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Vote and Let Go

It’s your duty to vote. Once you have done your duty, you need to move on. The election probably didn’t come out exactly the way you hoped. It never does. But it is unproductive to worry about what will happen next. You make your voice heard at the ballot box, and then you leave the people elected to get on with their job.

I am happy that people are fighting to make the world a better place through political campaigning. But it is a demanding task full of struggle, bad arguments and dirty tricks. If you suffer from emotional trauma, you need to take care of yourself and let others do the political fighting between elections. You’ve done your part.

Fight Bullying by Giving Credit

Bullies are not high performers. But it might look that way. An article on workplace bullying in the Harvard Business Review explains how star performers are often targets. The purpose of this kind of bullying is for the bully to take credit for the victim’s achievements. In an organization with bad leadership, they sometimes succeed. If that happens, the bully is unfortunately considered a valuable high performer and is even less likely to face consequences.

You can fight this kind of bullying by working to create an appreciative environment. Whenever there is an opportunity, publicly thank your colleagues for their good work. This creates a workplace where others will also praise your work. Once everybody is happy to give credit where it is due, the bully has nothing to steal and will often leave the team.

Increase Your Positive Thinking

Today you’re only supposed to think positive thoughts – September 13th is Positive Thinking Day. The idea of such a day seems ridiculous – what if your car breaks down or your train is canceled? But the deeper reason behind it makes excellent sense.

We are bombarded with negative messages. Advertisers want us to be unhappy and promise that if only we bought their product, we would become happy. News media focus on bad news because more people click on those stories.

To avoid sinking into despair, you need to fight back. It’s all well and good to celebrate Positive Thinking Day. But it’s better to create a habit of explicitly looking for the positive each day. Spend a few moments before bed to review your day and find something positive that happened. It will improve your mood – and your sleep.

To Fight Climate Anxiety, Do Something

You can do something to improve the world. It is important for your physical and mental health that you feel you make a difference.

Climate worries are on everybody’s mind here in Europe as we suffer record temperatures and our rivers dry out. A big survey of young people found 45% saying that their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning. Adults with traumatic experiences like bullying or other abuse often have similar feelings.

You can break this feeling and reclaim your life by doing something to fight the thing you worry about. You don’t need to save the world by yourself, but you need to make an effort. You might save energy by driving less, buying vintage clothes instead of new ones, or volunteering in a climate-related charity. When you wrap up your day before going to bed, remind yourself of a situation where you made your own effort to fight climate change.

There is a very big difference between doing nothing and doing something.

Are You Catastrophizing?

Are you Catastrophizing? I didn’t know that word until recently, but I have met clients with this behavior. People who catastrophize imagine a lot of problems, even the most unlikely. For some, this condition places significant limitations on their lives.

The first step in fighting this is to become aware of the mechanism. When you are in a safe place and have time to think, consider which things you have recently decided not to do. Reflect on the reason you said no. If you find that you had a good reason, fine. You are rationally careful. If you no longer think saying no was necessary, then imagine a similar situation in the future. Imagine saying yes. That prepares you and lessens the risk of catastrophizing.

Could you Unplug for 24 Hours?

August 6th, 2022, is the 3rd Global Day of Unplugging. When you read this, think about if you can put your phone down and stay offline for 24 hours. Many people think they can, but few people have the willpower. Are you up to the challenge? #globaldayofunplugging 

Get Rid of Some Stuff

I’m feeling inspired to get rid of some stuff. Even though I’m pretty good at decluttering, I still get that feeling every year when I come back from our summer cottage. We don’t feel the weight of all our possessions in our everyday lives. But when we have been away on vacation and have been getting on just fine with only what we could have in a suitcase or backpack, we notice the difference.

We can get some of that holiday feeling by having fewer things. Find some stuff you no longer need and recycle or donate it.

The No Shopping Challenge

Amazon has issued its yearly challenge to the world. It’s a game, and it’s called Amazon Prime Day. You lose if you buy one of Amazon’s “exceptional” deals. You win if you don’t buy anything.

They are using every psychological trick in the book, including inflated “before” prices that just happened to go up one week ago, so that they can offer a huge discount today. If you want to challenge yourself, go to their website. If you want to win the game, stay off the internet as much as you can for the next two days.

You need less stuff, not more.

Reprogram Your Brain

Are you using your brain right? The human brain has two thinking systems: A fast system and a slow system. The slow system is for carefully considering situations, and it uses a lot of energy. The fast system provides quick answers in routine situations and uses much less energy.

Our brains have evolved over thousands of years to automatically select which system to use. In every situation, the fast system gets the first try. In 98% of all cases, the fast system comes up with what it thinks is a good answer, and doesn’t even ask the slow system.

Fortunately, you can use the slow system to re-program the fast system. To change your behavior, think about a situation in advance and tell yourself what you want to happen. Your fast system might automatically say yes when your boss asks you to do one more thing today. Tell yourself that next time, you will say that you will do the task tomorrow. Simply stating your goal tells your fast thinking system that the automatic response is no longer the right answer.

Talk Nicely to Yourself

How do you talk to yourself? When our actions lead to bad outcomes, we blame ourselves. That is OK if it leads us to reflect on our behavior and do better next time.

But the language we use when we blame ourselves is sometimes much worse than we would ever use with other people. If a colleague makes a mistake, we don’t call her stupid. But we might call ourselves stupid. Don’t do that. Talk to yourself at least as politely as you talk to others.