Trying to Wear too Many Hats Doesn’t Do Anything But Cause Headaches

Sometimes It Pays to Remember You Just Have One Head

Quote About Trying to Do Too Many Things
 

This past week, alone, I’ve witnessed the following:

  • An e-mail from a Christian newsletter publisher talking about treating joint pain.
  • A department store with a bank, clinic, and tax prep booth – all where better shoe, books, and clothing selections once were.
  • A bar-b-que restaurant serving fried fish. BAD fried fish.
  • Another e-mail newsletter (“specializing” in health) talking about relationships.

And it’s just Wednesday!

Is it just me, or are people trying to DO too many different things and BE too many different people these days?

Fast food restaurants may be the worst. There’s even one clown who seems to think he’s Starbucks.  Stick to the fries and burgers, buddy.  Oddly enough, people seem shocked that this restaurant is falling in profits and popularity. That happens when you stop trying to “perfect” what you’re supposed to be doing.

There’s a beauty salon I drive by frequently and it seems that each time something new has joined the lineup: manicures, pedis, botox, fillers, and other things I can’t even pronounce. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to drive by today and see, “Now doing open heart surgery! Get your nails done before you even come to!”

Even my own much, much beloved coffee shops are branching out further and further. Pastries, sandwiches, smoothies, candy, nuts, etc…

Trying to do everything doesn’t perfect anything.

Take the flip side. Think of  Chick-Fil-A, Cracker Barrel, NBA Players, and Waffle House.

  • Chick-Fil-A sticks with chicken. They concentrate solely on what’s on the sign out front and you will not find better chicken in any fast food restaurant.
  • Cracker Barrel doesn’t try to be anything they’re not. They serve great home-style cooking and leave the rest to… well, they leave the rest to the rest.
  • NBA and WNBA Players Defy Logic. Ever think of how incredibly difficult it would be to get a small ball into a hole that’s hanging so far away? All while there are 5 athletes, your size or bigger, giving their all to defeat your purpose?! But these men and women commit themselves to the game and they are just mind-boggling to watch. They specialize in perfecting their game and their conditioning. They do things we can’t even begin to imagine doing because they work at that one thing – basketball.
  • Waffle House? Breakfast food all day, all night. Can you imagine how ludicrous it’d be to see “Now serving lasagna” on the sign out front? A lot of the scenarios we see everyday are just as ludicrous, we’ve just gotten used to them.

Now let’s bring it home to where we live. Do we ever fall into the same traps to the ones above? Of course we do. It’s human nature, I suppose to think, “More = Better.”  Wal-Mart’s reasoning is that if they create essentially a “small city” inside each store, more people will shop there. They think, “Let’s give them a bank, a clinic, a beauty salon, a pharmacy, an Optometrist, a place to do their taxes…”

None of which, of course, makes them a better department store. Ironically, it makes them LESS valuable as a department store because all the other clicks and whistles are squeezing out the LAST things they should be squeezing out. I can remember when Wal-Mart had the cutest, most affordable shoes in town. This was about 10 years ago and their selections have gone downhill since. I guess they just don’t have room for things like that anymore.

Mark my words, Sam Walton would not be a happy man.  Can you imagine what he’d said the first time someone said, “Hey, Mr. Walton, I have a great idea. Let’s put a clinic inside each store!

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud ambition but, like they say, “Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land.”  And since NO ONE knows everything, that stands to reason that a lot of people are treading water they never should have jumped into in the first place.

What happens when an individual tries to do too many things, wear too many hats, and tries to walk on too many different paths? Well, for one thing, they look like a darn fool.

On a more serious level, though, he or she suffers in three key areas:

  1. The MORE they do and try to do, the LESS happy they will be. They find themselves so BUSY trying to do all things and be all things that they’re left with no time to simply enjoy life. Life is passing them by and they never actually even look up long enough to see it. Stress is a particularly ugly monster and he prefers people who have too many hats. They’re like some kind of signal to him – he thinks, “Easy prey!”  How can you tell if stress is sneaking up on you or already has you in his clutches? I think the easiest way is to ask yourself how your RESPOND to situations and people. Do relatively small things set you off? Do things that once wouldn’t even measure a blip on your radar now cause your heart rate to speed up, your neck muscles to tense up, and an angry disposition to show up. Sure signs of stress…. and since stress leads NOWHERE good, deal with it today.
  2. The GO! GO! GO! mentality creates physical problems that can be deadly. Heart disease, hypertension, and even gastrointestinal problems can, and are, directly linked to this type of hyper lifestyle and mindset.  Have you ever seem someone in the throes of thinking they had to do a million and one different things? I swear, sometimes they even forget to breath.
  3. Relationships Suffer. While this is the last one in the list, it certainly is not the least. Moms and dads who think they HAVE to work extra long hours at the expense of actually spending time with their children are making one of the biggest mistakes known to man or womankind. It’s also one of the mistakes they’ll, one day, regret the most.  The same can be said for husbands and wives who become so wrapped up in “making money,” “having more,” and “getting caught up…” when every topic of conversation revolves around these subjects, the stage is set for misery.

Life isn’t something we’re going to be able to get out and enjoy for hundreds of years, you know. If you’ve become so busy that work or money are all you ever think or talk about and you’re forever looking for your next hat – do yourself (and everyone in your life) a favor…

  • slow down
  • breath
  • live in the moment
  • enjoy life

Your level of happiness will rise with each hat you cast aside.  Life is to be enjoyed, not rushed through.

~ Joi

Overcoming Fear: Truth Be Told, It’s Just Pretty Darn Cool

How Our Mind Can Both Create and Solve the Same Problem

Canoeing at Sunset
 

My husband and I recently took a canoe trip on one of Kentucky’s many beautiful lakes.  For most people, this would simply be another beautiful adventure in the great outdoors. But for someone, like me, who has a “nearly” paralyzing fear of bodies of water larger than a bathtub and a “totally” paralyzing fear of snakes, it was like riding a roller-coaster at an old abandoned amusement park… a roller-coaster without seat belts in an old abandoned amusement park.

A roller-coaster without seat belts in an old abandoned amusement park being operated by a clown with an evil laugh.

OK. You get the idea.

When we set off from the safety of the land (I really, really love land) and the canoe started swaying “too far” that way, then overcompensated by swaying “too far” in the other direction, my mind went full on “fight or flight mode.” It started coming up with scenarios that could get my feet right back on the nice safe land. I thought,  “I could say I forgot something…” then, when my husband said, “What?” I could say, “I forgot to stay in the car.”

Then, I thought, “I could say I’m sick… and it won’t be that much of a stretch…”

By the time I was deciding on one approach, I realized we’d gotten too far away from precious land. Frankly, I didn’t have any intention of ruining the husband’s day by making him step in my chicken &$!^.

Just as my brain tried to console itself by thinking, “At least we haven’t seen a s-n-a-k-e yet…” guess what slithered by the canoe with its head held up high, trying to get away from us as fast as possible.

That’s right.  A s-n-a-k-e.  My brain spells it out… makes them seem less real.

Here’s the kicker. I thought he (she???  – how in the heck would you know??) was downright cute.  The whole head up above the water while the body tried frantically to get it to safety made me feel both a kinship and a pity for it.

It was cute. There I said it.

I even somehow managed to raise the camera I was holding in a death-clutch and tried to take a picture of him (her). It was too fast, its fight or flight speed left mine in the dust.

It wasn’t long before I had actually relaxed enough to actually speak. I managed to tell Michael that I was going to need lots and lots of chocolate when we got off that lake.

Chocolate is my adult pacifier.

By the time we’d seen beavers, an epic beaver lodge, herons, eagles, ospreys, geese, and deer (in the distance… they weren’t swimming out there, now THAT would have freaked me out), I was having the time of my life. As the sun began to set, I realized that our canoe trip was nearly over and I actually felt a sense of regret.

Then I remembered the chocolate and all was well.

What I took away from the entire situation was this: Sometimes we tell ourselves SO OFTEN that we’re afraid of this, or we’re afraid of that that we cause the fear to seem larger than it actually is. We make it a huge monstrous two-headed beast when it’s actually usually much smaller, not that monstrous, and has just the one head.

When we allow fear to dominate us, we’re actually giving it too much credit and ourselves not nearly enough.

One thing that helped me fairly early in the canoe trip was a certain little “mental checklist” I did.  I asked myself what was the worst case scenario and what I would do if it came to pass.

I determined that if the canoe flipped and I found myself in deep water approached by a s-n-a-k-e, intent on using my soaked body as a buffet, I would club it with my oar. My brain also reminded me that I could always climb back into the canoe and that, after all, I was wearing a life jacket.

After I saw the you-know-what fleeing the scene, it also occurred to me that a clubbing wouldn’t even be necessary. I’d have to chase it to do so and I have no intention of doing that.

Ironically, I was ITS huge monstrous two-headed beast.

During the canoe trip, I also got a live, up close look at what irrational fear looks like. In a canoe near us, a “football player size” teenage boy nearly turned the canoe he and his girlfriend were in completely over. Seriously, they were inches from landing in the water.

He caused such a commotion, their canoe swayed like Gilligan’s ship in the opening credits and I still have no idea how it kept from wrecking.

Come to find out… he did all of that because he saw a spider. I’m not even kidding you.  As I was laughing at the big ole boy afraid of a tiny little spider, my over-stimulated and shot out mind asked me, “What are YOU laughing at, snake charmer?”

The day was as enlightening as it was entertaining.  My irrational fear came thisclose to ruining it for both me and my husband and I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am that I chose “fight” instead of “flight.”

It’s not an overstatement to say that it made me stronger. Winning battles does that – especially when you’re your own opponent.

Our minds are utterly fascinating and utterly powerful.  While this may seem like a reach, It’s one I’m willing to risk: Our minds determine the world in which we live.

We pretty much create the world we live in all between our ears. If we want something to be beautiful, it will be beautiful.

If we want to find fault in a person or a situation, we will be able to find as many as we’d like.

If we want to make a situation fearful, we won’t have to break a sweat, we can make it horror-story quality.

I’m sure you’re asking the same thing I am… why would we want to create anything negative?  Why would we desire to create anything frightening or ugly?

Unless we’re as crazy as crazy has a right to be, we want our world to be beautiful, peaceful, and infinitely happy. Right? Well, the good news is we have the power to set it on the right track.

This power is our mind.

Next time your mind tells you something is scary, ugly, or even hideous, don’t just take its word for it (especially if it spells it out). Step back from the situation, take a deep breath, and create the world in which you truly want to live.

~ Joi

Your Turn: What are your own personal phobias or fears and what have you done to overcome them? Anyone else “highly cautious” around snakes?!

Canoeing

Be Yourself: Let Them Be Them, You Be You

I Am Who I Am, Your Approval is Not Needed

Quote About Being Unique

If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.  – Johann von Goethe

True story:  When I was on the verge of high school, I was in a department store shopping with my mom and my one of my best friends, Tamra.  We were shopping for back to school clothes and Tamra and I each had a certain amount of money to spend.  I will just go ahead and admit it – I was up to my elbows in the “hot new” and “popular” clothes. Calvin Klein jeans, crazy colored tops, and.. of course… the coolest of the cool shoes.

At some point, I was mid-rant about the price of a pair of jeans when I realized I’d misplaced my buddy. While my mom scampered off to look at something else (and to probably escape my “How can I get everything I simply must have if the price tags are so unfair?? Life isn’t faaaaiiirrr….” meltdown), I went off in search of Tamra. I found her in a section of clothes I didn’t even know existed – inexpensive ones.

She said some sort of nonsense about being able to actually get MORE clothes if she bought CHEAPER clothes.

I’m sure I wondered how she and I were even friends at that point. I mean, what was with this girl?

Trying to save her from herself, I leaned in and whispered something like, “But no one’s wearing these clothes.”

My buddy supreme lit up and said, “That’s why I love them – I’ll be the only one!

I’d LOVE to be able to say that the early teen version of me had a moment of clarity and tossed down my Calvin Klein’s and pulled out some clothes from Tamra’s goldmine but, alas, I did not. Enlightenment was a word I could probably barely spell, let alone claim ownership of.

We were going to be entering high school for the first time, I was not going to do it in clothes that weren’t all the rage! I would not walk through those doors without the most expensive jeans in the store on my behind!

After about two hours (feeling sorry for my mom yet?), we left the store.  Tamra had more bags than me… more clothes than me.. and even had money left.

I thought possibly she was an alien. I walked out with my bag… yes, BAG.. felling like I had just won the shopping game.

Funny thing, though, my mom went on and on about Tamra’s approach. Praised her as we walked to the car… praised her as we ate the lunch she treated us to… at one point, it hit me that all this “praise” was as much for my benefit as it was her’s.   She kept looking at me as she said words like smart and thrifty.. and something about stretching money.  I’m pretty sure the whole lunch thing was so I could hear about “making the most of your money” and “making it last.” How “clothes were clothes” blah blah blah.

Great. So now I had two aliens.

Oddly enough, over the years I came to realize that… of course… I was the one who “didn’t get it.”  I was too preoccupied with wearing what the other kids were wearing to realize that the greatest thing in life is to make your own way, be yourself, and not worry about who anyone else thinks you should be.

Or what they think you should wear.

The whole enlightenment thing didn’t hit me until I was in my Senior year of High School.

My poor mom.

It finally became clear to me that the coolest thing in the world was to stand out from everyone else… not blend in.

Whether it’s what you wear, how you do your hair, how you walk, how you talk, or any dang thing that makes you you…  don’t let anyone try to re-make you or re-do you. I don’t care whether they think their intentions are great or not.  They don’t have the right. It’s YOUR life.

They have their own.

Truth is, if anyone tries to make you into something or someone you’re not, they’re actually the one with the problem, not you.  If they were completely comfortable in their own skin and at peace with life, they’d have better things to do than worry about your hair. Or clothes. Or anything.

Personally, I cannot imagine taking issue with something personal about another individual. If they’re mistreating someone or putting someone else at risk… sure, I’d have to say something. But if they want to braid garlic cloves into their hair and dress in sackcloth, I’m not going to let it rock my boat. I won’t sit downwind from them, but I’ll let them stink if they want to.

It’s their right.

There’s an old Polish proverb my husband loves, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”  Pretty much I think you could also say it this way: “That’s none of my dang business, so I’m going to just do me!”

Be you…. let them be them.

Life’s better that way.

~ Joi

I am who I am your approval is not needed

 

Self Help Lesson from a White Cat

Live IN the Moment, Without Looking PAST the Moment

 

Cat on Pine Mountain , Kentucky

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.  – James Openheim

 

When you first look at the picture above , what’s the first thing you see? Your answer is probably the stone on the building, the tree’s trunk in the foreground, or the trees in the background. Or, you may be an artistic sort who first notices the colors of the “canvas” before the individual parts.

I love you artsy people.

Then again, you may be like me – such a bona fide animal lover that the first thing you see is the gorgeous white cat.  Of course, if you didn’t see her right off the bat, that doesn’t make you any less of an animal lover. She does blend in with her surroundings after all.

Story Behind the Picture

I took this  picture a few years ago when we were in the beautiful mountains of Eastern Kentucky. We’d just arrived at Pine Mountain State Resort Park and were taking in the awe-inspiring beauty.  The mountains are always gorgeous, but in Autumn, the scenery just takes your breath away.

I was in the middle of taking a lot of pictures of the mountains and trees decked out in their Autumn best when I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched. I knew it wasn’t my husband because he was busy snapping away with his own camera.

Given the fact that I’d already seen several signs telling guests to keep an eye out for bears, the feeling of being watched was a little bit more unsettling than usual.

I happened to look “closer” than I HAD been looking and that’s when I saw the beautiful little white cat.  Given the fact that I’d been looking so FAR away I hadn’t seen her before.  For an animal lover, like me, her beautiful face trumped everything else.

Then again, I love cats as much as my next breath. I have had at least one (usually 2-4) cats all of my life. I find them to be the most amazing, intelligent, colorful, and joyous little beings God ever created.  When I come across one in public, my reaction would lead you to believe I’d just encountered Bigfoot, himself.  So the fact that I could have missed seeing this little cutie simply by looking too far in the distance left an impression on me.

When we got back home and I sat down to upload my pictures to my computer, this particular picture made me stop and think. It’s a reminder of something we’re all guilty of from time to time – some more so than others: We often get so caught up in looking “off” into the distance that we miss what’s right in front of us.  Whether our eyes are fixed firmly in the future or stubbornly in the past, we’d do well to always remind ourselves to stop and look around in the present.

Who knows what we could be missing?

Because of the effect the picture had on me, when it came time to re-design Self Help Daily, I used this picture as my palette. It reminds me to not only “see” the big picture of life, but to always stop and appreciate the small details – the ones right in front of me.

Ironically, this whole premise goes with my new favorite quote. Not only do I collect quotes, I’m utterly obsessed with them – so I often have a favorite quote “of the moment.” The quote that has been my favorite for some time now is from Thoreau, “Live in the present. Launch yourself on each wave. Find eternity in each moment.” If that isn’t a life-changer, I don’t know what is.

Write it down. Live it out!

~ Joi

Find Eternity in Each Moment

... find eternity in each moment. – Thoreau

All the world cries, ‘Where is the man who will save us?’ Don’t look so far for this man, you have him at hand. This man–it is you, it is I, it is each one of us! How to constitute oneself a man? Nothing harder if one knows not how to will it; nothing easier if one wills it. -Alexandre Dumas.

How to Use Positive Affirmations to Create More Positive Energy

And Why It's A Whiz Bang Idea to Do So

  Quotes About Positive Affirmations

 

No doubt you’ve heard about positive affirmations.  You’re probably even a believer in the power of positive affirmations. But do you actually use them?  Do you give yourself the extra boost that comes from creating more positive energy in your life?

Positive affirmations have the power to change your life because they have the power to change you. From your mindset to the way you go about your day, there’s no area of your life positive affirmations can’t benefit.

Before we get to positive affirmations, let’s think for a minute (but just a minute, okay, because they’re bad news) about negative affirmations. Negative affirmations are equally powerful and pack their own kind of wallop – as in knocking you down, kicking you in the liver with steel toe boots, and then spitting in your face.

I told you they were bad news.

Negative affirmations are those unkind, hurtful, and destructive little things we frequently say to and about ourselves.  Sometimes we say them out loud but we usually play them for an audience of one, ensuring that we’re the only ones that hear them. Problem is, we’re the only ones that NEED to hear them for them to do their damage.

Imagine, for a scary minute, that someone followed you around all day and all night.  Each time there was a lull in the conversation, they’d lean in and whisper something like, “You’re too fat for that outfit…” or “You look really old, you know that?”  How about the one we all love to hear, “There’s NO WAY you can do this… absolutely NO WAY.”

So long, self esteem… nice knowing you!

We take on the scary role of this evil stalker every single time we cut ourselves down with negativity.  The sooner we learn to stop in our tracks before any negative venom comes spewing out of our mouths, the better.  What’s the best way to make the negativity stop?

Simple. Replace the negative with positive.

Pull the plug on negative energy and fill your life up to the brim with positive energy.

If we train ourselves to get into the habit of practicing positive affirmations, we’ll begin to build ourselves UP rather than tear ourselves DOWN. But notice the words “train” and “practice.”  They’re our cues that this is a pro-active exercise, not a passive mindset.  You don’t tell yourself one day, I’m going to start being more positive, then expect it to happen magically.  That’d be like using shampoo one night and expecting your hair to stay clean for the rest of your life.

When you implement change in your life, you must be mindful of it each day. You have to purposely commit to making a positive change on a daily basis. If you’re one of those who tends to bash yourself regularly, this so-called daily basis may be more of an hourly basis.

So, if the best way to get rid of negative affirmations is to replace them with positive affirmations, where do you start?  Let’s start at the heart of the matter.  What area or areas do you criticize, condemn, and ridicule yourself in the most?  Is it your appearance… your age… your education… your job? Do you have bad habits or shortcomings that you consistently beat yourself up over?  Is there a particular aspect of your life you want  to improve? The answer(s) to these questions will give you an idea of what positive affirmations you need to focus on.

It’ll also put the negative affirmations on notice – they’re about to get kicked to the curb.

The best positive affirmations are those that are short, direct, clear, and assume the desired outcome has already happened.  For example, if an individual feels held back by shyness and wants to be more outgoing,  a few positive affirmations would be:

  • I’m Outgoing and Confident.
  • I am confident.
  • I am a confident person.
  • I boldly voice my opinions.
  • I stand up for myself.

Experts say that one of the most important things about choosing positive affirmations is to keep any and all negative or potentially negative words out of the mix.  That’s why using an affirmation like, “I am confident” is better than saying, “I am not shy.”  The word shy is the very concept you’re trying to avoid! If you say, “I am not shy” throughout the day, you are still reinforcing the shyness.  Whereas if you say “I am confident,” you are reinforcing the word confident?

See the difference? It may seem small, but it’s actually huge.

Someone may ask, “How about using the words I FEEL confident?”  While that’s still a better choice than “I am not shy,” I personally think it’s still second-best. Why?  Too much wiggle room.  If you say “I FEEL confident,” it kind of implies that it’s a momentary thing.  As in, you’re wearing your favorite blue top, so you FEEL confident.. but when you change back into your white one… the confidence might just bottom out!  Saying you “feel” a certain way isn’t the same as saying you OWN the train and OWN the situation.

Again, it seems small – but it isn’t.

Finally, choose TOP SHELF adjectives.  This would mean going with, “I make great decisions” rather than “I make good decisions.”  Using good rather than great implies room for improvement and, while that may be true, you don’ t want to dwell on that in your affirmations.

So, make your positive affirmations…

  1. 100 percent positive – without a single negative or undesired trait mentioned
  2. direct and to the point
  3. free of wiggle room!
  4. top shelf

A unique approach

I once heard a positive affirmations cd that was filled with positive affirmations in the form of questions.  The man would say things such as, “Why am I so happy?,”  “Why do I make the right decisions?,” etc.  The thought process behind these questioning affirmations was, apparently, that you’d be forced to focus on the answers.  I can see how this approach would be fantastic for a lot of people.

So, now you know the importance of positive affirmations, how can you sneak them into your life?

While there are some truly wonderful Positive Affirmations available for downloading and using immediately, you can also come up with your own.   If you use these, just be sure you repeat the affirmations, yourself, and don’t merely listen to someone else stating their affirmations.  That really won’t do you much good, will it?

The best way to have custom, personal affirmations is to make them yourself. In addition to using affirmations for personal areas you want to improve in, use general affirmations such as:

  • I love my life!
  • I love my personality.
  • I have a great sense of humor.
  • I am great at ____ (writing, cooking, your job…)
  • I am fun to be around.
  • I love who I am.

You just have to remember to use these affirmations daily – several times a day, in fact.  Some people have suggested recording yourself as you slowly and confidently say your affirmations and playing the recording several times a day. I can’t say I’ve ever done that, myself, but it seems like a pretty cool idea.

I’ve also read that a lot of people write their positive affirmations on index cards or notes of paper, then leave them in random places where they’ll be reminded to use them.  While I certainly use index cards for motivational quotes, inspirational words, and reminders, I think of positive affirmations as a really personal thing – for my eyes only. However, if you don’t have a lot of other eyes around, index cards could serve you well.

The most important thing is to surround yourself with as much positive energy as possible. Come on, how could that be anything but a great thing?!?!

Be the most electrifying positive energy in your world!
~ Joi

I Think We’re Seeing a New Breed of People Being Born Right Before Our Eyes

Frankly, It's Not a Very Pretty Sight...

Quote about Egotism

Picture it. A documentary is coming on the television set. The music sets a dramatic tone.  The narrator (let’s give him a British accent for effect) announces that a new tribe of people has been discovered in (surprisingly) a part of the world that isn’t even remotely remote. You lean in close, wondering how a new race of people could have hidden all these years, undetected.  You watch, expecting them to be draped in animal skins, living in caves, speaking in grunts, and sporting, possibly, nose rings.

You admit to yourself that maybe you watch too much National Geographic.

As you wait, literally on the edge of your couch, for the big reveal, the camera zeroes in on the new breed.

Wait… What???

It’s us. As images of social media, pictures on Facebook and Instagram, infidelity statistics, divorce rates, and so on flash across the screen, the narrator pauses dramatically then announces the name of the new breed:  the Self Absorbed.

Dum-dum-dum-dum.

Kidding aside, I just have to ask, what is with people these days?  Why are so many individuals as self absorbed as high-end paper towels? When I was in high school, the ancestors of the self absorbed were called “self centered.”  But the generation they gave way to has far surpassed their efforts.

Odds are you know at least one person (the odds are greater that you know quite a few) who is self absorbed.  Heck you may even be showing signs of heading that way yourself.  If that’s the case, take heart.  Maybe this article was meant for YOU and will prove as a life boat to keep you from drowning in a sea of YOU.

When something happens gradually, it becomes our NORMAL.  What we accept as the norm today would have mortified us 20 years ago.  As a comparatively small example, think about the commercials you see on TV today.  If you could transport yourself back 20 or even 10 years ago, can you imagine your reaction if you saw some of this crap come on? Something my husband used to do, when our girls were younger was probably the best way of handling idiot commercials I’ve ever seen.  He’d always have a “back up” channel in place during the show we were watching (especially during sporting events, where commercials really show their immaturity).  He’d flip over to the “back up channel” (usually the Golf Channel or the Weather Channel) as soon as the commercials tried to throw themselves into our living room.

Since he didn’t want three young girls exposed to stupidity and flirtations with porn, he’d simply opt out.  He was a dad who didn’t want to let what was becoming “norm” to the rest of  the world to become the “norm” for his family.

Unfortunately, the commercials – gradually – have become even worse.

Isn’t that how most things happen? Slowly. Gradually.  Then you sit there one evening while a commercial plays out that leaves your jaw on the floor as you ask, “America… what happened?!”

Like commercials (and magazines, movies, television, music…), the road to self absorption for so many people has happened gradually.  They didn’t set out to become narcissists.  But unfortunately, they didn’t set out NOT to become narcissists either.

nar·cis·sist

[nahr-suh-sist] noun

1. a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.
2. Psychoanalysis . a person who suffers from narcissism, deriving erotic gratification from admiration of his or her own physical or mental attributes.

Signs of a Self Absorbed

In a nutshell, the self absorbed makes every single moment, every single situation, and every single experience about them.  What matters most isn’t who they are with, the beauty around them,  the moment they’re in, or what they can do for anyone else.

What matters most to them is… well… them.

A few questions that’ll help classify a self absorbed person:

  • Does the person talk, at length, about their health, their diet, or their appearance?
  • Does the person buy things only for himself or herself?
  • Does the person ever do “cool” things for others?
  • Does the person give to charities… could the person even name three charities?!?!
  • Does the person look at the world around them or are they too busy demanding that the world look at them?
  • On Twitter, is the person 95% about self-promotion?
  • On Facebook, are they begging others to LIKE them (or their product) or are they working hard, giving others a reason TO like them?
  • Does the person ask… and actually listen to the answer… how someone else’s day was?
  • Is the person friendly, respectful, and courteous to servers in restaurants or do they have the, “You are here to serve me and you’d better do a darn good job!” mentality?
  • Does the person have any idea, whatsoever, what’s actually going on in the world – or is the world, to them, literally what’s in the room with them?
  • The self absorbed individual is the one who, when talking about their success (something they’re always doing),  shows pictures of their car, their vacation, and sometimes even their home.  I’m never impressed with that – come on, just about anyone can buy a car or take a vacation!   To borrow a phrase from an old Shania Twain song, “That don’t impress me much.”  Show me what you’re doing to make THE world a better place, not YOUR world.  Show me how you’re helping precious children who need someone to care, show me how you’re saving a beautiful animal from becoming extinct, show me how you’re helping elderly people live out their lives with dignity, show me how you’re making the world a better place. Put your car in the garage, dude, it’s the least of my worries.

In Defense of the Self Absorbed

Before you start to think I hate self absorbed or self centered people – I do not. I don’t hate anyone.  In fact, I feel sorry for them because if you limit your world to YOU, you’re missing out on so, SO much.  If you make every situation, every day, every holiday, every moment all about you, you’re missing out on everyone around you. What’s more, you’re creating a void between you and everyone else. If your life is all about you 24/7, make no mistake about it, you’ll end up pushing everyone away and you will be left with your one true obsession.. yourself. How lonely does that sound?

As I said earlier, sometimes things happen slowly over time. Many self absorbed people slowly transition into being that way because of a health scare or other dramatic event in their lives.  A loss of a very close loved one makes some people become very self absorbed.

Over my lifetime, I’ve seen a lot of people become very self absorbed because of a health issue or because of  aging.  They become, literally, obsessed and preoccupied with the person they see in the mirror.  They’re every conversation and thought is channeled in that direction.

To me, that’s not LIVING, that’s simply TRYING NOT TO DIE.

There’s a big difference.  But, again, things happen slowly over time. The same person who would have been mortified by the idea 10 years ago is, today, discussing bodily functions with the hostess at Cracker Barrel and medications with a stranger in Target. Just because someone politely asks, “How are you doing?” doesn’t mean they want your medical history.

When you read interviews with people who have celebrated their 100th birthday, they look back over a life of living. They don’t look back over a life of trying not to die.

I think we have to cut our young people a little bit of slack, too.  Young girls and boys, today, have grown up with Facebook, Instagram, constantly taking selfies (pictures taken by oneself of oneself), reality TV, and with the mindset of “By gosh, it IS all about me!”  Sadly, it’s their norm.

And our future is in their hands.

Are you scared now?

Dangers Posed by the Self Absorbed

I am a positive person – very positive, in fact. However, even I am driven to say that the self absorbed breed could just be our downfall.  Think about some of the problems we face.

  • Divorce rates are through the roof.  Self absorbed people don’t think about the other person, all that matters TO them IS them. So what if they “flirt” online or go to websites that bother their spouse – it’s their life, by gosh, and they’ll do what they want.  And then they do…. all the way to divorce court.
  • People are falling for scams online left and right. The person they THINK they’re having a relationship with is completely different from what they think. Sometimes the other person is actually married and often they aren’t even the sex they believe them to be! Talk about awkward.  When people only care about themselves, they don’t care if they hurt another individual or not. They don’t even care if they wreck their world.  Remember, the self absorbed care only about themselves – all others are irrelevant.
  • Relationships are crumbling because men and women seem to have complete misconceptions about infidelity.  If you are in a committed relationship, your every e-mail, “tweet,” direct message, etc. should be able to be seen by your companion.  If they can’t be (without you wanting to run for the hills), you’re cheating. Plain and simple. I read a few days ago something that stood out to me. If you could not exchange phones with your significant other without panicking, you need to wake up.  Same can be said about e-mail and social media. Self absorbed people only think about what makes them feel good at the moment – they don’t have any respect or regard for anyone else.  And then they wonder why their relationship fails.
  • I don’t get shocked easily.  I always say the reason for that is I lived with three teenage daughters – how in the world could anything shock me?! However, I am shocked by what’s considered normal these days. During the Super Bowl, for example, there were about 3 different commercials that left me grasping for reality. Do advertisers not realize (or give a darn) that kids watch television? Do they not realize that the only people who buy their products aren’t 15 year old boys?!  Many companies are just as self absorbed as the individuals who run them.  They think, “I’ll do what I want to do, and if offends people… I’ll probably just make more money.”
  • Self absorbed people are the ones who text while they drive. The dangers they pose don’t matter – the only thing that matters is that they have something to say and… after all… their words are worth any chaos they cause.  Especially if they happen to have a picture of themselves to show off.
  • One of the biggest dangers of the self absorbed person is the fact that they’re keeping the breed going.  They’re continuing a “norm” that needs desperately to end.

Is There Any Hope for the Self Absorbed?!

If you had an uneasy, “Uh oh” moment when you read the words “self absorbed” and saw a bit of yourself in the descriptions, you’re lucky.  You’re probably cured already.  Sometimes all it takes is a wake up call. It’s kind of like taking a good look in the mirror before going out for dinner and a movie and seeing that your hair’s standing straight up.  It’s not a pretty sight, but thanks be to God you saw it before anyone else!

Personally, I think there’s hope for even the most self absorbed people.  If not… at least they provide the rest of us with a little free entertainment.  Just be sure you don’t buy into what they’re selling – it really isn’t any way to live.

~ Joi

Your Thoughts, Actions, and Words Write Your Life’s Story

Are You Victimizing or Empowering Yourself?

Define Yourself
A few days ago, I found myself thinking long and hard about baseball. Something, admittedly, I do a lot.  That’s one of the things that you should know about me… I’m completely obsessed with baseball. For me, there are two seasons: Baseball Season and Withdrawal. We’re in the latter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think about it.  I guess you could say I’m a “student of the game.” Not because I ever play baseball, or even have a desire to do so.  I grew up playing softball (every year from the age of 8 to 18), but I don’t even feel the call to play softball anymore – let alone baseball.

A fact my knees (and feet, back, arms…) are grateful for.

I love to dissect aspects of the game of baseball. The pitchers, hitters, stats, ball fields, match-ups, etc.  To give you an idea of how eaten up I am with baseball, the other day I heard an announcer on the radio mention a particular team and my mind immediately pulled up the following information:

  • the city in which they play
  • the name of their stadium
  • their best starting pitcher
  • the name of their manager
  • their infield
  • where they hold spring training
  • their chances for 2013… zilch

I am, for better or worse, just as big a student of the game of life.  A philosopher without the degree, prestige, and title. I believe that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to writing in the first place.  It provides a release for all the thoughts, analogies, and conclusions my mind creates. If they all stayed inside my brain, there wouldn’t be any room for anything else.

One of the thoughts bouncing around recently was this: There are two kinds of people in the world.  There are the kind who say, “Look at everything I’ve BEEN through!” and there are those who say, “Look at what I SURVIVED!”

This occurred to me when I heard a woman ranting about 2012. She literally said the words, “God PUT me through….”  and as the words came out of her mouth, I thought, “You’re looking at it all wrong. Say, God BROUGHT me through…

Sometimes just one word makes all the difference.

Our thoughts, attitude, and even our words create the story of our lives.  We’re the author of our life’s novel and, personally, I’ve always wondered why anyone would want to portray themselves as the victim. Isn’t it much cooler to be the hero?

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the victim’s role:

  • I’ve been through so much…
  • I have too much on my plate…
  • God put me through…
  • Someone hurt my feelings…
  • Someone broke my heart…
  • This is more than I can handle…

Not only do they make you the victim, the words themselves scream, “I’m weak!”

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the role of the hero/heroine:

  • I’ve overcome so much…
  • My trials have made me strong…
  • I’m actually thankful for the weight I’ve carried because they built muscle and character…
  • God has brought me through a lot of tough times…
  • This made me stronger…
  • I can handle that…
  • Hey, Life… bring it!

I’m reminded of one of my daughters, Brittany, when she was around 7 or 8.  She was in the yard playing with her sisters and a couple of their friends. I was working in one of my flower beds and, like all over-protective mothers, I had two eyes on my kids and two eyes on the flowers. Only mothers are equipped with these magical extra eyes.

Brittany – who has always known one speed, TOP speed – fell while running. Smack right on the patio. Before I could even get up to see about her, she was back on her feet and running. She shot me a look that said, “THAT never happened.” I stayed put and went with her version of the story.

Basically, she fell and – in one motion – got back up again.  I guess it’s odd that this scene from life has stuck with me all these years but I just thought it was cool.  Make no mistake about it, the fall hurt. Both knees were scrapped and one hand was scuffed up.  However, acknowledging the fall would have meant that, unlike the other girls, she slipped.

THAT never happened.”

If there’d been such a thing as “Pictures with Captions” back then, I’d have labeled her reaction, “Patio….  you hit like a girl!

The next time you find yourself heaving deep sighs or rolling in complaints – and long before you pick up your violin – ask yourself if you want to be the helpless victim or the conquering hero/heroine.

Let’s face it, one’s infinitely more attractive.

~ Joi

 

 

Listen to Your Body, It’s Trying to Tell You Something

Irony, Danny DeVito, and Gargling Glass

Plato Quote
Normally, I have a real fascination with irony.  Normally, there are few things that amuse me more than a deliciously ironic situation or occurrence.  I say normally because irony recently smacked me on the backside.

Without my consent.

As you may know, last month I decided to take part in a National Health Blogger’s Challenge.  Each day the blogger was to take the day’s “prompt” and write about something pertaining to health.  I was off to a smashing success and was having  a lot of fun with the process.  I was doing a lot of research about health-related topics, learning a lot of fascinating things, and generally having a great time with the entire process.

Then… what would irony dictate in such a situation? Exactly. I got sick.   Smack to the backside.

I won’t bore you with long details.  Long story, short – I had my thyroid removed in 1990 and, since that day, have had to take a daily supplement (a supplement to give my body what my non-existent thyroid cannot).  My daily medicine recently turned on me – giving me more than my body required.  This threw just about everything in my body off kilter and ultimately led to low iron and a host of other less-than-fun side effects.

For a few months, I haven’t felt totally like myself.  But you know how we wives and mothers are – the same things that would alarm us about our children and husbands.. we tend to overlook in ourselves.

  • Oh, I’m just tired…
  • I guess I haven’t been eating right…
  • Must be allergies…
  • I’ll give it another week…

When I realized that I had “enjoyed” recurring mouth ulcers for two months straight, I broke down and went to the doctor.  I would often have two HUGE mouth sores at once.  These weren’t your normal mouth ulcers, either.  I’ve had those before and, while they’re bad enough, these beasts were far worse. Once, I even got one on my tongue that looked like a small crater.  That dude hurt so bad, this non-drinker would have gotten snookered if it would have made me forget the pain for even 10 minutes.  Each time, in the middle of the night, as I sat on the bathroom counter putting Orajel on these sores, I’d think, “If I had access to hard liquor I’d drink until I thought I could fly.”

They were that bad.

Of course, since I have never drunk anything stronger than espresso, I’d probably think I could fly as soon as I opened the bottle.

Every meal hurt to eat, coffee hurt to drink, and life kind of sucked for a while.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night in hideous pain because my mouth would have dried out while sleeping and the sores would feel like salt had been poured into them.

Salt was actually one of the countless “home remedies” I tried – a particularly painful one.

In addition to the personal hell the mouth sores caused, I also had zero energy and – to use a highly technical phrase my daughters and I use when we don’t feel right –  simply felt “poopy” all day and all night.  I’d fall asleep at night right in the middle of favorite prime time television shows.  During the day, when I normally go back and forth between working in my home office and doing my regular housekeeping chores, I found myself not giving a dang about any of it. I normally go ALL OUT with Christmas decorations, but it was all I could do just to put the tree up this year.  And, believe me, that was a day long production.  Put a few limbs on… sit and play solitaire on my iPad… put a few decorations on…. lie down and recover.

I wasn’t ME and I wasn’t at all fond of the person impersonating me.  After all, I’m seldom ever still and this impostor seldom ever moved!

And all of this went down right in the middle of writing about health topics like how important it is to see a doctor regularly, how vital it is to take care of yourself, etc.

Smack. Right on the butt.

Ultimately, it was the mouth sores that led me and my hard head to the doctor.  Nothing like constant pain to break your will, is there?

The doctor was SO impressed with the size of the mouth sore I had at that time. I told him I was kind of lucky at that moment because I only had one. While he was admiring the size, I told him that it was actually the second largest one I’d experienced – that I’d had another one the size of Danny DeVito. He laughed and said he wished he’d seen that one.

I thought, “Me too.”  Then I probably wouldn’t have had the 3 that followed.

As my body and health begin to get back to normal, I’m realizing how puny I actually felt. How could I not have seen that something was wrong?!

That’s a question most of us ask in these situations, isn’t it?  We swear up and down that things “crept up on us” when the truth is, we knew it all along.  We just looked the other way.

Ladies, I honestly believe we are the worst about this.  It occurred to me when I was sitting in the doctor’s office – if one of my daughters or my husband had been experiencing painful mouth sores like I had, I would have dragged them kicking and screaming to the nearest doctor.  I’d have thought, “Something is wrong, here. This isn’t remotely normal.”

Yet, here I was the one going through it and I had a million reasons why I didn’t need to see the doctor.  Duh.

This would be a good time, in all fairness to my family, to point out that they had no idea I was going through all of this. If they had, they would have become impossible nags!  All they really knew was I’d had a few mouth sores.  They never saw how big they were and I did a great job of hiding the fatigue and weakness from them. Everyone always has a lot going on in their lives and I didn’t want anyone worrying about me.  Besides, I fully expected to start feeling like my old self any time.  After all….

  • Oh, I’m just tired…
  • I guess I haven’t been eating right…
  • Must be allergies…
  • I’ll give it another week…

Listen to Your Body

The body never lies.
In addition to my Self Help Daily, a food blog, and a cat blog, I have 9 other websites/blogs which happen to include a a Dream Interpretation Website.   Your’s truly is a dreamologist. Nothing crazy  like “You had a dream about snakes.. so you will be visited by bad luck…”  That’s nonsense.  What I do is “read” dreams – by “listening” to the dream symbols, the dreamer’s emotions during the dream, and other seemingly hidden details.  I can tell what’s behind the dream, as in what’s hidden in the subconscious mind.

And yet I couldn’t read what my own body was trying to tell me!  Or maybe I simply wouldn’t.

Either way, my mistake could have led to real trouble.  That’s why I’m writing all of this for you – on the off-hand chance there are other hard heads out there besides me.

If you find yourself EVER thinking, “I’m just not myself lately..” realize there is a reason for it.  Never allow this situation to continue for any amount of time.  After all, there are a lot of conditions that if (caught and treated early) won’t amount to anything, but if you ignore them, they can lead to something downright hideous.

In fact, because I let myself get so run down, I became an open invitation to a nasty bug that was going around.  I never, never get sick, but here I was – mouth sores, runny nose, bad cough, and the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my life. It felt like I’d been gargling glass.

If I had gone to the doctor as soon as I realized I wasn’t myself, I’d have spared myself a lot of grief and pain.  It’s my hope that you’ll learn from my mistake and will always go to the doctor at the first sign of trouble.

Even if you find yourself feeling more tired than normal, don’t keep writing it off as something else.  What’s the worst thing that can happen? The doctor’s going to tell you your healthy?! If that were to happen – and I hope you’d swing by Starbucks to celebrate your good health – you still got information you can use.  If you get a clean bill of health, then you know that your lifestyle has to be held accountable. You aren’t getting enough rest, you need more nutrients, protein, and vitamins from food, or you’re running yourself ragged.

The trip to the doctor would have pointed you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, most of us try to weed out all of the things in our lifestyle, THEN go to the doctor.  The problem is, by then, we’ll just be more run down and if there IS a medical problem, it will have only gotten worse during that time.

Never take your health for granted. When it has been compromised, even slightly, you realize what a blessing good health is. Life is too delicious to spend one minute of it feeling less than your best.

Listen to your body. If it begins behaving in a way that’s alien to you, don’t make excuses, make an appointment.

~ Joi