Fake it ’till you Make it

This post goes right along with my Affirmations post. Affirmations are about creating a road map to where and who you want to be. Start where ever you are and figure out where you want to go. Then you can act that part until it sticks. That may sound easy. It’s not really.

A trainer at my gym talks non-stop about how we create who we are, we have to believe in ourselves to make it work, our minds make our bodies…. He is trying to affirm that we have control of who we are, what we look like, how we act, think, LIVE! It’s true and frustrating. It is easier if it’s everyone else’s fault, or in our genes. Then we don’t have to change. We can just wallow.

His challenge this week was to continue to repeat to yourself, over and over (affirm), that “I am beautiful. I am strong. I am capable.” Even if you don’t believe it. Just keep saying it until you do. I call this

Fake it ’till you Make it

Sometimes, when you really want something to be true, you have to make it so. That means hard work, determination, and a positive mind set. The positive mind set is the push behind it all. If you don’t believe it will happen, it really won’t. Sometimes, you just have to fake like you really believe it, until you really, really do. You have to repeat it over and over and over until it sticks. Much like how you learned everything else in your life, it was repeated to you until it became a part of you.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  What do you want to see?

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Try this

Write what ever pops into you head, without hesitation. Don’t think, just write. Keep going until you hesitate:

I AM _____________

Yikes, what happened? Did you know you thought all those things about yourself? How many are positive and how many are negative?

Now, write down what you want people to believe about you. What you want to believe about yourself. Be as specific as possible. You can think about this one.

How can you remind yourself to be that person, the future you, every day? I recommend the affirmation. Kick out the old and in with the new.

No quick fix

There is no easy way, fast recovery, magic pill, or other method to make everything right overnight.

It takes work and time.

I know, I know. We would prefer the quick fix. We are raised to envy those who seem to have it easy, to want it all, to be everything and be happy. The half hour sitcom should be our life!

It’s not. Therefore, I deal with the frustration of clients often.

“Nothing is better”

“It still hurts”

“When does it go away?”

“It happened again”

“I am so tired of feeling like this!”

Psyches are not scarred easily. We are resilient by nature. We are made tough, to fight, scrape, and have a strong will to live. It is nearly impossible to drown yourself. We are born with some innate genetic qualities, personalities quirks, intelligent quotients, etc. Mostly, though, it is the nature of becoming that makes you who you are. You can be raised to be even tougher, more resilient, strong in self, confident in your abilities and worthiness of love. You can also be raised to give in, give up, be a victim, take whatever is thrown at you because you believe that you have little or no value.  Or anywhere in between.

If something happens to you, that nature takes over. You will maintain your will, or lack of, in your recovery. That recovery may even be from your own childhood. Depending on how long your psyche has been abused, the time it takes to heal is relative. IT IS POSSIBLE! It is always, always possible. It does take time, strength, determination, will, support, and fortitude.

YOU are not broken. You are still here. You are willing, able and determined to make it, however that is. Take the parts, paths and pasts of you that need some love and understanding and do just that. Give yourself that time and determination to do the work. It is worth it.

Forgiving is not condoning

I talk about Forgiveness a lot, to anyone who needs it. There are many misunderstood ideas about forgiveness. Many religious organizations teach forgiveness as a godly act; to forgive others of wrong doing so that they may learn and grow in spirit. Though, many people do not truly forgive, but say they do in order to follow doctrine or “do what is right.”  True forgiveness is hard to do.

It is difficult to forgive others of wrong doing, especially if we, personally, have been injured in some way. We believe that if we forgive, we are condoning their behavior. If we let go of our own anger about the wrong doing, we are saying that it is some how okay. We like to hold onto our bitterness as proof that we have been wronged and help us avoid that wrong again. That is not true. Not forgiving others is just holding onto bad feelings that hurt us.

Forgiving others is NOT condoning their behavior.

It is letting go of our negative feelings toward others. Releasing the toxic anger and bitterness that eats at our happiness. Whether or not you choose to forgive another person does not change the other person. They will continue to choose their own behavior.

Forgiveness only changes you.

Anger, sorrow, regret, humiliation, shame, guilt are just a few negative side effects of holding a grudge. When we are done wrong, abused, hurt, used, or taken advantage of in some way, we react with self preservation. Those feelings are a means to protect ourselves from harm. We hold onto our trust, refusing to allow others in or push others away. Depending on the level of wrongdoing, we can react in many different ways.

These reactions can serve to protect us from the original person who does the wrong doing. However, they do not continue to serve us. By allowing yourself to not forgive, you may let those feeling fester and become toxic in your psyche. It damages all relationships forward.

TRY THIS

How do you let go? How do you forgive?

Think of it in terms of not allowing the wrong doer any more power over you. If you are angry at another person, you are allowing them the power to control your feelings. If you want to release them from your life, you have to forgive.

Forgiveness is letting go of the anger, resentment and bad feelings about the wrong doing; Being at peace with your self and your past.

Write a letter to the wrong doer(s). Tell them how you feel and how it still impacts you. Forgive them of the wrong doing and hurt. Tell them that what they did was not okay, nor should others be hurt by them. Tell them that you are letting go of the anger and not allowing them power in your life. Tell them what you have learned from the hurtful experience.

Then, burn it. Let it go to ash and wind. You may have to do this more than once.

Mental Health awareness

May is National Mental Health Awareness month.

May mental health

Mental Illness is grossly misunderstood. Many people go by what they have heard on television or seen in movies, or by a neighbor’s grandparent, uncle or distant cousin. You might be amazed at how many people you know who have struggled with a mental illness. One in 4 (25%) people in the United States deal with a mental illness every year.(NAMI.org)

A mental illness is not just “crazy” people. Some crazy people don’t have a mental illness, just extreme beliefs. One of the most popular first films about mental illness is “One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest.”  I also saw one from 1948 called “The Snake Pit” where a house wife was hospitalized due to a mental break down. Which today we might just call “Monday.” 😉

The reality of mental illness is a long way’s from the media. I had a client fear telling people she had bipolar disorder because recently a grandmother had killed her grandchildren and the news announced that she had bipolar. She feared that people would think she was dangerous. Even clients I have worked with who have been diagnosed with a disorder for years, do not really understand it. It’s part of my job to help them understand the disorder, how it works and impacts them, and what they can do to manage it effectively.

Education is the key to control and compassion.

Mental Illness is any diagnosable disorder in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). These include depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia and many more. Some need medication, some don’t. ALL of them run on a scale from mild to severe.

If you don’t understand, have never had experience with, or encounter someone with a mental illness, don’t trust your judgement on this. Research it and get informed. We get incorrect, skewed, and misrepresented information from too many places. Also, don’t assume that every person who has PTSD will be just like your nephew after he returned from the war. Everyone’s experience with mental illness is unique.

Here are some sites to get information on some common mental illnesses:

http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/default.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health

http://www.typesof-mentalillness.com/

You can also contact your local NAMI chapter for community resources and information.

Vacation healing

Since I just returned from vacation, I thought I would write about the virtues of taking one. Actually, vacations do have healing power. There are two important aspects to this healing that I will focus on, bonding and relaxation.

Bonding

The Bonding aspect refers to the time one spends with family, important people, or eventhemselves.

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Often in life we get very busy with all the daily “stuff” that needs to be accomplished: working, cleaning, shopping, caring for kids, etc. Relationships can be easily pushed to the back burner or left on the couch. We call watching TV together “quality time” because are just too tired to put much effort forth. This can go on for so long that it becomes usual.

Vacations put a stop to the “usual” of life. It causes major disruption in our routine. Which is the point. It is the time to get away from the grind and enjoy ourselves and our loved ones. Vacations in any form should have you spending real quality time in face to face conversations, talking about your feelings and future together, enjoying activities as enrichment and bonding. It can be quite difficult to carve out some really good quality time for all of this with your family or loved ones.

Relaxation

The Relaxation aspect refers to taking time to destress, let go of the worries and daily concerns in exchange for giving your self healing time and energy.

As well as being distracting, daily stuff can also cause significant stress. Keeping track of money, kids, spouses, and laundry can be tedious. Not to mention your job, the giant to do list, your angry sister or neighbor, and your own negative feelings. Stress impacts us endlessly and in various degrees. Stress also has a cumulative effect. If it is not managed regularly, it builds up and impacts us emotionally, physically, psychologically and relationally.

Vacation allows us to let go of the daily stuff is a psychological sense. I choose (and recommend to others) to take vacations away from the house so as not be tempted to do any kind of housework or other projects that may call while at home. I like to have no obligations in a vacation for the purpose of relaxing. The main advantage of vacation would be the removal of the stressors. You may choose any other activity you like to relax while on vacation, reading, sleeping, touring, riding, sight seeing, etc. Those are added benefits to increase your enjoyment and decrease your stress.

Note, a vacation does not have to be expensive, far away, exotic, or long term. It can be whatever it is that physically takes you out of the daily grind to spend quality time with loved ones. It should not increase your stress burden by taking more time or money than you have to give.

Marriage = Team

I work with many couples. One of the most frequent happenings in a troubled marriage (read committed relationship) is that they take sides. It starts to be “me against you”, the finger pointing, blaming, shaming, guilting, etc. It all leads to distance, emotional and physical, which leads to resentment. Here is a tip, which might sound easier than it really is.

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Marriage = Team

Basically, partners need to remember they are on the same TEAM. The same side, going for the same goal, headed in the same direction. Hold hands and face the world TOGETHER. It is about US against the world, not each other.

However, how does that help trouble INSIDE the marriage. Aha! Take that TEAM principle and apply it to everything.

For example, money issues (common problem in marriages). Take the budget and tackle it as US against the BUDGET. The problem should be outside of the team. Literally put it on the table. What do WE need to do to make it work. The collective “we” shares blame and does not shame. No finger pointing or judging. Here is the budget, how do we make it work together?  If one person is overspending, address it as “It seems we overspent on food this month. How can we fix it?” If one person is having trouble staying on budget, ask for help. “I am having difficulty sticking to this plan. Can you help me figure it out?” You are both on the same team. 

This is mostly about using team oriented language and how you view the relationship. Avoid language that blames, like sentences that start with you. If you find you are having a lot of difficulty with this concept, you might need more help from a professional, book or class.

Strength of Affirmations

We have all heard the story of the The Little Engine that Could that made it over the mountain chanting “I think I can. I think I can.”  It is the simplest version of an affirmation there is. Giving ourselves strength through thought.

Affirmations are a means to “affirm” or strengthen and implant a belief in your head. It is to believe that something is true or exists. If you think you have never used these, think about all those sayings your parents or teachers had you still remember. For example: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”

Some of those thought patterns can be positive or negative. They also run your life. No matter what kind of thought patterns you have, they determine what you do, what you think, how you feel about things and yourself. If you grew up in a negative home with emotional or physical abuse. You may have little trust in yourself. You may not believe that you deserve to be happy or have a good relationship or job.

Ok, so what. I got a bunch of junk in my head telling me I’m a bad person. Thanks a lot. That’s not really my point.

You have the power to change those thought patterns

How? By creating some positive affirmations that speak to you. You can come up with some positive messages that change the negatives and make it stick! It really can be done. I recently wrote up on my mirror in dry erase marker, my favorite place for affirmations, You deserve gratification. This is related to my post on pleasure vs gratification. I want to remind myself that my goals are life long, not immediate. I want happiness, not numbness.

When creating an affirmation, think of a reoccuring negative pattern in your life. Usually something you want to change, but don’t know how. What is behind that? Often it is because we don’t think we deserve to be happy or have good things. One of the most common ones I prescribe is  I deserve happiness

An emoticon with a smile. For more emoticons i...

Here’s the rules:

  1. Put is where you can see everyday, several times. Mirror, door, car.
  2. It needs to be positive. Don’t use: No, not, don’t, won’t, can’t shouldn’t, etc
  3. Present tense. I am, I can. no will, some day, in the future. TODAY!
  4. Be Specific. A good life, good relationship… too vague.
  5. Make it personal. Every affirmation starts with I
  6. Don’t use more than 3 at a time. It’s too much.
  7. Change one at a time when you think it sticks. NOT when it makes you mad, cause it’s working if it’s challenging your thinking.

Pleasure vs Gratification

I was recently reading a book called Radically Free by Drs Kennedy and Warren. They refer to a principle in Dr.Pleasure is an immediate and momentary bodily delight (like chocolate) whereas Gratification is engaging, intellectual pursuits wherein we get long term enjoyment (like raising children and hobbies). Following pleasure leads us in circles, always looking for more pleasure. Following gratification leads us to enrichment and growth.

School Choice HQ

Now that being said, do we never engage in pleasure? Are they completely separate ideas? No to both. I believe that they overlap. I engage in many hobbies. As I am enjoying creating a project, crocheting or quilting, I am getting some immediate pleasure. It also gives me gratification in my finished work, pride of accomplishment, and intellectual stimulation. It becomes a part of who I am. All those pieces of gratification lead up to who you are, your values and standards.

Pleasures are immediate and short lived. Once the pleasurable feeling is satiated, it’s over. They lend nothing to your self worth or value as a person.  For example, I love popcorn. I could eat it everyday. It would not mean much to me nor lend anything to me, but poor diet. It would interfere with my gratification of a healthy diet and body. Though, I can enjoy some popcorn on occasion for pleasure.

Are there pleasures that interfere with your overall gratification?

How can you adjust the scale to have more gratification in your life?

Dr Martin Segliman’s website has some great information, including a Happiness Quiz. I will definitely be revisiting this topic again. I would rather strive toward something positive than just avoid something negative.

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Dimensions of life

There are several areas or dimensions in your life which incorporate your health and wellness. You can probably name a few right off the bat: physical and emotional.  When you look at all you do and how how each area is addressed, many of us are lacking in one or more areas. Having a balance is key. Just like everything else, we need to maintain balance.

The dimensions as identified by World Health Organization

WHO dimensions

  1. Physical:  the process of making choices to create flexible, cardiovasculary fit, energetic, strong bodies
  2. Intellectual:  the process of using our minds to create a greater understanding and appreciation of the universe and ourselves
  3. Emotional:  the process accepting our worth, creating, recognizing and expressing our feelings and talking to ourselves in healthy way.
  4. Spiritual: the process of discovering meaning and purpose in life and demonstrating values through behaviors.
  5. Social:  the process of creating and maintaining healthy relationships through the choices we make.
  6. Occupational: the process of making and maintaining choices related to work which include choosing a job for which we are well-suited, well-trained, and from which we gain satisfaction.
  7. Environmental: the process of making choices which will contribute to the sustaining or improving the quality of life in the universe.

Each of these areas should be addressed daily. The physical can be easy, sleeping at least 7 hours a night, eating healthy, and exercising. Notice how each dimensions includes healthy choices. We can easily address each area with unhealthy choices or ignore it completely. That would make you out of balance. Which could lead you to feeling like you are missing something. Everyone feels differently when they are out of balance. Some people become depressed or ill and then all areas suffer. Often when people are suffering in one dimension, it seeps into the others.

Now, what happens when you are out of balance? How do the others areas suffer when you are sick, stressed, tired, hungry, feeling worthless or overwhelmed?

TRY THIS:

Look at each dimension. Write down what you do to address each area in a healthy way.

Example:   Physical: sleep 7 hours, eat vegetables daily, walk for 30 minutes 2 times week

Spiritual: attend church, volunteer, treat people kindly

Emotional: talk with friend and sister at least 3 times a week. Talk to husband about concerns

Then, write down ways you might be unhealthy in each area.

Example:   Physical: eat fast food everyday

Emotional: lock myself in room when angry or sad, refuse to interact

How might you change some of those unhealthy patterns to healthy ones?Are any of your dimensions out of whack? Do you spend more time in one area than any other? Are you suffering? How can you balance out your dimensions so that each area is addressed daily?

You only know what you know

I have several “sayings” that I use often. I will eventually share all of these with you. One of my favorites seems so obvious.

You only know what you know  Big Idea Team

Of course, we can not know things we have not learned yet. New information and different ways of doing things and thinking about things are out there. We just have to find them. We also need to understand that, maybe, our way of doing things is not working for us.

We do what we know; what we have learned growing up, in school, in church, from friends and family. If you are finding that the way you have always done things is not working. What’s next? Is there another way? How do you even figure out how to do that? When you are blue in the face, cried for too long, frustrated with the dead ends. Look for a new way. That might mean asking for help.

It may seem obvious, but until we understand that perhaps we need to learn a new way; the way we have always done things does not work, you can not see it.