What Picture Are You Painting?

What Picture Are You Painting

What picture are you painting in your mind about yourself?

Anytime we paint a picture in our mind that’s not authentic or represent who we really are, it leaves an indelible imprint.  It’s an image that we constantly try to emulate, assimilate and redefine based on someone else’s picture.

Recently I attended a paint party.  Paint parties are popping up all over the United States.  They are sometimes held in restaurants, bars and private homes.  Wherever they are held, the atmosphere is jovial and there is always plenty to eat and drink.  The whole idea of a paint party is to have fun while a professional artist guides novices (like me) in creating our own unique work of art.

Like anything we try that’s new, I was apprehensive and didn’t know quite what to expect at a paint party. In other words, I almost let fear keep me from a fun experience.

As the room filled and everyone took their place in front of an already set up easel with an attached canvass to start our masterpiece, the artist announces confidently, “our project today is a sunflower”.  As she distributes the various size paint brushes, paper plates to hold and mix the paint, I’m feeling less and less confident.  When the instructor passes out the aprons, I assume this is so we don’t go home looking like we’ve been in a paint fight with a 5-year old.

Of course, the instructor had her sunflower prominently displayed so we all could see what a real sunflower looks like. And, like most of the large group of women (and a couple of men) in the room, I tried my darnedest to follow her instructions and imitate her painting of a sunflower. And for a moment, I thought I might be successful until I noticed my masterpiece had taken on a life of its own.  While the instructor’s sunflower was dead center on the canvass with vibrant colors and perfectly formed leaves, my sunflower looked much like the Italian Leaning Tower of Pisa, known worldwide for is unintended tilt.  My leaves were a little misshapen and drooped casually along the side of the sunflower.  What I intended to be a bright yellow had somehow morphed into a drab yellowish/orange color.

Unlike the instructor, I don’t have years (or even minutes) of painting experience. Nor do I have a natural talent for painting or even a plausible knowledge about mixing paint. Nevertheless, here I am ready to paint my masterpiece!

I’m keenly aware of my strengths and my limitations.  Painting is not one of my strengths.

So, why in the world did I sign up for a painting class when the only thing I’ve ever painted was a wall?

It wasn’t about creating a masterpiece worthy of hanging in the Smithsonian. It was about:

  • pushing through the fear of “getting it right” to experience something new and exciting
  • acceptance (being okay with who I am and what I can do)
  • breaking free of self imposed limitations (e,g,, “I can’t paint”...)
  • letting go of negative self talk (“it won’t be good enough” – good enough for whom? -see acceptance above)
  • another chance to get closer to living fearlessly.

Here is what I took away from that painting class –

I don’t have to create like anyone else and I don’t have to be or do anything like anyone else.  I only need to show up as authentically, unabashedly ME!

When I showed up with my fear, judgment and self-doubt pushed aside and let go of what I thought the other people in the class would think of my feeble attempt at painting, I created my own unique sunflower (tilted and off-color). My painting may never win me an award or hang in a museum but I got something much more valuable than recognition.

I got self-satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I experienced yet another opportunity to show up as my authentic, creative, divine self without judgment or self-doubt. And, I had fun doing it.

Now, you can’t put that on canvass!

Is the picture you have in your mind representative of who you really are?

What picture are you painting?

Please take a moment to share comments about your unique picture.

And for more ways to suspend fear, self-doubt and criticism, you may want to read my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.

 

Gladys Anderson helps individuals and couples to renovate their relationships with partners, family members, friends and co-workers.

7 Warning Signs of Depression

7 Warning Signs of DepressionThe world was saddened by the death of Mr. Robin Williams, an iconic comedian, beloved American legend and accomplished actor. Mr. Williams reportedly suffered from severe depression. He appears to have taken his own life.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Williams family. Depression is an insidious mental health disease affecting millions of people every year. Severely depressed individuals are at high risk of suicide.

Symptoms of depression can be tough to detect in someone close to you and even harder to detect in yourself. On occasion, most people feel a little sad, anxious or gloomy. These feelings are quite common when they are the result of a significant life change (e.g., loss of job, divorce, illness, work stress, etc.) and usually last a short time. But, when you or someone you know feels sad and hopeless most of the day, these and other symptoms persist for extended periods of time and effect daily functioning, serious depression may exist and the help of an experienced mental health professional may be needed.

Here are some key areas where depression may lead to diminished functioning and suicide:

  • Extreme changes in sleep habits. On occasion, most people may have a day or two when they either wake up too early, have difficulty getting to sleep or wake up sometime during the night. People experiencing depression will sleep excessively or sleep very little
  • Overeating or appetite loss. Often people who are extremely depressed find themselves eating much more than normal or snacking excessively or having little or no appetite for foods they previously enjoyed.
  • Difficulty staying focused. The inability to think clearly and/or make simple decisions is a frightening part of severe depression. Making major decisions is often intolerable for a depressed person. This lack of concentration leads to increased anxiety, and feelings worthlessness, and/or helplessness.
  • Diminished energy. You may notice that you or a depressed individual moves and speaks at a reduced rate and often complains of being tired without any evidence of physical exertion.
  • Lack of interest.  Depressed individuals have diminished energy and/or no desire to engage in routine activities or hobbies they once found pleasurable.
  • Low self-esteem. During periods of depression, people may dwell on failures and losses and experience feelings of excessive guilt and helplessness. Thoughts of suicide may occur when these feelings persist.
  • Thoughts of suicide/suicide attempt. People who are depressed may say such things as “I wish I wasn’t here”, “what good am I”.

This post is by no means an attempt to diagnose or treat depression.  If you are concerned about depression and/or suicide for yourself or someone else, please use the following resources to get immediate help:

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

If you are hearing impaired, there are several ways to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • To chat with a Lifeline counselor from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Friday (Eastern Standard Time), click here.
  • Contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889

If you are hearing impaired, and a veteran, service member, or any person concerned about one, there are several ways to contact the Veterans Crisis Line.

  • To text with a Veterans Crisis Line responder, send a text message to 838255.
  • To chat with a Veterans Crisis Line responder, click here.
  • Contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889

Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)  or  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

If you or someone you know experience any of the warning signs of depression and/or suicidal thoughts or intentions, please take it as very, very serious and seek immediate help.

Gladys Anderson helps individuals and couples to renovate their relationships with partners, family members, friends and co-workers.

Listening Well

Listening WellMost of us have experienced the frustration of having someone not listen to us or felt that same frustration when someone says you’re not listening to him or her.   But, before we get all bent out of shape and accuse someone of not listening, we must first ask ourselves the question, “how well do I listen”?

You must learn to be a good listener if you want others to listen to you.  That means putting down the smartphone and giving the other person your undivided attention.

A smartphone is no substitute for meaningful connection

Listening is so much more than hearing the words that are spoken. Listening involves paying full attention to the person speaking, taking note of the tone of voice, gestures, body language and making eye contact.

We are so accustomed to speaking in shorthand – e.g., OMG, LOL, ROFL, etc., that real communication easily gets lost.  A “smart” device is no substitute for meaningful, connected interaction between two or more people.  Smart devices and shortcut speech is just another way for us to avoid connecting with each other in a meaningful way.

Before you send your next text, email or instant message, ask yourself:

Does this communication connect me to him/her?

And to further hone up on your listening skills,  keep these tips in mind to remind you to become a better listener.

1) Look the person speaking in the eye as they talk to you. You can’t do this on a smartphon! Looking a person in the eye  assures that them that they have your full attention. Don’t fidget, survey the surrounding scenery or check email.

2) Nod your head occasionally to show you are present and listening, say, “tell me more”, or ask questions when appropriate to indicate your interest.

3) Don’t interrupt the person speaking to voice your opinion, give advice, or express thoughts before he/she has the opportunity to finish speaking.

4) Notice the speaker’s body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. When we focus only on the words being said, we often miss important physical cues that would clarify and give us a better understanding of what is really being said.

5) Remember to ask for clarification before responding.  Ask questions that elicit more information or detail and can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”. You want to ask questions that promote more conversation and clarity.

For more listening and communication tips, I invirte you to get my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace, and Celebrate the Real You

 

Gladys Anderson helps individuals and couples to renovate their relationships with partners, family members, friends and co-workers.

Who do you think you are?

canstockphoto1212266Who do you think you are is a refrain that fear whispers in my ear regularly.

The only purpose for fear landing on my shoulder, whispering my ear, “who do you think you are” is to stop me dead in my tracks, so I won’t take the next step toward realizing a dream or doing something that will bring me joy.

You may not even realize fear has you in its clutches until you are gripped with immobility, indecisiveness and self-doubt.  By then you’ve put aside your dreams, your aspirations and lack the energy to move forward.

In other words, you’re the passenger not the pilot in your own vehicle.

How do you silence “fear talk” when she whispers in your ear,  “who do you think you are”?

You silence her the same as you would any other pest.

1) First, you flick her off your shoulder like the annoying pest she is so she no longer has access to your ear.

2)  Tell her that she’s not the boss of you and go away. Like most bullies when you stand up to fear, she will run the other way or at least leave you alone and walk fast towards her next victim.

Once you prevent fear from accessing your ear, swatted her from your shoulder and sent on her way, you no longer have an excuse to stay stuck. Now you are free to pursue your dreams and show up in the world as the fearless, authentic woman you really are.

So what are you waiting for?

Get fear off your shoulder and start living the life you deserve and want.

For more tips and insights like these, check out my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.

Easy Tip to Block Negativity

Stop NegativityHow can I stop negativity coming at me from other people? is a question I hear a lot.  Most of the time what is really being said is “I’m not negative, other people are”…It’s much more comfortable to blame others that it is to take responsibility for our personal thoughts, actions and responses.

While you certainly can’t control negativity in speech or behavior from other people, keep in mind you are in control of your own thoughts, feelings, behaviors and responses.  When you start to recognize that you control what you think, your behaviors and responses to situations, people and events will shift dramatically. When a negative statement is made in your presence, first, you want to take 2-3 really deep breaths before your respond or react. This will give you time to reframe the negativity into something more positive and at the same time maintain your positive attitude.

If you’re trying to change, manipulate or control what someone else is thinking or doing, you’re neglecting what you’re thinking or doing

Here’s an easy tip to block negativity whenever you experience a negative emotion from words or actions:

Make a circle on both hands with your index finger and thumb, similar to the “okay” sign. You can easily do this with your hands down to your sides, behind your back or in your pockets.  And while the person is spewing negativity, you are closing off the negative energy with your thumb and index finger and keeping it from entering your mindset.

Try it the next time someone is negative around you or use it when you recognize you are being negative. It really works!

You can find more on negativity and other self help tips in my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You

Light My Fire

4th_July fireworksTalk about “light my fire”! I recently participated in a riveting 30-day challenge – “Reclaim Your Sass” – with awesome, Jennifer Boykin. I was faced head on with the reality of my fears, self-doubt and indecisiveness in a most gentle, caring authentic way that resonated deep within me. I usually shy away from these kinds of challenges because I get bored, think they are too hokey or require more time and energy than I’m willing to invest but something about this challenge peaked my interest.

I had already started the process of probing deeply into my fears and transparency,  which I shared with you in an earlier post.  So Jennifer’s challenge resonated with me in a profound way.

I completed the 30-day challenge on Sunday and  this Fourth of July weekend reminds me to light my fire and get on with the business of living fearlessly, joyfully and authentically.

Here in the USA, the Fourth of July is celebrated with sparkling fireworks, parades, grills fired up to cook our favorite barbecue and reconnecting with family and friends.  And, it keeping with the theme of fire( works), I thought this would be a good time for me to light my fire so I can sparkle and turn that smoldering flame into my own personal fireworks.

Do you need to light your fire?

If you are willing to light your fire like  fireworks decorating the sky on the Fourth of July, here are some tips to ignite you:

1. Rescue your sparkle – your sparkle is not gone, you just need to reach deep inside to reclaim it. Could it be it’s concealed under layers of self-doubt? If so, let’s start today peeling away just one layer.

2.Turn up the heat – If you cook, you know that the higher the heat the more of a risk you have of burning your food. The same principle applies when we move at record speed with no down time for self-care. It leaves us susceptible to burnout and fatigue. Perhaps starting a morning or evening ritual such as a brisk walk or quiet time will help reduce the chance of burnout.

3. Sing your praises – It’s not conceited or arrogant to honor your accomplishments. In other words, pat yourself on the back when you complete a specific undertaking.

If this post rings a bell for you, please take a moment to connect with us by sharing your comments, reactions or questions.

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!

Woman in the Mirror

Woman in the Mirror
The Woman in the Mirror poem appears in several versions.  While each is a little different, I have to give credit to those authors who have claimed ownership, including some “unknown authors”. The poem is also very similar to the message in the late Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” where he says:

“If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change”

I found this version of the Woman in the Mirror hiding out in my quotes folder and want to share it with you.

The Woman In The Mirror: Author Unknown

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you Queen for a day.

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
and see what that woman has to say.

It isn’t your father or mother or spouse
Whose judgment upon you must pass

The person whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

Some people might think you’re a straight-shootin’ chum,
and call you a wonderful gal.

But the woman in the glass says you’re only a bum,
if you can’t look her straight in the eye.

She’s the person to please, never mind all the rest, she’s with you right up till the end.

You’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test if the gal in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
and get pats on the back as you pass.

But your final reward will be heartache and tears if you’ve cheated the woman in the glass.

Hmmm…something to think about.

The poem reminds me of how we so often place more emphasis on what others think about us than the fact that it’s more important to be able to look in the mirror and like what YOU see.

The person whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass

Please share your thoughts about this poem or one of your favorites in the comment section.

And, for more information about loving the woman in the mirror, I invite you to check out my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.