Archive | September, 2015

Ask Better Questions

24 Sep

Source: Ask Better Questions

Ask Better Questions

24 Sep

To listen to the broadcast version, click here:

Every day we ask ourselves questions.  It’s how we keep our internal dialogue going.  The tone of the question can determine the quality of our day.  The question itself can determine whether we are heading in a positive or negative direction.  How many times have you asked yourself the following:

How could I be so stupid?

Why can’t I handle money?

Why can’t I keep my house clean?

Why can’t I be a better mom, wife, worker, person?

Why do I procrastinate so much?

Why am I so fat?

Why am I so lazy?

Why am I such a mess?

I’m sure you could add on, but here’s the issue with questions.  When you ask them, your brain immediately begins to look for an answer and if the question is put this way, your brain will do its best to give you an answer.  For the former questions, how can you have anything other than a negative answer and how in the world can that help you to change the behavior?

Recently, I have been reading through old journals, and I came across some entries I wrote while I was reading through a book titled Giant Steps by Tony Robbins.  One of the things he discusses is his Ultimate Success Formula which has four parts.

  1. Decide what you want.  He says to be precise because clarity is power.
  2. Take action because desire isn’t enough.
  3. Notice what works and what doesn’t and stop putting energy toward worthless approaches.
  4. Change your approach until you achieve what you want.  Flexibility gives you the power to create a new approach and new result.

I had forgotten about this over the years, but it speaks to me from its simplicity and practicality.  In the process of deciding what you want, you have to ask yourself questions, and when you decide what you want instead of what you don’t want, you ask different questions.

How could I be so stupid? Becomes how can I live smarter?

Why can’t I handle money? Becomes how can I handle money better or what do I need to learn about money to have more of it?

Why can’t I keep my house clean? Becomes what is the best way to run our home efficiently and effectively?

Why can’t I be a better mom, wife, worker or person?  Becomes how can I improve myself every day?

Why do I procrastinate so much? Becomes how good will it feel to take action on this item?

Why am I so fat?  Becomes how can I take better care of my body?

Why am I so lazy?  Becomes what can I do to have more energy and focus?

Why am I such a mess?  Becomes how would I counsel someone in my condition or what can I do to improve my life?

You see, in my world, words matter.  There is a much different feel to the questions being asked in the first scenario versus the second?  Yes, you can still give yourself negative answers, but you are changing the direction ever so slightly.

When it comes to answering the questions, I have a few suggestions as well.  Eliminate the words idiot, stupid, lazy, failure and any other negative terms you use to describe yourself.  Imagine that you’re talking to a five year old.  You would never tell a five year old to get off their fat butt and get to work.  You would never berate a five year old for not being productive or for forgetting about the laundry in the washer overnight or for forgetting to pay a bill.  When we teach children basic skills, we encourage them.  We look for ways to help them be successful, and please don’t tell me that you are not a five year old because if you have a home in bad condition, messed up finances or even an out of shape body like mine, you have been acting like a five year old who does whatever they can get away with or you wouldn’t be in this position.  If you were acting like a grown up, your life would be different and you know it, and I’m not saying that to shame anyone.  I’m sharing that because I know what it’s like.  I’ve had the messy house, the rotten finances and wrecked body, and I’ve learned that we can make excuses or we can make progress, and the best progress comes from asking better questions.  Here are a few you can use to get you started if you’re interested.

What is the one area I would most like to improve?  I know you have several, but it’s hard to get where you want to go if you’re traveling five roads at the same time.  Focus on one area and change your habits in that area so you can see some success and then move forward even more.

What is one thing I can do today that will start my forward progress?  This can sound so small and insignificant, but it may be the biggest question of all.  You have to find a place to start.  When I started learning to take care of my home, FlyLady said to start with your kitchen sink.  I did, but I couldn’t seem to catch the momentum that she said would naturally happen.  I was still struggling until I figured out my own way.  FlyLady says there is a shiny sink in every area of your home, and I agree with that theory not only in your home but in your life as well, but my “sweet spot” as I call it, isn’t a shiny sink.  It’s a clean kitchen table.  My kitchen table is the sweet spot of not only my kitchen, but of my home and my life.  When my home was at its worst, I would move the piles from the kitchen to the dining room so we could eat at the table, but until I addressed the piles on the kitchen table, the mess in my house wouldn’t go away and I felt stuck and frustrated.  I finally realized one day that if I could just get and keep my kitchen table clutter controlled, addressed and/or cleaned up, I felt like I could move forward, so I spent the next 30 days focused on the table.  I spent several hours over several days addressing everything on the table and understood why I had procrastinated on it for so long; it took hours to address all of the paperwork.  I had to send emails and make phone calls and file.  I had to do some things that were uncomfortable, like question insurance companies, face my finances and decide which papers to keep, file or pitch.  It took a few days, but I finally did it, and the first night I didn’t have to move a stack of papers to serve dinner on my clean kitchen table was delightful.  For those of you who have a clean kitchen table or who have someone who cleans the kitchen table for you that might not seem like a big deal, but for me it was huge.  Time and again when I feel overwhelmed with life, I ask myself why am I feeling overwhelmed?  What do I need to get passed this feeling?  Then I look at my kitchen table and realized how cluttered it has become.  To this day, I don’t know if the table gets cluttered because I am overwhelmed or if I get overwhelmed because the table is cluttered.  What I do know is that as soon as the clutter is gone, every part of my life seems to even out and run more smoothly.  Sounds crazy, I know, but it works.

In our finances, we have gotten ourselves into credit card debt more times than I want to admit, but that isn’t where the trouble begins.  The trouble begins with our daily spending.  Before we had a budget, we figured we knew how much money we had to spend.  My husband gets paid monthly, so we paid our bills and did our best to live on what was left.  Unfortunately, we always seemed to run out of money before we ran out of month so we would break out our trusty credit cards and plunge ourselves further into debt.  It was a vicious cycle and you would think after digging ourselves out of $10,000 of credit card debt and then $20,000 of credit card debt we would learn our lesson, but no.  We never got our spending handled so we ended up with a third go round of credit card debt of $35,000.  We had asked how do we get out of credit card debt but we had never asked ourselves how we could stay out.  Within weeks of asking that question, we were introduced to Dave Ramsey, who not only helped us get out of our credit card debt in about two years, he has helped us stay out of that pit for several years.  The “kitchen table” of that process is writing down everything we spend.  At first we did that on small notebooks we kept in our car, but it has morphed into keeping a budget tally on a white board we keep where we can see it but others that come into our home don’t.  Every week and sometimes more often, we tally up what we’re spending and it most definitely keeps us aware and alert.  We stopped doing this for a few months and the result was a backslide of epic proportions.  Fortunately, we had funds we had saved to cover our mistakes, but it was a lesson that even after we thought we had learned how to live within our means, we still had to follow the system that got us there.

I have two areas I am currently working on.  One is creating a healthier and fit body.  I am at a weight that is taxing my body.  I don’t feel healthy, and I want to.  I’ve tried several things.  Some have worked and some haven’t but at this point, I haven’t found a lifestyle that works best.  I’m not sure that I’ve found my “kitchen table” yet, perhaps because it’s more than just food or exercise, and my five year old self has been running the show for sure or I wouldn’t be eating way more than I need to maintain a healthy body weight.  I’m also working on a career launch with a webinar and online course.  It still has a long way to go and my hope is to be more consistent with working on it.  If you read my blog post on Tuesday, you know that I am wanting to move forward with an emphasis on peace and harmony  and ultimately that’s what brings me great joy in this journey toward my personal success.  I’ve figured out to stop asking why anyone’s life is better than mine.  I’ve stopped asking what’s wrong with me or my life.  Instead, I focus on creating the best life I was born to live.  I ask what I need to do to create peace and harmony and joy in my life, and I know those answers will be better than the answers to those other questions.  Those answers will lead me to my best life, my highest quality life, my Divinely inspired life, and the one that will provide the most value for me, my family and the Universe I live in.  So what is the one thing you can do today to make this a great day for you?  Answer that.  Act on it, and then ask it again.  Thanks for reading.  Thanks for being you and have a great day.

Rediscovering Peace and Harmony

22 Sep

Source: Rediscovering Peace and Harmony

Rediscovering Peace and Harmony

22 Sep

Yesterday I was feeling out of sorts. I had just spent the weekend with those I love most and several of them had left our home. I love having them here, but I tend to do a few things differently when they’re here. I eat more than I should. I eat foods that aren’t healthy for my body. I stay up too late, and I get emotional when it’s time for everyone to leave. The day after everyone is gone feel like I have an emotional hangover. My body hurts. My brain is fuzzy, and I have no motivation to do anything. I spend so much time preparing for everyone’s arrival and having fun while they’re here, but I never give a thought about when they leave, and it throws me off track nearly every time. Yesterday I did manage to straighten up my home and even clean my shower, but it felt like a monumental effort to just make it through the day.

This morning, I got on social media much earlier than I usually do. I was still reeling and feeling disconnected and emotional. My body still hurt. I was still tired even after getting adequate sleep. I was still unmotivated and sent up a little prayer for help. The answers came fast and furious, perhaps because I was looking for them. Everything I read or listened to seemed to point me toward the terms peace and harmony. Just reading those words and thinking about them started a shift in my mind and my body. Have you ever read something that changed your physiology on the spot? Reading the word harmony did that for me today. I could feel my body start to relax as I released the tension I’ve been carrying around. I could feel my attitude about the day and several situations in my life begin to transform. The idea of living in harmony with life took hold and I began to think about what it would be like to live in harmony with life for the next 85 days and beyond.

If you check the calendar, 85 days from now is December 16th. On my Better Living Daily Facebook page, I am counting down to that day. Why December 16th? Well, that’s the day that all of my family members will be finished with school and work until after Christmas. That’s the day that I’m hoping to have all of my shopping, wrapping and pre-cooking finished so that I can relax and enjoy the holidays as much as the rest of my family. The thought of living those 85 days in peace and harmony rather than in stress and angst is truly exciting. Although I am truly more of a go with the flow kind of girl, I have learned over the past couple of decades that if I have a plan to get to where I want to go, I get there faster and with less stress. At one time in my life, I was the girl that pulled the all nighters because I put off writing papers and studying for exams until the last minute. I was the mom wrapping presents at 2am that would be unwrapped four hours later on Christmas Day. I would be late to parties because I had to stop on the way to buy the birthday card. Ok, I still do that one on occasion, but I’ve learned that planning and working ahead avoid so much stress, and I am determined to do that this year for the holidays. I know it drives some people batty to even talk about Christmas before Halloween, but for my own sanity, I need to start thinking about it. From Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, I’ve learned to plan ahead financially and already have money saved for gifts and other holiday purchases. Through FlyLady, I’ve learned to take care of my home and plan my decorating and baking schedules. From Saving Dinner, I’ve learned to plan menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas and even the days before and after so I’m not scrambling to feed my family on the days immediately before and after the holidays. All of these programs have helped me to have a more peaceful end to each year, but harmony is something different. Harmony goes beyond peace for me. Harmony is what allows me to smile when that relative offers a back handed insult in the form of a question, like, “Do you think you really need that piece of pumpkin pie?” Harmony is what allows me to sit amongst the chaos of 60+ people and revel in the joy of a day spent with family. Harmony is understanding that no matter what anyone else’s situation is, I don’t have to feel guilty about my many blessings. On the flip side, though, harmony is also realizing that when I feel like whining because my life isn’t going as planned, it could be much worse. Right now, I know a couple who is trying to get their toddler stabilized to travel halfway around the country to have open heart surgery for the second time. Nothing in my life compares to that. Sunday, when I was feeling all weepy about my children all leaving to go back to college, I remembered a friend whose daughter will not be coming home at all. If that doesn’t adjust your attitude, nothing will. Is it weird that I can find harmony because of someone else’s struggle? Perhaps, but for me, I imagine myself telling that person my troubles and thinking about their response; because I remember being the mom with a sick baby in the hospital listening to others complain about their healthy baby waking up several times through the night. I wanted to shake them and ask them if they had any idea what a gift they had to be able to have their baby at home with them. I didn’t, but I certainly wanted to. I wasn’t at peace. I didn’t feel harmonious at that moment, but eventually I did make peace with my son’s medical condition and fifteen years later, his doctor calls him the rock star because we’ve worked hard to keep him healthy all of these years.

In the past, this is a challenging time of year for me. I am not a fan of autumn because I know winter is coming and I will be more confined and the grey cold is on its way. Before I had children in school, I always took vacations in September or October and again in February or March to beat the winter blues. Now that my children are older, I have been blessed to take a few days in January the past few years and spend them with one of my favorite people on the planet in the warmth of Florida. It restores my soul in more ways than I can tell you to walk along the beach and observe the peace and harmony of nature and hang out with one of the most positive people I know. Last year, though, as autumn and winter approached, I could feel the irritation rising, especially since I have so many friends who seem to enjoy the falling leaves and temperatures. Their joy became my sorrow. Their celebrations deepened my mourning. It was awful. This year, I decided that enough is enough. This year I want to embrace the seasons rather than resist them because what is the use of resisting something that you cannot change? After years of fighting it, I am looking to find a blessing in every day. I have decided to do a countdown on the Facebook page to help me pass the time in a more productive, peaceful and harmonious manner. It may not work perfectly, but I imagine it will work much better than my past methods of grumbling and turning my nose up at the joy of others. Believing in a higher power, I think that is what the higher power would want as well, so here I go. I will remind myself often that peace is a choice. I will, as much as possible, be in harmony with all that is, and where there is disharmony, I will know that there is room for growth and change. It may not be perfect, but perfection isn’t the goal because peace and harmony are so much more interesting. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

Changing Your Mood and Attitude

17 Sep

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Lately several of my friends have been struggling with mood and/or attitude issues. The season changing is affecting some. School starting is affecting others, and life circumstances affect still more. Sometimes people can’t even put their finger on what is making them crabby or depressed, or they think they know but have no idea how to change things. You know what? I don’t know all the answers, but I do have several ideas that I hope will help those who need and want it. I understand that you may have heard them all before, but maybe the way I present them will give you the idea you need to lift yourself out of your not so happy place. In any case, I guarantee it will put more positive thought and action into the world, I can only see an upside to that. So here are my suggestions in no particular order.

One of the most common suggestions to lift your mood is to move. I will not be telling you to exercise because I know many people who hear that word and just tune out. If you love it, then do it. If the word exercise sets your teeth on edge, think about trying something totally different. Take a stroll or do some gardening. Is it really exercise if you stroll? Try skipping or jumping rope, like you did as a child. Can you imagine the smiles you would generate if you tried skipping around the block? I would be willing to bet you are smiling just thinking about it. If you want to get really crazy, you could dance or hula hoop. I have been known to blast some tunes and dance around my house on occasion. Sometimes, I even leave the shades up, and I am thinking of putting a hula hoop on my Christmas wish list. Can you imagine? How did you get in shape? By hula hooping of course!

For people like me, fun is almost like a drug. I love having fun and crave it in every area of my life. Honestly, if it isn’t fun in some way, I can only do something for so long before I completely lose interest, but playing can be a huge way to release stress and lift yourself up. I’m talking board games and puzzles, not on a screen but in in real life. Did you love Operation as a child? It still exists. Was Life more your style? It’s still out there too. Puzzles can be a bit trickier, but it’s amazing when you start talking to people, and you find out that many people love to do puzzles and you know what else? They love to share them. We have worked several puzzles that we have either returned to their owner or passed along to someone else, and here’s a really fun tip; write your name, city and the date you worked the puzzle on the bottom of the box and tell the next person to do the same. You can see how far the puzzle has traveled and how many people have worked on it.

My next suggestion is to look in a mirror. One of the greatest challenges I was ever issued was to say, “Hello Beautiful” every time I looked in a mirror. It was so difficult to do that in the beginning, but it got easier. At first, I just made stupid faces at myself and stuck my tongue out, and I highly recommend this approach if you struggle with calling yourself beautiful in the beginning. If you have a young child, they will be only too glad to help you make those faces, and you will be laughing before you know it. Eventually, though, I hope you can begin to see your inner beauty, even if it is only in a glimpse or two.

Singing can be a great way to change your mood and attitude too. You can sing to a mirror, which will show you how you look when you sing. That could, however, be more mood killing than lifting, but I would also add a caveat; no sad songs unless it’s an 80s power ballad and you plan to toss your hair like an 80s glam band lead singer. Otherwise, grab your favorite hair brush, spatula or broom handle and get to belting out your favorite upbeat anthems.

Sometimes the thing that’s bringing you down is the thing that will lift you up because it’s your attitude about what you’re doing that’s really bringing you down in the first place. I know that sounds really cryptic, but have you ever had a task to do that you keep putting off and when you finally do it, you feel fantastic? I have and it usually looks like a pile of paper or my kitchen table. Some days, the best way for me to lift my mood is to clean and/or declutter. On days that I know that and don’t want to, my timer is my best friend. It is magical what you can do in 15-20 focused minutes. I can usually get the basics of my morning routine knocked out in 20 minutes. I can do a quick wipe of the bathrooms, run my Swiffer vacuum on the first floor and unload the dishwasher in about 20 minutes. Add a session of 10-15 minutes of cleaning off my kitchen table, and in 30 minutes or so, I can look around my house and see progress. It’s amazing how just a little bit of progress can make a huge difference.

My husband has been traveling more than usual this year, and I noticed that I miss his hugs so much when he’s gone. I hadn’t realized how much we hug and hold hands and just keep contact with one another. Since I only have one child still living at home and he’s a teenage boy, it has been a challenge for me to ask him for additional hugs here and there. To really get great hugs, I visit my nieces and snag a few from their children. Otherwise, lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a while can almost always start and end with a hug and that’s great too.

Speaking of friends, a phone call can be exactly what you need, especially if the friend is normally upbeat. For some a special relative can be a great choice. I have a few people in my life that I know I can call and have them “talk me off the ledge” as we refer to it. The same can be true for when you’re feeling down. It can even happen in a text or on social media. Yes, there are even positive places to go on the internet to get your lift. I’ve mentioned a private group I belong to on Facebook where the women build each other up. In this past week, we’ve lifted those with house cleaning issues, preschooler issues, pregnancy issues and mental health issues. Our focus in the group is lifting one another, cheering successes and being there for one another. They are as real to me as any of my off screen friends and in some instances, they have become off screen friends as well.

Have you read a good book or magazine lately? I’m a person who can lose herself in a good book, which is why I usually only read fiction during the summer when I can stay up late if the book get juicy and intriguing. Whether you like romance or thrillers, you can find solace in a book. Don’t have time for that? Read to your children if you have them and act like the characters. Let them pick a character and as you read, have them act out the book. Do it while eating and you have dinner and a show.

How are you breathing? Do you take full, energizing breaths or is your breathing shallow and nearly nonexistent? Just the act of taking several full breaths can change your body chemistry as you bring more oxygen to your lungs. Add meditation to that and you’ve really got a recipe for positive change. Don’t think you can meditate? I assure you that you can. I used to think that I couldn’t turn off my thoughts long enough to meditate, but I found out I don’t have to. In the beginning, I used to meditate with a pad of paper and a pen by my side so I could write down important thoughts. I needed music with no words to shut out all of the natural but distracting sounds in my house. I found breathing to be difficult because I was so focused on doing it “right”, but eventually, I realized that meditation is as individual as prayer. Whatever works for you is the best way to meditate. Whether it’s guided or not, with music or not, with or without shoes, cross legged or lying in a hammock, if it settles your mind, it is the right way to meditate for you, and I recommend it highly. Seriously people; you can find countless helpful videos on YouTube. Do it.

One of my favorite ways to get out of a funk is to do something nice for someone else. Nothing lifts you up like lifting someone else. Because I am a writer, I often write notes to people thanking them for a kindness or just to let them know I’m thinking about them. I’ve even been known to write to someone about a kindness they did for me years ago that they may have forgotten about that still makes me smile. I think sometimes that might even be a greater gift for us both. I love to buy flowers and share them, bake cookies or even pay for a meal at the drive through, and if you want a big lift, donate in person to a homeless shelter, battered women’s shelter or food pantry. It will do two things. It will help those in need, and it will help you to more clearly see how blessed you are. Counting those blessings, by the way, is also a great way to lift yourself up. A gratitude journal can change the way you think and how you look at each day. Instead of looking at what’s wrong in your life, you begin looking for ways to be thankful and trust me that is a much better way to live.

With the holidays approaching, I know the ever building calendar commitments can be a huge source of stress for some. I have some thoughts on calendars. First, I couldn’t exist without one. My calendar keeps me sane, but when it becomes overrun with commitments, it can cause stress just by looking at it. When that point comes, I know it’s time for a family meeting. When all my children were home, we had a family meeting every Sunday after dinner to discuss the upcoming week. My kids were not always happy about it, but it gave us a chance to connect and get on the same page with transportation, who would be home for dinner on which nights and who needed help with different commitments. Those family meetings were a life saver and helped us all to have a better week. One of the most important issues, though, is being able to take things off of the calendar. I know several people who are completely stressed out by their calendar because they think they have to do everything on it. You don’t. Remember, we’re talking about lifting our moods and attitudes. For me, one of the most difficult things is saying no to a party or social engagement, but occasionally I do. My husband isn’t as social and needs his down time. I respect that and give up a party here and there because I love him more than I love a good party. It took him years to be able to understand that and he would go along and not really enjoy himself. Now, if I really want to go and he doesn’t, I go by myself. I give him is space and I am truthful when I say he had another commitment, which is to spend time alone to lift his mood and attitude. Occasionally, he will drop me off and pick me up from those social engagements, which have added bonuses. I don’t have to find a place to park and walk through the parking lot or dark street by myself and he feels like he is taking great care of me, which he is.

Keeping a close watch over what you take in can be huge in your journey back to happy. What you watch and read, listen to and ingest physically all matter. I quit watching the news years ago, but somehow I still manage to know what’s going on in the world. As a matter of fact, I believe I’ve become a more discerning person because I don’t watch any one news show and think they have all the facts. I’ve learned that media outlets decide what’s news and for some reason, people have forgotten that there are thousands of stories out there that don’t make the evening news. Who are you listening to? I have found that listening to uplifting people and spending my time on positive pursuits has changed everything for me. I used to worry about who the President would be, but in the last 20 years, we have thrived no matter who is in the White House. We’ve stopped making our peace dependent upon who is in Congress. Yes we still follow what’s happening, but we do it from a distance, not from sensational news that is blasted 24 hours per day. I’ve been drinking water for years now with some tea thrown in for good measure. I am eating healthier for me and loving how I feel when I do. Like movement, what works for one may not work for another, but it’s always fun for me to try something new and see how it works for me because learning is one of the greatest ways for me to change my mood.

Learning, especially about myself and spiritual matters, is one of my greatest personal joys. I am happiest when I am learning and growing. One of the greatest things I learned is that words matter and the better we choose our words, the better we feel about life. Learning to change the voice inside my head has been part of my entire adult journey. We all have that voice, and it tells us who we are. It tells us we are fat and lazy or it tells us we are beloved by the Divine. Taming that voice is a fantastic achievement and one I’m still working on, but as I get better at taming my own inner voice, I find that I get better at encouraging, coaching and cheering on others. One of the most powerful ways I learned to tame the inner critic was to start choosing how to live. In the United States, we have a choice of how to live. I know that doesn’t exist everywhere, but it does in my life and my country for the most part. That amount of freedom is so amazing because some people choose to live in mental bondage. They choose to become victims. I got tired of the opinions of others guiding how I live, so I changed the game. Specifically, I chose to get rid of the words “need”, “have to” and “should”, and it changed my life in more ways than you can imagine. Instead I now choose how to live every day. It was amazing how my view of laundry changed when I chose to do it instead of needing to do it. The piles got smaller and eventually disappeared, and even when they occasionally pop up again, I choose to make a plan rather than gripe about what I have to do. Even taxes got easier, which was something both my husband and I detested doing in the past. We choose to do our taxes because we get money back and that is a wonderful thing. We get excited about Turbo Tax, our preferred tax program, releasing their latest edition in January because we can get our taxes done and get our money sooner. Ironically, we also keep better track of things through the year, which makes filling out the forms even easier. Yes, it’s geeky, but changing the words changed the feeling and ultimately improved our actions and our attitudes. If I could have people do just one thing to improve their attitude it would be to change what they say. Would you tell your child to get off their fat butt? Would you tell your best friend how stupid they are because they left a load of laundry in the washer? Would you look at your favorite child in the world and tell them how ugly they are? I certainly hope not. Guess what? If you have children or a caring spouse, they don’t care about the size of your butt. They care about the condition of your heart, literally and figuratively. If you have any friends at all, they don’t care if you mess up now and then. Give yourself the grace you would give them. If you’re feeling ugly and stupid and worthless and depressed and it isn’t bad enough to see a doctor, listen to me when I tell you that you are a beloved child of the Divine. You are a miracle of life, and you have a purpose much greater than the funk you are in. The funk, depression and downward spiral are liars and tell you things that are untrue. You have light inside you and no amount of darkness can snuff out the light of a single match. Find another light, even if it is a small one and hang onto one another. If you don’t have one, come to me and I’ll do what I can. You are amazing. You are special. You are meant for greater than this. I thank you for being you and have a great day.

Tell a Different Story

3 Sep

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We all get stuck now and then and when we do, we tend to use those moments of stress to reinforce the stories we tell ourselves, usually in a negative way. We can eat healthy food and exercise for several days in a row and then blow it out on a weekend and convince ourselves we have no self-discipline. We can take care of our homes and clear some clutter then get distracted for a few days by life and beat ourselves up about the condition of our living space and tell ourselves what losers we are. Have you ever said any of these things to yourself?

I just can’t get organized.
I don’t have any willpower.
I’m just lazy
I’ve always been messy.
I’m such a loser.
I’m so stupid.
What’s wrong with me?
I suck.
I’m worthless.
I’m not a morning person.
I hate laundry, washing dishes, etc
My spouse won’t let me.
If my kids weren’t so messy…
If my kids would just behave…

The list could go on and on, and I’m sure everyone could add more than a few to this list, but why do we say or think these things? I’m sure we would all say because it’s true, but I would be willing to bet that at some point someone else put that idea in your head and you decided to believe them. Maybe you were just a little tyke when someone said something to you, but you’ve based your view of yourself on someone else’s opinion of you. In truth, nearly everything you think about yourself is based on what others think of you. Isn’t that an amazing concept to think about? The sad part is that most of us were raised and surrounded by damaged people who were raised and surrounded by damaged people. We have become the product of those fractured pieces of humanity and their opinions.

In addition, all through our lives we encounter other damaged human products in the form of teachers, friends, enemies and bullies. I was halfway through 2nd grade when we moved to a new school district. One boy in my new class decided to make me the target of his unhappiness in life. He made fun of me for being smart, for wearing glasses and for how I looked in general. He decided to nickname me bird because he said my nose looked like a beak. My heart breaks for my seven year old self when I think about not only what he said, but the reaction of the adults in my life regarding the incident. Back in my day, we were told to ignore the bully (impossible), to say sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me (big fat lie) or worst of all, he probably likes you and just doesn’t’ know how to show it. Ack!!! And we wonder how women end up in abusive relationships. That boy’s actions did more to destroy my self-esteem that anything else up to that point. So much of what I thought about myself was created by that boy; because I believed what he said must be true. Not once did anyone tell me that what he said was a lie. It wasn’t until many years later that I began to tell a different story about what happened to me in 2nd grade.

I had forgotten about Brian, my second grade bully, until I was doing some spiritual work that asked you to find the origin of some of your negative beliefs about yourself. It was then, through some journaling, that I remembered Brian and the impact he had on my life. I was stunned at first that something so long ago and seemingly forgotten was such a big part of how I thought about myself. Then I got angry, at Brian for how he treated me and at the adults in my life for shrugging it off. I let go of a bunch of rage, and it was cathartic, but that was just the beginning. Over the years I’ve learned many things from my encounter with Brian.

It took a while, but I figured out how badly this young boy must have felt about himself; this boy who spent nearly all of 2nd grade behind the giant flip charts in our classroom. I can clearly see how a new girl in class who was eager to learn, who loved school, who wanted to be smart and please the teacher would be the perfect target for a boy who didn’t like school, who had no problem and maybe even enjoyed displeasing the teacher. I believe, now, that Brian craved connection and for him, even negative attention was connection of some kind. Many of my teacher friends have shared the quote that children who need the most love often show it in the most unloving ways. I believe Brian was one of those children, and I now grieve for what he needed and didn’t get, from me or from anyone else I would guess. I have forgiven Brian over and over again as I realize how many of my negative thoughts and emotions are tied to my time with him. I’ve forgiven myself too for hating him, for returning his anger with some cruel thoughts and words of my own and even for feeling relief rather than sadness when Brian was killed in a single driver accident when we were in high school.

These days, I tell a different story about Brian. Instead of being angry and bitter about a boy who was unkind to me, I use Brian to help me forgive those who are unkind to others, especially those I care about. Just this week, someone was unkind to one of my children and my first thought was revenge. I thought about the many ways I could make life miserable for that person, but after thinking it over, I realized my son had learned some valuable life lessons, not the least of which is how much he can count on me to be there for him. It is the story we are choosing to focus on, and it is helping us to move passed the situation very quickly.

Remember the list of negative things I mentioned before? What if we changed them to begin to help everyone live better and look at themselves with a kinder eye?

What if “I can’t get organized” becomes I am learning every day how to live a better life for myself and my family?
“I have no willpower” and “I’m just lazy” can become I am learning to live my highest calling every day.
“I’ve always been messy” becomes I love my home and am taking better care of it daily.
“I’m such a loser” transforms into every day above ground is a successful one.
“What’s wrong with me?” turns into how can I become a better version of myself?
“I’m so stupid” changes to I learn something new every day.
“I suck” and “I’m worthless” are replaced by I do my best daily and that is good enough.
“I’m not a morning person” can slowly transform into I am learning to appreciate every part of every day.
“My spouse won’t let me” evolves into I choose every day how I live my life. If you believe this isn’t true for you, I suggest you get counseling or you get out. From previous life experience, I would suggest you get counseling if you have given that control over to someone else and don’t know how to take it back. If you feel afraid to even think about taking control of your life back, I suggest you get out as quickly as possible. This one is near and dear to my heart because I have seen so many women waste away in unhealthy relationships that become only about what the man wants. Please get help if that’s where you are.
“If my kids weren’t so messy” or “If my kids would just behave” turns into I am becoming my children’s best role model.

You get what I’m saying. You can turn your life around and just because you say these things, your life will not magically change into everything you ever wanted it to be, but it’s a start. The irony is that the story doesn’t change at all because you don’t deny anything that happens or happened. Instead, you change because you take the lessons from the story and use it to empower yourself rather than imprison yourself. In essence, you set yourself free.

I’m doing that right now with my ADD. I’ve never been formally diagnosed but as I learned about ADD and ADHD after my son was diagnosed 8 years ago, I realized that apple didn’t fall far from the tree. The difference between us was that I loved school and he doesn’t, and since only hyper boys with emotional issues were diagnosed when I was a child, I was relegated to the ranks of being scatter brained and flighty. I learned and coped and eventually found systems that helped immensely. Then, I went through menopause and things got nutty. I still keep a clean and mostly tidy house, but it seems to take more energy. I started to berate myself for backsliding and trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me. Through my own research, I found out that some women with ADD see changes after menopause. Apparently, the hormonal changes can affect some of the symptoms. I’ve never been medicated for ADD because pharmaceuticals and I have a bad history but I was almost ready to dive into the pharmaceutical world to see if they could help me. I was feeling overwhelmed and cynical and defeated when I found a more holistic approach to helping those with ADD. I am just beginning to look through the extensive program and I’m excited to give their approach a try. I’ll let you know how it goes, but it is already taught me to look at that story a little differently. In fact, it’s helping me tell a completely different story about myself because I’m seeing how my weight and my clutter are attached to my ADD. I’m realizing I’m not as lazy as I think I am. I am also realizing that I do fairly well at life, but as I get older, keeping it all together is getting to be more of a challenge, which shows me that can happen for my son too. The most exciting part, though, is that we now have some tools which can help us create and then tell a better story for our lives, and that is what I would challenge everyone to do. Search out the tools that will help you tell a different and better story. Get counseling if you need it. Find resources online, through your library or through retail sources if you need to. Everyone loves free resources, but trust me, if you pay what I did for this program about ADD, you will look it over thoroughly, just to get your money’s worth. That’s kind of what I’m hoping to get out of it as well. I’m hoping to get my money’s worth and to improve my life and the life of my son. I’m hoping he can tell a different story about how well he does in school. I’m hoping I can tell a different story about how I take care of my family. If not, I’ll keep looking because I know the story I want to tell and just knowing that keeps me moving forward.

I hope you know the story you want to tell about your life. I hope that story is deeply intertwined with your highest purpose. If not, get to it so we can all live better daily. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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