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Archive for the ‘Stress and Coping’ Category

I want to know how can I control my temperament/anger, and increase my patience with my 3 year old son. I am out of energy, struggling with my weight/shape, time management and level of responsibility at work. I feel like a zombie.

Three year olds can be a handful and everyone seems to be overwhelmed today. Regarding your anger and weight, try this affirmation, “I choose not to be angry or overeat, I choose to be in control.”

Why this particular affirmation? Because it addresses both of your issues, anger and weight and the mere repetition of the affirmation will help you feel more calm. Say it several thousands times a day (no joking!).

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” (a middle grade read) as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Taking this quiz on perfectionism will help you determine if you’re a perfectionist.

Do you fear making mistakes more than those around you do?
When you do make a mistake, do you overreact with anger, defensiveness and self-criticism?
Do you remember critical remarks more than you remember praise?
Do you operate from a belief system that says there is a right way to do everything, including folding socks, loading the dishwasher, writing a paper, reading a book?
Do you have difficulty relaxing because there is always something more to be done?
Do you drive yourself with such statements as “you should do this”and “you ought to do that”?
Do you avoid starting a job because your standards are so high that you don’t have time to complete it?

If you answered yes to five of these questions, more than likely you are trying to be too much of a perfectionist.

It’s fine to want to do your best and even to excel in certain areas, but to continually measure your self-worth by how much you get done and how well you do it can be self-destructive. Not only are you a more difficult person to live with (you secretly have the same high standards for everyone), but you are more likely to suffer from depression, performance anxiety and anxiety in social situations.

One thing you might do is observe how others who are not perfectionists live. You don’t have to pick someone whom you view as a slob. Choose a person who seems to be more middle-of-the-road. Someone, for example, who takes pride in her work but whose desk is never in good order.

Once you’ve picked out your less-perfectionistic brother or sister, find one thing the person does that you admire. If she can leave her desk with things still to do, allow yourself the same privilege. And see it as a privilege, not as a weakness.

Another thing you might do is to adopt a favorite phrase that you can chant in your head while taking a shower or driving your car. You can say something like, “I count more than my accomplishments” or “I’m a good person just for being.”

One fellow was able to give up some of his compulsive drive for perfectionism when I explained that if he were perfect, no one could possibly add anything to his life. His need to be perfect was actually a way of keeping people at a distance.

Having high standards and pursuing excellence is a fine goal, and it does give people a great deal of satisfaction and joy when they do well. But having too high of standards can be self-defeating.

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When your mate retires, expect change, and expect to adjust your life style.
Her husband has been retired for a year, and she’s ready to go back to work.

“Since he’s retired he thinks he has first rights to the telephone. He thinks he should be able to make his telephone calls first. If one of my friends calls early in the morning and wants to talk, heaven forbid. If I’m talking and he wants to use the telephone, he motions for me to get off. If that doesn’t work, he passes me a note or holds up a sign.

“Last week when I was out, he rearranged my dishes and spice rack. Then he tells me how much more efficient his arrangement is than the one I’ve been using for the past 37 years!

“If one of my friends stops by for a visit, he participates in our conversation. If I say, ‘We’re going out on the patio,’ he says, ‘I’ll join you.’

When he invites himself I think, ‘Go make your own friends.’

“Because he has more time since he’s retired, he’s always wanting me to invite our children over for dinner. Or he wants me to have friends for dinner and cards. I like our children and friends, but I’m the one who gets stuck with the preparation and most of the clean-up. And I get tired.

“When I go to the grocery store, he wants to go along. Yesterday I was picking out some strawberries, and he said, ‘They look bad.’ So I didn’t buy them, but I thought they looked perfectly fine. When I was getting the broccoli he said, ‘We haven’t had cauliflower in a long time.’ I knew what he was saying. ‘Get cauliflower instead of broccoli.’

“If I go outside to garden, he tells me to come in and take a rest or come in and have lunch. He is not respectful of my routine.

“I was signing up for a course at the botanical garden. When he heard me on the telephone he said, “Sign me up, too.” When I got off the telephone, I thought, ‘I’m getting myself a job.'”

This couple is suffering through a period of adjustment. She’s used to organizing and running the home, having the house to herself part of the time, and deciding her own schedule.

Her husband is probably lonely for companionship and hasn’t figured out how to handle all the additional hours he has recently gained with retirement. Because of his need for interaction and time structure, he’s coat-tailing on his wife’s schedule. It also seems he’s trying to run his wife’s life.

I suggest that this couple decide who is going to run what show. Perhaps he will start being responsible for the cooking on Tuesday and Thursday nights. If he hasn’t cooked in the past, he can sign up for a cooking course. This will give him contact with more people and a new interest and will help fill his time.

I also think a revision of who does what chores around the house is appropriate at this stage.

As to his desire to visit with his wife and her friends, the wife needs to hold steadfast to not always having him join them. This may mean that she will have to gently confront him when he says he’ll accompany them. She might say, “Tom, we need to have some girl talk.”

When a man or even a woman retires, it’s a period of adjustment for many couples. The main thing is for both people to figure out how they would like to live their life on a daily basis and then make a plan. Without a conscious plan, many relationships suffer the retirement blues.

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No one escapes life without pain and suffering. How you deal with the pain makes you who you are.
No one escapes life without pain and disappointment. This is the first noble truth Buddha taught. Life is pain. Life is suffering.

I look around me. Every person I know has had pain — physical pain and emotional pain. The death of a child. A chronic illness. Loss of a mate. Loss of a parent. Affairs. Lost jobs. Divorce. Problems with friends. Financial problems. Betrayals. Law-suits. A difficult child. Alcohol problems. Issues with drugs. Car accidents. Broken bones. Cancer. Infertility. In-law problems. Problems with aging parents. I could fill several books with my friends’ sufferings and ten more with some of the sufferings my clients have had to endure.

Life doesn’t provide us with only big hurts; it also gives us plenty of little thumps and bumps along the way. For example: A child won’t cooperate and do his homework; the toilet stops up; the electrician doesn’t come when you’ve taken off work; your fourteen-year-old “borrows” the family car; your mother is overly critical; a mate rejects you sexually; the refrigerator breaks down; the hot water heater goes out; a friend burns a hole in your furniture and pretends she didn’t do it. This is life.

Some months, some years are better. I sometimes think, “This is good. Everything is fine, only a little suffering these last few months.”

When pain comes into your life, how do you deal with it? Do you get angry? Cry? Withdraw and feel depressed? Put one foot in front of the other and keep on marching? Focus on something new? Obsess and think, “Why me?” and “It’s not fair.” Do you look for insight in reading and talking with others? Do you ask God for help? Do you work with a therapist? Do you push the sadness away by refusing to think about it?

How you deal with your pain is what makes the difference. How you deal with it is what makes you greater or lesser. It makes you the person you are and can become.

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A story of a difficult boss and how someone handles it who doesn’t want to leave her job.

“I loved my boss,” said Marie. “She was respected by everyone. She thought highly of my work. She thought I was smart. Then my boss left the area and I was assigned a new boss. This boss is unbelievably difficult to work with. She acts as though I’m stupid and I can’t do anything right. She’s always on my case about something. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t make some snide remark or send me a memo that implies I’m an imbecile.”

“I like what I do and I don’t want to quit my job, but my job is very stressful because of this woman. The way I cope — I try to ignore her rude comments. Sometimes I get very determined and I put in extra hours trying to please her, to show her what a good worker I am. I tell myself, ‘I’m a good person no matter what she thinks.’ Sometimes I call my sister in the evening and complain to her. I count the people on the job who like me, and once in a while I go to lunch with my old boss, who helps me feel good about myself.”

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When people don’t do what they say they will do, and manifest many passive aggressive behaviors, when do you stop being patient and take action.

Our new wood floor in our living room is popping up along the baseboard. We’re not sure what’s causing the problem. In fact, no one seems to be sure. About eight months ago I called a company to come and give us an estimate to fix the floor.

When the appointment time came, no one arrived. About a half hour later I got a call and the gentleman explained that one of his grandchildren had taken sick, so he couldn’t make the appointment. I said fine, and we set another time.

The next appointment, the fellow was about a half hour late. He looked at the floor, said he could fix it, gave me a bid right there and then, and said he would drop off color samples on Thursday as the floor was also going to be restained. Before he left he asked if he could take some of the wood pieces that had popped up in order to determine why they were buckling.

I hesitated, but then agreed when the fellow reassured me he would be dropping everything off on Thursday — three days from now.

That was eight months ago. The guy never came with the samples and never returned my wood flooring. After numerous telephone calls where he promised to drop the wood off, I finally asked to speak with the president of the company. Imagine my surprise to find that the man I was dealing with was the owner of the company.

About four months into my struggle to get my wood back, the man’s assistant admitted that he had lost the pieces somewhere in his van. I said, “Okay, just make me some new pieces.”

Then one day, one of the saleswomen for the company arrived at our door and wanted another two pieces to determine the right color. She took the two pieces with a promise that all the wood would be back that very week. Thanksgiving passed. Christmas passed. Twelve weeks later I was still making what I considered polite calls requesting my wood planking.

Two weeks ago I woke up on the wrong side. I got out of bed, poured myself coffee, and called the company. I told the person on the other end of the line (poor lady) that I did not have a beef with her, but I wanted my flooring pronto, now, immediately, today. And if I did not get it, I was going to report their bloody company to the better business bureau. In the meantime, I was going to e-mail every developer and builder in the area making known the hassle I was having with this particular floor company.

At ten twenty that morning I got a call telling me I could pick up my samples.

I’ve lived long enough to know that mistakes happen and not everything goes as planned. To get all bent out of shape over every issue is a waste of energy. But sometimes you have to draw the line and move to the position that enough is enough.

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Deciding if you are setting yourself up for disaster.
Victim of circumstance or victim by design?

Mike lost his second-biggest account three months ago. Several weeks later, his 17-year-old son was involved in a serious car accident which resulted in two surgeries, a three-week stay in the hospital, and ongoing physical therapy. One morning on his way to the hospital, Mike’s car died in the middle of the highway. Adding stress to stress, the part the dealer ordered got lost in the mail. That same week a skunk made her home under his house and the pest people couldn’t seem to do much about it despite repeated tries. A few days later, Mike received a letter informing him that his septic tank is located on his neighbor’s property.

On listening to what befell Mike, one of his religious friends proposed that he was being tested. Another friend said, “What’s new? Everyone has chaos, and on a regular basis.” Someone else theorized that people often cause their own crises because they are bored or need an energy boost. Or they may make a crisis to avoid dealing with a more significant issue.

I’m not so sure about being tested. I tend to think catastrophes are random. It’s true, however, that we all seem to have one problem after another. And sometimes we subconsciously make ourselves into victims.

Take, for example, the guy who knows his roof has been leaking for a few years but does nothing until the water starts pouring in one rainy night. Or how about the woman who knows she has a tooth problem but does nothing until one day she finds herself in excruciating pain?

Mike certainly had nothing to do with his son’s accident. I can’t imagine how he might have invited the skunk problem. And the title search when he bought his house didn’t cover the septic tank. I do wonder what kind of warning Mike had that his car was about to give out, but the part being lost in the mail was out of his control.

Moving from Mike to yourself, what troubles, misfortunes, or disasters have befallen you recently? Name three or four.

Did you have any idea they were coming?

Are any of them partly of your own doing?

To avoid becoming a victim, run through the following list of actions. These forecast trouble. Check off any that you are guilty of.

-Driving too fast

-Not having savings to supply extra cash for emergencies

-Trying to provide too much for your children by buying them a car you really can’t afford, loaning them money when you yourself are strapped or signing up for too big a wedding

-Overspending on recreation, clothes, jewelry, home improvements

-Starting a house project when your life is already on fast-forward

-Not paying your quarterly taxes

-Stopping your blood pressure medicine because you feel fine and you don’t like taking it

-Not looking for another job when you know your present one is ending

-Ignoring your child’s poor school performance and his lack of respect for curfew

-Entertaining the idea of having an affair or actually having one

-Trying to wing a presentation or failing to study for a test

If you find yourself heading for trouble, change lanes, put on the brake, take a different route. Not all disasters can be avoided. But don’t be a victim by design.

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