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!
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.
The 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.
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:
- 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)
- 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.
This month we would like to continue the focus on Gratitude that many people have in November. It feels appropriate to have the final topic of the year be Gratitude as it comes often as a fruit of our efforts to grow in other areas we discussed in previous months. If you aren’t there yet in your growth like many of us, don’t give up on finding gratitude. You may just still need to work through your current struggle, but it will be waiting for you on the other side.
Let’s look a little deeper into the development of Gratitude. It seems it’s in the absence of something that we learn to really appreciate it. I was driving to my office this morning and deeply appreciating the change of season while I am here in central Washington. Even though I previously lived in this same area, nearly 21 years ago and have since visited many times, it took living the previous 5 years in Orlando, Florida for me to more fully appreciate the changes of season, mountains, and unique aspects of this area. I also now appreciate Orlando more that I am not able to enjoy its warm tropical weather. I truly believe that it is the things that we struggle to achieve, must wait for, or are forced to go without that allow us to develop gratitude. Gratitude is worth the effort to develop. Developing gratitude in our lives leads to abundance, positive emotional well-being, and even feeling connected to others just to name a few of the benefits. If I could fully develop any skill to increase my happiness, an attitude of gratitude would be top on my list.
So how do we develop an attitude of gratitude? One of my favorite teachers on this subject is the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. He taught that “abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.” As stated earlier, gratitude and abundance are closely connected and each of us possesses the capacity to develop an abundant mindset. Each day our minds have to sift through more information than we can consciously process, which forces our brain to be attentive to what we have cued as important. For example, recently I made it a practice to look up each day and take notice of the beauty of nature around me and take a few moments to focus on what I uniquely like about the landscape. I have done it so often now, I don’t even have to think about it, but can just enjoy the feeling of abundance from the natural beauty that surrounds me.
While I have gained appreciation for nature in this way, we can apply this to anything. Focus on “what is positive, abundant, or unique” in the moment and your brain will record that pattern with greater and greater ease. Your brain will begin to look for and experience abundance and rewire itself. We are not biologically set in our pathways. This has been long since disproved, and a previous attitude of scarcity and not having or being enough can be replaced with a feeling of gratitude for what unique and positive aspects are present in your life at this time. It is my hope that you will be able to see your life with new eyes, much like I did my home town, and enjoy life more fully. I wish each of us the ability to intentionally develop the gift of gratitude this December.
Try the G.L.A.D. technique once a day to train your brain to feel more gratitude
G – Pick one thing you are “grateful” for today
L – Identify one thing you “learned” today
A – Acknowledge one small accomplishment you had today
D – Remember one thing you delighted in today
(This is enhanced when you pick something new each day in each area)
The Holiday season has equal potential to bring us joy and peace or chaos and contention. This greatly depends on our ability to see and promote the good in ourselves and others. This month we feel that the topic of “Forgiveness” is a fitting sequel to our previous topics of boundaries, self-worth, and emotional self-reliance as growth in all these previous areas lead to a need to forgive. The truth is that we are both victims and offenders in this life, no matter how hard we try to avoid hurting others or being hurt. All that we can truly control Is whether we are victims twice.
Before we are ready to truly offer forgiveness to ourselves or others, we need to “integrate” our story. That is a fancy way of saying that we need to bring what is in our unconscious awareness into our conscious awareness. As we start being able to name our feelings and experiences, we are then prepped to tame the emotions that so often overwhelm us. These include feelings such as distrust, pain, and protection that often stems from being injured. So often we are in an autopilot or reactive state when we feel threatened, and that brings out the worst in most of us. When we reach the point where we have integrated enough to “name” our emotions and experiences with acceptance then we can “tame” how we respond. We can say, “Even though I feel this emotion, I can love and accept myself. I do not need to be defined by my emotions and can choose whether I will continue experiencing them.”
Forgiveness is a gift to ourselves. Once we have owned our experience, we can use the great gift of forgiveness to free us from the cycle of continued injury. As a trauma therapist, I want to be clear that this does not mean we accept further injury or condone the actions of hurtful people, instead it means we acknowledge that we all have a story, and all offenders have also been offended at some point in their lives. All we can control is whether we will perpetuate or end that cycle, or in other words, whether we will be victims twice. You are free to see the good in yourself and others, and it is this freedom which allows you both to move forward to higher ways of relating. You are also free to pick boundaries that honor who you are and your wish to become stronger and stop hurtful patterns in which you were previously stuck.
This holiday season, I wish each of us greater peace and joy that comes from the ability to mindfully act in a way that is consistent with our best intentions. Forgiveness perhaps is the greatest gift we can receive to set us free to start anew. Perhaps we can find the motivation to forgive others because we too have been forgiven for our weaknesses. As we let go of the losses of our past, we will be ready to feel the joy and peace that can be discovered during this time of year.
For more information on how to “integrate” your story check out: http://www.drdansiegel.com/about/mindsight/
Last month we discussed Boundaries. Although we all agree that there is need for healthy boundaries, many of you told me you are facing a key obstacle that keeps preventing you from setting them, self-worth! Boundaries are a measure of one’s self-worth. For this reason, our September theme is Self-worth, particularly how to increase it. If you feel that your view of yourself makes it hard to both manage how you treat yourself and others in your life, you are not alone and we’ll give you some tips this month to combat those feelings.
LET’S START: It is no wonder why many of us don’t know where to start in building a healthy and endurable sense of self. After all, many of us look into distorted mirrors of our true person every day because the messages of media, harmful comments of others, and even our own internal dialogue do not always tell us the truth about who we are.
- Surround yourself with true mirrors of your actual worth and start to distinguish between those that build you up and tear you down. This does not mean you need to cut off all imperfect people in your life, as that would be all of us, but begin to be selective on what messages from others, media, and your environment you are exposed to and how they affect you.
The following are examples of True versus Distorted mirrors:
True Mirrors Show:
- You are accepted as you are
- Purity, enlightenment
- Unconditional love
- Weakness points toward growth
Distorted Mirrors Show:
- You are not good enough
- Vulgarity, misleading
- Conditional love
- Weakness is shameful
- Not enough success to go around
How does your current view of self compare with the true mirror attributes above? I want you to know you were not born distorted, instead you were made perfect. Think of children in your life and how they naturally love and accept themselves and those around them. Distorted views of self are learned and we can unlearn them. This is perhaps my favorite process in change. I have had the privilege of mirroring to others their true nature and as a result see their self-worth increase, healthy boundaries form, and clients find success in many aspects of their lives. Self-worth is foundational to success in all areas of life. You will become what you focus your thoughts on.
- Write down common phrases you say to yourself and others in your life
- Measure them against the true mirror list above
- Rewrite them to speak truth to the distortion you may have learned and speak those new phrases daily to yourself and as many others as you can