A: Instead of pouting, you need to focus on what you do have and what you can do with this “staycation.” Be grateful that you have time to be with your loved ones and to take a break from work. Many folks in this economy can’t afford that luxury. And others don’t even have loved ones around anymore. Instead of comparing your time off to what it could have been, concentrate on being fully present in what it is. Make the time special. Revel in it. Toss in an element of surprise. Appreciate the multitude of blessings in your life, including the decade of “very nice” vacations you’ve enjoyed.
Q: How do you deal with people in a position of power and authority who have unbelievable egos? I can’t ignore it since I have to work with them on projects. What are some tips to deal with this?
A: It’s tricky terrain when the egomaniacs have authority over you. But it’s surmountable. Here are approaches that have worked for me, and I have worked with some real doozies.
-Resist the temptation to fight them. Let them talk and talk; they love the sound of their own voice. Remain calm and suppress your own ego’s desire to squelch theirs. They’ll be more receptive to what you have to say if you let them talk a while.
-Use their name often when speaking to them. This will make them think it’s all about them, and that’s music to their narcissistic ears.
-Ask them for feedback, even if you have no intention of implementing their ideas. Let the legends in their own minds think they’re leading the game. By doing this you are softening them and weakening their defenses.
-Impose boundaries so that they don’t become an “emotional contagion” in the workplace. While you stroke those gargantuan egos, you can also set the tone for them to respect you. Remember that you’re teaching them how to treat you. The key is to be a strategist, not a doormat.
Q: I’ve been feeling antsy lately and want to just run away from everything. More than anything, I feel tied down, and that’s not a very fun way to go through life. How do I break free?
A: First you need to assess your level of inner bondage and identify the areas that need work. After all, you can’t plot your escape until you recognize what is holding you hostage. Your responses to the following questions should reveal some of the thinking and behaviors that keep you bound.
-How much of your mood/confidence is affected by how others respond to you/think of you?
-How long do you hold onto grudges against those who have “wronged” you?
-Do you feel uncomfortable spending time alone?
-Are you worried about how much money you have? Do you check your balance more often than needed?
-When faced with a setback, do you vow to turn it into a comeback?
-Do you envy what someone else has and wish you could change places with her?
-Have you been simplifying your life (getting rid of things you don’t need/ending unhealthy relationships)?
-Do you get neurotic about exercising? Do you obsess over what you eat? Or do you savor your food?
-Have you ever chosen to remain silent when you should have raised your voice?
-Do you laugh easily and often? As Nicolas Chamfort says, “The most wasted of all days is that in which we have not laughed.”
-Do you typically complain about what’s wrong with others? Or do you work on improving yourself? How did you do? Don’t fret, even if your answers leave you a bit unimpressed with yourself. The important thing is that you’re becoming more attuned to your inner landscape. You have already taken the first step. Note the areas that need developing, and start to tackle them.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at www.thecrackerqueen.com.