Stop self-defeating thoughts and realize your self-worth

It is easy to fall into a negative and depressing thought pattern when you are going through something particularly stressful. The problem is when this pattern becomes the norm because it slowly works on eroding our self-worth. An example of such a thought would be for me to think that my recent job loss is my fault be cause I’m a terrible person. I don’t think that, but it is a perfect example of a self-defeating thought.

If I were to think like that I would likely spiral down into a deep depression and consider myself worthless. See how these self-defeating thoughts are bad news? Cognitive therapy deals with the idea of all of this – that certain thought patterns lead to depression and worthlessness by attacking the self-esteem.

It is important to be able to recognize defeating thoughts as they surface. Most times we do not even realize we are having self-defeating thoughts as they appear so quickly. There are some typical types of self-defeating thoughts out there, so recognizing these and then replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts is the key.

1. The “I should have…” or “I should”

I am guilty of this one myself. I wrote on here that I should have gone about asking for a salary increase differently. A more healthy way would have been to have said “Next time I want to go about it differently.” A Common example of this thought pattern is “I should have known better.” You’re just beating your self up when you say this! Instead say, “Next time I will know better.”

2. Overgeneralizing things

This is something that I think is fairly easy to pick up on. Granted I am quicker to notice it in others than in myself. Overgeneralizing in this instance means that you define your life on negative experiences. Examples are “I always ruin everything” “Everyone hates me” “I can never get it right” and so on. Sure, you may ruin some things and some people may dislike you and you may have a hard time with things sometimes. I seriously doubt it is always or all of the time. The key here is to realize that it is not ‘everything’ and just ’somethings’ that may be bad at the current time.

3. Assuming the worst

Just because someone around you is angry does not mean that they are angry at you. People that assume the worst see an angry friend and just assume “He’s mad at me.” The newsflash here is that it’s not about you. People get angry for a lot of reasons and the only time you should assume it is your fault is if you know you did something really bad to get someone angry. And we’re talking about beyond the shadow of a doubt you did something to make them mad. Otherwise just think that they must be upset. In my experience, if it is your fault you will certainly know it!

4. Dwelling on the negative

I used to be the victim of this a lot. I used to think of it as ‘looking for a reason to be upset.’ It is quite ridiculous when I think about it now, but I would do something like get a bad grade in a class and spend the rest of the day obsessing over it. The rest of my day would be tainted by me dwelling on something negative and I would totally miss all of the positives that were going on. I think this is a fairly common thought pattern though. We spend so much time thinking and brooding about the bad that we have no time to see the good. What did I learn? As hokey as it sounds, don’t sweat it because in the grand scheme of things it’s probably not that important. So maybe I got distracted and let the roast burn and we can’t eat it for dinner, that doesn’t mean we can’t go out for ice cream and to a movie and still have a good time. See?

5. Blaming someone else

Ever blamed someone else for your crappy lot in life? Yup, that’s the blaming thought pattern. Yes, your husband cheated on you and then walked out on you and the two kids. That sucks, it really does, but he is not responsible for the rest of your life. I am a firm believer in the saying ‘You create your own destiny’ and that means if your life sucks then you need to take ownership of that because its probably your fault. For instance, I am in a lot of debt and I say it is because my parents did not teach me about money but I was the one charging the credit cards up like there is no tomorrow. I did it and now I have to fix it.

6. Creating your own catastrophes

I have a good friend that emails me regularly with this phrase: “Why does this always happen to me?” The most recent email with this phrase was followed by the catastrophe of a 15 year old freezer dying and needing replaced. My friend has convinced herself that everything that happens in her life is a major catastrophe. As you can see, it is really not that serious. That is what you should remind your self if you start falling into this thought pattern.

7. I feel it, so I must be it

Saying that you feel like a worthless schmuck does not make you one. Feeling ashamed about something does not make you bad. Feeling inadequate at your job does not make you inadequate. Remember that the way that you feel is not the way things are. It sucks that you feel like a loser, but you need to remember that these are just negative thoughts trying to take hold of you and not reality.

Those are some of the more common self-defeating thought patterns. You may be able to recognize some of these in your self as well as some that I have not listed. I have found that journaling is a great way for me to become aware of these negative thought patterns and to tackle them head on. Whatever method you use, you are sure to being seeing things in a different light once you can rid your self of self-defeating thoughts.

7 money-related things that I regret doing

I warn you, it’s not going to be pretty, but here are the top 7 money related things I regret doing….so far…

1. Buying a new car instead of a reliable used one. Twice. You would think I would have learned my lesson the first time around when I was a young little thing and said car got taken by the repo man. Oh no, I didn’t let that lesson sink in. Six years later I decided I needed a new car instead of a cheap used one. And now I have a car payment that I wish I didn’t have and insurance that would be lower if I had gotten a used cheapie car. Now that I am older and wiser I am really wishing I had bought a $500 car.  Okay, well, maybe not $500 but $5000 would be a decent amount to spend. I really hate paying that monthly car payment and you better believe I will never have another one after this baby is paid off. Only cash cars for me after that.

2. Ages 16-18, spending every dime I made.  Ah, life was good. I was working and making great money as a waitress. And on my days off I drove 45 minutes to the closet mall and spent every cent. Repeat the next week, and the next, and the next…. Oh, what a horrible cycle. I could have had so much money saved before I started college. A time travel machine would be really nice to have so that I could go back and fix this.

3. Age 18, credit card #1. “Oh wow, lookie here, a nice shiny letter telling me that I have been selected to receive this shiny new Visa card! OMG, I must be so sophisticated and grown to have gotten selected for this.” Blasted credit card companies. Off to college I went with a credit card limit of $1,500 and a payment of only $15 a month, which I thought was just too cool at the time.  This was the beginning of a very bad addition I would grow into. At one point I had 23 different credit cards. All of them were maxed out. And I was making $8.50 an hour working at the mall.

4. Moving out of state. Multiple times.  I used to proudly proclaim how many different states I have lived in since turning 18 ( five if you are wondering). Then I realized how much I spent making all of those moves. And then there is the effect it had on jobs. I was never at one place long enough to get a promotion so I have been making the same salary for about 4 years now due to moving every year to a new state. Yes, it’s true that I only learned this lesson about 6 months ago. Right after I made a move to state that, unknown to me when I moved,  ranks 46 in the nation for highest unemployment. See, every time that I have moved it has been without a job in place beforehand and I have never had a hard time getting a job upon moving. Well, I got to this state and it took a few months to get a job. A job that I got fired from two weeks ago for asking for a raise. Go figure. The moral of the story? Only move out of state if you have a job. And if you still want to move without a job do a little research to see where your state ranks in unemployment levels.

5. Staying in school when I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I started college right out of high school because that is what you are supposed to do. Unfortunately for me I was not real clear on what I wanted to do in life, so I spent my undergrad years at 5 different schools. Each time I would transfer there would be some classes that would not transfer. That means money down the drain. That makes me an idiot.  I know better now and if I have kids I will make sure that they have a plan before they go to college.

6. Getting talked into “signature student loans” instead of Stafford loans at one of those schools.  Yes, sadly I was one of those poor schmucks that ended up with a 10% interest rate student loan that you can’t consolidate and you can’t defer. If I had it all to do over I wouldn’t have even gone to school if I had to get loans to do it. And I certainly would have run from the lady in the UCF financial aid office that talked me into those signature loans. Some days I don’t think I’ll ever pay off my student loans let alone early like some people do!

7. Becoming a junk collector.  At one point a year or two ago I went through the stacks of CDs and DVDs and books that I had and discovered many I had never viewed. Brand new items still in the plastic. What I am telling you here is that I had acquired so much junk that I didn’t even have time to use or enjoy it! The sad thing is that I am probably still paying for some of those things on my credit cards. I ended up getting rid of all but a select few of those items on Amazon Marketplace. I was stoked because I made a few thousand off of all of that. Then I realized that I spent at least 3 times that much on all of that junk. That made me sick to my stomach. Whenever I think about buying something I don’t need I remember that feeling and quickly put it back on the shelf.

There you have it – my horrible money regrets. Now tell me yours – make me feel better, make me think that maybe mine aren’t so bad because I didn’t do what you did. Just don’t tell me that you were super smart about money. That will make me jealous.

 

Take control of your destiny by changing your thoughts

I am a big believer in the thought that you control your own destiny. While I do believe that each of us is destined for certain things, I see it as more of a loose pattern. Yes, we are supposed to go from A to B, but it is how we get there that we have control of. And not just how we get there, but how quickly or how slowly. Unfortunately, there are a lot of times when we are delaying our progress just by the way we are thinking. In essence, we are holding ourselves back from greatness and from our destiny. I think that there are a lot of times that we do not even realize that we are doing this detrimental thing to ourselves. I know that I am guilty of it, even though I try to be conscience of it on a regular basis.

Here are some of the things that I have identified in my life that you might recognize in your own as holding you back.

1. Being scared of change. It is easy to get comfortable in doing something the same old way, day in and day out. But with comfort you sometimes get fear. Fear of change specifically. Sometimes we need to recognize that just because something has always worked for us in the past, there could be another more efficient way to do things.

2. Underestimating you. How often do you want to do something but do not because you think you cannot? Instead of thinking you can’t do something, you should think “I can try.” Most times, you will find out that you can indeed do whatever it was that you though was out of your reach. I recently took some graduate level finance classes that I had put off taking for sometime, even though I really wanted to take them. Why did I do that? Because I didn’t think I was smart enough to grasp and handle the work. I finally realized I should just try it. Guess what? The class was difficult for me and it kicked my butt on a daily basis. But you know what? I learned a lot more from it than I thought I would AND I got an A in the class. I could do it all along, I just underestimated me.

3. Failing at something is not a bad thing, contrary to what we tell ourselves. It is easy to fail at something and then label ourselves as worthless. It is also easy to leave whatever that thing was to the wayside and not ever try it again. What we do not realize is that with failure comes knowledge. Lessons can be learned from failures that leave you stronger and more knowledgeable that you were to begin with.

4. I am no more unique than anyone else. This is a silly way of thinking because we know that each of us has something to offer that is unique and special. Sometimes, we can only see the unique and special in others and fail to realize that we have something just as great to offer the world.

5. No one cares if you succeed or fail. Remember that you are a someone and that YOU care if you succeed or fail. You do not have to have a family or a significant other to cheer you to the finish line. You can cheer yourself to the finish line. And really, it is most important to have you on your side.

6. If only you could have done that when you were 20. Age discrimination is not legal for employers, so why are you practicing it against yourself? Age truly is only a state of mind for the most part. Sure, being of a certain age group may present some advantages, but you can do anything you want no matter what age you are. Using age as an excuse is just another way of holding yourself back and preventing you from fulfilling your destiny.

Go to college or join the peace corps?

My youngest brother is navigating his way through his senior year of high school. He’s a smart kid and everyone and their mother is telling him what he should be and what schools he should go to. The funny thing is that the kid is not too interested in going to college at this point.

He called me a few nights ago wanting to know what I know about joining the peace corps. Seems he would rather spend his time helping people with the peace corps than going to college or getting a job right out of high school.

Unfortunately for most high school students the peace corps prefers people that at least have some community college under their belt.

Qualifications are:

  1. At least age 18
  2. A US citizen
  3. A four-year college degree, or solid work experience in an area such as agriculture, business management, or a skilled trade. A community college degree paired with specific skills or work experience may also qualify you.

So, for him, this applies:

For applicants without a college degree, there are opportunities to work in several program areas, provided you have the appropriate work experience or knowledge of a skilled trade. To find out about these opportunities, call your regional recruitment office at 800.424.8580.

The skilled trade areas (from the best I can tell) are:

  • agriculture
  • business
  • community development
  • construction
  • and more

Fortunately our father works in construction building new homes. And my brother has spent many summers helping him out. So, I suspect he will actually end up qualifying for the peace corps if he decides to pursue it.

I did a little research for him so that he would know what he is getting into. He thought he could do it for a year and then assess things and take it from there.

All Peace Corps Volunteers commit to 27 months of training and service overseas.

Volunteers do earn 2 days of vacation time per month though.

I was under the impression that all you got in terms of pay for this gig was room and board and transportation. Looks like you get a little more than that.

From their website:

The Peace Corps provides Volunteers with a living allowance that enables them to live in a manner similar to the local people in their community. The Peace Corps also provides complete medical and dental care and covers the cost of transportation to and from your country of service.

When you return from your 27 months of service, you will receive just over $6,000 toward your transition to life back home. The money is yours to use as you wish: for travel, a vacation, making a move, or securing housing.

Wow. Sounds like a pretty decent gig to me.

Did you know that there is no upper age limit for volunteers?

There is no application deadline for being a volunteer as applications are taken on a rolling basis. The entire application process-from completion of your application to departure for service-takes an average of nine months.

If you are legally married, then you can serve together with your spouse. If you are in a gay relationship though you are out of luck. That’s really unfortunate. I wonder how many volunteers the Peace Corps and those in need are missing out on just because the USA does not recognize gay relationships?

Applying is a five step process.

  1. Submit your application.
  2. Wait to get contacted for an interview.
  3. Get medical and legal clearance.
  4. Qualify based on your skills and suitability.
  5. They contact you with a placement.

And that is it.

And here is an interesting benefit once you get out of the Peace Corps:

Receive Advantages in Federal Employment

Volunteers who complete two years of service receive one year of noncompetitive eligibility for employment in the federal government. This means that if you meet the minimum qualifications for a position, you can be hired without going through the standard competitive process, at the employing agency’s discretion.

Is your resume working for you? Mine wasn’t.

Since being newly unemployed I have had the time to tinker with my resume to make sure that it is working its magic for me when I send it out to a prospective employer. I have a Bachelor’s in Journalism so I thought my resume was pretty darn spiffy to begin with, but I thought a little sprucing up couldn’t hurt it. After a little research I discovered something. My spiffy resume was not so spiffy. Talk about a blow to the ego! No matter, because now I am armed with info and can spruce it up to make sure I can land an awesome job. Well, at least the interview that is!

When I was getting ready to tweak my resume I did a search for keywords that I should make sure are on there. With so many computers scanning resumes for keywords these days it is easy to get left out regardless of your qualifications.

One of the first valuable bits of information I came to were the top keywords that actually weaken your resume.  And don’t you know that I had some of them on my resume!

  • Vague wording is something that weakens your resume. Examples include: assist, support and contribute. The problem  is that these are not descriptive enough.
  • Saying you “effectively” or “successfully” did something as opposed to stating exactly what that success was. Sometimes you may even have it spelled out but add in the “successfully” part which can be both redundant and confusing.
  • Listing out things that you are “responsible for.” Again this is a telling and not showing your successes. Instead of saying “responsible for phone coverage” it would look much better to say “answered 15 line phone” or something similar.
  • Confusing the reader with fancy words or buzzwords. A lot of times you can get a HR person that has no idea what your resume is talking about. I have actually had this happen before. What a nightmare!

On the flipside of keywords and resumes I also found an article about keywords that strengthen your resume. I am ashamed to say that previously I only had one of these on my resume.

  • Teamwork. People love to hear that you can play well with others. And it also means to employers that you can be counted on to pick up the slack if someone else on the “team” is falling behind.
  •  Flexibility. They want to know that you are willing to wear many hats. It’s like multi-tasking, only with more hats.
  • Detail-oriented. Employers like it when you are anal and super organized. It means you can be counted on to get things done without someone having to stand over your shoulder.
  • Self-motivated. Employers want to see that you will take the initiative and seek out work without waiting for it to be handed to you. I think this goes with flexibility as this kind of person will wear many hats.

 

25 Ways to Not Get That Job Offer

I recently got an “interview packet” from a recruiter at a staffing agency. The packet contained a lot of common sense stuff, like dress professional when you go to a job interview and don’t be late for your interview and so on. While most of the stuff in the packet was common sense, I did pull out this nugget of info from the packets. Basically, these are surefire ways to NOT get a job. So, if you find yourself doing any of these things in a job interview, you might want to not do them…

25 WAYS CANDIDATES STRIKE OUT WHEN INTERVIEWING

A recent survey of 153 companies, who were questioned as to why they did not hire a qualified applicant, resulted in the following answers:

  1. Poor personal appearance
  2. Lack of interest and enthusiasm
  3. Over-emphasis on money
  4. Criticism of past employers
  5. Failure to have good eye contact with interviewer
  6. Limp, “dead fish” handshake
  7. Late for the interview
  8. Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time
  9. Does not ask enough detailed questions about position
  10. Lacks sufficient detail when responding to questions asked by the interviewer
  11. Overbearing, over-aggressive, conceited “know-it-all” complex
  12. Inability to express oneself clearly
  13. Lack of planning for career; no purpose or goals
  14. Lack of confidence, ill at ease
  15. Lack of factual information
  16. Lack of manners, courtesy
  17. Lack of maturity
  18. Lack of vitality
  19. Indecisive
  20. Merely shopping around
  21. Cynical
  22. Lacks a strong work ethic
  23. Intolerant
  24. Inability to take criticism/not open to being mentored
  25. High pressure type

And that is the complete list from the packet. There is no source listed in my packet, so I am not exactly sure when this study was done, who did it and so on. Hopefully I am not breaking any copyright infringement laws posting it without a credit.

In my experience, employers won’t hire you if they see that you have moved around too much for their liking as well.

Got any tips to add?

A lesson on saving money on gas

My license plate was due to be renewed by the end of April. I’m a procrastinator, so I didn’t do it before the end of the month. In fact, it is the 15th of May and I still haven’t done it. But on my behalf, I did try to on Saturday but there were around 30 people in line and I didn’t have time to wait that long. So, as a result I have been forced to drive the speed limit because in the off chance that I get pulled over for speeding I’d also get a ticket for the expired tag.

Up until the first of May, I was having to gas up my little economy car twice a week. That is not the case anymore. Now, I can get to work and back with only one fill-up a week. Amazing! Driving slower really does use less gas. The speed limit here is 65, but I was going closer to 80 before my tags expired.

Here are some additional gas saving tips to help you cut some costs:

  1. Use www.fuelcostcalculator.com to check gas prices and see how much you will need if you’re taking a road trip.
  2. Plan your trips for errands so that you can avoid wasting gas by driving to the same area more than once a week. For me, I decided to only to my grocery shopping, which is 15 miles away, once a week. Not only is this saving gas, but it’s saving grocery money as I only have one chance to impulse shop now!
  3. Sign up for MyPoints and redeem your rewards points for gas gift cards. (If you want a referral, drop me a comment)
  4. Buy your gas in the morning, and not on weekends. I have noticed 2 things over the past month. Gas prices are always higher when I come home from work as opposed to when I am heading to work. And gas always seems to go up on Friday and not come back down in price until Monday.
  5. Try www.gasbuddy.com or www.aaa.com to look for lowest priced gas in your area.
  6. When you are getting gas and the pump clicks off, turn the handle abour 180 degrees. This gets the gas that is still in the handle to go into your tank. How many times have you pulled the handle out of your car only to have gas drip on your car or the ground? Don’t waste it, put it in your tank!
  7. Check your tire pressure
  8. Check and see if your air filter needs replaced. Ditto on the fuel filter.
  9. Rotate the tires and get an alignment if you need one.
  10. Commute or take public transportation if you can.
  11. Don’t accelerate quickly from a stop!
  12. Remove excess weight from your car. Do you really need those boxes and other junk you’re carrying around in the back of your car? Hauling that extra weight around takes more gas, which means more money!
  13. Accelerate before a hill so you can coast down the other side.
  14. Make sure your gas cap in on tight! When I was younger I actually left a gas cap on top of my car at a fillup and didn’t realize it until a week or so later when my parked car had no gas in it. It had evaporated!
  15. Use cruise control when you’re on the interstate.
  16. Remember that Sam’s and Costco might not have the cheapest gas, even after their member’s discount. The Shell station across the street from my Sam’s Club is $0.02 cheaper per gallon, even with my Sam’s Club member discount.