Maria Connolly, LPC Facebook Facebook Facebook

Category: Life Skills

Learn how to focus on the soft skills, the people skills like good communication, effective leadership, positive motivation, and managing your emotions.

Your Best Year Yet? How Can It Be, When Others Are Suffering?

Could you still make 2020 your best year yet? It’s possible! Even if you feel stuck, unmotivated or too guilty to strive for a better life, consider this...“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ Francis of Assisi

We all started this year with a lot of optimism for the months to come. We were feeling inspired to make changes and improve some things. You were DETERMINED to have your BEST YEAR yet! Even if you knew that after a few months your drive was going to diminish, you had a backup plan for getting going again. And then things got ugly…

No one was prepared for the kind of changes 2020 has been bringing us…so much loss, so much pain. If you’re someone who is suffering, I grieve with you. And I want to encourage you to hold on and hope for better things, because they will come.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve written off the possibility for making this year “your best year yet”. Some clients have expressed that they feel stuck because they feel too guilty to strive for a better life, while so many other people are suffering. What’s the sense of working on a new routine, when the future is so uncertain?

Or perhaps your world has turned upside down, because the changing circumstances have revealed a new passion for you, so that you need to pivot to a new direction and you’re at a loss to know what to do next.

It is NOT an insensitive act of disrespect or selfishness to continue your personal and professional growth, when others are suffering. It’s actually a beacon for them that they, too, can hope for better times. That they can rise above their present circumstances and know that tomorrow will bring new opportunities. When you show that it’s possible to grow during these challenging times, you lead the way for others to do the same. It’s as Henry Ford said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Since we’re half way through the year, it’s time to bring out my 10 go-to techniques for building your best year yet…

1. Deal first with what is in front of you — this is vital because we can get caught up in supposing and worrying about “what ifs”. They’re not real until they happen. And most likely they won’t happen, if you deal successfully with what’s in front of you. Don’t borrow trouble…identify what IS and leave off jumping to conclusions, imputing wrong motives or reading too much into a situation.

2. Double up on self-care — this cannot be confused with self-indulgence because it takes discipline to do what’s best for YOU and others.  Real self-care requires mental toughness and a deep understanding of what really matters.

3. Make small, but consistent, changes — this proves you’re undeniably capable of making improvements, giving you confidence and motivation to keep working toward your big dream.

4. Revisit the original goal altogether: it might not be relevant anymore — this is important since the world around you is changing, and your WHY might change along with it. You might need to refine your goals to make them fit the present circumstances.

5. Assess your skills and close the gaps — this taps into your resourcefulness, because you are capable of doing anything you want, either by learning a new skill or delegating a task to someone else.

6. Of course, breathe, and look ahead — this is a way to quiet your life so you can meditatively and mindfully “hear” what your body is telling you about the choices you’re making right now. 

7. Connect with helpful friends, mentors, allies, supporters — this need has been highlighted, since we have less structure in our days due to social isolation. It’s easy to give in to temptations to stay in pajamas all day, eat more junk food, binge on TV, etc. We make an extra effort when we know we’re being held accountable.

8. Always acknowledge even the smallest progress — this gives you PROOF that you are growing and will keep you motivated.

9. Focus on nurturing a growth mindset, not on resolutions — this works because you engage your innate capability to change and develop whatever skills are needed, making you flexible and resilient enough to try Plan B, C, D, all the way to Z, when Plan A doesn’t work.

10. Plan for days you miss the mark — this is part of life, so embrace “failures,” mistakes, or setbacks as your body and mind’s way of saying it needs time to regroup. It’s never a failure. I don’t believe in failure. It’s a learning experience. It’s a lesson. It’s not a reason to quit. It’s a time to mindfully reflect, re-center and restore your energy.

To successfully inspire any kind of lasting change takes building a structure that support your habits, rituals, and routines. If you’d like some help in creating sustainable structure in your life, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation by phone or via Skype. I’ll help you find internal and external resources for building your best year yet.

Racism and Social Injustice: I’m White. What Can I Do?

After seeing recent social injustices and racial inequalities, have you wondered: I’m white, what can I do? It’s good to ask; it’s better to do something. “For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Empathy has been defined as putting yourself in the shoes of another, knowing within yourself how they feel and what they need you to do, or say, or not say, in the moment. But how can you have empathy if you’ve never had to walk the path that someone else has had to walk? Because of the recent, terrible acts of racism and social injustice, I’ve been thinking about how yes, I’m white, but what can I do to help. It’s causing me to examine my own biases, as never before.

Ignorance is a blinder to empathy. The trouble with ignorance is that we may not even know when we are “ignoring” something vital that’s right in front of us. Even more criminal is choosing not to know. This contributes to the problem just as much as actively participating in it. This is the time when doing nothing is not acceptable, for doing nothing is actively making the problem worse. 

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The Ultimate Meaning of Life Reveals Itself if You Listen

You can find your ultimate meaning in life by mindfully listening for what life asks of you as each challenge, opportunity, and crisis comes your way. “The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” ~ Joseph Campbell

After suffering a severe crisis, people often contemplate the ultimate meaning of life. After surviving the holocaust, Victor Frankl wrote Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything. After a different pandemic claimed two of her children, Mary Shelley wrote The Last Man which explored what makes life worth living. Walt Whitman wrote of this same question, after he suffered a paralyzing stroke.

These people knew suffering intimately. They didn’t try to forget. They didn’t try to pretend it never happened. They didn’t become embittered. Each one emerged from their crisis, with a valuable gift for the world. After allowing themselves time to fully experience their life, including the pain, they derived a sense of meaning from it. Then they bared their souls and we benefit today from their insights.

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Change Your Thinking: 30 Ways to Make the World a Better Place

As you change your thinking, your life will change and the quality of our world will be improved because each of us will model the behavior we want to see.“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” ~ Aldous Huxley

The recent tragedy and the resulting protests across the world have made all of us think about how we can be a force for good in the world, not passively turning a blind eye or actively adding to the sorrows. I believe the solution lies in this: if you want to change the world, change your thinking.

Wouldn’t you agree that the quality of your life depends on YOUR attitude — the way you think about your life? It’s not dependent on your circumstances, who you’re with, or what you have. People can have it all and still be miserable. People can have so little and be joyful.

The quality of our world will be improved by each of us modeling the behavior we want to see. What qualities do you want to experience more fully?

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How to Find YOUR Inner Voice and Quiet the Noise

Learn how to find your inner voice, control your thoughts, quiet the voices — past and present — of others, and live YOUR life mindfully and with great joy.“Somewhere in there, among the worries, questions, advice and advertising jingles, lives your intuition, your true ‘inner voice.’ You can hear it to the extent that you give it your attention.” ~ Martha Beck

There are times when I still hear my mother’s voice in my head. That’s not surprising since she’s been there my whole life. Sometimes I find her voice helpful; sometimes that voice is trying to keep me safe and not take risks. Over the years, the voices of authority — parents, teachers, mentors — became part of my inner voice, and they weren’t always speaking MY truth. This illustrates why it’s so important to know how to find YOUR inner voice and be able to quiet the noise from everyone else.

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