Posts tagged: Understand yourself

Why ‘sorry’ may actually be one of the hardest words


 Elton John, Chicago, Adele, and Justin Bieber all agree that it can be hard to say you’re sorry. What everybody else agrees on is that it can be absolutely infuriating when someone doesn’t apologize when you think they clearly should. Or, instead, when someone delivers one of those patently half-hearted non-apologies.

But if you’ve been on the receiving end of a lackluster apology (or never received an apology at all) for an offense, there might have been more than just stubbornness or selfishness at play.

One reason that some of us resist admitting fault has to do with the fact that apologizing can be a scary thing to do. It forces us to be vulnerable and it gives another person the power to reject our efforts to make something right. “Fear-based thinking leads us to believe that apologies are a sign of weakness,” we
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Why nostalgia is good for your self-esteem


We’re all familiar with that overwhelming sensation that bubbles up whenever we hear a certain song, eat a certain food, or maybe walk down a certain street. It’s that feeling of emotional homesickness, best known as nostalgia.

But nostalgia gets a bad rap. The word itself — a bittersweet combination of nostos (a return home) and algos (the accompanying pain) in Greek — emphasizes the sadness of memory. And for centuries, it’s been labeled a disorder and attributed with negative thinking and depression.

However, researchers have recently come to believe there is more of an upside to nostalgia than a downside. Looking back at your life isn’t just about feeling loss, but also has the potential to deliver a sense of meaning and self-continuity. For example, revisiting old pictures can remind us of memories that are positive; we see ourselves among the networks of friends and family that we’ve built across our lives and we feel rooted.
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Jealousy is a gift — embrace it


We’re raised to think of jealousy as something to avoid. If we’re jealous of someone else’s life, it must mean we aren’t grateful for our own — right?

Jealousy can in fact be a positive emotion, and an opportunity to shift our perspective. When we’re jealous of someone, it’s usually not so much about what they have, but about what we perceive ourselves as not having. As Julia Cameron wrote in her creativity guidebook, “The Artist’s Way”:

Jealousy is always a mask for fear: fear that we aren’t able to get what we want; frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what’s rightfully ours even if we are too frightened to reach for it.

3 questions to ask about your jealousy

The next time you feel yourself becoming jealous, consider it an opportunity to ask yourself:

  1. What am I afraid of?
  2. What do I really want?
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How guilt paralyzes us


Change is hard. Earlier this year, reporter Libby Copeland investigated the science behind why we resist change, and then we asked you to write in with your stories of being stuck. We got fascinating responses, and we are diving deep into one of those stories here. You can go back and read the first four parts, covering how our discomfort with uncertainty, our fear of loss, our habits, and our relationships can get in the way of us making a change.

Lynne emailed us a few months ago because she felt enormously conflicted. At 55, she wanted to start a new life across the country with her second husband, a move that necessitated leaving her small community, her job, and most of her five grown kids. She wanted to go, but she didn’t want to go. “Just when I think I can do this, everything in me wants to scream
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Making decisions in pencil


making decisions in pencil

A few years back, I was at a career crossroads and fortunately had an insightful coach to guide me.

I’d always imagined my life as a chess game where I could see multiple moves out — if I do this, it puts me in position for that, which will ultimately land me at my goal. My crisis was that I no longer saw the chess board and I couldn’t tell how the opportunity I was considering would play out in the long
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I want to stop checking social media, but I can’t


Stop checking social media

It’s 11 p.m., and I can’t stop scrolling through Facebook on my iPhone.

My bedroom is dark. I know better than this. I should be reading, or meditating, or stretching — something relaxing and screen-free before bed.

Instead, I’m scrolling. My thumbs are sore from typing. I want to stop, but I can’t.

Eventually, I snap out of the trance. It takes a lot of willpower, but I force myself to put down my phone. I start to tune in to how tired I am, and as my head touches the pillow, I wonder at the power of a little device to get between me and the rest that I so sorely need.

I’m not alone. And it’s no accident: social media is engineered to be addictive. Some therapists are even offering treatment for social media addiction — and as journalist Sarah Kessler found, our issues with social media are often a
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Why don’t I take my own advice?


Why don't I take my own advice

Giving advice can be easy.

— If it’s really bothering you, just talk to him about it.
— You should make sure to negotiate your salary.
— Definitely get a second opinion.

So why don’t we listen to our own words of wisdom?

— My situation’s more complicated, we think.
— I don’t want to give the wrong impression, we reason.
— I don’t have the time, we explain.

Beneath all this rationalizing is a fear of some sort, and it blocks us from embracing what we know, in our gut, to be the right path forward.

Here are 5 ways to take your own best
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Are you driven by love or fear?


love or fear

Life is complicated — but your motivation isn’t. Without exception, every action we take is motivated either by love or by fear. For example:

• Acting weird around someone we’re not sure about: Fear (What if we don’t get along? I don’t want to feel disliked by someone I don’t really connect with.)

• Offering constructive criticism, even though it makes you sweat: Love (I want this person to do well. I won’t withhold the information he needs to do that.)

• Telling someone it’s okay, even though you think it probably isn’t: Fear (I’m not sure how to tell him otherwise. He might react badly. I don’t want to feel bad about it.)

• Sharing the responsibility for a situation your partner created: Love (I care about improving this situation, for everyone involved. Blaming her for it won’t help change things.)

Whether it’s an everyday quibble (your boyfriend is being difficult) or a really big deal (your
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Why don’t I click with the people around me?


Don't click

Stuck Moment: I don’t know what it is. I like these people, a lot of them are my friends, and there’s nothing wrong with this party. I just feel like no one actually cares if I’m here or not. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I don’t really belong here. I feel so out of sync.

* * *

It’s more common than you might think. We’re living our lives, going out and about in the world, but deep down, we realize something’s missing.

We’re not alone, yet we don’t feel connected. That necessary human bond between us and the people in our lives is tenuous. When we dare to reflect on it, we find ourselves admitting to a kind of loneliness. We don’t feel understood. And we don’t know what to do about it.

Our mothers might tell us to get out more, that we just haven’t met the right people. And maybe so.
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How to start planning when you’d really rather not


What’s the plan?

Well, if you tend to get stuck acting like an Ad Libber, there isn’t one. That’s because, more often than not, things work out for you on the fly. You rely on luck, a quick mind, and the fearlessness to wing it. With minimal effort the world usually works in your favor.

Until it doesn’t. Until that luck you count on stops meaning off-the-cuff charmer and starts requiring a fully prepared person.

Yes, planning is hard. There’s a whole bunch of career disciplines devoted to it, for Pete’s sake. But, on occasion, even the most brilliant of us need to chart out a course before diving in.

Fortunately, not all planning requires spreadsheets and Roman numerals and gobs of research. When your back is against the wall, start by identifying your planning kryptonite — what is it that makes you so adverse to it?

It just so happens that Unstuck’s mini-quiz can
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