Panic or OK? Mind Over Matter!

Panic or OK? Mind Over Matter!

I had dental work done last week. I generally don’t like going to the dentist. I don’t like poking, scraping, prodding or pain. After the dreaded shot of novocain, the back of my throat felt like it was swelling to the point where I thought I couldn’t breathe. I was not having an allergic reaction but my mind was telling me to panic. I could feel it starting to take over. Then I remembered to think this through. If I didn’t focus on the swelling sensation, I could take a deep breath through my nose. I put my hand on my stomach and began to take slow, easy, relaxing breaths. I told myself, “You can breathe. You are OK.” The swelling sensation was still there but as long as I kept my focus on “You are OK” then I was OK.
human_mindOur mind is so powerful but we don’t often spend time thinking about how much control we actually have over it. It’s a potent weapon that, when unchecked, can cause devastating damage; however, when we learn how to manage its potency we become Jedi masters (not like we can make things move with our mind but you get the reference!). We can stop intrusive, unhealthy thoughts. We can shift our focus from grumbling to appreciation. We can recognize and live out our own freedom. Life is full and rich and satisfying when we use our brain’s influence for us, not against!

The Misery of Growth!

I heard a quote generally attributed to James A. Garfield from a friend recently, “The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable.” Prior to my journey into my own emotional healing and understanding the lies I had been believing about myself and others, I would not have resonated with this at all. When we delve into the world of understanding and healing our reactions to situations and people, we go through a season when it is as though we are falling apart at the seams. In my journey, I learned my once useful coping strategies were unhealthy and I knew I didn’t really want to stay that way. At times I felt devastated. I can remember sitting in deep despair and wanting to quit. I was a mess!
I’m not finished with my healing process. I will be in this journey for as long as I am breathing and I know first hand it is worth it. At some point I turned a corner and had positive experiences of emotional health and connectedness. Seeing myself change and reaping the reward compelled me to keep moving forward. This doesn’t mean the journey is easy now. The dynamic nature of life and a commitment to growth are anything but boring and stagnant. I regularly encounter challenging situations that show me new areas where I can work on my skills. I get frustrated sometimes but in the end, I realize I am free and I will never go back to being a captive of lies!

Facebook Blues

I often hear from people who, after perusing Facebook, begin to feel down about themselves and the status of their lives. This is typically a result of seeing your friends in all their shiny glory. People often post the really awesome, fun, exciting, happy moments in their life. The Instagram or Facebook post is just a snapshot of a person’s life; it is not a representation of the whole picture. It is a glimpse of a moment. A moment that peeked within them the desire to let others in on it. It’s possible in the moments just before or just after the one moment you get to see, all hell was breaking loose. Perhaps the day started out with a low but somewhere in all the moments that make up a day, something that felt good happened and rather than share the low, the person chooses to share the good.
You know what I’m talking about because, if you are a Facebook user, you have done this and guess what? It’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with sharing these sweet glimpses of your life. Keep it all in perspective when you are the viewer of other’s posts. Every person on this planet has good moments and bad moments. Some may choose to only see the bad or on the flip side, only see the good. Both views are out of balance.
When you begin to slip into the Facebook Blues because everyone’s life seems so much better than yours, catch yourself. Say STOP! And remember the truth: no one’s life is all good or all bad. Although you may be feeling down at that moment because you are thinking that everyone else’s life is better than yours remind yourself that your emotion is following your thoughts. The emotion does not deserve to be in the front seat driving your life. In this space, notice the sadness or looming depression and remind yourself you have good and bad. All people have good and bad. The shiny isn’t all there is. Deep breath in, deep breath out…close out your Facebook session and go do something that makes you feel good (it must be healthy, wise and legal!) 🙂

Inside Out Is Right Side Up

I saw the new Pixar movie, Inside Out with my daughters the other day. They were by far the oldest children with their parents. At 23 and 22 it’s still fun to hang out with them! I thoroughly enjoyed the movie…ok there were a few moments where I thought it was dragging but they had to give us our money’s worth I suppose. So much of what I explain to my clients about the value of all of our emotions was right there on the big screen with color and animation rather than abstractly defined. The movie also clearly displays the importance of sadness in creating healing, connection with others and staying integrated internally.
I think I’ll add watching this movie to my homework assignments! 🙂

The Irrational Thought – Part II

This is a continuation of last week’s post, The Irrational Thought – Part I. Sometimes letting go of our irrational thoughts and attached emotion is the best approach and sometimes allowing the thought and emotion to be a catalyst toward change is a direction we want to go. Last week we looked at acceptance and letting go of irrational thoughts and emotions. This post will focus on the times when you want to process the thought and emotion. The irrational thought and accompanying emotion I hypothesized were: No one likes me and I’m feeling sad. Ideally, acceptance is still the first step. Acknowledge what you are thinking and feeling. Remove judgment. At this stage you are simply letting the thought and emotion be what they are. Accept what you are thinking and feeling.
Once you have accepted the thought and emotion ask yourself if there is something you want to do with it? Do you want to look at it from a “what can I learn from this” approach? First you must find out if there is any validity to the thought. It is not wise nor useful to process entirely irrational thoughts. So use the first step to determine if there is any truth to the thought. Your dialogue might look like this: “So I’m feeling sad about my thought that people don’t like me.” Maybe one person said something to you or someone seemed to ignore you and you decided no one likes you. Ask yourself what evidence you have to support your thought. Evidence must be irrefutable, the kind that is admissible in a court of law. No assumptions, just facts. Thinking a person ignored you is not a fact to support they don’t like you. All you know is you weren’t acknowledged. You aren’t inside the person so you don’t even know if they heard or saw you (even if you thought they were looking at you). Did you audibly hear the words, “I don’t like you” or some variation that explicitly states the person’s dislike of you? If you haven’t heard those words, what is your proof that no one likes you? Is it because you are alone most of the time and don’t have very many friends? That isn’t a fact that no one likes you. The fact is: you don’t have as many friends as you would like. Now you are dealing with a rational thought. This is something you can process.
Identify the emotion that goes with the now rational thought. Perhaps it is still sadness. Go through the process of accepting the rational thought: I don’t have as many friends as I would like and the accompanying emotion of sadness. Accept that you are thinking this and feeling this way. No judgement, no snowballing just acceptance. After acceptance, you can process this but, you are going to have to wait until next week because I’m breaking this up into several parts…it’s easier to digest this way 🙂