Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why Comparing Your Problems to Other's Is Not Helping You


“I have a good job and a nice family.  So many people are so much worse off than me. I shouldn’t be depressed and anxious.”

A client said this to me the other day, and I have been thinking about it, ever since.  He is a compassionate person, and he was trying to put his issues into perspective.  But it begs the question – why do some people handle their life’s struggles – however big or small – so much better than others?

My view of psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety, are wrapped much less in the actual problem and much more in the person’s resiliency at the time of the problem.  Have you ever noticed that you yourself are more able to handle what is being thrown at you at certain points in your life?  And then sometimes, even the littles problems stress you out completely?

If we look at a biological, psychological and social situation of a person at different points in their life, we are going to paint a slightly different picture. 

Biologically, there are chemical and genetic factors that affect each person.  That is coupled with changes in hormones at different points of the lifecycle such as puberty, reproductive years, midlife and late life.  Psychologically, our childhood, upbringing and culture color how we view every situation.  And socially, we have and rely on different levels of support as others and also, within our own lifetimes.

While it is admirable to realize our situations shouldn’t be that debilitating based on what others are going through, it doesn’t solve our problems.  It may help keep things in perspective.  But it is more important to realize our own thresholds for stress, loneliness, frustration, and depression at any given time, and address them.  We are all individuals with vastly different needs, and sometimes we need to focus on ourselves to make life better.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Pet are they really hurting you?

"I hate when someone has more than 20 items in the quick check out line...It's my pet peeve".  Can you believe that jerk just cut into my lane?... That's my pet peeve".

Most of us have them.  Very few people can roll through life without being aggravated by little things like going for a snack in the cupboard and finding the box is empty.  Full disclosure - all three of these are pet peeves of mine!

But the longer your pet peeve list, the more stress you are causing yourself.  And as we all know, stress is not mentally or physically good for you. 

Consider pet peeves sort of like allergies: the more you are dealing with at one time, the more they are weighing negatively on your system. 

And think about it - when you get worked up by a pet peeve, what does it solve? You can't (or shouldn't for safety reasons) confront the jerk who cut you off.  The snack will not magically appear, because you are upset.  The only one you are hurting as your blood pressure rises, your fists clench and your mind races, is you!

So the next time your friend is late for lunch, take a deep breath. Consciously, let it go.  Think about how little it matters in the long run and let yourself relax.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bad Habits

“I have got to lose 10 pounds before we go on our cruise next month.”   “I will start saving money for retirement, right after I pay off my car.”   “I will quit smoking right after my busy season at work is over.”

We all have things we want to do for ourselves.  We know all the reasons why we should do them. So why don’t we?  Let’s talk about it.  Let’s talk about you.  You consider yourself a pretty together person.  You work hard.  You consider yourself a fairly strong person.  So why can’t you tackle that one thing that’s been nagging at you?  You know it’s good for you.  You know all the reasons why you should do it – quit smoking, stop eating sweets, save more money, exercise more, stop after one glass of wine, etc.

But when’s the last time you thought about why you do that “bad thing”?  Because there are reasons – simple ones like “I like chocolate – it tastes really good.”  And there are more complex reasons like “if I look better, maybe men will start noticing me, and I am afraid of the attention,” or “smoking gives me an excuse to walk out of the office a few minutes every few hours, and I need to get out, because I hate my job.”

So you are supposed to do this good thing and break this bad habit or pattern.  But there are valid reasons that you have these habits.

Sit down and write out:

    • Why it would be good to quit…
    • Why it would not be good to quit…
    • Why it would be good to keep doing…
    • Why it would not be good to keep doing…

These are different lists – I promise.  Take your time.  Nobody but you is going to see this list.  Take a few days, if you need it.  Be honest with yourself.  Is it worth it?  What “good habit” can you substitute to solve the reasons why you have that bad habit?  Most people need a substitute – it’s why people who quit smoking often gain weight!  It may be yoga or breathing techniques or unraveling the root of the issue.

You may decide it’s not worth it, you’re not ready or you are going to cut back but not quit.  Maybe you can learn to be okay with those extra pounds.   Perhaps you’re able to commit to 2 cigarettes a day instead of 8.

It’s your life.  It’s your decision.  It’s your commitment.