Custom Counselling can provide you that perspective which can make a difference and help with those issues with which you have been struggling. Custom Counselling offers a number of diverse therapies which will be tailored to meet the specific requirements recommended for you.
Merriam Webster defines worry as a persistent or nagging mental distress or agitation. A second definition is to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping, especially at the throat.
Origin: Old English wyrgan ‘strangle’, of West Germanic origin. In Middle English the original sense of the verb gave rise to the meaning ‘seize by the throat and tear’, later figuratively ‘harass’, whence ‘cause anxiety to’ (early 19th century, the date also of the noun).
I think the second definition really nails it because that is what worry really does. We’ll look at that further along in the blog.
What causes worry? Self talk is the basis of worry. It is what your mind thinks about over and over and over. With “normal” worry, although you may experience some physical and psychological effects, it doesn’t have adverse effects on your life in general. A tendency to long-standing worry that interferes with normal daily living should be assessed by a professional regarding the possibility of an anxiety disorder. For the purposes of this blog, we are looking at the type of worry that we all may do from time to time.
Worry can be about a number of things but usually it centers around one thing at a time. Today it might be about the trip you are taking; next week it might be about not getting your taxes done on time, a recurring worry might be about yours or someone else’s health.
Here are some common things people worry about:
Money: bills, loans, retirement, education
Relationships: family, marriage, children, friendships, work
Worry is a form of fear, but unlike fear, worry is not your friend (see Custom Counselling Blogs July 2017 and October 2017).
Worry is ineffective. It immobilizes you whereas fear can energize you for fight or flight. “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” (Zen Proverb)
Worry is illogical. No amount of worrying can change anything.
Worry is irrational. It causes a divided mind, gnawing on the “what if” which is always a worse-case scenario. “Worry is an old man with bended head, carrying a load of feathers which he thinks is lead” (Corrie ten Boom)
Worry is a thief; it robs you of today. It focuses on what isn’t happening right now but future speculations or assumptions.
How to close down worry
Assess your thoughts. “Is this something I can do something about or not?”
If it is, then make a plan what you are going to do. Planning is different from worrying.
If it is beyond your control, then recognize what you are doing – worrying. Give your thinking its proper name.
Keep yourself healthy (eating, sleeping, exercise): physical and mental health compliment each other.
Keep your mind engaged in pleasant activities rather than letting it idle in the cesspool of worry.
Face problems when they occur rather than trying to predict them.
If you find you begin to worry, talk to a person whom you trust will be forthright about whether or not this is worry or a real concern.
Keep a gratitude journal. It is hard to worry when you are being thankful.
Meditation: this is focusing on good and lovely things that bring a calm and peace to your mind.
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Disappointment ~ it can happen to anyone at any time; no one is immune. From early childhood and on through life all of us will experience disappointment at some point.
The Merriam-Webster definition of disappointment is “unhappiness from the failure of something hoped for or expected to happen.”
The disappointment might be caused by an action or inaction of someone else or from your own inability to achieve something. Disappointment can be about something minor that is soon forgotten or it can be something major that impacts significantly. What might seem like a minor incident to one can be life-changing for someone else.
How greatly something affects us will depend on a number of things.
Temperament or personality: all temperaments respond differently to situations; some are more sensitive than others.
Desire: how deeply something is wanted will correspond with the feelings of loss when it doesn’t happen.
Expectations: when something is thought to be likely to happen as opposed to being a possibility.
Recurrence: when someone experiences disappointment after disappointment.
In this blog we will look at the effects major disappointments can have on us. A false message can rise out of the disappointment and attach itself to our belief system. This false message will skew our beliefs about ourselves, other people, and life which in turn alters how we think, feel, and behave. (see Custom Counselling’s previous blogs on The Life Experience Chain ~ November 2016 – April 2018). Because this blog is focusing on the disappointments that have caused an unbalanced life view, I will call the result a wound.
Some of the false beliefs arising from this wound might be:
You’re not important
Love isn’t possible.
No one wants to be bothered
Eventually people fail you
Don’t expect too much
Life is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Possible results from these wounds are:
Become disillusioned and give up or limit desires.
Become resigned and decide not to enjoy anything too much.
Hide or “disappear” from life’s activities
Turn to comforters: alcohol/drugs, work, food, sexual activity, hobbies, fantasy
Overcompensate by trying to look/sound important and successful.
Become bitter and complaining.
Become harsh and demanding.
Become depressed and self-destructive.
Healing the Wounds of Disappointment
A disappointment occurring in the present, perhaps even what would be considered minor or insignificant, can be a trigger from a disappointment from the past. When looking at the dynamics of the present disappointment, it is prudent to see if there is a connection to a previous one. (see Custom Counselling’s blog on Triggers (November and December 2017).
I like using the analogy of a physical wound. Physical wounds can get infected if they have not been properly cleaned out. The wound needs to be reopened, all the gunk that has caused the infection cleaned out, and then the wound can heal properly. There will always be a scar there but the wound is clean.
So it is with emotional and spiritual wounds. If not “cleaned out” they can cause “infection” in our lives. It infects our beliefs about ourselves, other people, and about life in general. It then infects our way of thinking, our choices and decisions, and ultimately our behaviour. The “gunk” that needs to be cleaned out is the anger, bitterness, resentment, and hatred we felt as a result of the abuse or loss (or whatever caused the wound). We need to reopen those wounds by looking at what happened, admitting how that wounded us, and then allowing those memories to heal releasing us from those feelings. The memory will always be there (the scar) but it will no longer be able to “infect” us.
Limiting Future Disappointments
Thinking Patterns: We often recognize a feeling before realizing the thought that produced it. Recognize the thinking patterns that lead to despondent feelings and start to change those destructive unhealthy thoughts.
Reality: Realize that life will always have disappointments and has nothing to do with you as a person.
Expectations: Look at your expectations of yourself and others. Are they realistic or do they need to be modified in some way?
Communication: Do you make clear uncomplicated requests or are they vague and undefined? Have you misunderstood what others have said or made assumptions?
Perspective: Sometimes a disappointment can make room for something better. See if it can be turned into an opportunity.
Move on: don’t dwell on the disappointment. Stop looking or listening to things that remind you of “what might have been”. Have back-up plans.
Learn: if an event/situation or person is consistent with disappointment, then look at making changes in regards to that.
By having a healthy belief system in place and dealing with disappointments as they come, you can now prevent future emotional wounds from occurring. May all your disappointments turn into wonderful opportunities.
Last month we looked at criticism; for October we will look at the aspects of compliments. Although it seems unusual that a person would have trouble receiving a compliment, it does present difficulty for some people. And on the other hand, people can have a problem with giving a compliment to someone. So let’s look at some principles for both receiving and giving it.
What is a compliment? It is showing one’s appreciation and high regard for something or someone, an endorsement or approval. It can stir within us the desire to let that person know that we liked something. It can be shown in different ways such as a nod of the head, applause, facial expressions, but also can be expressed with words.
Be a conversation starter
Help to get the focus off self
Lift another person’s spirits
Encourage and support
But sometimes we hold back for a variety of reasons:
Uncertain of words to use
Concern about the reception it might get
Past negative experiences
TIPS FOR GIVING COMPLIMENTS
Make sure it is appropriate.
Setting: the workplace is an environment where it is best to compliment on achievements and abilities. Example: “You offered some great ideas at the meeting.”
Gender: to avoid any unintended perceptions, stick to personal qualities. Example: “I notice you always take time to greet everyone. I like your friendliness.”
A general compliment is nice to receive “You look nice today” but “That shade of blue is definitely your colour” is more effective. If you’ve given a general one, you can add to it “You look nice every day but that shade of blue is definitely your colour.”
Another example: General: “You gave a great talk.” Specific: “You gave a great talk. I learned several new things.”
Make sure you are genuine in your remarks. Flattery can usually be detected and puts into question your motives and character. That also means don’t overdo it. You can mention one or two things you admire but keep it at a minimum. There will probably be other occasions when you can give another compliment.
As mentioned already, although compliments are intended to make someone feel good, it may not have that effect on everyone. This may be because of:
Uncertainty of how to respond
Concern about the intent of the compliment
Past negative experiences
Desire to appear “modest”
TIPS FOR RECEIVING COMPLIMENTS
Always be polite.
Regardless of being self-conscious or not knowing what else to say, those two words “thank you” acknowledge the person giving the compliment.
Always be gracious.
Even if the compliment seems insincere or overdone, your response can be kind. Again, “thank you” can be sufficient.
Give credit where due.
If the compliment should be shared make sure you acknowledge that. Example “Yes, isn’t it lovely? My mom made this for me.” or “I had the help of many people behind the scene. I’ll let them know you liked it.”
Don’t downplay the compliment.
If someone has taken the time and effort to compliment you, to reply in any of the following ways is to discount what they have said. They will go away thinking their opinion didn’t matter and may refrain from giving other compliments. Things to NOT say:
“It was nothing.” or “No, I’m not.” or “this old thing?” or “I could have done this and this better”
So, let’s try to make our world a little better by giving authentic compliments
and thoughtfully acknowledging them when received.
Last month we looked at conflict in relationships. This month we will consider aspects of how to handle criticism, both in giving and receiving it.
People often think of criticism as being cruel when given and being hard to receive … and it can be, if not given and taken in the correct spirit. When we look at some of the definitions or synonyms for criticism, we can see that it can be viewed both in a negative and positive way.
Dictionary: CRITICISM (1) a discriminating judgment, an evaluation; (2) A severe or unfavourable judgment (3) The principles or rules for judging anything (4) A review, article, etc, expressing a critical judgment
Let’s face it, we all have a blind eye when it comes to ourselves. We don’t see what others see. With that in mind, criticism can be helpful in our seeing those blind spots. I am going to use the word critique to give it a neutral tone.
GUIDELINES FOR GIVING A CRITIQUE
Start off with the GOLDEN RULE. Critique as you would want to be critiqued. Presumably, you are giving feedback to the person so (s)he can make some changes. Therefore you want to deliver your message in a manner that will best keep the person from becoming defensive.
Watch your communication: What you say isn’t the only factor in conversation. The tone you use as well as your body stance all send a message. (See March 2018 blog for interaction with others that describe body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and tone/level of voice). Communication receptivity relates to 7% spoken word, 23% tone of voice, 70% body language.
Begin on a positive note. If you start off with something positive or praiseworthy, it helps to let the person know that you are on his side, wanting to help, not just seeing negative things.
Personality example: “You are one of the friendliest people I know.”
Performance example: “You really have a great deal of knowledge about that.”
Focus on the situation, not the person. This makes you a witness, not a judge. Don’t make assumptions that this is a regular action on the part of the person. The person may not be consistent with regards to different people, circumstances, etc.
Personality example: Instead of “You hogged the conversation.” a more positive approach would be “Charlie tried to speak several times but you kept talking.”
Performance example: Instead of “Your voice was too soft” a more positive approach would be “I couldn’t follow your conversation because I couldn’t hear you”
Be specific; avoid generalizations. In order to look at doing something differently, the person needs to know exactly what you saw/heard. Don’t be vague. If you made the observation, use the one that you have seen.
Personality example: Instead of “You should be more aware of people’s reactions.” a more positive approach would be “I noticed when you tried to hug Carol, she backed away.”
Performance example: Instead of “Remember to keep facing the audience.” a more positive approach would be “When you were doing the end of the skit, your back was to the audience.”
Focus on what would be helpful. If possible, give an example of what the person might do to improve. Don’t talk about what is out of the person’s control. Things out of the person’s control are things like physical features, etc.
Personality example: Instead of “You don’t listen when I talk to you.” a more positive approach would be “When I talk to you, I know you’re listening when you reply”
Performance example:Instead of “Stop looking at the floor when you are speaking.” a more positive approach would be “It helps to keep the audience’s attention if you have eye contact with them.”
End on a positive note. Even if you have to repeat the positive given at the beginning, it is a good idea to let the last comment be one of an affirmative.
GUIDELINES FOR RECEIVING A CRITIQUE
Don’t Take It Personally. Avoid becoming defensive. If you become defensive about the feedback, you will not hear what the person is trying to say.
Don’t counter-attack. The instinct might be to volley back criticism about the person but this is not the time for you to critique. Keep the focus clear by clarifying exactly what you are being asked to improve and how you are to do so.
Listen carefully. Consider what is being said (the message), not how it is said (words and tone). Not everyone has tact or discretion in communicating. Give the benefit of the doubt that the person has good intentions.
Make sure you understand what is said. If unclear, ask for clarification or specifics. Listen carefully; avoid thinking of how to respond.
Remember that the purpose is to make your performance better. It may be true. We all have our blind spot so listen to the feedback and evaluate if it is relevant. Ask for suggestions on how to improve if none were given. Evaluate the feedback to see if you can improve.
Show kindness. Even if the critique was not done in the best way, smile and thank them for the comment(s).
At some point in your life, you will probably both give and receive criticism. This might be in relation to your family, friends, school, business or career, etc. These guidelines will hopefully help in doing it so that those relationships can be healthy. However, feelings can be bruised regardless of how careful the critique is. We cannot control how others respond but we can do our part in being helpful instead of hurtful.
Relationships will always have conflict. It doesn’t matter what the relationship is (family, friends, job, etc), there will always be conflict at some point within that relationship. It doesn’t matter how connected you are or how much you have in common, there will always be conflict about something. Conflict happens when there are competing ideas and/or personal interests which can lead to misunderstandings or arguments between people. Conflict is a part of life.
Not all conflict is negative if handled well. It can lead to better communication between people, clearer understandings and perspectives, new ideas and creative solutions. However, conflict can be destructive if:
the conflict isn’t addressed but hidden in the form of irritation and resentment.
shouting matches occur
there are verbal putdowns and criticism
conversation is about right and wrong
past issues enter the conversation
Possible results if a conflict isn’t resolved
negative feelings such as resentment and bitterness
uncooperativeness or undermining
blame for unfavourable outcomes
guilt for unfavourable outcomes
stress spills over into other areas of the relationship
deterioration or dissolving of relationship
Factors regarding conflict
There are a variety of factors that influence conflict. How you respond to conflict may be related to:
Who the conflict is with: Some people will defer to someone they consider higher in status or authority.
What the issue is: consideration is placed on if the matter at hand is important.
What is at stake: there may be a number of factors here that will determine how someone responds.
Your personality style:
Some people are not comfortable with any kind of conflict and will do anything to avoid it, even if it means compromising some deeply held conviction or value.
There are people who may prefer not to have conflict but will engage in it when it occurs.
A few people actually relish conflict and ready enter into it or even initiates something in order to have conflict.
Steps for constructive conflict
Timing: There are four factors to consider for timing. Do not engage if you are tired, not feeling well, angry, or hungry. You are not at your best when in any of these states.
Perspective: You are not always right. People have different opinions. Listen to the other person’s view. See the issue/problem as separate from the person. This approach makes the problem more manageable.
Ownership: State what you think the problem is, how it affects you, and what you would like to see differently. This is done using “I” statements.
Words/Tone: Have respect. Use words that are not inflammatory or accusatory.
Be solution oriented: Rather than focusing and dwelling on the problem, look for ways to problem solve. Be creative. Sometimes consider the possibility of negotiating or compromising when able. Sometimes the solution is “agree to disagree”.
Keep short accounts: Deal with issues as they arise. Once it is dealt with, it should not arise again in future discussions.
Relationship disagreements are an opportunity for growth from both parties.
Wanted: a friend. Person desires someone to share time and activities.
Any size, any age, any race acceptable.
For more information phone 2-374-363-7447 (a-fri-end-ship)
This isn’t exactly the kind of advertisement you’d see written in a newspaper, magazine, or hanging on a local grocery bulletin board. But perhaps if you could see people’s hearts you’d find it written there. In today’s society, people are lonely; people are hurting; people are crying out for someone to love them. People are looking for a friend.
What is a friend? The dictionary defines “friend” as
A person whom one knows well and cherishes
A person who is attached by affection
One joined to another in intimacy and mutual benevolence independent of sexual or family love.
In discussing the topic of friendship, the first issue that needs addressing is how you think and feel about yourself. In order to be a friend to someone, you must first be a friend to yourself.
The world is full of people who don’t like themselves; who have low self-worth. The reasons are many and varied but basically the root causes are:
Childhood experience(s) that have given a distorted view of yourself.
Having a comparison complex which sabotages your own uniqueness.
Setting up a self-defeating programme by having too high standards.
Your own identity is something you must bring to your relationships and while you will deepen your understanding of yourself through interaction with other people, broken heartedness is courted if relationships are entered in order to find out who you are. You may want to read Custom Counselling’s Life Experience blogs for more information about this.
There are different types of friendships.
The poem “Reason, Season, Lifetime” (author unknown) gives examples of the time frame for some friendships. I think it is wise to have a variety of friends as each has their own personality and likes. Don’t expect one person to be everything to you. For example, one friend might be the one you go to when you have a problem. This person always has excellent advice. Another person might be the one you phone because you know you always have a good time with this upbeat, fun-loving person. Another might be the person you connect with for a shared activity such as shopping or visiting a museum. Each friend can contribute to your life in different ways.
Where can friends be found?
You don’t have to take out a personal ad to find a friend. They can be found anywhere and everywhere.
Where do you go? Examples~ gym, library, community centres, church.
What are you already doing? Examples~ children’s activities, walking your dog, classes.
What interests do you have? Examples~ volunteering, cooking, book club, sports team
Who do you already know? Examples ~ neighbours, other friends, family
How to begin a conversation.
First of all, look friendly and approachable. Smile.
Be casual in your posture.
Complement someone about something. Make sure the compliment is genuine but not too personal. Eg) that colour looks good; you make that look so easy.
Ask a question about something related to what is happening.
Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
Don’t monopolize the talk. Conversation is a two-way street.
Eye contact is important but it’s important to break eye contact at times. You don’t want to look like you are interrogating them.
Be discreet about sharing things that are too personal.
Friendships don’t usually happen overnight. It takes time and some effort at making a good connection.
If it’s not a “fit” that’s okay. There are more people out there. Keep making connections.
Here are some principles for how friends should treat each other:
Friends are not selfish: Be considerate and attentive to the needs of others. We are closest to fulfilling our own needs when we are attending to the needs of others.
Friends encourage one another: Kind words of praise, sympathy, encouragement cost us nothing, yet we often refrain from speaking them. Make a mental note to encourage one another more frequently.
Friends are honest with each other: Put an end to manipulation and game playing. Be discreetly honest about your thoughts and feelings.
Friends honour each other: Show respect for the other person’s opinions and feelings even if you don’t agree. Don’t think of yourself as always right or better. Don’t make promises with which you can’t follow through.
Friends are humble, gentle, and patient: Don’t be critical, boastful, pushy, or rude. Seek to build the other person up. Don’t boast of your own achievements. Don’t put the other person down for not thinking/doing the same as you. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults
Friends don’t criticize each other: Choose to speak well of someone or refrain from speaking at all. Discussing a situation with a trusted friend and making honest statements isn’t the issue. Lovingly bring up any unpleasant attitudes or behaviours to that person’s attention. Look at your own attitudes and behaviour as well.
Friends celebrate with each other: Choose to kick jealousy and possessiveness out of your life. Even if a friend’s good news inadvertently causes you ill, you should still be happy with them (example: a promotion, a move, etc)
Friends share each other’s sorrows: Be supportive, not just during the good times but also when the going is difficult. Don’t fade out of the picture when the other person is suffering emotionally, is physically ill or has other problems. In fact it is during g the difficult times that a true friend offers comfort and support.
Friends don’t compromise each other: There may be areas that the person needs to avoid. Do not provide the opportunity for the person to be put at risk.
Friends have pure thoughts about each other: Planning ways to make them suffer make them jealous, scheming and devising plans to get even, listening to gossip are not examples of pure thoughts. We should focus on the positive qualities.
Friends are at peace with each other: Friends can have disagreements and even confrontations but they don’t engage in selfish quarreling or bickering. They are willing to discuss a situation which is annoying or hurtful. They choose to confront the problem at the time it is recognized or wait for an appropriate time to discuss it.
Friends don’t stay angry at each other: Instead of brooding over a situation that makes you angry, seek to understand what caused it. Make the time to discuss the situation and seek to restore the friendship.
Friends forgive and ask for forgiveness: No matter how right we are, or think we are, we need to forgive. That doesn’t mean that we condone the actions of our friends; it means we choose to not hold that offense against them, that we start anew, and when we are wrong, we ask the other person to forgive us. Many times both parties need to share in the blame and ask forgiveness of each other.
Friends treat each other as they want to be treated: In every situation, friends act out of love for each other. If you act out of love, you will uphold the above principles automatically.
Friends are valuable assets. Having them in your life benefits you mentally, emotionally, socially, physiologically, and spiritually.
I don’t know whether this is true or not but I’ve heard there are over 250 approaches to counselling. I thought this blog might help sort out the questions one should ask oneself regarding counselling.
When do I go for counselling?
Most people wait too long to go for counselling. By waiting, the problem changes to a crisis making it more difficult to get to the root and make the changes. Depression, chronic anxiety, addictions, abuse of any kind, and various personality disorders are so distressing that they often mask the deeper issues that feed them. Addictions are difficult to break because they seem to ease the pain while adding to the problem.
It becomes a cycle causing the problem to worsen. The more the desire is indulged, the more satisfaction it demands. Whenever an attempt is made to kill the pain with another drink, another trip to the refrigerator, another trip to the mall, another sexual encounter, it is only adding to the pain while ignoring the underlying cause. Often we do not see this happening because our minds are masters of denial and self-deception. (See the blogs on this site about The Life Experience Chain.) Our thinking can become so twisted that our only focus is wanting to feel good or better at any price. We’ve all chosen solutions that have made our problems worse. There are times the outlook on the future becomes hazy when there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of that dark tunnel, when faith and hope falters, and when there seems to be no sense to life, no reason to go on.
The time to seek help is:
When you feel increasingly discouraged and confused about life.
When you feel that something is bothering you but you aren’t sure what it is
When you feel that everyone is against you.
When you find yourself unable to get a handle on your fear, anger, worry, or sleeplessness.
When you keep hearing from others that you are being unreasonable, controlling, or insensitive.
When you find yourself seriously thinking of getting out of your commitment to a relationship or job.
When you are wrestling with an issue that will have significant effects on yourself and others around you.
When you are unable to change behaviour that is harming yourself or others. When you have secret compulsions that feel out of control.
When there is a pain within yourself that is not being resolved by the normal means of asking forgiveness, admitting you were wrong and seeking reconciliation.
When you are having thought of not wanting to live.
What do I look for in counselling?
Here are some things that are important when deciding to go for help.
Is the counselling helping to deal with the truth or just supporting what I want to believe? The truth sets us free to be authentic people, people of courage who never pretend. The counselling will not be helpful if it doesn’t uncover the underlying issues causing the problems.
Is the counsel dealing with the underlying issues or merely focusing on the presenting behaviour? Unseen motives and underlying beliefs shape attitudes and behaviours. It is necessary to peel away the layers of denial and crumble the walls of self-preservation. Good counselling continually asks the question “why?”
Is the counsel balanced or one-sided? Legitimate desires can become confused with illogical beliefs and unwise strategies. The counsellor must be able to help people to see the difference between legitimate desires and irrational attempts to satisfy those desires. Don’t minimize how strong our own unseen strategies and underlying beliefs can be.
Who should I see for counselling?
There are a number of people from whom you can seek help. Professionals are often sought for help with serious life issues or struggles that are complex and entrenched. Support groups are also a good source for some problem. You can also seek advice from family and friends whom you trust and who are not having serious difficulty in their own lives. A wise person will tell you if the scope of your problems is beyond his/her ability. In all relationships, there needs to be love, mutual honour, and cooperation. The counsellor must care enough to tell the truth in a way that makes you feel the effects of the counselling while at the same time doing this in a deeply respectful manner during the exposure and changing process.
TIME: What is it? Time is something all of us have regardless of our race, age, marital status, educational standing, economic level, social class, career path, religious beliefs, or geographic location.
There are many philosophical topics we could discuss regarding time but for this blog, we will focus on the management of time. In other words, how to live more intentionally. Time cannot be recaptured; once gone it is gone.
None of us know how much time we will have in life but each person has the same amount of time each day … 24 hours. Time is the daily equalizer.
Why can some people get three times the amount of work done while others complain there just isn’t enough time? The answer is priority setting and time management. Who sets your priorities and manages your time? You do. And if you don’t, then other people and circumstances will.
Life is not something that simply happens to people; life occurs as one looks at various choices and makes decisions. (See The Life Experience Chain in January and February 2018 blogs.) It is true that we don’t have choices about some things in life but there are many things we do have control over.
Priorities will depend on what you consider important. One of the first things is to reflect on is what do we want from life. We may want a certain thing but unless we are doing it, it is not a priority. How we spend our time reveals what is the most important to us.
What are the things in your life that you value most? Make a draft list now and it can always be revised at any time.
Some ideas: family, career/business, marriage, education, money, leisure, community work, charity, friends, making a difference in neighbourhood/city/world, hobbies, recreational activities.
This is your life. You get to choose what is put on the list and where you place it on the list. Much will depend on what you want out of life; the reason for prioritizing it is to make sure that is where you focus. It is important to look at a balanced life (relationships, work, leisure).
Priorities will also depend on where you are in life. For example, a student may prioritize study higher right now than leisure or recreational activities. A mother with preschool children might prioritize being home right now over a career or over community work.
Priorities need to be set before facing demanding people or circumstances so you can be steadfast in your personal commitments.
Priorities can also be looked at in terms of short-term or long-term goals. Where we are today is largely determined by the way we prioritize our desires and concerns in previous months and years.
Misplaced priorities result in wasted opportunities: values will determine emphasis we place and the amount of time allotted
Evaluation of Priority Setting:
What activities did you choose? What steps will you take to make these a priority? How will much time will each priority need?
Should some of these be seen as short-term goals or lifelong pursuits?
What might interfere with these priorities? Are you persuaded by other people’s claims (their own priorities?) on your time?
How does your own personality fit with keeping these at a high value? Are you committed or do you procrastinate?
Now that you have made a list of your priorities (the things you value) you can start to put them into goals and incorporating them into your daily activities. A balanced schedule doesn’t restrict our freedom but liberates us to accomplish what we want to do. This helps to be proactive, not reactive.
Possible hindrances to consider:
What is my attitude each day? Negativity can be energy draining.
Am I “aware” of time? Does it take me longer to do something that what I realize?
What eats up my time? Do I get distracted or side tracked? Do I let things/people interfere with what I have planned?
Do I tend to procrastinate or let perfectionism soak up valuable time?
Have I drifted into habits or modes of thinking that have become a way of life?
Write down goals for next day. Make sure your priorities get attention.
The next morning read through the list to focus your energy on what’s most important for that day. Remember this doesn’t have to be rigid; something may have occurred in meantime to change the activity for the day or change those goals.
Having a list and following it keeps you focused and can help keep distractions from interfering with what is important to you.
Check yourself periodically during the day to keep on track. Crossing off or checking each item gives a sense of satisfaction.
Evaluate at the end of the day. How you spend your day?
If there were things that didn’t get done, put those on the list for the next day.
One of the basic needs and desires of humans is to have purpose in life. Without purpose, we exist, not live. It is a tragedy for people to reach the end of their life and have a list of things they regret because they did not define their life’s values and live intentionally toward those purposes.
Living intentionally is not easy. It takes deep thought to shift through and decide on what your values are and how they will be lived out in your life. It takes discipline to maintain and not get sidetracked by other people or things. You don’t need to be rigid but you do need to be steadfast.
It also takes wisdom to decide if these priorities you set fit you or the stage of life where you are. You see, values seldom change but how those values are played out and what they encompass may. So it is important that you do evaluations periodically.
My wish for you is that you may always be able to look at your life and feel satisfaction.