Thursday, January 31, 2008

Runner up for the Miss America Contest

I have clients, friends, acquaintances, who would consider second place (even in the Miss America contest) to be synonymous with failure. What’s wrong with this picture?

While it’s great to achieve excellence, wonderful to push oneself to the limit and undoubtedly a fantastic high to scale Everest (pun intended), every day is not going to be a first place, A+, make-it-to-the-top kind of day.

It’s also important to enjoy modest successes when they come and be proud of the A-minus, especially when you know in your heart-of-hearts you didn’t really study enough for the A.

There’s a fine line between being driven, and being so driven you drive yourself and everyone around you mad. As in most things, it’s good if you can find some kind of balance. A happy medium.

So mom, you’re saying I don’t have to get As? I can hear it already. We have to figure out for ourselves how hard we can push so that it feels right, and how hard is too hard. Stretch, but not so hard you snap. As my yoga teacher says, balance ease with effort.

I can see how it’s all connected to flow, using personal strengths (the subject of my upcoming newsletter: to sign up go to and happiness. Try to undertake endeavors that feel good, capitalize on your strengths and push yourself a little further...and enjoy the journey.

And yes, it’s totally awesome to come in second. After all, you have to be Miss some-state-or-other to even get in. And I have to imagine that that trip down the runway is amazing (no pun intended).

Listen to: Celebration, Kool & The Gang; Vogue, Madonna

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Like a Moth to a Flame

Theme of the week: getting burned in the doomed-from-the-start-relationship. Bad boys are the men women are attracted to (or women men are attracted to, and the rest of the possible combinations of the two sexes) who are toxic, trouble, and a whole bunch of other things that lead to pain, problems and heartache. Occasionally heartburn as well (see that book/film by Nora Ephram/ Mike Nichols, for a good example).

These babies are also fun, charming, sexy, exciting, etc. Bad Boys happens to be the name of a bail bond site (“because your momma wants you home” being the tagline)…what does that tell you? I have a friend who refers to problem stocks as bad boys (or dogs, equally fitting).

How did your bad boy/girl make you feel? Perhaps like you were a fun, charming, sexy, exciting person. Maybe you felt lucky to have landed such a catch. Were you basking in their glory? Feeling more interesting and desirable yourself?

Seriously, being involved with exciting people makes us feel better about ourselves…for a minute. The honeymoon period is generally fantastic. Trips, gifts and expensive dinners (okay, adjust down for age and income to movie-dates, cute trinkets and paying for your dinner at Red Lobster). We’re digging that attention, the high of someone so attractive being attracted to us, and the envy (or presumed envy) of onlookers. It’s only later that your friends admit they were concerned from the get-go. Nobody likes to burst your bubble. And even if they do, of course you don’t believe them. They’re just jealous, right?

As usual, we have to give up the momentary high for the long-term, lasting pleasure. There are fun, charming, sexy and exciting people who didn’t unceremoniously dump their last love for you, don’t have a reputation for being players and aren’t just interested in the best, new thing as long as it’s new. And a novel idea, try singledom for a while. It can be a really great way to figure out who you are, what you really want in a relationship and how to stay away from the flame, even though it does burn so bright.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Time Travel Paradox

Whenever I feel regret, I consider the time travel paradox. I'm reminded of my favorite Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Forever" in which Spock and Kirk travel back to the great depression after McCoy has unwittingly changed history. The "Terminator" films also share this theme in which the Terminator is sent back in time to kill John Connor who leads the fight against the machines.

In short, if we go back and change one thing in our histories, all other events that follow must invariably change as well. Although the physics may be arguable, logically, if I didn't,among other things, marry, divorce and move around as I have, I wouldn't have my wonderful child, sweetheart and work.

My clients know this immediately when they say they regret their marriages...but I wouldn't give up Jane, Dick or Spot for anything, they say. How true.

So how do you get rid of the regrets? It's similar to forgiveness which has been widely studied (see Seligman's book "Authentic Happiness" about which I am lately on a kick). The process I suggest is to consider the event in question (a relationship, a decision, etc). Think about the feelings, positive and negative. Consider the reasons you made the choice. There were probably a lot of good reasons. There were probably also a lot of things you didn't know (a la, if I knew then what I know now...). Work toward forgiving yourself because you need to give this gift to yourself in order to move on and be happy. Practice, practice, practice.

For inspiration try: Everyday is a Winding Road - Sheryl Crow or Good Riddance - Green Day

Monday, January 7, 2008

Don't Believe Everything You Think

I hope the title makes you think. I plan to use it a lot.

I came upon the adage as a bumper sticker recommended for people suffering with anorexia nervosa. That is, those who believe they're fat when they clearly are not. It applies to a lot of people and their beliefs...

those who think they're bad when they're really good

those who think they should be guilty when they're just having normal thoughts

those who think they don't have a right to feel happy when, of course, they do

those who think they're selfish when they're really not

those who think they're selfless when they're really selfish (okay, I just snuck this one in to see if you were paying attention).

The list could go on and on. Consider your typical self-criticisms or negative self-statements. Are there some you might want to toss?

To learn more about irrational beliefs:

If the link doesn't work go to, click on The Essence of Rational Emotive Therapy and scroll down to the 12 irrational ideas, which also includes more reasonable alternatives.

Disclaimer: This blog not intended for people who doubt everything they think.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolutions?

Of course, I have to say something about the ubiquitous news year's resolution. Two words: don't bother. Dont' think I'm just giving carte blanche here for sitting on your butt all year being the same old, same old.

But, you're probably not just going to go to bed one night and wake up the next morning being nice to everyone, using no profanity, dieting, quitting smoking (drinking, using, etc). I'd never say never, of course, but it's not terribly likely.

Any day is a great time to start something new. Just remember the cardinal rule of recovery: one day at a time. The real point of the adage is that it allows for lapses (falling off the wagon) AND resuming the work (getting back on the wagon). It's kind of like "today is the first day of the rest of your life," but not as smarmy.

If you want to make a resolution, resolve to work on something, "work" being the key word here.

So my resolves: let go of resentments, be more mindful, be less angry, love more fully, parent more wisely, have more fun, acquire less stuff, see more places, meet more people.

It's going to be a busy year!