This past week has been spent with my husband’s family in another state. At first I was reluctant, as I always am when I am moved out of my comfort zone. I felt the pull of my ego to stay in familiar surroundings, doing familiar things. No surprises. Little chance of having to step up to the plate and make any big decisions. However, getting my heart involved instead of my old behavior patterns was simple to do this year. The burden of selfish self-centeredness is only a passing memory and has afforded me many ah-hah’s and adventures that make that kind of resistance an insane waste of energy.
Today, it is like wearing a suit of armor during a yoga class…
Stepping out of our comfort zone takes courage, especially if you have struggled with addiction, abuse, or a history of trauma. The ‘not-knowing’ factor has always been my biggest hurdle to overcoming fear. As a child growing up in an alcoholic home, I was forced to become adept at predicting the behaviors of others around me. I felt compelled to be one step ahead of the sickness in my home in order to protect myself and my younger siblings. Though being on guard for danger served me well in that alcoholic household, it stifled my spiritual and emotional growth for many years. I went into every job, relationship and experience with my arms in front of my face protecting me from all sorts of imaginary demons and events. This kind of emotional armor also kept me from experiencing life the way I wanted to. Trying to predict the future, so I wasn’t surprised or hurt, blocked everything I wanted from my life - and I didn’t know it.
For years I have been whittling away at that “not-knowing gremlin” that seemingly thrives on my desire to want something new or different in my life. Learning how to get myself out of the way - of myself, has been an interesting and rewarding task that has taken many paths. My own curiosity about what kinds of things are out there to help me grow has been my greatest gift (well that and good therapy). Each step of the way has brought me to a new career, city, marriage, and happiness in the “second half” of life. Today I plan my future by being actively grateful for my present, and in doing this it has lessened my need to “predict” because I am at peace with what “is” right now.
I trained as a Life Coach to help others get to their present quickly, to find ways to harness all the energy that is available to them, and to move into the kind of future that they want. Every time a client moves to a new place of understanding, I am grounded in my own present. There are so many ways to find happiness and fulfillment. I pray that in the coming year as I grow and learn, that my readers and clients will find something that will switch on that power and understanding that rockets them into a new dimension of living.
So…What do you want this year to bring into your life?
No matter what you are feeling right now…this minute, no matter what thoughts are in your head – your Happiness is with you, just waiting for you to claim it. You might suspect that it is only a temperamental visitor, come to rob you of the familiar. Maybe you are denying it entry because you are holding out for a more familiar face. But make no mistake about it, you are the only one blocking its entrance into your life.
Each of us has this incredibly efficient system of feelings and emotions that take cues from what we choose to invite into our lives. Think about what you read every day. What kind of messages do you allow into your life? What is the last thing you do before you close your eyes to sleep? Sometimes it seems easiest to hang out with the same old “friends” every day because we tell ourselves that we doing what we like to do. It is familiar, it is easy….we don’t have to make any extra effort. It brings to mind pictures from old movies about dance contests where the contestants are leaning on each other, exhausted, but still moving their feet. Back and forth….yawn….back and forth.
Happiness is as close as our own attitude about the world. We see what we choose to see. Half empty…half full. Cliché? Maybe. What would it feel like to apply that to everything we encounter? Which feels better when you contemplate it? “Oh… my… God! My glass is half empty!" Or…. "Thank You God! My glass is half full!" We can apply this to virtually any situation or experience in our lives. Changing our minds is possible and requires only a little experimentation to begin.
So what is the “bitch de jour? Not enough money for the holidays? Feeling all alone? Feeling compelled to do something you REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO?
Take out a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle. On the left side head the column…HAVE TO. On the right hand side title the column…CHOOSE TO. List on the left anything that is causing you stress at the moment. Then on the right side consider the opportunities to look at the situation in a “glass half full” kind of way. Consider this question…taking my selfish grievances out of the picture…what good things can come out of this? How will the way I am thinking of this help someone? If I were to see this as a doorknob on a door to happiness….how can I grab the door, turn the knob, and invite happiness into this situation?
Changing the way we think about the things in our lives is our Invitation to Happiness.
How will inviting in the good things today help you find your own?
Feelings. Sit with that a minute and contemplate what that means to you.
In early recovery I didn’t have words to identify what those were. I couldn’t sit quietly and succumb to anything that was flowing through me unless it was an orgasm, an intriguing story or a delicious meal. With those, my need for love, intellectual stimulation and nourishment were being met and each were the basic requirements for my existence. Unfortunately in my addicted brain the wires often got crossed and I never knew which served what need. The desperation that stemmed from that confusion kept me anxious, angry, frustrated and afraid…ALL THE TIME!
Often, the actions I took were to squelch the feelings that should have served as my guidance system…the indicators and intuition that conscious folks use normally. My life was out of control, unhealthy and self-sabotaging.
No one can tell you what is right for you. Self-reflection, exercise, meditation, yoga, engaging in activities that stretch you past your comfort zone…all these things and others connect us to a deeper and more knowing part of ourselves that can balance the scales. Nothing new is easy if all you are doing is contemplating the possibility of doing the thing that might help you but you’re too afraid to try because…well hell”…I want to KNOW what is going to happen FIRST”! Action my friends…ACTION!
Start somewhere. Pick one thing that you have been thinking might be helpful and give it a shot. If you can’t think of something...color. Adult coloring books are popular these days. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2015/12/13/adult-coloring-books-stress/76916842/) Sitting and filling in the lines and seeing the possibility. Having color and form emerge from time spent contemplating and following through is productive, grounding, and calming (provided you just have fun with it). Put on your sneakers and go for a walk. Look around you and be observant of what you see. Be curious about the people, the places, the wildlife…whatever unfolds before you. Find someone to help…some way to serve a higher purpose by getting involved in something that touches your heart. Pay attention to how the feelings show up in your body. Journal. If coloring feels silly to you…then write down why it feels silly to you. If your right toe hurt the entire time you were walking and you missed the sunset because you were focused on it…write down why it hurt. If the yoga class you attempted made you cry….ask yourself what it was that released in your body from all that delicious stretching. Pay attention to how it makes you feel when someone you help says “thank you” or smiles back at you. Be curious about yourself and the world around you…it is healing in many ways.
The point is that when we find ways to be with ourselves fully, we begin to discover all sorts of juicy information. Rock music lover that I was, I discovered I liked Baroque when I was trying to be creative…my fingers seemed to fly through the air whether it is on a keyboard, cleaning house or just spending time doodling. Gardening, dancing in my living room when no one is home, and learning new things…all of this stimulates the hormones in my body to heal and energize me. Today I live a life of miracles because I choose to pay attention to how my choices make me feel…and I pick the things that make me feel wonderful!
Find something that makes you feel good today. Pay attention…learn how your body feels with it.
How would choosing to feel good change your life today?
Recently I found myself writing these words in my journal:
"I have been punishing myself - for not BEING myself"
occurred to me this morning that I have an inherent need to punish myself in order to try and make sense out of the world. Some time back I discovered that when things didn't go the way I expected - be it my own behavior or someone else's, I would eat something unhealthy, sabotage my dreams in some way, or get stuck in a holding pattern that kept me from feeling good. I have found myself opening my browser on my phone the moment I open my eyes, only to find that I have allowed someone's political rant set my mood for the day.
This awareness has made it much easier to look for a better feeling - way-of-being, but the stark ugliness of my brief moments of self-sabotage.. at least today are are a call to action. Recovery from alcoholism, surviving sexual and physical abuse, and forgiving a rapist are not overnight events...but they are the facts of a life that now has room to thrive and experience joy.
The last 3 blogs I spoke passionately about centering and meditation and how it sets the stage for my day but it only takes a single comment to take me off balance at times. My decision in the mornings to set the tone of my day can come unconsciously as well. Everything I do is a decision....a position in which I place myself and the foundation I chose to build the remainder of my day on. If the first thing I do in the morning is to read the news or social media, I have allowed the opinions of others to dictate the feelings I start my day with.
Practicing anything helps us hone our skills, makes the difficult second-nature, and builds our confidence in our abilities. Learning that setting my intentions for the day in my journal takes me to a better feeling-place was the shift in consciousness I needed to shift the direction of my life. Energy attracts like energy...it is a physical certainty. For me it is no longer enough to be grateful...I need to pay attention to what that gratitude does to...and for me.
When I struggle with my own self-doubt it causes me to retreat and it is difficult to get out of that retracted and closed-off way of showing up in the world. In an effort to shoo away my “gremlin” of self-doubt, I made it a point to engage as many people in conversation or eye contact as possible while out running errands this week. A smile opens me up, makes be visible to others, and gives me a way to affect others in a positive way. How incredibly fun it was! The tall lanky young man in the “storm troopers” hoodie, the older gent I challenged to a race with our shopping carts, the beautiful woman in the hijab who returned my smile in the most angelic and knowing way. My fearless daughters who loved to engage with others comes to mind…now I know how much pleasure they derived from making contact with so many interesting people. Playfully walking through life is so damned empowering!! Why would I want anything less than this?
This is how I want to live my life today. Not cowering and angry and fearful of the world around me. That draws to me those things that eat at my soul. My attitude about life kept me in endless misery, a recording in my head and body that was on a loop - and I couldn’t find the off switch. I chose misery, and in turn misery gladly took up housekeeping in my spirit. Every time I stepped out into the world I carried that with me…like Charles Schultz beloved character “Pig Pen”, I had a cloud of dirt constantly surrounding me.
For me it took a desire to want more in my life and the willingness to look for something better. Learning what it felt like after going through the process to get there took faith in something bigger than me. Ideas, entity, power, peace….what it was didn’t matter so much as deciding I wanted “it” whatever “it” was. Though I have gone through many processes to get here there is no one thing that flipped the switch for me. It was a change in perspective and attitude. I became curious what I could do to live a better life. When I did that…the how’s and why’s just showed up. That is the miracle for me.
Give yourself the gift of sight today. Open your eyes, ease the sides of your mouth into a smile, let others see you do it. Then FEEL what connection can do.
What can you give others of yourself today? How will that empower you?
Every blog I share comes from the heart and has a challenge or a question within it to help others explore new ways of thinking. I hope that as you read the blogs you would consider starting conversation by commenting. We can learn so much together!