A New Normal

Life has a way of not following goals and dreams fall down in midflight. Sometimes things happen from which we never recover. Our normal is disrupted. What then? Here are some thoughts on accepting things are they are, adjusting and continuing the journey.

Let yesterday be yesterday. No matter how great yesterday was, or how many possessions you owned, or how great your success, it is over and done with. Trying to relieve what has already been robs you of discovering joy in the midst of today’s struggles. And there are thrills and growth to be found amid adversity.

Acquire an insightful perspective on physical disabilities. All of these topics cover a wide spectrum; Physical disabilities could involve birth defects, wrecks/accidents, life-threatening disease, chronic pain, or the natural by-products of aging.

Emily Perl Kingsley, mother of a Downs Syndrome child, compares the anticipation and realities with traveling. Suppose you have made plans to go to Italy - with all the romance and history and adventure that entails – but your plane lands in Holland.

And there is no return.

No way to change plans.

You are stuck.

But Holland has a lot of wonderful things to offer – although at a slower pace than Italy and perhaps off the beaten track of what your peers pursue.

You always have a choice. Although the pain and disappointment may never go away, grieving and angering over life’s travel changes will keep you from seeing the beauty in the present situation and from embracing the character development that limitations offer.

Honestly revisit the good ole days. Barbara Streisand’s song The Way We Were has some poignant lines about selective memories. It suggests that we rewrite events to exclude the bad and only include the good. “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget. So it’s the laughter we will remember.” No matter how much you idealize that part of life, it is over. It is time to discover a new normal.

Enumerate what you have left. You will never get over the loss or the pain, but you can move beyond it by focusing on what you still have – the loves, the joys, the abilities, the promises.

I am not talking about giving up nor am I discounting grief. I am encouraging a surrender to the inevitable that results in flow rather than struggle, creativity rather than stagnation, and healthy relationships rather than stunted existence.

Please share with me and our readers your new normal and some of the things you have learned in the process.
We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach,
www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Stopping Stress

Stress is the body’s response to pressure. Your body goes into overdrive with the “fight or flight” syndrome in an attempt to protect you. Less necessary systems shut down so the main focus is on overcoming the present danger. Temporarily, this is wonderful; long-term, it is destructive. The body stays revved up in an altered state of alert and minor inconveniences become a crises. Here are a few thoughts to bring a conclusion to menacing residue stress.

Develop a mantra. Use your self-talk in a positive manner. Repeat over and over a guiding phrase such as, “Not helpful” or “I choose to take the high road.” A synonym for mantra is song or hymn. Allow this soothing refrain to connect you with the divine so you can accept your humanity.

Reframe. In stress overloaded nerves are raw and the smallest slight can seem devastating. Choose to see the offending party as a person of worth and value in spite of their flawed character. When you feel threatened, look around to confirm that a big Mac truck is not barreling down on you.

Breathe. Shallow breathing incites panic. Deliberately take a few seconds to breathe deep. Imagine a deflated balloon in your diaphragm. Slowly inhale through your nose, taking the air down, down, down and in full force until the balloon is inflated. Hold it for a second to relish the oxygen, and then slowly release the air through pursed lips. Repeat two or three times. Feel the tension and overwrought emotions leaving your body and your brain reconnecting with rational thinking.

Reflect. “The last time I hastily engaged in non-productive, frenzied behavior, the outcome was less than honorable.” Think about how you would have liked to have handled the situation had you been in a calm state. Picture it. See yourself responding differently. Practice it in your mind and then accomplish it in reality.

Develop appreciation. Thank your body for doing what it is designed to do. Focus on the competent work your co-workers do accomplish. Watch for the positive things your family members do carry out. Be thankful that the car or appliance lasted and functioned admirably for as long as it did.

Bio-Feedback. Continually check in with the body’s pain alert system for levels of tension or relaxation. Tell yourself: “Rest eyes. Flex shoulders. Unclench jaws. Drop the back-pack. Breathe. Appreciate. Live. Love.”

Say “No” and feel good about it. Say “No” to accepting responsibilities beyond your resources. Say “No” to running amok. Say “No” to berating the offender, both verbally and mentally.

These principles not only work to stop distressing, they also are preventative measures to ward off attracting negative situations to you. Just as a healthy body wards off infection, so also an emotionally nourished individual fends off negative responses. The result is the ability to deal pro-actively with everyday predicaments while reserving your Herculean strength for real emergencies.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Erroneous Boundaries

Boundaries are another of those life issues that we need just enough of. The irony is that too many or too few produces the same effect: an insecure individual.

"There is no potential in your past; only potential in your future." Ginger, CWJC

Picture it. An individual partially encased in a brick wall on three sides, holding it tenuously in front like a shield. The wall is held high enough so feet and legs are visible under the wall, but not high enough to protect the head. It gives the false impression of protection while leaving the individual vulnerable to self-destruction.

What’s wrong with this picture? One, with the wall not grounded on a foundation, vermin crawl in from the bottom. Under the skirt. Low-life. The untrained rebel invites in those who feign love, but do not really care. Na├»ve inclusion.

The second thing wrong is with the wall mistakenly being held too high, the individual’s vision is limited. Cannot see the big picture. Will not see the destruction or rescue ahead. With one’s “head-in-the-sand”, it keeps out those who really care. Hostile exclusion.

Although war may be declared on the world, is it really the battle within? The person who feels unworthy of love becomes over-responsible. Where there is acceptance and respect, love blossoms.

Dismantle the wall, do not destroy it. As much as we may live in an instant society, genuine growth takes time. To destroy the wall too quickly would leave one exposed, weak and vulnerable. Plus, you will need parts of it later in setting healthy boundaries; to build a prop, not a prison. Be encouraged, change does not have to take forever. Be open to receiving insight and help.

Forced boundaries are often a relief. As a teen our daughter was responsible and I willingly gave her permission to go with her friends. Only there were times she secretly wished I had said, “No”. Sometimes we need someone to be the heavy for us, someone to step in and keep us from crossing the line.

She and I developed a plan. When it was a group she wanted to go with, she would ask, “Mom, may I go?” Those times she sensed it best not to go, she would say, “Mom, so-and-so wants me to go….” I willingly became the “bad guy” and said “no” to help her avoid a negative situation.
It can be hard to stand up to peer-pressure at any age. Until you develop the muscle to say “No” when it is in your own best interest, engage a confident to bail you out. Allow a caring family member to get involved. Truth be told, they may have been helping you all along, you were just in a state of rebellion and saw it as nagging. Allow that really caring relationship to work for you. Help is seen as intrusive when unasked for, and as a God-send when the need is acknowledged.

Setting parameters – by yourself or with help - can actually increase the fullness of your life. Less really is more. Let go of the wall and embrace a shield.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”


Coming to Terms with Discrepancy

We are complicated individuals filled with many contradictions. Anthony Robbins says we have a core need for certainty and uncertainty. And they operate both at the same time!

Our need for consistency wants everything to flow in the same predictable, secure, and comfortable routine. Even if that consistency is a rut.

Our need for variation craves risk, change, variety and challenges.

No wonder relationships are so complicated. It is difficult enough to come to terms with this yin/yang in us, let alone rectify it with spouse, parents, children, co-workers, neighbors, etc.
I believe it can be done. It takes work. And maturity.

Absolute truth vs. truisms. I believe there are some absolute truths. Absolute truth includes the law of gravity (within earth's atmosphere) and the rotation of the earth around the sun with a pattern of day/night and seasons. I suggest absolute principles include the Ten Commandments and that all human misery can be traced to the breaking of one or more of those directives.

Truisms are sayings that contain an element of truth that may be applied to a specific situation but not across the board. This would include “Look before you leap” book-ended by “He who hesitates is lost.” There is an element of reality in each. There are times immediate action is required without extended deliberation vs. times when analysis brings paralysis. The underlying truth in each is that decisions require the right amount of thought.

Happiness - external vs. internal. Although ultimate happiness is an internal-do-it-yourself-job, there are external contributors. Happiness includes relationship with people, primarily our family members. Dr. William Glasser says that human misery is the result of living under tyranny, abject poverty, debilitating sickness or the inability to get along well with those people that are important to us.

Others definitely contribute to our happiness but it is too much of a burden to place on anyone to make him/her responsible for our happiness. It is freeing to meld the truth that “I cannot make you happy” and “You cannot make me happy” with “I am happy to be with you” and “I am happy you are with me.”

Control – internal vs. external. Getting along well with people has a lot to do with locus of control. Namely, whose behavior can you control? Attempt to control another results in tension and unhappiness. The more we are in control of our own behavior - that includes thoughts we think and actions we take and emotions we exuded - the less controlling we will be of others.

Conversely, the less we are in control of our own thoughts, our actions and our emotions; the more one will attempt to control others. External control uses the “seven deadly habits of highly ineffective people” that are complaining, blaming, guilting, criticizing, nagging, threatening and punishing.

Relationship building - and happiness - comes through employing the “seven healthy habits of highly effective people” that are supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting and negotiating. The foundation of these habits is forgiving.

Consistency is found through personal contemplation and discipline.

We welcome reprinting of articles in your newsletter or magazine, providing credit is given as follows: “This article was written by Mona Dunkin, Motivational Speaker and Personal Success Coach, www.monadunkin.blogspot.com or www.monadunkin.com.”