Friday, July 30, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Becoming a Fully-Loaded Grown-up - by Stacy Kaiser

The Ten Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know

1. Face Life’s Challenges Head-On

• Don’t waste time bemoaning the bad hand you’ve been dealt. Focus on what you can change now, and begin to invest your efforts in those directions. Beware of what Kaiser calls the “elevator effect”: exaggerating and escalating a problem to a higher level than it really is.

• Successful grown ups build and cultivate a support system. Kaiser’s rule of thumb: the bigger the problem, the more people you need to tell about it and seek support from.

2. Make Peace with Your Body

• What do you want the world to see when they look at you? Accept the fact that you and only you have control. How you feel about your appearance is a barometer of how you feel you fit into the world.

• Everyone complains most loudly about the things they can control—most especially weight. Identify the things that you can change and work toward changing them—but make peace with the things you can’t change, and learn to dress and groom yourself in the most flattering way possible.

3. Take Responsibility for Your Heart

• First, be aware of relationship baggage—analyze your issues, learn from your past, and avoid future mistakes. Can your baggage fit into an overhead bin, or are you checking in huge trunks and suitcases?

• Know the difference between what you need and what you want. Make choices from your heart and your head, not just your hormones.

• If you want lasting love, stop the following behaviors immediately: give up the need to be right, the need to win, the finger pointing, yelling, and the fights about the small stuff. Keep the end game firmly in mind: when we are old, I want us to still be together.

• The 4 C’s of quality relationship building are: (1) Consider your partner’s feelings, thoughts, and desires; (2) Compromise as often as you can, and choose a partner who is interested in compromising as well; (3) Comfort your partner when he or she is in pain—and don’t settle for a partner who can’t comfort you in return; and (4) Compliment daily.

4. Build a Meaningful Career

• Recognize that your job is so much more than a paycheck or the use of your skills. It is an integral part of who you are and the contribution you are making to society.

• Remember that in any industry, you start at the bottom because you have to pay your dues. Grown-ups are willing to pay their dues because they have their eye on a bigger future.

• Don’t like your current job? Then appreciate the benefits it gives to your life—money, security, insurance. Always keep the bigger picture in mind.

• If you lose your job, as many have during the recession, do not fall into despair. And always, always have a back-up plan. (Perhaps you can take your skill set to another industry, work as a freelancer, etc.)

5. Learn How to Handle the Tough Times

• Life will hand out tough times—true grown ups know they must cope with a crisis, not give up or fall apart.

• Whether it’s the loss of a job, a divorce, or an illness, learn to manage your anxiety (no panicking). Gather information to assess the reality of the situation, reach out to others who can help, and take some sort of action. Instead of falling apart, real grown ups do something proactive.

6. Face Your Anxieties Instead of Trying to Escape Them

• Are you relying on something to distract yourself, ease the pain, or make you feel better? The need to escape is driven typically by four key feelings: shame, fear, anger, and sadness. If these emotions are not dealt with, addictions may result. Recognize this and turn to your support system and professional help.

• These feelings, especially, sadness, need comfort – not the comfort of a drink, a cookie, or a purchase, but the true comfort of a person or group of people who care.

7. Take Ownership of Your Finances

• Real grown ups learn to live within their means, and they take responsibility for keeping up with the information they need to manage their own finances.

• If you are in trouble financially, do not panic or give up—remember, failure can be a temporary state. Rebuilding is done all the time by huge companies, small businesses, and individuals.

8. Master the Use of Your Time

• We all have the same amount of time—a true grown up is aware of this and takes ownership of his or her schedule.

• Life is a balancing act: part of being a grown up is learning to juggle work, family, intimate relationships, taking care of one’s self, and many other commitments. Time management is essential—this means consciously planning, prioritizing, and making time for what’s important.

9. Practice Dynamic Communication

• Recognize that how you communicate sets the tone for how the world sees you and treats you.

• Dynamic communication means listening to your grown up voice and refusing to allow your past history or negative fantasy voice to influence your present behavior.

• Dynamic communicators do their best to keep themselves—and others—in check. They’ll apologize, they’ll walk away, and they’ll take the higher road for good.

• Dynamic communicators don’t bring up twenty things that happened in the past – with anyone. They are focused on the here and now and moving forward.

• To communicate effectively, you have to care more about the long-term outcome than you do about the immediate gratification of being heard, winning, getting the last word, or being right.

10. Find the Right Level of Flexibility

• As much as real grown ups need to have a plan for the future, it’s also crucial to develop flexibility—the ability to adapt, change, and conform to any situation—the good and the bad, the planned and unplanned.

STACY KAISER is a licensed psychotherapist, relationship expert, and media personality. With over 100 television appearances in the last year on major networks including CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and FOX, Stacy has a reputation for bringing a unique mix of thoughtful and provocative insight to a wide range of topics. Stacy tackles the demands of a thriving private practice while meeting the daily challenges as a mother of school-age children. She is a much sought after public speaker on subjects ranging from office and personal relationship issues to anger management and family politics.

Stacy was a featured psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club and Lifetime’s DietTribe, and is currently the chief program officer for ToughLOVE LLC. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children. Visit

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