Mental health is just as important as physical fitness. There are two sides to mental health, and both are equally important: what weighs heavily on your mind and what puts wind in your sails.

Many of us share common mental stressors – time, money, work, emotions, and relationships. Ironically it can be too little or too much of each of these that causes stress. While we are never going to eliminate stress, we can address what do we do to manage it and its affect on our health.

As many humans as exist in the world, there exists as many combinations of answers to mental health concerns. For most diagnosis, medication and talk therapy has been proven to be the best practice. I am not trained as a mental health professional in any way. The information provided here is simply to be a resource for conversations about what has worked to help manage the stressors above to bring joy and lightness to my life and to hear what works for other. To make the daily grind something not just palatable, but something we can look forward too. Some of these ideas might be meditation, learning, or hobbies.

How to Work Through Self-Sabotage

A draft of this essay sat in my drafts folder for over a year – talk about self-sabotage! I tinkered with it every few months, but could not get it over the finish line. Today I am giving myself the full time I need to work through this message. Here’s the thing – in the effort to get things done, sometimes I focus too much on productive at the expense of sustainable. I wonder if that might ring true for you too.

  • You focus on being the mother doing it all for your kids… at the expense of your relationship with your partner.
  • Time, energy, and finances are directed towards purchasing the house or planning a wedding… at the expense of the life you will be living for the next 50 years.
  • Your effort is used on everyone else… at the expense of not knowing what you really like.

Self-sabotage is usually not a conscious action. Often it creeps into our lives in phases. The actions that we eventually view as self-sabotage can even start out being helpful.

Phase One: It Works…

Before thoughts and behaviors sabotage us, they protect us. They work until they don’t.

Let’s say you are a new mom with a full time job out of the house. You must be a master at putting infant needs first, then compartmentalizing those needs while you are at work. When your baby goes to sleep at night you might start to crack open that compartment, but more likely you have a partner that might have a feeling or thought to run through with you. Or there are chores, errands or other minutiae to wade through.

It may seem like there is precious little time for you to have thoughts and feelings independent of others during this season.

Phase Two: …Until It Doesn’t

Then the season passes, your infant no longer relies on you for survival. However your lizard brain has not gotten the message and you are still in fight, flight or freeze all the time. You still feel uncomfortable having a feeling of your own.

Or more likely, you don’t realize it has been 5 years since you have considered your own thoughts and opinions. You have just piled on more. A raise at work, a side hustle, more activities for your kids (resulting in more logistics for you), returning to school, relocating, volunteering, etc.

All of these things can be good stress, but they are still create pressure and time constraints. They still take up time and space. Before you know it you have created a life you just want to hide from.

Phase Three: Sustainably Productive Adjustments

When I was little my mom taught us that if we were ever lost in a store, we should stand still and she would find us. At least this is what I remember – it might have been an after school special or a Box Car Children book. Regardless, the sentiment is the same. When you feel lost and overwhelmed in chaos, getting still is a good place to start. If you get still you might be able to see a way forward, maybe literal or proverbial sunshine will start to come through the cracks. In order to be able to move past this acute burnout, you need to create space to avoid self-sabotage. Reaction happens when you are butted up against the stressor. Response happens when you have space for discernment.

I want to share three ways making space might look for you, one in each dimension of Sustainable Productivity.

Health & Fitness Dimension – Sleep. I have written about sleep here and here as well as dedicated a podcast episode to it (you can listen here). Sleep is when our body physically and mentally takes out the trash in our bodies. It helps to reboot your systems. If you shortchange this process, you will struggle to make good decisions. For example, if you are committed to healthy eating, but you sleep only five hours a night, self-sabotage creeps in when you pass by Biscuitville. It isn’t willpower, chemical change in your body from being sleep deprived inspire these cravings.

Mental Well-being Dimension – Schedule buffer. In a recent essay I talked about time blocking. I cannot overemphasize the need for buffer time in your schedule. I used to work for a woman who would accept a meeting scheduled to end across town at 9:45 am, then book a meeting with me for 10:00 am. It was physically impossible for her to do both. If you are feeling burned out, schedule buffers can help build in rest. Literally blocking an hour as “Rest” or giving yourself twice the amount of time needed for a task or adding time at the end of a meeting to do your notes and follow ups. Buffers could be as simple as giving yourself realistic time to drive from one place to another.

Environmental Surroundings – Manage screen time. Stay with me on this, it is not eliminating screen time. Sustainable Productivity is about small adjustments you can maintain over time. Overhauling your screen time is not a small adjustment. But what if you put down screens 10 minutes earlier than you do today. Or started 10 minutes later. Maybe you see how much screen time you rack up today, then for the next week, try to average 10 minutes less? You will know intuitively what feels easiest or most important to you. Trust your instincts. Give your eyes, hands, and mind a rest from devices.

These are just a few suggestions on how rest can help you avoid self-sabotage. When you feel rested and centered, you can start to see other small changes you need to make and where you are ruining your chances for success. This is another area where there is no finish line. But that is good news – you can make these adjustments as small as you need to in order to have success.

Sustainable You Reflections

  1. Where does self-sabotage appear in your life?
  2. Which, if any, of the three suggestions resonate with you? How could you adapt them to fit your life?

There are infinite number of ways to rest. I would love to hear what you choose. You can reach me at or via DM on Instagram

Until next time remember to create productive results in a way that you can sustain and that work for you. 

By |2023-05-13T17:44:48-04:00May 16th, 2023|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Time Blocking Your Way to a SusPro Calendar

There must be something about spring that makes me fired up about time management. As I was drafting this weekly essay, I discovered I wrote about time blocking around this time a couple years ago. Is it the final thaw of winter? Maybe the blooming of all the flowers makes me want to do ALL THE THINGS! Whatever the reason, here we are again for a little spring cleaning of our calendars and to do lists. 

First, let’s ground this essay in the Sustainable Productivity framework. Time management is a component of Mental Well-being and one of my favorite time management tools is time blocking. Think of time blocking as assigning a job to specific units of time in your day. This is less about making every second of your day productive and more about paying attention to what you pay attention to. 


There is no special tool or magic product for time blocking. Cal Newport has a time blocking planner and links to videos where he teaches you how to use it. Some people swear by digital tools because their time blocks are managed by other people or change with greater regularity. The beauty is that there is not one best answer. The productive answer is whatever works for you. I keep my appointments in a digital calendar because it is shared with other people. Bixby can add things to my home calendar and my colleagues at my day job can add things to my Outlook calendar at work. But my time blocks go in a notebook. It is just a half-used notebook left behind by my son after he graduated from high school. I ripped out the Spanish conjugation and started blocking my days. 

Block Projects

As with all Sustainably Productive adjustments, I encourage you to start small when you are learning to use time blocking for your time management. What is one task that you do weekly or 1 project you could schedule. This is not your appointments, this is working on what is important to you. This is not an appointment for your piano lesson, this is the time block for the piano practice ahead of the lesson. Determine when you will do the practice and add it to your calendar just like an appointment. 

Block Days

As you look at your calendar, (I hope) you have open times between appointments. If you do not, you may need to think about delegating – including delegating to the floor. More on that another time. Today I want to encourage you to think about what you want those empty blocks of time to do for you, what they could be dedicated to. 

Paperwork or errands. Batching items can be a more efficient use of your time. You can just put “errands” on a 2-hour time block for the day, then fill in later what those are. Knowing you have Wednesday afternoons for running errands could alleviate the repeat trips to the same strip mall across town. 

Catching up. What job do you want your commute time to have? It might be to just get you to work, but you also might want it to be when you catch up on podcasts (like the Sustainable Productivity podcast) or call a different friend each week to catch up (hands free phones of course!)

Rest. As mentioned earlier, the idea is not to cram 10 pounds of crap into a 5 pound bag by doing it efficiently. But if you can be efficient with your to do list for a couple hours, you may find yourself with an open hour or so most days. Or conversely, what if you scheduled rest, then built the other time blocks in your day around that? 

Sustainable You Reflections

  • What did you feel in your gut when you read that you can assign a time block to rest? Did it feel like you’d need to hide it from your people? Did you get nervous? Excited? Nervous belly?

There are lots of ways to time block. I would love to hear how it goes for you. You can reach me at or via DM on Instagram. 

Until next time remember to create productive results in a way that you can sustain and that sustain YOU. 

By |2023-12-17T08:01:59-05:00May 5th, 2023|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Reboot Your Systems

Sometimes you just need to reboot your systems. A few weeks ago I was spinning out about something. Feeling overwhelmed and out of control. It felt like messages were coming at me from all angles – email, texts, phone calls, post it notes. I was trying to finish an audiobook from the library while drafting some emails and meeting notes at my day job. Bixby was walking into my office all day. 

I desperately wanted to check out of my life for an hour or so to reboot my system and adjust my attitude. I was to a point I could not even stand to be with me. It was a beautiful spring day in North Carolina so I decided to go for a bike ride. As I rolled out, I started up my Garmin as usual. This is the message I saw:

It stayed that way for the whole 20-some miles. Ironically it displays the message, “Working” while it is indeed NOT working. At first I was pissed off. Just another thing not working for me today. Then I had to laugh – I was yelling in my head, “Reboot your system! Get in nature and disconnect!” My Higher Power is quite a joker – clearly I did not need this technology either. 

You know how this story ends. I finished my ride and came back a much happier, whole person. This is not an accident. This is pretty much how the universe works. 

  • Kids melt down less if they have time where they are unstimulated. 
  • Your computer needs to be rebooted regularly to run updates and get rid of digital garbage.
  • Sleep is where our bodies clean up and heal us mentally and physically. 

The moral of the story is the most excellent Anne Lamott quote: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

Sustainable Productivity Reflections

  • Write or talk about a time where you were in a tizzy. How did your body feel during your meltdown? 
  • Brainstorm 5-10 things you can do to disconnect, shutdown or reboot your system, your morning, or your interaction. 

I don’t know about you, but I suck at apologies. If you had a come apart with someone recently, maybe this essay could be an entry point to your apology. Share with a friend or loved one who needs to know you were just overwhelmed and now you have a few new tricks to try to reboot your system next time. 

Until next time remember to create productive results in a way that you can sustain and that sustain YOU.

By |2023-04-15T06:10:43-04:00May 2nd, 2023|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Good Enough

The phrase “good enough” was playing through my mind recently as I was thinking about what happened this year in the garden and started planning for next spring. 

The weeds runneth over. No plants provided veggies, flowers, or fruit that did not get consumed by deer, rabbits, or other creatures before harvest. But I did enjoy the puttering around I did this season. It was good enough. And this reminds me of this quote by Thomas Fuller:

“A good garden may have some weeds.”

Thomas Fuller

I wonder if there are wider implications this could have for all areas of life.

Wider Implications

Are there things in your life that are good enough? Functional – but have a few things wrong with it?

  • Are you healthy and fit, but perhaps softer in spots that you would like? 
  • Maybe for all intents and purposes your house is organized and decluttered, but you do have that 1 drawer in each bathroom. 

Don’t trip over a dollar trying to get to a nickel. Enjoy that 80% of your world is fundamentally sound. Let the rest fall by the wayside or use them for a different lesson or purpose. For example, I repurpose cardboard trash to cover weeds, then top with rotting leaves from somewhere else in the garden. The end result is making the garden more beautiful. Today it isn’t beautiful, but it is good enough.

Can your mess be your message? Inviting a child to sort through the junk drawer with you can be a lesson in decluttering – why it is important and how to actually do it. Or the lesson might be about your relationship. They might see you as perfect so this exercise could be a revelation to them that you have random junk that you can’t decide on. What if you sharing an area of your life that is good enough opens doors to more authentic connections?

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What area of life or task feels like a drag for you? How could you define what “good enough” would be?
  2. What is your resistance to embracing the concept of “good enough?”
By |2022-12-13T19:31:18-05:00December 20th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Managing External Expectations

Fun fact – Internal and External Expectations was supposed to be one post. But it got really long and I could not figure out what exactly to say about managing external expectations by my deadline to get the weekly essay posted so here we are with Managing External Expectations, Part 2. Use this link to check out the first installment, Managing Internal Expectations.

Clearly I am talking to myself mostly as I try to figure this out. You are getting a front row seat to me trying to figure this out. It might not be pretty.

Giphy comes through again.

Sure I want to just not deal with people, but that is not practical or healthy. Healthy relationships are a component of the Mental Well-being dimension of Sustainable Productivity. Living with loneliness has a greater negative impact to health than living with air pollution, obesity, and excessive drinking (Holt-Lunstad, et al, 2010). 

So here we are needing to learn about managing expectations. The ideal way to do this is to talk about it before whatever the “it” is happens. 

But did you catch the first part? The IDEAL way. This is great when I am spiritually fit and able to communicate this way. The REAL way this happens is a little more chaotic and I usually end up having to clean up a mess after the fact. Yep, more of that Ideal and Real, but this time we are considering the other party that we are interacting with. As wonderful as my husband is, he is not Ideal. He is a quirky, faulted human being that I love dearly. And my kids have undeveloped frontal lobes – its not their fault either. 

That is a roundabout way to saying that shit gets messy sometimes at the homestead. Let me share a simple tool that is currently working for me when it comes to managing external expectations.

The Magic Words

Ok, not those magic words. But something that is working for me right now is to start a tough-for-me conversation with this phrase:

“The story I am telling myself…”

This lightens the tone and avoids any accusation. Here are a few examples:

  • “Here is the story I am telling myself about you handing me my Christmas present still in the Target bag: I am a last minute thought for you since you don’t care enough to wrap the gift – or even stick it in a gift bag.”
  • “Do you have a second for me to share the story I am telling myself about you not emptying the dishwasher? I tell myself that when you know I want it done and you don’t do it, you are disrespecting my authority as a parent and you don’t care about contributing to the house.”

In the context of this discussion about managing expectations, let’s be clear that in both of these situations, exactly zero expectations were shared. I did not tell Bixby that I would like my presents wrapped. He does not care about receiving his gifts wrapped and does not know how to wrap presents. And about that dishwasher – no teenager is looking for chores to do around the house or even thinking that the dishwasher might have a deeper meaning.

But having a common language of, “the story I am telling myself” allows for a Sustainably Productive conversation. It is productive because it does not start with accusations and “aways / never” statements. I am talking about the next layer – what it means to me. It is sustainable because I can continue it lifelong. I feel safe enough to do it over and over – it is based on a loving interaction.

I hope this offers you a tool to use in your relationships. Let me know either way if you try it or if you take a moment to answer the Sustainable You questions that follow.

Sustainable You Questions

  1. After an honest, authentic assessment, do you think you are managing external expectations well?
  2. What would it feel like to user the opener, “The story I am telling myself is…”?

I wonder if this essay would be a good opener for a discussion with your loved one about managing external expectations. If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

By |2022-12-06T09:12:16-05:00December 13th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Managing Expectations

Managing expectations is a topic I can’t stop thinking about or talking about since we recorded episode 41 of the Conscious Contact podcast a few weeks ago. I had a few more thoughts about it after recording that I wanted to share here. You can listen to the episode at this link.

The reason that managing expectations is so important is that unvoiced expectations are premeditated resentments. This leads to anger and all sorts of damage to relationships. Important in the Sustainable Sue framework – unvoiced expectations do not meet the criteria of Sustainable Productivity. 

Is this Productive – are you getting the result you want?

Is this Sustainable – can you maintain this lifelong if you choose?

Let’s look at managing expectations with ourselves and each other a little closer. 

Internal Expectations

These are the expectations we have of ourselves. This could appear in unlimited ways depending on where we are in life and how spiritually fit we are that day. Here is a sneak peek into some of my unrealistic internal expectations.

  • I can still play full court 5 on 5 basketball.
  • I should be able to “do it all”.
  • A good mother would have her children at the extended family Thanksgiving.
  • If I was a better project manager I could get people to complete their tasks on time.
  • The pants will fit.
  • Real authors would have finished the book proposal by now.
  • Adult women know how to put an outfit together / put on make up / do their hair (ponytails don’t count).

You can see my brain is a busy place. Not necessarily a friendly place. The origins of these expectations is a topic for another day because today we are talking about managing expectations. What to do when these internal expectations pop up. 

While I am not an expert by any stretch, I would like to share what sometimes works for me – it is a work in progress for sure. I call this real me vs ideal me.

Real Me vs. Ideal Me

Here is a simple tool that I use when I recognize an internal expectation is rearing its head.  I simply ask myself which Sue would this apply to – Real Me or Ideal Me. While it is good to have a self to strive for, when it becomes inflated into something that is unrealistic, it can become detrimental and toxic to your mental health. 

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

A way to consider this that is more Sustainably Productive is to make small adjustments to get where you want to be instead of expecting you to be there now. An example might provide some clarity here. Luckily we have a long list of unrealistic internal expectations already drafted. 

Ideal me would already have a completed book proposal. Welp, I don’t. If I just sit in this “failure” and grieve the missing book proposal that still gets approximately zero words down. That unrealistic internal expectation of being “ideal” is not working and is not sustainable. This is where I sat for about a decade. It is really sucky. 

Then I started to make small, sustainable adjustments to write these weekly messages, then started time blocking an hour each week to focus solely on book proposal writing. That is not always a pretty hour. Sometimes each word is hard earned. But the commitment is to dedicate the hour to that project. I don’t have to write, but I can’t do anything else. So I end up writing. 

This can apply to every component to Sustainable Productivity. 

  1. Ideal me would have a clutter free house. 
    • Adjustment: Real me spends 15 minutes every Saturday and Sunday morning sorting a purging something (a drawer, a shelf, a pile on the counter)
  2. Ideal me would stay off social media.
    • Adjustment: Real me sets a timer to read a book for 10 minutes, then to scroll social media for for 10 minutes. You get the best of both and maybe you start to shift the balance away from social media. Or not!

For me managing internal expectations comes easier than managing external expectations. It might be the fact I am an Upholder (see Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Framework). But I don’t live the life of a hermit (yet) so I am learning to manage external expectations. 

I will share a little more about that next time in Part 2 of Managing Expectations!

By |2022-12-06T08:42:40-05:00December 6th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Purpose of Hobbies

Sometimes the purpose of hobbies is not the actual project. As fall 2022 hands off to the season of ALL HOLIDAY ALL THE TIME, I wanted to share a hobbies round up. As I started to write up the recap, I realized I was talking about more than the hobbies. I was talking about the purpose of the hobbies.

For those of you new here – or a refresher for Sustainable Productivity veterans – hobbies are a component of the Mental Well-being dimension of Sustainable Productivity. If you never unplug, your mental, physical, and emotional batteries drain until you don’t have energy to give yourself and your people. 

Hobbies help us recharge. You can read more about hobbies and Sustainable Productivity here and here

Side note: One of my favorite hobbies is reading. Today’s round up does not touch on reading. To see more about what I am reading you can go here and here

In order to help keep myself accountable, I share regularly about what I have in progress. Hobbies are not just something to pass the time. They each have a purpose or lesson or maybe even job to do for me. During this literal and proverbial season in my life, hobbies fall into a few categories that I wanted to share with you. Maybe you have not related to the hobby itself, but you can relate to what I am getting from the hobbies.


“Art is to console those who are broken by life.” Vincent Van Gogh 

I am a card carrying member of the sandwich generation. We parent two young adults, and although my dad is 700 miles away, I am involved almost daily in his life as his health is declining. This is a hard spot to be in. I see mistakes I made with my own kids – wishing it could be different and trying to accept what is. I see my dad not being the robust, sharp man he used to be – wishing it could be different and trying to accept what is. 

It is enough to break me some days. But art gives me solace. This particular project I’m working on now uses my dad’s old ties. When we cleared out his closet prepping for a big move last year, I pulled them out of the donations box when he wasn’t looking. This was a purely sentimental, selfish move. And I am not sorry about it. I am creating Christmas gifts for the girls in our family from his ties and will have plenty left over for a quilt project in the coming years. 

Immersing myself in the art of this hobby is a way to wrap myself in whatever feelings I have. Acknowledge them, feel them, sometimes process them. But sometimes I want to do the opposite and ignore them. Which is where the next purpose of hobbies comes in.


Learning a new technique, hobby, or skill requires me to pay attention to what I am doing. No multitasking with Netflix or audiobooks. I can’t field text conversations about Medicare donut holes while I am in a class with other hobbyists. 

This is what I love about learning – a reprieve. Also a chance to fire up a different part of my brain. Here is a photo of a pillow top that I recently made in a class at my local quilt shop. There were dozens of small pieces that came together to make the pillow top – easy to mix up. The pattern was complex – a show stopper to mix up all those small pieces. Plus I learned to make a pillow or to recover the pillows I already have or find in a shop that might need a new life. 

The benefit of learning through a hobby is a super focused distraction. But sometimes I don’t want to be focused or emotional. I just want an escape from the daily grind. Which is the third purpose of hobbies. 


Sometimes I just want to check out and follow instructions for a hobby or just connect with others about the common interest we have.

This summer Bixby, Daughter and I attended a glass blowing demo where the artist led us through how to do it ourselves. I was not learning it, just doing what George Anne told me to do. The result was beautiful hummingbird feeders. 

I have returned to making sweet potato bread more weekends than not. Now that I have the pan and oven situation sorted, it is back to being a fun hobby. I am following the instructions, puttering around the kitchen – often while Bixby is making dinner, and connecting with what I eat (vs. opening a package).

As I write this I am seeing that all three of these categories are feeding into a fourth purpose of hobbies that might potentially be the most important.


“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato

Connection with others is an untended purpose of hobbies for me. I love to anyone who will listen how much I don’t need other people.

And yet.

Authentic connection with others is what helps me – and I would suggest all of us – create a life that we don’t want to numb out and escape from. 

If we look at the first three categories of purpose of hobbies – solace, learning, escapism – there is a thread of connection. 

  • Solace – I am feeling my feelings about my kids and dad. Connection comes through art projects for the kids from my dad’s ties.
  • Learning – Connecting with others who share my interests.
  • Escapism – Sure sometimes I might make the bread alone in the kitchen. But what makes a stronger impression is when I share the space with Bixby or have a recipient in mind for the bread. 

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What hobbies do you keep coming back to time and again?
  2. Look beyond the surface – what are you getting out of these hobbies? What is the purpose of the hobbies?
  3. How can you increase or extend this in other areas of your life?

      If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

      By |2022-11-08T10:07:19-05:00November 15th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Nature Break

      When pro cyclists have to pee they call, “Nature Break!” and the whole peloton pulls over to wiz in a field.

      This is not that type of Nature Break.

      Source: (where else?!)

      This Nature Break is a pause in your day sponsored by Mother Nature. And Cheryl Strayed’s mom.

      Here is the wisdom that Cheryl Strayed’s mom shared with her:

      Every day put yourself in the way of beauty.

      Bobbi Lambrecht

      Here is a collection of beauty for your Nature Break today:

      Lake Brandt, Greensboro NC
      Imagine how pretty we appear to others when we are transitioning too.
      Is it just me or does it seem like there are a zillion more acorns this year? One bounced off my helmet while I was riding my bike and it sounded like I was being shot at.

      I will close this Nature Break with these wise words from Aristotle, not quite as wise at Cheryl’s mom, but close:

      In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

      By |2022-10-16T07:53:50-04:00October 20th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Guilty Pleasures

      On podcast episode #33, my cohost and I talked about about guilty pleasures. While you can find out mine here, today I want to talk about the joy and fun that can come from these guilty pleasures.

      I was So Damn Serious for a LONG TIME. And when I was unserious, I was worried about how I looked, who saw me, and what they thought. Or I felt left out because no one was planning fun for me.

      Now as I am breathing down the neck of 50 years old, I am finding joy in things and not giving any damns about what the world thinks of them. Further, I am planning my own joy and fun because I know what that means to me. I have no guilt in my pleasure.

      You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.

      Mary Oliver

      Of course we want to keep it in the bounds of what is legal, but in general, don’t yuck on someone else’s yum. If you don’t like that food, book, TV show, concert, or whatever – let that activity go and find your own guilty pleasure.

      Try new things. You won’t know it brings you joy until you try. Canadian-American singer-songwriter Buffy Saint- Marie says it best:

      You have to sniff out joy. Keep your nose to the joy trail.”

      Sustainable You Questions

      1 – Do you have any guilty pleasures?

      2 – If no, why not? If yes, how can you get more of that in your life?

      By |2022-10-05T17:02:54-04:00October 13th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      The Ugly Truth About the Drama Triangle

      The Drama Triangle is like my Bermuda Triangle. I always say I want peace, but the second I get it I am back to stirring the pot. I get sucked in never to return.

      This is an ugly truth that bubbled up as I was prepping to record for the Drama episode of the Conscious Contact podcast, and I have been thinking about it a lot in the weeks since then.

      Instead of just enjoying a nice dinner, I had to find that one thing that one person said and be crabby about it. 

      I can’t just sit still – I have to start a project. 

      The Drama Triangle

      I think (and this has been validated after thousands of dollars of therapy) that this stems from some dysfunction as I was growing up. Research calls this the Drama Triangle. There is a victim, a persecutor and a rescuer in each corner making up this triangle. 

      I am a rescuer through and through. I grew up feeling like I needed to be the glue keeping shit together. Even today I make my living in my day job as a project manager. I am a fixer. 

      Wanna ask me how that’s working? 

      Another gem from giphy

      When you are a hammer everything is a nail. Someone has a problem, I can swoop in and rescue them. I insert myself into the drama and the Drama Triangle forms. Then wonder why I am damn tired. 

      The Lesson

      As a card carrying member of the sandwich generation I find myself wanting to fix my kids’ problems and my dad’s problems. My husband’s problems and my dog’s problems. Which is only half of the problem. Because while I am worrying over everyone else’s stuff, I am not taking care of my own problems. Here are some ways this may present itself, maybe you can relate:

      • I don’t have to address my unhealthy eating habits if I focus on what you are buying at the grocery store.
      • While I nag you about quitting smoking, I can ignore my addiction to my phone and being busy. 
      • I feel less than when I only ride my bike an hour a day (vs. what Young Susan did) so I focus on how little you are exercising. 
      • When I am not doing the things I know I should do (whether it is writing every day, getting the report done at work, or returning my library books on time), I am going to avoid feeling badly by pointing out what you are not doing.

      Yeah, it feels really gross. It makes me feel anxious. Whoever I am directing my worry at probably feels picked on or worse. 

      I am working on it, though. And when I am on the right track with the mental and emotional work the Universe drops bread crumbs in my path. These bread crumbs tell me I am on the path that I am supposed to be on. The episode on drama leading to my reading up on the Drama Triangle was one of those bread crumbs.

      Then my Higher Power dropped another.

      The Teacher

      As I was working on some things to launch the Conscious Contact Book Club, I came across this quote by Thich Naht Hahn (the author of the book club pick):

      Wow, what a bread crumb. Sort of like the whole ciabatta knocking me upside the head. This was particularly helpful for me because I have a hard time with the advice to just stop something. Stopping something creates a vacuum  that needs to be filled. How do I stop my negative thinking that manifests into the Drama Triangle?

      Mind calming exercise is something that I can fill the void with. 

      The Learning

      Here is how this has played out in recent weeks since coming across this message. I notice myself wanting to get all up in someone else’s business, offering advice and shoulds. Instead of saying the first thing that pops in my head, I pause before talking. I take a deep breath in that pause giving a second of silence.

      Which makes for awkward moments at times – people are not used to a beat of silence. But an interesting thing happens in that silence. Sometimes my kid will come up a solution to the problem. At work others will volunteer to take something on. 

      Of course this is not a perfect solution. I also have been extending my mindfulness meditation in the morning as part of my routine. There have been days when I need to step away from the conversation and do it again in the afternoon when I want to step into the Drama Triangle again.

      There are times when I am so agitated at not inserting myself into the drama I cannot sit still. This is where walking meditation comes in. A slow walk around the garden or taking Lucille to the marina with no headphones for distraction. Just nature and a super happy dog. The pause, the mindful meditation, and the time in nature create the openness to move away from the drama. 

      Sustainable You Questions

      1 – When do you find yourself part of the Drama Triangle? Are you the victim, the persecutor or the rescuer?

      2 – How does this play out in your daily life? Is this working for you and can you continue it lifelong (i.e., is this Sustainably Productive)?

      3 – If this is not Sustainably Productive, what 3 activities could you try to put in the pause between the drama and your response?

      If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

      By |2022-10-05T16:35:39-04:00October 11th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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