Life coach and internationally acclaimed author Martha Beck holds master’s and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from Harvard University, has several children – including a son down syndrome – and has managed to publish successful nonacademic and academic books and articles on a variety of social science and business topics.
When Beck says that she’s found the secret to maintaining her sanity, my ears perk up. You mean there’s a way to balance life at home, life at work and successfully finish projects on the side while still somehow maintaining true to yourself? In her article “Logging Off The Power of Disconnection,” Beck gives 7 tips for relaxing your psyche and your relationships – making your life as a whole lot calmer, and creating room for being more joyful and loving.
- Hide. Beck hails back to a high school English teacher who tells her that, “every woman needs a cornfield. No matter what’s happening in your life, find yourself a cornfield and hide there whenever you need to.” She lists cars, forests, hotels, bathrooms all as acceptable cornfields – anywhere where you can go for a few moments to breathe by yourself.
- Go primitive. Despite the countless benefits of modern technology, Beck suggests that it can actually become harmful when a person can’t ever escape it. She suggests becoming “downright Amish” – unplugging phones, computers, intercoms, and fax machines. Beck writes, “I know that if I don’t lose touch with some of the people who are trying to reach me, I’ll lose touch with myself. “
- Play favorites. It’s time to make a list. Beck suggests you ask yourself what relationships enrich your life, and which ones deplete you. “Decide now,” Beck writes, “to deliberately limit the time and attention you spend on ‘low yield’ relationships.”
- Get rid of squid. “Squid” is Beck’s term for the perpetually needy friend that rarely gives back. She says to avoid excuses, and simply let them know that they need to go. “There will be lasting hurt feelings,” Beck writes. “Don’t worry. Squid love hurt feelings. They hoard them, trading them in for pity points when they find another victim—er, friend.”
- Be insensitive. It is vital to draw the difference between something that required deep discussion and something that doesn’t. “Instead of connecting with every person’s problems, let yourself feel whether someone really needs your attention,” Beck writes. “The best gift you can give might be a little abruptness.”
- Rehearse escape lines. Beck explains that when we are overextended, and have the least to offer, we are actually the worst at setting boundaries. She suggests rehearsing escape lines to pull out just in the nick of time when someone desperately needy walks up and we just…can’t…get…away…
- Be shallow. Thought this may go against everything your mother taught you, Beck writes that, “Once you know you can swim in the deep end of human connection, it’s fun to splash around in the shallows.” She suggests that making time to laugh about silly youtube videos or jokes is just as important as deep conversation.
Read more of Beck’s thoughts on the power of disconnection.
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