Self Help

Big Feelings How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay - Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 37 min read

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  • The book discusses “big feelings” like uncertainty, comparison, anger, burnout, perfectionism, despair, and regret. It aims to help readers understand and cope with these difficult emotions.

  • The authors struggled with their own mental health issues and wanted to write a book validating others’ hard feelings, as shame around emotions is still prevalent.

  • They interviewed experts and drew from conversations with over 1,500 survey respondents to identify common struggles.

  • The book busts myths that emotions should be seen as negative, that thinking positively can cure hard feelings, and that negative feelings are uniquely personal experiences.

  • It acknowledges that circumstances like an unhealthy work culture or lack of resources can significantly impact mental health.

  • The authors hope sharing their own struggles and validating readers’ emotions can help people feel less alone and learn from each other’s coping strategies. The book provides tools to understand and harness difficult feelings rather than getting rid of them.

In summary, the book aims to normalize and empower readers around common “big feelings” through sharing personal experiences, expert insights, and validating the feelings of over 1,500 survey respondents. It works to dispel stigma around negative emotions.

  • Celebrities like Bad Bunny and Naomi Osaka have openly talked about struggling with anxiety and depression, helping to normalize discussions about mental health.

  • Companies like LinkedIn and Bumble have given their entire workforces paid time off to combat burnout, recognizing its impact.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic forced wider conversations about mental health that should continue going forward. Addressing mental health issues is important as most people will experience difficult emotions at some point in their lives.

  • The chapter examines the feeling of uncertainty, a lack of control over unpredictable situations that feel like they may be getting worse. This evokes the emotion of anxiety.

  • It discusses common myths about uncertainty - that certainty is attainable, that anxiety accurately reflects risk, and that facing fears reduces anxiety. In reality, some uncertainty is inevitable, anxiety does not always match likelihood of threats, and facing fears does not always lessen anxiety.

  • Tools are provided to help sit with difficult emotions, learn from them, and start recovering, tailored to individual needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The goal is to normalize difficult feelings and empower readers to support others experiencing them.

  • Two groups of people were willing to pay about the same amount of money to avoid receiving electric shocks, even though one group had a higher likelihood (90% chance) of getting shocked than the other (50% chance). In other words, the level of risk/likelihood did not affect people’s anxiety levels or willingness to pay to avoid the scenario.

  • People tend to feel worse when facing uncertainty compared to known risks. Brain activity increases in the amygdala (emotion processing center) during uncertainty. People are more stressed by a 50% chance of shock than a 90% chance.

  • With known risks, people can plan and prepare mentally, but uncertainty causes spiraling anxiety as people don’t know what will happen. Someone stayed in an unhappy job for 4 years due to anxiety over uncertain next steps.

  • While it’s normal to feel anxious about uncertainty, the emotional reaction may be disproportionate to reality. Just because you worry about the future doesn’t guarantee it will turn out bad. Insomnia before a wedding didn’t necessarily mean doubts about the relationship.

  • Being told to just be more “resilient” often overlooks systemic problems and places too much blame on individuals, absolving leaders/institutions of responsibility to make structural improvements. Resilience is useful but not a cure-all, and shouldn’t replace actual support for mental health.

  • When facing uncertainty, it can help to identify specific fears rather than vague anxiety. This allows you to pinpoint what you’re afraid of losing or discomfort you might experience.

  • Caribay described feeling overwhelmed starting college away from home. Walking around campus with her dad helped her visualize what classes and daily life might be like, easing her fears.

  • To identify specific fears, ask yourself what you’re afraid could happen and how those scenarios would make you feel. This provides clarity on the root of the anxiety.

  • Facing big decisions later, Caribay continued visualizing options in detail through virtual tours, research, and in-person visits when possible. Imagining concrete scenarios gave a sense of what each choice might really entail.

  • Identifying worst-case scenarios can also help by bringing fears into the open so they seem less ambiguous and overwhelming. Overall, translating vague anxiety into clear, pictureable fears makes the uncertainty more manageable.

  • The passage discusses managing anxiety around uncertainty and change. It encourages separating fears into things that are within your control (withins) versus beyond your control (beyonds).

  • For withins, it recommends making a plan for how you would handle different scenarios, without obsessing over details. The goal is to feel prepared and confident you can handle what comes, while recognizing plans may change.

  • For beyonds, techniques like “noting” anxious thoughts and scheduling worry time are suggested to help let go of things you can’t control.

  • Building confidence in yourself by reflecting on past challenges you’ve faced and overcome can increase your belief that you have the skills to get through future uncertainties. Remembering previous successes helps reassure that you’ll be able to cope with what’s ahead.

  • The overall message is to break down fears, distinguish what you can influence from what you can’t, take actionable steps for the former, and find ways to disengage from obsessive worrying about the latter through practices like noting and scheduling worry periods.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • Comparison is inevitable as humans are a relational species, but it can make us feel resentful, anxious, and impulsive if we don’t know how to manage it.

  • Comparing ourselves to others isn’t inherently bad - it’s natural and can motivate self-improvement. The issue arises when we don’t know how to interpret our emotional responses to comparisons.

  • Contrary to common beliefs, comparison itself isn’t what makes us miserable - it’s when we don’t compare ourselves enough. Moderated comparison is natural and can provide motivation.

  • The chapter will debunk myths about comparison and social media use. It will argue that comparison is inevitable and the healthier approach is to embrace it in moderation without letting it spiral out of control.

  • Tips will be provided for what to do when comparing yourself to others triggers negative emotions like envy or inadequacy. The goal is to curb the downsides of comparison through self-awareness and moderation.

So in summary, the key message is that comparison is a natural human tendency that can be managed through moderation and self-awareness, rather than something to avoid entirely which often backfires by making us obsess more over how we compare to others.

  • Mollie found that her main comparison targets on social media were people who were pregnant or had children on Instagram. Seeing these posts would ruin her day and make her feel a “literal punch in the gut.”

  • Over time using Instagram got harder as more of her friends started having babies. She struggled to be a supportive friend and would force herself to send gifts or attend baby showers.

  • Not having a child of her own yet made Mollie see herself as a “disappointing wife and daughter.” In her mind, this failure negated all her other successes in life.

  • She ultimately realized she needed to take a break from social media comparisons and focus on healing from injuries before having a child, as discussed in another chapter about dealing with despair. The constant comparisons were taking a mental toll on her.

Here are the key points about working through comparison and envy:

  • Listen to your strongest feelings of envy or jealousy to understand what you truly value and want for yourself. Explore what the envied person has that makes you feel lacking, and determine if achieving that is worth taking action on.

  • Make sure envy doesn’t turn malicious. Shift your thinking from begrudging others to seeing them as inspirations who show a goal is possible. Recognize other people’s journeys are their own.

  • Realize you only see curated highlights of others’ lives, not the full picture. Don’t assume others have it easier - they likely face rejections, struggles and hardships behind the scenes. People may seem to glide along but have suffered privately.

  • Redirecting envy into action can motivate self-improvement. But it’s also important to accept yourself and not feel bitter toward others who are differently situated. Comparing keeps attention outward instead of focusing on your own growth.

The key is using envy constructively by understanding your true desires, embracing challenges as part of growth, and shifting perspective to appreciate your own journey rather than harshly judging others’. This helps make comparison a positive drive rather than a destructive force.

  • The passage describes someone who appeared to have a glamorous career posting photos of herself with famous musicians and relaxing poolside. However, offline she was exhausted from constantly working events until late, being on the road, and rarely seeing her fiancé.

  • She eventually realized this lifestyle got “really old, really fast” and was unhappy. Now she has a less flashy job but is much happier.

  • The moral is that social media only shows curated highlights and doesn’t reveal the full reality or struggles of someone’s life. It’s important not to let envy be triggered by an unrealistic portrayal on platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram.

  • The passage discusses four myths about anger:

    1. That anger should be suppressed. But anger is a natural emotion that signals something needs to change. Suppressing it can lead to escalation.
    2. That we can reliably judge who is and isn’t angry. But biases and stereotypes often cloud our judgment, such as perceiving male faces as angrier or having racial biases.
    3. That anger is always destructive. But controlled anger can be productive by motivating advocacy or improvements. Anger signals unmet needs.
    4. That angry people “lose control.” But anger is normal and justified in many situations of harm or injustice. The key is how it’s expressed.
  • Effective anger strategies include identifying the unmet need behind it, communicating feelings assertively without attacking, and channeling anger into solutions rather than suppression, which risks escalation into resentment. Anger can be a positive force for change when understood and handled constructively.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

  • Black boys and girls are more likely to face harsh discipline and suspension from school, even for the same behaviors as white students, due to racial biases. Black women also feel pressure to avoid appearing “angry” which could impact how they express frustration.

  • Asian Americans are commonly stereotyped as cold and competent rather than angry. One blogger, Phil Yu, chose the name “Angry Asian Man” for his blog to combat stereotypes that Asians are passive.

  • When examining anger, it’s important to understand the underlying triggers and stressors rather than just the specific incident that seemed to cause an outburst. Chronic stress can literally rewire the brain’s anger circuits and cause a very short fuse. Ongoing issues at work or an unhealthy environment can deplete emotional resources.

  • Simply venting anger through shouting or physically lashing out is not an effective way to resolve anger and may actually make the feelings worse. Internalizing anger for too long can also negatively impact health and relationships.

  • Better strategies include identifying unique anger triggers, understanding the unmet needs beneath the surface feelings, learning to self-reflect in the moment, and constructively addressing issues through open communication with others instead of just reacting angrily. Setting boundaries with a partner about what each person values can also help manage frustration.

  • Jake got angry when he saw another driver litter and yelled at him, almost leading to a road rage incident. This showed that anger can cause us to say or do things we later regret if not handled properly.

  • Keeping an anger log where you journal moments when you felt frustrated or irritated can help identify patterns and ways to better handle anger in the future. Journaling helped one reader realize he gets more irritable when tired.

  • Understanding your anger expression tendency, such as suppressing anger, projecting anger aggressively, controlling anger to appear calm, or transforming anger productively, can help you manage anger responses.

  • Techniques like checking in with a partner weekly to share what went well and could improve, using statements like “When you did X, it made me feel Y”, and giving yourself time to cool off before responding can help people with different tendencies express anger constructively.

  • Cultural and family upbringings also influence how people express anger. Weekly check-ins helped one couple address issues before they escalated since they tended to avoid conflict.

  • When a clear violation occurs, it’s important to give yourself permission to feel legitimately angry rather than stamping it out, as anger can empower you to speak out against injustices.

  • Karla finds that openly admitting and accepting her anger, either aloud or in her head, helps her feel better faster than trying to suppress it. Expressing anger provides acceptance and release.

  • Identifying the specific needs behind anger, such as through an angry letter, can help address what triggered it and what steps could meet those underlying needs. This process helps make anger less damaging.

  • Communicating anger constructively involves waiting until calm, stating goals and impact clearly but calmly, and considering timing. Direct communication is more effective if handled respectfully.

  • When the source of anger cannot be changed, looking for indirect ways to address needs or distance from the situation can help. Translating anger into specific language through journaling can also provide catharsis and insight.

  • Anger can be channeled strategically into advocacy, creativity, motivation, and driving positive change. Harnessed effectively, it provides strength and clarity to solve problems rather than melting down unconstructively. The key is understanding the underlying needs and channeling the energy productively.

Here are the key points about burnout from the passage:

  • Burnout is more than just long work hours - it involves unhealthy internal narratives and an inability to set boundaries.

  • Burnout is on the rise due to increasing stresses of capitalism like reliance on work for healthcare, retirement, etc.

  • Certain groups like women and minorities face higher burnout risks due to discrimination and added pressures.

  • Burnout is not always obvious, as the exhausted/frantic pace can feel exhilarating. Early signs include finding basic tasks overwhelming and constantly saying yes despite being at capacity.

  • It’s important to address burnout early, as ignoring subtle warning signs can lead to a bigger crash later on.

  • While societal/workplace changes would help reduce burnout most, individuals can also take steps like examining narratives, prioritizing self-care, and setting better boundaries.

The key takeaway is that burnout has multiple causes beyond just work hours and needs to be addressed holistically through both individual actions and systemic improvements to fully prevent and recover from it. Catching early signs is important to avoid a major crash down the line.

  • The passage discusses how modern lifestyles lead to constant stress and never completing the stress cycle, leaving our bodies constantly activated. We check emails 74 times a day and switch tasks every 3 minutes, preventing reflection and rest.

  • This accumulation of stress takes a toll physically over time. Our ancestors’ “fight-or-flight response” was meant for short bursts in emergencies, but we operate at surge capacity constantly.

  • It offers advice for overcoming burnout if feeling “overextended.” This includes getting comfortable living at 80% capacity rather than constant 100%, prioritizing rest and downtime, and putting non-urgent work tasks aside if needed for health or family. Taking regular breaks from work and limiting after-hours obligations can help avoid depletion.

  • The key idea is that living at a sustainable pace, rather than constant go-go-go, allows the body and mind to recover from stress responses instead of constantly accumulating more stress over time. It acknowledges burnout is often due to feeling overworked rather than personal failure.

  • Living at 80% capacity rather than 100% can prevent burnout by allowing for natural breaks to recover and tune into your body.

  • There are seven ways to listen to your body during breaks: cry, deep breathing, physical activity, laugh, hang with friends, creative pursuits, physical affection.

  • It’s important to set and stick to your own boundaries, as others can’t set boundaries for you. Exploring why you feel guilty saying no and having response phrases can help.

  • Burnout may mean it’s time to leave a job if applying other advice doesn’t help. Some factors to consider include whether happiness is possible in the current role, environmental causes of burnout, and having a clear sense of needs for the next job.

  • Seeking connections through small gestures like coffee chats, walks, or thank you notes can help reduce disengagement and cynicism.

  • Reconnecting with the meaning and purpose of your work can provide motivation, such as by tracking tasks and their impacts on well-being. Rebuilding routine and crafting your work and life to prioritize fulfilling areas can also help.

Here is a summary of key points about feeling ineffective:

  • Feeling ineffective is often due to not having enough time to do everything expected, lacking context to make decisions, or not feeling supported/recognized.

  • It’s important to be proactive rather than reactive by setting reasonable expectations and priorities instead of responding to every request as it comes. Phrases like “Here’s how we could do this with least disruption” can help with this.

  • Taking on small, achievable goals outside of work, like a weekly pottery class, can help build a sense of accomplishment.

  • Examine why your work effort may not feel worthwhile - does it align with your core values? Taking time to identify top values can provide clarity.

  • When feeling burned out, it’s important to not tie your self-worth completely to your work or job title. Taking a break or temporary reduction in responsibilities may be needed to recalibrate.

  • Make time for leisure and relaxation, even if unproductive. Small periods of “garbage time” are restorative and improve performance in the long-run. Don’t place too much pressure on downtime.

The overall message is to be proactive, pursue meaningful goals, ensure work aligns with personal values, separate identity from work, and make rest and relaxation a priority part of self-care. Taking these steps can help address feelings of ineffectiveness and prevent burnout.

  • Managers can help prevent burnout by making finding balance a collective practice within teams, such as starting meetings with a centering activity or dedicating time each week for no meetings.

  • Leaders should train managers to be more supportive through regular check-ins, ensuring reasonable workloads, and being open to flexible/reduced hours as needed.

  • Even with good management practices, burnout will still happen sometimes. Dealing with it requires continual care and self-work like taking time off, slowing one’s pace of life, learning to say no, and focusing on self-care and self-love.

  • For the author Mollie, overcoming burnout involved moving to a slower-paced city, taking time off from work/events, working with a therapist, and reprioritizing non-work activities like spending time with friends and resting on weekends. It was a long process of changes and healing.

So in summary, the key recommendations are for managers and leaders to help enable balance collectively, and for individuals to address burnout through lifestyle changes, time off, and focus on self-care and healing when needed. Burnout recovery often requires significant and ongoing effort.

  • Perfectionism is driven by low self-esteem and centers on avoiding failure rather than always appearing perfect through organization, routines, etc.

  • Perfectionism causes you to never feel good about what you’ve done and obsess over shortcomings to the point of missing deadlines or regretting trying at all.

  • Perfectionists need constant validation from others to feel worthy and satisfied, as their self-confidence is fragile.

  • Perfectionism leads to exhaustion but the only way to relieve it seems to be doing more.

  • Perfectionists devalue their own accomplishments and see themselves as closer to failure than perfection.

  • Moving past perfectionism is about internal acceptance and self-compassion, not meeting goals. It involves challenging the myths and mindsets that keep you stuck in perfectionism.

So in summary, perfectionism is an unrealistic internal standard that stems from low self-esteem and leads to constant self-criticism, lack of satisfaction, exhaustion, and an inability to see one’s own value and accomplishments. Moving past it requires challenging those underlying beliefs.

  • The person struggled with perfectionism and becoming obsessed with strict dieting and macros, which made her critical of friends. She didn’t recognize it as perfectionism until her therapist pointed it out.

  • Perfectionism is often context-specific and can manifest as procrastination. It’s presented that perfectionism stems from a fear of failure and can be paralyzing.

  • Perfectionism doesn’t necessarily mean things get done, as the anxiety about mistakes gets in the way of success. True high achievers accept failures and mistakes as learning experiences.

  • People with perfectionist tendencies often have an all-or-nothing mindset and give up easily when things don’t go perfectly. They are afraid of not being “good enough” and strive to prove their worth through achievement.

  • Perfectionism is sometimes a response to trauma from childhood, where children learn they must meet very high standards to gain love and approval. The need for perfection gives a sense of control but is an impossible standard.

  • Shame stems from believing a flaw is part of one’s inherent self, while guilt is about a specific action. Shame causes withdrawal while guilt promotes making things right. Openness and turning shame into guilt about behaviors can help reduce shame.

  • The story is presented of how opening up vulnerabilities to loved ones, like with a therapist, can help overcome perfectionist tendencies by allowing people to offer non-conditional care and acceptance.

The passage discusses how to move away from perfectionistic and all-or-nothing thinking towards a more self-compassionate outlook. It suggests scrapping the idea that perfectionism serves you, as it often prevents success, relationships and well-being. It then recommends exploring where perfectionist beliefs were learned, usually from experiencing pain or rejection if not exceptional.

The next step is to untangle yourself from these narratives by reflecting on your identity and values separate from performance and what others think. It’s also important to replace “avoidance goals” focused on not failing with “approach goals” centered around positive achievement.

Finally, the passage stresses starting small by setting tiny approach goals in a supportive environment with trusting people, as fully healing from perfectionism requires experiencing yourself as safe when facing challenges. The overall message is to become comfortable with imperfection and focus on personal growth rather than flawlessness.

  • Mollie had been dealing with chronic foot pain for months that doctors couldn’t find a cause for or effectively treat, causing her a great deal of physical and emotional distress.

  • She was going through an isolated time after a move to LA where she didn’t know anyone and was working from home alone every day.

  • Stress had caused her period to disappear for 3 months, preventing her and her husband from trying for a child as planned, adding to her distress.

  • Without being able to use exercise or pregnancy as coping mechanisms for anxiety due to her physical issues, Mollie reached a breaking point where she stopped wanting to be alive and was experiencing suicidal thoughts - a major change from her usually upbeat and stable personality.

  • This was an extremely difficult experience for Mollie to share given her private nature and the stigma around mental health issues, but she felt it was important to be open about in order to help others dealing with similar feelings.

In summary, untreated chronic physical and emotional issues combined with isolation pushed Mollie into a major depressive episode with suicidal ideation, in stark contrast to her usual disposition, showing how even stable people can reach breaking points.

  • The passage describes a woman named Mollie experiencing extreme despair, depression, and suicidal thoughts. She had plans to take her own life by jumping in front of a train.

  • While on a work trip in San Francisco, she sat in her hotel room contemplating her suicide plan and writing a goodbye note. She started shaking and couldn’t go through with calling for a ride to the train station.

  • She walked along the waterfront crying, overwhelmed by physical and mental pain. She returned to her hotel room and cried herself to sleep fully clothed on the bed.

  • This level of despair, hopelessness, depression and suicidal ideation is described as being an emotion called “despair” that has recently been clinically defined and studied.

  • Common myths about despair are debunked, such as the ideas that distraction can fix it, one’s life can’t truly be bad if others have it worse, and that despair means a “broken” brain or is a permanent condition.

  • Help from mental health professionals is encouraged for those experiencing despair, as friends and family alone may not be equipped to provide sufficient support for such intense emotional suffering.

  • When experiencing thoughts of despair, such as suicidal thoughts or intense hopelessness, we are often hesitant to share them with others out of fear of not being understood or accepted.

  • By not sharing, we miss out on two important things: hearing from others who have had similar thoughts and learned they passed, and getting help from others to process the thoughts in a healthy way rather than acting on them.

  • Mollie struggled with suicidal thoughts for months. Speaking to her husband and therapist helped, even though it was scary. Their nonjudgmental support and helping her understand the desires behind her thoughts was beneficial.

  • Getting through acute episodes of despair may involve focusing only on managing small chunks of time, indulging in comforting activities, and recognizing emotions will fluctuate. With time and support, the feelings often lessen or pass.

  • Grief from loss can resemble despair and shatter one’s world. Sharing memories, delving into emotions, and eventually finding meaning can help process grief over the long term. Support from others is important during this difficult time.

  • The person experiences waves of grief that initially feel overwhelming but get further apart over time, though the waves never fully stop coming. While grieving the loss, the feelings will persist but evolve.

  • She believes the person she lost still lives on in some way, though doesn’t elaborate on what way that might be.

  • The description of grief coming in waves provided a lot of comfort to Liz.

So in summary, she experiences ongoing grief in waves that lessen over time, believes the person still lives on in some form, and found the wave metaphor to be a comforting description of her experience with grief.

  • Logan offered specific ways to support Liz after her father-in-law’s death, including listening, bringing food, being available by text, and going for a walk together. This made Liz feel cared for without pressure.

  • It’s important to reach out for support from people who understand your experience. Meghan Markle found solace in friends who could relate to being in the royal family. Summer Luk connected with other transgender people online after her family rejected her identity.

  • Some friends may offer sympathy rather than empathy. Empathy means understanding your experience to help, while sympathy looks down from a better position. It’s okay to distance from non-empathetic friends temporarily.

  • Conditions like chronic pain and illnesses are difficult for others to comprehend. The Spoon Theory concept helps explain how those with “limited spoons” must budget their daily energy. Ask friends how their days are truly like to better understand invisible conditions.

  • Letting go of expectations about being “on track” in life stages can help deal with despair from early milestones like illness, divorce or singleness. While lonely now, those experiences may provide helpful skills and perspective later in life. Maintaining hope that challenges are temporary can aid recovery.

Here are a few key takeaways from the passage:

  • Regret stems from wishing you had acted differently in the past, believing it could have led to a better outcome. This can be burdensome and prevent moving forward.

  • Major life events like the death of a loved one often accentuate feelings of regret over missed opportunities to spend more time with them. The author regrets not accompanying her mother to help clear out her grandmother’s house.

  • Smaller decisions at work like refusing a two week leave can also trigger regret if it means missing important personal moments. The author questions if saying no hurt her career goals.

  • While regret can be painful, it can also serve as an important internal guide. Learning from mistakes helps avoid repeating them and leads to more engaged, meaningful decisions going forward.

  • Dwelling excessively in the past prevents fully living in the present. But acknowledging regretful moments and using them to improve is a healthy part of personal growth and decision making.

The key message is that regret is natural and inevitable, but shouldn’t define or paralyze us. Reflecting on past errors can positively shape our future if we don’t become trapped replaying what cannot be changed.

  • The passage discusses common myths and misconceptions around regret, such as the idea that one can live a life without regret or that following one’s passions will prevent regret. It argues regret is a natural human emotion we all experience.

  • It outlines six types of regret people experience - related to losing opportunities, mistakes made, settling, actions with hurtful consequences, not pursuing dreams, and relationship issues.

  • The authors share their own regrets and lessons learned to be more present with loved ones.

  • They recommend allowing yourself to fully grieve losses and missed opportunities, as grieving is part of accepting regret and learning from it.

  • Six strategies are presented for working through different types of regret in a constructive way - such as making amends, changing behaviors, reevaluating priorities, and focusing on present/future opportunities instead of dwelling in the past.

  • The overall message is that regret can motivate positive change if reflected on properly, though it may involve an emotional grieving process to fully accept regrettable decisions or losses from the past. Examining regret provides insight into ourselves and what we truly value.

The passage discusses different types of regrets people experience and ways to cope with them. It summarizes Cheryl Strayed’s view that we must accept the choices we did make, rather than dwelling on the “ghost ship” of choices we didn’t make.

It then describes six categories of regrets: hindsight regrets (you made the best choice with the information at the time), alternate-self regrets (fantasizing about other lives you didn’t live), rushing-in regrets (not taking enough time before making a decision), dragging-out regrets (letting situations drag on too long), ignoring-your-instincts regrets, and self-sabotage regrets.

For hindsight and alternate-self regrets, the advice is to distract yourself and acknowledge you did the best you could at the time. For the other types, analyzing the regret can help change future behavior. It provides examples of people experiencing different types of regrets and advice on how to process each type, such as taking more time before big decisions (rushing-in regrets) or setting boundaries to prevent dragging situations out too long. The overall message is that regrets can provide learning opportunities if reframed in the right way.

  • Kia felt devastated after her divorce but also free. She learned to rely on herself and gained self-confidence.

  • When dealing with regrets about dragging out negative situations too long, take a strengths-based approach to self-talk. Also learn from past mistakes by identifying patterns and signs that a situation isn’t working. Common barriers to acting sooner include fear, lack of information, and waiting for the perfect moment.

  • Mollie regrets not starting to try for children earlier despite her intuition. She didn’t want to pressure her husband Chris, who wasn’t ready financially. As a result, when they did try, Mollie had health issues that prevented pregnancy.

  • To deal with intuitions regrets, give your gut credit, cut yourself slack, identify who you were trying to please and why you didn’t act on instincts. Come up with ways to advocate for yourself in the future.

  • Self-sabotage regrets happen when you do something wrong to avoid an uncomfortable feeling. Deeper work with a therapist may be needed to address underlying beliefs. If others were harmed, making amends is important.

  • For all regrets, give yourself grace. Accept what happened without endless self-blame to harness regret as motivation. Remind yourself of what you gained from the experience.

  • Imagining counterfactual scenarios (what could have happened if you did something differently) can intensify feelings of regret and amplification emotionally. Movie directors use this technique to make audiences feel more emotionally invested.

  • However, indulging too much in “what if” fantasies means you are less likely to appreciate the positives in your current life. When regretting past decisions, it’s better to list things you are grateful for now.

  • Two helpful ways to reframe regret are seeing that every situation has multiple perspectives, and that every experience provides positive value.

  • No one can avoid all regret, as life involves tradeoffs. When considering potential regret, think about short and long-term impacts.

  • Allow yourself to experience regretful feelings, but try to limit ruminating on counterfactual scenarios (“what if I did this instead”).

  • For past decisions you can’t change, focus on learning from mistakes to improve future choices. Be gentle with yourself.

  • Over time, intensity of regretful feelings will soften. Remembering this can help cope with present regret. Both authors personally experienced working through challenges even while writing this book.

  • The passage discusses the challenges of sharing deeply personal stories and experiences through a book. While difficult, doing so can help others who are going through similar struggles feel less alone.

  • It acknowledges that therapy can be helpful for exploring difficult emotions associated with trauma or difficult life experiences. Even with therapy, fully working through big feelings takes time and effort.

  • On difficult days, it’s important to remember that while things may not feel okay in the moment, you as a person can still be okay overall. The stories shared in the book are meant to provide reassurance during hard times.

  • The acknowledgments section thanks the many people who helped bring the book to fruition, including editors, agents, readers, experts interviewed, photographers, and most importantly the individuals who shared their personal stories. Therapy and community support were also mentioned as important parts of the healing process.

So in summary, the passage discusses how sharing personal struggles through writing can help others, though it takes courage and time to fully process difficult emotions even with support systems like therapy. The acknowledgments express gratitude to all who contributed to making the book a reality.

Here is a summary of the key points about anger expression tendencies from the assessment:

  • Anger controller - Tendency to control how anger is expressed by monitoring oneself to avoid uncontrolled anger. May experience anger but not be fully aware of the underlying cause. Opportunity is to get more comfortable with anger and focus on recognizing it to address the root cause.

  • Anger transformer - When angry, try to resolve it by understanding the deeper need through techniques like meditation, breathwork and patience rather than suppressing anger. Understand anger can be clarifying when not projected outward or inward. Opportunity is to continue this healthy approach and notice triggers for less constructive expression.

  • Anger projector - Tendency to project anger outwardly through behaviors like saying mean things, arguing, slamming doors, sarcasm etc. For moderate to high scores on this, the anger is not constructively addressed and likely causes problems in relationships or work. Opportunity is to process anger internally first before expressing it to others.

So in summary, the assessment looks at tendencies toward controlling, transforming or projecting anger, and identifies opportunities to more constructively process and address anger for a healthy expression style.

The passage discusses uncertainty tolerance and provides an assessment to determine if someone is an uncertainty seeker, balancer, or avoider.

It presents a 12-question scale where respondents indicate how much statements like “unforeseen events upset me greatly” and “the smallest doubt can stop me from acting” sound like them.

Scores are added up and interpreted as follows:

  • 28 or less = uncertainty seeker who thrives in change
  • 29-56 = uncertainty balancer whose tolerance varies
  • 57 or more = uncertainty avoider often attuned to life’s uncertainty

For avoiders it notes their tolerance for uncertainty may strain mental health, especially in unstable jobs. It recommends considering ways to introduce more certainty and regularity into one’s life through various lifestyle changes.

The assessment aims to help individuals better understand and address their relationship with uncertainty.

Here is a summary of the key points from the provided section on uncertainty:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic introduced unprecedented levels of uncertainty into all aspects of life such as health, work, relationships, and the economy.

  • Younger generations like millennials who came of age during the Great Recession now face even more economic instability and uncertainty.

  • Uncertainty is inherently stressful and anxiety-provoking for humans due to our hardwired tendency to seek predictability and control. Not knowing what will happen triggers our fight or flight response.

  • Positive thinking alone does not mitigate the harms of uncertainty, and too much focus on always looking on the “bright side” ignores real problems and suffering.

  • Constant change fatigue from the pandemic and lack of stability have taken both a physical and emotional toll on many.

  • Women have disproportionately shouldered increased caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic, causing millions to leave the workforce, adding more uncertainty to their financial futures.

  • While uncertainty cannot be avoided, mindfulness practices can help cultivate acceptance and equanimity in the face of the unknown. Historical and cross-cultural perspectives can also provide relief from an overly narrow focus on short-term outcomes.

Here is a summary of the article “2021/02/04/parenting/working-mom-burnout-coronavirus.html”:

The article discusses how working mothers are facing increased burnout during the coronavirus pandemic as the lines between work and home life have blurred. With kids home from school and childcare options limited, many mothers are finding it difficult to juggle their job responsibilities with overseeing virtual schooling and other childcare duties.

It interviews several mothers who describe feeling constantly stressed and overwhelmed as they try to be fully present both for video calls/meetings and their children. Many are working long hours into the night and weekends to try and keep up. It’s taking a physical and emotional toll on their health.

Experts say this increased load is unsustainable and can lead to serious burnout if not addressed. Working mothers need support both from their employers in the form of flexibility and acknowledgement of their responsibilities, as well as help from other family/household members with childcare and chores. Communicating boundaries and taking small breaks are also recommended to prevent feelings of being overwhelmed.

The pandemic has exposed how much of the childrearing labor still falls on mothers. Long term changes are needed to gender norms and support systems to help women balance their responsibilities better.

Here is a summary of the quoted passage from Elizabeth Bernstein’s article in The Wall Street Journal:

  • The passage discusses finding meaning and moving forward after experiencing loss during the pandemic year of 2020. It suggests focusing on community support systems and reconnecting with passions as ways to cope with grief and loss. Offering support to others experiencing similar struggles can also help in the recovery process. Overall the quote emphasizes the importance of connecting with other people and meaningful activities as we collectively grieve and heal from the losses of the past year.

Here is a summary of the article:

The article discusses innovation management and how it relates to various factors like organizational culture, leadership, and inter-organizational collaboration. Some key points:

  • It examines the role of organizational culture and climate in promoting innovation. A supportive culture that encourages risk-taking and new ideas can foster innovation.

  • Leadership is important in driving innovation through developing a strategic vision, providing resources, and championing new initiatives. Different leadership styles may be suitable for different stages of the innovation process.

  • Inter-organizational collaboration through partnerships, alliances and networking can help companies access new knowledge, markets and resources to support innovation. However, collaborations also require effective management and alignment of interests.

  • The article analyzes some frameworks and models that have been developed to study factors influencing innovation management at different levels like individual, group/team, organizational and environmental levels.

  • It highlights some open questions and areas for further research, such as the need for more longitudinal studies and consideration of contextual factors in innovation management research.

In summary, the article provides an overview of the literature on innovation management, discussing organizational culture, leadership, collaborations and frameworks that have been used to study this topic. It reflects on factors influencing innovation at different levels and directions for future research.

Here is a summary of the article “Why Perfectionism Is So Damaging and What to Do about It” by Ray Williams:

The article discusses why perfectionism is so damaging and what people can do about it. Perfectionism is harmful because it leads to stress, anxiety, depression, procrastination, and feelings of failure and defeat when unrealistic standards are not met. Perfectionists often have low self-esteem underneath their pursuit of flawlessness.

The article recommends several strategies to overcome perfectionism, such as accepting that mistakes and failures are part of life, focusing on self-acceptance rather than achieving impossible standards, being kind and forgiving toward oneself, asking whether perfection is helping or hindering goals, and setting realistic expectations and deadlines. Mindfulness, challenging negative thoughts, doing less but focusing on quality, and celebrating small wins can also help manage perfectionism. Ultimately, people need to give themselves permission to be human and imperfect in order to reduce suffering and enjoy life.

Here is a summary of the provided note reference on regret from chapter 7:

The reference cites a 2012 Scientific American article discussing a study that found bronze medalists at the Olympics reported being happier than silver medalists. It suggests the bronze medalists may feel less regret over losing since they came closer to not receiving a medal at all, whereas silver medalists feel they lost by a very small margin.

It then provides 12 additional note references on the topic of regret:

References discuss defining regret, perspectives on regret from philosophers like Kierkegaard, common emotions associated with regret, psychological studies on persistent regrets and how they shape our behavior. References also discuss the brain regions involved in processing regret, ways to work through regret, perspectives on embracing regret, and interviews with authors discussing regret in their own lives and work.

The key idea is that these references explore regret from various angles, including philosophical, psychological, emotional and personal viewpoints, to provide a multifaceted understanding of this complex emotion. They aim to enhance the discussion of regret presented in Chapter 7.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “Burnout Profile Assessment, 94, 215–19”:

  • Burnout is defined using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which assesses exhaustion, cynicism, and ineffectiveness.

  • Burnout exists on a continuum from mild to severe. It results from chronic work stress that has not been successfully managed.

  • Signs of burnout include physical and emotional exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from work, and a low sense of personal accomplishment.

  • Burnout is influenced by both individual factors like perfectionism as well as organizational factors like workload and control.

  • Risk factors include overcommitment to work, limited engagement in other activities outside work, lack of social support, and internalized criticism.

  • Consequences of burnout include decreased effectiveness, lower productivity, decreased job satisfaction, absenteeism, intention to leave one’s job, and physical and mental health problems.

  • Management strategies to prevent and alleviate burnout focus on reducing workload demands, increasing autonomy and control, improving social support and recognition, and promoting work-life balance.

In summary, the article defines burnout via the established Maslach Burnout Inventory and discusses contributing individual and organizational risk factors as well as strategies managers can employ to prevent and reduce burnout among employees.

  • Looking-glass self refers to how we see ourselves based on others’ perceptions of us.

  • Audre Lorde was an influential writer and feminist activist.

  • Loss and grief were discussed in the context of trauma and burnout.

  • Lottery winners were mentioned in relation to how sudden wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness.

  • Summer Luk wrote about chronic pain and disability.

  • Glynnis MacNicol wrote a book on life after college titled No One Tells You This.

  • Managers play an important role in preventing and alleviating burnout among employees.

  • Meaning, purpose and passion were discussed in relation to reducing burnout and regret.

  • Perfectionism was examined in depth, including its causes, effects and strategies for overcoming it.

  • Regret was also examined extensively, covering the different types of regret, myths about regret, and ways of working through regret.

  • Resources for further information or help were provided on topics like burnout, therapy, uncertainty, anger and more.

  • Uncertainty was a major focus, exploring myths about uncertainty and providing strategies for gaining confidence and resilience when facing uncertainty.

Here are the summaries:

  1. Tolerance for uncertainty and designing your life based on what is within your control rather than focusing on unattainable certainty. The Uncertainty Tolerance Assessment is a tool to assess one’s tolerance for uncertainty.

  2. Translating anxiety into specific fears by considering worst-case scenarios and working through fears step-by-step to build tolerance for uncertainty.

  3. Uncertainty and having influences outside of one’s direct control (“withouts”). Focusing on things one can control (“withins”).

  4. Working through uncertainty and anxiety by identifying fears, considering evidence for and against fears, problem-solving, and exposure therapy.

  5. Assessing one’s tolerance for uncertainty using the Uncertainty Tolerance Assessment and designing one’s life around factors one can control.

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About Matheus Puppe