Most certainly its parallel is “Enjoy what you have before you lose it all”…~ 3Ds

–      “Ever wonder why good news are frequently off-set by bad news shortly after? Think again… it could simply be working the other way round…” ~ 3Ds

–      “Don’t you wish more people would shift from a culture of “stealing your time” to “valuing your time”? The imbalance is getting really irritating.. “ ~ 3Ds

–      “Tolerance becomes easy once all the nuisances are considered just background noise…” ~ 3Ds

–      “Isn’t it ironical how so many people waste their time gossiping about others’ problems instead of investing their time to solve their own?” ~ 3Ds

–      “There’s a fine line between self-confidence and conceit just like that existing between modesty and self-deprecation” ~ 3Ds

–      “To those who complain physical exercise is torture: Compare it with being forced to exercise your patience? Piece of cake, ha?” ~ 3Ds

–      “In the circle of life, it is always the strong helping the weak; the wise tolerating the immature; the healthy aiding the sick; the educated putting up with the ignorant; but what’s with  the insecure casting stones on those who rise above…?” ~3Ds

–      “Nothing beats distress like having a clear concrete plan for solutions. Now whether you carry it out or not is a different story.” ~ 3DS

–      Being “courageous” is daring to go for it despite your little chances.

Being a “fool” is daring to go for it despite having no chances at all.

Being a “courageous fool” is doing things left and right without even considering your chances; and arguing that the      statistics course you took back at the university is worthless…. ~ Meta-logic 101

–      “When you find out the true face behind the mask some people wear, just remain silent. Why feed malicious intent when you can use your energy to accept human imperfections?” ~ 3Ds

–      “Progress is: Cognition followed by Ignition. When you know what you need to do, MOVE!…” ~ 3Ds

–      “Unless you realize you’re part of the problem, you won’t be part of the solution. Some people stick to playing victim far too long”. ~ 3Ds

–      “We never lose the ability to love. We may just lose the ability to love the SAME person.” ~3Ds

–      “It’s not the words…; not the act..; not what happened … that matter …. It’s what it all means …” ~ 3Ds

–      “Sometimes you wish there’s this someone thinking of you somehow and in some way close to your secretly obsessive thoughts about that someone.” ~ 3Ds

–      “Laughter is most appreciated after pain. There’s healing power even in a sense of false gain. “ ~3Ds

–      “You know you have an issue in work-life balance if you have a passion for excellence” ~ 3Ds

–      عواصف العواطف…. حلو التعبير… مش دايما حلوة التجربة …

And here are some funny or sarcastic ones 🙂 :

–      “The only thing I’ll allow to bring me down is the elevator.” ~ 3Ds

–      When I said “The only thing I’ll allow to bring me down is the elevator”,  some people started appearing as elevators in disguise … ~ 3Ds

–      “That awkward feeling, when you realize it’ll take much less than a decade, when you’ll be called: Half a century old….” ~3Ds

–       “That terrifying moment when you dig for energy in your well of “I’m alright” pretense only to find it completely depleted ….” ~ 3Ds

–       “If dealing with stress, stressors, and stressed out people actually burned calories, I would have been a supermodel by now” ~ 3Ds

–      That awesome moment when you finish all your “to do list” and are seduced to just sit there… Well, I rarely, if ever, have it…. and I’m not complaining here…. ~ 3Ds

–      “A perfectionist is someone who never makes the same mistake twice. Just as many times as necessary to be sure it was in fact a mistake…. “ ~3Ds

–      “That straight eye contact moment, when it lasts 10 seconds or longer … reflecting either fatal attraction or ….contemplative murder!” ~3Ds

Lastly, “One of my wishes for the New Year is to see more professionals ACTING professionally…..” Perhaps reflecting on one’s own performance remains a habit un-adopted by many. No wonder why many so called professionals remain operating at mediocre levels and never progress…. And that is why I make the time to continuously assess and reflect. To me, life encompasses 3Ps: “Personal & Professional Progress”….

See you in 2013 🙂

Work-Life Balance (before you go off edge)


ImageOne of the first things I do with my clients at the beginning of a “Coaching” contract is to examine their wheel of life (see picture up there). I consider it an “eye opener” to start the process of progress. It gives a bird’s eye view of the levels of satisfaction (from 0 to 10; with 10 being most satisfied) on their: Career, finances, health, friends and family, romance, personal growth, fun and recreation, and their physical environment. These identify life areas that are not working well and needing change to live life more fully. Great deficits in fulfillment in any one area can spill over to the rest; hence, negatively affecting general well-being. We cannot neglect any one area. Just as a house cannot be built on one pillar, so is life satisfaction. It’s a whole; and cannot be reliant on only one source.

The concept of work-life balance is common and implicitly warns people not to get too consumed in having a career at the expense of nourishing the rest of their life support systems. It is a known fact that most of the working force spends their entire day on the job. They become so busy making a living that they forget to live their lives.  Even non-working house-wives assume the career of a “full time mom” or a “full time house-wife” that they sometimes drift in the mundane neglecting vital life ingredients until they feel a huge void. If you give it some thought, each of us has multiple roles (especially the sandwiched generation): the true self, career role, son/daughter, parent, spouse, friend, community volunteer, etc…. The true self, sometimes, suffers the most. Every so often, competing and conflicting roles and priorities can be very difficult to handle. We become defocused and find ourselves thrown off balance suffering health problems, depression, poor performance, stress, strain, or complete burn-out.

It’s not so simple to balance it all, but at least we can be more aware of maximizing the use of our time. Time being the most valuable, yet limited, asset we have which once used cannot be retrieved. Life can easily slip us by; and if we’re not alert to how we’re investing our time, by the end of our path, we may find ourselves filled with regrets. Just imagine you’re at your “death bed” contemplating your life. What would you be saying? Scary thought to many, huh? So, how can you best balance before everything hits the fan?

Here are some few guidelines to face the challenge:

  1. Fill in the wheel of life: Find out which life areas you’re very dissatisfied with and need your attention most. What can you improve? What are you willing to improve? (see? there’s a difference between “can” and “willing”). The first step to any change is awareness. It has been said that 50% of solving any problem lies in knowing what it is, so get clear on what’s not working for you. Then, start getting focused on taking serious gradual steps to implement changes. Things will never get resolved on their own.
  2. Set SMART Goals: Once you nail down the opportunities for improvement, set the baby steps to rectify. The acronym SMART for goals refers to Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. These ensure rectifying the dissatisfied areas and having a map for a clearer journey ahead. For instance, if you found that you are not so content on the area of family and friends perhaps for being over-worked on the job, specify that you need to “spend more quality time on the weekend with family or friends”. The way about it may be to arrange for gatherings, or more outings. Always get specific: “how”, “when”, “with whom”, “number of times”,…  and make sure it doesn’t conflict with others’ plans. Gather your SMART goals with the specifics on a sheet of paper and read it every morning.
  3. Manage your time: Make the best use of those 86,400 seconds each day. Managing how you spend your time can be the key to your productivity on all levels. Many claim they don’t have the time, for instance, to read (i.e. feed their personal growth), or generate more income (i.e. feed their finances). Well… that’s not very accurate. You can always make the time for important things. It’s just that you may not have taken a deep decision to actually commit to doing things of importance. Why would most people adopt a certain regimen as per their doctor’s advice when their life is threatened? Suddenly, you find them having extra time, right? Think hard of that wheel of life. What should you do to become happier? Incorporate it into your schedule. This is when the SMART goals’ sheet needs updating to specify “when” to get things done.
  4. Establish healthy rituals: It can be difficult sometimes to kick off new habits when you find out that these are needed to feed into better balance. Take exercise for example. To kick it off as a habit requires a lot of planning and self-discipline in the beginning. Most research suggests a period of at least 21 days to establish habits. This is when the neural pathways in the brain become strong enough to make the behavior automatic. The habit, then, becomes an addiction that you cannot easily do without. The constellation of healthy routines (e.g. sleeping patterns, eating right, social media use, responding to emails,..…) eventually provide structure and make a big difference in your life. Rituals and habits are automatic acts you don’t spend much mental effort on; thus, allow you to have more energy to spend on other worthy and effortful tasks. So, what healthy routines can you plan among your goals now?
  5. Use a journal: Be it for your personal, or professional life, having a journal to plan your days in line with your goals will provide the necessary structure, clarity, and commitment. It facilitates organizing your time and taking the necessary steps to balance your life. Journaling your “to do list” will enable you to become more realistic in what you can achieve in one day, throughout the week, or for the whole month. Avoid writing one “to do list”. The sight of it may be overwhelmingly scary that many end up procrastinating about it. A dated journal has the advantage of allocating your targets over a period of time while ensuring you take care of urgent matters first. Remember to remain flexible as you proceed throughout the days and shift what you couldn’t do on a specific day to a later time. Your journal will eventually reflect your productivity and help you keep things on track.
  6. Manage your stress: Keep an eye on your life stressors and take measures to reduce their effects. After all, too many stressors can throw you off edge all of a sudden. When faced with stressful situations, focus on changing either the situation, or your reaction. Changing the situation means you either alter it (e.g. change your job) or avoid it (e.g. take a different route while commuting to escape traffic). When changing the situation is not possible, you can only change the way you feel about it. You need to stop fretting about what’s bothering you and accept that it just is (e.g. a negative colleague working in the same office), or adapt to it (i.e. looking at the big picture of what truly matters). It’s important that you avoid bottling up any tension by using quick stress-busting techniques frequently; like: deep breathing, positive self-talk, music, seeking social support, etc…

These are only the basic steps when your aim is to have a more balanced life. To really work it out, you have to have a whole hearted intention to have a new mission. Writing things down and organizing your path is a pre-requisite to succeed in doing that. Research after research documents that those who thrive have clear well written goals. You can assess and revise these as you proceed. Finally, and to add new things into your routines, entails giving up some other things in place. Why don’t you start off by making a “don’t do list” to identify your life “time-wasters”? Then, continue to MAKE the time to do things of greater value to balance it all….

Am I Having the Worst Feeling or What?


In my line of practice, I usually work on transforming feelings of distress to those of empowerment. My clients come with different baggage, problems, and challenges. They all, however, share one commonality: A perception that they’re experiencing the “worst feeling” of all times. And it’s true. It’s all relevant to one’s character or situation. As our dialogue proceeds, and as they describe those “worst feelings”, I find myself oscillating between acknowledging how difficult these are on one hand, and aiming at alleviating their pain, on another. Respecting their decision to confide and share their deepest emotions always, my mind’s eye reaches out for the “greener side” of their life landscape. I need to help them shift their perception as they process all their negative emotions.

 As I listen to their experiences, my mind speaks before I can think; yells if I may. Sometimes my reasoning slips out loud in an instant. At other times, I direct our dialogue to support them reach more helpful conclusion. Here are some scenarios they voice out as “worst feelings”; and how my automatic “hunt” goes like for a more empowering stance to alleviate their predicaments every time: 

–          I’m having that worst “feeling of being all alone; I don’t have any good company!”

My mind yells: “Yes, honey, being alone is a terrible feeling; solitude can be bliss, if you think about it. Some people are yearning to be left alone. Do their own thing. No responsibilities attached to anyone else; no one telling them what to do; no one holding them from using their full potentials. If you can’t enjoy your own company, how do you expect anyone to enjoy yours? How can you better use your time to self-entertain and be happy with the only person you’re forever stuck with: YOU?”

–          I’m having the worst ”feeling of being all alone even in the company of others”

My mind yells: “Aha!! Here’s someone who is on a different wavelength from those all around. That’s the perfect chance to check for their uniqueness. I bet they’re the “deeper” type.  Let me tell you this gorgeous: You may just be affiliating with the wrong crowd. Where can you find your type? Let’s check how you’re like and examine your options. Maybe you need to go on a “search” for those of your kind…. Expand your “network” is your next step ….

–          I’m having that worst “feeling of having no choice!”

My mind yells: “Are you serious, sugar? You always have a choice; what you actually “do” may be different. You daily choose what to eat, dress like, or do, … Choosing “not to do” remains a choice. And if you’re driven into a situation by force, the way you react to it remains your choice. Perhaps it’s just that your choice in that specific situation has difficult repercussions. You can deal with it if you’re really determined, don’t you now? Just don’t generalize feeling powerless to all else in your life. Keep choosing to have the right attitude at all times.”

–          I’m having that worst “feeling of having been stabbed in the back!!”

My mind yells: “oh sweetheart, this is how you learn who’s friend and who’s foe. You’ll find those people who’ll love you and support you just as you will find those whose whole life purpose may be that of bringing you down. Give a listening ear to your internal detectors. You knew it all along; you just weren’t paying attention. Learn from it and move on….”

–          I’m having this worst “feeling of being changed into a person I’m not”

My mind yells: “oh my, oh my…. Why would you easily allow that angel? Where’s your strength of character? Right, it’s not that solid…. Perhaps we need to toughen that base as a start. You can’t possibly be comfortable living in your own skin if you let others define who you really are. It would never be your core, would it?”

–          I’m having this worst “feeling of being so incomplete, so not up to the expectations, so imperfect…”

My mind yells: “Good God, how I wished we could all be complete at some point during our life-time. Engage in downward comparison, precious. That old adage: “things could be worse” comes in quite handy in this case. Examine those less fortunate. You’re probably comparing yourself with those who you think have it all. You don’t truly know what they’re struggling with in their lives, minds, or hearts. They may just be similarly striving for perfection; and are in fact dealing with their own @#/!#@. Perfection is too far-fetched, dear, but at least it keeps us busy working on it.”

–          I’m having the worst “feeling of having lost a dear one in my life”

My heart sinks…..

My mind stops yelling….

I empathize….

I become all heart……..

Could this be the worst feeling of all, I wonder? They’ll have to form an alliance with “time”…. I’ll be their spiritual crutches …… then… I’ll be watching them grow…..

The Truth about Lying & Deception: How to handle it


You’re a LIAR!! Yes, you and don’t freak out when as accused; we are all liars to varying degrees. It’s hardly my style to address such a negative aspect of the human condition, but we can’t ignore that “lies” constitute a rampant state prevailing in politics, the business world, and even in our daily exchanges as minor fibs. Studies do show that the average person lies several times a day either concealing or fabricating the truth for silly reasons sometimes. We dismiss many as “white lies” being socially conditioned to be respectful and polite (e.g. you’d respond when asked how you’re doing by saying: “I am doing great!” when deep inside your world is gloomy and chaotic). We deceive, also, without intention mainly in social conversations (e.g. like nodding when listening to someone talk while our mind is wandering elsewhere). You do it; everyone else does it! Unless you’re living in complete harmony with yourself and others, you’re “lie-free”. And when you do knowingly lie, you give yourself so many excuses and rationalize every time. It could be to protect from bigger harm, safeguard the other person’s feelings, avoid unnecessary conflict, preserve a good self-image, handle high stake situation, and the list goes on and on…. I am not suggesting that because deception is very common, you remain at ease with it. An inner state of dissonance and stress emerges for those who are conscientious enough, or good meaning (not the cunning malicious type). When you’re at the receiving end, the feeling is even worse. It’s not these small innocent lies that get to you. It’s the deliberate biggies (e.g. being betrayed) or when it’s too frequent or manipulative to serve the liar’s hidden agenda. To explore lying and deception, is to understand it, as to better deal with it. Let’s dissect it here.

Why can’t you tolerate being lied to when you yourself lie from time to time?  Mainly, and when you first react, you may forget to justify for others as you do for yourself. You’re not in the liar’s shoes to know their drives. It certainly is not easy to swallow those biggies, tolerate habitual chronic liars who adopt lying as their natural style, or accept the Machiavellian type who manipulate you to serve their needs. Big lies that relate to specific situations can become traumatic especially from those you least expect to deceive you. The frequency of smaller lies – no matter how trivial these are – can similarly, drain you. You’re always left scratching your head (asking yourself “shall I believe this now or not”). You may try hard to let these slip by, but their recurrence can become impossible to ignore. Manipulative deception has a far greater toll. They shake you to the bone. With children, you can understand lies as a sign of immaturity, but with adults, you can’t help but consider them as having an evil tongue frustrating enough for you to reassess your whole life philosophy and strategy. Eventually, you may become more cynical, suspicious, and completely pissed off. Until you understand the liar’s reasons, you keep boiling inside. For sure, you first take lies personally as a threat to your own self-image.

What does it mean to be lied to? Lies – big or small – hurt your ego and are translated in the most degrading terms: you’re unworthy of the truth, your intelligence is insulted, you’re considered gullible, your bright expectations are violated, you’re naïve for believing, or simply that your good faith in others led you to being taken advantage of. You doubt yourself; and your trust hub in others gets destroyed. It then becomes extremely difficult to mend the fences. A big lie can leave you vulnerable, forever suspicious, uncertain, out of control, or experiencing great suffering and pain for a while. It happens, right? The truth is: lies really tell more about the deceiver than it tells about you. For big lies, always consider the ramification for telling the truth in context. It could just be that the other person is so scared of facing reality. You could have done the same if your roles were reversed. With habitual liars, many are not even aware of their behavior since it becomes more like routine so well ingrained and automatic. Their excessive lying may have routes in their having an inferiority/superiority complex. These usually have an instable sense of identity with conflicting parts struggling within. If they were clearer on how they defined themselves, or knew what they really wanted, there would be no reason for them to lie. It could, also, be that they were raised in an environment in which lying was necessary for survival. They become addicted to lying as it feels right and safe; thus, twisting all truths as a way of living. Manipulative liars obviously adopt lying to get what they want in a sneaky way. They have little empathy for your feelings. It’s like they coerce you into doing something you wouldn’t want to do in the first place; hence, you feel utterly disgusted when you find out their true motives.

How easy is it to detect deception?  Many lies are discovered by contradictory statements or by piecing together information to make sense of things that don’t seem right. This is often fuelled by an internal lie detector we call “gut instinct” that picks up on so many unconscious cues. The literature is bound with guidelines on detecting lies through observing non-verbal behavior. These include: more blinking or fidgeting, speech hesitation, shorter responses or even too much detail, changes in vocal pitch or speed, language patterns (e.g. frequently dropping the “I” from a sentence), breaking eye contact, or even its opposite of being looked at too insistently to make a point. However, and to date, there is enough evidence that even trained professionals cannot detect deception with precision. You may assume that because you know the other person too well, you can easily spot lies, but that’s not straight forward.  With enough determination, a liar can cover the truth well especially the manipulative type. It’s even more difficult to know with chronic liars, as it’s all too natural and reflexive. They themselves believe their lies. In the end, there’s no foolproof way to know when a person is lying for sure by mere observation. Many lies would eventually be discovered somehow. Knowing the truth sets you in turmoil, so ideally, what are you to do?

How can you deal with being lied to? Understand again, it’s a sad human condition. Nail it down to being situational or chronic. Is it justified or is it that the other person is being a pathological jerk?

a)      With situational liars and big lies: Be cautious of someone who gives you a one-time BAMM!! They lie once, they can lie again. If you care about salvaging your relationship with that person, it’s best to address the issue in a more conversational manner (as opposed to a confrontational style); and only when you have calmed down. Think of the reasons for why you were lied to and the consequences of telling the truth in time. They maybe too scared to face the problem or cannot handle the truth, but you can show them that you can (with some extra effort in certain respects of course). They simply may be asking for attention indirectly. If you do confront, refrain from throwing accusations. It’s counterproductive, as it breads their defensiveness (e.g. withdrawing, counterattacks, denial, or hostility). Focus in your discussion on how it makes you feel to be deceived. Give them a sense of understanding and willingness to deal with the problem and the underlying motives for lying. Always reciprocate by telling the gentle truth as you remain in control of your emotional reactions (that’s the toughest to handle in such situations). Your discussion can eventually lead to a clearer understanding of the whole issue at hand. If things make sense, then be sure to forgive. This way you’ll be the “bigger” person who accommodates for human faults. Holding a grudge occupies unnecessary space in your heart and leaves no room for working things out. Besides, we all deserve a second chance, so allow it. But what if lies are repeated over and over again? You’re on alert mode already if you’re lied to once. It takes time and repeated evidence of sincerity to regain that lost trust – if ever.

 b)      With habitual and manipulative liars: Those who lie chronically for no apparent gain are to be pitied. Remember that it’s about them (i.e. their personality and life experiences). Even if they were not lying to you directly but to others, you’d reason they could easily lie to you too. You can try to let things slide if they are not important, hint at inconsistencies, or use sarcastic remarks paralleled with surprised facial expressions. If lies stretch too far, you can handle it using some humor to point it out (e.g. say something like: “Come on Pinocchio, your nose is growing!”). It is very difficult to change habitual liars as most of the time they lack insight. They are better referred to a professional in counseling; and it’s very common that they’d resist doing until they hit bottom. Others, who are manipulative and adopt lying for strategic purposes, are to be avoided as soon as they are discovered. Withdraw from further dealings with them if you can. If you’re stuck with these because the situation dictates (e.g. they are colleagues at work or are family), you cannot but resort to standing up for yourself and setting clear boundaries. Asking more questions for clarification would be like inviting in more lies. One lie may just have been leading to another to make the picture more complete in the first place.

In all cases, you really need to set yourself emotion free from the frustration of feeling like an idiot. Deeply reflecting and assessing the situation objectively can alleviate your first outraged reaction when you discover the truth. People have different reasons for deceiving; and if they are good meaning, then work on substituting resentment with empathy and understanding. As hard as it is to be lied to, you need to remember the times you were cornered into lying and had all proper justifications. And don’t forget that sometimes you even deceive yourself just to be happy by denying or ignoring the truth. These are only adaptive defense mechanisms we resort to without conscious attention. When liars deceive, their intentions are good to, at least, themselves. You can only remain alert, empathetic, and self-protecting too. Despite lying being a violation of all ethical and legal principles, we can only tolerate and accept such a – not so pleasing – human condition. Don’t fret about it too much. It’s not easy to live in complete harmony without concealing some truth until one day you’re there.

 

Lessons I’ve Learned in 2011


At the dawn of yet another new year, I can’t but ponder about how the past year went by. I have achieved plenty more and encountered many roadblocks all teaching me some hard earned lessons. These affected my choices, decisions, and what I know about life in general. I’d like to share with you some of these reflections that I base highly on both my personal experiences and the patterns I observed in others around me.

In 2011, I’ve learned that:

–          When health matters are seriously threatened – yours or your loved ones – everything else seems so secondary. Act is if these are always truly threatened.

–          The more you reflect on life matters, the more you’ll realize how wide those gray areas are. Rare are the things that are purely black or white.

–          Admitting your emotional vulnerabilities is not a sign of weakness. You are strong enough when you accept that these come with the beautiful package of human nature.

–          What confuses us, many times, is that we exist in multiple contradictory profiles. That version you work on most, keep up front and nourish is what defines you after all.

–          The reason why some people enjoy spending some time alone is because they’re never really lonely. They have their own most interesting company.

–          Confusion is the corner stone of creativity and clarity. If for only a short while, it’s the best thought entertainer. If prolonged, it confines one to an idle mode of inactivity.

–          Giving someone your undivided attention and time are of the noblest thing you can ever do. It’s not the end of the world if some turned out to be undeserving or unappreciative.

–          Everyone is looking for love – knowingly or not – from different sources (i.e. romantic partner, parent, friend, or co-workers). When love is lacking, it is substituted for in healthy or unhealthy other ways.

–          Frustration or hitting rock bottom are the greatest motivators propelling one to take action into changing, but we’re all at different levels of readiness to take charge.

–          When you head something, you’ll have a lot of headache. You’ll be fought, ridiculed, and criticized, but you will still find many more followers and supporters to play the game.

–          Dealing with tough people is a good exercise of your patience, communication skills, and growth. These people show you exactly what you’d want to avoid being like.

–          Many will force their way into your life uninvited. Give them a chance. They could either be a blessing, or yet another lesson.

–          Of all existing languages, that which speaks your emotions is most profound. Never hesitate to be nicely expressive (to yourself and others).

–          You may remain ground chained by what’s real despite visions of your wildest dreams. It’s okay to keep one foot in reality and the other in dreamland. That’s how you eventually break free.

–          There’s a limit to how many times you give others a chance to be more respecting, appreciating, and understanding. You can always withdraw, or keep asserting your boundaries.

–          The brighter your light, the more you attract both: moths and butterflies. You’d put the moths in captivity if you focus on the butterflies’ activity.

–          It’s best to raise your expectations of yourself and lower them from others. The best helping hand you’ll ever have is at the end of your own arm.

–          Pity not those who did not grow rich, or old, or bold. Pity those who missed the opportunity to just grow.

–          You know there’s too much ‘on your plate’ when you wish the days were longer.

–          The most important date you can ever take is that with your own self.

–          Just as a house cannot stand on one pillar, so is life satisfaction cannot be reliant on only one source.

–          When you can’t change the existing system, create your own controlled system.

–          You can always decorate your thoughts with FAITH. It never goes out of fashion.

These are but a few. Let’s see what the year 2012 holds in stock for me. I can’t wait to learn more lessons.

That “Falling in Love” Experience… & How to “Fall Out” of It!


If you had the luxury of falling in romantic love, you most certainly recall how it all first starts.

 Remember that instance of secretly free-floating kind of feeling?

 That oh so rare incredibly beaming, yet purring-like sort of feeling?

 That ‘once in a blue moon’ please don’t let me be dreaming kind of feeling?

 These are but a few dazzling signs of that first while. You can’t seem to help your face becoming decorated permanently with that smile. It’s as if you’re in trance stretching day and night. Those flickering butterflies in your stomach just won’t stop; and you keep wondering what’s with that soothing numbness you feel from bottom to top. You have this endless gaze in nowhere oblivious to whether the whole world is falling or not. You wish you could travel in time and space to cut short the seemingly endless hours of waiting; and the ridiculously long distances keeping you apart in craving. And when you meet with your loved one, that accidental touch makes your heart pound a hundred times faster. That look in their eyes sends that gentle electric buzz and you go: “where can I burry my eyes next” to avoid any blunder. You oscillate between awkward moments of silence followed by a barrage of held back emotions as if their floodgates swung wide open. And these effects continue and soar to more (I’ll let your thoughts freely reign). Then with time, all probably waxes and wanes ….

Those feelings, then, evolve into stages and start taking on many forms. They grow beautifully in absurd ways; yet, get shaken at times to your dismay. The seas can’t remain smooth forever; and you’re prone to face some storms (big, or small). All are part of the process of having that free-fall. There could be fights, major setbacks, and alarm signals warning you to watch out. Still, you cling to that bipolarity of feeling so strong yet so fragile; so happy yet so sad; having a “ruling of the world” feeling yet a sense of “complete lack of control”. No proper definition can capture what’s going on; and you find yourself unable to escape its tyranny. The only way out of it is through…. It’s like the inevitable bitter-sweet malady… the most pleasant melancholy ……, and then it’s the perfect remedy…. And hell yeah!! We all enjoy how the rich sweet ingredient of it feels; and curse the times of tragedy.

 And you’re lucky if it all lasts…. For some, the whole world slowly or suddenly witnesses a collapse. They recognize that their castles were built in void air; and all their dreams were set in flare. From that loved one they are to beware. For different reasons, they realize that there is no hope for continuing the affair. The future seems so bleak, and for more suffering they are to be prepared. Worst cases are when that loved one abandons, abuses, betrays, or turns out to be a complete lie. And they find themselves imprisoned; and believe if they let go, they’d possibly die. Mixed feelings dominate and fight inside. Like victims of circumstances they rage at being helpless. The good memories are still loaded up in their mind exacerbating their distress. Faced with the harsh reality, they still feel hopeless for a good relationship to thrive. It all becomes easier if they learn how to “fall out of love”. And you may often hear them saying: “I can’t possibly find another to love as much. My heart is too weak for a rebirth”. They miss on the idea that some six and a half billion people are roaming on planet earth. Their chances to find another are still very high….

If that beautiful epic fails, how can you help someone (maybe yourself) to let go and blast off forward on a new search? How can one regain that power of the mind over the heart? Let me tell you this: The mind has, in fact, that power already if we just use it right. I often use a technique that I adapted from Richard Bandler – the co-creator of NLP – to help my clients “fall out of love” (specifically the ones who’ve been hurt badly) when they choose to. It just requires recalling good and bad memories with the loved one. Emotionally charged memories are easily accessible, so that piece of it is very simple. Let’s assume you’re the one who wants to be totally free of your X-lover’s power. Just follow these steps in order to make the bad memories predominate and perhaps become repulsed from that hurtful X-mate.

 – Stacking good memories: Recall 4 or 5 nice memories one by one with your loved one. See yourself in each acting out the episode (i.e. watch it as if you were watching a movie). This is what we call a “dissociated” way. It’s like someone else is enjoying the good times (not you). Now run those episodes in black and white and one after another quickly. This drains life out of these memories further. When you’ve done that, run this continuous movie backwards with all its episodes till the day before you both met again. Then make the screen at the end of it go blank. Do this last step a couple of times running the movie backwards as fast as you can while shrinking it in size each time. This is how we lessen that memory’s emotional impact to the point of erasing it. The memory stays there, but its power over you disappears.

 – Stacking the bad memories: Now recall as many bad memories as you can (those that hurt you most) with your “X-mate”. This time, watch each of these in life size and through your own eyes as if you were the camera man this time. See what you saw then, hear what you heard, and feel again all those negative feelings. This is what we call an “associated” way of recall. Connect these memories together like a movie one after another. Run them again and again in your mind amplifying them in size, sound, and feeling. When you do this a couple of times, you’ll be fed up! The effects would be like that needed last straw that breaks the camel’s back to fall out of love.

 – Oscillate between the above two: Repeat the first two steps as needed and until you can’t bear associating with the bad ones any longer. The good memories will have no effect now that the bad feelings predominate.

 – Getting repulsed: Many would still fear reacting lovingly again to their “X”. After all, who’d want to remain a fool? There’s a way to go about that too. Just trigger disgust instead at the mere thought or sight as a replacing thought. Think of something that is really repugnant for your (I’ve heard examples of rotten poo with flies hovering around it, spread vomit, squashed rat, chopped liver, etc… – sorry about that); and make a picture of it. Make it really clear in every way possible till you’d want to puke. Now from the center of that picture, open the picture of your “X” smiling. Repeat this over and over till you associate that face with the repulsive thought. Do I need to tell you what happens next time you see or think of your “X”?

 – A brighter future: Imagine a brighter future now without your “X”. How would it be like? Imagine yourself laughing again, free, socializing, and being appreciated by many others. Step into that image and feel what it’s like. Totally different, right?

I truly wish no one ever has to go through this exercise and continue indulging in the “love treat”. Don’t let the fear of any future mishap hold you back. Not the first time; not again if those emotions attack. There’s so much to “falling in love” that you rise with it. You may not need to go out looking for it. It will find you somehow; just permit it. And if it disappoints you later, you can always count on time to heal. If not quickly enough, it’s up to you to speed up the process of recovery by using the power of your mind. We all know pain is inevitable. It’s the suffering that’s optional. So, keep indulging! There is always a way out. It’s through it; by that abide. Keep woo-hooing! It’s the most thrilling roller-coaster ride….

Snap Out Of It: Dissociate. Here Is The “How”


Disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, helplessness, or sadness are but few of the negative states that can put us in a depressed mood. The reasons vary; and when horrific things happen, negative emotions become paralleled with foggy thinking. We may become imprisoned by a chain of negative thinking until our emotions change to the better. Great…., but how do our feelings change? Would you wait for them to change on their own, or rely on external factors to make it happen? What if that doesn’t take place soon enough? How about you play a more active role instead of waiting? Consider the options you have when you find yourself in a depressed mood. You have at least 3:

  1. Stay in your negative state, beat yourself up with further distressing thoughts, and worsen your mood further.
  2. Kick away those negative feelings directly and bounce back to an opposite state as if nothing happened (more like denying yourself any experience of negative feelings).
  3. Allow yourself to stay there a bit just to process what triggered your bad mood; then, change state and focus on finding solutions.

 

It goes without saying that the nature and the magnitude of the trigger can place you somewhere on that continuum at first; nonetheless, you have a choice to move out, away, or into healthier responding. But which of the above three options do you think is considered “healthier responding”? You deserve to live your life fully, so why restrict yourself to negative states? Hence, the first option is by no means the best choice. One of the beauties of being human is that you have feelings; and to deny yourself getting in touch with your feelings only deprives you of your humanity and gets you in more complicated emotional problems. Hence, denying yourself the variety of emotional experiences is, similarly, unwise. The second option, therefore, is ruled out. This leaves you with option three. Do I hear you say: “Easier said than done!” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about; it’s too difficult to snap out of it”? Let me suggest a tool I often use in therapy and coaching. It’s called “Dissociation”. Many use it intuitively, and it has widespread other uses besides changing states.

 

Sit in a quiet comfortable place in solitary. Start a mental scan of the events that precipitated your bad mood. If you’re unable to identify a specific event for your low mood, just examine how the previous hours went by. You’ll be surprised as to how easily the main cause emerges.

 

Assess: Start processing your feelings (processing here means identifying and labeling your feelings). Delve behind the feelings for reasons; analyze and dissect the situation into its main components. Your thoughts about it will feed into your feeling further down, so just allow yourself, then, to be fully associated with your negative state (i.e. feel, visualize, and hear the external and internal dialogues).

 

Dissociate: When you’re through this examination, physically stand up and face the place you were sitting in. It may seem bizarre the first time, but you’re alone (hopefully) and no one will wonder what in the world you’re doing (keep playing the game of dissociation). Visualize yourself sitting in that seat (make a mental picture of how you were sitting exactly – the other you). Imagine that the one standing, now, is your best friend (i.e. the best friend of the one sitting). Being your best friend now, what would you objectively advise the person in front of you to think feel, and do? Narrate the counter arguments of the situation, draw attention to the bigger picture, list the empowering possibilities, and reignite that person into a better mood.

 

Associate: Bring in several memories of times that you felt totally happy, confident, motivated, or any other positive state. Associate yourself with those good feelings every time by mentally visualizing each of those incidents, seeing all the details, hearing all the sounds, and re-living those feelings that dominated then. Let the picture become brighter, the sounds become louder, and allow those feelings to grow each time. Finally, get back into the body of the person sitting in that place (both mentally and physically). You still carry those positive vibes, so just permit them some time to take over that prior state as if you were receiving the new empowering vibes now.

 

When you do this, you will realize how much our thoughts affect our internal states. It is very easy to give in to negative thinking, but these exacerbate our negative emotions. If you want to snap out of it, just allow yourself some time to process what happened then change your thoughts. Changing your thoughts guarantees a change of state. Now you know how you can do that. Dissociate, but follow that with associating into good memories. Says who you cannot be the nautical wheeler of navigating your own ship of emotions?..….

The A to Zs of “Being” at “Excellence” Levels


Ever wondered about the mindset of happy and successful people who achieve “excellence”? Well, I often have. And examining these people, I found that they make the best of their being; and adopt some simple, yet, powerful strategies to be “outstanding”. They are brain-washed with a certain set of beliefs, attitudes, and thoughts when it comes to dealing with themselves, others, and their life challenges. These, eventually reflect in their best achievements. It’s like they play their cards right. The following guidelines are adopted from prominent self-development figures; and are summarized in an A to Z format of principles to “being” at “Excellence” levels:

A: Accept what you cannot change. Act today without delay. Actions speak louder than words.

B: Brand yourself as having unique qualities. Believe in yourself.

C: Choose to always be proactive as opposed to reactive. Challenge yourself to continually progress.

D: Dream of great achievements. If you can Dream it, you can make it happen.

E: Enjoy doing even the simplest things. Be open to new Experiences.

F: Focus on what you have in times of distress. Family and Friends make beautiful riches.

G: Give more than you’re asked for; and more than you planned. You’ll Gain 10 fold from multiple other sources.

H: Help others when you’re needed. Hear them out. The impact on their lives is what you’ll be Honored and remembered for. Make your memory a good one.

I: Ignore those who try to discourage you. Invest your time wisely in people and activities that help you grow.  

J: Joke around often, without being a Jerk (i.e. with decency and limits). Be the one to spread Joy wherever you go.

K: Keep learning and keep trying no matter how difficult things may seem. This is your Key to success.

L: Leave positive footprints where ever you go. Lead others into excellence.

M: Make things happen (don’t wait for them to just happen). Make the impossible possible.

N: Never accuse yourself of having failed. Nourish your mind instead with thoughts like: this was “yet another learning lesson”.

O: Obsess with your own self-development. Optimize on your personal and professional progress.

P: Prior Perfect Practice Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Q: Quit fighting an endless Quarrel when you know your energy can be channeled to more worthy Quests.

R: Read and Reflect on those Readings. Race to know more, Repeatedly.

S: Surround yourself with people and things you love. Stop energy Sappers from invading your life. Smile often; it makes a big difference.

T: Teach others what you learned or what you want to learn. Talk about your learning. Train yourself to apply it somehow.

U: Under-promise; yet, over-deliver (in business and in your personal life). Unwrap your dormant excellence on every occasion.

V: Visualize your excellence coming to life, and it will. Visionaries were often ridiculed in the beginning, so don’t let emotional Vampires stand in your Vision of excelling.

W: Work hard on Writing down your thoughts, Wishes, and goals. Words clarify when you think in ink. Walking your Written down talk becomes easy.

X: Xccelerate your effort to beat procrastination. There’s so much to being productive each day even in small increments. X-out clutter.

Y: Your life is the most important project you can ever work on. Year in, year out, enjoy the ride.

Z: Zeal is your primary ingredient to achieve more and strive for excellence. Zoom in your goal, be in the Zone, and go for it.

When you model the best, you take the short-cut to excellence. Will you decide to live at your best? If “yes”, how about you start today? Take the short cut. Print this out, read it daily, and brain-wash yourself similarly. Make it your new modus operandis for optimal living. Play your cards right.

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