Friday, February 27, 2015

Recipe for Today: Espresso Chili with Beef and Black Beans (Rachel Ray show)

This looks so good! I saw Rachel making it on her show today.  I am going to try it!
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil 
  • 1 1/2 pounds 80% lean ground sirloin 
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, such as Gebhardt or ground ancho chili powder (which is very mild) 
  • 1 rounded tablespoon instant espresso powder 
  • 1 scant tablespoon ground coriander 
  • 1 scant tablespoon ground cumin 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped 
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeño slices, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 2 cups beef or veal stock 
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 

Toppings: Minced red onions Chopped cilantro Chopped radishes Chopped avocado Crumbled Fritos Corn Chips Crumbled Queso fresco or shredded cheddar.

  • In a Dutch oven or a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, breaking it into pieces with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the chili powder, espresso powder, coriander and cumin, and season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeño. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 6-8 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste; stirring until blended, then add the stock, beans and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a bubble then reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring often until flavors combine, about 5 minutes. Serve chili in shallow bowls with toppings of choice.

Daily Post: Passion That Makes a Lasting impression...

Kim's Passion Makes a Lasting impression, Motivating people to Believe and Transform.

Paint Nite requested that I send them my Art Portfolio because they are interested in my experience to help them out, so I wrote up my artist statement and had my daughter create a portfolio on the web so I can upload my art work there.  Here is my statement and the website for fun!

ARTIST STATEMENT http://kgroshek.weebly.com/

My Vision and Passion Makes a Lasting impression, Motivating people to believe and transform. Since I was little, I've always been fascinated by how people tick, wondering why people do what they do. I imagine their story as I take long walks outside in nature. I love smelling the flowers, while watching the clouds form different shapes in the sky. I would write stories about it, sketch pictures in my notebook.  From the beginning, the process of transforming a blank white paper into a vibrant picture struck me as magical. And, over the years, the magical process led me from sketching to painting stories.

Creating integral stories about people, sharing their background and experiences; and putting the pieces together on paper fills me with a sense of accomplishment and happiness. This has proven to be a good way for me to share my stories in a way that people can relate. With each piece of works, whether it is a published story, a play I produced or a painting on canvas, I try to convey my life expression through color and story.

Recently I discovered some childhood drawings: they were simple, crayoned patchworks that resonate with my paintings and stories. This inspired me to get out my canvas, pick up my brushes again. I love the mystery of how the painting process works. The product I develop are rich landscapes and portraits explored through the lens of vibrant colors, patterns, and textures, pieced together and captivated by the story before me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Daily Post: Don't let anybody raise you - you've been raised.

Dear friend,


You're itching to be on your own. You don't want anybody telling you what time you have to in at night or how to raise your baby. You're going to leave your mother's big comfortable house and she won't stop you, because she know you too well.

But listen to what she says:
When you walk out of my door, don't let anybody raise you - you've been raised.
You know right from wrong.
In every relationship you make, you'll have to show readiness to adjust and make adaptations.
Remember, you can always come home.

You will go home again when the world knocks you down-or when you fall down in full view of the world. But only for a while. Your mother will pamper you and feed you your favorite meal. You'll make a practice of going home so she can liberate you again-one of the greatest gifts, along with nurturing your courage, that she will give you.

Be courageous, but not foolhardley.

Walk as proud as you are,
Your friend

~An excerpt from "What I know Now."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Daily Post: Add a little "gr" to your attitude

Research at the Berkeley University of California shows that if you add a little "gr" to your attitude, then it will help to "find, remind and bind" you to the people that will enrich your life and help you get the results you want.

The researchers also found that gratitude:

  • is expansive as it broadens your thinking and increases perspective which leads to
  • increased creativity, better problem solving, and
  • is contagious and lifts and energizes those it touches - we all prefer positive, enthusiastic people as opposed to members of the BMW Club (bitching, moaning and whining)
So who do you know that needs a hand written note (one of the most effective ways of expressing gratitude) reminding them how you feel about them?

And next time someone is a little prickly and rubs you up the wrong way, remember that you always have a choice how you respond: you can either complain because rose bushes have thorns, or you can be grateful that thorn bushes have roses.

~Suni Bali

Friday, February 20, 2015

Daily Post: Steps to Take Before you Retire

As your retirement date approaches there are a number of smart things you can do to make sure all those years of hard work and sacrifice pay off. 

Here are 5 important steps to consider before you clock out at work for the last time.
 

    1.    Pay Off Debt: 
Heading into retirement debt-free provides extra peace of mind. So, as retirement gets closer, paying off debt should be a primary focus. The best way to go about it is to start with those debts that carry the highest interest rates, such as credit cards. Always pay those credits cards with the highest rates off first and pay down the card with the lowest rate to keep it on hand if you need it. Car loans, which typically carry higher interest rates, are next in line, followed by home equity loans. Paying off your home mortgage can also be a good step, but it’s best to check with an investment professional first. The key is to pay off debt without having to tap into your existing retirement accounts.

    2.    Prepare a Retirement Budget
: Prior to retiring, it’s critical to prepare a budget or spending plan based on what your actual income and living expenses will be once you’ve left the workforce. Be sure to factor in expenses you will no longer have in retirement, such as money spent on buying lunch, money spent on the daily commute, or money spent on uniforms and work clothes. While your retirement income may not be as much as your pre-retirement income was, the savings gained from no longer working could help make up the difference.
 

    3.    Consider Future Housing Needs: 
People looking to retire should consider two basic housing options well in advance. The first option is to sell the large home and downsize to a more affordable and more manageable place of residence. This choice can have major advantages in later years, especially for those who have large multi-level homes that can be expensive to maintain and where stairs will eventually become difficult to negotiate. The other option is to renovate to include features such as walk-in bathtubs, shower seats and lever-type door and tap handles, which will make the house more liveable and enjoyable in your later years.
 

    4.    Evaluate Life Insurance Needs
: Hopefully during your peak earnings period you took out a life insurance policy to protect your spouse and family financially in the event of your early death. If that’s not the case, then you’ll discover that life insurance can be expensive when you’re nearing retirement age. However, depending on your current assets, a life insurance policy may be an invaluable part of your estate plan. There are a number of companies that offer life insurance at competitive rates to individuals up to the age of sixty-four. If your sixty-fourth birthday is not far off, this is something you could consider.

    5.    Plan to Retire to Something: 
Did you enjoy golfing or fishing or stamp collecting in your leisure time while you were working? Believe it or not, these activities may actually become tiresome once all of your time is leisure time. Studies show that people who retire to something that gives them the structure and sense of purpose that their jobs once provided are much more likely to be happier and live longer than those who retire without such a foundation. Whether it’s working part-time to earn extra income, or volunteering your time and energy to a worthwhile organization, you’ll want to find something to do that keeps you active, engaged, and feeling relevant and vital during your retirement. After all, just because you’ll no longer be working in your career, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should take up residence in front of your TV for the duration of your golden years.


Disclaimer: This blog/article is general advice only and does not take into account your personal circumstances. We recommend you seek professional advice before acting on any of the steps mentioned above.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Daily Post: 35 Essential Habits of Incredibly Happy People


“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama

Try one of these ideas to feel more engaged and alive.

1. Share your fears with a trusted friend or on a forum, or write about it in your blog or journal. Get to the bottom of your fears and why they may be holding you back.
2. Tell a friend or a loved one what you want and need from them. Be honest and don’t hold anything back.
3. Tell someone you care for them, love them, or that you want to see them happy. Don’t repress, express!
4. Ask someone you look up to for advice and let them in on your personal life. You’ll be amazed by the responses you get.
5. Go up to that person that really excites you. Just go up and say hi. You never know what could happen.
6. Tell your best friend (or anyone) about your pursuit of happiness. Share your greatest dream. It helps with accountability.
7. Discover your talents. Invest time in something you’ve always wanted to try.
8. Open up your blinds and let in natural light. Let the sunlight elevate your mood.
9. Put your favorite music on blast at least once a day. Not only will it improve your mood, but you’ll also be taken on a mental journey.
10. Change your perspective. Take a negative situation and see how you can make it positive. Gratitude goes a long way.
11. Let go. As the famous Zen proverb goes, “Let go, or be dragged.”
12. Show yourself to the world and be genuine instead of hiding who you really are.
13. Dream. Visualize your dreams, goals, and what you want to achieve in life.
14. Hug. Hugging releases oxytocin, the good-feel hormone that makes us love and trust one another.
15. Express your creativity. Paint, write, sketch—find an outlet and just create!
16. Get out of your comfort zone and try a new class that looks challenging. Remember, no one begins as a professional.
17. Practice yoga. Stretch, strengthen, and relax your body and mind. You’ll be glad you did.
18. Redecorate your environment to express how you want to feel. Set an intention for your space.
19. Start a bucket list. Write at least three things you wish to accomplish this year.
20. Meditate. Ohm.
21. Get out of the house. Take a walk in nature. Go nearby to a trail, walk alone, and see what you can appreciate. Focus on the tiniest detail possible.
22. Sign up for the conference or workshop that you’ve always wanted to attend.
23. Establish positive relationships. Spend time with those who motivate and inspire you.
24. Disconnect from the Internet. It’s not as scary as it sounds
25. Remain resilient. Any failure is a lesson, not a defining moment in your life.
26. Give, give, and give some more. Find one way to give something to someone every day. A genuine compliment goes a long way.
27. Instead of saying no, say yes. Especially to something challenging.
28. Drop any grudges. Anything negative that you hold onto will only cultivate more negativity.
29. Exercise. A wise Harvard Law School student once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
30. Go on a journey or vacation somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.
31. Help someone out. Focus on seeing how you can help make a change in someone’s life.
32. Work on one quality or characteristic you’d like to possess.
33. Go on a bike ride. Denmark is infamously renowned for being the world’s happiest bicycle-friendly nation.
34. Do something thoughtful for someone you love. If it involves money, see if you can buy an experience instead of a gift.
35. Be thankful. Practice gratitude; there is always something to be thankful for.
You don’t have to try all of these in order to be happy. Try the ideas that resonate within you and see which ones will remove you from your comfort zone and bring you back to life.

~Excerpt by Dragos Bernat

Daily Post: The Change Wars...


There’s a secret weapon in the change wars, one that can fill the gaps and soften the edges of our constantly morphing identities—and I don’t mean leaving your whole social system or forcing others to conform to you at every moment in time. The answer is unconditional love, and I encourage you to use it with ruthless abandon.

~Martha Beck

Monday, February 16, 2015

Daily Post: Letter to Self... (What I know Now Excerpt...)


LETTER TO SELF FROM THE BOOK "WHAT I KNOW NOW"!

Dear You,

            I've got something to say to you, and I hope you will listen with an open heart.  Don't be so worried about what everybody else thinks of you, and don't think your happiness depends on someone else. I want you to just trust yourself. Trust that if you take care of yourself on the inside, follow your instincts, and let yourself evolve naturally, your potential for happiness will be so much greater.
            You probably don't think you need to hear this. Mama and Daddy brought you up to be independent, intelligent, and educated. And you are! I'm proud of the way you've stuck with your passion (music, meditation and exercise), even though the odds were against you. But there's another part of you that's less independent. You're hearing everyone ask, "When are you going to get married?" The friends, who didn't tie the knot right out of high school or college, are doing it now, after college. Somewhere inside you, you think that's the way it's supposed to be.
            There are going to be times when your gut instinct is telling you something isn't right, and you're going to go ahead with it anyway. If you keep that up, I know exactly what's going to happen: in About a year, you'll be standing in the back of a church with your Daddy, getting ready to walk down the aisle.  Daddy's gonna say, jokingly, "We can duck out the back door if you want to." You won't dare tell him that's what you want to do.
            Everybody will be sitting there, everything will have been paid for, and there will be a ton of cake to eat. You'll be afraid of embarrassment of calling it off. And so you'll get married - for all the wrong reasons - to a wonderful guy.
            There's another way of living, and it has brought me a send of peace that I want you to have. Know that God has a plan for your life. Turn your life over to him every day. Stop looking outside yourself for validation and approval - you're letting other people define your happiness. Instead of trying so hard to manipulate life, take care of yourself on the inside. Then all those other attributes you’re so desperately seeking will find you naturally.

Love,
Your forty-nine-year-old future self

(Excerpt from "What I Know Now")

Daily Post: Ideas Percolating...


During the times we think we’re being “unproductive,” the seeds of new worlds are germinating within us, and they need peace to grow.

~Martha Beck

Friday, February 13, 2015

Daily Post: Perfect Stillness...


The best way to break through any barrier is to access a point of perfect stillness at the center of your being, a self deeper than your senses or your mind.
~Martha Beck

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Daily Post: Changing importance of Communications Skills in the 21st Century


Communications skills are more important than ever before due to the stress in the market place.
Let's look at at real world example of how not knowing Behavioral Styles can significantly impact an expensive mistake for a company and employee.
Obviously the identities have been changed to protect the professional who invested to grow their executive leadership skills.
The CFO of a company prepared reports each week for the CEO. These reports took at least 32 Full Time Equivalence hours, often more. The CFO explained that the detail that her team put into these reports was important because the CEO made decisions from them. Admirable right?
The CEO would get these reports every Friday, and as always, would take three specific numbers from the report and put the report away. The CEO would dismiss the CFO with a thanks and continue working.
The CFO came to me after abruptly quitting and asked for help to find another CFO position. We gave her our assessments and I interviewed her. I asked her what had happened in her last position that caused her to resign? She shared the above and told me that NOT once had the CEO said "great job" and why should she work that hard to create the report,spent all those late nights working if he was going to just look at three numbers and nothing else. How could a competent CEO make decisions from just looking at those three numbers? I can just hear some of you saying "Right!". I asked her how the CEO reacted to her abruptly resigning and she said he was shocked but accepted my resignation.
I explained to the CFO that from her assessments and our discussions she fell between an analytical (C) and teambuilder (S) on the Behavioral styles. We talked about the importance to her of making sure that all aspects of the report were researched and validated to be right to her standard. She lit right up. "Of course!"
I asked how important it was to get feedback from the CEO on how she was doing, especially if she was doing a good job. The CFO agreed it was very important to her. She took great pride in doing her job well.
I asked her if I might consider the point of view from the CEO. I asked her several questions about the CEO so I could get an idea about his social style. (Because it's important to understand how to observe Behaviors, especially under mild to moderate stress, to understand how to communicate with them in a manner they appreciate. This takes practice and coaching.)
I explained "The CEO might be a high D". He feels that you and he should do a great job. Why would you praise anyone for doing a great job, as they should. From his perspective no one is hired to do an average job. If you do, that's when he would have had a stern talk with you! The CEO also feels that because you do a great job and he can trust you to give the most accurate numbers possible, he can confidently look at those three numbers and manage the company.
The CFO was in shock, she had not considered his perspective. She just assumed that the CEO was cold and insensitive, kind of a jerk. The CEO likely feels he is disciplined and respectful of company time. He is a professional!
The CFO had just left a great job because she didn't understand how to read people's behavioral styles and her own. The CEO just lost a very talented CFO because he didn't understand how to communicate with her in a manner she appreciated. Replacement was going to be expensive, not to mention the new hire on boarding and learning curve.
Had the CFO not gotten the coaching to learn about the Behavioral styles, she may have gotten a new job, but repeated the pattern of thinking the CEO was a jerk. Tough lesson, but I can tell you she is now very good at reading people's Behavioral styles, motivators, driving forces and Emotional Intelligence. and she now teaches those skills to her team and has a wonderful culture at her new job.

~adapted by John R Daley, MIB OD

Recipe for Today: Spicy Pumpkin Soup


Spicy Pumpkin Soup

By Karl Christenso
  • 1 Tbs Olive oil
  • 1 Large Carrot, chopped
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 10 Cups Low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Cup Lentils
  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Ground ginger
  • ½ tsp Curry powder
  • ¼ tsp Chili powder
  • 6 Cups Pumpkin*, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • Minced fresh parsley
In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and sauté carrots and onions. Add broth and lentils and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, curry, chili and pumpkin. Return to a boil, then reduce to low, partially cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and top with fresh parsley.

Servings: 6

Daily Post: Emotional Intelligence Central


Strategies and Tips for Good Mental Health, I will give you the tools for lasting results.
People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their emotions and their behavior. They are able to handle life’s inevitable challenges, build strong relationships, and lead productive, fulfilling lives. When bad things happen, they’re able to bounce back and move on.
Unfortunately, too many people take their mental and emotional health for granted – focusing on it only when they develop problems. But just as it requires effort to build or maintain physical health, so it is with mental and emotional health. The more time and energy you invest in your emotional health, the stronger it will be. The good news is that there are many things you can do to boost your mood, build resilience, and get more enjoyment out of life.
What is mental health or emotional health?
Mental or emotional health refers to your overall psychological well-being. It includes the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with difficulties.
Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics.
People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:
• A sense of contentment.
• A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.
• The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
• A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.
• The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.
• A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
• The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
• Self-confidence and high self-esteem.
These positive characteristics of mental and emotional health allow you to participate in life to the fullest extent possible through productive, meaningful activities and strong relationships. These positive characteristics also help you cope when faced with life’s challenges and stresses.
The role of resilience in mental and emotional health
Being emotionally and mentally healthy doesn’t mean never going through bad times or experiencing emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress.
The difference is that people with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This ability is called resilience. People who are emotionally and mentally healthy have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good.
One of the key factors in resilience is the ability to balance your emotions. The capacity to recognize your emotions and express them appropriately helps you avoid getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or other negative mood states. Another key factor is having a strong support network. Having trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will boost your resilience in tough times.
Building your resilience
Resilience involves maintaining flexibility and balance in your life as you deal with stressful circumstances and traumatic events. This happens in several ways, including:
• Letting yourself experience strong emotions, and also realizing when you may need to avoid experiencing them at times in order to continue functioning
• Stepping forward and taking action to deal with your problems and meet the demands of daily living, and also stepping back to rest and reenergize yourself
• Spending time with loved ones to gain support and encouragement, and also nurturing yourself
• Relying on others, and also relying on yourself
Source: American Psychological Association
Physical health is connected to mental and emotional health
Taking care of your body is a powerful first step towards mental and emotional health. The mind and the body are linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. For example, exercise not only strengthens our heart and lungs, but also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that energize us and lift our mood.
The activities you engage in and the daily choices you make affect the way you feel physically and emotionally.
• Get enough rest. To have good mental and emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body. That includes getting enough sleep. Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep each night in order to function optimally.
• Learn about good nutrition and practice it. The subject of nutrition is complicated and not always easy to put into practice. But the more you learn about what you eat and how it affects your energy and mood, the better you can feel.
• Exercise to relieve stress and lift your mood. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. Look for small ways to add activity to your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going on a short walk. To get the most mental health benefits, aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise per day.
• Get a dose of sunlight every day. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day. This can be done while exercising, gardening, or socializing.
• Limit alcohol and avoid cigarettes and other drugs.
Improve mental and emotional health by taking care of yourself
In order to maintain and strengthen your mental and emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Don’t let stress and negative emotions build up. Try to maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges if and when they arise.
Tips and strategies for taking care of yourself:
• Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energized by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
• Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for it – things like gardening, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or building something in your workshop.
• Get a pet. Yes, pets are a responsibility, but caring for one makes you feel needed and loved. There is no love quite as unconditional as the love a pet can give. Animals can also get you out of the house for exercise and expose you to new people and places.
• Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.
• Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.
Everyone is different; not all things will be equally beneficial to all people. Some people feel better relaxing and slowing down while others need more activity and more excitement or stimulation to feel better. The important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that give you a boost.
Limit unhealthy mental habits like worrying
Try to avoid becoming absorbed by repetitive mental habits – negative thoughts about yourself and the world that suck up time, drain your energy, and trigger feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression.
Manage your stress levels
Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stressors can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you brings things back into balance.
For tips on how to reduce, prevent, and cope with stress, see
Supportive relationships: The foundation of emotional health
No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and be your best. Humans are social creatures with emotional needs for relationships and positive connections to others.. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship—even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others.
Tips and strategies for connecting to others:
• Get out from behind your TV or computer screen. Screens have their place but they will never have the same effect as an expression of interest or a reassuring touch. Communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to be in direct contact with other people, so don’t neglect your real-world relationships in favor of virtual interaction.
• Spend time daily, face-to-face, with people you like. Make spending time with people you enjoy a priority. Choose friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members who are upbeat, positive, and interested in you. Take time to inquire about people you meet during the day that you like.
• Volunteer. Doing something that helps others has a beneficial effect on how you feel about yourself. The meaning and purpose you find in helping others will enrich and expand your life. There is no limit to the individual and group volunteer opportunities you can explore. Schools, churches, nonprofits, and charitable organization of all sorts depend on volunteers for their survival.
• Be a joiner. Join networking, social action, conservation, and special interest groups that meet on a regular basis. These groups offer wonderful opportunities for finding people with common interests – people you like being with who are potential friends.
Building Great Relationships
If you find it difficult to connect to others or to maintain fulfilling, long-term relationships, you may benefit from raising your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence allows us to communicate clearly, “read” other people, and resolve conflicts.
Risk factors for mental and emotional problems
Your mental and emotional health has been and will continue to be shaped by your experiences. Early childhood experiences are especially significant. Genetic and biological factors can also play a role, but these too can be changed by experience.
Risk factors that can compromise mental and emotional health:
• Poor connection or attachment to your primary caretaker early in life. Feeling lonely, isolated, unsafe, confused, or abused as an infant or young child.
• Traumas or serious losses, especially early in life. Death of a parent or other traumatic experiences such as war or hospitalization.
• Learned helplessness. Negative experiences that lead to a belief that you’re helpless and that you have little control over the situations in your life.
• Illness, especially when it’s chronic, disabling, or isolates you from others.
• Side effects of medications, especially in older people who may be taking a variety of medications.
• Substance abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse can both cause mental health problems and make preexisting mental or emotional problems worse.
Whatever internal or external factors have shaped your mental and emotional health, it’s never too late to make changes that will improve your psychological well-being. Risk factors can be counteracted with protective factors, like strong relationships, a healthy lifestyle, and coping strategies for managing stress and negative emotions.
When to seek professional help for emotional problems
If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and you still don’t feel good – then it’s time to seek professional help. Because we are so socially attuned, input from a knowledgeable, caring professional can motivate us to do things for ourselves that we were not able to do on our own.
The question of when to seek professional help can be answered by looking over the following list of red flags.
Red flag feelings and behaviors that require immediate attention
• Inability to sleep.
• Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time.
• Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life.
• Using smoking, overeating, drugs, or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions.
• Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control.
• Thoughts of death or suicide.
If you identify with any of these red flag symptoms, make an appointment with a mental health professional – and the sooner, the better. It’s much easier to overcome a mental or emotional problem if you deal with it while it’s small, rather than waiting until it’s a major, entrenched problem.
Emotional intelligence can help you strengthen your relationships, succeed at work, and overcome life’s challenges