One of my favorite pieces on confidence is a short and very clear video created by TED-Ed. The recommendations are based in the most current research on confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Here it is:
Ten yours ago, I began this journey working with clients to help relieve their emotional pain. Some individuals experienced pain triggered by a specific event such as the loss of someone dear to them. Others walked in the world with a fear that a threat is just around the corner and they need to be vigilant in protecting themselves. Still others looked at their experiences and judged that life has little meaning. Some of my patients have experienced severe struggles that seemed to have taken over their minds – hearing voices, extreme mood swings, deep depression that drive them to thoughts of suicide. Through the diverse struggles of my clients and commonly observing very different paths to healing, I have noticed that some simple things have made a real difference in the quality of their lives and speed of recovery. If I could wave a magic wand and empower my clients toward recovery, these are the simple things I would wish for them.
I wish for my clients to have more self-compassion. Self-compassion means to accept, love, and forgive ourselves as we would others. To accept that we are human and fallible. To love ourselves – our bodies, our quirkiness, our ins and outs, how we are different from others. Loving ourselves also means taking care of ourselves by taking breaks when we are exhausted, enjoying pleasures simply because they make us happy. Self-compassion also includes forgiveness. Just as we might forgive a friend or family member, we forgive ourselves for mistakes, bad decision, things we’ve done that we cannot change.
I wish for my clients to have greater awareness and clarity on boundaries with other people and demands in their lives. Having healthy boundaries means knowing where to draw the line of how much to give of ourselves and stop when giving reaches a point where it hurts us. Consider how much to do for a friend or family member without exhausting our own emotional resources. Healthy boundaries also mean not letting others hurt us. Not letting an employer underpay us for long hours and difficult work. Not letting a parent, friend, or co-worker treat us unkindly. Healthy boundaries enable us to have relationships with people and be a part of organizations and groups while also recognizing our needs. Asserting our boundaries enables everyone to benefit rather than one party benefiting at the cost of the other.
Having authentic connections to others bring meaning, positive regard, and mutual caring to our lives. An authentic connection isn’t a tweet or comment on social media, but rather focused time together. For some, that authentic connection may be with a few close friends. For others, it may be a beloved pet. Yet, for others it may be a group of long-time friends from college that get together every few years.
Lastly, I wish for people to find it in themselves to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean that something hurtful that happened is okay. It also does not mean having to have someone who is toxic in our lives. However, forgiveness does mean letting go of the anger and hurt that resurface when we continue to hold onto the hurt feelings. Forgiveness frees us up to live fuller lives because we choose to no longer allow a painful experience to sit in our hearts. Instead, we focus our energies on building positive and loving experiences with others.
Doing these things would put most people on the road to recovery. In fact, much of my work with clients is focused on helping them make these simple changes in their lives. What would you add to this list?
I came across this wonderful article by Jessica Bruder on Entrepreneurship and mental health that discusses the challenges that entrepreneurs face that can lead to development of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, particularly in those predisposed to mood swings. As a psychologist in the Bay Area where entrepreneurs come in all stages of their lives, I see early signs of the impact of the cocktail of pressure and stress. The clearest sign of the extreme pressure is a life out of balance – all work and nothing else. Their health deteriorates when they don’t get enough sleep and exercise, and may eat poorly or drink excessively to manage their anxiety. Another area of imbalance is in their personal lives. Too busy for quality time with genuine friends and close family, the people who nurture us and love us for who were are – the brilliant, the bad and ugly. The stories in this article tell us that the struggles faced by entrepreneurs are common and prevalent, that they are the nature of the types of pressure entrepreneurs face. The entrepreneurs that I know who are able to keep their lives in better balance have a couple of habits in common. They join communities of support with other entrepreneurs. They keep having fun doing things outside their businesses that they have always enjoyed. One person heads to the ski mountains of Colorado twice a year. Another finds a way to squeeze in kite surfing when the wind is good. A third makes bacon. They take time off to reflect and rejuvenate, and to be with family and friends.