What Is Your Brain Growing?

The subconscious mind, which runs 95 percent of our lives, takes everything literally. Just as you say it. Just as you believe it. Regardless of whether it is true, the subconscious mind takes these things as fact. Once you put them into your mind and then allow them to plant themselves there, they will grow roots and spread just like weeds.

Is your mind full of weeds? If you find that you have negative automatic thoughts that constantly repeat and repeat in your mind, then the answer is likely yes. Mind weeds are the plants we allow to grow, have roots and spread and then they are always there.

These mind weeds can be the truth or they can be things we have told ourselves are true. If you question your automatic thoughts, you will find that many of them are not true. But the subconscious mind believes them. Sometimes our mind weeds can be so thick we cannot see what the real truth anymore. We come to think that we cannot get rid of them.

However, just as they appeared they can be replaced. And just as they took root with being repeated and repeated, we can repeatedly address them and replace them until they are changed. Pulling the weeds out one by one.

Just like we talk to the plants we grow in our houses and yards to help them flourish, we can talk to the weeds in our mind to remove them.

Until next time,
Deborah

Self-Talk: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

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Laughter Is The Best Medicine

The phrase “laughter is the best medicine” has been spoken for years and even though there may not have been a whole lot of science behind it long ago, there is now. Laughter is one of the most healing therapeutic tools that we all have access to.

Laughing especially an “old fashioned belly laugh” or “laughing until you cry” can cause the release of endorphins from the brain into the blood stream. Endorphins act as pain and stress reducers in the body. They are often referred to as a natural analgesic. Endorphins are released during exercise, when you eat chocolate, and when you laugh.

Some studies have shown that laughter decreases the stress producing hormones of the body including cortisol (a stress hormone very prevalent in women), epinephrine (which increases anxiety reactions), and decreases the effects of some dopamine repressing acids. Other studies have shown that laughter can alter dopamine and serotonin activity, thereby causing a decrease in depression symptoms.

If you have ever laughed so much that it made you cry or your face muscles or stomach muscles hurt and then right after noticed how you feel – it is almost an anesthetic type of euphoria. I know for myself laughing like this has made me feel completely relaxed afterwards almost as if I had exercised for 30 minutes. It was the same effect on my mind and my body.

Opportunities for laughter can be found all around us. The Internet is quite a resource for finding things that make us laugh in pictures and videos. Movies offer another resource of laughter. Books another. And personal interactions provide some of the best opportunities to laugh.

Laughter truly can be therapy and this book offers some insight into how laughter can help.

Laughter Therapy: How to Laugh About Everything in Your Life That Isn’t Really Funny

Until next time,
Deborah

Color Yourself Calm

Coloring as therapy has grown exponentially in the last few years. Coloring books, pencils, markers, and coloring apps are some of the best selling products currently. Everyone is jumping on the coloring bandwagon, but what are the benefits of coloring on mental health? Depending on whether you are an adult or a child they can differ slightly, but some of the benefits exist for both groups.

Let’s start with the benefits for children and coloring. They are not all mental health related, but they all build skills and provide tools that help with both mental health and learning. Ten benefits for kids are: Improving motor skills, prepares them for school and school work environment, stimulates creativity, contributes to better handwriting, color awareness and the nuances of colors, improved focus and hand to eye coordination, structure and spacial awareness, improved confidence and self-esteem, and stress relief. Coloring with kids offers a wide range of learning, motor, and mental health benefits. Coloring can be used to help children learn focus and to calm down when frustrated. Coloring can be used to express feelings. Remember it doesn’t have to stay in any lines or shapes to be helpful. The actual act of coloring in any manner – even angry coloring – is beneficial.

For adults, the benefits are mainly related to mental health, but even adults, especially the elderly can benefit from the motor skills benefits of coloring. Some of the benefits for adults and coloring are: Coloring produces a meditative state in the brain, Stress and anxiety levels can be reduced, Negative thoughts are replaced as you create positivity through coloring, being focused on the present activity creates mindfulness, if you color without an app unplugging from technology allows for less screen dependence, you don’t have to be an artist to color, it expands the creative parts of your brain, and it is something you can do anywhere. Since it is portable you can have it with you where ever you are and whenever emotional issues arise. You can use it to gain mindfulness. Meditation mantras or affirmations in your mind while coloring boost positivity and increase the meditative state.

Coloring is not about being perfect, always inside the lines, or needing to look a specific way. Coloring can be completely abstract. It can be messy. It can be quick or very slow. It can be whatever you need and however you want to do it. The focus should be just that – focus. The coloring allows you to focus – your mind, your emotions, your energy in a specific area instead of having these things be out of control. Transfer thoughts, emotions, energy through your arm into your hands and onto the coloring surface. Visualize this happening as you color. If your thoughts and emotions wander, notice it, let it go, and bring your focus back to the coloring. Mindful meditation through art therapy with coloring.

Here are a few coloring books to get you started:

Happy coloring!

Until next time,
Deborah

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Circles

Allowing what other people think, do, and say to affect your life. This is something that almost everyone I’ve ever talked to does. Their perception of their lives of their very beliefs about who they are exist because they have allowed someone in their circles to affect them.

We all have circles of people in our lives. From the most inner to the almost unseen. In the most inner, most people have immediate family, a spouse or significant other, parents, children. The next circle is other family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. The next would be close friends, the very close, which is generally a smaller number of people. The next circle is other friends, not close, but still friends. The next would be people you might call friends, but they are just really people you know and this might include co-workers or classmates or bosses or teachers. The next circle are people you don’t really know but they know people you do know, satellites I call them. The next circle are people you see regularly like the person who makes your latte, or at the register at the grocery store. The next is people you don’t know at all, strangers. If we allow it, any one of the people in these circles can affect the way we view ourselves.

With the inner most circle it can be very difficult to not allow what they do, say or think to affect our lives. We spend a great deal of time with them, we have emotional bonds with them, we very often are seeking their approval. It can be very difficult to believe differently about ourselves if the person we care for most, such as our mothers or our children, tell us we are not good enough or they don’t really love us. But it is not impossible, with understanding and work.

As the circle grows wider, we can let others who mean far, far less in our lives have the same kind of impact on us. A stranger making a comment in the grocery store line can be enough for us to allow ourselves to believe what they are saying is true. But why do we allow the thoughts of all of these circles to matter to us?

Who in your circles actually has any real control over who you are and what you do? Who decides what grades you get? Who decides what job you apply for? Who decides what you eat? Who decides where you live? Who decides anything that you do or how you do it? If it is always someone else, why do you allow that? If it is you, why does anything anyone else say, do or think matter?

What other people do, think, or say matters because we allow it to matter. What do you allow to matter in your life, in your mind, in your heart?

Until next time,
Deborah

I am now accepting new clients (adolescent girls and women) for counseling. To schedule a FREE Initial Consultation call 406-413-9904 or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

Growing

Growing is hard. It is hard work. It often exacts a hard toll on relationships. It is hard for many people to do because of the fear of losing people. It is hard for others to understand. Growing is hard.

When we begin to change who we are at our core, we find that the change begins to affect everything around us. How we see ourselves in our relationships with others is one of the first things to change. If these relationships have been contributing to our pain, or sadness, or anxiety, when we change we no longer want these relationships in our lives. Sometimes, these relationships are with people we are very close to – family and friends, even spouses/significant others and children. When we begin to value ourselves, we expect that others should value us as well. When they do not or are unable to, we move away from those relationships and it is very, very hard in many cases.

We may feel tremendous fear at these changes. We have lived in these ways with these people for many years. It is all we know. It provides a sort of dark comfort, but at least we know what it is. If we move away, change, we have to build new relationships, with many unknowns. That is very scary to us. The familiar is easier. Even if we repeat the same destructive relationship patterns over and over, it is familiar.

There is also the hardness of the love we do have for people in these relationships. That love is damaged, it is unhealthy, it is not helping us, but it is still what we know as love. We can share years with these people, share memories, share life experiences, we can feel obligated to stay in these relationships because they are our “family.” But many times it is these relationships that further our damage, our negative self-image, our pain. It is very hard to let them go or change them to include boundaries that empower us to be happier, healthier, stronger.

Changing these relationships many times affects others around us and that is also hard. If it is a spouse or significant other who is the parent of your children or step-parent, removing them from your life also changes things for the children. We may stay in these relationships to avoid that very thing. But we continue to inflict our pain, sadness, negative self-image on our children, which in turn can damage them. Change is hard, but in the end it can be better for everyone involved.

Many people will start to make change, but when it becomes too hard or causes too much fear, they give up. If only they can push through that, they will find that the other side is brighter and better.

Growing is hard, but it is not impossible and you can do it.

Until next time,
Deborah

If you would like help to grow and change, I am accepting new clients (girls and women) for counseling. Call 406-413-9904 for a FREE initial consultation or email mindfulmontanawellness@gmail.com

It’s Never About You

notaboutyou

Miguel Ruiz in his amazing book The Four Agreements wrote that the second agreement is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” In my work, I would say that this should be rule number one. I believe by what people suffer with on a daily basis that almost all of it is caused by believing what other people say and do or don’t say or don’t do is about them. As Ruiz wrote, once people become immune to the opinions and actions of others they will not be a victim of needless suffering.

This also seems to be the hardest thing for people to do – become immune to what other people say or do or don’t say or do. Because we are conditioned, even genetically made, to seek out relationships with other people, we consistently do that at the expense of our own needs and discount our beliefs about ourselves. In fact, we take what others believe about us and make those our beliefs. We do it so often that eventually we think these beliefs are what we believe. They become our reality.

Nothing anyone ever says or does is about you. Nothing they don’t say or don’t do is about you. Every word or action that comes from someone else is about them. Even if they say “You are ______.” That is what THEY think you are. You can only make that true if you believe it and if you begin living your life as whatever they think you are. If you don’t believe it and you don’t do it, you cannot be whatever it is. People can say anything they want or do anything they want that does not mean you have to turn that into who you are. That is a choice. A choice to believe what they believe instead of what you know.

If people say you are stupid, ugly, fat, worthless or they treat you badly or like a doormat and you accept those things as true about yourself those beliefs become who you are. You will live as if you are stupid or ugly or fat or worthless or that you should always be treated badly or as a doormat. And you will suffer needlessly.

People constantly question why they feel the way they do and the answer is simple. It is because you believe the things other people say or do are about you and that you then accept them as true. Without questioning and without requiring proof, these things are accepted as fact. Because my mother or father or sibling or significant other or friend or even stranger said (fill in the blank) or did (fill in the blank) it has to be true. No it does not have to be true. People say and do things because of what they feel or think, because of what they want to make you feel or think, because of the experiences they have had that have made them behave in certain ways towards others – not one of these things is about you – not a single one.

What do you, only you, think about yourself and did those thoughts start with you or someone else? Search your life and ask yourself, when did I start thinking this or feeling this? What was happening in my life? Is it because of something someone else said or did? I guarantee you that almost every single time you will find these beliefs did not start with you. They came from someone else. Everything we are came from someone else – we are taught to talk, walk, dress ourselves, read, write, play sports, everything we do we learned from someone else. Why would what we think and feel be different? We are not born thinking we are stupid or fat or worthless – those things are supplied by others and we supply the belief that they are true and they are always about us.

It’s never about you.

Until next time,
Deborah

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

Right Now

Most people and their minds spend time in two places – the past and the present. Very few, spend time in the right now. Even when they think they are in the right now, what they are thinking, feeling, and doing is informed by their continued issues with the past or their fear of the future. The right now is rarely separated out, alone, to become their focus, their only focus.

When we feel overwhelmed it is usually because we have allowed events, feelings, memories of the past to “infect” our present. We have not processed these things and we continue to carry them with us making them our reality. They all have a starting place usually not one of our own making but we make them our truths. And we are convinced that everything we are experiencing right now is a result of the past. We unpack the bags we carry all that stuff in and start attaching the stuff to everything going on in our lives. Sometimes consciously sometimes unconsciously. It just becomes who we are. We become accustomed to the pain of things and afraid to live our lives without it.

We also pretend we are psychic and can see into the future. We predict the outcome of everything that is happening to us. We make it bigger, more scary, more upsetting. We go to worst case scenarios. We believe our lives will always be the way they are now. We predict everything including death as we make catastrophes at every moment of our lives. And we believe that this future we create is actually going to happen as if we have some magic machine to make it so. Guess what? We don’t and we can’t. It’s all made up.

What if we lived in the right now? With nothing added. Trimmed down to the barest essence of this moment. How would we change our stress or depression or anger? In any moment ask yourself the following:

What am I feeling right now? Name it, acknowledge it, examine it, do not grow it, entertain it, live in it. Do not make it about the past or future. If you are upset, why right now are you upset, what happened exactly right now? What can you do about it, anything,nothing? Let it go.
What am I doing right now? Standing, sitting, walking, driving, working. Name it describe it notice it. Notice your senses right now what do you see, smell, touch, taste, hear right now.
Breathe slowly. In through the nose out through the mouth. Breathe in hold for 4 seconds breathe out for 7 seconds. Notice the breathe, notice your body, notice your feelings.
Do not unpack the baggage of the past or predict the future. Stay in the right now.

We suffer first because of what we experience due to either our own choices or the choices of others. We experience thereafter because of the way we live in the past and predict the future. We extend our own suffering and become used to it, sometimes even comfortable with it. We can even become afraid not to have it because we feel we deserve to be angry, sad, scared in order to be who we have come to be. If we let that go, who will we be then without it?

If you want to find out who that person is, live in the now. Only the right now. Once you do that, it is easier to look at the past objectively and work through it and it is easier to see a future that is a blank slate waiting for you to write on it.

Live right now.

Until next time,
Deborah

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