As she stared into his deep brown eyes, she heard, “but if you really loved me, you would help this one last time.” She knows she does love him, but she also knows she can’t help. Not even one more time. He would only use the money to get drunk again. To help would be to allow more pain and damage and eventually the damage can’t be repaired.
That is the all too common struggle of the family of the alcoholic, drug addict, gambler, chronic liar, thief, betrayer, manipulator, etc. Why does loving someone sometimes mean such pain? Where is the line between toleration of others and you’ve gone too far? Continue reading →
Go your own way! Do your own thing! We hear these statements all the time. They mean that we choose to change and do something or be someone without regard for others. This is not what we will talk about here.
This blog is about knowing who you are deep inside and living your life accordingly. Many of us haven’t really chosen what we will do with our lives. We take over the family business, take courses in school cuz our parents want us to, or simply don’t make waves by doing something new.
We only want to feel good. This is one of the reasons that we say ‘Yes’ to things that we really shouldn’t. When was the last time this happened?:
You’re getting ready for your day. You finally found time to take care of that list of things that you’ve been putting off. You actually feel energized because you are already feeling productive. You hear your phone. It’s that one person who is always asking for favors and sapping your energy. “Don’t answer it”, you say. But you do. Car trouble, yadda yadda, errand, yadda yadda, has to be today, yadda yadda, and before you know it, your plans are ruined. You’ve just said yes to something that: 1) you don’t have time for, 2) is not a real emergency, 3) is for someone who has not shown real appreciation in years and exhausts you, and 4) is not something YOU are the only one who can handle.
Yeah, then you start having belly issues, or headaches, or joint pain, or an increase of any other symptom you have. What has REALLY happened here? It is all about picking your freedom and setting HEALTHY boundaries. It is not a matter of not loving this person. Sometimes it is because we love them too much, or maybe we only feel that they care for us if we do things for them.
How does that turn into feeling badly? Well, our inner self knows what we need and what we are capable of. And this part of us lets us know if we are making healthy choices or if we are acting in an unhealthy way. So, in the example above, you just made a decision that you know is wrong for you. How? As you hang up the phone (or even during the conversation) what are you saying to yourself? Not again! I don’t have time to help! You make me feel so guilty if I don’t drop everything to care for your stuff! It’s never just one thing, I’ll end up spending the whole day and not get one item on my list taken care of! Why can’t I just say NO and mean it?
When this happens, our body does a couple of things. We internalize the stress and pain. So this is why we start to have physical symptoms especially headaches and belly aches. We also start punishing ourselves by making other unhealthy choices. We don’t exercise, we don’t eat well, we pick up cigarettes or alcohol, or sugar, or whatever. And because we have said YES instead of NO, we don’t think we deserve to take care of ourselves. How wrong that thought process is! And how damaging it is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So, what went wrong and what can we do to change our choices?
When we say YES to something, we are also saying NO to something. If we know a certain food makes our belly upset, we can say YES to eating it, but that means saying NO to a happy belly. If we say YES to a happy belly, we have to say NO to that food. This principle applies to everything in life. Unfortunately, not every decision has such clear distinctions between the YES and NO. We have to consciously set values and boundaries for everything. Do I value a happy belly more than I value the taste of this food, or the value of accepting what’s offered to me by my loved one? In the example above, what are the values? What value do you put on helping a friend or family member? Or on feeling needed or appreciated? What is the value of accomplishing needed tasks, or not having to rush through your day? Or how important is peace of mind and a good night’s rest?
These are all things that we need to consider. It is REALLY hard to answer these things while in the middle of a conversation with someone who is trying to push us into a direction that THEY want for us. So what can you do? Say these words: I’ll have to get back to you. Say them again: I’ll have to get back to you. OUT LOUD! I’ll have to get back to you. Practice this. Then use it when you are in a position where you have to make a choice and you need a moment to set your values and boundaries and pick what you will say YES to and what you will say NO to.
The next step is to acknowledge the difficulty of the choice. If you don’t, you will continue to hear those voices in your head about how unfair it is, or how thoughtless that person is, and on an on. By acknowledging the thoughts and emotions of the situation, you validate them. Once you do that, force yourself to move on to find the solution and make a choice. Don’t linger on the acknowledgement step. It becomes too easy to stop here, not make a choice, and blame the other person. That is also an unhealthy choice. Choose to take control and set your own choices and direction.
Then, list the values on each choice. Write them down if you have to. And spend a few minutes listing the values that may not be as obvious. For example, this food calms me down. Comfort food, yes! But is is really satisfying? Were you hungry for food? Or possibly for something else like love, attention, comfort from someone else, escape from something? If I eat it and I am really trying to fill another kind of void, will I feel emptier than I do now? Is there another option that will be more filling and satisfying. Not as easy to see these things, and harder to accurately value the choice without acknowledging them.
One important thing to recognize is that there are lots of options to every decision. You can say YES to all, NO to all, or any number of combinations of both. So acknowledge that even the ridiculous is a choice. Maybe not a healthy option, but it IS an option.
Now, make a choice. It helps to let others know what that choice is. This would be the point to call that person back and let them know what you have decided. The first few times you do this, you will feel inclined to explain the whole process including the WHY. This is not necessary. A brief explanation is sufficient in most cases. And STAND BY OUR CHOICE. At first you will feel selfish, uncaring, and bad. Remember that by consciously making choices you are actually showing more love and care for both you and the others involved.
A few final thoughts to remember:
1) You will falter in this process. Don’t beat yourself up over it. We all fail at times. It’s okay. Accept that you faltered and give yourself the honor of asking where the process fell apart and why. This will help next time.
2) It’s okay to change your mind. Once you’ve made your choice, you an change it. But if you do, recognize that YOU are the one that chose to adjust. Take responsibility for it. And accept the consequences of the new decision WITHOUT blaming others or being unkind to yourself. There is a wonderful amount of power and peace in this process.
3) There are certain times when we consciously allow someone else to make a decision for us. We choose to give them this power and control. If your spouse is the one that takes care of the finances, they may be the one to have final say over large purchases. If you decided they have that responsibility, you are choosing to accept their choices in this matter. Acknowledge and accept this boundary you have set.
We just want to be healthy and happy. By choosing when to say YES and when to say NO, we can choose inner peace and strength.
Written by: Julia Rodgers, HHC 2013/07/16 12:10pm
Need help with this process or another health or lifestyle issue? Send me a note @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Many try to look forward and plan for a better, more bountiful future. We want better relationships with family, and more time with them. We want to be skinnier, healthier, prettier, richer, and calmer. This makes it very important to ask the question above. Why?
What you focus on grows. Have you heard that? Is it true? Those are good questions. If it is true that would mean that if we look at, think about, and dwell on things in the past, we are not moving forward in our lives. If it is not true, then it doesn’t matter what you think, feel or do.
So, let’s ponder this question for a few minutes. Why does it matter? If you are trying to accomplish something in your life, wouldn’t it help to know if your attitude matters? I mean, if you want to lose weight, or start an exercise program, or get a project done, or progress in your career, what if you could control the degree of success you will experience? It seems that our world is designed to make things as difficult as possible while giving us the impression that it will all be okay. Fast food is an example. How so? In a couple minutes you can have what some say is a multi course meal that has very little nutritional value and has been shown to increase your risk of illness and disease. And we are told that this is the only solution for a busy, working, overwhelmed person. Is that true? No! There are many quick and easy meals that will nourish your body and actually help prevent illness and disease. (check out my website for quick meal ideas.)
But we have good intentions. We set goals for ourselves. Big lofty goals. And jump in full force in order to accomplish them. Then they fall apart. Is it the goal that is the problem? Sometimes. But it is also possible that our approach to growing, doing, and being is focused in the wrong direction.
Do you find yourself saying any of the following?
When I was young, this wouldn’t have happened…
Because of that horrible experience, I will never be able to ….
That’s the way it’s always been….
I failed before; therefore I can’t succeed at….
It was meant to be this way, look at my mom or dad or brother, etc ….
If it was meant to be, it would be easier than this.
You are not the same person that you were yesterday. Not to mention that you are not the same person you were a year ago, 5 yrs ago, 10 yrs ago, etc. And simply because something happened to you or a family member, does not mean you will experience the same thing again.
So, what do you think about? Do you focus on what has already happened to you? Or are you looking at all the great things you will do and be in the days and years to come?
One of the ways that you can look forward is to set your goals to enhance your strengths. What are you good at? REALLY good at? If you are not sure, you can take a “strengths” test at:
Why not focus on a weakness and try to improve that? Well, that may work. Or it may prove to be more discouraging and frustrating if you do not completely rectify the weakness. When you think about a negative, you start out in a downtrodden place and try to dig yourself out. When you focus on something you are already good at and try to improve it or try to manifest it more of the time what happens? You start the process in a good place. You already feel good about yourself and what you are doing. Then because you are doing these things more, you stay in that happy, content, ‘feel good about me’ state more and more. How great does that sound?
What about the weaknesses you have? I am not giving you license to stop trying to be a better person. But if you are doing what you are good at more often, what happens to the things you are not so good at? You will find yourself not doing them as often. And when you do need to step into the ‘I’m not so good at that’ section, you will find that your strengths will help you figure it out. And you will have the confidence to admit that it is not your best area and to ask for help. I mean, what REALLY is the problem with not being perfect at EVERYTHING? You would not fault anyone else for not being great at something. So, give yourself the same care and courtesy.
Another area to look at is our thinking. We (as humans) are extremely intelligent. So much so, that we can convince ourselves of anything. This can be a very good thing. But many times we get into a rut of negative thinking that can actually push us backwards preventing us from achieving (or even wanting to achieve) the wonderful goals we have set for ourselves and our lives. What are some of these negative thought processes? According to Karen Reivich, PhD and Andrew Shatte’, PhD in their book “The Resilience Factor” here are a list of 8 Thinking Traps:
Jumping to Conclusions
Magnifying and Minimizing
I must admit that when I first read this list, there were a few traps that I said; Oh, that’s NOT me. But, as I read the definitions and habits of each, I found that those were the very ones I needed to work on first. The same may be true for you.
When you set your goals for next year, please put an action plan in place for each one. Then review each one to see if you they are reasonable, achievable, and forward thinking. If not, you may need to revise your list. And more importantly, as you go through your year please revisit these action plans to see if you are still moving forward or if one of the Thinking Traps has grabbed a hold of you. Climbing out of these traps may not be easy, but the freedom you will feel once you have mastered your thinking will be exhilarating. And there will be nothing stopping you from becoming the person you are meant to be.
Come, let’s reach into the future and free ourselves of the weights of the past!!!
Want to learn more? Join me for one of my Workshops. We will systematically walk toward healthier lives as we detox, slim down, eat healthier, move our bodies, and learn to love ourselves.
What did you think of Part 1 – Where is YOUR focus?
Here is Part 2 – How does what you see and where you focus help define who you are?
The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.
Saint Jerome (374 AD – 419 AD)
What do you see in others?
What do you see in the mirror?
What do you focus on?
Great questions, right? We focus on what is important to us. If you are focused on something too intensely, you are bound to be ignoring something else. When was the last time you were so involved in a good book or in a project that you didn’t notice someone walk into the room? Or you forgot to eat? Or you missed your bus stop? I am not saying that we should allow ourselves to be blown about by the wind and become distracted by everything that happens around us. But are we missing something important? Being Aware of what envelopes and what distracts can help us define what is currently important to us. Denial and avoidance do not lead to change or betterment. This step may require setting aside time to look at a specific situation that we are not content with. Do you work too hard and neglect family time? Do you rush to care for your day and neglect proper care of yourself? Do you ‘see’ what you are doing with your time and energy?
Then you have to Accept that those are your current choices. This step involves thinking about those choices and determining the benefits and adversities of those choices. This is not an easy step. If you are working on a project and you do not hear you child fall and get hurt, it is easy to see the adversity. You child got hurt and you were not aware enough of the things around you to set your project aside to help. But can you find a benefit? That’s a little harder. This may not change the fact that your new preference would be to set aside the project for the benefit of family. But what if you are doing this same project in an environment that provides constant distractions. The pro may be that you are able to help out and take care of these other things. But do you get your project done? Were the distractions enough to hinder the efficiency and quality of your work? You need to see and accept both sides of things. Only then can you ‘see’ the full picture before making a healthy choice.
Appreciation means choosing what is important. But it is more than that. You must first appreciate that past choices and actions have made you who you are today. Appreciation for how your life and experiences have molded you will increase your appreciation for who you are, the strengths and qualities you possess, and will free you to express them freely. It also gives you the power to choose when to let each quality and strength shine.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” Carl Jung
What a great quote! So, let’s do it. Let’s look inside. Action. Stand in front of a mirror and tell me what you see. Most of us will first see the painful, negative side of life. And we usually stop there, turn away from the mirror and go about our day hoping what we saw isn’t true. So, instead of turning away we will stay at the mirror and look again. Think of a time when you were the happiest, felt the best about yourself, had some fun, were proud, etc. Now look again. What do you ‘see’ this time? Something different, right? You see the pretty, intelligent, funny, happy, energetic, attractive person that you really are. If you have difficulty with this exercise, please find a friend, spouse, or family member to help. Ask them to remind you of a time when you were at your best. Then use that experience to uplift you as you look in the mirror. I know some ladies that keep a list of qualities to help remind them. Do whatever it takes. Why?
We live in a society that is designed to tear us apart and make us forget that there is good inside. Sometimes we tear ourselves down, and sometimes we allow those close to us to do it. Then, our vision gets worn down and clouded. So, we have a fight on our hands.
What kind words have you said to yourself
We must spend a few minutes each day reminding ourselves that we are wonderful. This is not with the intention of becoming arrogant or demeaning to others. We are not like that. This exercise is specifically designed to help us shine. When you realize that you are smart, attractive, loving, caring, kind, intelligent, etc. Then you will let those qualities out. One of the great benefits of this is that as we are shining, we are giving those around us the energy and power to shine as well. Everyone is lifted up not just ourselves.
So, how do you see yourself? Is the picture clearer and brighter? Don’t look now, your eyes are shining!
Do you sometimes think that your history, your experiences your
past is getting in the way of where you want to go and who you
really want to be? Stay tuned for the next post in this series.
You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
Our vision is something we treasure. We fight to keep it and protect it. We use cucumbers or sleep masks to calm our eyes, we use drops for tears, and we wear sun glasses in the bright summer sun. It concerns us if things are blurry or out of focus. Why is that? Because one of the largest factors in how we define the world around us is what we see. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? It also includes what we focus on and pay attention to. Let me illustrate:
What is the first thing you see? A tree? Grass? Did you notice the tiger right away?
And here? What do you see? Do you see the giraffe?
Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
We have all had the experience of looking for something that was right in front of us. We are looking for our keys. We get more and more frustrated. Then someone points to them right in front of us on the table. Or we leave a restaurant and head home. And the person next to us asks if we saw the homeless person sitting in the doorway across the street from the restaurant. And we didn’t notice. We each have a tendency to notice specific things. We may notice the beauty or we may notice the pain and suffering. We may notice what is right in the world, or we may notice what is wrong. Neither of these is better than the other. It is what we do with the things we see that is important. Do you see the potential or do you see the obstacles? This will define what you are able to accomplish in life. Do you hold yourself back because all you see is the reasons not to move forward and make things better? Or do you see the obstacles and also see a way over or around them?
How do you change this?
This is the same process that we will use throughout these posts. Step by step, I will help you become more aware of who you are, where you are in life, and what surrounds you. But this is only the first step. You must also accept where you are, appreciate who you are now and decide your direction and focus, then you will need to take action.
So, what can the world around you tell you about who you are?
Stay tuned for my next post regarding what we see in the world around us tells us about who we are.