Don’t always rush to positive thinking

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Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi on Unsplash

I had a setback recently.

I wouldn’t even describe it as a setback. I had a very busy, fun, and fulfilling summer doing work that I loved. Work that I loved so much that I de-prioritized writing to make more room for it. Work that stimulated my brain and fed my soul.

And next week, that work will be over.

It was never a guarantee that the work would continue past Labor Day. There was always a chance that the contract would end. But I hoped. I dreamed. I believed.

It was not to be.

Believing in a certain outcome that did not come to pass brought up all sorts of feelings for me. Feelings of disappointment and sadness. Anxiety. …

Otherwise it will choose problems that can’t be solved

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Photo by Tom Wheatley on Unsplash

I was trying hard not to lose my sh*t this morning.

It takes a lot for me to lose my cool at this stage of my life. I have a lot of good mental tools that I use to shift perspective when the unexpected happens. And most of the time, I know that flying off the handle never gets me the results that I want.

But this morning, my team made an error related an important work project for the fourth time. For the fourth time we had to reschedule a meeting because someone missed a few key details.

At this point, I had used every tool in my toolbox to manage my own mind. I was all out. The anger and frustration were creeping higher and higher. I spent the morning fixated on what went wrong. My mind working feverishly on the Rubik’s Cube of all that had happened on this project in the past. Looking for some way to undo what had already been done. …

You have to plan to let your mind wander

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Last week was a whopper for me.

It was a convergence of events. My kids’ school year was ending, and we had a lot of unusual events (and a lot of emotions) to manage around that. Plus, I had several different groups of family members in town and staying with us. For completely unrelated reasons. My house was overflowing with unexpected comings and goings, atypical schedules, uncertainty, and general disarray.

I spent most of every day trying to figure out who needed to be where and at what time. And when people would be home and want to eat. And how to serve the smallest number of foods that still covered everyone’s unique dietary needs. …

Here’s how to focus on the things that you actually can control

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Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

I have struggled with the need for control for most of my life.

For a long time, I felt like my life was out of control, out of my hands. Every day, it felt like things happened to me that I didn’t expect or didn’t want. And that filled me with enormous anxiety. So then I tried to control external things — other people, or my physical space. I was trying to get that feeling of control back. But the ways that I was trying to do it never quite accomplished the goal. …

Because researchers have proven that everything takes longer than you think it does

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Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

My college roommate pulled a lot of all-nighters.

She was (and is) a brilliant person, fun and funny.

But she could never figure out how long it would take her to write a paper.

She was a Public Policy major, which meant writing a lot of papers. (I was a Chemistry major. So my paper writing was limited to the one English Literature class I could squeeze into my schedule each semester).

She had to write several big papers per semester for several different classes. They were of varying lengths and required a fair bit of research that had to be done in the library. This was the early 1990’s. …

You don’t have to know all the perfect answers before you start

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Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

I have a new consulting client. Well, one that I’ve worked with before. I enjoy working with the management team. And its a project like many others that I have done in the past.

My first deadline is a few weeks away. Plenty of time. But I know that I need to get started. I know that it is a busy time of year. I have other work projects, and writing, and family life to juggle. And I am not typically a procrastinator.

But I found myself putting off this project all week last week. I had a sense of dread about it. I couldn’t figure out why. But I found every excuse in the book. I found something else to do with every minute that I had planned to work on this project. …

Thinking up new ideas is fun. But you have to execute too.

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Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

I volunteer on the board of an animal rescue organization.

They have an amazing mission. They want to support rescue animals.

Or, at least, that’s part of their mission.

One of the two co-founders is a woman that leads with her heart. She wants to help animals any way that she can. Sometimes it’s by doing Spay & Neuter clinics in remote areas of our state. Sometimes she decides to take in hundreds of pounds of dog food that someone donates. Whether we have a place to store it, or dogs to give it to. …

Nod at the fear and make a choice

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Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

I’m standing at the precipice of a choice.

Anyone else making a decision? A big decision or a little decision. Sometimes it’s not the size that matters. Sometimes the small choices feel exactly the same as the big ones. Terrifying.

There are two paths that I can take. Both of them mean moving forward from this current spot. Both of them mean trying something new. Both of them provide the potential for failure.

Most likely, neither choice will turn out exactly how I expect. And I have very little control over that.

Wow I do not want to make this decision. …

Recognize your power to choose

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Photo by Camila Damásio on Unsplash

I remember the first time that Jennie Barrett invited me over to her house.

We had been in school together for years, Jennie and I. And obviously I knew a lot about her. She was dating one of the cutest boys and was a top player on the lacrosse and field hockey teams. She wandered the halls of our high school surrounded by a pack of girls with shiny straight hair and a practiced, catwalk look on their faces. I was all fidgety shirt adjustments and overflowing backpack. She was in most of my classes. …

And it’s actually a huge relief

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Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

I used to spend a lot of time worrying about how other people judged me.

What I wore, was it appropriate, did it fit right? Did I say too much? Did I say too little? This person must think I’m too intense. And that person must think I’m not very fun.

And the thoughts were worse at certain times. When I was presenting in a work meeting, or when I was out at a social event. It was so distracting and difficult to stay in the present moment. Because I had a whole inner monologue going on in my head. I assumed every facial expression and every comment from others meant something. And there were always specific themes and beliefs. Universal truths about myself that other people surely thought. I’d hone them and shine them like a pretty little marble and then keep them in my pocket. …


Deb Knobelman, PhD

Neuroscience. Wall Street. C-Suite. Parent. Recovering Nervous Nelly.

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