Stop Talking Shit

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Welcome to Tuesday’s Tips, the one-day a week when I dispense useful, actionable and empowering tips!

You have a habit that you may not be aware of. How you engage in this habit is a predictor of your happiness, your success and whether or not you suffer from anxiety or depression. It’s called self-talk and we all do it.

Most of us are unaware of how we talk to ourselves. If that’s the case for you, chances are your self-talk is negative, and since it’s on loop in your mind all day long, it’s the greatest influencer in your life. That’s right – even more so than your happiness in your primary relationships.

And now for the good news: It’s within your reach to control what you say to yourself. Follow these steps for a week and see if you’re feeling better about your life. If you are, repeat the steps next week. And the following week. And the following. Until you’re certain that your self-talk coincides with the type of life that you want to live.

1. Identify 3-5 statements that would be useful for you to hear throughout your day. Here are mine: “You’re doing great,” “Trust your gut – it’s always right,” “You’ve got this, Darcy,” “One step at a time – keep your eye on what’s right in front of you.”

2. Set your phone alarm to go off 5 times a day at various times of the day.

3.  Enter these statements into a note or memo on your phone – or write them down & take a photo of them and make that your wallpaper on your phone.

4. Each time your alarm goes off, read these statements to yourself slowly, using a calm and nurturing voice.

5.  For most people it will take 30 days for this to become a habit. Seems like a small enough commitment for the enormous ROI, doesn’t it? Happy Tuesday.

Your Greatest Weaknesses Are Also Your Greatest Strengths

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Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.

I was having a little chat on Facebook this week with some friends about the most common things I say to clients in my office and then it struck me: I’ve failed to blog about one of my most common Darcy-isms!  Well today that changes because I’m letting you in on one of my most strongly held beliefs and principles: Your greatest weaknesses are nothing more than your greatest strengths, albeit, dialed up too high and in the wrong environment. Let me explain:

I always use myself as an example so let me start with that: I’m a very direct person. I speak from the heart and I don’t veil my feelings or thoughts in a bunch of words. I think it and I say it. For better or worse. Now in my office, that trait is definitely a strength. It’s the reason why people come to me instead of going to a traditional therapist who is likely to nod and stay quiet during sessions. My outspoken nature is the thing that sets me apart. That very thing that is a strength at work becomes a liability at home if I don’t dial it down. If I walk into my home and allow myself to speak every thought that comes into my head without using a filter, my wife isn’t going to be happy I’m going to have domestic problems. I have to dial down my greatest strength at home because it can easily become my greatest weakness.

Let’s take another example.  A family friend asked me to speak to his son who was in his early 20’s at the time because he was having difficulties at work. He wasn’t getting along with people on his team and my friend was concerned that his son might be arrogant. I spoke to the son for an hour before I realized what was going on: The son grew up on the East Coast and went to an Ivy League School. He’d been an over achiever his entire life and he’d achieved great success by being outspoken and a go-getter. Now he was working on the West Coast where values were different and his outspoken ways did indeed appear to be arrogant to his co-workers. And so he needed to dial down his greatest strength at work so it would not become a huge weakness.

We all have character strengths and believe it or not, they are measurable. If you were to measure your greatest strengths (I’m going to tell you how at the end of this post) and send them to me along with a story of a problem you’re having in your life, I can explain to you how one of your greatest strengths is simply dialed up too high and it’s causing the problem you’re having. So why is this important?

It’s important because it means that most of us are not crazy. We’re not deficient in some way. We don’t lack character, in fact, it’s our character strengths that are dialed up too high which cause our problems. And it’s a lot easier to dial something down than it is to build a new skill. It makes life a whole lot easier when we view what’s wrong as a strength rather than as pathology which is how so many professionals in my field view interpersonal difficulties.

So here’s your homework / challenge: Measure your strengths by clicking here, select Questionnaires and take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Send me the results along with a brief story of an area in your life that’s giving you problems and I’ll explain to you which of your strengths is causing the difficulty. You get this for free because I’m going to post it on my blog. Happy Friday!

The Power of Words

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

I have tried to do so many things with my life and I consistently fail.  I tried to become a customer service representative but was fired because I never know what to say in the heat of the moment. I’m just not good at politics and being politically correct.  Then I tried to work in retail – if you think I was bad at customer service, you should have seen me at retail.  And just recently I went back to school to finish my degree (I tend to quit things before I complete them) which I never finished and because I’m not a good writer, I bought a paper online and used it as my own and got caught and expelled.  I am at my wit’s end. I don’t know what to do. I just want a simple life, an easy job that doesn’t stress me out and that I can do with minimal mistakes.

ANSWER

Your question, which is only 1 paragraph, has 9 negative statements about yourself.  If these are your expressed thoughts, I can only imagine how negative your internal dialogue is. Most of us have no awareness of the content of our internal dialogue and because of that, it tends to be a very critical voice. I bring this to your attention because words have power. They cause us to manifest our words and beliefs.

It’s called the Law of Attraction, and I’m certain that much of your troubles in life are a result of what you’re focusing on.  When we focus on our weaknesses or on what we don’t want in life, several things happen:

  • We feel bad. And because we feel bad, our emotional state is low. When our emotional state is low, so is our energy. When we try to accomplish a goal when our energy is low, we do so with a major handicap.
  • We are less resourceful because of our emotional state. Our cognitive functioning slows down, we don’t problem solve as effectively and as a result, we don’t see opportunities that may be right in front of us.
  • Our brains start to hunt for evidence that our negative beliefs are correct. In your case, your negative beliefs are about yourself. How will your brain amass evidence that your negative beliefs are correct? By attracting you to jobs that don’t tap into your strengths.

You need to choose your words with care, knowing that everything you say will come true. And you need to measure your strengths so that you can begin to focus on them rather than on your weaknesses. Go to AuthenticHappiness.org and take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths questionnaire.  The results will give you a list of your top strengths and a description of each. Each day, begin focusing on ways to use your strengths. When you look for your next job, make sure it will require you to tap into some of your top strengths. And start focusing on what you want. Get clear. Get a vision. Right now you’re like a car with no headlights.

Writer's Stats: Female, Lesbian.