Denial: Are You Seeing the Big Picture?

“You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. You will find peace not in denial, but in victory. “-J. Donald Walters

Denial is one of those defense mechanisms that can help or hurt you. There’s a fine line between working at accepting a circumstance and just plain ignoring the problem exists. Denial can truly contribute to your stress level by blocking that there is a problem at all. This can leave you looking at life with blinders on, only seeing what you want to see. It can truly be impossible then to make decisions about stressful situations in your best interest.

Denial can be helpful during traumatic situations, such as a death of someone you know, job loss, or some other sudden upset that jolts your life. It allows you to move from a place of shock to acceptance without experiencing stress overload. Denial can, however prevent you from seeing the whole truth. You see only what you want to see. This is where denial prevents you from seeing the big picture or the consequences of your decisions.

As an extreme example, an alcoholic wants that next drink so badly that it doesn’t matter about what happens next. It’s far more important to numb out than think about the warnings the doctor has told them about their health. The next quick fix to feel better is far more important.

The present moment is distorted by an obsessed drive to get your needs immediately met. It’s as if an artist only painted a corner of the canvas.

I watched an episode of Hoarders a few weeks back. A woman and her son lived in a home filled with waste. The saddest part was that she was also dying of cancer and chose to not seek treatment. Her denial was so great that she was driving her family away when she needed them the most.

“Doubt, indulged and cherished, is in danger of becoming denial; but if honest, and bent on thorough investigation, it may soon lead to full establishment of the truth.”-Ambrose Bierce

The truth is not seen when twisted by denial. These extreme examples are to drive home the point of how deadly denial can be in people’s lives. But denial can live in your life at different levels of intensity. How is this defense mechanism affecting you?

Begin by picking one stressful circumstance and ask the following questions:

•    What warning signs in your life show that there is a problem?

•    Where are you in dealing with this stressful problem?

•    What support can you get to come up with a plan?

Taking action is so important when dealing with stress. But seeing the big picture and as many facts as possible about the situation can help you cope effectively.


Procrastination: Getting Around To a Better Life

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”–Napoleon Hill 

The first time I ever saw a “Round Tuit” was in the seventh grade. My sister-in-law gave me a round piece of paper that “This is a Round Tuit.” I’ll have to say I just didn’t get it at age 12. But I certainly had all of the signs of a procrastinator. I carried the “Round Tuit” for several years after that and even hung it on my bulletin board in college. It was still a cute, funny saying as far as I was concerned.

I had a pretty good idea of what procrastination was during my internships but was really in for an eye opener when I got my first job. Yes, being a procrastinator in the real world was a little shocking. I soon found out there were real consequences to putting things off. There were still bills to pay, work to finish and responsibilities to keep.

The biggest thing I began to see was I had to finish what I put off anyhow, whether I liked it or not.

But it didn’t stop me from continuing to put things off. The fine art of worrying became a habit and not so great companion. Worrying kept me awake at 3 am quite a bit. I learned how to play the “what if” game and lived in a lot of fear. I had every possible scenario played out in my mind. The crazy part about worrying was I could have actually finished what needed to be done in the same amount of time. But I made the choice to be miserable instead.

My new friend, named worrying kept my mind busy all of the time. I wasn’t bored and certainly never alone. Now that I think of it, I gave many good years to worrying and sacrificed some opportunities to choose happiness instead. I kept making choices based on my fear instead of living my truth.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  ~Victor Frankl

Fast forward to now… I have created systems to keep moving forward in my personal and business life. I have to keep myself in check and notice when I keep rewriting the same goal over and over on my “to do” list. That’s a huge warning sign that I need to look at why I am not taking action on something that needs to be done.

This might be bold but I learned procrastination was selfish. I spent so much time cooking in my own drama that I didn’t give myself a chance to grow. As a result, I wasn’t able to share the gifts I had been given back to others.

Maybe by now there are some things that you can relate to in this post. Comment below about your experiences with procrastination.

The Clutter Connection: Reorganize Your Room and Your Mind

"We are built to conquer environment, solve problems, achieve goals, and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve." – Maxwell Maltz

A few weeks ago I decided to reorganize the kitchen. It seemed like a pretty simple project when I made a decision to get the job done. But I ended up having to solve many problems as I cleaned out drawers and cupboards. It hit me…this is no different than solving difficult problems in everyday life

The level of clutter in my kitchen was so stressful. It seemed like I was spending more time looking for utensils, pans and food than I was actually cooking. The kitchen disorganization just drained all of the fun out of making meals. The result was less healthy food choices, eating out and spending little time cooking, which is something I love to do.

It’s easy to get stuck, spin your wheels and do nothing at all when your life is cluttered.

And, in this case it was far too easy to fall back into old habits and not eat right. Sound familiar? The fact of the matter is I was making poor food choices and causing my body more stress. Let’s take a look at how solving mind clutter is so much like solving stuff clutter:

Decide what you want to do. This is sometimes easier said than done. In the middle of stress, the main focus is getting away from the pain of the problem. The chemical changes that happen inside of the body when your stressed makes it difficult to see all of the options. Most of us have a fuzzy idea of where we are and the direction you are heading. This make the frenzy of getting out of a stressful situation that much harder.

So, my goal was to organize the kitchen to make cooking fun and functional. I didn’t have a plan but I knew the current set-up stressed me out. I couldn’t find what I wanted or needed to cook or serve food. I wanted to make the kitchen fun to use!

Sort through what you need. Sorting through choices can be sometimes impossible, especially when you’re stressed. There can be so many ways to solve the problem; but which option is the best? Remember the Johnny Carson character Carnac the Magnificent? It would be wonderful to know when you made a specific decision that you knew how things were going to turn out.  But that’s not exactly how life works. The crazy part about stress is you can easily overlook that you have what you need to kick your problems to the curb

There were piles of dishes pots and pans to sort through. I had to figure out just what I needed. Seriously, did I need five sets of tongs? It’s amazing how many utensils or even food items you continue to buy without checking to see what you already have. So many times you have exactly what you need without going out and looking for it. I had to put the kitchen back together in a practical, easy-to-use system.


Act on your decision. Clutter on the outside can be a reflection of how you feel on this inside. Clearing away what makes you stressed and living your priorities make the day easier to deal with. Sure, you are going to hit tough times. But clearing your internal clutter can begin by setting priorities and making choices about what matters most.



Mission accomplished! I was able to plan and organize meals with ease. Everything I needed to cook was at my fingertip. My priorities were clear about meal planning and I dived right into doing what I loved most; cooking healthy meals.




Remodeling the kitchen is a work in progress, just like learning new ways to deal with the the stress of internal clutter.



What kind of inside clutter blocks you from doing what you want?  Write your comments below.

Common Misperceptions People Make When Under Stress

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. William James

Stress can become so overwhelming on top of juggling work, home and family. It always seems like when one stressful thing happens there is more problems to follow. Routines that worked seemed to work so well go out the window. Your whole focus is how to control the chaotic situations around you, searching for balance that was there just last week. Chasing that perfect balance causes even a higher level of stress. But our minds think if you shuffle around one more thing everything will be all right.

The toughest thing to do when you are stressed is to stop and take a look at the troubles you are facing. The fear is losing control over everything in your life. Stopping to take a breath in the midst of stressful times is the very best thing you can do for yourself. You give yourself the space to see your problems in a different light.

Let’s talk about three thinking errors common to people with stress:

You are your worst critic. Sometimes you don’t have to look very far for an opinion on how you’re handing problems. Critical thoughts can blur your mind, such as, “Why didn’t I do it that way?”  or “I am so stupid.” Picking on yourself can help keep you caught in chronic stress.

Ask yourself how you would treat someone you love during stress-filled times. Would you listen and give them support? Would you comfort them with loving positive words? Turn and give yourself the love you give to others. Believe down deep in your soul that you deserve every ounce of love you can muster up.

Your decisions are based on fear not facts. Fear is a very powerful emotion during stressful times. And while fear may be a helpful emotion when dealing with a life-saving situation, it can block rational thought in making the best decisions during a rough time. Just surviving and getting though the day is all that matters instead of making decisions from a clear mind.

Find strategies to move fear out of your mind and into fact mode. Connect with someone you trust to talk about why you are scared.  Write down your fears on paper or a journal. This will help you get clear about what is fear-based and what is reality-based.

You dream instead of taking action.
Have you ever said “I wish it were Friday,” or “I wish (fill in the blank) wasn’t happening to me…”  We all have dreamed about better days at some time to be anywhere but work or in the midst of a tough situation. However, this thought process can be a distraction instead of taking action about what you really want in life.  

Write down a list of this you want and what is most important to you. Pick just one thing you want more than anything to achieve. Then write down your goal and list at least the reasons why you want it. Now take action while the iron is hot.

Avoiding these three dangers can send you well on your way to reducing stress levels and living your life to the fullest.

How Resentment Blocks Your Peace and Happiness

"Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment."-Dale Carnegie

Holding a grudge can not only zap your energy; it can steal you peace and happiness. Resentment is like a constant smoldering fire lives under the surface of your emotions. The situation that you have felt wronged replays in your head. Sure, it allows you to justify your feelings of anger or sadness but the grudge never lets go. It takes up rental space in your mind and the resentment eventually just sucks the life out of you.

However, the destruction of holding a grudge doesn’t end with you. Resentment eats away at your close relationships and blocks your ability to have an intimate connection with others. In other words, it places stress on your relationship with yourself and others.

To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.  ~William H. Walton

Resentment can come from a recent event, or build over a long period of time. Layers and layers of unhappiness can be refueled with every real or perceived wrongdoing. As a result, the grudge just hurts you with each stuffed negative emotion of sadness, anger or grief. It can be a long slow death of your soul. Holding a grudge can be addictive because what exactly would you do with your time if you let the resentment go?

Signs of Resentment

  • Sarcasm
  • Putting on a front of happiness when you are actually seething inside
  • Short-tempered or very strong reaction to an otherwise small situation
  • Continually bringing up the situation when talking with others
  • Difficulty with getting creative with your work

So what is the reason for the constant smoldering fire of resentment? Refusing to forgive and just let bygones be bygones. That can be easier said than done. Admitting that you are angry or feeling other emotions can be the first action in letting go of resentment. Empowering yourself to really experience your feelings moves you from being a victim to setting yourself free. It’s OK if you don’t know what that might look like. Journal your feelings and get emotional support or counseling if needed in the healing process.

Taking charge of your own emotional situation is so important. The bottom line is that only you have control over your choices. Finding different ways to deal with your anger helps to heal your wounds. For example, choosing to stuff your anger will only perpetuate the bitter feelings, increase your stress and affect your health. Finding and practicing ways to express your resentment and be assertive can empower you.

Some situations may be a little more delicate than others and the acts much more seemingly difficult to forgive. The act of forgiveness actually frees you. It’s not about justifying that what the other person did was acceptable. Living with resentment causes you unhappiness, pain and distraught. Forgiveness allows you to live in the present moment and evict the feelings of resentment that live rent-free in your head.

There are other ways and choices in releasing resentments. You do have choices to heal your wounds and find peace and happiness in your life.

The Gut Check: How Using Intuition Can Reduce Stress

Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out.  ~Michael Burke

Intuition is that gut feeling that you can’t seem to shake. It’s a kind of inner knowing that there is something more to a situation than meets the eye. There’s nothing really logical about intuition. It’s based on your perception and emotions rather than reasoning. These gut instincts come to you quickly and without explanation. So many times, intuition gets ignored or shoved down. Later you might be finding yourself saying “I wished I would have listened to my gut.”

How many instances have you met someone and felt uneasy for no logical reason? There are also stories of mothers who know the instant that their child was in danger or needed help. Yes, there’s a chance that these intuitive moments are totally coincidental. Regardless, there may be some truth to listening to your gut.

Is it worry or intuition?

There is a clear difference between worry and intuition. Worrying is when you start to obsess about a problem over and over. You might lose sleep over that next possible disaster or jump to thinking about the worst-case scenario. Intuition is a little different, in that it’s a hunch that just flits through your mind. When you worry, you get attached to a thought or as if it were the truth. With intuition, you can check out the situation to see there is a chance it would happen. You see, listening to your gut is just another tool to use when trying to plot a course through a problem. You have a choice whether or not to live in the moment, just for today.

Be Quiet and Listen

Life can be so stressful that you barely take a rest or catch your breath during the day. Many times we just don’t listen to information around us to make the best informed choices. Also situations might need quick decision that you might otherwise take your time to sort things out.  It’s so important to stop, breathe and clear your mind when you are overwhelmed. Our brains can only process limited amounts of information at one time. Give yourself space by sitting in a quiet space and just be, whether through meditation or just sitting in a comfortable chair.

Listening can come in other forms, too. When you clear your mind of clutter, you can begin to listen to other things around you. It could be a conversation from someone sitting beside you on a bus or standing in line at the grocery store. Sometimes there’s just one message that clicks and helps the last piece of the puzzle fit together.

Try these suggestions for getting quiet:

• Take a walk, whether in the parking lot or in nature. Walking can help clear your mind. Journal anything important that comes to you.
• Turn off the gadgets, even just for a few minutes. Let the peace and quiet seep into the room.
• Listen to your body. It’s not only a form of self care, but an exercise to get in tune with your physical being.
• Meditation or other relaxation technique.

Trust Yourself

When you second guess your gut instinct for years it becomes easy to push down your inner voice. When you are stressed, it’s easy just to focus on your problem and not sensitive to other activities around you. Trust begins with you. Listen to your instincts, check them out and learn to connect with your gut. You never know if your gut check can help solve you worries.

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