Be Still and Know Yourself

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I have a flood of clear thoughts that enter my mind before it gets cluttered with my own thoughts, emotions, or agendas.  I have learned to keep a journal and pen next to my bed and record these thoughts and cherish these moments. This pure information is aligned with my life’s purpose and my true nature. It seems for a small moment I am unclouded, I receive pure knowledge, and then it passes.

What if these moments didn’t have to pass?  I have come to understand that there is a key principle one must understand in order to invite these moments to stay and come with greater frequency.  It’s hard to describe in language things that are spiritually discerned, but I believe if you set an intention to be open to new knowledge and have patience for the fallibility of language, I think we can make a stab at this.

Underlying principle = our minds are fundamentally subjective

To be objective we need a source that knows us better than we know ourselves and outside of us. In other words, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are not who we truly are but only who we imagine we are through a limited lens of reality.  I love the teachings of the Apostle Paul found in the New Testament saying, “we all see through a glass darkly,” and the whole chapter speaks to the power of love or charity to help us rise above this distorted view we each hold (1 Corinthians 13: 12). It is important to recognize that it is not just some of us that see “darkly” but all of us that see “darkly”.  For one reason or another, many outside our control, we have become separated from the love that we were created to receive and give away. Separation from love leads us down false paths to seek approval, comfort, and rest from this feeling. Our bodies even keep score and we have physical effects from the emotions of self-rejection we store in our bodies. When we seek to earn love or seek approval from others separated from love as well it leads to loss of self, dependence, and sometimes slavery to those false sources of love. This type of conditional love never satisfies.  The key to restoring our true nature and wholeness is connecting to an unconditional source of love, a source outside of us, a source that knows us and accepts us right where we are and can show us new steps to take to be truer to ourselves.

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How is this practically accomplished? The idea of finding an unconditional source of love sounds great, but what does that look like as one lives in a less than ideal clouded life or perhaps has little experience feeling this type of love? I have found that while the practices are personal and diverse as we all are, there are some common elements that can help us.

  1. Seek Stillness: Emotion is energy in motion. We need outlets to release low-level emotions to clear and align our thoughts. Through those outlets we eventually arrive at a peaceful states where we capable of letting go of our distracting thoughts and low emotions.  Tools such as yoga, journaling, prayer, reading inspirational text, deep-diagram breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, listening to uplifting music, a walking in nature are a few examples.  We all need to experiment with different tools to determine for ourselves what calms our mind and body.
  2. Seek an Attitude of Humility: “Humility is the catalyst to all learning,” and putting aside one’s own thoughts, biases, and accepting one’s need for knowledge readies the mind to receive. New ways of seeing yourself and the world can then come in.
  3. Have Self-Compassion and Curiosity: “It is what it is.” Self-rejection keeps us from being able to understand and arrive at what is amiss in us and learn from it. Research shows that acceptance is the precursor to change. Be kind to yourself, you are doing the best you can according to what you understand.
  4. Unpack your Baggage with an empathic Source: For me this is generally my higher power, but to others it may manifest itself in the form of a close trusted friend, spouse, or even a journal. Shame cannot survive empathy so when we feel loved and accepted just as we are, we can begin to remove the block that shame creates. We can move forward.
  5. Ask for what you Need and Be Specific: After unpacking as indicated above, I can often begin to see steps forward or identify what is missing. I find that when I ask my Source specifically for help with these unmet needs, I get small simple steps I can take to help meet my own needs. Sometimes, in the most desperate of times, these needs are met without my involvement, often through others. However, I have found that most often I am called to be a partner in my own healing. I must act on my own behalf.
  6. Have Trust and Gratitude: As my relationship with my Source grows, and my trust in my own abilities increases, I become truly grateful for the guidance and feel more desirous to keep coming back. I am connected to Abundance and I am enough!

My goal is for you to recognize and witness who you are “Clearly” and not who you perceive yourself to be “Darkly”.  You are created perfect and worthy of love. This accurate and “Clear” you holds the keys to the healing and wholeness you seek if you can just be still and know her.

The Perfect Moment

Have you ever had a perfect moment? One where you think “I will remember this for the rest of my life!” I had one of those perfect moments while enjoying a rare one-on-one date with my fifteen year old son at Universal Studios amusement park this past weekend.  Let me preface this store by saying that I am quite afraid of heights and any rides that fall suddenly from tall heights, such as Dr. Doom at Universal Studios. So when my son asked me to ride his favorite ride, Dr. Doom, I was facing a battle between my fear and my desire to connect with my son.  At first, I gave into my anxiety and tried to convince my son to ride alone while I wait.  He wouldn’t have it and said, “Mom, I would rather stay with you.” Hearing those words helped me find the courage to face my fear and honor what I value most, relationship. I heard myself reply, “No, I am riding this ride and facing my fear with courage like you have so many times son.” In my heart I wondered if I really could.  I knew that I had asked him to do things he feared so many times and he had done them and grown for it. It was my turn to practice what I preach. My unforgettable moment was looking at his face after we dropped, went up to drop again, and we were all smiles and laughter.  Of course, it wasn’t as scary as I imagined it would be, and it ended up being my favorite ride all day.

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Why do I pick this experience for today’s post? Because it contains key elements that come into play at those pivotal moments that define who we become.  Do we choose to move forward with faith or do we choose to be hindered by fear? After all, perfect moments don’t just show up, but instead perfect moments are created one courageous step at a time.  Moreover, perfection is found in reality, not in imagined states in which we do not struggle.  You see, my nagging fear kept telling me to shrink from taking this new step, but I wanted to have a new experience with my son more, so I chose to override that fear with courage. It took all of my skills including: deep diagram breathing, affirmations that “you are really safe,” and even some healthy distraction like looking around and people watching, just to gradually take steps forward in line.  The moment of choice came, as it always does, and I had to choose to do the thing that most scares me.  I had to choose to loose control.  Yep, I used the “control” word. Isn’t that what we all fear, letting go of control of our perceived safety and instead choosing trust.  Everything I value in my life has required taking that step into the dark with trust and believing good things would come.

You see perfection for me isn’t a life without mistakes in which we never suffer, but one in which we fully live in the present and take full advantage of the gift we have to learn and grow. One thing I know for certain is “this too shall pass,” so seize the moment and really take full advantage of your ability to choose what you value now. Perfectionism, and the suffering that perfectionism brings, rejects the present as not being good enough and gets stuck in a cycle of dissatisfaction. We compare ourselves to others and a theoretical best. Reality will always fall short of our theoretical best. If you look at the origin of the word perfect, perfectus, meaning completed or done, you can see that your past is already perfect. Your past can’t be added to or changed, and is compete.  All you take from the past is what you learned so you can apply that to your present reality. One of my favorite ideas is this, “a perfectionist pursues perfection, a realist perceives it.” Your perfect moments are all around you, waiting to be seen and courageously embraced. Acceptance of our reality, and fully living in it is not surrender, it’s courage. As you embrace reality, rather than struggle against it, you can apply what you have learned and improve the next moment.

Back to the story at hand… ultimately, I decided I wanted to live without fear and see what came of it more than let it hold me back. It was my perfect moment because it represents the joy that comes from choosing relationship, trust, and courage, over pulling away, distrust, and fear. Remember, “this too shall pass,” and choose to fully embrace the ride of life and all it can teach you. Are you willing to ride up and embrace the fall?

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Book referenced – “Present Perfect: a mindfullness approach to letting go of perfectionism & the need for control,” by Pavel Somov, PH.D.

Self-Love: You are a 10!

You are a 10! This a phrase I use to break my negative self-talk that has a habit of resurfacing at times. Nearly 12 years ago, a mentor of mine could see that I was struggling with self-acceptance, and like most of us struggling to love and accept ourselves, that internal criticism did not leave me feeling motivated to become better.  Instead, it paralyzed me from moving forward and being the best version of myself. I erroneously held the belief that if I loved and accepted myself as I currently was that I would stop seeking further excellence.

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Enter the mentoring that forever shifted my paradigm… my mentor asked me to rate myself in areas I was currently performing such as a young parent, wife, sister, daughter, etc from 1 to 10. 10 being the highest possible rating.  After giving a rating to each category, I gave myself an overall score. I think I gave myself a 4. She then asked me to think on my newborn child and rate my child’s worth from 1 to 10. Without hesitation I said, “She is a 10.” She asked me to ponder why my child, who had not yet performed any of the roles in life, was a 10 while I was a 4.

I thought, “Well, I guess I lost it somewhere in all my weaknesses.” She then gently said, “You have always been a 10, you have just forgotten. Perhaps, it is time to remind yourself.” Bam! That hit me to my core and I then began looking at messaging all around me.  The common messaging was that my worth was based on performance, status, comparison to others, and arrival at some determined achievement. I started to see the lies that I did not want to pass on to my infant daughter. I hoped she would always know she is a 10. I knew I would become the mirror that she looked into first to understand her value. No pressure right! I spent hours in prayer letting the spirit speak to me on my worth . Worth is not just in some of us but in all of us. I realized that if I could learn to accept and love myself and my own uniqueness, I would then be able to understand that weakness does not equal a decrease in worth.  Worth is constant.  Worth helps us use our strengths to address weaknesses with less paralyzing fear.

I share my story with you as I know it is a common story among women I know, love, and work with. Self-love really does lead to change. You don’t have to earn your worth, You were born a 10 and still are! When you can embrace that, perhaps even identify the source of the voices that told you that you were less then a 10 and speak back to those voices with the truth, you will free yourself and have the confidence to align your choices with your true identity and what truly represents you. Love really does set us free.

I conclude with some of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson:

-“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us”

-“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are”

-“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here”

I cannot agree more.

Anxiety: Join the Discussion

This month we will be discussing anxiety.  Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the Unites States, and we hope to provide some helpful tips and tools.  Please join the conversation.  Comments on how you have addressed anxiety in your life or questions about anxiety are welcome in the comments.  We are excited to link with you!

Interview with “The Happiness Dude” and Sommer Seitz… The Power of Mindfulness

Abundance: Overcoming Burnout

Do you ever wish you could clone yourself to help you with all you have to tackle? Maybe that is just me, but I often think, “there is just not enough of me to go around.” Or maybe its even worse “I am not even enough for myself” let alone all the good and worthy things I wish I could achieve. That is where Abundance comes in for me and saves me from meltdown. You all know what I am talking about.  That “nobody appreciates me, nobody understands me, and I might as well give up” frame of mind. I affectionately call this the Try-hard give up cycle and I am not alone in suffering from it’s effect. Today we are going to talk about how to break the cycle and feel the sustained joy that comes from Abundance.

tiredThe most insidious part of the “Try-hard, give up cycle” is the belief that if I can just keep up my willpower, do a little better, be a bit more consistent then I will arrive at that place where all my problems are solved. Wrong! The bar just keeps moving farther away as there are new challenges to tackle, personal weaknesses to find, and you end up feeling defeated. The truth is we all are subject to weakness and burnout. I don’t care what magic pill or program you prescribe to, research shows that when we believe that the source of our power comes from our own efforts that well of effort will run dry overtime.

But I said this was about Abundance right, so stay with me.  When you begin to own the fact that you really can’t do things alone, and that you need others, and its OK to need others, that is a game changer. Research shows that those that believe that their Abundance comes from a source outside of themselves, such as a higher power, or relationship can sustain their efforts for change. This is the essence of most 12 step programs for Addiction Recovery and practices such as Mindfulness. These practices acknowledge the need to be aware our limitations, accept them with loving kindness, and then seek power outside ourselves. This process is not complete, however, unless we act (yes, I said act) on the wisdom that comes to us in these observant moments.

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My favorite analogy comes from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer.  I once heard it on a podcast and it was life changing. He was comparing Abundance to a sea of water that we walk up to with a tiny cup and only dip in and take what we feel we have “earned.” Sound familiar. But the really is that the sea of Abundance is right there for you to jump in swim around and drink deeply.  I often ponder that analogy in my dry, give up moments. I hope you choose to tune into the Abundance that is waiting for you to receive with gratitude and power up your sagging personal efforts. The beginning of true change is acceptance that we can’t do it alone, receiving that outside help, and then sharing our Abundance with others.

Favorite Abundance Practices of Mine:

  1. Write down all the things that you feel are pressing on your mind and time. Divide these items into two lists. One column for items you feel you can effectively tackle and the other column with items beyond your current capacity. Mindfully surrender the items beyond your capacity to your higher power, delegate to someone else in your life, or offer yourself patience that they won’t be attended to yet. (Watch some of the delegated items show up done in your life)
  2. Visualize success completing a task, navigating a difficult relationship, or receiving something you need. Keep visualizing this and revisiting it when fear and doubt threaten to distract you from it. Notice steps you discover in this process leading to your end goal and take one of those steps today.