General

Five Tips to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

If you're an introvert like me, who sees any "confidence boosting'" tip online as the tastiest link bait in the online ocean, you'll have read this common piece of advice: "Fake it 'til you make it." Right? Of course! That's what we have to do to appear more confident: just fake it.

Like anything in life we struggle with, "faking" our skill level gets us to where we want to be -- right? Not for me.

One of the reasons I lack confidence in many situations is that I feel like an imposter. Like I'm a total fake, just waiting to be found out.
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General

The Beauty of Intentional Forgetting

We store memories using a variety of contexts -- sights, sounds, smells, who was there, the weather, etc. Context helps us retrieve these memories later. For instance, my husband recently made roast chicken and collard greens. It was a normal Sunday night, then the collards hit the iron skillet and I was transported back to 1994. It smelled just like Tuesday night dinner at my Maw-Maw’s house. Walking into the kitchen, I fully expected her to be there at the stove stirring a pot of red beans with ham hocks.

The next morning my home still smelled like it, and it was like she was with me while I showered and got dressed. It was comforting. Of course it was, I love my grandmother very much. But what about the memories you don’t love? What about the times you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth? What about the time you were tyrannically insistent about something and turned out to be wrong? What about the time you cheated on your significant other? What about the time you were dumped?
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General

Identifying How You’d Like to Spend Your Days

I recently penned a piece about the importance of being selective. Because the reality is that we can’t do everything. Our time is limited. And trying to do everything only stops us from focusing on what matters most (to us). It overshadows it. One day might run into the next, and before we know it, a week has flown by. And yet we feel empty and unfulfilled. We feel aimless.

This might be because we’re unclear about what is actually significant to us. We might not know our priorities. Maybe we’ve been so busy focusing on the minutiae -- checking off random tasks and chores -- that we’ve neglected the bigger picture. Maybe we’ve been so busy following other people’s definitions of success and productivity and meaning that we’ve neglected to consider what feels true and right for us.

These questions can help you name what’s important to you and discover how you’d like to spend your days.
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Bipolar

The Life-Saving Power of Purpose

Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Two years ago I tested that theory.

I’ve always been depressed. I must have emerged from my mother’s womb with an overactive amygdala and a deficient prefrontal cortex -- creative brain wiring that generates panic and sadness. I was almost hospitalized in the fourth grade because I simply could not stop crying.

However, since December of 2008, when the market crashed, I hadn’t been able to surface into the land of the living and do things like pick up the kids from school and be at places like swim practice without hearing constant
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General

How Quitting Facebook Helped My Mental Health

About a year ago, I quit Facebook. It had become a place for me to experience disappointment and agitation. Distant relatives whom I hadn't seen in years were messaging me for favors. The presidential election was gearing up and people were getting very vocal about politics. And some of my best friends were dropping out of the site or not sharing anything anymore.

I decided it was time to close my account and do something more positive with my time. It was hard to break the habit, but there was much to be gained.
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Books

Living a Life by Design Instead of by Default

Some days, or maybe most days, you might feel like a passenger in the backseat of your own car. You are being driven to destinations you don’t want to go by a driver you didn’t pick. You feel stretched too thin. You are exhausted. You feel overwhelmed. You are attending events you’d rather not attend. Your to-do list is filled with tasks you don’t want to do. And the things you do want to do? Somehow those aren’t on the list.

This might mean that you're living life by default, not by design.

Thankfully, this is something you can change. In his eye-opening book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown shares valuable tips on how we can start living (and working) by design. Essentialism is pursuing less and better (versus trying to get everything done). It is constantly asking the question: “Am I investing in the right activities?” And by "right," he means whatever is essential to you. It is being deliberate and thoughtful about our days.
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General

5 Quick Ways to Recognize Your Self-Worth

Self-esteem is not a hot and sexy topic. Not even close. I know people don’t love to talk about their self-esteem in front of others, but I’m passionate about it.

Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. Have you ever noticed how prevalent low self-esteem is among the general population? I have. I have also grown to understand there is a lot we can do to change that. Once we become comfortable in our skin, our self-esteem can soar.

I used to have low self-esteem and all the accompanying characteristics. Then one day I began to ask myself why. Why do I feel this way? This one question inspired more than 10 years of studying low self-esteem and strategies to increase it. It consistently remained a focus for me for more than a decade.

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Aging

Going Back to School Later in Life

This past September my mother, at age 70-something, returned to graduate school after a 40-year career in interior design.

Going back to school brought great joy to her life. She loved learning and being part of a collegiate community with its accompanying youthful energy and enthusiasm. But she also experienced high anxiety about grades, keeping up with the workload, reading small print with her failing eyesight, and getting to class in bad weather.

When I went back to school at age 39, I also remember feeling both excitement and fear. My mind raced with questions: will I be able to study and do well while maintaining my family responsibilities? Will I be the oldest in my class? Will I still have the focus to study after all these years? Will the classes be interesting? Is it worth the money that school costs? Will it lead to a better life? I had many hopes and dreams but also the fear of failure, dread of embarrassment, and anxiety about all the unknowns.

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Children and Teens

What to Do When You Feel Unmotivated in Your Career (And 3 Ways to Do Your Best Work)

We’ve all faced days at the office where we’re just not feeling motivated. Off days happen to everyone and it’s tough -- if not unrealistic -- to constantly do your best work. There are bound to be times when you procrastinate too much, lack focus, or struggle to start important projects.

You may react by getting down on yourself, wondering where your determination has gone. It can be disappointing to feel like you’re not living up to your aspirations, especially when there’s important work to be done, which there almost always is. Speed, efficiency, and productivity are what drive results, and when our energy doesn’t match our ambition, it can be frustrating.
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Anxiety and Panic

How to Find Power in Silence

"Silence is a source of great strength." -- Lao Tzu (6th century BCE)
How is silence a source of strength? I adore the works of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, but sometimes I don’t know what he means. Does he just mean the kind of silence in meditation?

Here’s more:
When life is simple,
Pretenses fall away;
Our essential natures shine through.

By not wanting there is calm,
And the world will straighten itself out.
When there is silence
One finds the anchor of the universe within oneself.
This kind of silence appears to be the inner peace of living in the moment and appreciating the invaluable ordinary things around us every day. Quieting all those thoughts that color our perception day in and day out, we live in the moment and tap into a bounty of joy and gratitude for the simplest things.
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College

The Ladder of Success is Different for Different People

“Welcome to the neighborhood. You will love our cozy cul-de-sac. See you at the annual block party!” the Jones’s pastel invitation coos.

Don’t know the Joneses? In reality, you have known them your entire life.

The Joneses represent homecoming Barbie and Ken, doting college sweethearts, first-time homebuyers, the ascending professional couple, and the glitzy “it” couple living in the tree-shrouded corner home. Which, incidentally, is where you and your family will be mingling awkwardly at the Friday block party.
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Anxiety and Panic

A Doctorate in Life: Dual Degrees

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since the age of 4,” an ex-girlfriend once confided. She said this with absolute certitude.

At age 4, I was whimpering for Little Debbies. Doctor? Sure, I was a precocious child, at least according to my mother, but terrorizing babysitters and sparring with brothers was my chosen profession.

I marveled at Haley’s preternatural obsession with medicine. She knew, like, in her bones knew, that medicine was her destined profession. “How do you know?” I would inquire -- a touch of amazement and disbelief lining my voice.
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