Ah, the holiday season begins. Pumpkin spice is in the air, Thanksgiving décor and even Christmas trees are showing up at the local craft stores. Something in the air just seems to change.
While I am not usually a big fan of all of the 'post' challenges on Facebook, one that I do think is beyond beneficial is the 30 days of thankfulness. You’ll search the interwebs of your mind to come up with 30 different things to post. This MAKES us look for the good things. What happens when we look for good things?
When we look for and focus on good things - we find good things!
In the daily grind, it can be difficult to stay focused on all that is going well. We succumb to disappointments, life challenges, irritations, illnesses and more. Then we focus on only those things. It is like a negativity loop that is hard to break. When you have to come up with 30 things to post, your focus changes and that loop can be broken. We can bring into clear view the things going well.
What we tend to forget is that throughout the year we can have this same focus. We should all do a 365 days of Thankfulness Facebook Challenge. (Oh wait, that is a gratitude journal! Highly recommend btw...) At any given time, there are good things and bad things happening to us and around us. We have the choice of what to focus on.
The question to ask yourself is: How do you want to feel?
You have the choice of how you want to feel. That choice requires an action. The action required is directed focus. Either on all the good in our life or all that is going wrong.
We will always find the evidence that we look for. If you look for the bad or look for the good – either way.... you will find it.
Need help getting out of the negativity loop? Are you burned out, stressed out, maxed out and can't seem to stop? Let's talk. Working together might be the answer. Just do a little clickity click on the contact button at the top or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you joined my private Facebook group yet? If not, head over to Living LYT! a group about living a life that lights you up! Join here I hope to see you there.
Far too often I am reminded of the impermanence of this life, of the fragility, of mortality – especially when someone close in age passes away unexpectedly. I usually spend time trying to get my head around it. We feel sad that someone so young is gone too soon and it is a stark reminder that whatever it is we are putting off may never be realized.
Some may call it motivation…put away the money so you can enjoy retirement. Ok, well, you have to get there. Does that mean you can’t enjoy life now? I’m not saying blow all of your money and savings but why put off joy for 5, 10, 20, 30 years?!
I used to be the world’s worst at saying when ‘this’ happens ‘then’ I can be happy/successful/fulfilled/etc... But the thing is – usually when we arrive at ‘that place’ we aren’t any happier/successful/fulfilled than we were before. Why?
Because we are basing our joy and happiness on an outside circumstance or situation or even a person. If we are not happy on the inside it does not matter what happens on the outside.
Why are some of the poorest people the happiest? Why are some heavy people happy and jovial? How are some people that have experienced loss still going strong? It’s the thoughts we think 1.) about ourselves, our worth and enough-ness, and 2.) what we are making those things mean.
Put two people next to each other. While general characteristics are different, we can agree that they are a human, breathing air like the other, living on the same planet, and for all intents and purposes are created just like the other. But how each reacts to something is very different. The only thing different is their thoughts.
That is the only way to explain that the exact same thing can happen to both and the outcome for each can be so very different.
What I invite you to embrace is that nothing outside of us can make us happy. Nothing on the outside determines our joy. It has everything to do with what is on the inside. This means that we can be happy right now. We don’t have to wait to lose the weight, or get the promotion, or find the perfect mate.
I admit that switching gears can be challenging (but not impossible!). We have been so programmed to seek fulfillment and acceptance from the outside – it begins by pleasing our parents, our teachers, bosses, mates, to be ‘acceptable’. The media and marketing tries to make you think you will fit in or be more accepted when you are this size or have erased the wrinkles or drink this drink.
So if this sounds like a losing battle take heart, my friend. That programming can be re-written – and you don’t have to be a computer genius to do it!
Here are 4 things to begin asking yourself:
1. Do I wholeheartedly desire a change in my way of thinking?
If at a subatomic level you really have no desire to make a change then these things will not work. If you do desire a change – there is then no reason why you will not succeed.
2. What are my current thoughts?
Write out your IF, THEN or WHEN, THEN statements. These will tell you what you are expecting from the outside to make you happy/fulfilled/acceptable. “When I get the new job, then I will be satisfied.” What is keeping you from being satisfied right now? This does NOT mean that you cannot have ambition or a desire to achieve. It will mean, however, that your eternal happiness is not housed solely in this outside circumstance.
3. Begin weighing what you are missing by waiting on your THEN statements.
How can I begin living my THEN statements now? And are they even realistic? What is keeping you from happiness and fulfillment right now and what are you putting off by waiting?
I do like a tidy house. It helps keep my mind clear mentally and I’d rather do a little along the way than have to spend hours cleaning. When I have company (usually my nieces and nephews) a tidy house is a challenge. I’ve tried to keep things picked up along the way and keep the house ‘in order’. However, I began to ask myself, is this time being used wisely? This housework was something that I could put off. It wasn’t worth quality time with the n&n’s.
And we’ve all been there on the weight issue. When I lose this weight, then I’ll be happy and healthy…. There is certainly a health component to that but there is not a happiness component. Is it reasonable or realistic to expect that I am going to fit into clothes I wore 10 years ago? Or am I ready to drop that, buy some clothes that fit and that I feel good in? I have been so stubborn in the past that I have kept clothes that were too small – refusing to buy anything else until I could fit into them again. All this did was keep me feeling sh**ty about myself. There is not any significance to a certain size except in our minds! (and maybe unless we are a model – and I am totally NOT one of those!) So the more realistic thing is to find clothes that make me feel good about me. I don’t have to wait.
Ugh, too simple, right?? Everything is a choice. Even not choosing is a choice. Choose to stop playing into someone else’s idea of what will make you acceptable and learn to accept yourself. Choose what is more important. So is it more important to have a tidy home or play with the kids. No brainer for me! If being healthy and losing weight is what is important (vs the clothes you are trying to fit into) then choose healthy food, healthy thoughts, healthy activities.
Another perspective that really helps me is – If I was on my deathbed, would I be saying ‘oh I wish I had cleaned the house more, worked harder, worked longer, was thinner….’
Choose what matters most – choose what you can feel good about! Let the rest fall where it may.
When we compare ourselves to others, it produces either feelings of superiority or inferiority. Neither is beneficial to our sense of well-being.
To make it worse, we compare the worst things we know about ourselves to the best things we know about others. We have plenty of opportunity to do this since social media is filled with the highlight reel of people’s lives. We forget reality. Life can be messy. Relationships can be hard. Pets are adorable but are a lot of work. Product marketing succeeds by convincing us that we will be who we want to be (or better) when we have this product, these clothes, skin care routines, (go ahead and list anything you’ve purchase in the middle of the night….)
We can begin to break the comparison habit by:
Gabby Bernstein sums it up nicely “we are all special and none of us are special”. We are each special in our own right but we are not more special than anyone else.
When we understand this, we lose the need to compare and can gain a greater appreciation for ourselves and others.
I love books! Hard copy, that is. I really try to do the Kindle thing but my level of concentration is significantly reduced. I can’t tell how many more pages I have left or the progress I’ve made just by feel. It leaves me with the unnerving sensation of being untethered and unattached. But give me an actual book and I am immediately grounded yet able to be transported into the words on the page.
I have read many books through the years but there is always that one you remember as a turning point.
I had already been fully submerged into my personal development journey - healing (body, mind & soul), learning to love myself, learning to decide things for myself and beginning to question the way I think about many things. (I should point out that this journey did not exactly start out voluntarily. Our greatest changes can come from our greatest challenges.)
Then I read this book...YOU ARE A BADASS. How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life. By Jen Sincero
It was the color of sunshine and that may have been by design.
The author spoke like we were sitting over coffee or curled up on the couch talking about life. She was not pretentious or pious but spoke as one who had just been through her own things. It wasn't that what she was saying was something that I had never heard or even know instinctively inside. Maybe it was a validation of all of that. Or seeing it in print made me believe it more.
There is something to be said for people like Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle and other authors of this caliber. They certainly can be inspiring yet not quite on our level. She felt just a few steps ahead. Like she had just been down this road and could offer more down to earth direction.
We underestimate our impact on people by believing that we have to have 'already arrived' to have the ability to give good guidance or direction. When in reality - we only need to be a few steps ahead.
If you are climbing Mt. Everest who is more beneficial to you - the guide already at the top that you can't see or hear or the guide just ahead?
I remember the feeling. Unstoppable. Capable. Like I could conquer anything. While that doesn't mean that there were not more challenges along the way, the new perspectives stuck with me. I revisit the book from time to time and recommend it to anyone starting on their self evolution journey - or anyone tired of feeling like crap about themselves.
Just like surrounding ourselves with the right people - surrounding and accessing (& re-accessing) the right messages whether it be in books/podcasts/blogs/articles/etc. is essential to help keep our momentum. Have staple items around you at all times that make you feel the way you want to feel about yourself.
Quit trying to white knuckle your own motivation.
Feed yourself intentionally with that which makes you feel unstoppable. We all need a little boost every now and then. Having those people and materials handy can ensure when the challenges come (and they will) you have an arsenal of resources. People that can step in and remind you of your own greatness.
Sometimes we can carry others and sometimes we need to be carried. The balance is off if we do not allow for the ebb and flow of giving and receiving. Some think it is so virtuous to never need help. If anyone ever says that to me I know that they are not being honest - with themselves OR me. (And I know this because that WAS ME!)
So if you are in the market for a good self work read - give Jen Sincero a try. She has since gone on to write two more books. I haven't brought myself to start those as this one was the one that spoke so loud and clear to me. She is quite colorful and that was part of her charm to me. She does throw around a few four letter words…just letting ya know.
I'd love to hear the book that changed you or at least had a profound impact. What you share may have a great impact on others too!
I have to admit that I have not felt like myself lately. To be one that professes the benefits of your thoughts and mindset, I couldn't seem to turn mine around. I had feelings of depression, anxiety and overwhelm. I was frustrated that I couldn't just 'think' differently about things or make the choice to Be Happy.
I felt these things in my body. I knew it was more than surface level thoughts. It was time to dig even deeper. Our bodies can give us clear indication that there is something more to investigate.
A few years ago, I had been introduced to a modality called EFT - Emotional Freedom Technique or 'tapping'. My coach and friend, Kim Salter, Design Thought Studio, really brought this into my life. You can read more about it here. The Tapping Solution says this:
Tapping therapy is based on the combined principles
of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.
Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints
of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical
sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the
brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s
balance of energy.
Sometimes all the positive thinking, mantras and affirmations will not provide relief. We must look whole-istically... mind, body, spirit.
After about 20 minutes of tapping, I realized some thoughts that had been causing distress AND even had a breakthrough on some resistance I've had.
While EFT is just one tool that can be helpful, do not discount other modalities RET, EMDR, hypnotherapy, coaching and traditional therapy if you are having trouble processing your thoughts and emotions. If you find that you are having feelings of depression or anxiety for prolonged periods of time for sure seek professional assistance. We all have those feelings from time to time and usually they will move on. But sometimes they don't and we need some guidance.
In my case, I believe that I had just 'gotten busy' and as I was feeling things just stuffed them down to keep on going. How many of you do that? "Oh, I'm too busy to deal with my emotions/feelings/fears/etc right now, I have other things to do." Geez, I had done THAT for years. But it eventually comes back up. Now, it just happens extremely faster for me and I am so glad it does. I'm better at recognizing. When I am not feeling good it is time to start looking inward for what needs to be dealt with. Am I speaking up and out when I need to, am I taking care of myself, am I aligned with my truth?
The more you are in tune with yourself the more you know when you are out of sync.
Do you want and need to feel better? Create the space for that.
My hope for you today is that you will take the time to reflect, clear out, speak out, speak up, care for yourself, process emotions... whatever you need to do to feel like the best version of yourself. When you present that version to the world, the world cannot help but respond positively.
Are you ready to start your journey? Schedule your free Discovery Session.
Ah, that uncomfortable spot between who you were and who you are becoming. That place in between where you've been and where you are going. Michael Beckwith calls this the
Dark Night of the Soul.
That feels like an excellent depiction, if you ask me.
I didn't even know what this was until I heard him talk about it on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. I felt lost and out of sorts. I had done so much work! Therapy, coaching, reading, and self analyzing. I had taken on different mindsets and started challenging the thoughts and beliefs that I had grown up with. I started thinking for myself instead of just ingesting that which is fed to us on a daily basis.
I was literally changing from the inside out.
There is uncertainty and insecurity, maybe even instability as we leave behind that which we know. And for many of us it is hard to release that, even if it is not serving us. We'll hold on to bad jobs and relationships just because there is comfort in the known.
While it can feel like we are in an abyss and floating aimlessly, growth has happened and is continuing. To even be in this spot, required growth out of the 'what was'. You desired more and did some work. You had an intention for a better life. You wanted more. (We didn't count on the in between though did we?)
The important thing is to embrace what currently IS.
Be careful not to numb out or shut down, you'll miss the whole experience. It's ok to be in this place. It is ok to be uncertain. It is ok to feel afloat. It is ok to start over. It is part of the journey. Don't miss this part as it will make emerging into the light that much sweeter.
Think about a seed. The seed has an in between. It is put into the ground as an encapsulated little kernel. Then it begins to grow. There is a time between when the seed sprouts and when it pushes through the ground into the light. It is not immediate but must push through the dark soil until it reaches the light. It doesn't worry that it won't make it - it is just a matter of time. And so it is with us.
Don't fear this place. Allow it be a sanctuary during your cultivation. It is a safe place. YOU are safe there.
My hope for you today is that you will know that the dark night will not last forever. Light does come in the morning along with the promise of a new day, a new beginning, a fresh start. And once you have entered the in between, you will not ever wish to go back.
The glimpse of what is to come is far brighter and more fulfilling than the comfort of fear ever was.
Have you ever noticed just how many negative thoughts you have in any given day? Go ahead, start counting now until the end of the day. We say all kinds of things out loud and even more in our head. Most of it we don't even realize that we are doing it. We complain, judge and villainize. Even worse - we often operate in anticipationof the next bad thing that will happen. It is so engrained we don't even know we are doing it. It is worse than a habit.
We don't stop there though, if we have one thought there are usually more to follow. If something goes wrong, you do not have one thought about it you have many and the spiral begins.
We spiral down listing ALL of the things that are wrong.
Traffic is heavy today I may be late for work.
My boss is going to nag me about it.
I can't believe I work for an idiot.
I hate that job.
I don't like anyone I work with.
And the list goes on until you are in the depth of despair.
We seem to be programmed this way though. It is all around us and it is what we see. Ever turn on the news? How many positive stories do you get in relation to negative stories? My father in law can watch hours of the news (without sound btw) and then complain about not feeling good or feeling 'down'.
Now I'm not saying don't watch the news or be informed about current events. What I AM saying though is what and how much is going in and is it positive or negative? You are in control of that.
What I really want to explore is:
WHAT IF we spiraled upward??
Instead of spiraling downward, which is waaaaay too familiar (remember our brains like familiar and dislike unfamiliar - so we have to make the unfamiliar familiar) - what if we spiraled upward?
What do you think would happen if we RETRAINED our minds to focus on the positive MORE OFTEN than we focus on the negative ? What if we anticipated good things MORE OFTEN than we anticipated bad?
What would this world look like if we did that? Personally, I think our world would be ROCKED!
When we have a good thought - what if we then named 10 other things that were good too. Do you think the light would overpower the darkness? I'm getting excited just thinking about this.
What if THAT was our usual practice? How would we be showing up in our lives? What would our communities look like? Our businesses? Our parenting?
This could be our habit. This could be what is engrained if we will embrace it. Yes, it will take retraining our brains to veer from what we have known for generations. It can be done though.
Remember that what we focus on expands. Our mindset determines our reality. We can start by:
NOTICING our thoughts and where they go
REPLACING them with up-leveled thoughts
SPIRAL UPWARD add more good thoughts onto it until you feel a shift
RINSE AND REPEAT
When you slip into old habits, forgive yourself and keep practicing. Rome wasn't built in a day and mindsets and habits that have been in the making for generations won't disappear overnight. But with consistent intention and attention it can certainly become our new reality.
Ever wake up with that down, dreary feeling? Or have it come on during the day, sometimes for no apparent reason? I call this being in a funk. Eeyore would say it's a little black rain cloud. I don't particularly like these moods and I would like nothing more than to avoid these states altogether but I believe they are here to get our attention. So I am starting to listen.
Resistance is futile!
Oh we can try, but the more we resist the more it will persist. (That can be applied to just about anything in life though... so keep that one in your back pocket.) I used to perpetuate the situation by getting in a funk about being in a funk! It’s dreadful. But now instead, I'm trying to be curious. Just like physical pain tells us our body has been pushed to a limit and needs some attention - so too can our internal states of being tell us there is something that needs our attention.
Here are some areas to consider:
Are you physically exhausted or in need of nourishment?
Are you mentally bored, uninspired or unfulfilled?
Are you spiritually starved?
Are you emotionally shut down?
It is hard to ignore physical pain but so often we plow right through all of the rest. And all that has to happen is a recognition of what is going on. I have had to do this myself - just this week! Even today, the little black rain cloud was there before I got out of bed. I was in great need of food and some spiritual sustenance when I woke up. So I wasn't just leaping out of bed with energy and excitement for the day. I've poured that second cup of coffee after a satisfying breakfast, had some spiritual renewal time, some creative outlet time and am moving on with the day. And if all else fails, I just remember that…
This too shall pass.
So whether it is a mood, an emotion, or whatever, it will pass. I don't have to fight it or try to make it go away. I do need to recognize it though. As I would attend to my sore muscles I may need to attend to a sore soul with some balm. What is that for you? Only you will know. Explore that. I'm not talking psychoanalyzing it to pieces (as I used to do). Just a brief recognition and a small step to take to care of yourself.
These days, I am waaaay more gentle with myself during these times. I try not to force myself into or out of the mood or funk I am in. I'm not sure why I ever did that to myself anyway. We can be such bullies to ourselves sometimes.
Today, I am allowing…not forcing. Observing…not judging. Showing kindness to myself…not bullying (myself). And the feeling that I am coming away with is gratefulness. Just as I would be grateful for a friend who did this for me. As one did, and that friend is ME!
I'm curious. Can you relate? What do you do when you are in a funk? Do you try to get out asap or are you gentle with yourself also? Inquiring minds want to know….
I'm not talking about in the car either. (Although my husband probably wishes that was my lesson, I have an affinity for accelerating). Anyway.... I recently had the great fortune to have my life come to a screeching halt. I do not begrudge it at all and I'm open to the lessons, truly.
I really thought that I had slowed my life down dramatically. I value peace and calm. I rarely overextend myself anymore or commit to things that I don't want to do. What I find is that I am still on somewhat of a hamster wheel. After a recent surgery, I have had a period of recovery. For one that has not had so much as a stitch, this has been enlightening to say the least. An injury last year, had me humbled as well but I was able to power through, keep going like a zombie chasing (an unarmed) Rick. Recovering from surgery is far different. Not only does your body have to slow down but your mind does as well. This was challenging as I am in the middle of life coach certification, starting my new Facebook page, working with my own coach, and of course my current HR job.
I'm really starting to see how I have reacted and handled things in the past vs. how I am handling things now. Before, I would have been completely derailed. If I laid in bed and questioned my decision or felt like it was too much work, that would be the moment I gave up. One particular day during my recovery, I was running a fever, laying in bed feeling like a blob. Those thoughts came to me... this is alot of work Julie, are you up for it? Did you make the right decision? Should you be doing this? I recognized these sneaky little lies. I recognized that I was tired and I didn't feel good. And no, this day, this moment, I didn't feel like doing any of this. But this will not last. I will recover, I will feel so much better now, I will be spinning on my hamster wheel soon enough.
I also think that sometimes when we do not take the time we need for ourselves, our bodies, the universe, whatever, says "let me help you" (wink,wink).... and we are otherwise forced to take the much needed break.
I have tried to relax into this. I gave myself many permissions. Permission to not feel guilty that I wasn't doing anything! Permission to watch Netflix, permission to sleep whenever I wanted, permission to not take work calls while I am convalescing. I chose my healing over anything else. It feels good that I am honoring my body. I desire to honor my mind more in the future as well. And when we can act with integrity toward ourselves, we can much better act with integrity toward others.
What are some ways that you can honor yourself?
Even though it is March, I still feel like this year JUST started. I entered 2018 with more clarity and more intent than I've had in the past few years. My eyes seemed to be open, I did not seem to be just trying to survive or find my place anymore. My feet seemed to back under me after several years of what felt like being off course (like waaay of course), flailing, lost (in so many ways)...
I have come to appreciate those dark places though. Before, I would have been kicking and screaming and otherwise just trying to deny the reality - that I was just at an in-between place. We cannot argue with reality though. Best just to accept it. What I realize now is that the more you resist the longer it persists. We need those times to take stock and regroup, then we are able to re-emerge a better version of ourselves. I stopped beating myself up for not having parts of my life figured out, for not being where I felt I 'should' be at this age, for everything not being perfect. I started being a friend to myself instead of an enemy and critic.
Letting go of some of those expectations allowed something to open within me. The more I got to know ME in that dark place, the more I was able to re-emerge and do some of the things I had been until now only thinking about. The call of Life Coaching finally got the attention it has been waiting for. A thought I had tossed around for several years. I understand the value as I have had a few myself and they have been incredibly beneficial.
For so long, I hid behind the statement, "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up." And that's ok, many people never have a clear indication but that doesn't mean that one should not do anything. What it really meant was that I had a fear of trying anything. I would stick with what I knew (and disliked) just for the sheer comfort that it is what I knew. I finally decided that I was tired of that craptastic way of thinking. It made alot of sense when I quit doubting myself. I've been coaching people for years! I've had endless coaching sessions as an HR professional. Employees, managers, CEOs. It also employs my love of psychology and my realization that how we think determines how we live. Our thoughts determine whether we are miserable or whether we are joyful. We must take a driver seat approach to that thinking though. We cannot just let our thoughts be unsupervised. Maybe I was too lazy before, or thought that whatever life gave me was what it wanted me to have, instead of freaking creating it for myself! Same with our thoughts. We are so much better off not taking what comes but creating with intention what we think. Bringing those thoughts into submission. We want to act like we are the victim, that we have no control. We do have control over that very thing. We certainly do not have control over others or our circumstances but we DO have control over our mind and our reactions. This is where we distinguish ourselves as bitter or better. And who doesn't want to be better?! I see too many unhappy, bitter people and I want none of that, thank you.
December 2017 I made my first step and enrolled in a life coach certification program and am now starting to build my practice. There are fears for sure but this is a great test of my own personal mindset. I needed one action and a commitment to begin. That was the missing piece for all of those years. One small action and commitment started the momentum. Working with my own coach provides support, encouragement and accountability as well. For too long, I was an island just hanging out with my thoughts and not putting any action or commitment into them. That makes it hard to feel motivated or supported. It has made a big difference for me and I look forward to being that support for others.
So what are you wanting to start? What are you wanting to change or let go? Are you ready to leave the island?