Category Archives: Blog

Six Strategies to Ease Dis-Ease

AfricanAmerican_Businesswoman1Have you noticed that you are feeling sad, concerned, confused, ‘down’? I have noticed such feelings within myself lately. Partly due to a friend about whom I am concerned, and partly, I think, because of the complex world in which we live today…everything from natural disasters and mass shootings to allegations of sexual abuse and negative tweets from a world leader.

Focusing too much on any one of these environmental factors can be distressing. Focusing on all of them can be downright overwhelming. You will surely notice the state of dis-ease in both your mind and your body.

Negative emotion is bigger and louder than positive emotion. One event can create negative emotion that threatens to limit your thinking and sense of well-being. Over time, and with more distressing events, you will begin to notice an impact on your body and your overall health as well. You’ve likely noticed that the longer that you are in a negative emotional state, the more difficult it can be to get out of it.

You can choose strategies to help you ease through – and out of – your negative states. Below are six strategies. The first three help you to address, reframe and ‘ease’ negative emotion.

1) Are you feeling Concerned, Uneasy, Upset?

Ask and Answer these Thinking Questions to “Check in with My Intuition”:

  • What is forefront in my mind?
  • What does my intuition tell me?
  • Which action might I take towards being carefree?

Practice this Body Exercise called “Rubbing”:

Rub your forehead. Rub your arms vigorously. Now rub your belly in circles. Let the sensations comfort you. Look up. What else might you do to support yourself?

2) Are you feeling Confused, Puzzled, Conflicted?

Ask and Answer these Thinking Questions to “‘Walk Around’ the Situation from Different Perspectives”:

  • What are the facts and what are my feelings?
  • What are the positives and what are the negatives?
  • What do I need to elminate to see more clearly?

Practice this Body Exercise to “Walk Perspectives”:

Walk as you review the facts of the situation. In a different part of the room, walk as you review the feelings of the situation. Find another part of the room. Walk as you find balance and clarity among facts and feelings.

3) Are you feeling Helpless, Powerless, Vulnerable?

Ask and Answer these Thinking Questions to “Draw Upon My External Environment”:

  • What would I advise another to do?
  • Which resources can I attract to help me?
  • What will energize me to act?

Practice this Body Exercise called “Thick Space”:

Imagine your body is hollow and the air around you is thick. Spread your fingers and slowly move them. Notice the feeling of the ‘thick space’ between your fingers, and how with little effort, you have the resources to move.

You can also choose to ‘turn on’ positive emotional states. What positive emotions would you like to cultivate? The next three help you to engage, grow and expand positive emotion.

4) Would you like to feel Hopeful, Optimistic, Faithful?

Ask and Answer these Thinking Questions to “Make Room for Mystery”:

  • What is the opportunity here?
  • What am I hoping for?
  • What belief will serve me here?

Practice this Body Exercise called “Holding Space”:

Sometimes waiting generates tension. We don’t know what to expect. Bring that tension into your body by tightening your legs and feet, your buttocks, your arms and chest. Then release each one and breath into the release. How would you describe the sensation after the release?

5) Would you like to feel Cheerful, Happy, Grateful?

Ask and Answer these Thinking Questions to “Think Gratitude”:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What makes me smile?
  • What are my blessings?

Practice this Body Exercise on “Gratitude”:

Start a gratitude journal. Each day, write down three things for which you are grateful. What do you notice in a week? In a month?

6) Would you like to feel Courageous, Confident, Strong?

Ask and Answer these Thinking Questions to “Bring Past Successes Forward”:

  • What are my strengths?
  • When have I been successful before?
  • To what do I look foward?

Practice this Body Exercise called “Centering”:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Rock gently back and forth until you find a place of balance. Feel the ground, and then reach for the sky from the top of your head. Notice the space in front, behind, and at your sides. This place of balance is your center.

As you practice, keep in mind Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory. Positive emotion nourishes. Pracice more of that.

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com.

 

 

 

The Unexpected Gift of a Slow Death

We're all in this together!

We’re all in this together!

I wished she would die.

I find it hard to read that right now; but I have to admit that I had that thought. Not because I didn’t love her. Not because I wanted her gone. Not because she did not deserve to be here. Not because I couldn’t be bothered to visit her.

Because I knew that she was living her worst nightmare…and I wanted to help her end it.

My beautiful mother is in the advanced stages of Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease. Her life, for the past 7 years, has been in a nursing home where she is cared for completely by other people. This proud, private, highly independent woman has been suddenly shackled by a brain that is betraying her.

It has been excruciating to witness. When she was still verbal, she was anxious and confused about why she had to ‘stay in jail’ while she was assigned to a locked ward. She begged us to take her away each time we visited her. As her ability to speak left, her eyes seemed to scream at us to please end her confinement and set her free. Then, for a period of time, her face seemed wracked with pain each time we visited.

Mom said over and over – since her mother entered personal care 30 years ago – that she did not want to live the way she is now living. She even stockpiled pills in her 50’s and 60’s, telling us many times that she would ‘take care of things’ when she started noticing that she was losing her memory. Of course, once she started losing her memory, she could not remember where she put the pills, or even that she had wanted to make that choice.

Mom is dying. Very, very slowly. I suppose, one might argue, we are all dying very slowly. For mom, she is dying very slowly and we – the people who love her most – who were filled with guilt at not being able to help her more – who were physically sick at watching her anxiety and agitation grow – wondered to ourselves if she was really ‘living’ in the process. “Who would choose this for themselves?” “Who would want to be bathed, fed, and dressed by other people?” “Who would choose to miss out on enjoying the company of their loved ones?”

As the years have passed, my siblings and I have all made a point to see mom on a regular basis. In fact, we often text each other weekly to set up a time to “meet at Ma’s” – to see her, to hold her hand, to rub her back, to kiss her, and to have her in our space as we chat with each other and catch up on our respective lives.

This, I have started to realize, has become the unexpected gift for our family.

As my siblings and I have aged, and our families have grown, the busy-ness of life has meant that we naturally do not get to see each other as often as we might like.

Visiting ‘Ma’ has become our way to stay connected with each other as an extended family.

Mom was always the one to bring us all together. There was nothing more important to her than having us all around her. She would giggle with joy when we had a family gathering, even though for most of it she was busy in the kitchen sending out delicious dish after delicious dish.

Well, mom is still bringing us together.

I have mourned several times over the last 15 years, as we have slowly lost our mom….we lost her eloquent conversation when we needed it most, her laughter playing with her grandchildren, her optimism and unending joy for life, her curious and wise mind, her resilient spirit when things were tough, her ‘you can do it’ encouragement when we didn’t believe in ourselves, her warm smile that could (and did) light up a room, and her sparkling brown eyes that were so full of love.

I know that the big mourn is yet to come.

I do not wish she would die.

I really just wish it were different for her.

But, it is not. And so, I will keep accepting this unexpected gift. There is indeed the gift of remembering, and of accepting…and there is also the unexpected gift of connecting with my siblings and their families … through – and with – the presence of mom.

I wonder if we would see each other as often as we do now, were mom no longer here. I wonder how different our conversations would be, if mom’s path had been different. I wonder if we would be as appreciative for the good things in life, as present with each other and with our own families, as cognizant of the impact a parent has on a child…were it not for this unexpected gift. The unexpected gift of a slow death.

What unexpected gifts, I wonder, are waiting for you?

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

One Simple Idea for the Best Father’s Day Gift Ever!

Letters to my DadLast Christmas, my daughter bought me the most interesting gift. The photo of it is the one featured here. ‘Letters To My Mom’.

I have to admit, I got a bit teary when I saw it. As I opened it up, I noticed that it contained 12 letters. The opening was initiated by the creator of the gift, and the words that followed were all from my daugher’s heart.

My daughter gave me the whole book on Christmas day, and I decided to open one letter per month. That way, it will last the whole year. I have opened 5 so far (I will open the 6th – for June – right after I hit ‘Publish’ on this post), and I am blown away by this ‘gift that keeps on giving’.

I thought this would also be an amazing gift to give to your Dad on Father’s Day (Sunday, June 18). If my Dad were still on this earth, I would give it to him. He is no longer here, but I think I will do it anyway. I will write these letters to him … and I know that it will help me to re-experience this beautiful man who brought me into this world and who meant so much to me, to my siblings, and to my mom.

You can make a book like this yourself, and add the openings you think best fit your relationship with your father.

Here are a few ideas for the letter themes:

  • A special memory I have of you is…
  • From you, I learned the importance of…
  • The places that remind me most of you are…
  • One thing I am glad we share is…
  • I always think of you when…
  • I love that our family…
  • One thing I admire about you is…
  • The best adventure we’ve had together is…
  • I’ve always wanted to tell you…
  • I always laugh when I remember…
  • I am most of proud of you when…
  • The moment that I knew what it meant to be a father is…
  • Thank you for…
  • In the future I hope we…

You can choose to give your Dad the whole book of letters, or you can write one per month and mail it to him. What a beautiful gift it will be for him to receive this from you. Especially in this time of electronic communication. Checking the mail will be a whole new experience for him!

Happy Father’s Day…to all the Current Dads, Future Dads, Dads who have left this Earth too soon, and Dads still to come…and to all of you who love those Dads!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

 

Feast on ‘Growth’ or Starve on Ego

Man&WomanMeeting1When Bob Kegan, Ph.D. spoke at the 2016 NeuroLeadership Summit in New York and said ‘feast on your weaknesses or starve on your ego’, I took special note. The topic of discussion was Feedback That Works, and the message being delivered was ‘Stop Giving Feedback’. I was intrigued.

Research from the NeuroLeadership Institute reinforces what many of us already know. Feedback, at least the way it happens in most organizations today, puts people in a threat state,  and makes it less likely that they will actually hear the feedback, and then take constructive action to: 1) contemplate the message, 2) ask thoughtful questions, and then, untimately, 3) make any adjustments that might be required as a result of receiving the feedback. They’ll be so focused on the threat, that their neural resources will be used up defending themselves (starving on ego) rather than in maximizing the opportunity to learn and grow (feasting on growth). Since feedback often only happens around Performance Management discussions, it is inextricably associated with all of the other negative repercussions of traditional PM.

There are two major concerns with the way feedback typically happens in organizations. First, it is GIVEN, not sought. Second, it is linked to the cycle of Performance Management (which for many organization, is also linked to ‘success’ in the organization, including level of remuneration and qualification for succession opportunities).

The answer is, indeed, to ‘stop giving feedback’…and to start asking for it!

Yes, you read that correctly! Instead of relying on others to ‘evaluate’ you, to indicate what is going well and what is not, why not ask for it – regularly. And, don’t just limit the asking to your immediate supervisor – ask everyone you interact with at work. Treat feedback that you hear as the gift that it is; insight into others’ experience of you and your actions, and the opportunities available for you to continue to learn and grow as a human being.

If you are asking for feedback, and you hear that feedback as critical information that will HELP you to learn and grow, then your brain will automatically be in a positive (reward) state rather than a negative (threat) state.

This will also support all of the ground-breaking research from Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset. Choosing to believe that you can continue to learn and grow throughout your life, automatically makes you more curious, more engaged, and more resilient. Feedback is simply another way to gain insight into opportunities for personal learning and growth. You win, your leader wins, and your organization wins.

Here are some simple strategies to help you to feast on growth:

  • Choose to believe that you can (and will) continue to learn and grow throughout your entire life
  • Approach key individuals in your organization and agree to engage in a two-way dialogue about feedback; ensure that each of you ask for and then share important information that is focused on helping eachother to learn and grow
  • When someone offers to give your feedback (and you have not asked for it), frame the feedback as a gift. Choose to look at the enchange as an opportunity for you to feast on growth (so you don’t starve on ego).

Bon appetit!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com

Three Pathways to Develop Self-Compassion

2017 meditation shot smallI am in a course on “Mindful Self-Compassion“. I wish you could be there with me.

After the very first session, I noticed a shift…I felt softer, I felt more loving, I felt more patient and kind. Each of those feelings were directed toward mySELF…and I noticed right away how they affected the feelings I had to important people in my life.

Kristin Neff says that ‘self-compassion’ means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. Well, I’ve had a few personal failings. I’ll bet you have too. I know I have not been very kind to myself during those times. Have you?

Kristin goes on to say that “Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience.”

In Neff’s research, the three elements of self-compassion are:

  1. Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgment: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.
  2. Common Humanity vs Isolation: Recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
  3. Mindfulness vs Over-Identification: Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.  At the same time, mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.

Here are three strategies from ‘Wake Up to Your Habits‘ that will provide practical pathways to develop more Self-Compassion:

If you want to be more: Caring, Compassionate, Tender

Ask yourself these questions to help Connect to Your Heart:

  • Who or what brings out tenderness in me?
  • What touches my heart?
  • How can I care for myself and/or others?

Try this body exercise to ‘Blink“:

  • Sit in front of a mirror. Close your eyes and imagine that you are sitting face to face  with someone you love. Pay attention to your feelings of care and tenderness. Now open your eyes.

If you want to be more: Loving, Affectionate, Liking

Ask yourself these questions to Appreciate What Matters:

  • What do I appreciate about myself?
  • What effect am I looking for?
  • What matters?

Try this body exercise to ‘Express Appreciation“:

  • Stand tall. Notice what you apreciate about your body – your feet, legs, torso, shoulders, head. What do you like about your senses – smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight? Expand your affection to all of you.

If you want to be more: Self-Confident, Self-Assured, Aligned

Ask yourself these questions to experience ‘Unconditional Acceptance‘:

  • What do I like about myself?
  • If I accepted myself unconditionally, what would be different?
  • What does life in alignment look like?

Try this body exercise to ‘Accept What Is‘:

  • Stand with your feed hip-width apart, with your arms and hands hanging loosely at your sides. Look into the mirror and say, “I accept all of who I am”. Now turn 90 degrees and repeat, “I accept all of who I am”. Turn 90 degrees twice more until you are facing the mirror. Repeat, turning in the opposite direction.

I love this quote by Rumi – I think it sums up what Self-Compassion is all about.

mm rumi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker and Author, Deri’s message reinforces that positive habits are the pathway to a happier and healthier life – at work, and at home! www.derilatimer.com