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Waiting for heroes

3 Jan

It is the new year, 2012, and many of us have made resolutions and promises to ourselves in hopes to make this year better than the last.  We set weight loss goals and money management goals, and we hope that the small things we have added or taken away from our new lives in the new year help us get closer to our happy; our optimum selves.  Of course by mid-February most people have abandoned those New Years resolutions and have settled back into the old ways of yesteryear that feel more comfortable than a pair of worn in blue jeans.  It just was not happening fast enough.  It was not coming quick enough and even given the sacrifice the difference was not great enough to warrant any further self-deprivation.

But wait…last December were we not absolutely positive, without a shadow of a doubt that having more of this and less of that would ensure us a chance to dance in the sunshine that is joy?  That if we just lost that one bad friend, good friendships would come our way…that if we just lost 15lbs we would feel better about ourselves…that if we had 1000 more dollars in the bank we would feel more accomplished and successful…the list could go on and on.  But the truth is, that until we are happy right where we are (with what we have) nothing that we gain or lose is going to get us any closer to joy.  How novel it would be if one thing or even a recipe of things could lead to satiation–supreme contentment.

In a letter to Oprah, Marianne Williamson wrote: “Until you accept the magnitude of your function, your unconscious mind will sabotage any attempt to show your full magnificence. In fact, if you diet and lose weight, your mind will either put the weight back on or trip up in some other area. In order to lose weight on a permanent basis, you want a shift in your belief about who and what you are. This is the miracle you seek.” But this is not just about losing weight, it is about anything or being we feel is going to push us from unhappy to its opposite.  We find so much frustration because our expectations far surpassed that of our realities.  We put all our eggs in one basket and then when it never comes we feel this an array of emotions: discouragement at having tried, incompetence at having failed, and anger at having disappointed ourselves.  How foolish we ever were to wait for superman?

The thing is, we have to be our own superheroes. We have to accept that the only person capable of saving us IS us.  Some may argue that that savior may be the savior in the spiritual sense and I do not entirely disagree; I simply believe that He exists in all of us and that our divine selves will be the ones that carries us through turmoil into triumph.  There is no need, then, to wait because I am always with me.  My growing impatient, my frustration, my anger, my incompetence comes from my thinking that happiness looks like _______.  When I rely on internal guidance and listen to my inner being the need to have more or less dissipates and I become enough, I have enough. As Marianne so eloquently stated, until I see the magnitude of my function, meaning until I accept that I am much more than my weight, my clothes, my bank account, my car, my house, etc.  I will continually be disappointed.  It will never be enough.  And so my new years resolution has become simply this:

I resolve to become more intimate with God (and specifically the God that dwells within me). From that the rest will take care of itself.

 

 

The Truth about Truth

22 May
  1. Be Present
  2. Tell the truth
  3. Let go of the consequences of telling the truth

I will carry with me these lessons for as long as I live, because with them comes a profound sense of freedom and power.  They fit together to give you everything you need to get through.  Consider the first, be present.  You have to be in the now to know what’s going on.  Being present can be especially hard when times are tough.  We tend not to like pain, discomfort, hurt, loneliness, anger, etc. but get used to it.  Don’t make it your home, but acknowledge its existence and its current presence in you.  Do not be afraid to say “I’m scared,” or “I’m lonely,” if you are, then you are.  Until you acknowledge it you can’t begin to change it.

Tell the truth.  Whatever it is, if its true for you at this moment this it is the truth and it deserves attention.  Sometimes we berate ourselves and tell ourselves that we shouldn’t be sad/angry/hurt, but you are!  It does not mean you have to stay that way.  In a relationship sometimes we feel some of our concerns are minuscule or trifles, but no! If we feel it then it is worth addressing.  Tell the truth, and start by telling it to yourself.

Let go of the consequences of telling the truth because you can’t control things.  You can not control life.  Things work as they should, not as we would have them, sometimes the two align, sometimes they don’t.  If someone gets upset  by you telling the truth. SO WHAT. Sit with that feeling, and explore it.  Are you regretting telling the truth, or are you simply upset someone is hurting because of it? Its okay to feel sympathy, but don’t apologize for speaking your truth.  I say things in my blogs all the time that are my personal truths.  Sometimes friends and/or family read it and take offense to it, and I tell them I’m sorry you were hurt by what I said, malice is never my intent.  But I never apologize for writing.  This place is essentially where I talk to myself out loud for the world to hear, and I will not apologize for it.  Let go of consequence.

The truth about truth is its addictive.  Once you get a taste of it, you want more.  You seek it out in yourself and you seek it out in other people.  You want to acknowledge it whenever you can because it feels so good to just be honest.

Keeping what’s yours

2 May

Things happen. Things that are often beyond our control. Things that can hurt, things that can harm, things that bring sadness into our lives and the lives of our loved ones. What are we supposed to do with all those things we don’t want?
Saturday afternoon I was over the moon elated; graduation was but a mere week away, my plans were set firmly in place and I now had everything that I needed for the following weekend. Saturday night, however, here come the things. Bad things came, and invited over their friends worrysome things who showed up with irrational things. None of which were welcomed in my home, so what did I do? I chose not to entertain them. I’m not sure if this is what some people might refer to as having victory over a situation or not, but I feel victorious. Being an emotional person and a being that cares very deeply about…well everyone, I usually ingest other people’s hurt. I take in the bad things and all their +1s allowing my happiness to play host to destruction. No more. Yesterday I kept repeating my mantra: “Breathe. Yield to God, always. Answer with love. Remember your purpose is written, as are all things.” Over and over again I said these words and took deep breaths, exhaling out every Thing I did not claim as my own.
I am not numb to the hurt, I feel it, but I refuse to take refuge in it. Where would my joy go? Would I give away my smile to appease a tear? Not when that tear does not belong to me. The Things that happened, they are not my Things and I, for once in my life, did not let them become mine. There’s a line in Ntozake Shange’s chorepoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Was Enough that says “now you cant have me less i give me away”. I believe that to be something of a gospel. A warning to all the Things.
I am mine.

Inspiration and Infinity

18 Apr

Lately I’ve had a sort of love affair with dandelions. They have become symbolic for both the most beautiful and the most terrifying things in life; possibilities. I remember being a kid and thinking they were the most beautiful things, up until someone told me they were weeds. Disgusting that someone’s bitter “reality” has to taint a child’s vision.

I had lunch with a friend of mine recently and in speaking at the time quite literally she said, “I’m afraid to dream.” It felt like a thunder clap went off in my head. I was blown away at the depth of such a statement, that I had to redirect our conversation back to it. I called her attention back to what I felt was monumentally insightful, but I’m not sure she saw it the same way. It stayed with me all weekend and nagged me enough to where I finally had to write about it…being afraid to dream. For many of us, self included at some point in time, there is nothing more scary than possibility. To say it out loud doesn’t it sound like such a silly thing?

What if I fail? (What if you succeed?)

What if my heart gets broken? (What if you fall in love?)

What if I hate it? (What if you don’t?)

We talk ourselves out of the most beautiful journeys by siding with fear and doubt. I see us as dandelions. We are filled with possibility and if we ignore the world (who believes us to be weeds) and go with the wind, we find ourselves in the most beautiful of places, experiencing the most amazing things. I am not responsible for living up to other people’s expectations of me. When I find myself saying “I can’t” I make myself answer “Why not.” Who says? Who is setting the rules for my life? If it is anyone other than me, then they’re wrong. And what if it is me? What if I am limiting myself ? I’ll tell you this much…being “realistic” is the quickest road to mediocrity I know.

At one point in my life, I too was afraid to dream. I was terrified of the things that I was capable of, and of what people would think of me, what family would think of me, and of failure. Something funny happened when I stopped entertaining doubt; I am not sure if things stopped being so scary, or if I simply got braver, but I will say that things have unfolded quite nicely.

So my message to you, whomever comes across these words today, tomorow and the next day is to live your life limitless. Do not be afraid to dream because that is where brilliance is conceived. Someone fabulous once said, “I constantly remind myself that in order to be who I am called to be I have to let go of who I think I am.” My friend (another friend from lunch) affirmed that. There is no prototype for success, or guideline of perfection. We define those, and if you don’t fit into your own definition then CHANGE IT! The power we have over our own lives is astounding, and we choose to ignore it because then that would mean accepting the fact that we are also responsible for our own misery. You do not have to be miserable. Nothing is stopping you except for you.

28 Days to a Better Me

13 Apr

After reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I got inspired to do a challenge. I picked 28 days instead of 30 because its divisible by 7, non math people just nod and smile. Anyway, I’m opening the challenge up to all my blogger friends and hope that they will try it with me. I’ve been doing something like it in my class already so now I’ll just condense it a bit. You can write about your experience every day or you can write only on day 4…take your pick! Habits 1,2,and 3 are the foundation for private victories and integrity. Habits 4, 5, and 6 are the keys to public victories.

To read how I did on my own 28-day challenge click HERE!

Here are the guidelines:

Habit 1: Be Proactive–Get out of victimism – You’re not a victim of your circumstances.

Day 1: Think of something you want to change or improve.

-Day 2: Notice every time you find yourself wanting to indulge in your old behavior. (For ex. my improvement is patience and so when I find myself being impatient I do yoga breathing through it)

-Day 3: Think of a healthy, more desireable habit to replace your old habit with. (Like I do my yoga breathing, think of something that works for you!)

Day 4: How does it feel to begin to make changes in your life? How long have you been wanting to work at erasing this habit from your life?

Continue reading

Who comes first?

13 Apr

Think about the most important people in you life. The people who are your first priority, the ones you have to take care of, provide for, support, cherish, love, honor, and respect. Name those people aloud. Did you include yourself? If not…*smile*…

In my profession, self-care is drilled into us day after day, course after course. So naturally, after a while most people stop ingesting it. However, lets stop and really think of the importance. Realistically, I sit in a chair for hours every day listening to other people’s struggles, fears, and concerns. After a day filled with that how can you not take time to make sure that you are okay?

Self-care is not limited to the counseling profession, but to all great leaders. We cannot be effective if we are tired, stressed, worn, and unsupported. This semester, more so than any other, I have been forced to adhere to a stringent schedule. I also have to make sure to talk to my supervisors or people in my support system so that I am in a state of mind that is ready to counseling, mentor, and lead. How can I be expected to take care of someone else if I cannot even take care of myself? How long do you expect to take care of all those other people if you are neglecting yourself? You simply have to come first.

What is it that rejuvenate you? Is it prayer? Meditation? Walking? Exercise? Music? Writing? Reading? Whatever it is, do it!! You absolutely need time that is yours and yours alone, where you create a space to explore whatever it is you need to explore at that moment. It does not have to be for hours on end, it can be thirty minutes a day, wake up early or do it on your lunch break from work; take time for yourself!

*holds up hand* before you berate me with excuses as to why you cannot, think of where you are right now in your life. Reflect on the energy, time, dedication, and tenacity it took you to get there. Now think of how you felt on your journey so far; was it pleasant? Did you enjoy it? Or are you nowhere near where you want to be? Are you in the same place that you were in last year? THINK! Consider this, if you have not been taking care of yourself and you’ve gotten to where you are, think of how now-moving forward-and making yourself a priority things have the potential to be different.

We are so often impatient with ourselves. Forcing ourselves into changes, and mentally abusing ourselves for failures and stagnation. What do you think it would be like to instead tell yourself it is okay. You didn’t get the job and its okay. You missed a networking opportunity and its okay. You got passed up for the big promotion and its okay. What would it be like to be as lovingly supportive to yourself as you would be your partner, or your child, or whomever you hold dear?

I found a beautiful poem this morning called Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and in it he writes:

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

If you’re not putting yourself as a priority, how would you like to start? And if you are, what are the things that you’re doing?

No bad news

6 Apr

Don’t nobody bring me no bad news…

If only more people had this mindset, but the old saying is pretty dead on misery does love company.  In fact, misery is the ultimate party girl!  Keep me off that guest list please! Have you found it to be true that the more you have to celebrate the more, it seems, others have to complain about?  When you finally decide not to sweat the small stuff the entire world seems to fall into a fit of sorrow and dispair?  Then of course when you refuse to entertain the negativity, people want to know why you’re so happy and what it is you’re smiling about all the time.  Some might even get upset because you RSVP’d “no” to the pity party.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

The ugly ones wonder too.  Everybody does!  She must have a new man…She must have a new job…She must think she’s all that.  Well yes you’re right, I do! Why don’t you? You’re upset because I’m happy? I am truly sorry you feel that way *smile* but you could choose to be at any time.

People don’t want to hear that.  They don’t want to take responsibility for themselves.  They don’t want to own the fact that they are the key contributor to their own wretched lives and their own submission to misery.  No its their boss, their finaces, the government, their significant other, everybody in the world’s fault but theirs.  And that is okay.  You don’t have to preach the gospel of choosing joy over sorrow.  You don’t have to spread the word near nor far about how you refused to be burdened by angst.  You don’t have to tell a soul.  You just keep your song in your heart and hold fast to your peace.  Glide through life because you are not shackled with sadness, fear, and woe.  Let them hold that bad energy.  And when you meet someone who seems to be gliding as well, smile at them and wink because you are rare gems who need encouragement.

A friend of mine said that the choice (to be happy) is easier said than done. I agreed with her, and simply added, “but not impossible.”