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Life Coach Finding the Balance between Lake Wobegon and Woe is Me

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life coachDo you need a Life Coach?  Psychologists say we all think we’re better than we are.  Most people think they are good-looking or at least attractive, when in reality; most of us have average looks.  When researchers asked employees to rate their ability to get along with others, 60 percent rated themselves in the top 10%, and ninety-four percent of supervisors said they were doing a better job than the majority of their colleagues.

Illusions of superiority are so widespread that there’s a name for the phenomenon.  It’s called The Lake Wobegon Effect, and is the human tendency to overestimate one’s achievements and capabilities in relation to others. This syndrome takes its name from the fictional hometown made famous by Garrison Keillor’s radio show sign-off, “Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

We all have our “Lake Wobegon” days; good days, when we feel we’re on top of our game.  On these days we’re smart, confident, and ready to conquer the world.  At the other end of the spectrum, we have those days that aren’t so great; days when we’re a mess, disorganized, and incapable of making competent decisions.  On these “woe is me” days, when nothing goes right, we tend to keep to ourselves, and are less sociable than usual. The tendency to keep to ourselves when we’re “down” comes from being taught to hide our vulnerability.  We don’t want to supply anyone with the ammunition to “kick us when we’re down.”

Having a Lake Woebegon or “woe is me,” day is normal and you can learn to make these minor mood swings work for you:

  • When you’re feeling euphoric, run with it.  Use the energy that accompanies these positive feelings to accomplish something useful, or to achieve a goal. Don’t let “good days” go to waste.
  • When you’re experiencing a “woe is me” moment, take time to relax and reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for.  Don’t try to force yourself to be jovial, instead listen to your inner voice, meditate and try to analyze the cause behind the negativity you’re experiencing.
  • Learn to recognize Lake Woebegon and “woe is me” days in others.  Don’t take it personally if someone is unusually quiet or less than enthusiastic in their interactions with you.  Be patient, supportive, show empathy, don’t lecture and don’t label.
  • When a co-worker, friend or family member is under the influence of the Lake Webegon Effect, you might be tempted to “knock them down a notch” but resist the temptation.  Instead, listen, encourage, and assist them to excel in whatever project or task is at hand.
  • It’s important to understand that mood swings are a part of being human, and we all have them.  But it’s also important to recognize when your mood or someone else’s, has gone beyond normal and may be a symptom of excessive stress or even depression.

The Lake Woebegon Effect and “woe is me” moods are small aspects of the human emotional dimension, and beyond awareness and empathy, don’t require serious intervention.  But, when your reactions to everyday situations become extreme or out of control, it may be time to seek the advice of an experienced life coach.  A life coach can help you discover how to bring your life into balance through exercises and practices that are designed to empower you and increase your well being.

Life coaching encompasses the six dimensions to well being: physical, social, psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual, and while each is equally important, keeping them in balance can be a challenge.  For help in attaining the rewards offered by a well balanced life, please contact us.

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