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5 Strategies for Personal Empowerment in Difficult Situations

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5 Strategies for Personal Empowerment in Difficult Situations

    My guess is that most of us would rather not spend much time in a hospital, unless you’re a doctor or nurse and love what you do. I’ve spent a day and a half in St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, CT, with my disabled brother Mark who is waiting for surgery to remove an infected knee implant. So, I’ve had the chance to remember why I really like to avoid hospitals.

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    No matter how much effort goes into the decor, the cleaning, and the landscaping, it’s really hard to offset the effects of the negative energies that exist because hospitals are places with a problem focus. Illness is negative energy. Patients are scared–more negative energy. Family members are concerned–more negative energy. Doctors and nurses are typically overworked, at times doing work that involves risks to human life and dealing with some overwhelming and unpleasant situations. Whew! Lots of negative energy!

    I’ve found myself shifting into survival mode with my own energy so I endure this hospital experience. Here are some things I have been doing:

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    • I look for the good in every employee I encounter, even the nurse’s aide who won’t make eye contact.
    • I ask for what I need or what Mark needs as our needs arise.
    • I don’t take personally employee behaviors that aren’t as pleasant, helpful or supportive as I would like.
    • I stay calm even when I feel scared or annoyed so I can be a grounding presence and bright light for Mark.
    • I take lunch outside so I can shake off some of the negative energy I have absorbed.
    • I remember my life outside of the hospital and remind myself that this experience is only temporary.
    • I focus on how much I love Mark and remain detached even when he’s grumpy and reactive.
    • I appreciate the overall cleanliness of the building.
    • I note and feel grateful for every friendly person I encounter, from the person who made my salad at Subway to the receptionist who validated my parking ticket.
    • I congratulate myself for my patience with Mark and the waiting despite my own fears about Mark’s situation.

    I figure if I have to be here, if this is where I’ve been led to make a difference, I am going to do whatever I can to counter the negative energies that I have no control over with positive energies I do have control over. I can control my thoughts and my attitudes, and manage my emotions and behaviors.

    When you find yourself in situations where you are exposed to negative energies over which you have no control, remember that you can control your own sources of positive energy if you so choose. Here are some ideas.

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    1. Look for the good that does exist. Feel grateful for it. When you deliberately look for good, you will find it. When you focus on negatives, you’ll find it. Wouldn’t you rather have a steady diet of good energies? They will help you more effectively cope with the challenges.
    2. Avoid reacting to others and taking their behaviors personally.                Pia Mellody, author of Facing Codependence, once said that people’s reactions have more to do with them and their history than they do with you, unless you’ve been offensive. So, observe others and wonder about their behaviors, but know that what you’re getting from them could have absolutely nothing to do with you.
    3. Stay in your own power by remaining calm even when others are not. “Shut your mouth and breathe,” is another of my favorite reminders from Pia Mellody. Doing that will help you stay grounded and avoid saying or doing anything you might regret later.
    4. Ask for what you need from people who are capable of giving it to you. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Only you know what you need. And, it is empowering to respectfully make your needs known.
    5. Don’t make requests of people who are incapable of responding appropriately to your requests. That’s a setup for disappointment and will only fuel your anger.

    What would you add?

    Image: Atencion

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2020

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

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    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
    Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

    1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
    2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
    3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
    4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
    5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
    6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
    7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
    8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
    9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
    10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
    11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
    12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
    13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
    14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
    15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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