Sixteen Months of Type — ISFJ

This is the seventh post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ISFJ. To remind you, we are using our material on managing life transitions with psychological type (formerly available through CPP as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration) as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

ISFJ, Introversion, Sensing, Feeling and Judging
When facing an LCE, ISTJs typically want an approach that is well established and supportive as they come to grips with their altered circumstances. If your preferences are for ISFJ, you most likely want to find peace and quiet to enable you to digest all that has been happening and to consider carefully how you can sequence any next steps so that they are most beneficial for all concerned. ISFJs tend to prefer plans that emphasize security and maintain predictability (as much as possible) and seek methods to assure them that what they are doing what is sensible and appropriate. People who prefer ISFJ often find that activities that produce a tangible or useful product – knitting, gardening or woodworking, for example – can help them feel more relaxed as they work through the ambiguities that usually accompany an LCE. Engaging in activities with specific steps and specific goals can help them regain a sense of stability and comfort when so much else feels uncertain.

When ISFJ preferences are overdone, people who prefer ISFJ may fail to recognize that their interest in preserving tradition is keeping them stuck in routines and processes that are no longer meeting their needs. This tendency may also keep them from utilizing and adapting to new data that could improve circumstances and create new and better practices and procedures. Moreover, in their desire to serve others, ISFJs may put their own concerns on the back burner. If they don’t get encouragement from significant others to make self-care a priority, they may see play or relaxation as a dereliction of duty rather than as an appropriate way to recharge that all of us need (even the highly dedicated ISFJ!). With their typically strong sense of loyalty and commitment, those who prefer ISFJ may shy away from expressing divergent views and postpone discussions about where views clash out of a fear of stirring up conflict. Counter to their intentions, this approach may increase the likelihood of misunderstandings and exhaust them as they try to do the impossible and keep all parties happy.

ISFJs typically need a kind companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. By being available on a regular and consistent basis, a caring companion can provide the ISFJ with non-hurried, one-on-one time to discuss their hopes and fears. Such a companion can help them to sort through the facts and help make these more meaningful by connecting the personal specifics the ISFJ is dealing with to the larger picture. Since ISFJs are usually concerned with how they might be perceived by others, a sympathetic companion can gently nudge them to check the accuracy of these perceptions; reminding them to examine whether their beliefs about what others want or expect of them are accurate. Further, things have changed, therefore what’s expected or what’s appropriate is likely changing, too. Some confusion or awkwardness during the transition is normal and is not a character failing of others or of the ISFJ!

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ISFJ, they may be left staggered and adrift with all the new data coming at them and feel unable to sift through it in such a way as to create an outline of what’s happening and prioritize their actions. Similarly, if there is insufficient information, or the available data are vague, ISFJs may struggle to commit to any plans for the future, wanting to wait until they are certain of all the necessary steps. Caring companions who have “been there” can serve as role models and help the ISFJ get unstuck. Together they can list and clarify what is already or still working so that these things can become part of new plans and traditions. With this thoughtful help, ISFJs can be reassured that many current practices – albeit some requiring updates or tweaks – will continue to be usable, thereby creating a bridge from the past to the future. Through this support, people who prefer ISFJ can begin to evaluate their options more realistically, find solutions in line with their values, and perhaps even start to celebrate some of their successes – or at the very least their hard work – in forging a new way forward.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 78
If you prefer ISFJ (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find the ways to enrich your connections with others by reaching out to share stories, time, and activities?
  2. How can you explore the larger meaning of your experiences in order to discover new ways of proceeding that might help you to manage your transition more successfully?
  3. How can you take an objective inventory of which approaches to your new circumstances are working and which are not?
  4. How can you build flexibility into your goals and plans to take advantage of learning opportunities as they appear?

Sixteen Months of Type — ENFP

This is the sixth post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ENFP. To remind you, we are using our material on managing life transitions with psychological type (formerly available through CPP as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration) as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

ENFP, Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving
When facing an LCE, ENFPs typically want an approach that makes it possible for them to stretch and grow. If your preferences are for ENFP, you most likely see a life-changing event as a time to embrace change and do things differently. People who prefer ENFP tend to do best if they have ongoing, informal opportunities to share and discuss ideas as they arise and when plans are kept flexible, imaginative, and expansive. Limiting options or codifying procedures before ENFPs have had the chance to try things out or play with new concepts typically dampens their enthusiasm and motivation. ENFPs tend to be drawn to strategies that feel nontraditional and fun, and those that include a variety of people and circumstances. They often have an uncanny ability to draw the greatest resources of talent from these interactions and in doing so, make it so that the most may benefit from the changes taking place.

When ENFP preferences are overdone, there can be a tendency for them to overextend themselves at the risk of jeopardizing their health and/or neglecting practical concerns. In their zest for devising creative strategies, people who prefer ENFP may not fully consider whether their inventive plans can realistically be enacted. Further, because ENFPs generally enjoy change, when facing an LCE they may too quickly dismiss those things that have worked in the past in favor of starting everything anew. Embarking on a complete “do-over” may inadvertently make things tougher by creating more work for themselves and others. In addition, the ENFP’s typical optimism and desire to see everyone happy may also mean that debates are curtailed or critical facts are not thoroughly discussed for fear of provoking conflict when such conversations may be both helpful and necessary to avoid mistakes.

ENFPs typically need an imaginative companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. The support of such a mentor is particularly important when it comes to brainstorming the possibilities that LCEs bring. Since people who prefer ENFP typically get their best insights when talking over their ideas, they desire companions who can use metaphors and imagery to help them visualize options and who will understand and honor the importance of imagination. These companions can also assist those who prefer ENFP in formulating ways to manage their time and energy in order to establish conditions that are sustaining to their practical and physical needs. This helps ENFPs conserve stamina for developing the big picture—their favorite part of the process and usually the best use of their gifts.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ENFP, they may feel isolated, with the sense that they are missing out on opportunities to make things better because their ideas are not valued or fully explored. Without the benefit of an imaginative companion, they may lose motivation and not fully participate in plans and strategies that they deem too staid or conventional. This is a loss for them and others, as their unique approach may offer the fine-tuning needed to make existing policies better. A resourceful companion can help ENFPs creatively position their ideas in practical terms, which helps traditionalists and non-traditionalists alike accept, appreciate and utilize the ENFPs’ contributions.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 77
If you prefer ENFP (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find time to check-in with yourself and discover what matters most – in terms of the bottom line as well as in people terms?
  2. How can your past experiences be a guide to what might help you manage things more successfully now?
  3. How can you take an objective inventory of the pressing facts as they relate to the transition taking place?
  4. How can you incorporate a few plans, schedules, or routines to help you manage your time and energy more easily?

Sixteen Months of Type – ISTP

This is the fifth post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ISTP. Things have changed since our April post and we are excited to be developing a new platform on which to release our material on managing life transitions with psychological type (formerly available through CPP as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration) so that it is more helpful, accessible and user friendly, in order to better reach those who could benefit.

As a result, we are in the process of getting this material to a wider audience and this blog will remain one of our methods. Stay tuned for news of our next move and read on to hear our thoughts on the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs).

ISTP, Introversion, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving
When facing an LCE, ISTPs typically want an approach that is tactical and economical. If your preferences are for ISTP, you most likely want to evaluate plans in terms of their feasibility and need to have a reason to engage in new tasks or try out new behaviors, especially if these are unfamiliar. ISTPs generally require time to assess personally any new situation that presents itself. This time is essential for ISTPs in order to get their own, direct read on how things have changed and how things are. ISTPs may need others to be patient, understanding that outside reports are likely to seem irrelevant or unimportant until this first, individual survey is completed. If this internal review shows action is warranted, ISTPs can usually be counted on to get going on tackling the challenge at hand. ISTPs tend to be energized by troubleshooting; applying their problem-solving abilities to uncover which possibilities can most readily be made concrete and actionable.

When ISTP preferences are overdone, ISTPs may focus on what strategy seems easy and straightforward at the expense of what might be most meaningful to them and to others long term. If they can’t see a way to make an immediate impact, they may withdraw their participation. They may also get so caught up in the perceived inconsistencies or lack of logic of the new circumstances that they miss opportunities to connect and collaborate with others who could help them sift through the facts to determine what matters and what doesn’t. In stressful conditions such as these, isolated from corrective feedback, they may fail to acknowledge that life is full of situations that are frustratingly nonsensical. Opening up to outside input can help ISTPs regain their typically more pragmatic view of how the world operates and allow them to be more present for – and even enjoy – the help being offered and those offering it.

ISTPs typically need a matter-of-fact companion to mentor, guide and support them on their transition journey. Such a companion can encourage them to share thoughts and feelings by offering detailed stories and anecdotes drawn from personal experience. Honest and direct conversation like this can stimulate ISTPs to apply their adaptive approach to the emotional as well as the logistical demands of LCEs. These companions can also assist those who prefer ISTP to look at things from a standpoint of curiosity, awakening the creative and analytic skillfulness typically present in ISTPs approach to problem solving. Such companions also serve ISTPs by helping them to distinguish between areas where improvisation will be fruitful and those where a more considered, deliberate approach will be required.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ISTP, they may see no other way forward than to go it alone. However, the solo activities they relied on in less demanding times may no longer be enough to help them relax and regain perspective. By their nature, LCES tend to create understandable concerns about competence, reduce confidence and bring up feelings of vulnerability. Without a trusted companion who can put things in matter-of-fact terms and normalize such feelings, emotions may overwhelm ISTPs to such an extent that fail to activate their typical interest in and expertise at puzzling their way out of dilemmas and challenges. A straight talking companion can remind them that these emotional impacts – on ISTPs and on the significant others in their lives – also have practical implications which, if attended to, can be managed for the benefit of all.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 76
If you prefer ISTP (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find ways to enrich your experience by connecting with others and reaching out to share stories, time, and strategies?
  2. How can you find ways to see this transition as an opportunity to expand your perspective in order to approach things more optimistically and enthusiastically?
  3. How can you assess the impact of your behavior on those significant to you and what do you need to ask for from others?
  4. How can you create plans, schedules, or routines to help you manage your new way of living more easily?

 

Sixteen Months of Type — ISTJ

This is the fourth post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ISTJ. To remind you, we are using material in our booklet Introduction to Type® and Reintegration as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

ISTJ, Introversion, Sensing, Thinking and Judging
When facing an LCE, ISTJs typically want an approach that is realistic, step-by-step and logical and makes sense within traditional frameworks they understand well. If your preferences are for ISTJ, you most likely require time alone to research and reflect on what is happening. Wherever possible, investigating connections between your current situation and what you already know can help fuel the desire to solve new problems. In order to move forward most effectively, ISTJs tend to prefer a plan that approaches change carefully and incrementally; rushing or pursuing change for change’s sake feels uncomfortable and can be a great source of stress. ISTJs need others to respect their need for a measured policy.

When ISTJ preferences are overdone, there can be a tendency toward delaying action to avoid change and an undervaluing of new data or methods in favor of what’s customary because it’s customary rather than due to its inherent superiority. In addition, people who prefer ISTJ may be unable to envision positive outcomes and therefore imagine a worst-case scenario because they are facing a situation with which they have no prior experience. Furthermore when stressed, their tendency to turn inward, which usually serves them well, may cause them to fail to share their concerns with others. In such cases their private thoughts may get the better of them, allowing their worries to multiply unchecked.

ISTJs typically need an experienced companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. By sharing his/her knowledge in plain language and in specific, commonsense terms, the support of such a mentor can ease confusion. These companions can provide the benefit of their experience, offering useful examples of related and relevant situations that can give the ISTJ a better sense of what to expect. They can furnish an outline of what has worked for others in similar circumstances and what milestones to look for to feel more certain that they are on the right track. Someone who has “been there” can remind them that transitions are hard for everyone and that everyone handles change a little differently. Experienced companions can also remind ISTJs that when things settle into a “new normal,” their typical style of carefully thinking things through can be of great help in crafting useful, new, fresh traditions, standards, and procedures.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ISTJ, they may fail to see the big picture, get mired in details, and cling to notions from the past that are no longer relevant, and without realizing it, frustrate those around them. Left to their own devices, ISTJs may also fail to recognize that their pace and the pace of others during change may be different. Thus they may shy away from temporary compromises in speed and accuracy believing that the only good solution is one that can be made permanent. A seasoned companion can encourage them check in with others to benefit from their experience and to learn how they are seeing things. With this help and additional information, ISTJs can then employ their keen data gathering and data analysis skills. Thus prepared, they can more confidently determine where compromises may need to be made and if their private worries are warranted or are more related to a fear of the unknown than to objective facts.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 75
If you prefer ISTJ (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find ways to enrich your experience by connecting with others and reaching out to share stories, time, and strategies?
  2. How can you find ways to see this transition as an opportunity to expand your perspective in order to approach things more optimistically and enthusiastically?
  3. How can you assess the impact of your behavior on those significant to you?
  4. How can you build flexibility into your goals and plans to take advantage of learning opportunities as they appear?

 


Lines in italics adapted from pp. 18-19 Hirsh, E., Hirsh, K. W., & Peak, J. (2011). Introduction to type® and reintegration: A framework for managing the transition home. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Sixteen Months of Type — ENFJ

This is the third post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ENFJ. To remind you, we are using material in our booklet Introduction to Type® and Reintegration as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

ENFJ, Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging
When facing an LCE, ENFJs typically want an approach that highlights people’s strengths and is aligned with values. If your preferences are for ENFJ, you most likely see a life-changing event as an opportunity to involve others and find a solution that enhances your relationships. People who prefer ENFJ often use their own transitions as the inspiration to become leaders of community organizations or groups that support others facing similar challenges. ENFJs seek to balance the need for immediate action and a desire for group harmony, so they typically strive to craft plans that promote the greatest common good in the hope that such plans will be embraced readily by all concerned so that good will can restored as quickly as possible.

When ENFJ preferences are overdone, there can be a tendency overcommit to helping others, often at the expense of self-care. Moreover, in their drive for action and interaction, people who prefer ENFJ may not take the time to examine their motives and as a result may substitute keeping busy for a careful investigation of their own and others’ true needs and values. In addition, because they generally want to be agreeable, when ENFJs are in a position of needing care and validation, they can find it challenging to express anger or disappointment at a significant other’s inability to provide support during an LCE. Further, the ENFJ’s desire to see the best in people can also mean that even after this sort of distressing experience they may fail to prune such relationships even when they are no longer sustaining, thus leaving themselves open to be hurt again.

ENFJs typically need an encouraging companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. The support of such a mentor is particularly important when it comes to exploring the emotional impacts of an LCE. Since people who prefer ENFJ typically feel comfortable sharing thoughts and feelings openly, they desire companions who will validate their displays of emotions, both positive and negative. These companions can also assist those who prefer ENFJ to use their insights into emotional states to discern which relationships feel reciprocal, which might be better dissolved and when they might require downtime to regroup and re-energize.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ENFJ, they may fail to grapple with the conflict between how they actually feel and how they believe that someone in their position should be feeling. Without the benefit of a reassuring companion, they may avoid or repress what they deem to be socially unacceptable feelings, inadvertently adding more stress to what is already a tough situation. In addition to the loss of integrity this creates, suppression of such thoughts and feelings can create a snowball effect, turning what were initially small concerns into bigger issues. An uplifting companion can get them back on track by helping them to look inside for the sources of their worth and value; reminding them that strong character is built upon grappling with difficult emotions.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 74
If you prefer ENFJ (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find time to check-in with yourself and discover what matters most – in terms of the bottom line as well as in people terms?
  2. How can you explore the larger meaning of your experiences in order to discover new ways of proceeding that might help you to manage your transition more successfully?
  3. How can your past experiences be a guide to what might help you manage things more successfully now?
  4. How can you build flexibility into your action plan to take advantage of learning opportunities as they appear?

 


 

Lines in italics adapted from pp. 40-41 Hirsh, E., Hirsh, K. W., & Peak, J. (2011). Introduction to type® and reintegration: A framework for managing the transition home. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Sixteen Months of Type – ISFP

This is the second post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ISFP. To remind you, we are using material in our booklet Introduction to Type® and Reintegration as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

ISFP, Introversion, Sensing, Feeling and Perceiving

When facing an LCE, ISFPs typically want an approach that is friendly and flexible to their individual needs. If your preferences are for ISFP, you most likely want to get a read on your new situation before taking action and will need others to be tolerant of your internal, private search for emotional clarity. ISFPs tend to prefer a plan that feels supportive and gives them time to make sense of disconcerting or unusual experiences. If they are rushed or forced into a “one-size fits all” approach, they may tune out or reject the process altogether – they want to consider things carefully in order to find methods that foster the wellbeing of those they care about and increase their personal sense of peace.

When ISFP preferences are overdone, people who prefer ISFP may fail to consider the logical implications of an approach and instead base their choices on the drive to preserve harmony or protect feelings. Their temperate, careful approach can mean that they delay action, or fail to ask for what they need, if doing so could cultivate conflict. They may also assume that things will get better on their own if they simply leave them as they are. If they were instead to take a more active role, by envisioning where they would like things to end up – in both bottom-line and personal terms –and then trying out a few things to move them along this path, this could be much more beneficial.

ISFPs typically need a sympathetic companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. Since those who prefer ISFP are often self-effacing, they seek companions, whether friends, colleagues or helping professionals, who are caring, low-key and able to remind them of their strengths and talents when they forget. Providing gentle, open-minded encouragement, tailored to them specifically, is crucial for people who prefer ISFP. They seek practical help delivered in a flexible way that enables them to improve connections with their significant others. In short, this help should be from someone whom ISFPs feel will champion them in a personl and sincere fashion and also be attentive to the demands of their day-to-day lives.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ISFP, they may struggle with the ambiguity that accompanies LCEs and interpret this confusion as incompetence on their part. A savvy companion can help them to see that it’s OK to participate more fully, even if the steps taken are experimental or tentative. Due to the careful consideration ISFPs typically put into all they do, any actions taken will often improve the situation for all concerned regardless of how imperfect they might seem to the ISFP. Without friendly but firm encouragement, people who prefer ISFP may devalue the good they could do for themselves and others due to their modest self-assessment. Having a consistent companion cheering them on helps remind ISFPs of their unique strengths; including their tendency to pursue solutions that benefit all involved, in useful, hands-on ways. Having support that reinforces the value of their unique approach allows ISFPs to feel more confident voicing their opinions and taking action – often exactly what is needed to make things better for all concerned.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 73
If you prefer ISFP (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find the ways to enrich your connections with others by reaching out to share stories, time, and activities?
  2. How can you explore the larger meaning of your experiences in order to discover new ways of proceeding that might help you to manage your transition more successfully?
  3. How can you take an objective inventory of which approaches to your new circumstances are working and which are not?
  4. How can you create plans, schedules, or routines to help you manage your new way of living more easily?

 


Lines in italics adapted from p. 28-29 Hirsh, E., Hirsh, K. W., & Peak, J. (2011). Introduction to type® and reintegration: A framework for managing the transition home. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Sixteen Months of Type — ENTJ

It’s 2016 and it struck us that the sixteenth year of the decade might be a time to look at the sixteen types captured in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. We will focus on one type each month, starting with ENTJ, and as there are sixteen types, the process will take a year and four months to complete. We will use material in our booklet Introduction to Type® and Reintegration as the jumping off point for each piece and endeavor to connect this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs).

ENTJ, Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking and Judging
When facing an LCE, ENTJs typically want an approach that is groundbreaking and action-oriented. If your preferences are for ENTJ, you most likely don’t want to sit around and wait for things to change. You want to make things happen. ENTJs tend to prefer that a decision be made (they don’t always need to be the decider) so that they can get going. If it doesn’t work out the first time around, their usual approach is to learn from what went wrong and try again as soon as it is practical – the goal is to DO something, preferably something that breaks new ground.

When ENTJ preferences are overdone, for example, people who prefer ENTJ may fail to attend to current realities and their own values and feelings. This action-oriented approach can mean that they head off in a new direction without paying much heed to how the changes will impact them and/or their significant others in the near term. They may also assume that more action will make the difference, when instead time could be better spent reviewing current constraints and potential consequences – in both personal and bottom-line terms – and building these into their approach BEFORE continuing.

When facing an LCE, ENTJs typically need a self-assured companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. Since those who prefer ENTJ are usually brimming with self-confidence, they seek companions, whether friends, colleagues or helping professionals, who aren’t afraid to share opinions, respond to questioning robustly, and perhaps, on occasion, even spar with them. This self-assurance should be an aspect of the companion’s general demeanor and also be rooted in competence, as people who prefer ENTJ seek not just someone who is confident, but someone who can back this up with real ability. In short, they should be someone who can “walk the talk” and hold themselves and the person with ENTJ preferences accountable.

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ENTJ, they may struggle with the ambiguity that accompanies LCEs and interpret this confusion as incompetence on their part. A savvy companion can help them to see that waiting until they have more clarity around an issue instead of rushing to make further changes can be a strength. Without forthright or even blunt feedback, people who prefer ENTJ may believe that all is well simply because they have heard nothing to the contrary from others. Having an outspoken companion helps because this person can challenge them directly and also remind them to assess others’ level of discomfort through observation; does the person with whom they are interacting seem to be stalling, absenting themselves or maintaining a determined silence. If so, perhaps examining the situation further, before acting, is the best choice.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 72
If you prefer ENTJ (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find time to check-in with yourself and discover what matters most – in people terms as well as in terms of the bottom line?
  2. How can your past experiences be a guide to what might help you manage things more successfully now?
  3. How can you assess the impact of your actions on those you care about?
  4. How can you build flexibility into your action plan to take advantage of learning opportunities as they appear?

 


Lines in italics adapted from p. 48 and the four questions from p. 49 of Hirsh, E., Hirsh, K. W., & Peak, J. (2011). Introduction to type® and reintegration: A framework for managing the transition home. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.

Happy…? Holidays

For many the holiday season is a joyful time, for others it can be a time of loneliness or stress. Most of us experience a combination of these feelings depending upon the circumstances. In some years things seem to go very well, some years are just mediocre, and in some years it feels like we will barely survive the madness.

What if we could reclaim the holidays as an occasion for general enjoyment and peace rather than striving for some picture perfect experience? We think it is possible, at least in small moments or doses.

Here are a few ways to make the season a bit brighter:

If you experience the holidays as a lonely time:
Find ways to connect with others. Take a risk and reach out to friends and family; you may be surprised at the invitations you receive. Be bold: offer to host a gathering or take someone out for coffee or dinner. Remember, you are unlikely to be the only one who’s feeling lonely.

Design a new holiday tradition such as volunteering at food bank and/or giving a stressed friend or family member the gift of your time by offering to babysit, run errands or provide help with a task (perhaps even one that’s holiday themed, like preparing a traditional food or decorating). It’s much harder to feel lonely when you are busy helping others.

If you experience holidays as a stressful time:
Don’t put yourself last! Resist the pressure to give to the point of financial, physical or emotional “bankruptcy.” Ensure that you have some time and energy to focus on your own needs and wants. Doing so will be a gift to all, as you will be much happier and relaxed for not having exhausted all of your resources.

It’s OK to decline some invitations or to decide that you won’t do something you would typically do. The world will not come to end if a party goes on without you or you resolve not to take charge of the cooking this year. If you hear grumbles about the changes, try to put them in perspective. Strive to see this new approach as an opportunity for you (and others) to share responsibilities and develop new skills, including the vital skill of saying “no.”

Make moments of tranquility part of your daily routine. Find simple and inventive ways to take a break and de-stress such as:

  • Spend 5 or 10 minutes here and there doing nothing but relaxing.
  • Take short walks.
  • Read a blog or magazine article.
  • Call a friend who makes you laugh.
  • Play some music to soothe you as you are rushing around from place to place or completing necessary tasks.
  • Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to; people will typically leave you alone in there.

Most importantly, decide for yourself what the holidays are about. Sometimes we mourn what we think we are supposed to be feeling or experiencing when these notions may actually come from family, friends or marketers. Create your own vision of what’s important and what constitutes a good time. Determine what matters to you and then use your time to do that instead of what you think you should be doing.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 71
Make the season bright no matter your circumstances. Take the initiative both to reach out to others and to engage in self-care. Take the opportunity to do and see things in new ways. Doing so the fosters the wellbeing of all – and what could be more holiday-season appropriate than that?! Happy Holidays 2014!

There’s Nothing Garden-Variety About You!

In Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion stories “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.” However, if there were an “average,” this means that some people must be below it, some in the middle, and finally some lucky people get to be above it. It obscures the fact that all of us stand out in some ways and all of us are just like everybody else, too. Our unique combination of features makes us who we are: individual and exceptional as well as alike.

The key is realizing that one of the most amazing things we all have in common is that we are each special in our own way. And this is a very good thing. It’s not only OK to be ourselves, but it is actually preferable. We know that in nature diversity equals health. The greater the variety of plants in a garden, field, or forest, the healthier that environmental system. The same is true for us human beings (and how often do we overlook that we are part of the natural world too?!).

With this in mind, read on for some tips on how to cultivate and honor your unique place in the human ecosystem:

Be proud to be who you are. In a garden, a tomato seed grows into a tomato plant. It doesn’t spend time yearning to be a zucchini or a pumpkin. Take a look at how you have developed and celebrate the successes you’ve had and the hurdles you’ve overcome thus far. No one has done it just like you!

Let fun, not fear, guide you. Unlike in the forest where plants and trees seek what nourishes them – sunshine, water, etc. – too many of us think that pleasure can wait and we deny ourselves what would feed our souls. Yet if we enjoy what we do, we are likely to deepen our skills and better contribute to the wellbeing of all.

Embrace difference. Peppers and eggplant need full sun, however spinach, chard and arugula can thrive even in shade. Rather than struggling to flourish in a space that doesn’t sustain you, acknowledge your needs and strike out for greener pastures. Think what you could do if your environment were supporting instead of hindering your growth!

Self-Discovery Tool Number 70
Every leaf and every petal is unique and so are you. Build on those things that make you, you. Offer your special gifts to the world and encourage others to do the same – our differences are our strength – our collective health depends on it!

There’s no elevator to the top, you’ll have to take the stairs

Upon hearing this expression the other day, it got us thinking. What does this mean and is taking the stairs a plus or a minus? On first blush it seemed more negative, as in “wow, stair climbing, that’s a lot of work,” but on second thought, it seemed liberating as in “wow, it’s actually achievable, there are steps I can take that will add up to big changes.” When you read this saying, how does it strike you?

We often want things to be easy and quick – like an elevator ride – and our modern lifestyles reflect this. Further, technology, as wonderful as it is, fuels the assumption that it is always possible to get things done quickly and effortlessly. However, there are many examples of where having things come too soon or too easily can be challenging. Think of lottery winners who become wealthy instantly, athletes who win their very first competition, or celebrities who become famous just after being discovered. All too often people in these circumstances “crash and burn” because they are unaware of how to sustain their good fortune. They end up in unpleasant circumstances because their success came too rapidly, with few if any intervening steps.

Stair climbing begins to feel a lot more appealing after taking a closer look at the possible “elevator scenarios”. Taking things slowly has its advantages. With that in mind, how do we help ourselves look at things more positively when we feel we aren’t making progress toward our goals or we face obstacles that seem too big to surmount? Here are a few tips:

Recognize where you are. Expect that your long-term plans will be like running a marathon – when you feel the finish line is a long way off, notice how far you have come from the starting gate. Recognizing this will help you stay motivated to keep going.

Break big goals into much smaller ones. Nothing new here, but how often do we forget to do this? Remember the expression “Rome was not built in a single day” and apply this wisdom when things start to feel overwhelming. Completing small tasks over time yields big results.

Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! We can become so fixated on our goal that the journey becomes an afterthought at best or drudgery at worst. It doesn’t need to be this way. We can celebrate each small success and enjoy the fact that we are learning and growing as we proceed – indeed this should be our goal no matter what else we are hoping to accomplish!

Self-Discovery Tool Number 69:
Quick results can be seductive, but often they only have temporary staying power. Instead of wishing and waiting for an immediate payoff, take a small step and congratulate yourself on accomplishing it. Make an effort to enjoy the ride in whatever way you can, rather than exclusively focusing on the destination. Love yourself as you keep on learning and you’ll be reaching the top before you know it!

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