Sunday, December 18, 2011

Believe & Happy Holidays

     It's always the season to Believe; 
Happy Holidays.

Believe in what your heart is saying.
Believe in what you feel inside and
Give your dreams the wings to fly.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,
From me and mine.

Photos by: Renee Rendler-Kaplan

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's In The Journey

It's the Journey,
not the destination.

You probably have heard this one a million times.
But do you really believe it?  Do you live your life this way?

It is the journey that matters most because the destination may always be changing.  Life is really just one big journey with many crossroads along the way, (see last two posts). 

There are times, now and then, when it is quite beneficial to just stop, look around at the beauty in our lives and celebrate how far we have travelled.

Many of us feel these are 'some scary times' we live in. We can be full of fear, insecurity and doubt OR we can choose a different path. A path which will help us move forward on our journey successfully and one where we will find ourselves looking back, only to realize we came through it all, feeling, thinking and doing, 'better' than ever before.

Positive Adaptation is about the journey; a 'better way' of handling whatever potential obstacles cross our paths. I prefer to view them all as opportunities for positive growth. This way of thinking helps motivate me to be ever diligent in challenging myself to become the 'best me' I can possibly be. 

At this crossroad, let us take a moment out, be still, take a deep breath, look around at the beauty in our lives, feel gratitude for all we do have and know in our hearts, WE will be okay.  

Enjoy this quiet, peaceful, resting place. We all deserve a break once in a while. So go ahead.... allow yourself this one.

Until next time....

Photo by: Renee Rendler-Kaplan

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Positive, Healthy Personal Boundaries (Part Two)

Positive, healthy personal boundaries are like fences. They are there to protect us from harm while at the same time, allow us to feel free to be our best selves, find the peace and happiness we seek. However, they are not walls, which are built with the purpose of allowing nothing, (nor anyone), to get in or out. The 'right' boundaries will not serve to isolate us from others, rather, they allow us to fully enjoy positive relationships and situations.

As stated in "Part One", a vital key to keeping balance in your life is found through the process of developing and maintaing healthy personal boundaries in all areas.

Positive Adaptation proposes we become our best selves and enjoy life to the fullest, both personally and professionally. Therefore, making changes to pre-existing, developing and maintaing new, healthier boundaries is one way in which we can achieve this goal.

How to set the best boundaries for yourself:
1. Acknowledge to yourself you have the right to want and need your own set of positive, healthy personal boundaries.
- Remind yourself this is part of any healthy self-care program and enables you to be the best you can be. You are your own person, as defined by you, (not others).

2. Examine where you feel yours are being crossed.
- We usually can feel it. We can get angry, resentful, sometimes sad; we know when something isn't right. The cause is often allowing others to cross our boundaries without our invitation or consent to do so.

3. Trust and believe in you and the boundaries you set.
- Trust and believe in yourself enough to know what you need and want, (or don't), and settle for nothing less.

4. Communicate these boundaries honestly and clearly to all to whom they apply.
- "Say what you mean and mean what you say." Our boundaries can be expressed without hostility. State them when needed and stand by them. (Remember to do the same for others too.)

5. Learn to say, "No", without guilt.
- This is the most difficult one for many of us, I believe. We need to recognize that, (generally, non emergencies), other people's needs and wants are NOT more important than our own.
We cannot take care of anyone else, unless we are taking care of ourselves, first. (For more, read my post titled "Put Your Mask On".)

The most important person who needs to respect your boundaries is You! If you don't take responsibility for them, protect and enforce them, no one else will either. Remember, others have their own which need to be respected as well.

You are seeking progress not perfection. When we reexamine and reset our boundaries we are taking care of and protecting our relationships, with ourselves and others.

Whether it be personal, family or professional relationships or situations, positive, healthy personal boundaries help keep our joy safe and sound.

To your boundaries and joy....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Positive, Healthy Personal Boundaries (Part One)

Learning to set and maintain positive, healthy personal boundaries is one of the most important steps in promoting a better sense of ones' self; self concept, self respect and ultimately communicating this self worth to others.

Practicing Positive Adaptation; 'Think, Feel and Do' your best, become your best so that you may live and enjoy life to the fullest is a wonderful way to achieve the improvement you seek.

Changing our relationship with ourselves and our lives, first, is a critical component to making any long term changes in our relationships with others.

Positive, healthy personal boundaries are a set of physical, emotional and mental limits we establish in order to 1) best protect ourselves from any type of harm 2) Allow healthy people and relationships into our lives while keeping out those that are not and 3) help us express ourselves as the unique individuals that we are, while simultaneously acknowledging and respecting the same in others.

We must learn to recognize that we are all individuals with our own thoughts, feelings, attitudes and values. This means we must also acknowledge the same is true for our spouses, children, friends, coworkers and others. We are all entitled to have our boundaries respected and honored. This is the only way to have healthy relationships, of any sort, in our lives.

It is not possible to have a healthy relationship, of any kind, with someone who has no boundaries nor someone who cannot communicate their needs and wants, directly and honestly. Therefore, learning to set personal boundaries is a vital step in learning to be a good friend to ourselves, as well, as others.

We change and grow as we experience life's transitions. You may have grown up and out of your past and current boundaries, even those which had once been unknown frontiers. It may just be time to reevaluate who you are, (now), who you want to become and in what ways you would like to improve all the relationships in you life.

Promoting new, positive, healthier boundaries is a wonderful place to begin. Remember, it is never to late to establish, reestablish and maintain positive, healthy boundaries for yourself.

Please consider where your boundaries are and where you would like them to be. I will discuss more in depth the how's in: Positive, Healthy Personal Boundaries - Part Two, coming soon.

Until then, consider you have a right and a need for boundaries and so do 'they'.

Photo by: Victoria Baum, (Sidewalk Cafe in Quebec City)

Friday, September 2, 2011

With Change Comes Freedom

The road of positive change leads to renewal, happiness and freedom.

We continually need to make changes, (internally and often externally), to be the best we can be and do the best we can do. Doing so allows us to enjoy and live life to the fullest. With positive change comes happiness and real freedom.

I have written about change in the last several posts because we are in between seasons and change is in the air. The leaves have been changing their colors and now the trees are shedding the old in preparation for renewal in the spring. We are much like leaves and trees.

"Every human has four endowments: self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom...The power to choose, to respond, to change."~ Stephen R. Covey

The change called for may be of learning acceptance, (compromise, not settling), forgiveness, (ourselves and others), improved self care, and/or any of the other suggestions found throughout this blog site. We can make any change necessary, much more comfortably and with greater confidence, than ever before.

Whether personal, professional and/or relational, make the necessary changes. Remain open minded and fearless about becoming your best self. As my friend, Susan Jeffers proposes: "Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway".

There really is no other way. "The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage." ~Thucydides

Try living through Positive Adaptation: 'Think, Feel and Do' differently. Positive change and renewal promote the happiness and freedom we seek.

Begin your renewal today.

* Please go through my archives for more ideas and suggestions on how you can be the best you can be!

Photos by: Renee Rendler-Kaplan

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Begin To Be The Change You Seek - Part 2

The view from the rear view mirror
of the sign in Part 1. If you haven't already,
I suggest you read Part 1 first.

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
~ Maya Angelou

If we are capable and willing to be honest with ourselves, we know when we are not feeling the best we could, being the best we can be and doing the best we can. We know when we are not living and enjoying our lives to the fullest.

When we know this to our core and have a developed a pretty clear sense as to why, the next questions must then become: Now what? What am I going to do about it? Exactly how am I going to make the changes I must to Think, Feel and Do better in the future?

We need a plan, a step by step outline, so we may ultimately achieve the positive changes we seek.

The first and most important step is to determine IF we have the power to make the changes. If the power to successfully achieve positive change is within us, that is one thing. If the cause of our discontentment is someone or something else, outside of us, that is another.

Yet no matter what the source of our sense of unhappiness, please remember, we always have the power to change our attitude toward whatever or whomever is causing us this unhappiness and just how much we let it/them negatively effect us. This is especially true if the real culprit is us.

The Serenity Prayer
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

I often say to my clients and friends, "Yes, this is a simple concept, yet in reality, it is not so easy to do in everyday life." Admittedly, it may not be that easy, but indeed, doable!

Our attitude can and will, alter how we Think, Feel and Do. Negativity begets negativity. Positivity offers us a much greater chance at achieving positive results.

One of the first issues we need to address is the difference between compromise and settling. Compromise is always preferable! Is it realistic to believe you and the other person are both willing and capable to make the necessary changes so that both your wants and needs are met? Is a healthy compromise possible? If so, I say go for it!

On the other hand, settling, defined as, "being willing to accept the unacceptable" I rarely, if ever, recommend to anyone. Settling is certainly not, nor should ever be considered, a long term solution to any of our "problems".

Settling is the road which may have lead us here, to this unhappy place. It most certainly will not lead us to the changes and happiness we seek. In fact, remaining on this old road, more times than not, eventually will lead us to feel even worse, more resentful toward ourselves and others, as no real, acceptable changes have been made. We deserve better than this.

We must make the necessary changes, break old patterns of thought, feeling and actions, learn to compromise and not settle, so that we may create conditions to be ripe for us to Think, Feel and Do, better.

We must try new ways! Take the "Change exit off the old road". This is the path which will lead us to living and enjoying a happier life - one filled with happiness and joy.

We should never settle for less than we are capable of or willing to do. Would you ask your child, spouse or anyone else to settle? I think not, so then why would you ask this of yourself? Ask the best of yourself and you will see and feel positive results.

We must believe we deserve better and then learn to Think, Feel and Do, better. Be the change you seek and you shall find it.

Positive change and greater happiness are just one exit away on the road of life! Take it and begin to be the change you seek! You can Think, Feel and Do better.

More thoughts on how to achieve positive change coming in next posts. I hope you will stay with me on this journey.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

We Are The Change We Seek!

"Be the change you want to see in the world."
~ Gandhi

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person, some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek."
~ Pres. Barack Obama

If you have read my last couple of posts, (especially if you have read several of them), you know I believe this to be true: If you are not feeling your best or believe you could Think, Feel and Do, better, the time for change is now. Positive Adaptation is the key.

I am not suggesting just waking up and quitting your jobs, breaking off relationships or any other type of sudden shift in your life, (except one). However, nor should we just sit and wait for other people, situations or "things" around us to change. These changes may very well not occur, (especially not fast enough or the way we want them to).

What we do have, today, is the power to change ourselves, at anytime. NOTE: Just because that's the way it's always been DOES NOT mean that's the way it always has to be.

This may be a great time to re-read my post entitled "Ruby Slippers" here:

If you can honestly say, (as you are already feeling), you are not as happy as you believe you can be.... then the answer is simple:
The time for change is now! Why not begin your positive changes today?

As a clinician, I often hear, "Well, yes, I want things to change, me to change, BUT...I am scared of it too!" Fair enough, many of us are fearful of change. So maybe, right now, you cannot say, "I want to change!" and mean it 100%. Maybe you are only ready to say, "I want to want to change." That is good enough for now. That too, is a start! With an open mind and heart, time and work, you too will get here. If you can learn to believe in yourself and believe you too deserve to be happy, you will make the necessary changes, eventually.

We can and must work through our fear of change or we will not Think, Feel and Do better! When stated like this, is there really another, better, option?

We need to Think, Feel and Do, (be), differently to find out what type of change we must seek. When we have, eventually we will begin to feel better about ourselves and be better able to enjoy life to the fullest.

First we must think and feel about what, exactly, it is that is not "working" for us right now. Besides not having won the lottery last night, (as money does not buy happiness anyway, it only makes misery more comfortable), we must ask ourselves some important questions. WHY am I not happy and WHAT can I DO to change this?

Are we taking good enough care of ourselves? Do we like/love ourselves as much as we can? Whether it be a relationship or job, or just feeling "stuck" or stagnant in our lives, remember to consider: Is it really them or me who needs to make the changes? Even if you wish they would change, would your making the necessary changes you need at least help your situation? *Again, remember, we cannot change them, ("they" have to be willing and capable of change).

We Can Make Positive Changes in Us and Our Lives!

Of course to achieve true positive change, our goal must be to change ourselves without causing unnecessary or undue pain to anyone else.

Today, let us have the courage to Think and Feel the positive changes we want and need to make in ourselves and our lives today.

Part 2 will be all about the How To's! Once we have a pretty clear idea as to what changes are needed, the question then becomes: Now what? and What are we going to DO about it? We need a plan, a step by step outline, so we may ultimately achieve the changes we seek and also be able to measure how we are doing along the way.

I feel the winds of change in the air. I have the courage, do you? 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Matters Most Is How You See Yourself!

What Matters Most
Is How You See

"No one can make you feel inferior without
 your permission"  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Why then do we, all too often, give our permission and allow others to  make us feel badly about ourselves? Remember, painful as it may be to admit, they are not doing it to us, we are allowing them.  

We are in all types of 'relationships'; be they personal, professional or social, with people who we allow to diminish our own sense of self worth. In fact, we often seem to seek out these 'types'. Why?

We need to be honest with ourselves and identify the patterns of how we let these people into our lives, worse yet, once we realize their toxic effect, allow them to stay. Whether we have done so consciously or unconsciously, out of a sense of duty or obligation, the results are still the same: we feel poorly about ourselves and are unhappy. We must stop seeing ourselves through their eyes and begin to see ourselves as the best person we can be.

I suggest we allow it no more. Now is the time to learn to give ourselves permission to think, feel and do 'better'. This is the essence of 'Positive Adaptation'. Please look at the picture above once more and then you decide who do you want to be, the cat, the lion or a healthy combination of the two.

I am not suggesting that what others think or say to and about us may not offer some valuable insights.  What I am saying is that first we must consider the source. Do they really have our best interests at heart?  If so, wonderful, if not, we ought to stop listening immediately.

We need to discover who we are and who we are not, who we want to become and what are our true needs and wants are.  What will make us think and feel 'better' about ourselves? What can we do to find ourselves living 'happier', more satisfying lives, enjoying mutually satisfying relationships.

It may sound like a daunting task however this is the only way to break our old, unhealthy patterns, once and for all. The answers lie within all of us.

Let us stop giving our permission to others to feel like inferior beings. Instead, let us begin to give permission to ourselves to think, feel and do our way into being the best we know we can be.

FYI: I see myself as both a cat and a lion, it depends on what the situation calls for.  I am adaptable.

What matters most is how you see yourself. Feel free to let me know!

Monday, July 4, 2011

You Can't Please Everyone, So....

"But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see you can't please everyone so ya got to please yourself"
~Ricky Nelson ("Garden Party")

Living life trying to please everyone is not only a daunting task, but is nearly impossible to do and remain healthy, (emotionally and/or physically), simultaneously. Of course we want to make other people happy but it cannot be at our own expense.

Attempting to live your life this way is how one becomes, (or remains), what is commonly know as a "People Pleaser" and is not the way to be your best self, live and enjoy life to the fullest. You cannot please everyone, but we must try to be truly pleased with ourselves. We must learn and continue to understand where 'they' end and 'we' begin.

Utilizing the principles of Positive Adaptation, you can learn to both please yourself and many others as well. We must 'Think, Feel and Do' our way into new, healthier and more realistic life skills.

Saying "No" or "Not now", once in a while, especially when necessary, is healthy. Being a parent has helped me learn this lesson well. Just imagine if we never heard or used the word 'no'. 'No' is a part of teaching, learning and practicing healthy boundaries. How many hot stoves should a child be allowed to put their hands on?

We can not be everything to everyone nor can we do everything, especially at the same time. What we can be and do is our best. This is true for all relationships; including marriage, dating, friendships, parenting, as well as, in the work place.

The truth is everyone may not be happy with us 100% of the time but we must remain true to ourselves. If not, the results will be that WE will be unhappy most of the time!

Take a moment out today when something is asked of you. Please give extra consideration to your answer. Ask yourself: "Is this the answer I really want to give or the answer I feel I am supposed to or need to give as to avoid experiencing rejection or conflict?"

In other words, try Positive Adaptation and 'Think, Feel and Do' differently today. If you feel 'No', 'Not now" or 'I really would rather not.', go ahead, express it, (in the nicest, most respectful fashion, of course).

Others, just as you have, will live through being told 'no' once in awhile. We cannot be the best we can be if we never do. Being a 'people pleaser' is not the way to emotional or physical health and well being.... being the best you can be today is.

'Think, Feel and Do' your best today. Try saying 'no' if that is how you really feel. Remember, you can't please everyone but you must try to be pleased with yourself!

Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

My First Mother's Day - 1994

My father used to say; "May every day be Mother's Day, may roses grow along your way".  Yes, Dad, (and Mom), roses do grow along my way. Now I even stop to smell them!

I have to say, being Jordan's mother has, (and continues to be), the greatest joy of my life!

I invite all of you to joyfully celebrate the day. Whether you are a mother or not, please, celebrate yourselves and those who have helped you along your journey!

The best is yet to come. May you find joy in this day and all the days that follow. I will be right there with you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Maintain Your High Hopes

Who says you can't have high hopes and achieve whatever you set your heart, mind and body to? Robert Kennedy said: "Only those who dare to to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."

Positive Adaptation's three elements; 'Think, Feel and Do' your best are also reflected well in these Ralph Marston quotes:

"Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance, rather, raise your level of performance to meet your expectations."

"Expect the best of yourself and then do what is necessary to make it a reality. Your goals, minus your doubts, equal your reality.

Take a moment to think about some of the strongest, positive, successful people you admire most. What are they famous for thinking, saying and/or doing? 

One that always comes to my mind is John F. Kennedy, (who's campaign song actually was "High Hopes", by Frank Sinatra). JFK asked: "If not now, then when? If not us, then who?"

What the people who came to your mind and you may have in common is their belief in themselves and the fortitude to stay committed to becoming the best they can be, while also helping others do the same, no matter what obstacles may fall in their path.

We, too, are capable of staying positive, strong and becoming successful, (in all areas of our lives). We do not need to lower our expectations below acceptable levels.

We can and will expect the best out of ourselves. We will dare to succeed. We can be happy and live rich, full lives.

So today, try humming the song "High Hopes" and remember, "Next time your found with your chin on the ground, there is a lot to be learned, so look around." Maintain your high hopes, "Your high apple pie in the sky hopes."

Make it a wonderful day!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You Can Choose!

"With all that has happened to you, 
you can either feel sorry for yourself,
or treat all that has happened, as gifts. 
Everything is either an opportunity to grow 
or an obstacle to keep you from growing.
You get to choose."

~original author unkown

Sure, we may feel down and negative after things do not turn out the way we had hoped they would. However, in the long run, remaining in this mode only leads us to feeling more like victims.

A friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Susan Jeffers, is the author of, (among many others), Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.  She published a list of key points on how to make better, (even if tougher), choices. 
Today I share with you:

Another great book on how to make better choices is The Right Questions, by Debbie Ford.  Ford outlines "The 10 Right Questions" with clarity while offering a road map on how to and why: "If we want our lives to be different, better, then we must learn to make new choices which will lead us to new actions. These should be based on asking the right questions of ourselves."   When we do as Ford suggests, the chances we will experience better, more positive outcomes, goes way up.

Ford encourages the reader by reminding them that asking these questions "will give you the power and inspiration to consciously create a life you feel good about, one choice at a time."

Like Debbie Ford, I once read a statement by Tony Robbins, that continues to resonate with me today, "Quality questions create a quality life."

The choice is ours! We can choose to view experiences negatively or as opportunities for positive growth which will transform us into survivors!  If we have truly learned something, gained even better coping skills, eventually, we will think, feel and do better the next time.  

Positive growth is about being willing to ask ourselves the, tough, right questions, learning to make the best choices for ourselves and then having the courage to act upon them.

Be assured: I choose positive growth; no matter how difficult the path.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

We all need a little help; someone to lean on, once in a while!

We all need a little help sometimes!

Someone to lean
on and help us get
our feet back
on the ground.

We all can and will need some help, at sometime in our lives. Having people in our lives that we can lean on is important to our over all sense of optimal well being. Consider the words of John Donne: "No man is an island".

We can learn to accept help or "lean" on family, partners, friends and/or the random acts of kindness from strangers. We can learn to welcome and embrace it without becoming dependent on it, (this is the fear or pattern of many).

Why is it that many of us either have such a difficult time asking for help and others of us, so easily expect and rely upon it? For many, disappointment in ourselves and others have formed a brick wall around us. Such negative experiences, events and feelings may have convinced some they need no one. In fact, others' support leaves some people to feel that they cannot negotiate life without others, leaving them uncomfortably vulnerable.

This has always been an interesting phenomenon to me. Maybe the answers lies in how and what we learned as children, how we integrated this into our adult lives and the cumulative effect of previous and more recent disappointments we have experienced.

I believe there is absolutely no shame in asking for or needing help once in a while, especially when it is needed. The real shame is in living totally reliant upon it or being utterly unable or unwilling to ask for and/or receive it.

We must also remember to seek the help we need from those who are capable of doing giving it. If not, we will be setting ourselves up for even more disappointment. We must learn to choose wisely. If we ask someone and they cannot, please leave yourself open to believing that another can and will! Trust me, we, (they), are out there.

As I often write and speak about, (as with many other issues), balance is always the key!

As a national and local responder for the American Red Cross: Disaster Mental Health Team, (in addition to being a licensed mental health clinician in private practice), I have seen thousands of people in need of help.

Let us consider survivors of disasters. Most survivors are willing to accept the material type of help offered; such as food, shelter and clothing, however, there are many less willing to accept, let alone ask for, assistance dealing with their emotional state of well being.

Feeling yourself to be strong is a good thing, however,"help" is not a dirty word nor does it mean the need for it equals weakness. The truth is, we all need a little help, someone to lean on, once in a while. It should not take a major disaster or life alerting event, to be open to the notion of requiring "help".

Lest us not forget....if we, ourselves, cannot ask for or accept help, how then can we be there, fully, for others when they do? Remembering "No man, (or woman), is an island" and be a person who helps others, as well as yourself.  This really is another route to being the best we can be!

Positive Adaptation's proposes that we 'Think Feel and Do' better, become the best you, you can be, live and enjoy life to the fullest.

Let us try to 'Think, Feel and Do' better at being more open to asking for, receiving and being fully present to 'help'. May we learn how to lean on others, (when needed), and become someone who can be leaned upon.


* Thank you to all of my "helpers". Especially DH, RRK, DRK and HK. I only hope I give back as much as I have received.