Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cultivating Happiness vs. True Expression

I’ve been learning about how to express myself through a combination of books, blogs, Super Soul Sunday episodes and my own experiences and realizations. As I began my spiritual awakening, I made the realization that we have the power to cultivate our own happiness. That was a new and powerful concept for me, and I began practicing it right away. I read inspirational blogs, thought empowering thoughts and listened to music that cultivated a sense of calm and joy.

As time went on, I found myself purposefully avoiding listening to music that I used to love and connect with. I knew it would not be cultivating the joy and calmness that I desired. It would bring me back to the pain and isolation I used to feel. I figured those were things I should not be cultivating in myself anymore.

Eventually, I started to feel disconnected. I looked around my cubical at all my zen knick knacks, and my iPod full of meditation music, and I started to miss the old me. The old me was in a lot of pain, but the old me felt feelings so incredibly deeply. The old me could express herself and feel connected with the soul within, and honored the emotions she was feeling. I missed that, and I started to see that what I was starting to do was actually just numbing.

In the beginning, cultivating happiness was truly something I needed to do. I needed to build that strength and confidence as a foundation to move forward. I needed to add it to my toolkit. But eventually I needed to bring that tool to the next level with me – stop sharpening the tool, and start actually using it. Sitting there mindlessly sharpening a tool you are never going to use doesn’t make too much sense, does it?

I was nervous about allowing myself to feel the feelings I used to have in my darkest days. I was scared that listening to some of this music would take me back 10 years like a time machine, put me back in the negative mindset, and I’d get lost in all the pain. I’d feel how I used to feel, and it would be extremely difficult or near impossible to find my way back out, or to even want to get back out. I was scared I’d realize that this mindset was the truth, and that I’ve been fooling myself all this time with “cultivating happiness”. That’s just not a risk I wanted to take, because I knew I could not handle feeling that way ever again.

However, that’s not what happened. As I listened to these songs that used to feel like my own soul pouring out of me, I found new connections. I felt the old connections, but I made new ones, too. Suddenly some of the words had different meanings. The experiences I’ve had since my youth gave me more situations, knowledge and wisdom to reference as the song painted a picture in my mind. I remembered how I felt back then, and my soul still oozed out of me in an almost euphoric manner. But back then, I felt complete isolation as an undercurrent of all of this. I felt alone, like I was doomed and flawed, and just this one artist was able to capture how I felt. An artist I’d never know, and other than that, no one cares or understands. But that’s not what I felt this time. This time I acknowledged that I used to feel that way, but this time, I knew it was a human experience. I knew that almost everyone has felt these feelings, and that I am not flawed and worthless – I’m not feeling this way because I am flawed and worthless. I’m feeling this way because I am simply human, and these are thoughts everyone fights with in one way or another.

And at the end of the song, instead of feeling lost in a mindset of despair and pain, I felt relief. I felt like I’d just expressed myself. I felt like I’d just gotten something heavy off my chest. I wasn’t lost at all, if anything, I was found.

You HAVE to be comfortable with your true feelings. Do not be scared of them. Your fear is worse than the reality. Especially if you are feeling disconnected and disengaged, you have to do the things you know will help you feel reconnected, even if you’re worried they will have the opposite effect. Don’t be afraid of yourself. Don’t discredit your spiritual growth, no matter how small. You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for, I guarantee it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Gaining Control Over Your Mind

Life is a lot more manageable and enjoyable when you finally figure out how much power your mind has over your life and your self-image. Even with some of my biggest fears, I am not at their mercy. I can feel the pain and panic, understand it, and know that, while it feels very real, it isn’t. I don’t have to feel that way.

While reading A Course in Miracles, I came up with a perspective that may help some people take control back from their thoughts and emotions – to help them stop identifying with them: When you feel anger, fear or anxiety rise up within you, those feelings are not in support of those thoughts. That is your body, your soul, REJECTING those thoughts. Your body is literally telling you, “No, I don’t like these thoughts. Stop having these thoughts.”

Sure, you can argue against it. But that’s not the point. That’s a great thought to have because it helps bring awareness to the malignant nature of those thoughts as they apply to us in modern society (aka we are not being attacked by bears, where those thoughts and fight-or-flight responses would be necessary).

Gaining control over your mind. That’s what it’s all about, because THAT is the only thing that is holding you back.

I’ve had some situations that would normally upset me that don’t anymore. I generally have a big issue with people telling me things I already know as if I don’t know them, or telling me doomsday scenarios about how life gets so much worse. In some cases, yeah, it still bugs the crap out of me. But I had some examples the other day where I did NOT feel like their comments and suggestions were trying to invalidate my own knowledge or beliefs; where I did NOT feel the need to get defensive, show my own knowledge, and in some cases, explain how they are wrong (or at least not right). I had a fleeting thought of how I normally would have gotten worked up, but I just chuckled a little and acknowledged what they were saying.

A big issue I’m facing right now is my war with weight. As far as weight itself, I’m now wise enough to know that many of the years I thought I had a problem, I did not. But now I do, and it is because I am terrified of failure. I eat fine, and I’ve followed all the typical advice, and I barely eat over 1000 calories a day. And when I was busting my butt exercising like mad and counting calories, for many months, and hardly saw any results, it crushed me. I couldn’t live like that forever, the exercise routine I had, and that was how I basically just MAINTAINED my weight? In my mind I’m like, I’m DOING everything right, and STILL nothing happens. Can you imagine the deep sense of failure and shame I felt? So I’ve been avoiding that. I’ve been living my normal life, just trying to live “healthy”, but setting a goal for losing weight gets my blood pressure up, because I can’t have a goal like that. I can’t. It hurts too much. I’m just setting myself up for failure, because IT DOESN’T WORK.

But now I have some doctors on my side. Now I have people looking into blood panels and things to figure out what my quirk is. I’m not alone in this now. And not only that, but I know I have to believe in myself and have the vision in order to get anywhere. No matter what, I will find a way. If the first way doesn’t work, then I’ll try another way. And I’ll keep trying. Because that’s how goals are accomplished. You try, you fail, you try again and then again until you succeed. And I CAN do it. So I’ve had an emotional week making the realization that I’m going back into weightloss mode. But I have the respect for my mind and body this time that I did not have before. You can’t abuse yourself into health, you have to nurture yourself into health.

Strength and bravery is another thing I’ve always wanted to master. I just saw the movie Divergent (which is AMAZING!), so that is very much on my mind. And I heard myself say in my mind, “I’m not brave.” But I know better now – I heard that and thought, “Well no, not as long as I tell myself I’m not!” That’s a situation where you cultivate your bravery. Find examples of when you ARE brave, and use those to push you harder. I’m not sure how you practice bravery, exactly… And I’m in the process of working on my body, so I’m going to be committed to the strength part, as well. But it won’t happen overnight. But I think I’m okay with that now. I think I have faith in my vision. Correction, I DO have faith in my vision.

On a side note, I feel like I am reaching a point where I understand my place in the timeline of humanity (and maybe even of the universe). I’m starting to realize that everything you read about in history books wasn’t all that long ago, truth be told. I feel like I can feel the oneness of everyone, and also feel the technological progression. I feel like I can see the big picture, instead of just my own life. Just some weird but inspiring concepts I’ve been toying around with in my spare time, so I thought I’d make a note of that.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Wake-Up Call on Health

I’m overwhelmed. I feel like the honeymoon with this spiritual awakening is over, and the real work has begun. I’ve made so much progress in dealing with my perspective on daily challenges, but now the Uni-verse knows I’m ready for the next level, and it has definitely been hitting me with obstacle after obstacle.

I know everything will be okay, and I know I can handle anything that’s thrown at me. But it doesn’t keep me from getting overwhelmed, it just keeps me from letting it completely depress me and make me feel like a failure. But it sure is trying.

I wrote about a month ago about the triple emergency that I handled pretty gracefully, and then it started catching up to me a couple days later, but then I pulled it together and moved forward.

I feel like lately has been Level 2 of that. I’ve had so much going on, and so many high priority items to the point where I am running around, missing work to get everything done and then making up hours, doing emotionally exhausting tasks… and I’ve been doing a damn good job. But you remember my New Year’s Resolution to treat my body better? With respect and kindness? That is SO HARD when you have 20 million things to do. I know how the Uni-verse works – you ask for something, and it makes it harder to achieve in order to FORCE you to TRULY make it a priority. The Uni-verse is like, you want to treat your body better? You want to make that a priority? Really? Let’s see about that! And when push came to shove, I couldn’t do it. Work and obligations and emergencies came ahead of my health. My body has been suffering, and now I’ve really injured myself, to the point where it hurts to move.

It’s quite overwhelming. I feel helpless. I feel like I’ve been slapped with a reality check. My health is deteriorating. Somehow I’ve gained 12 more pounds since the beginning of the year. I DO NOT EAT ENOUGH CALORIES TO BE GAINING WEIGHT, LET ALONE THAT MUCH WEIGHT. Something is wrong. My acne is not going away. I haven’t been taking my Vitamin D. I quit coffee before, but now I’m drinking it again. I’m a mess. My career work is fantastic, but my health and my life is a mess. A complete mess. And I think I’ve gotten to the point where I know I can’t help myself with this one. I need help. First I need to heal my back, but then I seriously need to get a nutritionist and a personal trainer and I need to make this a priority. Let them figure out why it isn’t working. I don’t have the knowledge. And something is going to have to give, and I don’t even HAVE anything that CAN give – I’m dragging myself through the day, and my house is a mess… work and cleaning my house are the only things that CAN give. I don’t know.

“Make it work. Find a way.” That’s been my motto lately, and it will have to be for this, too. It isn’t anything I can’t handle. The good news is that I am completely capable of handling this stress. I have the right mental attitude and spiritual awareness to deal with all of this. It is a LOT and I have a lot of emotions, but I know I can handle it, and I know these challenges are only making me stronger. I know all the health issues I’m having are temporary, and I can still come back from them. I do know that deep down, and it helps push me through these rough times.

It’s hard to admit you need help. Coincidentally, that was one of Mastin’s posts this week, too. But I need help with my health. I really really don’t understand what I’m doing SO wrong that has given me all these problems. It’s not the same problems other people have – the problems you see on tv specials and as guests on talk shows. I don’t eat junk food. I don’t go to food for comfort. I eat HEALTHY. Chicken vegetables, low fat oatmeal and eggs… salads sometimes…  Every once in a while I’ll have soup or chili or a sandwich or pasta, but it is mostly the same. And I keep starting a routine of doing push-ups or yoga or something every morning, but it just goes out the window, because I can’t sleep so I get up late and then the cycle just continues all week. I need help managing this. Obviously whatever I’ve tried to do on my own isn’t working.

For some reason, I hate admitting problems that I have. I know that’s common. And I know I don’t need to feel so awkward about it. But I love to help others with their problems, I like showing that I have my stuff together, and I DO know how to handle my issues and what the issues are. So when I express the problems to someone, I hear myself speak and I start thinking “Wait wait wait, this sounds like I don’t know/understand XYZ… I’m making myself sound like a whiny selfish idiot.” And I hate getting advice. I hate it. I know how and why I have my problems, and no one else’s advice is going to help. I know what I need to do, and I’m doing it. Just support me where I am, because I’ve GOT it!!

But not this time, which is even more emasculating. I know what’s NOT my problem, but I have no idea what IS my problem. And maybe I’ll have to humor the professionals and run through all the basics to rule them out, and I’m going to have to be a good sport and do it and not get upset about it.

Writing this helps. The entire month of February has been a mess, and I'm so happy I have time to sit down and write now. It was so busy and hectic, and so many different things were going on. Not all bad – but still busy. I know how the Uni-verse works now, and I know how to look at things to make me stronger instead of feeling like a victim. I get it. And at the same time, I know I need to let myself feel my feelings so I can get to the other side of them. So I let myself burst into tears several times today, because that’s how I was feeling. And I shouldn’t be ashamed. That’s how I feel. I know I can handle everything. But I’m also human, and it is also a lot. But this entire experience is good. The Uni-verse keeps giving me bigger and bigger problems so I can push through them and show myself how strong and capable I am. And I’m slowly able to feel appreciative instead of defensive when I hear about others having much worse problems. I don’t feel like I need to defend or punish myself anymore.

Speaking of punishing myself, I wonder if that’s why I suck at treating my body well. All the guilt issues may be why I seem to completely reject taking care of my body (for example, Vitamin D). That needs to stop, and I’m going to work very hard at it. It became a habit, but I won’t stand for it any longer. This is ridiculous. I should not be having all these problems. I know better. I know better than to be stressed out and to neglect my health and body. This is going to change. Mark my words, this is going to change, right now.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Know That You Are Awesome, Even Outside Your Comfort Zone

I was reading some articles from The Daily Love that talk about common insecurities women have.

First of all, I don’t feel as offended reading about them now. They usually don’t apply to me, so they annoy me, but now I know I don’t have to PROVE that they don’t apply to me. I’d read them and think, “That’s like the OPPOSITE of my problem – their problem is so pathetic! Why is this article accusing me of having that problem!! I don’t have it!!” So I’ve moved beyond having mental battles with articles like that, haha. Whew!

The point I really wanted to get to was that, some women (scratch that – PEOPLE) think they are not enough based on their framework of reality. They think people will “find out” that they are not perfect, or people will lose interest or get bored with them. Like I said, not my problem. I know I am awesome. I’m fine with people getting “bored” or “losing interest” because that doesn’t even make sense to me – if they can do that, they are not right for me, so we can go our separate ways. Granted that hasn’t really happened to me, either, at least not since early high school! And also because I’ve kept people at bay… hmmm.

The problem I DO have is that I know I am awesome based on my framework of reality, but that means I have to stay within my wheelhouse to believe that about myself. I’ve refused to step into a reality where I am not awesome, because I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. So everything that I am awesome at, that’s what makes a worthy, lovable, awesome person. Anything I suck at or haven’t done – it’s horrible, bad, immature, it doesn’t matter, whatever. See the problem? Limiting beliefs. It sure is comfortable in this particular set of limiting beliefs, but I have to hide away from so many other things in life to feel that way. For example, take how I feel about sexual content in the media. I have very intense negative physical reactions and an overwhelming sense of doom concerning that stuff. I can’t handle it. Because yes, I am awesome, but not in that area. So I reject it. Well, not “so I reject it”. That topic is really really complex for me and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. But I’ve made some tremendous progress on the foundation of where that repulsion was built, and I know eventually I’ll have a healthy balance of feelings about that stuff. It helps to know that I’m not WRONG to have issues with it, it’s just why and how much I am against it that is the problem. There’s a healthy balance. I will get there.

Aside from that, my feeling awesome where I am now keeps me from GROWING. It keeps me from stepping OUT into the UNKNOWN, because I have to STAY where I KNOW I am awesome. It is so sad to think that I have restricted myself in these ways. I consciously know I am awesome, but unconsciously I don’t think I will be if I stray from the known.

Well that is all changing. I get it now. No matter what happens, I am awesome. I can fail, I can screw up, I can make a mistake and I will still be awesome. In fact, screwing up and failing means I have a chance to turn it around. I have a growth opportunity before me. I don’t fear failure as much anymore. Conceptually I don’t, at least. Presented with a situation, sure, I bet I’ll be terrified. But armed with the knowledge that it is not the end of the world, I believe I’d be able to get through it and come out stronger. It’s all those mental tools that I just did not have before. Now I have them. Now I know better. So now I am EXCITED to go out into the unknown, because a) I trust myself, and b) If I screw up, so what? It takes ALL the pressure away, and replaces it with peace, freedom and joy.

I never even ALLOWED myself to be in a situation where I felt like I wasn’t awesome. I thought that was a good thing – now I realize it is probably way worse than people who are at least COMFORTABLE existing in a world where they know they are not Number One. It’s interesting, how we all handle situations in a different way. We are all brave and clever in our own ways, and our egos set-up our worlds in such a certain way – a way we can process in our minds. But we just have to know how awesome we all are, even in the midst of the unknown! Even if we fail! Even if we have no idea what we are doing! We are all still awesome!