Thursday, August 28, 2008

Reality Check

This summer I have been working on a book for Opportunity International that will share some of the stories of women they have supported through their micro-credit program.

As I grappled with the day-to-day realities that these women face, I became more and more aware of how much we take for granted in Canada. We have electricity, running water and a roof over our heads. While some of these women have achieved this, it is only through their tenacity, hard work and the support and training from Opportunity International.

We also do not have the double responsibility of the orphans in the community whose parents have died of AIDs. These women who are living in poverty, have given back to their communities by supporting many of the children who would not otherwise receive an education. Would that happen here – regretfully I don’t think so.

There is much to learn from how we work and support the disadvantaged. In another life, I used to run a program for teen mothers who wanted to finish high school and better their lives – for themselves and their children. We developed some strategies that were simple and effective, making the assignments relevant and practical.

Likewise, I can see that what Opportunity International has developed for their clients, would work with all of us. When a loan, as little as $84 is granted, there is a trust group formed – each person takes ownership for their loan, but the bottom line is that the group is responsible for ensuring that each member is successful and fulfils the commitment to repay the loan. Not a bad idea. We all could benefit from peer support and accountability.

When the book is published, I hope you will read it – you will be inspired and hopefully the trials and tribulations you face will be put in perspective!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Just because you feel it, doesn't mean it is true...

What sign of the zodiac are you? I am a Pisces and we are noted for being creative and sensitive. For example, I have a tendency, especially when I am tired, to take stuff personally and over-react when my feelings get hurt. So I was particularly interested to read this article on how to reset your emotional gauge.

Now it isn’t all negative. The good news is that sensitivity is essential for empathy, which allows us to tap into where people are coming from and gives us insights others won’t have.

But here’s some practical tips on how to develop your emotional resilience.

1. Focus on resilience

Don’t dwell on your over-sensitivity as this tends to reinforce it. Instead focus on building your resilience. Celebrate when you don’t over-react.

2. Reality check

“Just because you feel it, doesn’t mean it is true.” Reflect on this when your emotions start to spiral out of control to help put things in perspective.

3. Know the triggers

Know your ‘soft spots’. This will help you identify when you are over-reacting. Where in your life do you feel most insecure? Gradually you will be able to see patterns, and be better able to head-off problems.

4. Take a break

Go for a walk, sleep on it, count to 100. If someone has hurt your feelings, just consider the possibility that their intention might not have been to wound you. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Empathy is the best way to tackle hypersensitivity.

5. Listen to what others tell you

Step out of the drama so you can hear what’s being said. Ask and listen to what others tell you.

Apparently 15-20 per cent of the population fall under a distinct personality type known as the highly sensitive person (HSP). Take the test at and find out more.