Category: Tools

How to Tolerate Uncertainty When Waiting

[this article was originally written for Puttylike]

Ding. You’ve Got Mail.

Later, you will think, “I really ought to turn off that notification. It’s not 1997.” But right now, other things are on your mind. Your throat is tight, your heart is thumping, and you’re nervously staring at that bold subject line which has appeared on the screen:

Result of Your Application

This is it. The answer you’ve been waiting for. After all that effort of studying, applying, working, interviewing, it’s time to discover if you’ve succeeded… or failed.

If you can bear to click, of course.

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A Simple Trick to Sidestep Self-Criticism

[this article was originally written for Puttylike]

Sometimes I’m ashamed to share my work. You might think that’s understandable (particularly if you’ve been exposed to many of my posts before!) but this isn’t just a healthy sense of shame at my evident limitations. 

Often, it’s fear of my own unoriginality. That inner voice of shame tells me to scrap my work, and to only return when I’ve finally created something truly original.

It’s hard not to listen to that voice, but over the years of living with it I’ve developed a technique that helps me to manage it when it speaks up. And I call this technique the Absurdity Principle.*

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Self-Esteem, Self-Confidence and Anxiety

Just something I’ve been thinking about…

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The 3 Ways My Ideas Die

ideas by emiliokuffer, on Flickr

Original Photo © Emilio Kuffer, emiliokuffer on Flickr.
CC BY-SA 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Sometimes I grow tired of the constant hum of random failure. Most of my dreams end up as flops. I’m sure I’m not alone in this—we all struggle with the guilt of not finishing from time to time.

It might be unambitious, but occasionally I think it would be nice to fail more predictably, so I’ve been searching for patterns in how my ideas fizzle out. What’s different when I persevere, and when I don’t?

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A Simple Idea to Help With Repetitive Anxiety

[content: a quick tip for repetitive anxiety]

In the past, I’d regularly get trapped in the exact same worry over and over.

Often, it would be health anxiety. For example, I’d experience a symptom of some kind. And I’d immediately imagine that this symptom was coming from the worst possible cause. Perhaps a pain would be in my leg, and I’d think “that’s a blood clot, travelling to my lungs to kill me”.

For the rest of the day—week? month?—I’d struggle to concentrate on anything else, constantly fighting to keep my attention from the impending doom.

After years of living through this exact cycle, I realised I wasn’t learning anything. It was just the same thing, over and over and over again.

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How to Recover After a Setback

wer glaubt dass schweigen probleme löst by Daniel Wehner, on Flickr

Original Photo © Daniel Wehner, Daniel Wehner on Flickr.
CC BY 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

This year I’ve experienced a constant stream of setbacks, of varying degrees of seriousness: minor administrative life hassle, major family tragedy, missed career opportunities, painful emotional entanglements, idiotic breakages, unexpected financial demands.

At times, it’s felt as if the universe was sending me regular doses of deliberate punishment.

Each problem on its own wouldn’t be so bad. Especially since I recognise that I’m actually pretty lucky—I have my life mostly together, along with strong coping strategies and a solid support network.

But when problems come thick and fast—and, this year, another one kept appearing before I’d had time to process the last one—it can be too much for anyone to handle. When you’re already struggling, the smallest setback can tip the scales and dump thousands of final straws onto the camel’s back*.

*with hindsight, putting all those straws on scales above a camel was an avoidable mistake

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Exhausted and Unproductive? This Might Help

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

As a kid, I never understood why adults were so slow. Surely it would be more natural to run around and bounce and clamber – what was wrong with them? Why were all adults so lazy?!

Now I’m (allegedly) an adult, I get it: We’re not lazy… we’re just exhausted.

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You Probably Need to Do This One Thing More Often

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Do your attempts to be kind to yourself ever backfire?

I’ve noticed lately that my moments of self-generosity are occasionally actively unhelpful to me:

“Fine, I’ll watch another episode.”

“I’ve worked hard, I don’t need to exercise today.”

“If I eat a second dessert… then I can free up the time that I would have spent eating it later! Genius.”

None of these things are bad, of course. (In fact, I am a tremendous fan of being entertained, resting and eating sweet treats –  and I’m even happy to multitask all three, if necessary.)

However, there’s a common theme here:

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I’m Anxious – What Do I Do Now?

Confusion by QuinnDombrowski, on Flickr

Original Photo © Quinn Dombrowski, QuinnDombrowski on Flickr.
CC BY-SA 2.0

Quite often, I get asked “what should someone do after they realise they’re anxious?”

There’s no definitive answer to that question – every person and every situation is different, so it’s impossible to give one-size-fits-all advice.

But there are a few ideas which might help someone figure out the next step for them…

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It Might Not Matter “Why” We’re Anxious

good question by e-magic, on Flickr

Original Photo © Eric, emagic on Flickr.
CC BY-ND 2.0

At my most anxious, I spent a LOT of time asking “why”.

If only I understood the reason for my anxiety – if I could understand it, explain it – then I could solve it.

But this was just a distraction. In fact, it made things worse.

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