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Create Your “New Normal” and Banish the Debbie Downers in Your Life

After tragedy strikes you are forced to create a “new normal.”

When my Dad passed away, I was consumed by grief. I hurt physically. All the time. Now the big sucking hole in my chest has shriveled to a constant seep. I’m adjusting. Some days all I’m doing is surviving. Other days I’m thriving.

Events on the life stress scale force us to create a new normal- divorces, marriages, new jobs, birth of child- they all require radical adjustments. As an EMS Helicopter pilot, I frequently see my patients thrust into a new normal.

Jim Rohn, businessman and motivational speaker says:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

We spend most of our time with our friends, family and coworkers. But think about it more specifically- who at work are you spending the most time with? Which family members? Which friends? Which ones bring you down? Who raises you up?

Who Are Your Five People? Photo Credit: KungpaoChicken


Want to change your life? Change how you spend your time.

Sometimes this will mean changing your job, your city, your life. But what if you don’t want to take a rototiller to your life? You don’t need to be radical. Just be deliberate.

Rototillers Not Required. Photo Credit: pboothe

Be Deliberate

  • Want to be more optimistic? Invite an optimistic person to lunch.
  • Want to be healthier? Hang out with healthier people.
  • What to be more inspired? Find some one that inspires you.

Spending time online can have us withdraw from poeple- but it can also be a great source of connection. You can find your “tribe” online. They’re out there. Create community.

Create Your New Normal

  1. Identify the AAA people in your life. These are the people that inspire, support, encourage and foster your dreams. If you don’t have any AAA people in your life, connect online.
  2. Carve out time for AAA people. Make a phone call, send an email, or schedule lunch with these people. Watch an episode of the Good Life Project. I know you’re busy- but this is your life. The energy boost from inspirational people will help you get those “to-do” list items checked off quickly.
  3. Identify those that hinder you. These are “Debbie Downers” or “Pessimistic Pauls” in your life. Minimize the time you spend with them. Find ways to excuse yourself from the conversation. Make plans with AAA friends so you can legitimately say, “I’m sorry I can’t join you.” They may not like it. You’ll both be okay.
  4. Plan ahead. When you’ve got an event that requires time with a Debbie Downer or a Pessimistic Paul, counterbalance it with AAA time.

Want a little more inspiration? Check out this TEDx talk from Scott Dinsmore. He’s part of my inspiring community.

What do you want to be a part of your new normal? Share in the comments.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Elaine December 5, 2012, 9:47 pm

    You are AAA+ and I am so grateful you are part of my New Normal! :-)

    • yesyoucan December 6, 2012, 4:18 pm

      Thanks Elaine! I love our friendship too!

  • Lori Gosselin December 6, 2012, 10:41 am

    Hi Lorena,
    I’m sorry for the loss of your father. I know what it’s like to lose a parent (my mother, 7 years ago) but what’s pushing me to create a new normal is the loss of my 23 year old son this past summer.
    I agree that it’s very important to be attentive to who you spend time with. I hadn’t heart Jim Rohn’s quote – but it does make sense.
    We’ll be doing things differently this Christmas because we have to. I remember doing the tree in a completely different way when Mom died. But this is so much bigger than that – and for our son Christmas was always a big deal. I think my daughter, husband and I will depart as much as we can from the family traditions while still “doing” Christmas. We’ll be changing how we spend our time to deal with this. Great post Lorena!

    • yesyoucan December 6, 2012, 4:21 pm

      My heart goes out to you. Losing a parent is tough but I think losing a child might be worse. We struggled a lot the first Christmas without my Dad as well. It just wasn’t the same- and I think that is the place to start- it won’t be the same so finding ways to still having family traditions while also creating new ones is important. Thanks for sharing your pain with us. Be gentle on yourselves.

  • Mike December 7, 2012, 12:34 pm

    Hey Lorena, I haven’t dropped by in a little bit, but I’m glad to catch up! I love the idea of “being the average of the 5 people you spend time with…” and I’m pretty sure it is spot on! I still have some big improvements to make in my life and you’ve reminded me to spend time with the right people! Nice post!

    • yesyoucan December 7, 2012, 12:55 pm

      Thanks for the comment! Wow- just went over to your site- big changes since my last visit! Keep up the great work!

  • Angela December 8, 2012, 1:04 am

    Hey Lorena

    Great post. Sporty and I try as much as possible to spend our time with only AAA people (love the name btw), but a lot of our tribe are in the States so we’re limited to Skype. At home we have one friend in particular who is a real Debbie Downer and one thing that works really well (besides making excuses!) is to try and only see her with other people. We’ve found having someone else who isn’t a DD helps balance the visit.

    I know a lot of people say you should ‘fire’ your crappy friends, but I just don’t feel okay to do that. Our friend is really sweet when she’s not being a DD.

    One last thing…I watched Scott’s talks this morning. Very cool!

    Ang :-)

    • yesyoucan December 8, 2012, 11:29 am

      Great idea for only seeing your Debbie Downer friend in group situations! I have an extended family member that can be a Debbie Downer- I’ve also learned that once she is “heard” she can often move on to other topics- so I just listen without agreeing or trying to get her to see the positive side or how she might not be considering a different way of looking at the situation. Once she’s vented we can often move on to other topics. It seems to go smoother this way. :)

  • rebecca December 8, 2012, 5:52 am

    great post and I take Debbie downers of my facebook timeline too :-)

  • Jacqueline April 11, 2013, 12:28 pm

    Loved this, Lorena! My favorite line in the post was, “I know you’re busy-but this is your life.” It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of meetings, work, and Facebook statuses that we sometimes forget to stop and take a quiet moment to reflect on what really matters.

    I also think you’re right on in focusing on being deliberate. I’ve been recently going through something similar and taking an honest look at the people, places, and things around me. I heard a quote recently that I love, “I don’t have anyone around me who doesn’t celebrate me.” I’ve been keeping that in mind, as I create room for the new incredible people in my life. Thanks for posting and look forward to upcoming posts! :)

    • Lorena April 11, 2013, 1:42 pm

      Thanks for your comment and sharing the quote. I hadn’t heard that before but it really resonates with me. Lorena

  • When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Lorena October 18, 2013, 9:12 pm

      Thank-you for bringing this to my attention! The last thing I want to do is flood your inbox with unwanted emails. Unfortunately, I can’t see how to do this from my side. I’m not sure how familiar you are with blogging but this is part of Jetpack from wordpress.

      The good news is you should have an option at the end of the email that will allow you manage your comment setting and opt out of these emails.

      Again, thanks for letting me know, I’m sure we will be able to figure this out. :)

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