Finding Grace in the Grieving Process

There is a lot of great information out there on the grieving process and how to get through it. I am not going to talk about how to get through it, but rather how to grieve with grace. I think oftentimes we make things harder on ourselves, in this already difficult time, and this is my personal and observed experience of how to make things a little less stressful.

Embrace your emotions.

I think one of the things that I have heard over and over from people who are grieving is that they try to control how and when the emotions come. I think this is a fundamental error. When we try to control our emotions, not unlike an unruly toddler, they will tantrum until they get the attention and respect they deserve. When we try to control them, we are refusing ourselves the very necessary cleansing that they are there to do. I think this is why some people get stuck in the grieving process. They are not ready to face the emotions and, therefore, continue to stuff them. I recognize that this is difficult and the emotions at times feel like they will swallow you up. The thing is, when we try to stifle them they end up doing just that. When we feel through them, they lose the power and they are released. When they are stifled or stuffed, they will demand our attention and, the more we stuff, the louder and stronger they get. Therefore, my suggestion is when they surface, feel through them. Trust that you will be ok and allow them to be released. You deserve to grieve and you are right in how you are feeling at that moment.

 

Finding Grace in the Grieving Process

 

Allow others to support you.

Too many times we try to be strong in our grief we perceive that we are on our own. We all have people in our lives who can support and love us through the loss, so let them! No matter how big or small people want to help and support you, most times they are just unsure of what they can do so they fear they will say or do the wrong thing. Don’t be afraid to turn to others for support, ask for what you want and allow others to show their compassion. I believe this is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of true strength. Naturally, we are social beings and we need our tribe especially in times of sorrow.  I suggest reach out to those you trust and allow them to support you in whatever way that may be. It could be something as simple as going for supper or perhaps it is support with the figuring out logistics around your loss. Whatever you may need, ask for it. If they are true members of your tribe they will be there no questions asked.

 

You don’t need to be strong.

It’s ok to show weakness! It is human and we are absolutely entitled to be weak at times. Too many of us feel like we need to be the strong ones, like we need to hold it together, and we judge ourselves for showing signs of weakness. I understand we view being weak as vulnerable and it absolutely is a very vulnerable place to be, but that does not mean that we are weak. In fact, it means that we are brave enough to face our story with grace, honesty and the natural vulnerability that is associated with loss. When we are too consumed with appearing strong, we tend to stuff our feelings and keep to ourselves. In the end, we prolong our suffering because we are not really dealing with it. Instead, we are merely postponing it and, in most cases, making it that much more difficult to deal with when it does surface. Be strong, be brave by owning the vulnerability that is associated with loss. If not now, then when?

Finding Grace in the Grieving Process

 

Live in the present.

I found in my grieving that the hardest days were the days where I was not in the moment. I was either looking back with regret or nostalgia OR I was in the future forecasting how different and scary my life looked without my husband. The easiest days were the days that I stayed present. I know that it is easy to get nostalgic or to worry about the future, especially when you are faced with a whole new life, but the sooner you can bring yourself back to the present, the better off you will be. Enjoy your memories or learn your lessons from the past but don’t dwell there. It is natural to think of the past or grieve for the loss of future plans, but when we stay in that space for too long we lose touch with the present. There is no amount of regret or worry that will change your loss, but focusing on the past and future will surely prolong the grieving. I would constantly have to remind myself to be present, which meant being present with my feelings, my new reality and myself. Being present is definitely a part of, and goes hand in hand, with allowing your emotions. Be in this moment as hard as this moment is!

Own your grief story.

What I mean by this is everyone grieves in their own way. There is no set timeline or perfect picture of how grieving should look. I found that at times I would judge myself for grieving differently than others. I would question “Am I heartless because I am doing ok today?”, “Am I stuck in the grief because others are doing ok?” When I was in this place I would criticize my grieving, which made things that much more difficult. Your grief story is your grief story, whether you move through with ease or find yourself stuck in a certain stage, it is absolutely alright. Trust, you will process things at your speed and capacity. Don’t add to your suffering by comparing yourself to others, good or bad.

Side note: I would like to add to this that if you feel like you are stuck and can’t move past then definitely reach out for support. If you are moving through, but not at the pace you would expect, stop judging. Be kind to yourself and have compassion for the serious work you are doing.

 

Finding Grace in the Grieving Process

Find gratitude.

Although this is a difficult time and you may wonder what on earth could I be grateful for, then that is the exact reason you should try to practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude has an amazing power to lift our spirits; it shifts from negative thinking to something more positive. I had already been dabbling in gratitude practices before I lost my husband and, through my grieving, I started a daily practice. Each night I would find at least 5 things to be grateful for.

Somedays it will be easy, somedays it may be a struggle, but the rewards of practicing gratitude are so worth the effort. No matter how big or small there is always something to be grateful for.

Grieving is something that we will all go through in our lives to some degree. It is a difficult process on its own, so we don’t need to add to it by making the process any harder than it already is. These suggestions, from my experience, are a way to find grace in the grieving process.

 

Finding Grace in the Grieving Process

 

For those of you who are currently grieving a loss, much love healing and compassion for you in your process!

Embrace all of you

Embrace All of You!

I am taking the opportunity this week to both introduce you to my new service, as well as talk about owning your gifts. Both these topics fit together for me. While my new service of flower essence readings has been a long time in the making, it has been a process to move past the fear and embrace and own this gift.

 

Embrace All of You!

 

I have been doing flower essences for my friends and family for a while and I completely enjoy doing them. It all started when my husband was ill and we were working with a couple of spiritual healers. They were helping both of us with the enormous work of spiritual cleansing and balancing. I won’t go into too much details here about that but, along with the work that we were doing with them, they taught us to use flower essences to help us release old energy blocks and bring in helpful energies to assist us in the journey. Together, my husband and I worked through our blocks in various areas. The more we worked with the flower essences, the more we enjoyed it. We were both amazed at the accuracy of the flowers that came forward. As was my Woody’s character at the time, he was skeptical at first. But the more he could see how the flowers that were chosen suited and helped him, the less skeptical he became. As I was the one who was doing the pendulum work and figuring out which flower essences to bring in, I was able to see that they were always “bang on” correct, and exactly what my what my husband and I needed at that point. Although my husband still passed, I don’t feel that had anything to do with the inefficacy of the flower essences or the spiritual work he was doing. As the Integrative Doctor we were working with stated, sometimes no matter how much we do to heal the body and soul, some things are just left to fate. What I did notice from doing the flower essences with Woody, is that they assisted him in completely changing his life in a short time. He went from being a completely skeptical, doubting, powerless “victim” of circumstances (in a way) to becoming a completely present, loving, accepting person. I know that the flower essences were essential in this transformation. They allowed him to create the curiosity to do some real soul healing.

As an observer and the one who was tasked with using the pendulum and determining the flower essences for both of us, I felt so connected and grounded when doing them. There was no possible way I could have made the right flower essences come up. This gave me a real sense of being connected to the Universe, which brought me comfort throughout the journey, and still does.

After Woody passed I continued to use the flower essences to help me with my healing. Why not? After all, it was such a great support during that stressful time. The more I used them with myself, the more I learned to really trust in the wisdom and accept the healing energy they were providing.

 

Embrace All of You!

 

At first, mainly it was family that requested this service to assist them with energetic blocks or issues they were going through. I found I really loved doing this, I loved to see how them bringing in the powerful energies of the flowers helped them in their lives. I loved being able to provide this service.  I soon started to offer it to friends as well. At this point I never really considered offering this as a service, as I was scared to really put myself out there. I feared I would be judged on my beliefs and a common theme for my inner critic would chant “They are all going to laugh at you!” Because of these messages of fear, I reserved this gift from the Universe to only help those who I knew and trusted.

With the help of these same people and some fabulous coaches and in my journey to embrace all of who I am, I decided to step out and offer this as a service. I still have some fears about totally putting myself out there in this way, but with all the love and support and encouragement from friends, family and the Universe guiding me in this direction, I decided to own my skills!

I don’t think I am alone in this.

I think a lot of us have parts of ourselves that we keep hidden from the world for fear of being judged or rejected. A talent or strength that we suppress because our inner critic voice tells us that if we pursue this part of ourselves it will turn out badly.

Perhaps you have a talent or hobby or strength that you would love to share with the world. Perhaps there is something you love to do and when are doing it you feel a sense of absolute joy, yet you do not pursue it. When we suppress these parts of ourselves, we are denying who we really are. We feed the inner critic and we fall victims to the fear. The thing is, we create such elaborate stories in our minds that we keep ourselves small. This, in my opinion, is such a shame! I completely understand buying into the fear and I have witnessed some of the bravest people I know hide parts of themselves – parts that I see as amazing gifts! Yet they (myself included) keep them hidden.

What to do now?

There is no magic formula to help you embrace all of who you are. It takes awareness, perseverance and courage to step out of your comfort zone and embrace all of who you are. The first step in doing this is recognizing what these hidden parts are. With a child’s like curiosity ask yourself what is something I love doing that brings me joy? Am I embracing that part of me fully?

A good clue indicating that you are hiding your gifts is when loved ones have advised you to pursue your gifts: “You are so good at ______, you should ________”. For example, maybe they are telling you that you are a gifted, cook, writer, artist, counselor, athlete, singer, healer, comedian…. (the list is endless). You may toy with the idea, yet the fear voice of the inner critic quickly follows telling you “You are not good enough to put that out in the world” “You will not be accepted or will be judged”, “You are not a chef, author, artist, athlete, comedian, healer or singer”. Whatever the limiting message is, it is at this point that you have the choice to listen and stay small OR move past the fear and find a new level of joy. Only you can decide, but if you are ready, your next move is to pursue this gift one step at a time.

 

Embrace All of You!

 

The funny thing is, once you have the awareness and can understand the fear voice of the inner critic is just that –  a voice. It is not the absolute truth. You can then move forward a lot easier.

So, whatever it is that you have been hiding from the world, take that chance and really show yourself. Embrace all of who you are.  The world needs your gifts!

As for me, I am embracing my gift of providing flower essence readings and, as scary as that felt, it now feels liberating and amazing to have embraced another part of me!

The 5D’s that Will Change Your Life

Life is ever-changing. There are many situations that have the potential to move our lives in another direction. I have found that there are five stressful situations that are completely life changing – the very nature of them turns your life upside down. I call these the 5Ds and when you go through one of these your life is forever changed. These events are Death, Divorce, Dumped Downsized and Diagnosis. The one common thread between all of these is they result in you suffering a loss that is significant, so significant that you are forced to reevaluate your life. This week I want to talk about how these five stressful situations change your life forever, the good news is, how they change your life is up to you!

The 5D's that Will Change Your Life

Death

When we go through the loss of a loved one, our lives are inevitably turned upside down. In this case, there is the expected grieving process, (which I have talked about in other blogs), and then there is the inevitable need to redefine your life without that person being a part of it. This is a scary step, looking forward and realizing your loved one will not physically be there. In my personal situation, all my future plans were no longer a possibility, at least not in the way I had been planning, as they were all tied to my husband. This is the case, to some degree, I believe most deaths. When a loved one passes on, all the future plans that were envisioned with them are just gone! This can be extremely hard to adjust to and I feel that, in my case, that was one of the hardest things to reconcile. I had to rebuild a whole new life without my husband. If you have been through the death of a loved one I am sure you can relate to this confusion and apprehension about the unknown future.

 

Dumped or Divorced

The second D’s kind of go together – Divorce and Dumped. I class these two together because they are similar in the nature of the loss, loss of a significant relationship. When you have gone through these D’s, life is again all a mystery. Supporting clients through the rebuilding process after the end of their significant relationship, I have found that not only do they have to rebuild their lives without their partner, they also have feelings of betrayal, trust and judgement to cope with. Sometimes they are even forced, for family reasons, to face the other person on a regular basis. Therefore, not only are they going through the grieving process for the loss of their relationship they also are dealing with a lot of self-doubt in the form of ‘should haves’ and ‘could haves’. The rebuilding process for someone who has gone through this type of loss inevitably travels through a path of forgiveness (at some level) – forgiveness for themselves and the other person, which can be extremely difficult.

The 5D's that Will Change Your Life

 

 

Downsizing

This D involves the loss of a job. This may not seem like much for someone who has not gone through it but losing our job is incredibly stressful.  We spend a lot of our time and energy at our work. This means that for most of us, it is not only a job and a paycheck that we have lost, but also our social and self-identities which are intricately tied to our vocation. Think about it. For most of us even if our day ends at 5:00 we can still be caught thinking about that upcoming project, that client or that sales pitch late into the evening. Also, because we spend so much time at work we have associates there that we socialize with. When we lose our job we not only need to find another job we are also forced to redefine ourselves socially and reevaluate our self-identity, too. This can be very difficult especially if the downsizing came as a surprise or if we don’t have an explanation for why it happened. We inevitably start to question our abilities. This questioning then leads to a lot of self-doubt which is very stressful!

Diagnosis

The last D is . A diagnosis means the loss of our state of health. To whatever degree doesn’t matter, we go from a good state of health to a worse state of health. This is not just physical diagnoses but mental diagnoses also. When we receive a diagnosis, there is an adjustment period, where you question “Why me?”. This is natural!

Whatever the diagnosis may be, we have important choices for our future that need to be made, and this is extremely stressful! The choices we make affect all areas of our life. When my husband went through this, he grieved for the loss of his well-being, he tried to make sense of the situation, he moved through the feelings of helplessness. After this adjustment, he moved into a place of empowerment where he took active steps to work within his diagnosis. The journey for someone who has gone through this D is a path paved through a redesigning of your life that will best work towards your health goals.

The 5D's that Will Change Your Life

 

 

Although all of these losses are different on the surface, they are very similar in the paths to rebuild. All of these D’s impact every area of our life. Whether the loss is family, career or health, every other area of your life is inevitably impacted too! That is why these five situations are so stressful! Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, no “one size fits all” solution that will return your life to balance. This is why everyone’s journey looks very different and involves completely different roads. The only similarity is that they involve the complete rebuilding of your life.

Now What?

In my experience, my best advice for any of you who are going through one of these D’s is, this is an opportune time to get to know yourself intimately! It is an invitation for you to understand who you are, authentically! If you are up for this deep dive into yourself the rewards are endless. When you understand who you are and when it comes to the rebuilding of your life ‘post-D’, you will be able to rebuild a life that suits you, that excites you, a life that you are passionate about. I am not going to lie, this is not an easy path, but it is not as difficult as most of us imagine and it is well worth the effort!  If you are ready, a good first step on this path is to journal around the questions of who you really are and what you really want! Once you get this clarity, the next steps become much easier!

Move Through Anger in 3 Simple Steps

Anger is something we all deal with from time to time. Anger itself is not a problem it is very natural, what we do with our anger is where some of us get in to trouble. It’s not the anger itself that has the consequences it’s when we act on it or try to stuff it. No matter if you consider yourself a fly off the handle type person or not we can all use some steps to help us move through anger.

It may come as a surprise to some of you but our emotions like anger physically only last 90 seconds. A lot of you may be saying that is not true it last hours, days, weeks, even years. The truth is it can last that long but the original feeling of anger only last 90 seconds what keeps the anger around is your thinking. When we ruminate on the event that we are upset about, then we continue to stoke the fire of the anger and that is why it stays around. If we can be practice these 3 steps we can feel the anger and move through it.

 

Step 1 Breathe into the anger.

When an event happens and you can feel the anger starting to bubble up inside your pulse quickens, your body tenses and your eyes focus, take a deep breath, let it come and wait 90 seconds. It’s important we do no try push the anger aside, if we do not let our bodies naturally return to a balanced state we risk further strain on our bodies and this energy being trapped in our bodies. It may sound simple but let your biology do what it is supposed to do, breath into the anger and let it pass naturally!

For example you get cut off in traffic, the initial reaction is “Oh shit!”, your knuckles tighten on the steering wheel, you become hyper focused on your environment most likely your body is tensed up and you may feel a pit in your stomach. It is at this point that you need to take a couple deep breaths, let the 90 seconds pass. When your adrenal is pumping like this it is pointless to try and make sense of anything your body knows what it needs to do trust it!

Once this initial physical anger reaction has passed then you have a choice. Do you want to keep fueling the fire or do you want to let it go.

Step 2 Practice awareness.

Now that the anger has passed you need to watch your thoughts. It is at this point that we either choose to fuel the anger or we choose to steer our thinking towards creating calm.

To understand the is next step we need to be clear on what anger is. Anger is often compared to an iceberg the 10% shown above the water is actual anger, the 90% below the water is actually what is going on. Put simply our anger is the result of us feeling uncomfortable feelings, they make us feel vulnerable so we mask these vulnerable uncomfortable feelings with anger, because when we are angry we feel like we have power and control. Therefore, if we can identify and deal with the underlying emotions it makes it so much easier for you to let go and let the anger pass.

In the example of being cut off, now that our initial anger physical response has passed and we can direct our thoughts towards what is really going on. A great question to ask yourself is:

What are the feelings underneath the anger?

When we get cut off our underlying feelings could be fear for our safety and/or disrespected by the other person. If we can identify these underlying feeling then we can deal with them, rather than ruminating on them.

If you have identified that you are feeling fearful and disrespected, then you can simply say to yourself “wow that was scary, you are safe now” or “that person disrespected me but probably not on purpose”. When we direct our thoughts towards resolving the underlying emotions then we have no need to ruminate. If on the other hand we get cut off and for the rest of the drive our thoughts are that “person is such a jerk”, “didn’t they see me”, “how can they be so rude”, “I could have gotten seriously hurt”, “I could have hit another person” and so on. Reading those you can probably see these are fueling the anger. When we continue our thinking in this direction we are in effect reliving the initial event and we are keeping our bodies in a stressed state. Yuck!

Move Through Anger in 3 Simple Steps

Step 3 Forgiveness.

This step may be one of the hardest steps. Although if you have gone through the first 2 steps it will be a lot easier. When we have let our bodies return to a calm state, and we have identified and dealt with the underlying feelings then it is time to forgive and move on. In the example of being cut off this may be a simple step, I forgive the other driver as he was not trying to hurt me and probably didn’t see me, easy! Forgiveness gets more difficult when we are looking at more serious events. There is way too much information to cover on forgiveness for more serious events than I have time in this blog, that’s a topic for another day. What I can say here is that forgiveness is about your health and really has nothing to do with the other person! When we forgive it does not mean that we condone the others’ actions what it does mean is that you are no longer willing to hold the negative energy anymore and you are ready to let it go; for yourself. If this is something you struggle with it may help to remind yourself that we all make mistakes, no one is perfect.

These 3 simple steps can help you move through anger so that it doesn’t consume you. Next time you feel yourself getting angry try them, it may seem weird at first but just like with anything the more you practice the easier it gets.

We all deserve a happy, healthy life, holding on to our anger stories works directly against this.

5 Warning Signs-It’s Time to Make a Change!

Change can seem really scary! Most of us don’t realize we stay stuck in prisons of our own making, fearing change, we would rather stay stuck than take steps to make our lives better.  Here are 5 warning signs that it’s time to make some changes.

5 Warning Signs-It’s Time to Make a Change!

1. Language

Listen to your language is it full of “I have to” rather than “I want to”. Do you go through most of your day feeling like you have to do things rather than wanting to do things? Of course there are always a few things that need to be done, but if the majority of your tasks are feeling like an obligation then it’s time to consider making some changes, no one wants to live a life full of “have tos”. It’s draining.

2. Energy

Do you find that you have no energy? Does it feel like you are carrying around a 100-pound weight? Often when we are feel this way, it literally feels like life is weighing us down. We are holding on to a lot of “energetic” weight that is slowing us down and zapping our energy, this is because we are carrying a lot of baggage. We are weighing ourselves down with our doubts, and insecurities and every moment we stay in that situation, we are adding to the weight. We intuitively know what is best for us and when we work against that we are dragging the weight of this and that zaps our energy.

3. Bargaining  

Do you find yourself bargaining for happiness? Are you constantly setting boundaries for your happiness like “When I finish this project then I’ll be happy”, “When I get that raise then I will enjoy work”, “When its summer then I’ll be in a better mood”. If you are constantly bargaining for happiness and joy, then you are not living in the moment and you are placing your happiness on the back burner. Why wait?

4.Waking up!

When the alarm sounds and you roll out of bed, do you experience a feeling of “ugh” and hit the snooze button a few times? Is your feeling while you are getting ready for your day an internal monologue of you trying to muster the energy to face the day? I think in our culture it is expected to complain about work, but if you are feeling like this every morning – dreading getting up, wanting to pull the covers over your head and hide – that’s a warning sign.

 

5 Warning Signs-It’s Time to Make a Change!

 

5. Physical

Are you physically feeling agitated? Our bodies are great at giving us signs that we are living out of balance and if our body is starting to show signs of agitation and stress, then we should consider making some changes. We may develop new habits like biting nails, grinding teeth, or biting our lips. Or more seriously we may be noticing ailments and having symptoms that our bodies are in a state of stress and out of balance. Listening to your body is imperative and if your body is showing signs that it is time to make changes, then it’s wise to listen.

If you recognize some of these warning signs, you have a choice!

Take the warning and decide to make some changes, or are you choosing to stay stuck in the out of balance life you are living? Change does not have to be big, sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impact. So, this means you do not necessarily have to quit your job, leave your relationships and move away, but there are little steps you can take that can bring you more balance.

Small simple changes you can make today!

Volunteer – Find a volunteer position that meets your needs and excites you. If you are not passionate about your work, find somewhere you can volunteer that you are passionate about.

Practice self- care – Honour yourself with an iron clad agreement to complete a self-care regiment to keep your sanity.

Find a hobby – Get a hobby that sparks your interest and brings you joy! Not something you should do but want to do. Make candles, build models, practice photography, the choices are endless!

Start an exercise program – Get a gym membership, join a class, start working off some of the stresses of your day.

Practice yoga – Yoga works on mind, body and spirit. Join a class or download an app and start practicing yoga regularly.

Find a new social group – Look for a new social group that has similar interests and that can support you.

Start mindfulness practices – Learning to practice mindfulness, and having a regular practice can assist you in destressing and understanding yourself better.

Start eating a healthier diet – Our food is our energy and changing our diet to be healthier can impact not only our bodies but our minds and emotions as well.

 

5 Warning Signs-It’s Time to Make a Change!

Small Changes, Big Shifts

These are all little things that can result in huge shifts in your life. They do not require completely uprooting your life and making massive changes. Who knows what will happen? If you make one of these simple changes, you may shift your energy and find the happiness that you are looking for, or maybe it may shift the energy so that you are more prepared to make some bigger changes. Whatever the result, if you are noticing the warning signs that change is needed then heed the warning. Take one step today towards a happier life!

Bring on the Positive! Affirmations at Work

Affirmations are a great way to help us make changes in our lives. We can use them to help us shift our energy and motivate us to live the life we want to live. In this blog, I am going to share some of my current favorite affirmations and give you some guidelines on creating your own.

Bring on the positive! Affirmations at Work

These five affirmations are the current ones I am working with. The affirmations I use change as I grow.

“I am enough”

I use this one quite often, especially at times when I am feeling like I don’t measure up, I have envisioned that I have not performed or am beating myself up about a perceived shortcoming.

“I am perfectly imperfect and that is ok.”

As mentioned in last weeks’ post, this is a new one for me that I use when my perfectionist is rearing its ugly head.

“I am grateful for my experiences”

This one I use to help remind me that, good or bad, there is always something to be grateful for. Even in the most difficult situations there is something you can be grateful for. I have discussed in previous posts the importance of practicing gratitude and this affirmation reminds me of that, and helps me change my perspective.

“Love and peace and joy are what I know”

This helps guide my mind to focus on the positive. I have a choice with how I view a situation and this affirmation guides me to view it through a lens of love and peace and joy.

“I trust the process of life to bring me highest good”

This one reminds me to trust in the process of life and it brings me out of a place of fear of the unknown future, and moves me away from a victim mentality to one of trusting the process. When I am in a space of feeling like life is picking on me, it grounds me.

These are my favorite go to affirmations! I use them regularly in the situations mentioned above. They are a powerful way of changing my thinking, stopping old patterns, grounding me and bringing me back to a balanced place.

 

When I introduce a new affirmation, I start practicing them when I am in a balanced place to get myself accustomed to them and to anchor them to a calm, positive, balanced energy space. This is important because I am training my brain so that when I repeat them, it brings me back to that balanced energy. When starting out don’t begin reciting when you are in the throws of the negative experience you are trying to change. For example, if you are creating an affirmation about abundance then don’t start practicing the affirmation when you are about to sit down to pay your credit card bill and you are stressed; rather start saying them in the mornings before you start your day, and maybe throughout your day, then when they are starting to feel stronger you can start to use them in stressful times like when you are paying your credit card bill. This is similar to training your physical body. You wouldn’t try to lift a 200-pound weight without first practicing with lighter weights!

 

Bring on the positive! Affirmations at Work

 

Create your Own

If any of the above situations are suitable for you, feel free to use the above affirmations. If not you can always create your own! Here are some guidelines to writing your own affirmations.

  1. Reflect on the positive – You want to use positive terms when creating affirmations. Rather than focusing on what you don’t want, focus on what you do want! Instead of saying “I don’t want to be stressed”, say “I am feeling calm and centered.”
  2. Use “I” – Make it personal. You are not responsible, nor can you change someone else’s behavior, so make your affirmation about you. Try “I am open to other’s opinions” rather than “So and So agrees with me”.
  3. Use present tense – Rather than focusing on the past which we cannot change or focusing on the future which is undetermined, focus on the present. By using something like “I am” rather than “I will”, you are stating your intention for now, not at some undetermined time in the future.
  4. Keep it short – Keep the affirmations short and sweet. Focus on one thing, not numerous things. It is best if you can repeat your affirmations from memory. For example, an affirmation like “I am feeling successful, happy, abundant, at peace, balanced and smart.” Is too long and contains too many different areas. Instead “I am at peace in my life.” Or “I experience abundance all around me.” These are clearer and more focused.
  5. Lastly, make them personally relevant to you. – The more personal they are, the more impact they have! If you are working on a specific belief or circumstance in your life, create an affirmation around how you would prefer to feel in that situation. For example, if you are trying to create a better work place, “I view my work place as joyous.”

Using affirmations can be a great way to get you moving in the direction you want, in creating your dream life. Using them often helps set your intention and change outdated patterns. When you are working with a specific affirmation, use it often. Words have power!

Time for sharing! Do you have an affirmation that you love? Please share your favorites below, I would love to see them and they may help others too.

Perfectionism- Part 2- and What to do!

Now that you have had a chance to digest the information from a couple weeks ago, about being a perfectionist (I know I needed time!) and you have probably moved from resistance into acceptance, you may have recognized that your perfectionism might be a problem, even if only sometimes! I think it is important to understand why I think we develop a perfectionist voice in the first place and how I keep mine in balance.

A quick recap from last week’s blog. My belief was that being a perfectionist is a motivator, a lot of people believe this. In my life, I thought it was what kept me moving forward, and what I realize now is that it wasn’t a motivator, instead it hindered my momentum and growth. So why do so many of us have a such a strong attraction to being a perfectionist?

Perfectionism a problem?

Perfectionism as an Armor

Brene Brown states that we use perfectionism as armor to protect us from vulnerability. I completely agree! But what is so vulnerable about being not perfect? I think this relates to our core need to belong, and we think that if we are perfect then we can’t be judged or rejected.

For me it starts with our primal need to belong. This need has developed over generations for very real reasons. In primitive times, if our ancestors did not belong to their tribe, the consequence could and most likely would be death. This also true for us an infants. Therefore, the need to belong boils down to survival. Today, our survival may not be on the line, but we still feel this strong need to belong. If you doubt this, talk to a youth in high school – they would do almost anything to fit in!

Fear of Rejection

So, we start with this need to belong, from this need comes a fear of rejection. When we fear something, we avoid anything that could make the situation a reality. Therefore, if we fear rejection we do what we can to not be singled out and we do everything we can to fit in. A type of rejection is being judged, therefore in our minds we take in information that will help us avoid being judged and ultimately rejected. To help us we create an idealized vision of the “perfect”….. mother, employee, entrepreneur, wife, social worker, and so on. We internalize these ideals and strive to attain them… to fit in.

These ideals are the playground for our perfectionist. Once we have an ideal, our perfectionist compare us to it and tries to keep us in line for fear of judgment and rejection.

This may sound complex an example may help clarify. In my life, I have talked about my career in the human services field, my version of the perfect social worker was selfless, non-judgmental, always positive, all knowing…the list goes on and on. I strived to be all those things for fear that others would see that I was not a “perfect” social worker. I would push myself and chastise myself when I fell short of the ideal. That was my perfectionist!

Perfectionism a problem?

 

The Snowball Effect

Now consider that I was not only a social worker. I was a friend, wife, puppy parent, daughter, coworker, family and community member as well. All these roles also held an idealized version and, to be all of those “perfectly” all the time, is impossible, and exhausting! When I would judge myself, I would assume others were judging me as well, so I would push harder to reach that ideal. The thing is, as mentioned last time, perfectionism itself is unattainable. So, I was like a hamster on a wheel, running faster and faster in efforts to keep up with the ideal and to avoid judgement and rejection. What I realize now is that this striving for perfection in one area inevitably stole time and energy from other areas (i.e. the more I tried to be a perfect social worker, the less energy and time I made for my relationships), which then brought on whole new self-judgements. And that is when things begin to snowball!

perfectionism a problem?

It’s kind of crazy when you think about it: We push ourselves to be perfect and then beat ourselves when we don’t measure up, which makes us feel like we are not good enough so we start to pull away from others for fear they will notice our imperfections. The result is that we end up losing the connections that we feared losing in the first place!  Crazy making stuff!!

What I do…

Since I have had that big “a-ha” I have adopted a simple mantra that works to bring me back to balance. When I notice, my perfectionism is ranting, I simply say to myself “You are perfectly imperfect and that is good enough.”  Sounds simple, for me it has really worked. Saying this reminds me perfection is unattainable and brings me back to a balanced place where I understand that I am not perfect and that is ok!

This is something that I have to practice, almost daily and it all started with the realization that perfectionism is not a motivator but rather a roadblock!

Let Your Inner Child Play!

This week I have had the opportunity to let my inner child play! It was liberating. To be honest, I guess it was more my inner youth, nonetheless liberating.

I recently returned from a road trip with one of my dearest friends where we had been exploring the US. On this road trip, we went to a New Kids On The Block concert. As an adult, I am not that big into music, I realize now it’s something I just let slip by the wayside. When my friend found the tickets, I thought “Sure why not?”

Boy am I glad I did!

As soon as the concert started, I heard songs that instantly brought me back to my youth! It was so neat to experience the totally excited 14-year-old in me, she was excited beyond words and that is something I have not felt in a long time. I was instantly brought back to my 14-year-old self who danced around the basement, had posters of the band on the wall and fantasized about the cute boys. She was so enthusiastic, so full of life, so optimistic and so passionate. What an amazing experience to feel her, to be her again. I could feel her absolute excitement about being at the concert. I could feel at times that my adult “in control” serious side wanted to squash her as I didn’t want to look silly, I overrode the impulse and let her play! It was exhilarating!

Let your inner child play!

 

What a blessing for this experience!

After the concert, I started thinking about that it was at around that age that I started really struggling to find my identity, which is the plight of adolescence. It is during this time that the need to fit starts to outweigh almost everything; the primal fear of rejection pushes us to start to sacrifice parts of our personality that we deem undesirable. Parts that might get us singled out or that someone might reject. I am sure I am not alone in this! Allowing the 14-year-old in me to come out and play gave me the opportunity to reassure her that she is perfect the way she is and that she is good enough! This was so liberating and healing! So, needless to say, she played that night at the concert and I reconciled some deep wounds of suppression.

I will let her play!

As I continue this journey into myself, I am finding that there are more of these traits. They are like treasures that I am dusting off and putting back on display. What a cool experience! Of course, there is some shame for having hid them in the first place. I have always advocated for owning who you are and I believe that completely, but as with most things, we are harder on ourselves. Continuing on this journey, I find myself curious and excited to see what other treasures I will find. And I made a promise to myself that when my inner child/youth arises I will let her play! Oh and of course dance!!

 

 

 

Perfectionism a Problem? Really?

Perfectionism a Problem? Really?

I have been running this blog through my head for weeks, and finally I am ready to write it! The funny thing is, I haven’t wanted to write it because I wanted it to be perfect, guess I still have some work to do!

I was convinced that perfectionism could not be a problem!

Listening to Brene Brown’s books Daring Greatly and The Power of Vulnerability, she talks about how perfection is an armor that we use to protect ourselves from vulnerability. I must admit when I first heard this I thought “NOPE!!!!!” It made me uncomfortable (perhaps even angry) and physically nauseated, I wanted to throw up! I had flashbacks of my life when I had proudly stated “I am a perfectionist!” The more I let this sink in, the more I wanted to disprove it and find examples of events in my life that could prove that it was untrue. I was convinced that perfectionism could not be a problem! After all, it pushes you to achieve, it keeps you at your best and it keeps you on your toes…and on and on I went, trying to justify why being a perfectionist was a good thing! The more, I listened to Brene talk about it, (honestly, over and over), I finally let go of my resistance and with some awareness, willingness and a whole lot of self- compassion, I began to accept that maybe my perfectionism was not the motivator I thought it was.

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The problem with perfectionism is: Is there ever perfect enough?

After receiving a good performance review at work, the first thing my mind would focus on would be the one slightly less than great comment. My mind would say ‘not perfect’. When I would receive a compliment on my cooking, typically I would reply with something like “I wish I would have…”, implying that the dish did not turn out ‘perfect enough’. When my husband would tell me I looked beautiful, I would respond “I still need to lose a few more pounds”. You guessed it, ‘not perfect’ was playing in my head. That is the thing with perfection, the very meaning of it means it is unreachable. Could you ever really be perfect in a perfectionist mind frame? No, because there is no such thing as perfect and when you do reach a milestone or make some headway the perfectionist in you says, “Oh no you didn’t”, and moves the mark. You are like a rabbit chasing a carrot at the end of the stick, you keep running and running but will never get the carrot. And, if by chance you do achieve a goal and for a minute recognize your accomplishment, the perfectionist will poke holes in it and point out how it really wasn’t ‘perfect enough’. It is never ending and crazy making!

How can we put ourselves out there if we are waiting for everything to be perfect?

The other side of perfectionism, according to Brene Brown , is that it kills creativity and innovation. How can we put ourselves out there if we are waiting for everything to be perfect? We can’t! The biggest thing that stands out in my life is my procrastination on sharing my photography. The self-talk tape I would play when someone would give me a compliment on my photos was never-ending. When I would look at my photos I would pick them apart like a vulture. I was ruthless in my judgement and the underlying message was “These are not perfect you can’t put them out there!” And so, I didn’t! There would be times I would sit in front of Photoshop working on a picture and after a couple of hours I had only cropped one single picture – no word of a lie! Back and forth I would go, the little cropping lines taunting “you are not going to get this perfect”. I was paralyzed and then frustration would set in and eventually, I would give up. To be honest this still happens sometimes, but now I just walk away for a little while until I can get my perfectionism in balance. Then I return and finish the picture.

Perfectionism a Problem? Really?

Having this understanding I now think, “Thank goodness there are people out there who have learned to keep their inner perfectionist in check.” Otherwise there would be no creativity and innovation and I imagine we would still be living in caveman times if that was the case.

Although I resisted it at first (OK let’s be honest, I full out rejected it), I can now see that the more I am aware of my perfectionist and the more I can keep her in balance, the more I accomplish! The coolest thing is, I am enjoying it too! As a recovering perfectionist, I can tell you that you don’t accomplish less you actually accomplish more!

So I leave you with this question, “What has your perfectionism stopped you from doing?”

Release It!

When I attended my yoga class, our instructor advised the class that it was a full moon this week. Our practice was based all around releasing. Therefore, I thought this would be the perfect topic for the week.

Releasing can be either in the physical sense or it can be on a spiritual, emotional or psychological level.  There are two sides to releasing. First, a natural grieving for the letting go process and, on the other side, an excitement for opening of space for something new.

Too often we focus on the difficulty of the letting go!

We equate letting go with leaving the comfortable and the known. Many of us subscribe to the old saying “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. But if we ascribe to this, we end up staying in relationships that don’t serve our highest good, we hold on to grudges and negative feelings that are stealing our joy, we stay in situations that are either stunting our growth or are harming us; all for the safety of the known. I understand the compulsion to stay in the comfort, even when it is uncomfortable. In my experience, when I am resisting moving forward the Universe finds a way to help me make that move!

 

Release it!

We are the captains of our lives and we intuitively know what is best for us!

Often, we either consciously or unconsciously talk ourselves out of making those changes for a variety of reasons. We think we are better staying where we are because it is known. Usually, when we do this we feel agitated and stressed we may not realize why we are feeling that way but we just don’t feel right. We find ourselves feeling exhausted and like we are banging our head against the wall, or running around in circles. We feel this way because this is exactly what we are doing we are using our energy to go against what we know in our gut is right for us.

In my experience, I have found that the more I continue to resist the truth the worse I feel and slowly but surely, I am disengaging from my life; only showing up halfheartedly to everything. Even the things I truly love, being stuck is energy sucking. It is usually then that the Universe finds a way to intervene and assists me in making the move that I didn’t feel I could do on my own!

 

Release it!

The issue with this is that if we are not aware of the gift of being moved forward then we often end up feeling resentful for how the situation ended.

In my life, I have been gifted by the Universe many times over when I was not able to move forward; I am trying to hold on to the old and comfortable. I see this same pattern with the people around me. One friend, found herself staying in a relationship that was holding her back, she stayed because she felt that it was her responsibility to work on the relationship. She believed in the vows she had taken and tried to make the relationship grow with her. The problem was that she was the only one trying. Her spouse, for his own reasons, was not willing to grow. She begged, pleaded, argued and cried trying to get her partner to grow with her; to no avail. She continued to stay in the relationship because she was holding out hope. It wasn’t until she started to see the effect this was having on the rest of her life and the lives of her children. She had been sacrificing herself to stay and that was causing friction in all areas of her life. She was withdrawing from a career she loved, she was constantly feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. That was the point when she finally listened to her intuition and made the decision; it was time to leave the relationship. And she did! She released the belief that she needed to make the relationship work and opened up to the unknown of being a single parent. Since this releasing she has found a happiness that she had not felt for a long time. She has rekindled friendships and most important she has honoured her inner wisdom and is feeling more confident and present in her life.

Release It!

 

Now I am not saying that you need to get a divorce, or quit the job, or leave the partner. That doesn’t have to be the only solution. In her case this was, but maybe in your case there is a belief that needs to be released that will completely shift the situation. Maybe you feel that you have to be perfect and that is causing strain, maybe you believe that to a good wife or mother you need to be self-sacrificing, or maybe you believe that at your age you should be married so you are settling for less than you deserve in your relationship. When you are able to release the belief, the person, the emotion, or the situation then things can and will shift. You will be releasing the old that is not working for you and opening up space for something new that suits who you are.

I guess it really all boils down to a choice.

Do you want to stay stuck and keep banging your head against the wall or do you want to release what is not working to welcome something new? I know when I become aware of something that I need to release I choose to release because I know the alternative is hard and, to be honest, it sucks!

All that said ask yourself, with this full moon in effect, “What is it that you are ready to release?”, so that you can open the space for something new!