Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Photo by Jordan Stead, KlipsunMagazine.com

Photo by Jordan Stead, KlipsunMagazine.com

Listen, there comes a point in a relationship when you just can’t ignore the signs that it’s time to end it. This is the time. My happiness and love have been tainted by the disappointment and pain you have caused. I won’t allow you to hurt me anymore and so we’re breaking up. Let me be clear, this is not an easy decision for me. If I’m being honest, there is a part of me that hopes that this is just a temporary break up, and that we will find a way to get back together. But, all my friends are telling me that this is for the best, that I cannot ignore the pain you have caused, and that I should say goodbye for good.

 

How could this have happened? Our relationship seemed perfect. For so many years, you have been the constant in my life. You were always there for me when I needed you the most. You made every birthday, celebration and holiday special. I loved our weekends when it was just you and I in the kitchen. We created some wonderful magic. I will miss that, oh my God, I don’t know how I will go on! Oh Gluten, why does it have to be this way??

 

But, our break up is for the best. I have to be strong, not just for myself, but for my vulnerable and innocent digestive tract. I put up with what you did to my skin, but I draw the line when it comes to my poor tummy. How could you be so cruel? It was easy to trust you because you always knew how to make me happy, at every meal, and every snack in between. Now, I am just angry that you could turn on me like this.

 

That’s it. I want every trace of you out of my house. Girls Scout cookies, crackers, newly opened cereal, oatmeal, that 5-lb. bag of flour, it all has to go. No, don’t try to play the victim and say that it’s my fault. I know that it’s really the age thing – you think I’m getting too old for you. Hah! Well, there’s plenty many more fish in the sea, like rice flour, brown rice bread, and corn. You know, I’ve had a thing for corn all these years. Now, I can take my flirtation with corn to a whole new level. So bye, bye Mr.Wheat, Barley, Smelt, or whatever alias you’re using these days. Who needs you?!

 

Friends, as triumphant as I feel right now, I know what’s coming. At the end of all long-term relationships there is a period of adjustment that includes feeling really bummed. I know I will feel depressed, and even blame myself. Worst of all, I will have to face Gluten at every turn – at every restaurant and supermarket, in almost every food label – I will be reminded of what we used to have and can no longer be. Perhaps the most difficult challenge will be to smell that aroma that used to drive me wild.

 

If you know of any support groups that will help me stay strong and make this break up with Gluten permanent, please do pass them along.

 

Devastatedly Yours & Much Love,

 

 

Talk or Fight? We Decide

(Please take 5 minutes to respond to this survey about mentoring. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LWZS6BL Thank you!)

My husband and I had a big fight a few weeks ago. Well, actually, it wasn’t the duration or the issue of the fight that was big, it was the magnitude of my anger. I remember the moment. It’s like when you know you’re going to burp and you feel the gas bubbles coming up through the middle of your body just before it comes out of your mouth. That’s how the anger started. As my husband was speaking to me, I remember feeling the anger beginning to bubble in the middle of my body. I made the split-second decision to allow the anger to explode versus just letting the comment wash over me. My husband was pushing a button, and he knew it. I knew it too, but I chose to let the anger take over.Now I was heated. My head and heart were pounding and I heard myself raising my voice. I became so upset, and so determined on defending my position that I lost my appetite and was silently fuming for the rest of the night. The next day was no better. I was at work and I felt tired, sad and angry. It took a few days for me to recover from that episode.

When I spoke to my mom about this she had some advice for me. She said that I should have let the comments go by instead of latching on to them. She offered strategies. Counting, deep breathing, ignoring the words, and staying calm were the actions I should have taken, according to mom. By the way, this is the same woman who argued with her husband all day long, every single day of my life. Just before my dad passed away, my mom discovered a Zen way of managing crucial conversations. Basically, when my dad pushed her buttons, she would ignore him and calmly say, “why are you yelling, I’m not yelling at you am I?” According to her this worked like magic and my dad would stop his ranting, at least for a little while.

As I was listening to my mom’s advice I was thinking defensively. How can I just roll over every time he decides he wants to make hurtful comments? Isn’t it enough that I am giving in 4 out of 5 times? Isn’t worse if I repress my emotions? But, I also wanted to know, who can possibly have this kind of composure when someone is deliberately trying to make you angry? My defensive self wanted to ask her these questions. Instead I listened and tried to take mental notes.

I am reading Critical Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. I am less than half-way through it and I am still having a difficult time believing that I can have that level of self awareness, composure and elegance to guide a difficult conversation away from anger and towards productive dialogue. The examples provided in the book to demonstrate some of the principles seem completely unrealistic to me. I feel I would have to be Mr. Spock to do this! Yet, I am willing to try.

So far, the principle I have found most helpful is to stay focused on what you really want. This requires examining my motives and being clear as to why I am having the conversation. So, let’s see how that would have worked in my recent fight with my husband.

It started when I realized I had missed the deadline for a refund on my car’s warranty. I was upset with myself for having procrastinated and now it was 5 days too late. I told my husband and was contrite about it. However, my real motive for the conversation was to hear him say that it was okay and that he understood, so then, I could forgive myself. But of course, he didn’t react that way at all. He became angry and it made me even more upset. The conversation took a turn for the worse when he enumerated his views as to why I had missed the deadline. This is how the fight came about.

Had I been able to remain focused on what I really wanted from the conversation, the outcome could have been much different. If I wanted his acceptance of the situation and his understanding, I would have redirected the conversation back to the truth. If I had said, “Cariño, I screwed up. I am sorry, can you please forgive me?” I don’t think that things would have escalated to where they did.

The stupid and unimportant things that lead to anger are never what the fight is really about. More than likely what it is really about is our need to feel loved, accepted and valued for who we are. Being aware of our true motives behind every crucial conversation is key to dealing with anger.

How do you deal with crucial conversations? Any advice?

Much Love,

A Workshop That Demystifies Mentoring

MentoringI am very excited to be presenting a mentoring workshop next month! The workshop will be on March 16th and will be held in Washington, DC. Being a mentor or having mentor are self-development activities that help us to move along an invisible continuum of career progression and personal growth. I have been fortunate to have several “informal” mentors in my life who have coached me, given me advise, and shared their life’s lessons with me. The mentoring relationship was informal because we never called it “mentoring”; we didn’t complete forms, nor did we have a set schedule to meet and talk. My mentors were just there when I called them, or were there for me to learn from every day. Equally rewarding are the relationships I have with the people that I mentor. Mentoring has challenged me to listen with my gut, to address concerns that might be below the surface.

Mentoring has evolved, and rightfully so. The workplace is complex, careers move faster and are more competitive, and our lives are consumed by work 24-7. I think that mentors today, offer something new. Today’s mentors must offer a certain kind of grounding – like the black wire that keeps us from getting fried when we turn on the light. Mentors can provide that home-base perspective and remind us that there are things that are much more important than work.

Whenever women in business get together, the subject of work-life balance is sure to come up. How do you find balance? How do you advance your career without sacrificing your kids, relationships, health, lifestyle? I am so over those questions. Perhaps the questions we should be asking are, what are the top two or three things I should be devoting most of energy to right now? What am I willing to give up to work on those three things? And, for how long am I willing to give them up? A mentor can be that important sounding board in making those choices, and the voice of reason when we are taking on too much.

Now I need your help. I am asking my readers who have a mentor, mentors, or had a mentor at one point to please take a few minutes to complete this 10-question survey about mentoring. Here is the link:

<a href=”http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LWZS6BL”>Click here to take survey</a>

or, that one does not work,  try this one: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LWZS6BL

Your responses will help guide the topics of the workshop. Thank you so much!

Much Love,

Winning isn’t everything, but if you lose you may die first

This Silver medalist did not hide her disppointment

This Silver medalist did not hide her disappointment

Winning is not everything, they say, but it sure does feel –  how can I say – amazing! Do you know what doesn’t feel good? Losing. Losing and pretending that you’re okay with losing is horrible. But, as adults, we have learned to hide that awful feeling. Nobody likes to see a sore loser. Athletes who show a bad attitude after a loss are judged and pointed at by us, the spectators, who say, “hey buddy,suck it up, don’t be a sore loser.” I like watching tennis. After,  the final match resulted in a clear winner, I was so impressed by the eloquence and graciousness of the man or woman who did not win. But, after watching several different athletic competitions I realized that all players must go through some sort of loser training so that their true feelings are not expressed. Yes, players looked disappointed but they spoke with the same eloquence and graciousness about their matches. The formula goes like this: they talk about how hard they tried, and that at some moment they thought they might be able to turn it around, but that their opponent had played extraordinarily well, and they hoped that they would play better next time. Yeah, yeah. I wish the cameras would follow them home so we could watch them kick the wall, sulk on the sofa and pull at their hair because they really really really wanted to win.And, who doesn’t’ like to win? If you have ever won anything, as a professional athlete, as a speller at your 8th grade spelling bee, as a casual gambler, a candidate for office, or as an avid fan of video games, you know the sweet sensation of winning. You feel like you’re on top of the world! Even if we don’t get that many win or lose situations in our lives, we experience the same highs of winning when we root for our favorite teams.  And, just like the athletes, we will scream and jump, maybe even cry with elation when “we” win. But if “we” lose, we also experience deep disappointment, anger, maybe even cry and feel awful for a few hours.

I had that feeling this week. I was part of a team that was nominated for an award. The odds of our team winning were pretty good. I thought our program and presentation were excellent. I remember the moment before the announcement was made. The room went absolutely still. It seemed everyone was holding their breath. Then, as the announcer began to describe the team that won, the room started to breathe again. Shoulders sagged, there was a collective slouching and disappointed looks traveled across the tables. At the same time, squeals and nervous laughter were heard from the winning team and pure joy bubbled up from their table. The rest of us sat straight up again, put our adult “I’m okay that we lost” masks on and politely smiled and applauded for the winning team. I was bummed.

I heard about a study that found that people who have won academy awards outlive the people who didn’t win by four years. Nobel prize winners also outlived their non-winning nominees. Athletes who have won major competitions were found to outlive their peers.  Perhaps winners outlive losers because they don’t have to bottle up and hide anger and disappointment. Could it be that our culture of being a good loser depletes our heath and shortens our lifespan? What’s wrong with letting out our frustration, as long as we’re not destroying property or hurting anyone? So, if you team loses tonight, try not hiding how horrible you feel.  Let it out and release the pain of losing. Then go back to being eloquent and gracious.

Gotta go watch the superbowl! I hope my team wins.

Much Love,