Change

Expecting someone else to change is one of the biggest issues humans struggle with. Believing that someone else will change because of something you do or something you say or because of how you feel is one of the biggest causes of unhappiness with many people.

We believe that if we behave in certain ways the other people will be happier and will therefore change to give us what we think we need or want. If we serve all their needs then they must in return serve ours. If we allow them to treat us as doormats or even to abuse us emotionally, physically, or verbally and we do nothing, they will automatically read our minds and know what we need from them and give it to us. If we allow them time and space to work out their own issues at our expense, surely they will one day change because they love us. None of this is true. No one changes unless they want to change.

We think that if we give them everything, not just emotionally but materially. If we buy our kids or our partners everything they want, they will see how much we love them and will change. If we get married, then they will change. If we have children, then they will change. If we tell them how badly we feel, then they will change. If we do everything for them and nothing for ourselves, surely they will change. If we stay with them no matter how much we suffer, they will change. One day they will change. But they will not unless they want to. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make someone else change anything about themselves at their core.

The other punishment we give to ourselves is that when we realize they are not going to change, ever, and we get angry because they are not changing. It’s almost as if we can’t believe after all we have done, sacrificed, given, they aren’t changing. As if we truly believed they would. And it’s because we do believe it, we convince ourselves that it is true. And when it doesn’t happen we get mad about it and we start pushing back. The other person, who never intended to change, then gets mad that we are pushing back and not continuing to give them everything they want. And this is where relationships go sideways. When the person who isn’t changing is confronted by a person who is finally tired that they are not changing things get messy. As long as you are going along like someone else wants you to, they have no reason to be upset with you. They are getting everything they want and you are giving it to them.

If you find yourself in a relationship, any relationship, where you have convinced yourself the other person will change, you need to start looking at yourself and not them. Looking at them is a waste of time – they are not changing. So that only leaves you. You have to change. And you have to realize that if you change they will change – but the change will only be in how they react to you. They will blame you for their being angry about you not doing everything the same way you have always done FOR them. They will be angry that you expect better for yourself and that you are doing it to hurt them or that you don’t love them. They will be angry in exactly the same way as a 2 year old is angry when you have a toy they want and you won’t give it to them. It is no different.

The truly hard part will come when you have to make a decision about the relationship. It is almost always going to be extremely difficult because the other person will be your parent, your child, your partner, your friend. They will be people you love. They will be people you share your life with. But the decision is either you change and you start managing your own happiness or you stay in the same place and quit wishing for them to change and be miserable. It’s just that simple and that difficult. If you choose yourself, you may be upset and sad for a while at losing that relationship, but eventually you will be happier with yourself.

Change or stay the same – the choice is yours – not someone else’s.

Until next time,
Deborah

I am currently accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. For a Free initial consultation call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

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Free Your Mind

Most of the time, our minds are on automatic pilot. The every day activities we repeat over and over are done without thought. Even in the doing of them, we do not think about WHAT we are doing and HOW we are experiencing it. Have you ever been driving from place to place and you cannot remember anything about the drive – the other cars, buildings, signs, traffic signals? Taking a shower, eating, getting dressed, cleaning the house, cooking, being on electronics are just some of the examples of automatic pilot living. We do it, but we experience none of it.

The other way our minds exist most of the time is trapped in our own thoughts, especially negative thoughts. These are also automatic or they become automatic over time. They take up all the space in our minds and we have room for nothing else. We experience nothing in our daily lives outside of these thoughts. They keep our mind full and prevent us from being MINDFUL.

Mindfulness is not the absence of thought. Mindfulness is not a single thing such as meditation or breathing. Mindfulness is not a religion. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a particular way and doing it on purpose or by choice (action) in the right now (this moment) without making judgments. Paying attention in a particular way can be using breathing, muscle relaxation, grounding, eating, and many other ways. Doing it on purpose requires that a choice be made to do it and action done for the experience of it – a conscious effort. In the right now, is this moment in time, not backwards or forwards, now, this second. Not making judgments means that thoughts come and go, emotions come and go we do not hold on to them, we do not form judgments about them positive or negative, we notice them and we let them go.

Mindfulness does not have to be a time consuming process. But it does need to be done regularly. If you are mindful once a month, it will make little difference to your overall state of being. If you want to change certain things about your life, you must change what you do. Mindfulness can be incorporated every day, little by little, starting with a single automatic pilot activity. Change starts with a single choice, repeatedly done, until the change becomes our automatic way of being.

These links can help you get started with becoming more mindful, living in the present moment, and being less judgmental about yourself and your thoughts/feelings:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Grounding Techniques

1 Minute Mindfulness Exercises

Remember it is about being MINDFUL not MIND FULL.

Until next time,
Deborah

I am now accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation please call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

You Are My Sunshine

Living in the northern latitudes, such as Montana, means that we are exposed to far less sunshine than other parts of the United States. The lack of sunshine exposure especially in the winter months, with much shorter daylight hours and lots of cloudy, snowy days, we get a lot less Vitamin D than many of our southern neighbors.

Many studies have been done on this lack of Vitamin D and the connection to depression and depressive symptoms. Montana has a very high rate of depression and suicide and this can be one of the reasons why. It is not the only reason, but many of the people I have worked with over the last few years have been very deficient in Vitamin D. Some when having their blood work done, have found that they had almost NO Vitamin D in their bodies and all of them had depression and depressive symptoms.

One study Depression and Vitamin D Deficiency: Causality, Assessment, and Clinical Practice Implications talks about the various causes for this deficiency and ways of possible treatment. It lists many foods from which we can get Vitamin D and unfortunately many of them are not foods that a lot of the people I see eat, such as liver, sardines, tuna, salmon, swordfish. Other causes are insufficient sunlight and malabsorption diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and others.

Anyone can be Vitamin D deficient. The only way to know for sure is to have blood work tested. Correction can be made in several ways adding Vitamin D2 or D3 supplements daily, increasing certain foods in your diet, and getting sunlight either outside or by using a seasonal affective disorder light.

I am NOT saying that a Vitamin D deficiency is the ONLY cause of depression nor am I saying that taking Vitamin D will cure all depression or that anyone should take Vitamin D instead of prescription medications. I am saying it can be an additional cause of depression and depressive symptoms and in some people a significant cause depending on the level of deficiency. If it can help then it is a very easy and natural way to boost how we feel.

If you or someone you know living in northern areas of the country has depression and/or depressive symptoms, it may very well be worth the time to have some blood work done to see about Vitamin D deficiency. It could be of a great deal of help to know and then to work to reduce it.

Here are some other articles for the link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression:

Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?

Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression

Until next time,
Deborah

I am now accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. To set up a FREE initial consultation call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

Starting Point

Everything has a starting point. Everything including thoughts, beliefs, emotions. Everything starts somewhere.

When we say we have always been sad or angry for as long as we can remember. Or we say we have always been anxious, we do not generally associate it with a starting point. Always implies no starting point. It implies that we were born with these emotions, these thoughts, these beliefs we hold. That is simply not true. We are not born with these things, they occur at a later point and they occur because of something outside of ourselves.

We are born as a blank slate. We do not enter this world sad, angry, anxious believing any number of things we decide are true. It just doesn’t happen. We receive messages from outside forces – people, social media, TV, news, etc. We receive messages in the way people treat us – neglect, abuse, abandonment, words and actions. We receive messages from the things that happen in our lives due to other people – divorce, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, death. We receive messages from bullying. And then we form beliefs about ourselves because of these things and accept these beliefs as true. And we carry them for so long that we then think we have ALWAYS had them…that we were born this way.

Think carefully about when your emotions and/or beliefs started. Think very carefully. What was happening in your life at the time or what had happened around the time you first noticed these emotions or beliefs. Notice everything that was going on – everything. Write it down. Then look at it carefully and you will find your starting point. This is the place where therapy should begin. Addressing the starting point is like starting at the top of a waterfall, if you address the beginning it flows down to everything that comes after because it is ALL connected.

This doesn’t mean that just because your starting point came from something outside yourself that you can blame everything you have ever felt or done on someone else or something else. In fact, the truth is that it is always your choice what to do with any outside message. Do you let it go because it is not your truth or do you take it on and make it your reality? That is your choice. Everything you do after that is your choice. Everything.

Recognize your starting point and address that. Then recognize your choices that follow. Accept the responsibility for your choices. Let go of the starting point that was not yours. And then work through them. And yes it is work. You worked very hard to get where you are today at believing everything, you can work just as hard to stop believing it.

What is your TRUE starting point?

Until next time,
Deborah

I am currently accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. To set up a FREE Initial consultation call 406-413-9904 email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com or click the BOOK NOW button on Facebook

I Love Me

Over the last week with Valentine’s Day included I worked on an art therapy project with most all of my clients entitled I Love Me. Valentine’s is generally about someone else loving us or that we are loving someone else. It is almost never about loving ourselves.

In fact, loving ourselves isn’t something many of us do with any regularity. We are very good at not loving ourselves. When we look in the mirror, we almost always find faults with ourselves. Things we do not love about ourselves. In our automatic thoughts, we are generally focused on the negative about ourselves. We think that these thoughts are our own but they all start somewhere else. Let me repeat that, all negative thoughts we have about ourselves start somewhere else. They come from what others say or don’t say, what others do or don’t do, what social media provides, etc. Not one of them originated in our own minds…not one. But these are what we think about, not loving ourselves.

When I came up with this project I thought it would be easy to think of six things I loved about myself. It was not easy. In fact, it took several days. The rules were that it couldn’t be something someone else has said they love about it and it couldn’t be something I think in relation to others. It had to be exclusively, only about me loving me. Not an easy thing to do. But eventually I did it.

Working through the week with clients I found that most had similar difficulty coming up with their own six things. Some had trouble coming up with even a single thing. So ingrained are the things we think we don’t love about ourselves that seeing anything we do love is almost impossible sometimes. We even weigh the things we do come up with against our ingrained lies. As if we do not deserve to love ourselves for anything. Another lie.

As the week went on and after several clients, I found that the pathway I had opened to things I love about myself that more things then came to my mind. Once we allow our brains to move in a different direction, it will find more information along the way and bring it to our attention. Once we push aside the negative and the lies, we discover that there is truth to be discovered if we can only allow ourselves to see it and then to accept it.

What do you love about yourself? Is it difficult to find? Do you have to have a discussion with yourself against the negative and the lies to feel that you can love anything about yourself? I know it can be difficult because we don’t get up in the morning and look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “I love this about me or that about me.” But we should.

Take a few minutes after reading this and truly think about the things you love about you. Do you love your sense of humor, your courage, your creativity, your determination, or any number of other things about you? Write them down, put them where you can see them daily, repeat them to yourself, and add to them as more of them come to your mind. Say to yourself daily, I Love Me.

Until next time,
Deborah Horton

I am currently accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. Call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com to set up a FREE initial consultation appointment.

Choices

Almost everything we do involves choices. There are few exceptions – breathing, blinking being the main ones. Most everything else involves a choice of some kind. Even choosing not to make a choice is a choice.

We choose whether or not to allow our thoughts to become our realities. We choose to accept and believe or not the messages we get from outside sources. By the way, every single thought (message) we tell ourselves came from an outside source. We were not born with them and we did not create them on our own.

We decide whether or not we allow our past to be our present. We decide whether or not we allow our fear of the future to be our present. We decide whether or not we are happy or sad. We decide whether or not we are full of fear or calm. We decide whether or not we get out of bed or stay in it. We decide. We always decide.

Many clients tell me that their choices are made for them. They say they are made by their past, they are made by their thoughts, they are made by their emotions. Those things influence only. They are the background noise. The choice – the this way or that – the yes or no – the remain the same or change – the fear or the calm – the choice is always, always made by the person. Always.

So how do we make different choices than the ones that have caused us to remain stuck in our own personal quicksand? We have to recognize the choice for what it is. Do not shift the responsibility to your past, your thoughts, your emotions or to other people. Say to yourself, this is my choice – do this or do that, say this or say that, think this or think that, remain the same or change, be afraid or be calm. Whatever the choice is, recognize it, name it, analyze the consequences, and make a choice.

And then be prepared to accept the consequences. There are always consequences for every choice we make. Good or bad, there is always a price to pay, always. You have to be prepared to accept it and accept responsibility for it. If you choose to remain in the same place, accept that nothing about your situation will change. If you choose to think negatively, accept that your reality, your truth, will be negative. If you choose to change, accept that your situation will become different. Notice I did not say better, that is up to the change your choose. If you choose to leave a toxic relationship, the other person will no longer be in your life. You will have to accept that consequence. If you choose to let go of your past, you will have to accept the consequence that you will no longer have that as a constant in your life – you will become a different person.

Choices are not easy. We don’t always make the right ones. But as long as you are still breathing, you can always make another choice. You may have to make the same choices over and over if you fall back into old patterns. But you can always make another choice.

What choices will you make today?

Until next time,
Deborah

I am accepting new clients (women and girls) for counseling. If you would like to make an appointment for a FREE initial consultation appointment call 406-413-9904 email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com or click the Book Now button on Facebook

Response Time

Controlling your thoughts can control how you feel. I am sure you have heard this said a lot. It is true, however it is not the whole story. In fact, it is just the very, very beginning. Your thoughts are just a spark, the flame is the response to the the thoughts. It is the action that causes every single thing that follows.

It is the response time that has to be managed. Thoughts will come into our minds. We can have thoughts about anything. They come automatically. Most thoughts are not intentionally brought to mind. They just appear like a spark. It’s the what we do after. It is ALWAYS the what we do after.

The response time is only milliseconds long – shorter than the time it takes to blink. It is in that briefest of time that we decide what we will do with the thought. It is that decision, that response, that determines all that comes later.

In that response time, we can choose to recognize the thoughts just as thoughts and let them go. Physically watch them leave our minds and they don’t come back. Or we can let them sit. We can let them grow. We can believe that they are true. We can imagine our reality with these thoughts. We can project the future or constantly relive the past. We can make someone else’s words into the truth about ourselves without proof. In milliseconds, we can go from a blank piece of paper to a novel of lies, assumptions, false beliefs, and predicted catastrophes.

Making changes in the blink of an eye can be very difficult. Especially if we are used to responding in the same way every time we have had the thoughts before. We become conditioned to our own response. We turn into our own Pavlov dog. Thought, spark, same response.

The only way to affect change, any change, is to make a decision every single time that is different than what we have done. We will fail. We must try again the next time. Thought, spark, different response. Thought, spark, let the thought go. Thought, spark, watch them leave our minds. Thought, spark, recognize lies. Thought, spark, different reality. Thought, spark, stay in the present. Thought, spark, only our truth. Thought, spark, proof. Again and again and again until we control the response every time.

What would your life be like if you changed your response time?

Until next time,
Deborah Horton

I am accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. If you want to schedule a FREE initial consultation call 406-413-9904 email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com or click the Book Now button on our Facebook page.