Choose Happy

Mindful Montana Wellness, LLC Professional Counseling Services Blog

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, “Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be.” When I present happiness as a choice to many people, they will many times look at me as if I have lobsters coming out of my head. As if this is an absolutely false statement and that there is no way people can choose to be happy.

While they are looking at me in disbelief, they are also telling me all the reasons they cannot choose to be happy. They were sexually or physically abused, their parents divorced or their parents abandoned them in some way, their family was or is dysfunctional, they were or are being bullied, their relationships with family and others were or are bad or difficult, they believe they are bad or damaged or ugly or stupid or any number of other negative thoughts and lies they have told themselves, people have done or are doing this and it MAKES them unhappy, or any number of other things as a reason for why they cannot be happy. They go on to say how they just can’t let that go and choose to be happy.

Why not? People choose to be unhappy. They choose to let the past, events, people, their own thoughts make them sad or anxious. We aren’t born sad. We become sad because we let the things that happen to us and around us make us believe negative things about ourselves. We feel responsible and blame ourselves or we feel victimized and blame others or events. Then we become unhappy. We are made unhappy by our own thoughts about people and events.

I am not saying that traumatic events are not sad or upsetting, they are. It is natural to feel these emotions at the time of the events and even for some time after, but when they become the thing that drives every emotion, every choice, every thought after that every day of your life – you are making a choice every day when you wake up that unhappy is how you will feel. No other emotion or thought is given a chance to see the light of day.

How then do you choose happy? You come to the truth of what started you on the path of unhappiness. You process exactly what happened, who was at fault, and how to walk through it not live in it. Sometimes people need help to do this and that is where counseling comes in. Once you have made this journey, you can then begin to let those things go as rulers of your life and mind. And replace them with what is happening right now, this moment and making the choice every single day and yes every single moment to choose happy. Just as the choice was made up to this point to be unhappy over and over millions of times a day, the choice can be made to be happy over and over millions of times a day.

Today, when the negative thoughts and emotions you have return, take a few seconds and counter them with a positive. There are always, always positives if you look for them, notice them, say them, write them down. They can be big or very very small things. Today, for every negative thought, emotion, memory insert something positive. If you have hours a day to spend on negative things, you have hours a day to spend on positive. It is all in what you think, what yous say, what you do, what you let go of, what you replace.

You have the power, not events, not people, not the past, not the future, to make you happy or unhappy. Choose happy.

Until next time,
Deborah

Mindful Montana Wellness, LLC is accepting new clients in Billings Montana (and video/online clients in all of Montana) – girls and women – for professional counseling. To schedule a FREE initial consultation call 406-413-9904, email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page Mindful Montana Wellness on Facebook

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Free To Change

The only thing that prevents anyone from changing their lives and thoughts is fear. Fear is the most powerful emotion in the world, stronger than anger, stronger than love, it is fear that paralyzes us and keeps us from making change in our lives. There are three main reasons people fear from changing themselves – fear of the unknown, fear of losing control, fear of loss – and they prevent progress.

Because of this fear, most people try to change everything BUT themselves. They try to change how others act, think, and treat them. They try to change the past or future. They try to change everything that is outside their circle of control – which is everything outside of them. When in truth, the only thing anyone can ever change is inside their own bag of bones – nothing else. But that is so much harder and so much more fearful.

Fear of the unknown is present when people have become accustomed to the way things are.  No matter how bad, how repetitive the issues and thoughts, how miserable they are – what they know about how they feel and live is much less fearful than what they don’t know or what they fear may happen if they change.  How will they feel, how will they live their lives, who will they be if they don’t have the constant misery they current live with – the thing that has become their constant companion – their best friend.  Like an warm blanket, they cover themselves with the misery they know rather than letting go of fear and making changes to themselves.  They want to know what will happen, constantly anxious about the future. If they stay in the present misery they know what will happen – the same things that have happened for years.  People do not fear what they know.

Many people fear that change means losing control.  They have a false sense of control believing that they have some effect on other people, on situations, on the past or the future.  These are all lies we tell ourselves so that our actions can be justified and so that we can blame others for our misery.  Since we cannot control ourselves, our thoughts, our actions, our pain we must control others and we can see it as the only control we have.  It is all fake control, all a lie, there is NO control of anything outside of our own skin to believe otherwise is to lie to yourself and everyone else.

Many people who fear change also fear loss.  This may be the greatest block to change of the three.  We fear that if we change we will lose those we love and care about.  If we stop making bad choices for ourselves – drugs, drinking, sex – the people we do these things with will not want to be around us anymore.  If we refuse to let others treat us badly, to keep rehashing the past, holding guilt and blame over us – they will stop talking to us, cut us out of their lives.  If we change ourselves and build ourselves up, we may realize we should end relationships and we fear being alone.  We are too afraid of what others will do as a result of our change that we continue on the same as we always have regardless of how miserable we are.

The only thing we can change is what is inside our own skin – our emotions, our thoughts, our actions, our processing of the past and welcoming of the future.  The only way to make these changes is to let go of fear.  Fear is the enemy of change.  Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change themselves cannot change anything.

Until next time,

Deborah

I am now accepting new clients for counseling – adolescent girls and adult women.  If you think counseling can help you on the path to changing yourself call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com to set up a free initial consultation.

Enhance Your Calm

Enhance your calm and be well. So many of my clients struggle with anxiety related issues and find it hard to be calm. Whether it is non-stop thoughts, worrying about what other people say or think about them, inability to sleep or sleep well, social situations, past events or traumas they find it hard to notice the present moment, breathe, and relax. With just a few changes or additions to your daily routine, you can learn to enhance your calm and be well.

Everyone is so busy or think they are so busy that they often feel they cannot incorporate any calming strategies into their lives. However, many of those calming activities can take just a few short minutes each day. If you cut a few minutes off your time spent on your phone or other devices you could find the time very quickly to enhance your calm.

Meditation practice offers many ways to incorporate calm into your life. Headspace is a guided meditation app I have used for years. It offers a free option with 10 basic meditation units that you can use over and over again to become more calm. It also offers a paid version that has meditation units as short as 1 minute in length and other units that are targeted to specific situations. Meditation is not about learning how to STOP thinking it is about learning to notice your thoughts and let them GO. Seeing your thoughts as clouds and that just pass through, not as plants that put down roots and stay.

Another way to enhance your calm quickly is practicing deep breathing techniques. There are several techniques to practice and you may find you benefit from one more than another. It just takes practice. You can practice before sleep, while driving, on the bus, in class or at work, while you are scanning your electronic devices. Everyone has a few minutes to spare to enhance their calm.

Progressive muscle relaxation is another way to enhance your calm that once you have practiced it only takes a few minutes as well. Once you have learned the “script” by practicing multiple times, you will be able to achieve deep relaxation throughout your muscles with head to toe calm.

Essential oils can be an additional item to use to manage anxiety and stress. Using aromatherapy through diffusers, applying oils to cotton balls, or just breathing them as you are doing deep breathing practice can enhance your calm dramatically. Some of the best oils to use for anxiety and stress are Valerian, Jatamansi, Lavendar, Bergamot, Chamomile, Ylang-Ylang, Vetiver, Frankincense, Clary Sage, Holy Basil are all very good at enhancing your calm. Blends of these oils are even more effective. Always use pure, organic oils for aromatherapy to get the best results.

Some other ways to enhance your calm that you can add on to these more practiced ways include exercise even if it’s just a little bit to release endorphins, very dark chocolate at least 80% cocoa, laughing A LOT, and a nice cup of Sleepytime tea from time to time.

If you find yourself getting on to your phone or other device and thinking you will spend just a few minutes only to realize you’ve been at it for hours, binge watch full seasons of shows on Netflix in a weekend, or spending a lot of time wondering how to feel less anxious – you have time to use some of these ways to enhance your calm and be well.

Until next time,
Deborah

If you think counseling can help you enhance your calm more and learn how to let go of some of the things that keep you anxious and worried, I am accepting new clients (adolescent girls and adult women) for counseling. Call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com to set up a FREE initial consultation.

Comfort of the Familiar

Mindful Montana Wellness, LLC Professional Counseling Services Blog

Humans are content to remain in the comfort of the familiar. They dislike change. They dislike the unknown. They fear letting go of what they know. They fear letting go of what they are used to. Where they live their lives.

If you let go of the things that have taken up residence in your minds, in your hearts, in your emotions, what then takes the place of that? If you let go of negative things that you have built your life around, what comes next? Something worse or something better? The truth is, until you let go of the things you are familiar with, you will never know what waits for you. You will make assumptions about what it is, and they will take the form you choose, negative or positive, but the truth is not discovered until you let go of what has become comfortable. What is familiar. What you have decided to live with, blame yourself for, hurt over, be sad over, be stuck in.

How do we gain the strength to venture into the discomfort of the unfamiliar? By peeling off the layers of the familiar in which we live. Years spent in adding more and more to what we are comfortable with, what we allow ourselves to wallow in, what we choose to feel every day, what we never stop thinking about. How do we undo this damage? One layer at a time.

In my practice, I always have a worst first approach. If you cannot work through the worst thing first, you cannot get beyond anything that comes after. Everything else is informed by what happened first – what affects you most – what worst is for you. Everything else follows along after that, is added to that, is layered on to that. It is the hardest place to start and it is the most important for letting go, for learning lessons, and for moving on.

The comfort of the familiar is very difficult to change because it is frightening. The layers we have added provide a way to not look at the things that started us on the path we walk over and over day after day going nowhere. If we remove the layers, then we have to look at the truth and the truth is scary, difficult, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar.

Freedom is the only condition for happiness – letting go gives us happiness. If we truly desire to be free of events, thoughts, emotions that keep us stuck – we must let go – to move towards happiness.

Until next time,
Deborah

If you feel stuck in the comfort of the familiar of your past, perhaps counseling can help you find freedom. Call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com or click the BOOK button on Facebook to schedule a FREE initial counseling consultation.

Let Go

Learning to let go can be one of the most difficult things humans attempt. We hold on to feelings and events and let them take over our minds. We give them a place to live and keep them alive. We continue to let them affect us long after the things that caused them are gone. The inability to let go causes us most of our daily anxiety, depression, anger, and suffering and we do it all to ourselves.

When I work with clients, I use the visual of clouds as a metaphor for letting go. Almost everyone has watched clouds moving in the sky. They never remain still. They are constantly coming and going and so it should be with the thoughts that come into our minds that we need to let go. See these thoughts as clouds, see the words of them on the clouds, see them come into your mind, and see them go out. When they go out, let them go, do not think on them further – they are gone. Let go of them. Replace them with clouds that say something positive instead, something uplifting, something freeing.

Another way to practice this is through meditation. Using meditation along with the visualization of the clouds reinforces letting go, reinforces concentrating your thoughts in a more positive, focused way. I use the meditation app Headspace with my clients. It is a free app that offers guided meditation that is easy to use and can help you retrain your mind to let go of things that negatively impact your daily life. Meditation allows you to also allow thoughts to come and go and practice improving that skill with daily mental exercise.

Most of the issues we face are caused by our inability to let go. Holding on to negative emotions and experiences builds up emotional and mental toxins in the body that come out as anxiety, depression, anger, and sometimes even physical illness. Bringing these things back day after day only reinforces these negative feelings. Learning to let go can free us of the weight of all we continue to carry that weighs us down on a daily basis. It’s like unpacking a suitcase we refuse to stop carrying. Imagine how much lighter you will feel if you let go of the weight.

Let go.

Until next time,
Deborah

If you feel you could use some help in learning how to let go of the things that weigh you down, please call to schedule a FREE initial consultation 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

Control Yourself

In all of the universe there is only one thing any of us can control – ourselves. Our circle of control resides inside our skin bag and there alone. Any other belief that we can control anything else is a lie we tell ourselves to attempt to either make things easier or justify our actions.

Most of our lives are spent in the false belief that we can control other people, events, or emotions. We spend so much of our time and energy focused on how we can alter how other people behave or feel, change things that have happened or alter things that will happen. We rarely take the time to realize that our circle of control is again only that which is within ourselves. The belief that we can shape other people into what we want them to be is one of the main causes of our internal struggle that leads to anger, depression, anxiety, and frustration.

When the urge to control things outside of ourselves takes over, we must confront it with the acceptance that we cannot control anything but ourselves and our own reactions. We cannot change anyone else. We cannot change how they feel or how they behave. We can only control our reactions to what they do. Also remembering that nothing anyone does or says is about us – not taking anything personally.

It can be very difficult to master this letting go of control. Humans as a species are genetically wired to take control of any environment, dominate it, shape it to their needs, however we cannot control as much as we would like to believe. It can be very hard to let go of this idea of control and focus on only what we can do. We let our emotions drive us. We love someone, even when it is not good for us at times, and we want to change them so we can keep loving them, but they won’t change. We end up in a constant battle of knowing we cannot succeed and banging our head on the wall continually trying to make it into what we want. This only causes us more suffering, more frustration.

Control yourself. Two words. It sounds easy enough but it is in fact one of the hardest things to do. It takes work, it takes sacrifice, it takes practice to let go of the belief that we can control everything and everyone around us. If we can, we can minimize or even eliminate much of the pain and suffering we cause ourselves.

Control yourself – your emotions, your reactions.
Never take anything personally – nothing other people do or say is about you.
Let go of control – everything and everyone else outside of yourself.

Until next time,
Deborah

If you are feeling that you need help learning how to control yourself and let go of control of others, you can make an appointment for a FREE initial consultation by calling 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

Always Do Your Best

When someone says do your best, what kind of images does that conjure up for you? For those in school, does it make you feel as if you have to make all A’s? At work, does it mean continual advancement in your job? In relationships, does it mean giving more than your partner? For parents, does it mean giving your kids everything they want? What does always do your best mean to you?

Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements states that the fourth agreement is “Always Do Your Best.” In his book, he talks about what that should mean to us and how to apply it to our lives. Always do your best is different for every person and it’s different every moment of every day.

Sometimes, your best may be to just wake up in the morning. Sometimes, your best may be to get out of bed. Sometimes, your best may be getting dressed. Sometimes, your best may be not wanting to harm yourself. Sometimes, your best may be thinking one positive thing about yourself or your life. Your best is whatever you can manage to do, think, or feel that day that may make your life even one atom better.

We constantly beat ourselves up for “not doing our best.” This best that others put on us or we have put on ourselves by making agreements that this is what the best is and only this. Anything else and we feel less than, we start to place blame on ourselves, we start to talk negative to ourselves, and we do not see anything else as our best. Because we believe the agreements we have made about what is actually our best.

If you have been staying in bed all day due to depression or illness and you get up out of the bed today – that is doing our best – in that moment and you should be proud of that, be positive with that, allow that to be okay. If you have been staying in your house every day due to anxiety and you decide to walk out onto your front porch or steps – that is doing your best – in that moment. Take possession of that, make agreement with that, be positive with that and allow that to be okay.

Always doing your best will change from moment to moment and situation to situation. If we can stop putting the past agreements we have made with others and ourselves onto every choice, we can start to feel better about our best that moment, start to be more positive about our best that moment, and those moments will happen more and more often until everything we do is always our best and we agree with that changing our lives for the better.

What is doing your best in this moment? Make that agreement, feel that positivity, change your beliefs, and step into always doing your best and being okay with that, whatever it may be.

Until next time I wish you peace,
Deborah

If you feel you need help accepting your best, managing your emotions, or coping with your life issues, make an appointment for a FREE initial consultation for counseling by calling 406-413-9904 or emailing mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com