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For example: My Good Stuff Read through your Good Stuff list and really take a moment to absorb how those events make you feel. It's an instant lift, isn't it? They feel they are not being judged or evaluated. They feel they are being understood -- the therapist is listening carefully and understanding what they are saying. They feel accepted. The therapist seems to convey to them that he accepts all aspects of their personality -- their feelings of hopelessness, hostility, and dependence, as well as their more positive feelings. In this situation they feel free from outside pressures to change. This same kind of nonthreatening, accepting psychological climate is what the group-centered leader tries to create for his group. This aim is rooted firmly in his belief that the individual, when free from forces which he perceives as threats to the self or the self-concept, will actualize the positive and constructive forces that are within him. SOME DISTINCTIVE FUNCTIONS CARRIED OUT BY THE GROUP-CENTERED LEADER Some of the conditions which the group-centered leader tries to create have been examined. Just how does he go about this task? A few months after my bat mitzvah, when I was about to enter high school, my mom was pressuring me even harder to act like my assigned gender. Enchanted by the Barbizon Modeling School advertising slogan--Be a model, or just look like one--she'd convinced herself that I could be taught to be a girl. I protested as she signed me up for the program. But the truth was, I wanted it. I wanted to learn how to pass. I was willing to endure modeling school if it let me escape the misery of feeling inadequate and wrong.

Predictably, modeling school only reinforced my feeling of wrongness and inadequacy. Applying mascara meant poking myself in the eyes. Walking in heels was painful and awkward no matter how much I practiced. I left each day more ashamed, brandishing smudged makeup and limping from twisted ankles, reminded in the most demoralizing of ways that I was not the girl my parents hoped I'd be. Looking ahead, each day be sure to schedule at least three or more good events into your day. Remember, they don't have to be big events; Even if you can't add three every day, make sure to add at least three enjoyable activities to each week--and to ensure they stay there week after week, month after month. MAKE TIME FOR BEAUTY AND HUMOR: Surrounding yourself with beauty can cut through the bleakest of the bleak. Those who are most resilient literally schedule beauty and humor into their days rather than just wait for these sources of joy to come to them. So, commit to watching Comedy Central for thirty minutes each day, or actively set aside time to flip through the articles of your favorite photography article or listen to a piece of uplifting music. Whatever speaks to you will help you through. If your reaction to reading this is, That sounds great, but I don't have the time for that, it's a clue that you're hitting an iceberg. Remember, they can do a number on our ability to change our habits--and you are, in fact, here to change. One of the most common ones that comes up around this is, Busy people don't have time for fun. What is group-centered leadership in more operational terms? Considerably more research is needed before we can state with any degree of certainty what are the essential dimensions of his role. An attempt will be made, however, to define certain distinctive functions which he carries out in the group. Conveying Warmth and Empathy There are characteristics of leader behavior which are difficult to describe, but apparently easy for people to perceive in a leader. Warmth and empathy are terms used to represent something basic in a leader's manner which is of importance in his attempt to create a nonthreatening, accepting atmosphere.

Undoubtedly it is a pattern of behavior which manifests itself in the leader's speech, his facial expression, his gestures. We hear people speak of others as cold, stiff, unfriendly. These terms mean something to others, though it is not certain what the essential behavior variables are that form the basis for such perceptions. Perhaps they are related to an individual's liking for others, perhaps to his own feeling of security with others -- his ability to act spontaneously in the presence of a group. Indeed, I was more certain than ever that I would never be that girl. Ever the problem solver, I made a deal with the program director behind my mother's back. After she dropped me off each day, I would hang out in a back room reading. Just before pickup, the Barbizoners would hastily apply my makeup to convince my parents I'd been in class all day. Everyone was happy. I could lose myself in articles, the Barbizon people could dispense with struggling to train me, and my mother believed I was getting closer to becoming the girl she had always wanted me to be. That is, until graduation day, when I had to parade my newly taught femininity down a catwalk. The program instructor dressed me and applied my makeup, but as I walked down the lighted catwalk, my (unpracticed) heels were markedly unsteady. When I stumbled, my heel caught in the string of lights attached to the painted backdrop. It came crashing down, managing to hit every model in training. Is this iceberg useful to you? Is it one that needs to be melted, steered around, or embraced while shaving off the rough edges? Do a little digging using the skills you learned on Day 6 to see what might be getting in the way of injecting more positives into your life. Step Four: Do Active Accounting Spend a few minutes making a list of everything challenging that happened to you today--big, small, it doesn't matter. Then, for each one, think of something you could do (within the same domain) to offset it.

For instance: My Challenge: A rough morning arguing with my husband while we were rushing to get the kids off to school and ourselves to work on time. My Plan to Offset It: Call or e-mail during the day to let him know something I appreciate that he does to keep our family life running smoothly. My Challenge: Hearing from my client that she wasn't happy with what I had delivered. The general emotional tone of an entire group is often influenced by the presence or absence of these qualities in the leader. The ability to empathize may be another way of saying that one person is capable of taking the role of the other, an essential aspect of all interpersonal communication and a factor which is so important in individual therapy. Just how these leader characteristics affect a group is not clearly known. One hypothesis would be that group members identify with their leader and in the process internalize some of his attitudes and behavioral patterns. This would mean that group members may gradually begin to behave toward others in the group in much the same way as the leader behaves toward them. They would become more warm and friendly to each other, more empathic in their relations with others. Under such conditions communication is undoubtedly facilitated. Attending to Others In work with various groups it has been sobering to observe how little the members attend to what others say. Without attention there can be no understanding and hence no communication. One girl was taken to the hospital with a broken arm. The wreckage ruined the evening for all the hopeful young models and their proud families. My attempt at passing had failed--and failed big-time. My parents were heartbroken. Even the professionals couldn't make me a real woman. The air was thick with our mutual shame.

Of course, these classes were not an adequate or even accurate description of girl, but they focused on what was, then and still now, expected of women: to be thin, elegant, and beautiful and to walk constrained. In the car riding home that evening with my parents, I knew that I was supposed to want these things for myself. I also knew, as clearly as ever, that I didn't. The event stands out for me as a day on which my life was forever and dramatically changed. My Plan to Offset It: Spend time with the client discussing what's missing and how to fix it. Then read an e-mail from a highly satisfied client to remind myself that I'm good at what I do. Keep doing this, and within a few days, you'll start to train yourself to add in a positive boost each and every time a negative comes along. Once you ditch some drudgery, reframe what remains, and inject some fun into your life, you'll start to have more positive feelings about even the most boring tasks. You'll feel more fulfilled, and that's a giant step in the right direction away from stress and into meQuilibrium. My Plan to Banish Burnout I choose to work on this skill because: The activities on my Drudge list that I can ditch are: The activities on my Drudge list that I can delegate are: My immediate plan for delegating those is: Apparently the act of attending carefully to another person is a difficult task for most people. They are usually thinking what they will say when the speaker stops. Or they focus on some specific point made by the speaker and then fail to attend to the rest because they are thinking up arguments against the specific point. It is by no means uncommon in groups to observe one person bringing up a point, then a second person bringing up another point, a third person offering an entirely different suggestion, and so on -- none of them responding to the contribution of the previous speaker. It is doubtful in this case that they are really attending carefully to each other. This is not communication in any sense of the word.