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.

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The Boss Of You

When we are growing up, we have people who can appear to be the boss of us. Parents, teachers, employers, friends, romantic relationships, or just about anyone who we feel has the ability or authority to tell us what to do and how to do it. Also as we grow, we start to develop the ability and the desire to make our own choices, to be the boss of ourselves. The struggle comes when we have the ability to make our own choices but we continue to let others or our own negative thoughts make them for us.

Over time, our own negative thoughts can become louder than the words of any real person or even our own words. Much like the voice of a military drill sergeant, it is constantly talking to us, repeating the same negative thoughts over and over. Many times it can sound like the voice of someone in our life who was critical of us, who abused us, who hurt us in some way, someone whose voice makes us feel even worse about ourselves. This voice becomes the boss of you.

Listening to this voice every day reinforces the negative things and your brain believes that these things are true. This voice becomes the boss of you and it is no longer you making decisions about your emotions, your choices, your life but it is the voice.

What if when the negative voice speaks to you, instead of going along with it and believing it, you talk back to it with something positive. It takes practice and it takes time and it takes doing it over and over. You did not come to the place of having your negative thoughts be the boss of you overnight and you won’t replace them overnight. As long as you let the negative thoughts continue to boss you, your brain continues to believe them and then looks for ways to make them true.

If you have the same negative thoughts repeatedly, write them down. For each negative thought you write down, write a positive thought next to it. Example, “what happened to you was your fault” positive “I did the best I could at the time” or “what happened to me was not my fault”. Rate your percentage of belief of your positive thought on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being you barely believe it to 10 being you totally believe it. If you find positive thoughts with a higher percentage of you believing them to be true, use those. However, your brain will start to believe the positive things you tell it if you say them over and over just as it has done with the negative things.

Start today to be the boss of you. One thought at a time.

Until next time,
Deborah

If you are a teen girl or adult woman or know one who could benefit from learning how to be the boss of their own thoughts and lives, I offer FREE Initial consultation appointments to see if counseling with me is a good fit. Call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com to set up an appointment.

Meditate This Way

Meditation is a tool that I try to use with most all of my clients. Many clients believe that meditation is for controlling your thoughts. A way to be able to think about nothing. To clear your mind. Most of these beliefs, however, are false. Meditation is about learning to be mindful, to be calm, in the midst of your thoughts and emotions and to not get stuck in them.

Headspace is an app I have used for several years now for guided meditation with clients and for myself. The main goal of this particular meditation app is to help you train your mind to see thoughts, become aware of them, notice how they make you feel, and then to let them pass through your mind instead of taking up residence in it. Not thinking is never the goal. Not feeling is never the goal. It is to think and feel without allowing those thoughts and emotions to control you. You control them and by doing so, you can let them go.

Many people view their thoughts as something their brain is telling them. The brain only tells you what you have put in. Human brains are like very powerful computers and like all computers brains digest and spit out what you put into them. Your brain did not on it’s own start thinking negative things about you. It did not start believing these things by itself. You told it to do so and so it did. You repeatedly told it what you believe about yourself, your life, your relationships and it believes you and then works to make these things all true because they must be true – you said they were.

These millions of thoughts that are input and then become stuck are what we allow to control how we think and feel every moment of every day. Meditation is about taking control over those thoughts and not allowing them to be stuck. Imagine that whatever thought you are thinking at the moment is in a cloud. See it, become aware of it. However, just like clouds that you have watched millions of times, they never remain in the same place, ever. They come and they go. Imagine your thought cloud coming and then going and when it is gone it is gone. Say to yourself, I am having the thought that (insert thought here) and I am letting this thought go. And when it leaves return your focus to your breathing and only your breathing. Next thought comes and we do the same thing again. We are in control of our thoughts. It just takes practice.

The second piece of resistance clients can have is stating they have no time for meditation. Do you spend 10 minutes a day just scrolling through your phone or online just scrolling, not really doing anything of consequence? Do you have 10 minutes before you fall asleep that you are just lying in bed with your thoughts? If you do, you have time to meditate. It doesn’t take hours, just a few minutes to begin to take control over your thoughts and to stop letting them control you.

Remember, the goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts and emotions but to become more aware of them, to learn how to move through them without getting stuck.

Until next time,
Deborah

If you think counseling could help you learn how to control your thoughts and emotions, set up a FREE initial consultation with me by calling 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com or visit Mindful Montana Wellness on Facebook and click the Book Now button.

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