We are in yet another time of transition in our lives as winter begins to give way to spring. The sun is rising earlier and setting later. Those birds outside my bedroom window are getting chirpier each morning. I am feeling less guilty when my boys walk out of the house in shorts (in case you didn’t know - pants are apparently a torture device for boys over the age of 8). The headache-inducing sounds of basketball (shoes squeaking on courts, countless balls being dribbled simultaneously and multiple whistles being blown) are starting to be replaced by the early sights and sounds of another sport. Cleats are getting tried on, bats are being sized up with practice swings and athletic cups are starting to reappear on my dining room table. Yes, baseball season is near.
As I was listening to my sons tell me all about their impromptu practice session at the field the other day, critiquing each other’s stance, swing and follow through, I realized that life is a lot like getting up to bat in baseball.
Think about it.
Behind you are your friends. They are the people in the crowd who are there for you and want you to do your best. They know when you need to be cheered on and when you need them to be quiet. They get you.
Fans of the other team
Behind you may also be some people who are not your friends. They wouldn’t mind seeing you strike out because they are there to root for someone else.
People only there for the snacks
Then there are the people that are just acquaintances. They are the people behind you who are totally uninterested in what you are doing - they are taking selfies on their phones and carrying on about something totally unrelated to your at-bat. Even though they are neutral, you still might not want to make an error in front of them.
Then there are your role models. They are your coaches. You look to them for guidance and advice. They motivate and push you.
Let’s not forget about the authority figures in your life. Perhaps they are bosses or others who are quick to judge you. They are the Umps, ready to call you “out.”
But, as you make your way to the plate, you also feel the presence of your team. Your success is their success. Your failure will also be felt by them. Maybe they are cheering you on, chanting your name, reminding you that they believe in you.
Then there is the other team - waiting in the outfield, watching your every move. Willing you to strike out and send them a nice pop fly.
Does any of that seem a bit like how real life goes?
It does for me.
I can identify people in each of those roles: fans for my team, fans for the other team, neutral acquaintances, people quick to judge or point out my errors and also my team who has my back.
Once you are in the batter’s box, all that other stuff fades away as you face off with the pitcher.
What if you swing and miss?
What if the pitcher throws a crazy ball and you get hit?
What if you get hurt?
What if you completely strike out?
What if you let yourself down?
Worse yet, what if you let your team down?
I have seen countless batters step into that box throughout my years as a baseball mom. One single bad experience can set some kids into an incredible slump. Great hitters suddenly freeze, afraid to swing the bat. Some confident batters suddenly find themselves jumping out of the box because they have grown afraid of being hit by a ball again. Others lose their focus and can no longer seem to make contact with the ball.
I have spent many seasons cheering on my sons, hearing coaches remind them that baseball is in large part about confidence, focus and staying in the box.
Look around. What is it like in your batter’s box of life now?
As you start to transition out of winter and into spring, notice all of the children who are taking to the fields with their gloves, bats and balls. Let those images be a reminder to you to take some time to reflect on your life and what it is like in your batter’s box.
How can you regain your confidence, drown out the negative noise behind you, lean in, keep your eye on the ball and smash it out of the park?
For more blog articles on changing your perspective and taking care of yourself, visit the links below:
Article by Mark Tyrrell of Hypnosis Downloads.com.
7 Public Speaking Survival Tips
I used to be terrified of public speaking - now it's natural and fun.
Dry mouth, fast heart, sweaty palms, blank mind - yeah I've been there! It's easy to fear public speaking. But I was never just content with overcoming fear. I wanted to be a great speaker. What I needed was a way of calming down and applying simple techniques and strategies to talk like a pro.
When I'd learned to relax (more of that later) I learned and applied the following four steps.
How do you become confident enough to apply the four steps?
Here's some tips some of which are practical some of which are to do with the way you think about your public presentations and also how you can start to change the way you feel about them.
Breath your way to calm. When you breath out you relax that's why people sigh when they're stressed.
Breathing in without breathing out causes hyperventilation and worsens anxiety. Just before your speech take five minutes breathing in to the count of seven and out to the count of eleven (quick count-not seconds!). On the out breath hold it a second before breathing in again. This will produce quick and lasting calm. Remember extending the out breath calms you down.
You have a responsibility as the presenter but relax you don't carry all the responsibility. Presenting is a team effort. Audiences are responsible for politeness, extending their attention and attempting to learn. It's not all you-it's a meeting of two halves. Never mind how they judge you. How do you judge them?
Use metaphor and stories. We all experience life metaphorically. The most technical logical person spends at least two hours a night dreaming! Talk detail if necessary but present patterns with metaphors. Folk from 4 to 104 love stories. Use em.
Captivate attention by using words that evoke all the senses. Describe how things look, sound, feel, smell and taste. Paint pictures and sensations in their minds with your words.
Vary your voice tonality and speed of delivery. Keep them alert and engaged. Convey energy when need be and slow down when you need to 'draw them in close.' You are the conductor to their orchestra. And pepper your talk with humour. Your willingness to be funny shows personal confidence and confidence is contagious.
Tell them what they are going to get. What they are currently getting and then what they have got from you. Sell your sizzle!
Watch and learn from other great speakers until compelling, relaxed speaking is a part of you.
Rehearse positively. You need to rehearse how your going to feel as well as what you are going to present. Don't think about your forthcoming presentation whilst feeling nervous as this creates an instinctive association between fear and presenting. This natural negative self-hypnosis is very common with nervous speakers.
Hypnotically rehearse your speech whilst feeling relaxed. This produces the right 'blueprint' in your mind. In fact when you do this enough times it actually becomes hard to be nervous!
All great speakers know how to use great self-hypnotic rehearsal. Hypnosis changes attitudes and can bring emotion under control. I used hypnosis, to change my instincts around public speaking. Now I just can't get nervous whether it's 50 or 500 people. The world needs great communicators. Go for it!
Cure your fear of public speaking at HypnosisDownloads.com
Article by Mark Tyrrell of Hypnosis Downloads.com.
Imagine you wake up one morning to an incessant knocking on your front door. You peel yourself out of bed in a groggy stupor, wondering what kind of surprise awaits you on the other side of the door. As you pull open the door, your heart sinks.
There on the doorstep stands your old friend, Mr. Depression. He came without warning. No letter. No phonecall. No email. Not a single little heads up. Even though you are very familiar with Mr. Depression and knew that he could be deciding to visit you again at any moment, you weren't expecting him. Not today. Not now. Yet, here he is, standing on your doorstep with his suitcase in his hand.
In an instant, everything changes.
Mr. Depression breezes by you and barges into your house, bringing with him a dark, heavy cloud that he places directly above your head. That old familiar feeling of self-loathing, hopelessness and dread starts to fill your mind. A heaviness grows in the pit of your stomach while a tightness creeps across your chest. That negative soundtrack in your mind kicks in and you can feel yourself sinking into a dark area.
In a panic, you start to ramble off a few questions for Mr. Depression:
Mr. Depression stays silent and simply stares back at you. He knows that you already know the answers to your questions. As you reflect back on the weeks leading up to this unexpected visit, you might be able to identify some triggers or warning signs; some clues that Mr. Depression was on his way for a visit. Maybe you were overworked. Maybe there was some additional financial stress in your life. Maybe there were some relationship conflicts. Maybe the weather was lousy. Maybe your nutrition and exercise patterns were off. Or, maybe there were no signs.
Sometimes the reasons for Mr. Depression's visits are rooted in our childhood experiences or are the result of trauma. Sometimes Mr. Depression visits us because of life adjustments and losses. Sometimes Mr. Depression is an old family acquaintance who has been passed from generation to generation. Sometimes Mr. Depression shows up for no reason at all. Yet, there he is, in your life. In your house.
Regardless of his origins, Mr. Depression has visited you many times before today. Sometimes he stays for just a day or so but sometimes his stays can be lengthier. When he arrives, he never tells you how long he is going to stick around. Mr. Depression is a terrible houseguest. He is demanding, consuming and completely attached to your hip. He follows you around everywhere you go: to work, places with your children, out with your friends, to the grocery store, in the car. Everywhere. He saps your energy and leaves you feeling completely empty. The longer he is here, the more effort it takes for you to do previously simple tasks like answering texts, getting out of bed, exercising, eating, even brushing your teeth or putting on a bra. Mr. Depression makes everything significantly more challenging and the whole time he is here, he is whispering awful things into your ear - he thinks you are a terrible person; he thinks you are ugly; he thinks you are a bad parent and an awful friend; he thinks you are a failure. The longer he sticks around, the more you start to believe his words.
Often when Mr. Depression comes to visit, you try your best to keep his visit a secret. You don't want your friends to know about your new house guest. Afterall, they might think you are crazy. They might think you are just looking for attention. They might not understand why you can't just grab Mr. Depression's suitcase, toss it out into your front yard and give Mr. Depression a good shove out the front door. They might ask why you can't simply choose to have a visit from Mr. Happy or Mr. Grateful instead. And while you know that your friends will mean well, their questions and advice will probably only tighten Mr. Depression's grip on your life right now.
So, you settle in and try to do the things that have made Mr. Depression leave in the past. Perhaps you adjust some medications, take some trips back to psychotherapy, focus on increasing your coping strategies, increase your self-care efforts and lean on people who are supportive and won't judge you. Over time, like always, Mr. Depression eventually starts to loosen his grip on your life. He stops following you everywhere and eventually one morning you wake up and find that he has left your house in the middle of the night. Of course, he always leaves things behind; little reminders that he was there and that he could be back at any moment.
But what is this visit from Mr. Depression like for the people on the outside, the people unaware of his arrival? For them, they often witness significant changes in their friend; perhaps overnight or perhaps gradually. Their once cheerful, outgoing friend now appears grumpy, irritable and sometimes non-responsive. Texts and phone calls to the friend go unanswered. They begin declining or canceling plans to get together. On the rare occasion that they do engage in social activities, they are a bit of a drag as they talk badly about themselves and focus on the negative. Even their physical appearance seems different. Their social media account activity changes. Friends might think they are being iced out of relationships, that their friend has suddenly become bitchy and uninterested or that it takes too much energy to be around their friend now. All of this means that by the time Mr. Depression finally leaves, he may have already caused some significant damage to relationships.
So, how can we minimize that chances of Mr. Depression destroying our relationships? One good start is to be honest.
For those of you dealing with the unexpected visits from Mr. Depression, consider being honest with those people closest to you. They will notice the changes in you anyways- help them to see what is at the root of these changes. Educate them about your experiences with depression and teach them about what you need in terms of support. If you are struggling with depression and would like additional support, please review The Depression Toolkit.
For friends of someone who might be struggling, be supportive and resist the urge to pass judgement. Remember that the vast majority of individuals would much rather Mr. Depression not be a part of our lives. It's not a choice they make for attention or sympathy or medication prescriptions; It's just part of them. Holding space and providing support for someone with depression can be emotionally exhausting so remember to take care of yourself during those times as well. For additional resources for family and friends, please visit the University of Michigan Depression Center.
For more articles on mental health, depression and self-care, click on the following links:
Now that I am Getting "Me" Back, I have been much more mindful of the concept of balance in my life. For many years, I have grappled with the age old question "Can we really have it all?" While I tend to believe that we can, in fact, have it all, I don't necessarily think we can have it all in total balance all the time. In other words, sometimes something has to be focused on a little less so that our other needs can be addressed. Recently I was reminded via Timehop of how important tracking my macros used to be to me from a physical standpoint and I realized that macros are a great metaphor to how to balance life.
So, what are macros?
I'm sure there is a scientific explanation for macros but you won't find it here. In my experience, macros are components of nutrition - namely carbs, proteins and fats. They are elements that make up the food we eat. Our body needs carbs, proteins and fats each day to help it function at its best. When I was working out 12+ hours/week, my body always functioned best when my average daily intake of food was 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein. Other people's ideal macros may be different. It took some trial and error and experimentation to determine what was best for me. Was I perfect every day? Hell, no. But, it sure felt good when my pretty little macro pie chart was perfect. There was no denying that everything just clicked when those three elements were balanced in the way that worked for me.
So, how does this relate to life? Easy. What are your life macros? What are the components of your life that each are good in their own way but need to be balanced in order for you to function at your best? In other words, what makes up YOU?
My macros include my various roles in life: psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, professor, mother, wife, friend, healthy woman and pet owner (perhaps pet collector?). Are all of my roles equally balanced each day? Hell, no! Are there areas which need to take more of my attention or fill my life more than others in order for me to feel whole? Absolutely!
Are you ready for a small homework assignment? (Sorry, sometimes my CBT and professor sides start to show). Grab a writing utensil and piece of paper. Or, open up a new document on your computer.
1. Make a list of your life macros. Who are you? What is important to you? What are your various roles? What makes you YOU? Write those down.
2. Assign a percentage to each of your life macros. How much of your attention and focus each week gets directed at each macro? Be honest. This should be how things get distributed on average each week, not how you want them to be distributed. Don't forget about your elementary math skills - these percentages need to add up to 100%
3. Are there things that are missing from your list? Things that make you YOU but you are not giving attention to right now? Add those to your list and write "0%" beside them.
4. Draw a pretty little pie chart of your life macros so that it reflects the assigned percentages.
5. Take some time to reflect on your chart. How does it feel? Is it accurate? Are you proud of it? Do you wish it were different? If your pie chart is perfect and you feel totally balanced, bravo! Store that chart somewhere handy and refer to it regularly to make sure you are keeping your life macros in balance. If not, read on...
6. After you have spent some real time reflecting on your macro distribution and chart, make a new one - one that reflects your ideal life macros. What would your ideal life macros be and how much attention would they receive?
7. Now it's time to create an action plan. What would it take to be able to shift your current life macro chart to your ideal one? What small things can you do today to help get your macros moving in a way that works better for you?
Spend some time evaluating your life macros and seeing how making some adjustments might move your life to a more balanced and satisfying state.
For more blog articles on self-care, click on the links below.
About Changing Perspectives
I often find myself encouraging people to consider changing their perspective or reframe the way in which they view things. This blog is an extension of that practice and is also an opportunity for me to write from a number of different perspectives including clinician, educator, mother, friend and supervisor. Blog topics are also quite varied and changeable. Topics explored include, but are certainly not limited to, grief, parenting, health and wellness and relationships. Join me and explore a number of changing perspectives!