Focus on what’s within your control in life & leadership.

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When things go wrong, what do you focus on first?

The world outside you

or

the world within you?

The following is a video and activity overview from Part 2 of the 2020 SRC Leadership Development Workshop. Click Here for Part 1.

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.

Be The Change

I believe that (self) control is the foundation of effective leadership because in order to lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.

  • This concept is based on the Internal versus External Locus of Control developed by psychologist Dr. Julian Rotter.
  • CONTROL is also the second “C” in the Thriving Under Pressure Model discussed in my TEDx Talk.

Leadership Skills Development 

CONTROL – Part 1

In the initial control exercise, participants met in groups to reflect and share their answers to the following questions:

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CONTROL – Part 2

Next, participants applied the C-P-R Model of Sustainable Mental Health Habits to their own experiences as both students and student leaders.

  • This activity helped them focus on the areas of their life, including mental health habits and stress management practices, that is within versus outside their sphere of control.
  • Click Here for the original CPR Blog Post and Video

C. P. R.

CATCH.   PAUSE.   REPAIR.

in action

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1. Student leaders first identified their triggers. Including emotional, cognitive, situational, and physical stressors. CATCH

2. Then they practiced taking a time-out (long deep breath) during high pressure moments. PAUSE

3. Finally, they shared both self-care (fitness, sleep, nutrition) and professional resources (counselling) that help them replenish unmet psychological and physical needs (as outlined on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). REPAIR

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 Control Video ⇒ Click Here
TEDx Talk ⇒ Click Here

How will you lead your life today?

Strength Based Leadership: ReThink Challenges

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On January 11, 2020, I had the opportunity to work with the student leadership team at St. Clair College in Windsor Ontario.

MISSION AND VISION

The goal was to strengthen the bonds between team members and harness the power of their mission for the 12,500 students on campus.

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Student Representative Council (SRC) Leadership Team

We talked about the many ways challenges can be transformed into opportunities.

And how pressure can be used in a positive way to motivate us to the next level of our lives.

CHALLENGE is the first “C” in the “Stress to Strength” model from my Thriving Under Pressure TEDx Talk. Photo below.

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Psychology of Leadership 

In the video from the leadership workshop I give an overview of the ABC Model of Cognitive Psychology and the Flow Model of Optimal Performance.

We also discussed why resilience is not so much about what happened, but our thoughts about what happened.

Listen in for more:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

More videos and learning moments from the leadership event to come. Stay Tuned! Dr. D 📚❤️

Special thanks to UWSA VP of Advocacy Arop Plaek Deng for being the photographer and videographer at the SRC Leadership Event 📸 
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I am pictured here with SRC President Kiara Clement
Leadership Video ⇒ Click Here
TEDx Talk ⇒ Click Here

Coping with loneliness during the holidays.

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When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness. An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Original Source:

I originally wrote this article for The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness/

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SARAH

Sarah was a 42-year-old recently divorced woman who was about to face her first holiday season alone. Living in a new town, miles away from friends and family, she was waiting to begin a new job in January. Hours felt like days.

Days felt like months. Sarah had tried everything to fill the void inside. The mistake she made was running away from the one thing that would help get her to the other side: loneliness itself.

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Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature.

There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion:

schacter singer

This theory of emotion explains why two people can experience the exact same event and have completely different emotional reactions to it.

What matters most is the person’s interpretation of an event, not the event itself. After all, as they say, one person’s glass-half-full is another one’s glass-half-empty.

In Sarah’s situation, she interpreted her physiological response to idle time as loneliness, while another person might label it as much-needed relaxation. Ultimately, Sarah has a choice. One interpretation debilitates; the other empowers.

2. Witness the emotion

Now that Sarah understands the interpretative power she holds over her environmental triggers, the next step is to witness loneliness in a neutral, curious state rather than fighting it at every turn.

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In doing so, Sarah neutralizes the intensity of her emotions, allowing them to flow through her, rather than getting stuck in a repetitive loop of pain.

Here are four simple ways to create space between triggers and responses:

1. Count to 10

2. Take a long deep breath

3. Make three wishes

4. Look up at the sky

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Taken one step further, each time that Sarah experiences a challenging emotion during the holidays, rather than running from it she needs to lean in and ask that emotion, “What are you trying to teach me?”

3. Reframe the emotion

The final step for Sarah is to learn how to reframe the situations that trigger her loneliness, and understand why sometimes she overreacts, while other times she lets go without a second thought.

Solitude is perceived as isolation by one person and freedom by another.

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Reframing exercise:

1. Identify a situation that triggers loneliness.

2. Imagine the best-case scenario: “This situation is temporary.”

3. Look for evidence of the best-case scenario: “The longest I’ve been single is two years.”

4. Describe the worst-case scenario: “I will be alone forever.”

5. Name the benefits of the worst-case scenario: “I am free to do what I want.”

6. Finally, ask for help in reframing triggers, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Once Sarah learns how to change the story “behind” the story, her instinctive loneliness lessens. And her ability to choose a higher thought improves.

Watch Video Summary

Click Here

JACK

At 55 years of age, Jack was also feeling the pangs of loneliness. His wife of 25 years died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago.

Unexpected was an understatement. They had run in three marathons together and had spent their weekends sampling new vegan restaurants in their local community. Ever since his wife had died, Jack struggled to face the holidays alone.

Jack’s story is as much about him as it is about the family around him. His family and friends’ automatic response was to feel sorry for him, a response that compounded his feelings of disconnectedness and misunderstanding.

Jack did not want people to feel sorry for him. He was a proud man who was ready to move on.

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Get out of your own head

1. Meet with “experienced” widowers

As much as Jack missed his wife, he also missed his ability to connect authentically with friends and family. Having been treated with kid gloves since his wife died, Jack longed to be seen as a victor rather than a victim

As such, I encourage Jack to connect with like-minded individuals who had been through a similar situation: widows and widowers. Specifically, ones who had been on their own for several years.

The benefits are twofold. One, Jack would learn new ways of relating to friends and family. And two, he’d be given the green light to grow and acclimate to his new circumstances.

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2. Connect with others in unexpected, low-pressure ways

The other component missing in Jack’s life was fun. Simple, cheerful, good-time fun. Everything had become so serious since his wife died, with almost every conversation beginning or ending with his wife’s death.

There was no doubt that he missed her with all his heart. But equally, he longed for moments where he could be free of the loneliness and pain.

I recommend that Jack reintroduce sports into his life. Something non-competitive that would get him out of the house on a Wednesday night. Better yet, if it involved people that he had never met, it would allow him to continue his journey of reinvention and rediscovery.

Equally therapeutic for Jack would be joining a cinema group or regular euchre meetup—both would offer him a chance to be in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

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3. Honour the old, create the new

Finally, I advise Jack to examine the memories and traditions that he wanted to keep alive during the holidays—and, equally, the ones of which he was ready to let go.

Jack took the practice one step further. Declaring December a month of renewal and reinvention, he revived a strength and peace inside that radiated out to his entire family.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Conclusion 

Jack and Sarah have a lot to teach us about loneliness and how important it is to honour the unique ways in which we process adversity.

One size does not fit all. Fellowship and fun were vital for Jack’s growth and recovery, while Sarah needed a more analytical approach to processing difficulty.

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• Lean into loneliness

• Approach it with openness and curiosity

• Make space for the lessons beneath the suffering

Disclaimer: This post and magazine article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To protect the privacy of individuals, names and identifying details have been changed.

Your Turn

1. How do you cope with difficult emotions during the holidays?

2. What strategies do you use to make peace with the heightened pressures of the Christmas season?

3. What are your unique traditions and one-of-a-kind celebrations?

Video of Blog Post → Click Here

Thriving Teams. Thriving Leaders.

THRIVING TEAMS Dr. Andrea Dinardo

LESSONS LEARNED

In the post below, I share lessons learned at a recent thriving student leadership  teams workshop.

It was a true team effort!  With the team-building and leadership exercises equally led by the student leaders and myself.

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Please join in and explore the reflection questions, interactive activities, and workshop videos with the teams in your life.

Together Everyone Achieves More!

WHAT HELPS TEAMS FLOURISH & THRIVE?

1. Compassion and Empathy

“It takes both sides to build a bridge.”

Perspective taking exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. Identify a problem you have faced as a student leader.
2. Determine what’s “below the surface” that could potentially be the source of the problem.
3. Explore the problem from the perspective of the student.
4. Describe the problem and potential solution using both the leader’s and the student’s perspectives.
5. Summarize the lessons and potential opportunities of the original problem. Eg. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the student?

“Together We Rise.”

UWSA Student Leaders BOD

2. Conscious Goal Setting

“Goals with Soul.”

Personal and Team goal setting exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. What are your goals as student leader for the school year?
2. What are your goals as team member for the school year?
3. What are your greatest assets for the team?
4. What areas do you need assistance from the team?

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

UWSA Student Leaders Executive

3. Shared Vision

“Your life is your message to the world.”

“What’s Your North Star?” team building exercise.

Discussion Questions:
1. What’s Your Purpose?
2. What Lights Your Way?
3. What Bonds and Unites Your Team?

“What’s Your Why?”

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Everyday Leadership

  • I encourage you to try our Thriving Teams Thriving Leaders Exercises in your own life.
  • Whether it be your family team, your friendship team, your neighbourhood team, your church team, or your sports team.
  •  Teams are everywhere!

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Assistance from UWSA Team

The videos in this post were filmed with the generous help of student leaders during my THRIVING TEAMS presentation at the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) Summer Board Retreat.

What an incredible group of leaders they are!

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Helpful Resources

  1. TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czXG8odb7pY
  2.  University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) website
    http://www.uwsa.ca

“Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.”

Positive Psychology Workshop | Women with Drive Summit

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Positive Psychology Workshop

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day I had the opportunity to speak at a Windsor Summit called Women with Drive.

A local conference organized by a young woman named Cierra Bray, who poured her heart and soul for months into planning, organizing, and promoting the exhilarating two-day event.

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When asked to describe the conference to those who were unable to attend, I summed it up in three words: beautiful, heartwarming, and informative.

And even more than that — my favourite takeaway from the Women with Drive Summit was the empowering community Cierra Bray, the organizer, created.

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All Photos by Charlie O’Brien

“Educate a girl, and you educate a community.” 

Including weekly WWD newsletters and face-to-face reunions for all who participated.

For gatherings aren’t meant as a means to an end. Instead, they are just the beginning for all that is yet to come.

Heal. Learn. Grow. Succeed.

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“Expand your knowledge by expanding your community.”


LESSONS LEARNED

From an Audience Member 

 For all 7 lessons, visit GutsyFeeling.com

Ms. Nathalie Begin shares her lessons below:

PROTECT YOURSELF

Dr. Dinardo explained to us all about positive psychology while sharing with us some of the struggles she faced earlier in her career as a psychologist.

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The main focus of her discussion was about protecting yourself from everyone’s problems.

One of the main things that Dr. Dinardo struggled with years ago was protecting her own mental health when she had all of these patients who needed her help.

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She taught us that we should be focusing less on the PROBLEMS in our lives, and more on strengths and goodness in our lives.

When someone comes to her with a problem, she believes it is best to speak 15 minutes about the problem, and 45 about the solutions, strengths and goodness.

Dr. Dinardo explains that we must build on what is STRONG, not on what is WRONG.

If you spend too much time talking about the problems, you will never find a solution.

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She also explains that we must protect ourselves from other people’s  problems.

We should be respectful of other peoples time and energy, and ensure that it is okay to talk about our problems with other people. (We often word vomit our problems onto so many people in our lives and this is not okay to do all the time.)

Dr. Dinardo explains one of her favorite practices is the 10 minute timer. She allows friends to vent for 10 minutes, and after that time it is over.

Overall, it is important that we protect our energy and respect others energy in order to stay sane and happy.

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All photos by Charlie O’Brien

Together we rise.” 💞

Thriving Under Pressure — Leadership Training and Development

Fitness is more than physical.

Recently, I was invited to do a Leadership Training and Development Workshop at a local kickboxing club.

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The ultimate stress release.

This is where I go to cool my jets and find my joy. So, I was more than excited to take the leadership team’s mental fitness up to the next level!

From surviving to thriving.

During the mental fitness training session, I discussed how the 3 C’s of Thriving Under Pressure from my TEDx Talk could enhance the performance and well-being of the Kersey Kickbox Team.

Commitment – Challenge – Control

Using personality assessment, team mapping, and real-life examples, I harnessed the team’s many strengths to benefit both the club’s membership and the trainers themselves.

Hope you enjoy the video too.

Failure as FEEDBACK | The Drive Magazine.

failure

There are two ways of looking at failure.

Failure as FEEDBACK.

Failure as PUNISHMENT.

⊕⊕⊕⊕⊕

One energizes.

The other paralyzes.

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WHY FAILURE IS NECESSARY

I believe that failure is essential for success, at work and in our personal lives.

Failure lights our way to what we’re ultimately meant to do. Especially when we embrace it and consciously invite it into our lives. Pushing us past our comfort zones. Having the courage to take risks beyond our current circumstances.

Failure shows us what we’re good at, and equally what we are not skilled at. And how if we perceive failure as information (versus punishment) we will move on much more quickly to what we were born to do.

THE DRIVE MAGAZINE

I believe so strongly in the benefits of failure that I “pitched” failure as feedback to the editors of The Drive Magazine. And they said yes!

So here it is: A video overview of the February issue and links to the online edition of the magazine.

🔝  Psychology YouTube Channel 🔝

MAGAZINE edition
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The DRIVE Magazine.

ONLINE edition
My psychology article “Failure as FEEDBACK” is also available online: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/failure-as-feedback

Related: Lean into loneliness | The Drive Magazine

Lean into loneliness | The Drive Magazine.

Good news to share!

This month I published my first psychology advice column for a Canadian magazine. The same magazine that profiled my work in positive psychology.

My intention for the psychology article is to inspire and comfort individuals experiencing loneliness during the holidays.

 VIDEO OVERVIEW

 Writing dreams & goals.

I have been writing psychology textbooks for McGraw-Hill Ryerson since 2009 and blogging since 2015.

But truth be told, I have always longed for something more. To write a psychology advice column for a magazine and eventually a book about psychology in everyday life.

Psychology for the people.

My intention is to make psychology accessible, engaging, and easy to apply. Integrate all of the stories, life lessons, and adversities I have witnessed over the years as a former school psychologist and now professor.

Empower the readers to find the strength inside.

Which is why I am thrilled to share an excerpt from the December PSYCH DRIVE column for The DRIVE Magazine.

 Lean into Loneliness —  Introduction

When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness.

An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature. There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion..

To continue reading article… click here

Lean into loneliness by Dr. Andrea Dinardo

Stay tuned for the next PSYCH DRIVE in 2019!

The Drive Magazine Interview.

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am excited to share my interview with The Drive Magazine on positive psychology and stress resilience. Inspired by my TEDx Talk: Thriving Under Pressure.

The 3 C’s of Positive Psychology

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My favourite part of this photo is the story behind it.

When the magazine was arranging the photo shoot, they asked where my favourite place to recharge was in Windsor (Ontario, Canada). I shared that it was a top of Blue Heron Hill overlooking Lake Heron and Lake St. Clair. So you can just imagine the photographer hiking his equipment up the hill, with me tagging along in my wedge high sandals!

But the reward was worth it..
All you can see is blue for days. My favourite colour and place. 💙🍃

I hope this interview encourages you to keep shooting for the stars and believing in your dreams.

Ultimately reminding you that the power within you will always be greater than the challenges around you.

Click on The Drive Magazine to read the full interview.