Ep 46: Commit to small changes to keep it real

, ,


I read a terrific book this weekend that helped give me some practical tips on starting a solid writing process.

One of the principles was called “Inflating the Investment.” I saw some parallels with this principle and how we like to manage our mental health.

Learn a little more about “Inflating the Investment” and how to keep it at bay in your life.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series a couple of weeks ago on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 46 - Commit to small changes to improve your mental health

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Do you have trouble getting off the block to start something new? It’s a common problem.

Lots of people tell me that they’re waiting to begin the hard work of improving their mental health in some future time.

There’s too much going on to start now. I’d rather wait until X number of things is off my plate first.

I guess the idea of all that improvement seems just too daunting to tackle right now when so much is unpredictable.

Better to wait until you can really focus on it, you know, make it your main thing.

The problem with that is that you probably won’t get a huge chunk of dedicated time to work on your mental health.

If you do, it probably means you’re going through a crisis. Unfortunately that seems to force your focus where it needs to go.

Tell me the last time you got a huge chunk of dedicated time to work on anything?

I read a terrific book this weekend that really nailed this concept right on the head.

It’s called “The Heart to Start” by David Kadavy.

David’s book is geared towards people working in the creative industry and gives practical ways you can finally get started creating your art.

But I found his principles went way beyond art, design and writing.

One principle he talked about is called “Inflating the Investment.”

You may recognize this in yourself.

When you inflate the investment, you postpone beginning something you know will move you forward.

You really want to do it.

But you just don’t feel like you have the commitment right now to see it all the way through to the end.

It feels too big.

You blow it up in your head and make it feel like a waste unless you can spend large amounts of time doing the work.

Instead, you fill your time doing things with a lower level of commitment that don’t require as much effort on your part. That’s just so much easier.

The problem is these particular smaller things are not the things you want to be doing to get to your larger goal.

And for extra bonus points you may feel guilty about doing them because now you’re procrastinating.

Do you really need another way to beat yourself up?

So, for example, let’s say you want to start exercising to improve your physical health and boost your mood.

You know that’s a good idea because you’ve heard me say that on a Mental Health Moment. 😜

But in your mind you feel like you should exercise for 60 minutes every day in order to see any benefit.

That’s a tough one for you because you have a lot of constraints in your schedule. How will you carve out that kind of time? It feels like such a huge sacrifice.

So when you hit that time of day that you want to designate for exercise, you start miraculously finding other things that need to be taken care of first before you get out the door to completely focus on exercise.

Before you know it, you’ve missed your window for today and you vow that you will definitely do it tomorrow.

Instead, you could have just decided to exercise for 15 minutes.

  • Anything is better than nothing when it comes to moving your body every day.
  • And what you might find is that once the 15 minutes is up, you may want to just keep going.
  • So that 15 minutes indeed may stretch out into 60 minutes. But you started with a much smaller time commitment to not overwhelm yourself.

Improving your mental health can’t be done in short spurts, can it?

I mean it’s your mental health, right? All we’re hearing in the media is how we have to start really focusing on our mental health.

Most of the gains you will make in your mental health will be short and incremental changes over time.

If you’ve listened to me for a while, you know I’m not a big fan of epiphanies and overnight insights to see real and lasting change.

In order to see the big changes you want to see, you have to submit to the idea of making smaller commitments each day.

That’s where you’ll find the marshmallows in the Lucky Charms.

And you don’t have to wait for a special time to focus on having better mental health.

You can start now with smaller time commitments that you are willing to keep and that don’t feel so costly to your precious time.

This is actually what moves you forward. You see progress because you’re actually completing things.

Here are a few things to look for to keep this “Inflating the Investment in check in your life.

1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

When you start something new you always overestimate how much time you have to dedicate to it. You also waaaay overestimate how excited you’ll be about it every single day.

Give yourself some margin and start small.

For example, if you want to start journaling to help you work through your anxious thoughts, let’s not go all Hemingway here.

  • Spend maybe 10 minutes writing down your impressions of the day.
  • Or commit to writing down five bullets if you don’t like writing a narrative.
  • This is your enchilada, you can make it however you want!

Make those small chunks of time work for you. If you go into a longer writing session then great! Either way, at the end of the week you will still have some really good data to work with.

2. Start being honest with yourself about how you’re really spending your time.

One of the biggest fallacies today is that we just don’t have time. But in fact, we have about a trillion ways to WASTE time now. None of us are immune to this fallacy.

Look for those little pockets that you know are not really doing anything for you, and replace them with little spurts of improvement.

  • Maybe that’s reading a section of a motivational book or a short devotion. I like to go back through a favorite Kindle book and read my highlights.
  • Or you can set a timer on your phone to remind you to do some deep breathing in your favorite meditation app or,
  • To take a walk outside for a few minutes.

These few minutes here and there go a long way to helping you feel relaxed and more resilient for all the little barbs that fly your way every day.

This will make the biggest difference in how you handle the stuff in your life.

3. Give yourself time to understand that it will take at least a minute to change your perspective about all this.

Like anything else, you have to recondition your thinking a bit. In the same way you wouldn’t start out training for a 10K by running 10k on the first day, you’re not going to nail this new concept on day one.

If you’ve struggled with this “inflating the investment” mindset, then it will take time to build newer and healthier habits.

Give yourself a break.

The most important thing is that you are aware of how you’re responding in your day and giving yourself the space you need to improve.

Stop waiting for the ideal moment in your life to start feeling better.

Look for those small opportunities that you can leverage every day to improve your outlook.

Take advantage of your most valuable commodity — your time — to improve your mental health.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 45: The best way to change others

, , , ,


You know full well you can’t change others and what they do. But it’s hard to live this out in real life.

Instead of worrying about whether or not others are changing, you’ll feel less stress and anxiety if you focus on what you can change about you. Learn a few ways this might show up in your life.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

 Ep 45: The best way to change others

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

“The only person you can change is you.”

How many times have you heard that, or read it in a self-help book? We know this.

It even sounded super cliche to me when I said it just now.

It’s kind of a big duh. But it’s super hard to put this one into practice, isn’t it?

Deep down we like to think we can actually have some hand in others changing themselves for the better.

Because then we can take some credit for the change. Okay, we like that!

I hear this perspective every single day.

  • Marriages that are going off the rails because one person has zero insight into how badly they’re screwing this up.
    “If only they would just change how they talk to me I would be happier.”
  • Bosses that have blinders on to how their micromanaging work style is driving you nuts.
    “Why can’t they understand that if they would stop treating me like a child I would feel better about my work and do a better job?”
  • Kids that make unhealthy decisions no matter how much you try to help them.
    “I’ve been there already. How can they not see that what I’m trying to tell them will actually help?”

This is all a quick way to stress and anxiety.

  • First of all, you’re placing your happiness in other people’s hands, where you have no control.
  • Second, you’ve decided that you alone have the answer to the problem, even though you may not have all the facts. Are you a wizard or something? Most likely you aren’t even privy to all the variables that might help you understand what’s really going on.
  • Third, expecting others to change puts you slam dunk into that victim role. You get to throw darts willy nilly but you aren’t accountable for your own change simply because you’ve been so wronged.

You’re making a big, unnecessary mess of it if you’re in this place.

The offenses of someone else can so easily blind you to your own options. And that has nothing to do with anyone else.

That’s all you.

The answer is like making a good hollandaise sauce — simple but not easy.

Mind your own stuff.

The only way to feel less anxious about all the ways people are messing up your life is to simply decide what you will change about you.

That’s really all you have here.

Your ability to be thoughtful in your own responses or look for ways to improve yourself are the only things you own and have complete control over.

Your spouse may still talk to you in that tone even though you’ve already said you don’t like it.

They’re clearly not changing.

What is the healthiest way for you to respond so you have the best chance of feeling heard, not just so you can feel like you’re in the right?

There’s a good chance your micromanaging boss isn’t going to change.

I’ve never seen it happen, and I’m guessing you haven’t either. I don’t even think that’s a thing.

So why are you so focused on them making that change?

  • I’ve said before that micromanaging isn’t about controlling you, it’s about your boss’ own fear and anxiety.
  • So your boss has to wade through their own stuff to make that change — just for you. That doesn’t seem likely or fair.
  • Can you try to meet them halfway by providing a more frequent status update on your work to help them feel a little bit calmer?

I know, making them feel better isn’t your job but if you make this change to accommodate them, would it help you a little too?

If you look back on your own young adulthood, do you remember taking much advice from your parents?

Did you have any epiphanies about their great wisdom? Probably not and your kids aren’t any different.

So wasting time wringing your hands and fretting over what epiphanies you think they should be having is a big ol’ waste of time.

Epiphanies are highly overrated anyway. You know as well as I do that the best wisdom comes through small revelations over time.

Spend your time instead focusing on how you can find the healthiest ways to be supportive for those times when they do fail. They will need you to come alongside them in those moments and who knows, they might ask for your advice.

Be ready for that moment by learning how to change the way you show up for your kids.

All of this requires humility and some faith that the things you change about you will make a difference.

This is the hard part because there are no guarantees.

You might make some wonderful strides and still be left doing all the work. Was there value in improving yourself, though?

Please know I’m not saying to change for somebody else, or to overlook an abusive situation.

I’m speaking to those everyday annoyances that:

  • eat away at you,
  • occupy your valuable brain space, and
  • leave you feeling stressed, helpless and worn out.

Changing things about yourself may not make a difference in the behaviors you see from others.

It will absolutely change how you think and how you view what happens to you.

Minding your own change will change you.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 44: Get unstuck and focus on what’s ahead

, ,


These are the very questions I pull out of my own stress toolbox on the days when I feel overwhelmed. It helps me right the ship a bit and figure out where the heck I’m going. 😀

I’ve found that for me, this is the best way to get unstuck because it forces me in to action.

I hope they’re helpful for you!

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 44: Get unstuck and focus on what's ahead

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Do you ever have those days when you feel just a little stuck?

The whole thing isn’t going off the rails necessarily.

You’re getting some stuff done.

But you’ve lost sight of where you really wanted to be for today.

It’s hard to know exactly where to start so you can get back on track.

I feel like that sometimes.

It can leave you overwhelmed and pretty frustrated, especially when your to-do list is a mile long and the end of the day is coming fast.

Here’s a little formula and a few questions I pull out of my stress toolbox when I need a little bit of redirection.

And you know I’m going to tell you to write this down, right?

Yes I am! Here we go.

First, what do I KNOW?

  • What skills and abilities do I have right now that I can use to get myself going?
  • What things have I done before in this situation that have worked well for me?
  • What are the things I may be a little afraid to do but would make the biggest difference for me in this moment?

Second, what do I HAVE?

  • What resources can I put my hands on right now that can help me get moving?
  • Is there any low hanging fruit that I can act on just to build some motivation?
  • What are all the options I can generate from these resources?
  • What resources have I overlooked?
  • Which of my very best strengths can I call on in this moment to get some results?

Third, what can I DO?

  • What one thing can I do right now that will make a difference in my situation?
  • Who can I reach out to that will hold me accountable to move on from this stuck place?
  • What is one thing I can do today to better position myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically?

You don’t always need to create a whole new plan to get unstuck.

Don’t put that pressure on yourself.

Take some time to answer some of these questions and see if you can’t find a good starting point to help you wiggle out of the mud.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 43: Why you should be okay with scraping some paint off

, , ,

Today’s episode is inspired by a quote from the unmatchable Bob Ross. There are so many good words to live by in his show, “The Joy of Painting.”

Learn why scraping off some paint isn’t such a bad idea. It just might help you get where you need to go.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 43 Don't be afraid to just scrape off some paint

Bob Ross and his Happy Tree at our church’s fall festival a couple of years ago.

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

This is one of my favorite quotes:

“Don’t be afraid to scrape the paint off and do it again. This is the way you learn, trial and error, over and over, repetition. It pays you great dividends, great, great dividends.”

That was my very best Bob Ross impression. I know. I’ll keep working on it. 😜

Before motivational speakers became an industry, there was a happy artist named Bob Ross.

After a long career in the Air Force, he became a public television star in the 1980s and 90s with a serene and mesmerizing how-to painting show called “The Joy of Painting.”

Each week we watched him paint a simple nature scene.

At least that’s what we thought he was doing.

Bob was in fact dropping some serious wisdom on us while he moved his brush over that canvas.

Quietly and patiently he would show us how to use the simple tools available to all of us — line, shadow and color — to create something beautiful.

  • Something happy.
  • Like a happy little tree or a cloud.

But he wasn’t afraid to show the mistakes, too. Because the mistakes led to what he called “happy little accidents.”

How did Bob know we needed these reminders?

  • To embrace the happy little accidents for the gifts they bring us?
  • To appreciate the value of scraping it all off and doing it again with a new direction?

I don’t know anyone who enjoys scraping off the work they thought was going to be the real deal.

  • Have you ever been disappointed by a job that you realized just wasn’t for you?
  • What about a relationship you could see was going nowhere?
  • Maybe this was the year you decided to focus on your personal goals and you keep ending up right back where you started.

To scrape it all off and start over seems like a waste, right?

Am I supposed to just be okay seeing all that effort I put into this now piling up in colored dust around my feet?

What about my beautiful picture?

Why can’t I get what I see in my head to connect with the effort coming from my hands?

I know, it feels like you keep seeing the same dull picture over and over.

But there is some hope in all that scraping.

The scraping is a necessary part of discovery.

Scraping requires that you put your first idea aside, no matter how inspired you thought it was.

That’s an act of humility.

You have to go through what’s not working to find what does work.

So what if your job isn’t what you thought?

What matters is what you take with you from the experience that you can use somewhere else.

Now you know.

Every experience matters and nothing is ever wasted.

All that scraping will be messy, yes.

That’s your hard work piled up on the floor around you.

But that pile gives you the chance to prove that you have yet another idea up your sleeve.

That carnage shows that the learning process is at work in you.

You’re not afraid to engage it, even if it means your whole picture has to change.

So leaving that toxic relationship lets you create the space in your life to learn what a healthy relationship looks like for you.

You’ll leave some good stuff behind for sure, but you won’t need it because you’ll be working on a much better picture.

Scraping gives you the space you need to get it right.

What did you miss the first time that you can add in now?

Do you realize you need more “happy tree people” around you to support you in your goals?

Go ahead and add them here.

You have room now because you took away what wasn’t working.

You can just put those trees everywhere now.

Scraping isn’t a destructive act.

It uses material from the past to create room for what’s to come.

It’s the territory where the war between your past and your future is fought.

What will you scrape off and just leave behind?

How much will you leave on the canvas to create something a little different?

Will you be brave enough to start scraping?

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 42: How obedience to the process can free you up

, ,

We don’t use the word obedience too much these days. It’s not a word that demonstrates power and mastery.

But obedience is the main driver behind anything you do. In order to see real change you have to submit yourself to a process that will get you moving.

In this episode, learn three ways to make obedience work for you.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 42: How obedience to the process can free you up - Babies crawling to walking

We start obedience to a process from the very beginning, don’t we?

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Are you an obeyer? We don’t really like that word anymore, do we?

Here’s me raising my hand. I’m an obeyer.

In the past few weeks I’ve dedicated myself to write a Mental Health Moment episode every weekday.

It’s a writer’s dream to write and publish every day.

I love the idea that I can get my ideas out there so I can develop them and work with them. I thought the voice format would be something I could commit to more so than video, and it works well for how I like to write.

So I created a process to help me get it all done and keep the episodes coming.

This was so much fun because I got to play around with editorial workflows. Nerdy, I know but workflows are kind of my jam.

I’ve got a plan, and I think it’s a good one.

I’m all set to write and publish every day.

But where this thing gets real is in how I’m now committed to write and publish every day. Insert surprise face emoji here. 😂 😳

It doesn’t matter if:

  • My brain feels like peanut butter,
  • I’m super tired,
  • I’m not feeling inspired, or
  • My voice is jacked.

The plan says I do a Mental Health Moment every weekday.

I don’t want to upset the plan.

So I obey, and I do a Mental Health Moment.

And you know what? I get enormous pleasure from checking that “Mark Complete” ✔ box for that entry. (Actually there are about 8 subtasks for each episode, so technically I get to check off 9 boxes. Yes!).

As author and supreme majestic marketer Seth Godin says, I shipped something today.

I took an idea that formed over my morning coffee and made it live.

And I learn something new about myself with every episode.

I decided from the beginning that I’m going to be obedient to my process and not give in to all the noise in my head talking smack about how this is too much, or it may not work, or nobody’s listening.

I work the plan, and I obey the process.

Obedience doesn’t get the hashtag love like hustling, grinding, winning and inspiration.

Obedience is a hard sell on the motivational track.

That’s too bad because obedience is a very sexy player when it comes to making real change in your life.

Change doesn’t happen on its own, you know?

Whether it’s a goal for your health or career, or finally working through your issues, obedience is the engine that will power your change.

I mean, at some point you have to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it. That’s just how stuff gets done.

But you have to be humble enough to trust the process and just go with it.

So what are the principles of this kind of obedience?

First, to get the full value of obedience, you have to “set it and forget it.”

What results do you want to see? Make that decision now, and be super clear about what you need to do to get there. This removes any ambiguity about what you should do next.

Ambiguity will steal your best cognitive energy.

Don’t arm wrestle with yourself. Spell out what you want to see and do.

Once you set your direction, this isn’t the part where you get to ask questions that don’t matter.

  • Will this actually work?
  • Will others show up?
  • Will this matter a month from now?

Did any of those questions ever work when your mom told you it was time to mow the lawn? Probably not, right?

It’s Tuesday, and Tuesday is the day you always mow the lawn. Getting into a Law-and-Order-SUV-style 😜 discussion about the merits of mowing the lawn today don’t apply.

Be an obeyer, stay in your process and just mow the lawn already.

Second, obedience requires that you get comfortable not getting feedback right away on what you’re doing.

Everybody says this is a real issue among millennials. But I pretty much see this from everyone.

Just because someone doesn’t applaud you or recognize what you do, doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for doing it.

And it certainly doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t working.

Part of obeying the process is being able to measure your own progress and link it back to your larger goal, regardless of what anybody else says or does.

This is especially important in the beginning of something new.

No one may really get what you’re doing. You may not even get what you’re doing.

If it takes you awhile to see this thing take shape, imagine how long it’s going to take for someone who’s not as close to it.

So feedback from others can’t be your only metric.

Learn to soothe yourself and be okay moving forward in obedience even when you don’t know how some stuff is really going.

Third, don’t let your feelings strangle your willingness to obey your process.

You simply can’t rely on your feelings to let you decide how invested you plan to be.

Part of obedience is being a bit agnostic about what you’re feeling or not feeling in this experience.

Do you ever remember a teacher or parent asking you “And how are you feeling about what I just asked you to do?”

I’m guessing no.

Because at that point your feelings don’t matter as much as your obedience to the task.

But you will hear that chatter in your head, won’t you?

  • I didn’t wake up feeling awesome and motivated today.
  • This is so hard!
  • What if this doesn’t work and I look stupid?
  • Or my personal nemesis, I’m just not feeling it today.

Obedience to the process ignores this emotional kind of feedback.

Obedience doesn’t always feel sexy, even though it totally is.

But it will give you the courage to keep moving toward your goal because you are doing something.

What would happen in your life if you just decided to do the work you’ve already decided to do?

No judgments.

No questions.

No hand wringing.

Just hard work every day with the nuts and bolts of this thing you want to change.

You see, all of this obedience ultimately frees you up. Look at you!

You put some stuff on the table! You worked with it and now you’re closer to where you want to go.

Obedience just showed you what you’re capable of.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Series recap: Ways of thinking that can make you stress out

,
Ways of thinking that can make you stress out - Tan colored squirrel with his body hair standing up

Ever felt like this?

If you subscribe to my series, Mental Health Moment, then you heard me talk this past week about thinking styles that really make you stress out. In the mental health field, we refer to these as cognitive distortions.

We all have rules and filters that we run our thoughts through as we have new experiences. When we’re kids, we learn how life works by watching others around us. We pick up on what they use to manage their lives.

So that’s what we use to figure out how to respond. It affects us at home and at work.

Overall, there are about 15 cognitive distortions, but these are the main ones that can add to your stress.

See if you recognize any of these in your life.

As always, you can subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and Spotify. And you can always visit here to read or listen to the latest episode.

Ep 37: How do you see your world - young woman standing outside looking through sunglasses

Episode 37: How do you see your world?

 

Ep 38: Two ways thinking goes wrong

Episode 38 – Two ways thinking goes wrong

 

Ep 39: Stop predicting the end of the world - man standing alone on the end of a pier

Episode 39 – Stop predicting the end of the world

 

Ep 40: Don't make it personal - hand holding a clear globe with a picture of the skyline in the background

Episode 40 – Don’t make it personal

 

Ep 41 How labeling keeps you from growth and change - single flower blooming against a fence

Episode 41 – How labeling keeps you from change and growth


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 41: How labeling keeps you from change and growth

,

Labeling is the final cognitive distortion we’re looking at this week. This thinking error has a very narrow focus and keeps you from exploring the possibilities that will help you grow.

Learn more about how labeling yourself and others can keep you from progress and cause more stress.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

Check out the other episodes on the Mental Health Moment page!

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 41 How labeling keeps you from growth and change - single flower blooming against a fence

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

This week we looked at five thinking errors that add up to stress:

All of these represent thinking in extremes. None of them provide you with many options to find solutions.

The last one we’ll look at this week is labeling.

Labeling takes one action or characteristic about you and makes THAT your whole thing.

If you struggle to manage your budgets at work because you’re bad at math, labeling brands you as stupid. So anything involving math?

Guess what? You’re stupid.

Basically, it’s name calling.

But it goes a little further than that.

By slapping this negative label on yourself based on one behavior or characteristic, you shut down any possibility for other explanations.

It’s like you tell yourself,

“Nope, don’t want to hear it. See what my little name tag says here? I’m stupid.”

When you use a label, you shut down a working conversation with yourself to look for evidence that just might convince you otherwise.

And not surprisingly, this makes you feel really bad about yourself.

When you feel bad about yourself, you’re not focused on finding healthy ways to manage your stress.

You’re just trying to keep going.

Historically you may have had issues with math. But it doesn’t make you stupid.

What it makes you is skill deficient.

The great thing about skills is how they can be learned.

You can learn the specific math skills you need to manage your budgets.

That explanation gives you a way out. And it sounds a whole lot better than feeling stupid.

I see this a lot with young adults who’ve convinced themselves they have social anxiety. Granted, some of them do meet the criteria.

But for many, what they believe is social anxiety is really a lack of experience and skill in maneuvering social situations. They may not have been exposed to a lot of social experiences to practice the skills.

These young adults go so far as to brand themselves a loser simply because they’re uncomfortable in a social setting.

So they pass up meaningful opportunities to challenge themselves and meet new people because they’ve decided they’re a loser.

I know we want to blame video games and social media for this one.

But the reality is many of them grew up without a lot of good models for successful social skills. If there wasn’t someone in their life for them to observe, then how would they know what to do?

It’s great fun to share the secret with them that they are in fact not a loser but that they just need to build some basic skills.

What’s so dangerous about labeling is it brings with it a fair amount of tunnel vision.

Once you assign a label to something, it’s hard to see it any other way.

The label becomes a brand that’s burned on to you. When you brand something, you own it.

And it’s hard to pass it off as something else.

This is especially true at work.

You can label other people in the same way you label yourself, with pretty similar results.

Let’s say you have a coworker who isn’t so great with expressing his opinion in a professional way.

You might think he’s a jerk after he interrupted you and shut down your idea in yesterday’s staff meeting. Then he does it again today in a fly-by hallway conversation.

What a jerk, right?

But then he reads an article on LinkedIn about how to present his opinions in a way that doesn’t make him look like a jerk. He thinks maybe he sometimes does come across like a jerk, and he wants to fix it.

He decides to try it out at the next staff meeting, but you’re just not hearing any of it.

You’ve already labeled him a jerk and that’s where it’s going to stay.

He has quite an uphill battle to demonstrate his new skill and change your perception of him.

The problem with labeling others is that it doesn’t allow for any grace or new direction.

Labeling is inflexible.

It locks you into one perspective, and it puts everyone into a box they can’t get out of.

And it offers you no options for improvement.

Labeling just hurls accusations.

The worst part is that when you label yourself or someone else, you’re delivering judgement based solely on past behaviors, not what’s right in front of you.

Labeling keeps you from the humility that lets you acknowledge there’s an issue and you want to make it better.

Take some time to listen to your self talk and write down a few comments that go through your mind. See if you are identifying yourself with just one set of criteria.

Look for ways that you may do this with others, too, and see where you can give them room to change.

Don’t let labeling shut you off to the opportunities around you and the ability to let others grow and improve.

You can catch all the previous episodes about cognitive distortions on my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 40: Don’t make it personal

,


Do you find yourself thinking you are the reason for everyone’s actions? Personalization is an easy thinking error to slip into. We don’t need any help to focus on ourselves and make it personal.

But when you do that first, instead of considering other reasons for how people behave, you might need to make things a little less about you.

In today’s episode we take a closer look at personalization.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 40: Don't make it personal - hand holding a clear globe with a picture of the skyline in the background

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

All this week we’ve been looking at thinking errors that keep us feeling stressed and wrung out.

If you missed any episodes, you can find them on my website at LoriMiller.me.

Like Pokémon, you gotta catch ‘em all. 😆

Today we’re examining personalization and labeling.

Except that when I started writing, personalization kind of took on a life of its own. So we’ll look at labeling tomorrow.

Sorry if you already had your VCR set for that one.

Personalization might be easy to guess.

When you think an event or someone’s response is just a personal reaction to you, you might struggle with this cognitive distortion.

Are people always imploring you not to take things so personally?

Then listen up.

Say for example, you and a friend make plans to go to the beach. At the last minute, she calls to tell you she has to cancel because her kid got the flu.

Immediately you think she’s just ditching you because it was so last minute and her kid seemed fine yesterday at the bus stop.

If you had stopped to consider other scenarios, you might have discovered a few alternate possibilities.

  • She doesn’t want you to get sick so she’s staying home to make sure you stay healthy. That’s a good friend all day long.
  • Her kid was fine yesterday but woke up this morning with a sore throat that became a full-fledged fever by lunch. That’s how the flu works sometimes.
  • She really wants to go but her mother isn’t able to come over and be at the house while the kid sleeps it off.
    Or
  • She’s ditching you because you always take things so personally. Your first reaction is always a possibility but you don’t have to go there first.

When you operate in this mindset, you automatically short change yourself.

Personalization places you at the center of everyone’s world. 🌍

If you’re at the center of everyone’s world, then you’re responsible for their happiness.

So you get to blame yourself when things you don’t even own go wrong.

You sure you want to go there?

Take your micromanaging boss, for example.

  • How many times have you complained about your boss’ complete lack of trust in you?
  • Obviously she doesn’t think you can do the job or she wouldn’t be right over your shoulder literally all the time, right?

If you look at micromanaging more closely, though, you won’t see a lack of trust or villainous thoughts about your skill set.

What you’ll see is fear and anxiety. And lots of it.

Go inside her head for a minute.

  • What if this expensive project falls apart and they hold me responsible?
  • I’m on the hook for this event to go well or I’m probably not working here anymore.
  • No one is giving me clear direction for me and my team, so I don’t know what I don’t know. What if I’m wrong?

With all that swimming around in her head, do you think it would be easy to not triple check everything your team is doing to make sure you guys pull it off? Her job may depend on it.

Do any of these thoughts have anything to do with you personally?

Is she even thinking about you? Nope.

Like all of us, she’s focused on herself.

Obviously micromanaging is not the answer to help calm her anxiety.

She needs to do her own work to manage her anxiety in a way that allows everyone to have autonomy and feel successful.

But if you look closely at her thoughts, you may see she’s dealing with a couple of thinking errors of her own.

Hit me up on Facebook or LinkedIn if you think you know what they are.

Personalization gets you so focused on how others’ behaviors are affecting you that you fail to see how much they may be carrying.

Opening yourself up to other possibilities for why people do things helps you give some grace to yourself and others, too.

Like all of these thinking errors, personalization puts you in a pretty extreme place.

Take yourself out of the equation a bit and look for all the possibilities.

If you’re still listening, wow, thank you! I’ll see you tomorrow for labeling!

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 39: Stop predicting the end of the world

,

Catastrophizing is a common thinking error. It’s easier to predict the end of the world than find a workable solution.

But catastrophizing leaves you hanging out there with nowhere to go.

In this episode, learn some ways to counter catastrophic thinking.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 39: Stop predicting the end of the world - man standing alone on the end of a pier

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

In yesterday’s episode we looked at a couple of thinking errors that keep you at extremes: all or nothing thinking and emotional reasoning. You can check out that episode on my website at LoriMiller.me.

The reality is that many thinking errors, or cognitive distortions, keep you at extremes.

Catastrophizing is no different.

This is the one we’ll look at today.

This thinking style makes you the very worst predictor of disaster because everything is a disaster.

When something challenging enters your life, catastrophizing will tell you that the worst case scenario is the only possible scenario.

Having a tough time finishing your big project?

Catastrophizing will tell you that you will never finish and you’ll look bad in front of your peers, too.

Are you having a hard time sleeping?

“I’ll never fall asleep. And I won’t be able to function at all tomorrow.”

Thoughts like this leave you completely paralyzed for action. If devastation is just on the horizon, why even bother to try?

So it’s pointless for you to even challenge what’s going on because all your efforts lead to one devastating place that shuts everything down. That’s typically how catastrophes work.

This is one of the more destructive cognitive distortions because it keeps you completely locked out of options.

By placing catastrophe as your only outcome, you take yourself off the hook for any responsibility in finding more workable options that will actually help you.

One place you can always find catastrophizing is during organizational change at work.

Change at work is about as stressful as it gets.

When a company restructures or pursues a new direction, it can feel like the floor is literally moving under you all the time.

You almost never know what’s really going on and you don’t know what or who to grab onto for support.

So there’s legitimate fear.

The knee jerk response for many people in this situation is predicting doom. You’ll hear comments like:

  • “They probably just want to get rid of us anyway.”
  • “Everything’s going to change now.”
  • “There goes my pension.”
  • “I’ll never be able to retire.”
  • “They’ll probably bring in a bunch of younger employees and we’ll be out.”
  • “Nobody really cares about us. They’ll just overload us until we quit so they don’t have to pay unemployment.”

Yikes. But you know I’m not making this up.

Every single one of these statements ends up with you, the employee, having no choices amidst all this change.

You’re the one standing among the rubble with just your red stapler left to keep you company. Queue up the victim mentality.

If you can back off the end of the world scenario just a bit, you can find some options for yourself.

Often change brings enormous opportunities. But not if you’re predicting the apocalypse in your head right before your next staff meeting.

Catastrophizing is the easiest cognitive distortion to challenge because almost anything you challenge it with will seem plausible.

Anything is better than destruction.

Think you’ll never get to sleep?

Science says you will. It’s a natural function built in to your body. At some point you absolutely will sleep.

Maybe not when it’s convenient for you, but it will happen.

You won’t be able to function at all tomorrow?

Unless you slip into a coma, that’s not a true statement. You probably won’t be at your best, but you’ll be able to do some stuff.

So the less catastrophic statement here is:

“I’m having some trouble getting to sleep right now but my body will sleep when it’s ready. I won’t be 100% tomorrow but I’ll be able to have what I need to get through the day.”

That’s miles away from the drama-inducing “I’ll never sleep again.”

At work, when you’re tempted to frame your job as an Avengers-movie parody, consider some other options that give you a bit of power among all this change.

So, for example, the statement, “Everything’s going to change now” becomes:

“Some things will definitely change but not everything. Maybe I can uncover some new opportunities in all this that will help me stand out.”

On the surface all this may sound a little like denial.

But I think you have to ask yourself, do you really want to walk around feeling like you’re carrying the weight of the end of the world?

Or do you want to feel some hope that you still have the ability to influence the things that happen to you?

Just a thought.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at two more cognitive distortions: personalization and labeling.

You can catch all the previous episodes in this series on my website at LoriMiller.me.

You can catch new episodes of Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 38: Two ways thinking goes wrong

,


In this episode we continue to look at cognitive distortions, thinking errors that keep us from getting where we want to go. When thinking goes wrong, you have to be able to identify what errors you’re making.

Today we look at “All or Nothing Thinking” and “Emotional Reasoning.”

Learn how to reign in your thinking so you can get to creating solutions.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 38: Two ways thinking goes wrong

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

This week I’m doing a series on cognitive distortions. You may have heard them also called thinking errors. In yesterday’s episode I gave a brief overview of how we get to these distortions. If you want to hear that episode, you can visit my website at LoriMiller.me.

Now, overall there are about 15 cognitive distortions. But there are a handful that seem to really kick into high gear when you’re stressed. These are the ones I want to focus on.

“All or nothing thinking” is one of those.

This thinking style keeps you at either end of two extremes. Things are very black and white with “all or nothing thinking.”

You see this style a lot in trying to live a healthy lifestyle. How many times have you sworn you were going to work out five times this week?

What happened when you bugged out of the second workout?

You felt defeated.

“If I can’t even work out two times this week then I guess I won’t work out at all. So THIS week is gone. I can’t even work out for a week!”

You only gave yourself two options, and only one of those options meant you were successful. There was no wiggle room for a different outcome that still allowed you to feel successful.

This is why “go big or go home” isn’t always a great strategy.

It sells lots of books and seminars, but it’s very limiting.

It only gives you two options. And one of those options can feel devastating.

We like to avoid devastating if at all possible.

Most of your best solutions lie in having a few different options to choose from.

As we all know, real life is lived inside the gray areas.

There’s very little grace for mistakes with “all or nothing” thinking and a fair amount of shame.

Who has time for that?

Apply this to the things in your life that really challenge you.

Where are you giving yourself only one option for success?

Does being passed over for that promotion mean you’re not successful at your job?

There are so many factors that go into being a success at what you do. Advancing is one sign of success but certainly not the only one.

Are you stressing about putting the perfect Easter dinner together with all your family’s traditional foods?

Is there any room for taking credit for just getting everyone at the same table together, regardless of what you’re eating?

Take inventory of “all or nothing” thinking in those hot areas and see where you can find some grace for yourself.

Another thinking style that trips you up is “emotional reasoning.”

This is where you use all the overwhelming emotions you feel to decide how things are or should be. Never mind any actual evidence to the contrary.

If you’ve ever seen a Hallmark movie, you know what I’m talking about:

Unhappy hometown girl returns home, sees high school boyfriend, feels a flutter in her soul when she runs into him at the hardware store, reminisces about what they had together, follows her heart and gives up her successful law practice in Manhattan to return home and help her true love run the hardware store.

What?

We know it’s campy but honestly we sometimes do the same thing in our own lives, minus the hardware store scenario.

When we’re overwhelmed and stressed, all we know is what we feel.

That’s how we know we’re stressed.

Our emotions put themselves front and center. Instead of pulling back a bit to logically study everything going on around us, we draw on what we feel to form conclusions about things.

We make our feelings into facts.

And we ignore any other possible explanations.

So we say things like, “I feel ignored and disrespected at work. I must not be a valued employee.”

Or, “I’m so nervous about attending that new group at my church. I’m such a weirdo.”

We let our emotions take us to the very place we don’t want to be.

Emotional reasoning can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy because we start to behave in ways that support the very outcomes we don’t want.

Now we feel even more overwhelmed because we’re still not getting what we want.

This is why it’s so important to develop a habit of capturing your thoughts in some way. When you write this stuff out, it starts to look ridiculous. But you can’t see that when it’s bouncing around in your head.

Don’t be afraid to run interference on your emotions.

They have their role in your playbook, but sometimes they just have to let the other players have their moment.

In tomorrow’s episode we’ll look at another cognitive distortion called catastrophizing.

Make sure you subscribe to the podcast or Amazon Alexa version so you don’t miss it!

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!