How do you think about stress?

Kelly McGonigal shows us that what we think about stress influences our health more than how much stress we really experience. “How you think about stress matters.” The physical responses that your body experiences when facing stressful situations are confirmations that you have to give extra energy and attention to the situation – that’s it. Then, your mind is taking over. Your mind is deciding how threatening or how challenging the situation really is.

STOP.

This is where and when your mind makes the difference between health and sickness.

REWIND.

Your body already told you that the situation was exceptional: no value (good or bad) associated to it – just exceptional. If your mind really has a choice between threat and challenge, and that perceiving it as challenge gives you the best resilience, is it still a choice?

TRAIN your mind.

Train it to think systematically of stressors as challenges and not as threats. Stress is your friend – not your enemy. Stress prepares you. Stress does not limit you. Embrace it and strive.

TELL your friends how you feel.

Tell them your situation: they do not read your mind. Tell them about your feelings: everyone responds differently to situations. Tell them what you need: everyone has different existing resources. Tell them what they can do for you and accept their limitations as well.

REACH OUT to your friends.

Use the same questions to help your friends: what is your situation? How do you feel about it? What do you need? What can I do to help?

Everyone faces stress and challenges. You do not have to face them alone and you do not want anyone around you to face them alone. What a fantastic lesson learned from stress!

Christine Leclerc-Sherling

Psychology and Public Speaking Instructor

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What is your story?

Around puberty, we realize that we are the hero in our own story. It feels like we are living in a movie that has our name on it; better yet: we are the main actor and the story teller. We may not create all the scenes of the movie, but we are the main actor in each one! We may not always act perfectly in each scene, but we get to tell the story the way want it to be told.

This phase of personal fable and imaginary audience is rather centered on the self, but soon, most adolescents realize that they cannot tell their stories without supporting roles and without their stories being corroborated by others as well! So they start negotiating, contributing, collaborating and finding alliances. Some of those are that handful of selected few who become intimate friends in young adulthood, the ones that we choose beyond proximity or convenience: the true friends. They know our story and respect it; we know their stories and we want to contribute and be part of each one of them.

Here is the powerful twist. If we all go through those stages, if we all deal with the existential questions of finding a story worth telling, a path worth taking, and people in which it is worth investing, we are not all realizing the bottom line. People remember you for the supporting role you play in their lives and not for the story you are telling.

Think about it. What do you remember about others? The role they have in your life; how they contribute to your objectives; and how they can inspire you. Do you remember them for their stories? Rarely.

Know your story. Know where you want to go and go there. Know what you want to tell and learn how to tell it well. Do not let anyone or anything control your story. Then, leave it in the background. Trust your life for taking you there. Spend time being the best supporting actor you can be in the lives of those few people that make your life meaningful. Become the best supporting actor in the lives of those with whom you work – you spend so much time with them. Become the best supporting actor in the lives of those for whom you work: they will come back to you and in return help you be the hero you want to be in your own story.

The most disarming and the most powerful questions are: What is your story? How can I help you live it and tell it?

Try. It is addictive.

Christine Leclerc-Sherling

Psychology and Public Speaking Instructor

What is power if you don’t belong?

We have always been interdependent and interconnected. Teachers have always been interdependent with their students; the salespeople with their clients; the parents with their children, etc. The paradigm shift comes from the spread of world traveling and the democratization of information technology. We are now globally interdependent. An outbreak of any disease anywhere in the world is threatening any airport in the world in less than 12 hours. A business decision made in one nation has simultaneous financial, political, organizational, and socio-cultural impacts in other countries.

The terrifying consequence for you and me is that the definition of personhood in which we love to believe, the one that makes us individually feel independent, self-made, strong, and above the mass, is no longer a viable belief. As long as I need others to lose so that I can win, I am constantly using my resources to defend who I want to be and to dominate anyone by whom I feel threatened. This is a position of “hard power.” In contrast, when I am using persuasion and communication to interact with the opposition, negotiate common objectives, make alliances, I am using “soft power.” I try to reach a win-win situation, because eventually, your win, in this globally interdependent world, becomes my win. “Smart power” is the mastery of both types of power, soft and hard, including the skill to critically decide when it is appropriate to use one or the other type of power.

Power is a tool, not an end. Whether you use hard, soft, or smart power, what matters is why you are using it, who will benefit from it, and if it is the alternative that involves and profits most parties. I love this quote from Ralph W. Sockman: “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” Trying to maintain a status of power is often wasting valuable resources that could benefit more parties if they were combined. I love saying: “I am an immigrant and I am American;” “I am a woman and I am a scholar;” “I am a mother and I am a leader;”etc. I can affirm my membership to minority and to majority groups without losing my identity. Quite the contrary, I am increasing the number of networks to which I belong, increasing thus the variety of resources to which I have access. Finally, I am increasing my interrelationship power in a globally interconnected world. What it means, is that I am now sharing a collective destiny – I fit in anywhere. How cool is that?

To learn more about the different types of power:

Christine Leclerc-Sherling

Psychology and Public Speaking Instructor

“Grow your own food like you’d print your own money!”

This TED talk from Ron Finley is the power of public speaking illustrated at its best: indigenous initiative, carried by a local spokesperson, with a simple and forceful message. The intelligence of the message is the candid analysis of a neighborhood, a constructive and innovative intervention, and a fantastic twist in social perceptions. The inventive action (planting free food) becomes an act of rebellion (in a land that belongs to the city) in an area where illegal activities are expected to be related to drugs and violent crimes. The credibility of the speaker comes from the genuine delivery – no compromise on the language, no compromise on the appearance, and no compromise on the message: assertive delivery with a provocative message – and it works. Why will you connect? Because Finley’s message is sustainable: “if kids grow kale, they eat kale.” They are off the street, they are invested in their communities, they take pride in the food they grow, they enjoy the quality of the food they eat, and they benefit directly from the physical, social, and economic advantages. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the smartest; the genuine spokesperson is the most powerful; and an intervention without complex theories, but based on undertaking one simple action accessible to all is the easiest to spread: “if you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t a gangster.”

WARNING: The link below contains language that some may find offensive.

Christine Leclerc-Sherling

Psychology and Public Speaking Instructor

Do you do what you love?

I can talk about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation (doing what you do for a its own sake or for the reward of doing it); I can talk about the different theories of motivation (an instinct for work, an imbalance without work, an excitement for work, or an incentive for work); but I would much rather talk about the natural transitions to doing what you love.

As newborn, we spend most of our time sleeping. Actually, we are dreaming a lot too. When we are dreaming, our brain is almost as active as when we are awake, but our body is relaxed: we are processing information without judgments and without categories. As toddlers, we spend most of our time playing: the world is our playground! Every object and every individual is a potential toy or playmate. Then, we are going to school – if we keep the activity of the infant’s dream and the excitement of the toddler’s play – we are learning sponges! Teenagers transfer that energy into becoming the actors and story tellers of their own stories. From learning from the outside in, they are creating themselves from the inside out. Young adulthood is our peak: cognitive, physical, social, and moral: ideally, we fully engage what we know, what we can, what we are, to decide our future…

Look back. Can you tap into your creativity like an infant can dream: without judgments and categories? Can you be at work and feel that it is your playground and lose track of time? Are you learning from, engaged in, and sharing with your environment? Is what you do defining who you are from the inside out and not just because of the expectations and the rewards inherent to your job? Finally, are you feeling that your best is involved in your work, that you are expressing the best of your cognitive, physical, social, and moral potentials? The more “yes” to the questions, the closer you are to have your dream job, where you don’t work, but where you play; where learning and being are part of finding creative solutions every day. Congratulations!

Christine Leclerc-Sherling

Psychology and Public Speaking Instructor

“Life is Brutiful” …

“Life is Brutiful” …

… Says Glennon Doyle Melton. Her forceful and vulnerable TEDTalk reveals the inevitable impasse encountered when trying to fix sensitivity rather than embracing it. She addresses issues such as eating disorders and addictions. She describes them as a way to “wear the truth on the outside” while numbing feelings on the inside and pretending being “fine” on appearance. Her answer is neither to change society nor to change individuals, but to accept the messiness of our human condition within our hectic society, as imperfect as we are. It is more courageous for Clark Kent to “show up” in public than for Superman to save lives… think about it for a minute.

Accepting the truth of our sensitivity and of our vulnerability; genuinely sharing our story; and showing up every day is brutal and beautiful or “brutiful” as Melton calls it. It is hard enough without having to add the shame of hiding, the guilt of disappointing, and the isolation of lying. In telling the truth rather than wearing it as a disorder, Melton frees her audience from having to be dressed in superheroes capes and allows us to stop wrestling between who we are and who we think others want us to be.

Watch Glennon Doyle Melton’s Ted Talk on YouTube:

Christine Leclerc-Sherling
Psychology and Public Speaking Instructor

An Introduction

“Speakologist” is a blog about how to respect and share your unique message and how to take care of your unique personality. My name is Christine Leclerc-Sherling and I am the Psychology and Public Speaking instructor at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. I teach face-to-face, online, and on base (MAFB) classes. I am also one of the Student Veterans of America advisors and an officer for our Toastmasters club on campus. You guessed it: I love what I do and I am fortunate to do what I love. I don’t work: I play. Every day, I have the privilege to share with my students, information that I find groundbreaking, vital, and fascinating. I have to wonder… what if you are not in my class. Should you not have access to that information somewhere? And what if you took those classes in the past, but you want to hear more about it, stay connected with the material, or just want to find a good source of information for mental and communication health? So here is the place. Welcome.

I often update information in my online classes or share new videos with my face-to-face classes. When I find material that is just too good to keep for myself, I will post it here, and frame it in a way that you will understand why I find that information relevant. To me, everything is about peace: mental health is about peace, successful communication is about peace, happiness is about peace… I believe in a positive (as in “active” or “something added”) definition of peace. I believe that peace is more than the absence of war or violence. Peace is also more than the opposite of violence. You can promote and build peace at the same time you are facing violence – as a matter of fact, it is the best time to do so! Violence and war have direct effects on us. We can measure the anxiety, we can see our mood changing, we can feel our communication becoming more defensive or more aggressive: violence has tangible results on individuals. Why would peace not have tangible results on individuals as well?

In this blog, I will post anything that I believe can lead you to being more resilient and more assertive. I believe that those traits help individuals find, build, and maintain peace. I believe that it creates healthier relationships, more harmonious families, and more constructive communities. I want you to be part of the journey. Let us get started!