Month: May 2012

Cultivating Hope

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English: Rainbow

 

 

Victor Frankl, a famous psychologist, said that suffering without meaning equates to despair.  So how do we find meaning in our experiences? Knowing how to find meaning in challenges is one of the hallmarks of having hope.  So what can be done to foster this important attribute?

  • Look for how you can take something positive away from each experience – be the experience a good one or a bad one.  Examine your past experiences, mishaps and challenges.  What have you learned from those experiences?  Maybe you haven’t even been aware of what you have learned, but by taking the time to give it some thought, you may find that you have taken some pearls from those experiences after all.
  • How have you applied those pearls of wisdom to subsequent challenges?  Are you utilizing the wisdom you have gleaned from hard times in other challenges that you face?  If not, try to make a conscious choice to do so.  Being aware of how your struggles have taught you something makes them feel more valuable.
  • Do you feel you have the ability to get out of bad situations?  If you are able to learn from your challenges and find a “take away” pearl, then remembering that may give you the optimism you need to know that you can survive future challenges as well.
  • Think about your successes.  What are they?  What strengths do you possess that helped you to accomplish those things? Realizing you already possess certain strengths can be a source of security and comfort when faced with challenges, or even just a bad day.
  • How have you improved over the years?  What qualities of your personality have evolved, and how?  Have those qualities been beneficial to you in your life and relationships?  Recognizing that you are dynamic, changing and growing can help you find more meaning in each experience.  Life is full of learning opportunities.

Feeling good about yourself is one of the keys to finding hope.  Knowing that you have strengths and capabilities can give you the optimism you need to find the silver lining in situations, particularly because you have done so in the past.  Remember that today you have learned something new and that tomorrow will be a new day in which to apply that knowledge.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC    http://www.thcounseling.com

Tips to Help You Stop Judging Others (and Yourself)

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Ironically, when we judge others, we are really judging ourselves. Our harsh comments or thoughts are more often a reflection of our own issues than someone else’s. But, learning how to change automatic negative thoughts that we have towards others, and ourselves, is often easier said than done. There are a few things you can try to learn new habits of acceptance and appreciation.

Find at least one thing you like about each person you meet or know.  Although you may still have an initial negative thought about someone, you don’t have to latch onto that thought.  You can choose to look for the good in others.  Make it a habit to try to find at least one good quality in each person.  You will find it is not hard to do once you get started.

Puzzle cube; a type of puzzle.

Consider one positive way each person contributes to the world.  It may be that they work hard or that they are kind to animals.  It could be that they are a good parent or are very outspoken about a cause.  Whatever their passion, how does it positively impact others?

Focus on other’s strengths.  You may not value the same things as them, but they still have strengths.  Everyone does.  So, what might another person’s strengths be?

Appreciate the way that they are a piece of the puzzle.  We are all a part of the puzzle.  Each one of us adds an important piece to the world and without that piece, it wouldn’t be the same.  There are pieces of the puzzle that are far away from each other and don’t even touch, but they are still important in the grand scheme of the puzzle.  Try to appreciate that we all hold an important place in the world as each of us impact the whole.

Remember that each person has a story.  We don’t always understand why people act the way they do or make the choices that they do.  Sometimes we disagree with those behaviors or choices.  But, remember that there are reasons for the way we all develop.  There are stories behind each person and we don’t always know what those stories are.   Show compassion for others, and wonderment about their story.

Liking someone doesn’t mean liking everything about them.  We all have our flaws, but to focus on those flaws and allow that focus to take away from the good would be unfortunate.  If nothing else, you can appreciate that each person is unique.  Sometimes we just don’t click with someone, and that is human nature.  Not all personalities go well together.  But, that doesn’t mean that someone is not a good or likeable person.  Maybe they just aren’t your “cup of tea.”

Read back through these suggestions replacing the words relating to “other people” with words that relate to you, such as “I,” “my,” or “myself.”  Learning to accept yourself as ever-changing and unique is a wonderful way to improve your self-confidence and will provide you with another very natural way to appreciate others.  After all, our thoughts about others really are only a reflection of our thoughts about ourselves.

Tamra Hughes  MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com

Improve Happiness by Discovering Your Strengths

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Happiness

It is easy to become consumed with the down side of situations and to lose site of the goodness and power within ourselves.  Nevertheless, recognizing that you have choices is a good starting point that can be truly empowering.  Even more important is discovering that you have used the power of choice before in ways that were healthy and successful, and sometimes when you didn’t even realize that was what you were doing.

Try thinking of a time when you were happy and proud of yourself.  Chances are it was a time when you made a good choice and tapped into one or more of your strengths.  Rather than focusing on times you didn’t feel good and trying to find motivation to do things differently, you will have more success and feel better along the way, by starting from a positive experience.  Build on your successes.  It takes practice, but by developing new habits for tackling life’s challenges, and focusing on the good inside of yourself, your overall sense of satisfaction and happiness in life can improve dramatically and you will not only heal, but learn to thrive.

Sunset at Porto Covo, west coast of Portugal
Sunset at Porto Covo, west coast of Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some practices to get you more in touch with the goodness within yourself:

  • Take a few minutes each day to relax, close your eyes, and bring to mind thoughts of warmth and love enveloping you.  Breathe that in and breathe out any negative thoughts or feelings.  Take those moments to appreciate the unconditional positive love that surrounds you.
  • At the end of each day, think of something that happened that day for which you were thankful.  Keep a list of those things so that you can look back on them. For more information on this practice, refer to my previous blog, Thankful List.
  • Think of times that you successfully navigated a situation or frustration.  What skills were you using?  What quality of your personality was working for you?  Try to apply that quality to future scenarios.
  • When you experience a negative feeling, challenge the belief behind it.  Are you making negative assumptions or leaping to conclusions? If you were to assume the very best instead of the worst, how would that change things?  How does that affect the way you feel?
  • Pay if forward.  Every day, make a kind gesture for someone else.  Open the door for someone, or buy coffee for someone else in the line.  Doing good things for others makes us feel good about ourselves, and could be the fuel for a fantastic day.

Recognize and celebrate your goodness.  Remember it when faced with an opportunity to make conscious choices about how to handle a difficult situation or feeling.  Doing so, is a great starting point that will help you to add to your repertoire of positive qualities and tools for achieving, happiness, success and thriving!

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC  http://www.thcounseling.com