“Loose ends keep me busy.”
Monday Lisa's Podcast
the audio version of her columns
By Dr. Terry Martin (a.k.a. Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne June 1, 2020
Therapists use the term unfinished business to describe the emotions and memories of unpleasant past experiences a person has avoided or repressed.
When we leave conflict or major tasks unfinished it can leave us feeling off-kilter or struggling to cope and relax.
Someone dies and you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye; a relationship ended but you still have feelings for him or her…you lost your job and keep playing different scenarios in your head about what you could have done differently.
Memories can linger, dwell within our consciousness and hold us back. They lack clarity. We relive experiences over and over and let them eat away at our peace of mind.
By the way, did being in quarantine recently accelerate any thought provoking questions in your mind?
Deal with your past and leave it behind so you can move on to better things. If you don’t you’ll be back where you started. If you want to resolve the unfinished business in your life, you have to start by getting real about what you want and why. Avoid denying yourself the emotional and mental closure you need so you can move on.
Let’s say you’d like to begin a new relationship or gain new experiences, but you keep replaying memories of an event that occurred years ago. Maybe those nagging feelings were never fully processed because they were too overwhelming or traumatic.
In therapy sessions I help patients identify the areas of their life where they’ve become stuck and examine the issues that are keeping them there.
The list of such issues is extensive. Attitudes and thought patterns like anger, resentment, hurt feelings, stereotypes, and prejudices are common issues. Failures, poor decisions, and mistakes frequently surface as well as a poor self-image, feelings of inadequacy and unfulfilled dreams.
When unfinished business hasn’t been put to rest it lingers in a person’s mind and interferes with their ability to be emotionally present.
Human beings find ways to regulate our emotional responses. We dial down our intensity by resorting to things like alcohol abuse, chain smoking, compulsive eating or compulsive spending. Those avoidance techniques compound the problem.
We should let bygones be bygones. But we have a tendency to avoid dealing with unfinished business––business that can be overcome. True joy and happiness is only achieved when we learn how to quiet our minds and that means laying to rest the things in our past that keep us up at night or make it hard to move forward.
If you aren’t taking any action now, chances are you will continue the same way in the future.
Debrief with a therapist. Learn why you invite feelings that interfere with your daily life. You will live life more fully and with greater appreciation than you may have otherwise.
Make peace with your history. It’s hard work, but worth the effort.
See you next week.
by Dr. Terry Martin (a.k.a. Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne
We’ve had terrific feedback about the positive, self-talk messages we send to our friends each week. One gentleman said, “The messages perk me up more than caffeine.”
If you’d like to receive self-talk quotes, text us at 480-322-1955.
This column is a self-talk bonus about negative thinking, a point of view that distorts your perception. But there are effective ways to quiet your inner voice.
Let’s examine a common mistake negative people make. They proudly describe themselves as realists, they hold strong beliefs, yet they can’t possibly confirm them. In reality they are cynics. They question other people’s motives and are self serving until proved otherwise.
That said, cynicism can be a good defense against manipulation and spin. What’s not to love about being skeptical and distrustful when you watch the TV news?
Negative thinking makes people avoid trying new things. Even if they try they give it a half-hearted effort and ultimately quit. Their negativity leads to disappointing outcomes.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t––you’re right.”
What makes all of this scary is adverse thoughts can plague you, even at times when things are going well. For example, if you think that something is too good to last, it will probably wreak havoc on a positive circumstance.
Avoid over-generalizing the negative. Johnny Mercer wrote a song back in the 50s, titled Accentuate the Positive. Part of it went like this:
What did they do just when everything looked so dark?
Man, they said “You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-between.”
Find it on the internet if you need a little encouragement.
If something bad happens unexpectedly, do you over-generalize it? Do you apply that kind of thinking on a day-to-day basis?
Today’s takeaway is this: accentuate the positive. These are unusual times. We are free people. We make judgements for ourselves. Some may be risky, but they are our choice. Be responsible and respectful to others, but protect your boundaries.
Don’t let negative thinking stop you from experiencing positive outcomes. Don't have a mental block that filters out the positives and only lets in thoughts that confirm negative thinking.
Don’t let other people’s skepticism become self-talk for you. Be vigilant and protect yourself. Distinguish between the negativity you imagine and what’s actually happening. Don’t be fooled.
Think about this: People who view the world in a negative light seem to be at increased risk of cognitive decline later in life. Even worse, cynical people who distrust others are three times more likely to develop dementia than those who have more faith in mankind.
Why pay the price? Adjust.
Are You Looking At You?
by Dr. Terry Martin (a.k.a. Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne May 18, 2020
How has your quarantine gone? Have you spent much time reflecting on your feelings? Are you are more conscious of the way you see yourself?
Hopefully, you’ve identified who you are, and evaluated where you are so you can go back to work with a positive state of mind.
Isolation gave us the gift of self-evaluation–there were no distractions. If you used it wisely you have a benchmark for the future.
If not, I urge you to work on your self-awareness, the essential skill for personal and professional development. Without self-awareness you are going nowhere.
Get to know who you are. Define your character, your internal feelings. Clarify what’s important to you. Examine your behavior, the way you conduct yourself. Are you motivated? Do you have drive? Know your limitations and how to address them
Recognize how those factors influence your judgement, decisions and interactions with others. Figure out how your strengths can benefit you.
If you aren’t where you want to be, picture yourself in relation to others. Do you have biases that preclude your understanding and appreciation of coworkers? Do you interact with other people or do you do things alone? Do you share your thoughts and feelings?
Develop a sound self-improvement program. Set appropriate life and career goals. Develop relationships with others. Analyze information before making judgements. Understand the value of diversity. Manage effectively, it will increase your productivity.
Evolving is a process, an evolution that requires discipline and fine-tuning. It’s always a work in progress. You never ‘arrive’...because the process is a journey.
As Socrates once said: “Know thyself.”
See you next week
Death Over Dinner
by Dr. Terry Martin (a.k.a. Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne May 11, 2020
You may find this column is unpleasant because it’s about death, yours in particular.
Please bear with me. This is about a conversation that is better addressed at a dinner table than a hospital.
Michael Hebb founded Death Over Dinner after he learned that seventy-five percent of Americans want to die at home, but only twenty-five percent actually do. He said, “When it comes to talking about terminal illness, or the fact that we’re going to die, or how to make the most of our lives, we are terrible at it.”
He has made a difference. There have been more than one-hundred thousand such dinners and over 20 countries have participated.
As a palliative physician, I know that bringing up a sensitive subject during a meal gets people talking. We don’t often have that opportunity in a hospital or ER setting where family members aren’t calm enough to digest what they are being told.
Death is a subject that’s not taught in school (along with how to succeed in marriage and how to be a parent). People should address death and move past their fear of the inevitable. We know it’s going to happen, but the road is untraveled, unless you’re connected with end-of-life care.
As the COVID-19 quarantine comes to a close we have a much needed opportunity to reconnect with friends and extended family. Think about
arranging a dinner with friends and loved ones. Tell your guests the dinner is about knowing what each person wants at the end of their life so we can support them. Ask them to talk about how they want to be remembered.
When everyone is comfortable spark a conversation about the inevitable and how it’s important for each of us to face our mortality. Ask them to share experiences about how people they’ve known as they went through their final days. Learn what the people you want to honor after death really desire and explain what you desire. Compare it to having a will.
You’ve chosen how to live your life. You’ve written each chapter. Describe how you want it to end, and relieve those you love from unnecessary disruptions.
I know people who write their own obituary and put five bucks in an envelope to cover publication costs. Even if you don’t want it published the information will be helpful when a eulogy is given.
Steve Jobs talked about this quote: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” And if you don’t tell them what you want before you die, you can be sure you won’t get it.
by Dr. Terry Martin (a.k.a. Monday Lisa) and Bob Cayne May 4, 2020
How is your enthusiasm today? Did you awaken with a head of steam, were you raring to go after a good night’s sleep…or were you still in your pajamas at three o’clock in the afternoon?
Enthusiasm breeds confidence. Confidence is a tricky subject that combines attitude, perception and behavior. It means believing in yourself, your state of mind and the way you perceive your ability to accomplish tasks, fulfill duties and cope with challenges. Confidence dictates the way you fit in and interface with people.
When you lack confidence you wear it on your sleeve. Others detect that you lack faith in your beliefs and actions.
So how can you go about gaining confidence?
Well, it can be a reflection of the way you’ve been raised and from the people who touch your life as you go forward. We learn by observing successful people and replicating their skills, attributes and instincts. Watch a successful person’s posture; compare it to yours. No slouching, have you noticed?
Polished verbal skills go a long way toward giving you confidence. The old adage ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’ is worth pondering. Be sure to communicate effectively, both conversationally and in writing.
Are you uncomfortable and nervous in social situations because you feel other people are judging you? That suppresses your confidence and makes you self-conscious, but it’s quite natural. Speaking before a crowd for the first time famously produces flop sweat––particularly when somebody in the front row has their arms crossed daring you to amuse them. First dates and job interviews are also unnerving. Consider overcoming such problems with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Practical experience helps build confidence. The more you work at it, the better you become. That holds true when you are dealt a bad hand. Life is filled with challenges and obstacles. Some you can put to rest, but others are overwhelming. Chronic health problems, require significant adjustment. Accept the truth, even if you have to modify your lifestyle.
Is that easier said than done? In many cases yes, but as we discussed earlier, try to learn from others who cope with similar situations and managed to beat the beast. Some have challenges they were born with, but disability is not who they are. The same should apply to you.
When you know what to expect you will be better prepared and more confident. Remember who you are. As you get things done your progress will foster confidence.
Be resolute with a positive mental attitude. Thinking positive thoughts will improve your confidence and capability.