Sign in

A publication from Medium on personal development.


In Forge. More on Medium.

A therapist explains how to stay calm without trying to control others

Source: Canva

As we all relearn how to interact with other humans, many are finding other people’s emotions more contagious than ever. If you’re not paying attention, you might begin to feel over-responsible for their anxiety.

One of the first lessons I learned as a therapist was that the more quickly you try to calm someone down, the less effective you become at helping them. This is because quick reassurance or advice are often more about managing our own distress than they are about being a resource to someone.

So how do you stay in the room with an anxious person without…

Wisdom can only be gained the hard way

Photo: We Are/Getty Images

I walked into the room feeling like the least accomplished person in there. It was an invite-only group for tech founders whose companies had hit certain milestones. A support group of sorts. A place to vent frustrations, share struggles, and swap strategy in private — away from the judgmental ears of investors.

Why, you ask, should such a group exist? Because try telling your mom that you blew your tech budget on an agency that didn’t have a full stack tech team.

Or, one person might say, “I’m being sued.”

“Me, too!” “So are we!” “Us too!” …

A cheat sheet for quiet people who want to be seen


“What the hell am I doing here?” I thought to myself. “This place isn’t for me!”

Cigarette packs, coffee cups, and manilla folders were everywhere. I felt like I’d just walked into the set of a bad sales movie. The year was 2003. The place was Baltimore. The people who weren’t screaming into their phones were yelling at each other about how many deals they had going.

Just as I began to think about making a run for the back door, the corporate trainer stuck his head outside the conference room and shouted, “We’re in here, Mike! Let’s go!”


A case for letting relationships reveal themselves without the help of information we’ve already discovered online

Photo: Getty images

I recently got a request to meet with a guy in my town who wants to be a writer. Combine having not made a lot of in-person friends over the past 18 months and most people in Spain thinking I’m a fortune teller because I write on something called “Medium,” I jumped at the opportunity.

Walking home after our conversation, however, I questioned why the guy wanted to speak with me. Not every time, but quite a bit, he would cut me off when I began to explain something or attempt to tell a story. “I just read your status…

Break your habit of giving up power

Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

I have an embarrassing problem. A problem that pokes its tiny stupid head above the surface when I least expect it.

Recently I was walking my dog around the block, admiring the snowdrops coming up in my neighbor’s lawn. Suddenly both Ginger and I had to jump and scatter to avoid collision, because a biker barreling down the sidewalk finally looked up, swerved, and just barely missed us.

Stunned, I shouted out the first words that came to me —


In a moment of heart-stopping shock, before righteous anger set in, before I had time to think through a…

The words that have impacted me the most come from people I know — and who know me

Photo: D E Plume/Getty Images

I’m a big believer that the fastest way to change your life is by carrying a notebook everywhere you go.

Taking note of the interesting things you come across serves as a solid reminder that your primary job isn’t to do more—it’s to learn more. It can help you to be a better listener and life observer. Plus, collecting thoughts has a funny way of generating new sparks.

Since becoming an avid note-taker, however, a glaring pattern’s emerged that’s hard to ignore.

The thoughts and quotes that mean the most to me didn’t come from Tony Robbins. Nor did they…

A line from a novel helped settle my unease about once-close connections that have gone cold

Photo by Marta Esteban Fernando on Unsplash

Once upon a time, we were deeply ingrained in each other’s lives. We met up for dinners or movies or just to ride the rhythm of our good time, toasting to our own riff on “nature’s masterpiece,” as Emerson described friendship. We walked and wrote and called and felt like we were getting closer and closer. We went on road trips, chose conversation over sleep, got each other out of jams. We told each other “I love you,” and we meant it. We absorbed each other’s sadnesses and made them more bearable. We were there at pivotal moments. We coded…

As we ease back into socializing again, we have to deal with our feelings about the very different years we’ve all had

Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

I have pandemic resentment.

As we ease back into socializing and I reconnect with folks I haven’t seen in many months, I keep finding myself in conversations about how hard the past year has been. Inevitably someone mentions a close friend or relative who had it much easier, and we all bond over our shared sense of frustration with how unequally Covid has affected us.

I don’t particularly feel like I deserve to feel resentful. I got laid off from a job I loved and built a freelance business from scratch while also parenting a five-year-old and a three-year-old, but…

👂 Tip: De-escalate a potentially heated interaction with the phrase “That sounds frustrating.”

Ian Rowe, who has talked to approximately 3,380 upset customers throughout his life (he did the math!), shares this advice for communicating with an upset human: Acknowledge their feelings early on. In his Medium story on elevating your conflict game, he writes that a “magic phrase” you can use is “That sounds frustrating.” The words, he explains, do three things: 1) acknowledge the other person’s truth, 2) don’t place any blame on either party, and 3) allow you to start the conversation already agreeing about something. Use…

Human beings aren’t robots or mind readers

Photo: We Are/Getty Images

I know you’re busy, so let’s start strong. There’s nothing you can do that will “make” someone do what you want them to do. I’m very sorry, but I see no benefit to you if I lie and say that your passive behaviors will magically result in the outcome you’re too scared to ask for. It’s 2021, babes — I’ve neither the patience nor the marbles left in my head to coddle fools.

As humans, we have a bad habit of thinking we can do something that will somehow prompt someone else to take the action that we want. We…


A publication from Medium on personal development.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store