Pick Your Battles

two white and black chess knights facing each other on chess board

Some days it can seem that all we do is fight battles. With ourselves, with our thoughts, and with others. These battles can be years long or new occurrences. Some may be worth fighting but some may be better let go.

The battles worth fighting are the ones that are going to keep us safe, mentally and physically, or those that are going to improve our lives. Battles to no longer be abused are worth fighting. Battles to change negative thoughts and behaviors we have are worth fighting. Battles to replace negative or destructive habits with positive ones are worth fighting. Battles to make our lives better are worth fighting.

These battles, even though they benefit us, are still sometimes very hard to fight. Especially if we have had years of conditioning that have made the life we currently live become normalized. Even if it is destroying us, we may still feel it is normal, for us.

There are also battles that are not worth fighting. The battles that are not winnable. The battles that cause us more harm than good. The battles that make our lives worse instead of better. These battles we should work to let go.

The battle of believing someone we love who hurts us will change someday. The battle of holding onto toxic relationships because we do not want to be alone. The battle of continuing negative thoughts or anxious worries always thinking about the next calamity or what we hate about ourselves. The battle of always needing to have control over everything and everyone, which is a false sense of security.

The battles we should let go of are those which negatively impact our lives and are not winnable. They are like whirlpools that go around and around and around but get nowhere. They are the battles where we walk the same ground over and over never moving forward. These battles are never about progress. They are only about negative repetition.

Practicing and learning to let go of these battles is also a process of repetition, but this repetition is positive. It is forward moving. It is not covering the same ground. It is not spinning around the whirlpool.

It is making change. Stopping the negative and choosing positive. It is refusing to continue doing as we have always done. It is about making our lives better, healthier, stronger.

Some battles are worth fighting. Some battles are not. Pick your battles and fight on to a better you.

Until next time,
Deborah

The New Normal

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Every day, many times a day, the phrase “the new normal” is spoken by thousands perhaps millions of people in regards to what happens after the coronavirus crisis. But even as this is said, it is almost immediately followed with the phrase “I don’t know”.

And here is where the issues start for most people. I don’t know is a phrase filled with uncertainty just as much of this situation is. There are so many questions that cannot be answered.

There are a lot of maybe answers. A lot of possible answers. A lot of if this happens, then this is the answer but if that happens, then this is the answer. There is no certainty, no knowing.

And this is a very scary place for the human mind to live.

Human beings want certainty. They want answers. They want safety and security. One of the biggest needs that human beings have is to be able to feel safe and secure. The phrase “I don’t know” does not offer either of those things only the unknown.

When things are unknown it leads to the mind then creating what it thinks will happen, good and bad. In anxious situations and thinking, the mind generally creates what bad things will happen because we don’t know and we have no control over the outcome.

Worst case scenario, catastrophes, predicting the future, all of these and more become where the mind goes. These anxieties build on themselves and in short order we are overwhelmed with anxiety about every aspect of our lives.

It is tremendously difficult during times like these to find space to stop and really think about how our anxious thoughts are affecting our lives, our choices, our emotions.

But stop we must or be overtaken with fear.

The way to confront these thoughts is to stop with every single one and ask the question, what is going on in my life right now that is true. Not what I am creating or imagining, but what is actually happening right now. Do I have a place to live, do I have food, is my family safe. These are the basic needs for safety and can calm many other fears once we acknowledge that we have this security.

Every anxious thought must be confronted with the lens of truth. If we are creating coming catastrophes with our thoughts, we must ask are they true right now this moment. If they are not, we must then replace them with what is true in this moment. We cannot predict the future, no one can, we must live in the right now. And only the right now.

There is no good that can come from anxious living and thinking. That is something we do know.

It can be difficult to confront anxious thoughts as they can quickly go from one thought to a mountain of thoughts. We must start with the first thought and confront it. Then the next, and the next, and the next. Repeat and reinforce the truth not the unknown.

Things that we do not know can only hurt us if we let them, if we give them power. The truth takes their power away and keeps our mind from being overwhelmed.

The new normal is to stay in the right now and live in the truth.

How To Love Yourself More

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For many of us, so much of our time is spent in things we do not love about ourselves. Things we think are true about us. Things we think others think are true about us. The way others make us feel about ourselves through words or actions or the lack of them.

It becomes so much easier to live in the world of what we do not love about ourselves that it becomes automatic.

Contrary to what we may believe, there are things we like about ourselves and even things we love. We just have to ask our brains the question. What do I love about myself?

It may take some time for the brain to go through all the data in our minds and sift through what we do not love to find the things that we do, but it will find them. The brain hates questions and loves answers.

Before writing this piece, I asked myself the same question in an activity with clients this past week. I found that it was very hard at first to come up with things I love about myself, and I also found that quite shocking. I thought it would be much easier than it turned out to be.

At first, there were just a few things that came to mind quickly. But over the course of the week that I worked on this with clients, my brain found more and more things and presented them to me. Sometimes in sessions and sometimes randomly. But my brain did find them and it will also find yours.

Some of mine were my organization, my determination, my artistic side, my objectivity, my eyes, and on and on it went. My brain is still finding answers to the question and as long as I continue to ask the question it will continue to look.

It can be very helpful to write these things down and then use the things you have written down as affirmations. Placing the list where you can see it daily and reminding yourself of the things you love about you. Repeating them throughout the day. You then create new automatic thoughts of self-love.

Find some time to try it out and teach yourself how you can remind your mind about the things you already love about yourself. They are in there.

Love yourself and the rest will follow.

Do or Do Not

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Every day, even every moment of the day we are confronted with choices. So many of them we don’t even consider choices but choices they are. It truly is do or do not at the core, emotions are what makes it grey.

When the alarm clock goes off, we can choose to get right out of bed or we can hit the snooze button. The clothes we wear we choose what to put on. Do we eat breakfast or do we not? And what do we eat if we do? Choices all.

As we go throughout our day the choices are nonstop, every second there seems to be a choice that we are making whether we realize it or not. So automatic some of these choices become that it can seem as if we have no control of them as if we have no choice.

That, however, is the emotion of the choice speaking. Making us sometimes feel that we have no choices about what we do or how we live. If we are struggling financially and cannot see a way out, we can think that we have no choices about what we do in that situation. However, there are still choices.

Choices can be easy, mindless, automatic or they can be agonizing, painful, and traumatic. Many times we will avoid the ones that hurt and keep choosing the ones where we are comfortable – emotionally. But that is still a choice complete with its own consequences.

If we change nothing about our choices then nothing changes about our lives. There is no magic choice and change fairy to come and change things for us. Nothing changes without choices. But are we emotionally able and emotionally strong enough to make those choices?

Many times we have past trauma that causes us to be unable to make these choices. Other times we have become so conditioned to choose what we have always chosen that we cannot see a different choice.

One of the main reasons to seek out therapy is to have an objective, not emotionally involved person who can help us see these choices we may not be able to see on our own. To offer alternatives and paths for us to choose differently.

In choices, there is do or do not two options. The middle ground exists as a result of emotional turmoil, it is a creation of the mind built on past traumas and automatic negative thinking. We can believe with all our hearts and minds that the middle ground exists and use it to justify our choices. It is a false narrative.

Examining the why of our choices in an objective, unemotional light is the only way to see clearly outside of the grey.

Until next time,
Deborah

The First and The Last

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Making the choice in your mind of what you think the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night can change your entire outlook and mood. One thought twice a day to change the direction of the rest of your thoughts.

How often do you open your eyes in the morning and say to yourself words such as – I slept terribly, my (insert body part here) hurts, I am still tired, I am in a bad mood, today is going to be a bad day, and on and on we go. These words are like the boot up for your brain for the day.

They turn on your system of thoughts and are the power source for everything that follows. If they are negative, everything that follows off of that power source will be negative.

However, if you open your eyes and say – I feel great, I am grateful for another day, I know today is going to be a good day, I am happy. The power source is switched. The boot up is positive. Endorphins are released. We are happier by default.

At night, it is the same patterns. We can end our day before going to sleep with all the negative things we experienced throughout the day. Or we can seek out the positive. Even if there is no positive to be found, we can end our day with tomorrow will be better, I am glad this day is over, I am grateful for sleep, I will dream of happy things. Visualize what you want to see in your sleep. Remember, what you input to your brain is what it will output to you.

Start to practice the first and the last words and thoughts of the day. If you find yourself defaulting to the negative, correct yourself, and insert the positive. Notice the output of your mind if you input the positive at these times of day.

The first and the last word and thoughts of the day can have a profound impact on your thoughts and feelings. Give it a try today and experience the change for yourself.

Until next time,
Deborah

Be Happy Where You Are

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Many times we find ourselves being unhappy with where we are. We wish and hope that things will change. We want something, possibly everything, to be different. We cannot seem to be able to be happy right where we are.

I was reading the book The Four Agreements in bits and pieces again between clients this last week. I kept coming back to doing your best. We often can think and then feel that whatever we are doing, where ever we are, we are LESS than. It is not good enough. But in doing your best, it is WHATEVER we are capable of doing at that moment.

Some days, where we are is just awake lying in bed. But our best on that day is being awake lying in bed. Other days, we get up and sit in a chair or on the sofa. On that day, our best is in the getting up and sitting somewhere else. Still other days, we get up, get dressed, and accomplish a single task like brushing our teeth. On this day, our best is doing one single task.

Where we are takes on many shapes. It changes from moment to moment. Where we are can be difficult or it can be easy. Even so, sometimes when it is easy, we are still not happy where we are because we search for something more or find something else that needs to change.

Stop right now and notice where you are. What are you doing? Where are you? What can you see, touch, smell, hear, taste? Tell your mind that you are happy in this moment, right now. You don’t have to be happy about a specific thing, just in this moment I think happy, I feel happy. And smile.

How we think is how we feel, not the other way around. Work this week to be happy where ever you are and practice it over and over. Notice how thinking happy makes you feel happy. Be happy where ever you are.

Until next time,
Deborah

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