Sunday, January 18, 2009

10 Tips for Unpacking Your "Baggage": #8 - #10

Tip #8 – Whittle Down Your Pet Peeves!
Sometimes baggage manifests itself in the form of the demands we place on others. You know those seemingly innocent, perfectly justifiable little demands we call “pet peeves”? Sure they start out as small quirks but if your list makes it impossible for others to do right by you, ask yourself if you can let a few of them go. Having an unrealistically long list of demands that people have to live up to in order to satisfy your needs is a sign that you should ask yourself a few questions: 1) What am I trying to control? 2) Why am I trying to control it? 3) What can I do to begin to let it go?

Tip #9 – Choose Your ‘tude!
Attitude is the fundamental source from which all things spring, good or bad. This Comcast commercial, is a funny representation of how contagious a bad attitude can be. Think of your attitude as your reflection to the world. Often times the intensity of the “emotional/psychological” baggage you carry around can dictate the attitude you choose to display. Try choosing a positive/optimistic attitude; despite how your “baggage” makes you feel. I’m a firm believer in the power and impact that thoughts and spoken words can have on your circumstances. The more you speak positivity into your life, the more you’ll feel it throughout your life.

Tip #10 – Get a Shrink!
You knew it was coming people. I couldn’t end this series without recommending therapy. If you find that you are frequently experiencing “emotional melt downs”, to the point where you are unable to continue with your normal activities of the day, then it may be time to speak to a professional. Don’t think about the stigma and don’t be discouraged by the “non-believers” of therapy. But, do remember that therapy is work. It requires you to explore areas of your life in emotionally meaningful ways. You have to show up on time, you have to be honest, you have to stick it out and you have to be willing to “go there” (so to speak). If you decide you need the help of a professional therapist, keep in mind that your therapist should have the same type of “bed side” manner that you would expect from your doctor. Be willing to try a few out until you find the one with the right style for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

10 Tips for Unpacking Your "Baggage" - Tips #6 & #7

Tip #6: Forgive...and maybe even Forget

Forgiveness...I know, I know, this is way easier said than done. I too have had times in the past where I dug my heels in and refused to let go of a grudge. Whether it is a simple issue or a big issue, the energy it takes to keep your heels dug in on a grudge is draining and takes up mental "baggage" space in your life. Forgiving does not mean that everything goes back to normal with who ever the person was that you had the issue with. It just means that you're resolving to mentally "put a period" to the issue and start a new sentence. You may not forget and you may not go back to clinking cocoa mugs with this person again, but you can let go of the negative feelings you have towards them. Negative feelings and emotions towards others is unnecessary baggage to carry around. Leave it curbside people.

Tip #7: Help a Self-Help Book!

If you find yourself repeatedly "unpacking" and "repacking" the same mental/emotional "baggage", then perhaps you may need some reinforcement. Self-help books are a good resource when you need a cognitive process to help you out of your rut or perhaps a better understanding of the rut you are in. There are tons, and I do mean tons, of them out there. So I took the liberty of finding a few sites that have organized the books by typical issues. I also listed below a few other resources that you may find useful. Read your way to a better you!

*Books Organized by Common "issues" - Scroll to the bottom of the page

*The Artists Way - This is a "new-agey" type book about rediscovering your creative self

*Best Selling Self-Help Books - Gives a brief overview of each book

*A New Earth - A challenging & insightful read about how to recognize and let go of your "ego"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

10 Tips for Unpacking Your "Baggage" - Tip #5

Addendum to Tip#4:

Brunch today with a very good girlfriend of mine reminded me of another category that you can add to the list, FINANCES! Given the current economy, it's definitely a good idea to rate this area of your life.

Tip #5: Pick up the Needle and Stop the Tape!

One of the easiest forms of "baggage" to recognize is the music playing in our head. The old "records and tapes" of negative self-talk that often makes it's way into our thoughts and speech in the form of "not so nice" opinions slung at you in the past by your parents, a former lover, or even that "jungle gym" bully from the 5th grade. Let today be the day that you pick up the needle and stop the tape on all the negative self-talk that you have been replaying in your head or have let seep into your conversation. You know...when someone compliments you and instead of saying "thank you", you launch into a "one man/woman roast" of yourself. I know it's easier said than done, but it's not impossible. Start by trying to spend a few hours a day not saying anything bad about you. Gradually increase the time until you have experienced a full day of not talking down to yourself. Practice makes progress people!

Friday, December 26, 2008

10 Tips for Unpacking Your "Baggage" - Tip #4

Tip #4: Rate Your Life!

Okay this tip is a fun one. Even you skeptics out there should find this to be a useful and practical tool. So here's what you do:

1. Create a chart with five columns across and six rows down.
2. In the first column, type the following categories, from top to bottom. One word per cell: Friends, Family, Love, Career, Spirituality, Health/Wellness
3. Using the four remaining columns, working from left to right, do the following:
-Rate it! Rate the category on a scale of 1-10 (10 being "everything in this area of my life is fabulous!")
-What’s Great! Type in what's great about that area of your life
-Get to 10! Type in what needs to change to make it a 10 (if it's not already a 10)
-Action Plan! Type in your action steps for getting that area to a 10.

4. Last but not least, work your action plan. Check in with it periodically to see how you're progressing. Try to do something each week towards your plan.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

10 Tips for Unpacking your "Baggage" - Tip #3

Tip #3: Get an Advocate!

Now that you have all of this feedback and insight on yourself, it's important to stay aware of the unproductive behaviors you want to change. One way to do this is by getting an advocate. Your advocate is basically someone who you trust (usually a best friend), who knows you and cares enough about you to tell you when you're "happening" again. They are the person you authorize in your life to be "straight up" with you when they observe you exhibiting the behaviors you're working to change or when you solicit their opinion. We're all works in progress so it's very likely that you will "happen" more often than not, but don't get discouraged. Your baggage didn't build up over night so don't expect to be able to unpack it in one night either. With the help of your advocate you'll find yourself getting more aware of your unproductive behaviors and better able to manage them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

10 Tips for Unpacking Your "Baggage" - Tip #2

Addendum to Tip #1:
A few things to keep in mind...

  • Don't call a former boyfriend/girlfriend for feedback that you're not still on speaking terms me, it's not a good look.
  • You can also ask your friends for feedback but remember; no retaliation! Just listen.
  • Two questions you can ask when you call/see the person: 1) What was/is cool about dating me/being with me? and 2) What was/is challenging about dating me/being with me?

Tip #2: Own it!
Sometimes hearing feedback on ourselves, whether from a friend, a boss, co-worker or current/former significant other, can be difficult. Keep in mind that feedback is a collection of perceptions. At times it can be spot on and other times it can be way the heck in left field. Use your gut to evaluate whether or not a specific piece of feedback feels relevant. If it doesn’t feel relevant, leave it. Don’t let your “negative self talk” convince you otherwise. But if it does feel relevant (e.g. you’ve heard it more than once from a variety of people!) and it’s something you want to change, then OWN IT! Owning it is about being honest with yourself regarding other people’s experience of you. Once you own up to it, you will find yourself more aware of that behavior and better able to modify it accordingly.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

10 Tips for Unpacking Your "Baggage" - Tip #1

Ahhh the holidays...the time of year when you're visiting with loved ones, stressing about the fact that the year is almost over and you didn't do what you said you were going to do, eating like you have a tapeworm and of course (for some of you single peeps) wishing you had a special someone. Last year I wrote a post on getting your Baggage Down to Carry-On Size. Several of you asked me to provide some tips on how to do it. So with ten days left in 2008, I figured I'd give you my 10 Tips for Unpacking Your Baggage before 2009 rolls in. Hey, you could spend your holidays eating fruit cake or working on building a better you. I vote for the latter. I'll write about one tip per day so make sure you check back!

Tip #1: Get Feedback
One thing we don't often do is ask the people we have been in a relationship with for feedback. Your significant other, past or present, gets to see you in a light that others may not ever see. So if you're serious about unpacking your baggage and being a "better" you, then what better place to start than with some good ol' honest feedback. Caution, when you ask for the feedback, be prepared that it might sting. Your job in that moment is simply to understand where they are coming from. There will be time to evaluate the information later. For now, just listen and ask questions for clarification. If you're single, try to get feedback from at least three people you have dated. If you're in a relationship, try to get as much honest feedback from your partner as possible. We'll talk about what to do with this feedback in my next tip.