How do we make sense of the incomprehensible?

Can we even begin to do that?  To make human sense of awe-inspiring in the most heart breaking way events like what happened in Moore ,OK yesterday.

Or when your dearest loved one dies too early from cancer?

Or some other throat catching experience that sneaks up on you?

I am not sure I know the right answer for every one, but I have found one for me.

Things are tolerable when you believe that something bigger and greater universally connecting us ALL in the world. That things are OK when you do your best to bring something positive into the world, grandly or discretely, despite circumstances.

You, we all, are charged and challenged to bring something beneficial to the world. Something fine, kind and compassionate. Something drawn from the very best of you.

Even when you think you cannot.

Because you may not feel you can now, but tomorrow, or next week or 7 months from today you will be able to draw from that well-spring deep down in your being.The place where courage and compassion converge. Where hope slumbers and zest develops.

Some of us are made to act in the immediate aftermath of emergencies. Other of us to act in the days weeks and months to come. We need both types of folks. Tragedies may happen in a short moment, but they linger.

And you need to feel there is meaning and purpose in your efforts.  Intuitively we know that’s true.

But sometimes it’s hard to feel like what you do matters in the faces of something so large. And in the face of some many events, Boston, Joplin, Sandy Hook. . .  your flow of compassion can begin to run dry.

In the early 1990’s I was in graduate school and working in HIV/AIDS Service agencies. I did research on the relationship between burnout, grief and meaning among people working in the field.  I confirmed that people who, even a small way, can see how their efforts adding to something bigger greater and good are able to keep hopeful and compassionate, in some of the most heavy, trying circumstances.

Your fine, kind compassionate thing maybe to help round-up supplies to send to Oklahoma. Or to offer your services as a counselor. Or to host a fundraiser.

Or maybe it is to help the man you see in the store parking lot juggling a kid, a cart, in the rain without an umbrella.

Or to sing your grandchild to sleep over the telephone.

And definitely it is to look at the people around you in their eyes smile, and let you know you see them. As my friend Tim says, to choose love.

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Deirdre Danahar works creative professional ready to do their best work without sacrificing their quality of life. She is the owner of InMotion Consulting & Coaching, based in Jackson, MS. Reach her at deirdre@inmotioncc.com.

Do You Know What’s More Powerful Than Self-Esteem?

In our zeal for boosting everyone’s self-esteem we might just be missing an even more powerful capacity for people to develop.

The one that helps you find the guts and perseverance to polish your gems- the traits, talents and skills you have and make you singularly you.

Self-compassion.

With self-compassion you positively relate to yourself without evaluating everything you do and unnecessarily comparing yourself to others.

It’s being kind, caring and understanding with yourself as you would with your closest, dearest friend.

It means being wise enough to know that we humans are all flawed, even the better than average folks, and counting yourself in the human race.

It’s being aware of what happening now, without judging it. Which might be the hardest hurdle for most of us. Since our inner critics like to remind us of all the ways we could, should and ought to be doing, thinking, and feeling.

Make yourself a nice glass of lemonade.

You can be self-compassionate when life just throws you lemons. When your schedule implodes and your washing machine overflows, leaving a sudsy flood stained floor behind. Or when you drop the ball, or do something foolish that makes you cringe thinking about it.

Beating yourself up or pointing out how much better you are than someone else are the easy options.

Pulling up the big girl pants and saying “okay, that was not good, this feels lousy and I am still a good decent person” is the harder option.

Now you might think it would be awfully easy to be soft on yourself- and become self-indulgent. Well that might happen, but from what I have seen in my clients, and what research shows is that likelihood is pretty darn small.

Higher levels of self-compassion are linked to increased optimism, curiosity, happiness, and feeling connected to others.

It’s also linked to lower levels of fear of failure –excellent fuel to keep trying and growing.

And less anxiety -less stress, what’s not to love?

And less rumination, running things over and over and over in your mind- even less stress!

And self-compassion is linked to a desire for your well-being and health AND more internal motivation to make necessary changes in life.

You are not letting yourself off the hook; you are giving yourself a break.

When you give yourself a break you are building up your self-worth that leads to a steady humble confidence less anger and feeling less self-conscious when in public.

And you won’t become a narcissist.

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Deirdre Danahar works creative professional ready to do their best work without sacrificing their quality of life. She is the owner of InMotion Consulting & Coaching, based in Jackson, MS. Reach her at deirdre@inmotioncc.com.

Could You Have Too Much Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem everyone needs it and we work pretty hard to help people achieve it.  And for some good reasons high self-esteem is associated with less depression and anxiety, as well as, with greater happiness and life satisfaction.

But you can have too much of a good thing.

See there is a dark side to high self-esteem.

High self-esteem is strongly correlated with narcissism.

You know at least one tiresome full-of-themselves person.  You don’t want to be that person. Remember what happened to Narcissus?  He disdained the people who loved him and because he was so absorbed admiring his reflection, never leaving it, he died.

More realistically and increasingly common, too much self-esteem can lead to the better-than average effect, the need to feel superior to others just to feel okay about oneself. Turns out most of us are average, and that should be okay.

But NOPE here in the Western world we have managed to make being average -and by that I mean just being you and honestly humbly bring forth the best of you- unacceptable.

No one should feel bad about himself because he’s not exceptional.  Exceptional can also mean freak of nature.

You’re in good company when you are average.

I like to think of “average” as being in good company -all us average folks. What really excites me is seeing people stop turning outward, constantly measuring themselves against someone else and instead, noticing all the gems they have inside and get to polishing those. That’s when the extra-ordinary can take root.

You should feel great about who you are because even if you are “average”. You are still unique; there is not one person EXACTLY LIKE you.  Trite, but true.

We are captivated when we see someone really at ease with whom she is and has the guts to show that to the world. That’s the bright side of self-esteem.

All rights reserved@2013. Deirdre Danahar works creative professional ready to do their best work without sacrificing their quality of life. She is the owner of InMotion Consulting & Coaching, based in Jackson, MS. Reach her at deirdre@inmotioncc.com.

Be you, uniquely. You don’t have to be e

Be you, uniquely.
You don’t have to be exceptional to be successful or find happiness. But you do need to be you, specifically using your best traits – the ones that make you uniquely you- in your work. Softer ones, like kindness, zest and forgiveness, as well as, traits like prudence, creativity and perseverance. Your combination of traits is a treasure trove of strengths, often untapped.

Is Humility Holding You Back?

I have client, Paul, who’s bright, ambitious, a family man, entrepreneur, and very down to earth. In fact he is so down to earth and concerned about not coming off like a pompous jerk that he gets in his own way.

Compliment him on doing something well he’s quick to dismiss it.  When negotiating contracts with clients he’s swift to say “here are all the wonderful amazing things that I can do for you but don’t think that makes me a genius or that means I’m any better than you.”

Of course he’s better than his clients at what he does, that’s why they are hiring him.

When Paul says “but my skills and talents don’t make me better than you” he’s not allowing his most defining traits -the ones that make him really good at what he does and who he is- shine on their own. Inadvertently the message he sends is that he’s questioned his abilities and maybe really isn’t sure he’ll be able to deliver on what he’s promised.

But that’s not actually the case.

He’s apologizing for no good reason.

He is trying to downplay his talents and his finely honed skills to relate to other people and make sure everyone eels comfortable.  The idea that someone might see him as better than they are is just too much to bear so he’s quick to qualify his gifts and downplay them, in place of just letting them stand on their own without comment.

The irony is that he’s holding himself in higher esteem than the other person, maybe not in the front of his mind, but in the back of his mind. The very thing he’s trying to avoid.

When your humility turns into halting self-deprecation it stops being a good thing.

 Many people, maybe even you (I know I did), grow up with the message don’t put yourself on a pedestal or don’t get too big for your britches. Not being a self-centered narcissist is a really fine thing. It keeps you grounded and driving. And it helps you to notice what other people bring to the table. But it can lead to holding yourself back because you don’t want to show off or be perceived that you’re showing off.

Paul’s challenge is to simply own and honor his best traits -the ones that makes him who he is at his very best and the very reason people want to hire him- without apologizing for them or being pompous.  He’ll be humble, respectful and at ease and will make others feel at ease too.

If this is ringing a bell for you, maybe you’re holding back when you should not.  Here’s my challenge for you each day this week practice simply spotting your best traits and when you get to use them what happens. Don’t judge what happens as good or bad just simply notice. See what happens. See what you discover.

I’d love to hear about your experiences on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Deirdre Danahar works creative professional ready to do their best work without sacrificing their quality of life. She is the owner of InMotion Consulting & Coaching, based in Jackson, MS. Reach her at deirdre@inmotioncc.com.