Ask Jan – Coaching Tips for Easy Solutions

Q: I spend most holidays on my own. Don’t mean to sound like a loser but my family is spread out across the country. I don’t have kids, and I am not currently dating anyone.This is usually a recipe for loneliness. Honestly, I can get really bitter and resentful of all those happy holiday types. I am so tired of hearing about how to survive the ‘over-stimulation’ of holiday time. What about those of us who feel forgotten and irrelevant because family time is just not possible?
– Scroogy with a Good Reason

A: You make an excellent point. Many families are far from each other. Financial resources don’t make travel possible. Split families means that many of us do not spend holiday time surrounded in familial confusion. It can be a real challenge to enjoy the ‘family-oriented’ aspect of the holidays when you don’t have a ready-made and available family. But there is good news. Positive

Psychology research indicates that we can generate positive feelings about things quite readily – when we make the effort. Here are a few tricks.

  • Change your standards, and you will change the way you feel. Instead of comparing yourself to the perfect family, compare yourself to the most problematic family you can imagine.   Spending time on your own is preferable to entrapment with a psycho family. Can’t imagine a scenario worse than your own? Try working in the food bank. That’s always a good reality check.
  • Start now to plan your holiday adventures. Even people with many family obligations spend time with their friends. Book now so that your social calendar is full throughout the holiday season.

Ask Jan – Coaching Tips for Easy Solutions

Q: I can’t seem to get out of my brain. I am a deep thinker and when something goes wrong in my life I just get stuck spinning around in my head, asking the same question over and over. Usually the question starts with ‘WHY’. What is going on with me?
– Thanks from Brain Stuck in Chicago

A: The image that pops to my mind is of a dog chasing its tail – forever. If you are going to be stuck in the question asking and answer finding phase, accept it. Clearly this is something that your brain does regardless of your intention not to do it. This is a common issue for cognitively-oriented people and problem-solvers who often believe that if they can just determine the cause of a situation, they can ‘fix’ it or ‘avoid’ it in the future.

You can avoid being pulled into the endless circular loop of questioning, however, by choosing what questions to ask. Instead of asking ‘why’ something occurred, ask ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions such as ‘How could I behave differently?’, ‘What is the learning experience here for me?’ and ‘How did I create the impression that this situation was acceptable to me?’ These questions create possibilities for more effective problem solving since they are directed at raising self-awareness and changing your behaviours.

Ask Jan – Coaching Tips for Easy Solutions

Q: I just started a new job and now my workspace at home is completely out of
control. I can’t throw out the old stuff since it has good memories, and let’s face it, I am a pack rat. But I don’t really have room for the new stuff. Any suggestions?
– Piled High in Idaho

A: Dear Piled High, I am hearing that you have attachment issues – that’s right. You are still attached to the old stuff that no longer is of use to you. This is a common situation, and the main reason why storage boxes were created. If you are not ready to get rid of certain things but need more space, try putting the non-essentials into labelled boxes in your closet or basement.

You can even attach a list of the box contents to the outside of each box to help you find things later. This is a great way of getting stuff out of your way, but keeping it available for later use. This also works when getting divorced – you can temporarily avoid ditching the old stuff until you are really ready to let go of it.

Sometimes finding a ‘temporary home’ for the stuff you are attached to but don’t use is a great way of consciously getting the article out of your space but not breaking the attachment fully. After your neighbour has been temporarily using your dresser for 5 years, you won’t have
any desire to get it back. If you have something that still works but you don’t use
anymore, you may just want to find a new home for it – one where it will be used. Your old but still working printer or cell phone will be greatly appreciated at women’s shelters for example.