What does it mean to live well

What does it mean to live well

“Helping people overcome their demons is not the same as helping people live well”  
– Martin Seligman 

 
What does it mean to live well?
Is it to be rich?
Is it to be loved?
Is it to live a life of purpose?
 
Many of you have chosen a life of service because at a deep level, you understand that personal fulfillment is connected to the notion of contribution.  Being of service is valued.  Through meaningful connection to one another, our lives have purpose. When we take off the uniform, it can be hard to know who we are.  
 
Chances are, who you are was determined long before you put on the uniform.  As a kid, you were probably the one who offered to help out. In social situations, you likely notice who is in need and are quick to offer assistance.  
 
Who you are is not defined by the clothes you wear, rather, it’s who you are inside: who you’ve always been.
 
Sometimes, when we’re injured, it’s easy to lose sight of that old self.  It’s still there.  It’s always been there.  Just waiting to re-emerge when you are ready.

Warm regards, 

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Do I measure up?

Do I measure up?

“I’m tired of feeling bad about myself.  How can I learn to feel better?”

It’s a great question, and is likely a challenge that has faced us all at some point in our lives.

Personally, I think low self-esteem is the result of high expectations.

We’re all good at some things, and not so good at others.

Low self-esteem happens when we think we should be good at everything.

Those of you who struggle with addictions likely can relate.  Addictions aren’t the result of expecting too little.  It’s usually about expecting too much and feeling frustrated with ourselves when we don’t measure up.

So my word for the week is compassion.  

Are you able to take a moment to appreciate those things you do well?

Try practicing compassion with yourself in those areas that you’re not strong at.  No one gets better when they are being yelled at.  Our inner critic can have the loudest and most disabling voice of all.  

You may know that you love deeply, and care deeply, but not actually know how to communicate that to others.  Instead of focussing on those things we can’t do, and feeling badly, I encourage you to notice your areas of strength, building on them so you have the confidence to work on those things that are still “in development.”

Warmly, 

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Trust is not a four letter word

Trust is not a four letter word

“I don’t trust anyone.” 

It’s a phrase I hear quite often, usually by people who’ve had harmful experiences that left them feeling disillusioned or hurt.

It’s natural to build walls to protect ourselves when we feel threatened.  The problem is, trust is often described in black and white terms: it’s there or it isn’t.

In reality, I see trust as having many dimensions.  Let’s think about it for a moment.  If we were facing a zombie apocalypse, who would you most want by your side?  Is it the same person who you’d hire to care for your children or grandchildren?  Probably not.  Mary Poppins and Van Diesel definitely fall into different categories of trust. Trusting someone with your physical safety needs is different that trusting them to care for your children.

I trust my husband Joe implicitly, but he might not be my first choice when it comes to decorating cupcakes (flashback to our wedding where we decorated our own bride and groom cakes.  Joe’s cake consisted of a war scene with Tonka tanks, explosions and GI Joe parachuting down into the middle).  Yeah…I definitely don’t trust my husband when it comes to decorating cakes… but,  I do trust him to be there for me when it comes to the really important stuff.  

I like to think of trust as a three dimensional star with many prongs.  I can trust some people along many dimensions, others along only a few.  That’s okay, as long as I don’t trust people in areas that aren’t their strength.

So if you catch yourself thinking “people can’t be trusted,” try looking for exceptions in this “all or nothing” thinking pattern.  It may be there are some things they do well. See what happens if you modify your expectations accordingly.  
 
Warmly, 

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

The business of getting better: part 6

The business of getting better: part 6

Intoxicating anger

Anger is intoxicating.  There’s no doubt about it.  It’s powerful, and has the illusion of strength.  People will often respond to us more quickly if we’re angry.

Anger can be a force to be reckoned with.  The military recognizes this, teaching people to harness their anger as vehicles for mobilization during difficult moments.

“Don’t get sad, get mad”

The problem is, power gleaned through anger is power taken, not power earned.

Is it possible, I wonder, to have power without exerting our will over others?

Maybe what we are really talking about is leadership.  

Certainly, there are many different styles of leadership.  We are all familiar with dictatorships, where those in power exert their control over others. Failure to conform is associated with profound negative consequences. We are fearful of their anger.  Think Stalin.

Charismatic leaders, on the other hand, rely on the leader’s charm and attraction to inspire devotion among followers. After meeting with Charismatic leaders, we are inspired to be of service.  We leave feeling they are special. Televangelist Billy Graham is a famous example of this style of leadership.

Transformation leaders, on the other hand, inspire greatness. They instill valuable and positive change with a vision of developing followers into leaders. After meeting with these leaders, we feel special: confident and inspired to be more. Nelson Mandela is an example of such a leader.

I think we have all had times when we realized our anger had power.  It’s a hard habit to break, particularly if we don’t feel safe.

Is this a time when transformational leadership might be an option for you?  Maybe you are already practicing it. What does it look like in your life?

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

The business of getting better: part 3

The business of getting better: part 3

Changing the world, one conversation at a time.

When we run programs at Landing Strong, we spend quite a bit of time discussing how to create an environment that feels comfortable and safe. Participants tell me that it’s not uncommon to walk into a community coffee group where they’re initially having a good time, only to have the mood shift once the subject of politics comes up. Suddenly the tone is angry and loud. Instead of ideas and insights forming the discussion, hard opinions become the propulsion for discussion.  Listening decreases as each person fixates on ensuring their “truth” is heard.  

 When this happens, I know it’s just a matter of time until the conversation shuts down, and the potential for insights and wisdom arising from the discussion are lost. 

Speaking truthfully without hurting feelings, writes Cheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, is an acquired skill.  It’s that wonderful balance between appropriateness and authenticity. 

In her book Lean In, Sandberg notes “When communicating hard truths, less is more…The ability to listen is as important as the ability to speak.”

What if we all made it our mission to seek to understand the opinions of others, without needing to be right?  How would the world change?  We may disagree with what we hear, but at least by listening we are inviting an opportunity for dialogue. Sowing the seeds of change.  If we are able to shift our focus from being heard, to accepting the uniqueness of each person’s truth, the discussion becomes richer.

I have to admit, I don’t always master this art.  But I try.

Please join me in noticing the tone and manner in which we communicate with others.  Is it inviting or overbearing? Welcoming or deflective?

As Sandberg confirms, being aware of the problem is the first step to correcting it.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Safe and stuck vs uncertain and growing

Safe and stuck vs uncertain and growing

Have I ever mentioned how much I love homemade chocolate chip cookies?  Something deep within me settles as the familiar aroma of fresh baked goodness wafts through my kitchen. The simple routine of baking offers me reassurance that all will be okay. 

Although routines can be comforting, never straying from them has consequences.  Just because old habits make me feel good doesn’t mean they’re always good for me.  I love that there are things in life that are a sure bet, but at the same time, realize that taking risks is part of moving forward.  

I’ve taken a lot of risks lately.  I’ll admit it, it has not been easy.  It would definitely have been simpler and easier to stay in a place that’s old and familiar. 

So why do it you might ask?  Why challenge myself when I could simply sit at home baking cookies and watching Netflix?

Truth is, I believe there’s something big around the corner.  Something wonderful that’s worth the journey.  We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.  You and me and the Landing Strong Team.   

How incredible that we allow ourselves to venture into that new place together.
 

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong