#86 Stop Worrying

t is part of our flight or fight response and for that 8% of the time it acts like a warning system for our physical or emotional safety.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#86

Stop Worrying

Ok, I know… this is much easier said than done and yet, it may be one of the most elementary things you can do in order to live a happier, healthier, and more productive life. Worried thoughts create stress; stress produces Cortisol; too much stress hormone wreaks havoc on your body and spirit.

A few years back, a survey from Cornell University illustrated that 40% of the things we worry about actually never even happen! Thirty percent of the things we worry about are from the past and can’t be changed; 12% relate to other people and are therefore – none of our business; 10% relate to illness which, may or may not be real and that leaves 8%. Eight percent of the things we worry about are actually worth the energy spent; EIGHT PERCENT!

Historical precedent

Worry has been vital to the survival of the human species. It is part of our flight or fight response and for that 8% of the time it acts like a warning system for our physical or emotional safety. For that reason, we can’t ignore worry altogether.

Odds

One of the first questions I ask a client when we talk about what they’re worried about are the actual ‘odds’ of it happening. We discuss the possibility versus the probability. If it’s not actually probable… then strive to redirect or let it go. Anything is possible but many times, the things we worry about are literally, not probable.

Control

Based on the survey, 12% of the things we worry about are things that we have absolutely no control over because they are in the hands of another person (a family member getting home safely) and so it is often necessary to ask ourselves who controls the outcome of the thing we’re worried about. If the answer is anyone but ourselves… turn around and walk away from the worry. The key here is to trust that the people actually in control of the situation, have it in hand (like the pilot of an airplane).

Plan

For those things that are actually within our realm of our control, our worry is often mitigated with a plan. IF the thing we are worried about happens, it’s good to know how we’ll handle it. Generally I recommend a plan B as well… planning for contingencies is a good practice.

Mindfulness

Worry is most often about the past or the future and so learning how to stay deeply in the present moment will also mitigate much of the agony we experience when we feel concern. Mindfulness brings our attention to the ‘here and now’ – breaking the cycle of considering things too far from this point in time – in either direction.

In the best interest of your own physical and emotional health, take some of these suggestions and learn to…

Stop worrying.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#125 Eat Healthier

Instead of succumbing to the temptation of my olfactory inclinations, I make an effort to command control and convince myself that carrot sticks are sweet too.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#125

Eat Healthier

This sounds like a New Year’s resolution at first glance and yet it may be the cornerstone to actually living a happier, healthier, and more productive life. The concept is only new to you if you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of decades. Indeed, over that time, the Surgeon General and most of our health care practitioners, have touted the benefits of making healthier food choices while the average size of children and adults continues to escalate.

In our fast paced, modern world – the most basic element of survival has become more and more difficult to monitor. We are inundated with food choices almost everywhere we go. Even at my children’s orthodontist office – right next to the coffee pot (a valued added service) there are cookies, cake, or doughnuts ready to be gobbled up by waiting parents, siblings, and hungry kids ready for their after school snack.

Instead of picking an apple off the tree on a walk home from school, our children ride the bus around a corner and into a subdivision, get dropped off at the driveway and grab a processed rice krispy treat or a bag of Doritos before plopping on the sofa to play video games. Sadly, that morphs into a quick dinner with a ‘hurry up and eat’ before someone has to be somewhere more evenings a week than not. It’s the ‘way of the world’ these days and we are all guilty at some point of wanting and making meals to be quick and easy regardless of how healthy they are.

It is beginning to change with healthier options on menus everywhere yet our size continues to grow. In part, because even though we have options – we don’t choose them enough of the time for it to make an impact. Consequently, grocery stores still sell the processed stuff; restaurants still offer the 2000 calorie burger & fries, and deep fried Snicker bars are sold by the thousands at every fair/carnival around the country – because we keep buying them!!

In the interest of honesty I must disclose that I too, cave to the pressure – the smells – and the flavors that tempt and tease me. I can definitely commit to making more consistent healthier choices. In talking with clients who are challenged here as well, the common similarity is that we lack will power. It’s challenging to walk into a mall where Cinnabon has just finished baking a tray of toaster sized rolls. The air is pungent with the smell of cinnamon and yeast. A glance in that direction identifies the source and one can hardly ignore that they are frosted with a decadent amount of cream cheese sugary goodness – so much so that if you’ve ever tasted it – and love it – your mouth instantly begins craving another fix.  ONE classic bun touts 880 calories and the equivalent of 15 spoonfuls of sugar. Would you sit down and shovel 15 teaspoons of sugar into you mouth on purpose??

Instead of succumbing to the temptation of my olfactory inclinations, I make an effort to command control and convince myself that carrot sticks are sweet too. I then seek an eating establishment that offers ‘fresh’ non-processed options and each time I sit down to eat or stroll through the grocery store I make another concerted effort to…

Eat healthier.

(P.S. – Breaking an addiction to sugar is perhaps the most important part of eating healthier – it makes everything else taste better!)

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#208 Reflect Honestly

When we are hiding from what is real, we are unable to demonstrate our most authentic self; to feel our absolute best.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#208

Reflect Honestly

Survival

I’ve encountered a lot of people who prioritize truth telling yet lie to themselves. If we are attempting to live our best possible life, it’s important to self reflect with complete honesty. We avoid the truth because it may induce feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment; none of which feel good. We conjure stories about our lives that help us cope with living them – sometimes regardless of whether or not it’ a reflection of what is real. We create subjective narratives for emotional survival.

Objective View

One way to access our life honestly is to step back from it and view it as if it is a stage play with players you don’t know or perhaps a television show with characters that are not emotionally attached to you. If your life was a television show – would you watch it? Would you be screaming at the screen trying to tell one of the characters something? Would you be disgusted and turn it off? How would you rewrite the script?

Sometimes taking this perspective means seeing things we don’t want to see. It means we may need to make a change that we don’t feel prepared for or equipped to make. It means accepting that what we wanted, may not happen or what we believed, is actually false.

Support

If you believe you have been avoiding a compelling truth in your life, garner a support system be it another family member, a trusted friend, or a counseling professional and begin the unraveling of what is true. Sometimes it’s a simple effort; at others, it’s more complicated because one lie often begets another and they become convoluted and woven into reality. It may take time and patience to see yourself in well focused light.

As a professional, I often find myself in the position of helping people in this manner and one of the distinctions is aiding clients in understanding the difference between ‘who’ they are and ‘what’ they do… one is personality and the other, behavior. Clarity may take time but the benefit is authenticity.

Authentic Self

Authenticity is not possible without truth. When we are hiding from what is real, we are unable to demonstrate our most authentic self; to feel our absolute best. There is great freedom in living only from a truth place. It’s the origin of true happiness and possible only when we …

Reflect honestly.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Decisions

My goal was to stay focused on love. I knew that was the most important decision I could make for myself and for my future.

Continued from Soulful Expedition

“By your decisions, you paint a portrait of Who You Are” –Neale Donald Walsch

The entire year of 2005 felt disjointed… I vacillated between believing that I was making a good decision and wanting everything to go back to the way it was – well, not really… I wanted it to be the way I wanted it to be. I didn’t want what I had but I did want all of the things that we had dreamt about. I didn’t make those dreams by myself. Hubby was right there, using his own paintbrush to create the portrait of our lives together. I thought we had been painting on the same canvas, using the same colors, and sharing a muse.

Existing in the same environment was unbelievably difficult. It fostered an obscure sense of hope during those moments that were like a transparency overlay of ‘normal’ on the reality we were living. I knew when Hubby didn’t come home at night and I couldn’t help but wonder where he was or who he was with. Even though I didn’t want that mania in my life, I didn’t want to be without it – another conundrum that fought to root in my mind. I just couldn’t get myself to a place where I didn’t care.  In many ways, it was like a slow, excruciating, painful death… seemingly absent of an endpoint.

Frank graduated from college in May that year and I made arrangements to take the girls. I had booked the hotel room six months in advance and shared the location with family so I was surrounded by love as Hubby and I shared the first major life event since decision day, partitioned from one another. We had agreed that we would attempt to ‘co-parent’ effectively right from the beginning but this was our first ‘major’ test. We would have to take pictures that Frank could look at for the remainder of his life – a celebration for him – somewhat tortuous for us as we understood the completeness, the totality of the end of our marriage. And yet, we struggled to believe it.

We would occasionally discuss a reconciliation but I had learned how to establish boundaries of steel. Actually, my boundaries by then were made of vertical steel columns and horizontal I-beams… the kind you find in skyscrapers that keep them vertical regardless of violent summer storms. Those limitations included an exit strategy for Abee from our business and some kind of treatment initiative, a long-term – evidence based – plan to eliminate the potential for infidelity to ever again exist in our marriage. I was unwilling to budge from those two ‘deal breakers’. They were my ‘hard limits’ and they represented the dead end of every bridging conversation we attempted to have. He also had deal breakers.

Nevertheless, we continued to show up – separately – at swim meets, school, and scouting events but didn’t sit together. I wasn’t there yet. There were times when I could feel his eyes seeking mine but I refused to give in and glance back. I was insanely stubborn and unyielding, refusing to be flexible. This is the result of betrayal. It was the only way I knew to ‘fight back’ and the love I had for our children was bigger than the disdain I had for him. I put their interests first to the extent that it wasn’t complete and total disrespect of myself. I had finally learned to put self-respect first.

After being deceived by Hubby and Abee, our therapist fired them as clients but I still went. I was learning a lot about myself although I admit I was still a bit lost. I was directionless. I knew I wanted to share everything I was learning – about life, life lessons, love, God, spiritual growth, I knew there was a message there but I had no credentials other than my life and I was in the middle of some big stuff. I credited my therapist for being the map reader for me … helping me to lay it out and observe the roads, to help me decide on the destination and to plan the route there. I wanted to do that too… I decided that summer that I would become a therapist and was almost immediately dismayed at the expanse of the journey. Five years. I would be fifty. Shit. I felt defeated and bested. I was in the middle of a divorce; how could I make that happen?

Right after Frank graduated from college, I started. I was scared to death of Behavioral Statistics and even more so when this tiny, petite, old (really, she was 70 something) woman walked into the room wearing a full suit with a high collared blouse, buttoned to the top. It was 80 degrees outside and for some reason, there was no air-conditioning. She spoke in a low monotone voice and cleared her throat every 5th word. The chick behind me started texting a mile a minute (I could hear every button push) and I knew I was in trouble. Within a week, I understood that if I raised my hand, asked questions, and demonstrated (well-deserved) respect for my elders… It would all be ok. More than half the class had dropped but I survived. I got a B.  I was encouraged and so I registered for a full semester of Psychology classes, French, and Women’s Studies beginning in September. I had only a few months left before I became a full-time student.

I used that time to educate myself in a different way. I was more fortunate than many, many women like me… I owned half of a company that had some value. I was still married to a man who generated a healthy income and continued to pay the bills so I didn’t ‘have to’ work – not right then at least. I had to believe in divine direction because at any other time before, the circumstances were different, the resources less abundant, and so now… I had options. The timing of the reality provided the capacity for me – with much diligence – to investigate and navigate what would be in my (and the children’s) best interest. I was a hawk. My eyes and ears were everywhere from business evaluation to support allowances. I became an expert traversing Google; discovering resources and precedent for situations like mine and I waited.

With each passing day, I garnered strength. I used my support network, built new alliances, and got informed. I kept my finger on the pulse of the finances in our business and stood up for my rights as co-owner. I will comment again on how difficult it was to walk away from that part of me. The internal struggle to push through it and go to work even if it meant I had to be around Hubby and Abee versus letting go and observing it in action was at times, maddening. On the few occasions that I did drop in for one reason or another, it was like breaking through a barrier betrayal and disillusionment, like what football players do as they enter a stadium for a game rematch each week. I finally had to decide that constant exposure to such painful energy was simply unhealthy for me, keeping me tethered to the shadows of my soul. It was my first true experience of ‘letting go’ that I consciously practiced and it was laborious; a daily endeavor.

My goal was to stay focused on love. I knew that was the most important decision I could make for myself and for my future. I was tempted, so tempted to give in to my anger, my contempt, the humiliation, and sorrow… and occasionally I did, in the form of vile language directed at Hubby or the disparaging conversations I would have with friends or in my thoughts; my ugly thoughts. I am only human though and I knew that love was more dominate in my spirit and so I learned to forgive myself and to keep going.