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.

When You’re Feeling Yanked Around…

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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

There are some days (let’s be honest, some seasons) where I just feel yanked to the next thing from the moment I arise ‘til the time I hit the hay. Do you know that feeling? During these days, we may even get our mindfulness practice in still, but it feels like we’re robbed of the day-long calmness we were told we’d have. I must admit though, during those days my practice is more on the rushed side than the truly mindful.

Because I’ve been going through a season of these pulled, yanked, and rushed episodes, I decided to take some inspired advice I’d read on Sunday—to retire early and arise early “that body and mind may be invigorated” (Doctrine and Covenants 88: 124).

Have you ever thought to yourself during your yanked-days, “I think earliness is the answer”? Well, the promise of an invigorated body and mind was too sweet to pass up so I went for it. If this feels impossible, I actually found that it wasn’t as hard as I thought to get in an extra 15 minutes of earliness going to bed and getting up. It’s worth trying.

What I got today during those extra 15 minutes of mindfulness and prayer this morning was an unexpected lesson on my limited concept of time. It became a re-training of my mind in regards to the scarcity of time, and actually to the concept of scarcity at large. Here are some things I learned that I thought you may enjoy as well:

  • There is not a scarcity of time, energy, health, wealth or ability. There is only a learning curb that blocks us from understanding how to have plenty.
  • Rather than straining to get more of these items or that there’s just not enough of them to go around, we can have a sense of peace towards them as we shift our intent to use them as tools rather than as our pursuit.

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    Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
  • It’s easier to see how this is the case if we think of them in the context of a game, like Mario for example. Time, wealth, and health are tools in the game, but not the end pursuit. We collect stars to speed us up in time, coins to unlock opportunities, and mushrooms to give us health. All the while, we’re moving forward not with the intent to just collect the tools, but to use those tools to accomplish our pursuit—reconnecting with our loved one, Princess Peach in this case.
  • When we live to collect the tools of time, energy, health, wealth, or ability, we’re not living out our purpose and thus we’ll always be met with scarcity and that yanked feeling. If instead we seek them as tools and live life using them as tools to fulfill our purpose, then we’re able to live more freely. Our attitudes can shift, for example, from thinking our family members drain our time, energy, or finances, to appreciating the connection we have with them and the unique perspectives family adds to life.

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    Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash

 

If you’ve been going through a yanked season lately, I hope this shift in perspective of using the tools of time, health, and wealth frees you from the constricted feeling scarcity can create. Use the 15 minutes of earliness to allow you space so you can have more creative energy to think of opportunities to collect more tools if you’d like, and reconnect with your purpose.

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.

Emotional Self-Reliance: Distorted Thinking About Food & Weight

by Sandee Nebel, MS, LMHC, CEDS, E-RYT 200, Eating Disorder Specialist & Guest Contributor

Cognitive distortions are thought patterns that reinforce false beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. These patterns can be deeply ingrained and often it takes an outside observer like a therapist or sponsor in a 12 step program to see them.

As an eating disorders therapist, I often focus on helping my clients see where they thinking may be distorted, and how that can affect their food and weight issues. Here are three examples:

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All-or-nothing Thinking – also known as polarized thinking. People with food and weight issues often have trouble recognizing anything between black and white. Either you’re on your diet or not, you’re exercising every day or not at all, a person is good (perfect) or they’re bad. While some aspects of your recovery – like your food plan – really do need firm boundaries, veering from your plan shouldn’t mean you throw away all of your healthy eating habits. Yet that’s what you’d do if you were caught in all-or-nothing thinking. “I messed up anyway, so why bother trying!”

When you find yourself going between extremes, try meeting in the middle, e.g., “I made a mistake, and I can learn from it and do better,” or “I’ve had a problem with this in the past, and I have new tools now. The grey area between black and white is not as exciting or dramatic, but recovery is about finding a more balanced sense of calm.

Should Statements – when someone is constantly dissatisfied with whatever’s occurring in the present moment. If they’re doing something, they should be doing something else. If nothing is happening, something should be happening. If something is happening, something else should be happening.

When you get caught up in should statements, you feel guilty for violating these artificial rules. That self-criticism can lead to wanting to harm yourself with excess food, restricting food, purging, body obsession, or over-exercising. In relationships, should statements lead to anger, disappointment, and hurt feelings when other people aren’t doing what you think they should.

When you first start monitoring your thoughts and words for “should,” “must,” or “ought to,” you might be surprised at how often they come up, yet that awareness is key to healing this distortion and moving towards healthier thoughts patterns. You may also find it helpful for a therapist or friend to gently reflect back to you when they hear should statements – you may not even realize you’re making them.

Ideally, you want to re-frame your wishes into choices, not shoulds. Instead of, “I should go for a walk tonight,” say, “I will,” making a commitment or, “I want to go for a walk because I want a healthy life.” Sometimes I encourage my clients to say, “I get to….”

If you notice your anger flaring up when someone isn’t doing what you think they should, practice letting go of being in charge of other people. You may think, “I wish he would get some help for that problem, but that’s his choice,” or, “I don’t like the way he left the dishes on the counter, but I can choose not to fight about it.”

Catastrophizing – cognitive distortion like having a huge case of the “What if’s?” What if I hurt my foot exercising and can never leave the house again? What if I can’t stick to my food plan and everyone abandons me? What if my weight changes and I still hate myself and can never be happy?

When you’re trapped in this mindset, you not only jump to the worst possible conclusion, but you also do not believe you will be able to cope with or even survive that outcome. It’s a double-edged sword that draws from your low self-esteem and your negative outlook on life – both of which are common for people with eating and weight disorders.

Obsessing about these negative outcomes take you out of the present moment and can make it difficult to function in your day-to-day activities. Catastrophizing will also affect your relationships, whether people choose not to be around you as much, or your constant negative outlook colors your time together.

Writing for Psychology Today, Alice Boyes, PhD, suggests trying to imagine other possible outcomes of a situation besides the very worst one. Steering away from all-or-nothing thinking, come up with examples of varying degrees of positive and negative things that could happen.  She also notes that if you can picture yourself coping well with a difficult situation, your anxiety will decrease and that will actually help you manage whatever comes up.

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The good news is that when you’re on a positive path to recovery, you can start collecting evidence about your capability for success – small wins that not only prove good things happen, but that you can make good things happen. A therapist, sponsor or trusted friend can be instrumental in sharing this positive feedback so you can learn to integrate it and see it as the truth.

You’ll also start to see that even when things don’t turn out exactly the way you thought you wanted, you can accept that and find the gifts in the reality of life.

Sandee

Sandee Nebel, MS, LMHC, CEDS, E-RYT 200

Emotional Self-Reliance: Don’t Let Your Moods Trick you

“[In society,] the virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

Whoso would be a man [or woman], must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this season of tricks and treats, there is a need for discussion on self-detecting truths. Self-reliance promotes this capacity to decipher false “realities” and remove unconstructive customs, such as trusting our moods or turning to others as an anchor. Friends and family can help buoy us, but we need to foster an internal strength that can anchor us. One way we can do this for ourselves is just as Emerson suggests: “explore if it be goodness.” We can discern if our beliefs or behaviors are working for or against us.

I’ve seen it helpful to give a physical texture to my intangible thoughts. When I do, I can better tell whether or not something I’ve believed is real or fake, a threat or a mirage, a solution or a placebo. Some ways that have worked for me are writing, scanning where I’m tense in my body, or thinking of my circumstances metaphorically in a physical context. Once after a break up, an uplifting image came to mind: I’d envisioned how my impatient hope to heal was like rushing through a drive thru and that I needed to take time to fill up at a banquet with nourishing company.

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Photo by Mar Newhall on Unsplash

As we strive to evaluate our thoughts in a physical way, we’re better able to “explore if it be goodness.” Then, as opposed to letting our moods yank us around or being dependent on others to or lift us up, we can harness our own innate “trick-detector”.

With my patients, I go over their medications they’ve had and discuss how they’ve been doing on new supplements I’m recommending to them. If we examine our coping mechanisms or self-talk like we inspect how we’re doing on a new health protocol, we may be able to better gauge whether our processing is working for us or not. In the office, we’re usually going through questions like, “is this pill causing diarrhea, lethargy, or heart palpitations?” or alleviating symptoms and sources of issues. Similarly, we can ask ourselves questions about a thought we’ve latched on to: Is this thought making me explode, draining me, or giving me heartache? Or is it soothing me, exciting me, or uplifting my heart?

No Tricks, Only Treats Challenge:

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Photo by Ryan Christodoulou on Unsplash
  • Make it easier for yourself to process your thoughts or circumstances by giving them a physical element: writing, a metaphorical context, or stating your thoughts. Just voicing how you feel may help you to categorize what’s true and what’s not.
  • Ask yourself, is this belief or behavior bringing me goodness? Is it making me more symptomatic or helping me toward healing?
  • When you’ve done this, celebrate your step in growth as more emotionally self-reliant!