Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How Not to be a Drama Queen or King

Every office usually has one: a Drama Queen or King. He or she can get everyone stirred up at the simplest of events and is successful at creating drama. In my private practice we call this "Mental Theater." Some people confuse Drama Queens/Kings with Gossips but they aren't the same. (Click here to read my recent quotes in CNN Living about gossiping on the job).

For example, have you ever been in a fight with your spouse and he/she doesn't know it? Or have you ever felt convinced your boss doesn't like you even though there is no concrete evidence? This is mental theater. It's when we create drama in our heads so that it seems an event actually happened. Here are examples of destructive forms of mental theater:

  • In a work environment, a manager may perceive that his boss is upset with him because he doesn't make eye contact with him while they are talking. So the manager proceeds to relate to his boss as if there really is a disagreement.
  • An assistant may believe that a co-worker who is whispering is talking about her behind her back. The assistant then becomes hostile as if there has been a breach of trust.
  • A husband may believe that his wife is having an affair because she is too friendly with the attractive gentleman next door. He then begins to treat her as if she's been unfaithful.

When we only have part of the story, we tend to fill in other parts. It's like putting a puzzle together and when you get stumped you pick up the box to see the picture so you can figure out where the pieces go. But what if you only have half the picture? It's like having half the story.

Ask yourself these 4 questions to work in the Smart Zone and course correct negative drama that can get out of hand.

  1. Is my thinking based on fact?

  2. Does my thinking help me achieve my goal?

  3. Does my thinking help me feel the way I want to feel?

  4. How can I change my mental theater to create a win-win situation?

When I asked my Facebook friends how not to be a Drama Queen or King, Deidra Roe said, "if you truly want to be heard, then stop throwing a temper tantrum and be a civilized, calm adult because no one hears a word you say when you are screaming and ranting."

Keep in mind that YOU are in charge of your own mental theater. When you have only part of a story resist the urge to fill in the blanks. Or use mental theater to your advantage by visualizing your success and filling in the blanks with a positive outcome. Chapter 8 of my book, Working in the Smart Zone, expands on this topic if you would like to learn more.

If you'd like to hear me discuss staying in the Smart Zone and mental theater, listen to the podcast where I was interviewed by Jason Hartman on his Creating Wealth Show.

Speaking of drama, my last electronic newsletter called "Are You Worried about Things You Can't Control?" had a technical glitch in the code and wasn't readable for many of you. Thanks to those of you who notified me! If you'd like to read it I've posted it to my blog.

Bye way, I'd love for you to "like" my Facebook Fan Page or follow me on Twitter!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Are You Worried about Things You Can't Control?

I recently took an informal survey on my Facebook Page and asked what one thing causes my friends the most stress. Guess what the most the most common response was? "Things I can't control."

As I am still recovering from gall bladder surgery and trying to get back to a regular schedule, I'm reminded of what I can't control. A gall bladder attack and subsequent surgery to remove it a few days later was not on my agenda for the month. Worrying about my situation wouldn't have done me any good - but I still managed to worry about all the appointments I would need to reschedule and how I would juggle with kids while I was recovering.

The Swedish proverb is true that worry gives a small thing a big shadow. If you saw me on FOX 4 Good Day last year then you heard me say that "worry is the misuse of imagination." Click here to watch my interview on FOX.

Anxiety is a significant problem for 13% of adults in any given year. Most people tend to act fine, even though they don't "feel" fine, contributing even more to feelings of worry.

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. 40% of people report worrying more now than they did 5 years ago. Most of the time it is for general life events like a final exam (click here for our tips on handling test anxiety), finances after losing a job, a job interview or a teenage child who is 10 minutes late past curfew. When unrealistic, persistent anxiety is a part of everyday life, then it is possible that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may be present. GAD affects 3-4% of the population and can be treated with psychotherapy.

Use these Smart Moves to handle things you can't control:

  • Know the difference between good and bad worry. If you live in a high crime area it's good to worry about being out alone at night. Living in fear that someone with a rare disease will breathe or cough in your face is an unrealistic worry.
  • Focus on what you can control like how many times you smile today, how honest you are, the amount of effort you put into your work, how well you listen, etc. This is an interesting list of 50 things you can control right now. Remember this the next time you are at the airport and your flight is delayed! You can control how you react to this situation.
  • Avoid what-iffing about situations. Stay in the here-and-now.
    Ask yourself, "Is there evidence that I need to worry?" Ask yourself: "Am I trying to control things out of my control?" "On my deathbed will I be glad I worried about this?" "Will this matter to me next year, next month or next week?"

  • Use worry to your advantage. If you've been goofing off and not preparing well for an upcoming project then worry can help you spring into action. But don't let worry be a substitute for taking action.
  • Seek treatment from a professional. Treatment doesn't always mean medication is necessary. If there are significant physiological symptoms and impairment in daily functioning, medication prescribed by a physician with specialized knowledge in the treatment of anxiety can give greater relief quicker than when medication is not used. More importantly, medication can provide the kind of relief and stabilize the anxiety so other forms of treatment are effective long-term. Click here to read my blog post on how to find a good psychologist or psychiatrist and also my handout on how to find a therapist outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Most anxiety is obsessive and repetitive. Telling someone not to worry further encourages that person to keep the worry to him or herself. It's important to learn how to extinguish the anxiety so daily satisfaction can be increased and you can stay in the Smart Zone.

By the way, I'd love for you to join my Facebook Fan Page or follow me on Twitter!