Some might disagree with my title. That’s OK. I believe no matter what is happening to or around us, we can choose how we will respond. As we enter into a Presidential election here in the States, it’s easy to allow other’s words or actions dictate our words and actions. You have more power than that.
I like to start with breathing. Slow your breathing down. Let your exhale be longer than your inhale for a few breath cycles. Begin to notice what you are feeling emotionally and physically. Notice your thoughts. Allow the situation to just “be” without having to judge the situation or act on it. Just pause, breathe, and notice.
After a few minutes, consider if there is any action you still want to take. Standing up for something you believe in is healthy but not if it is meant to be intentionally hurtful to another. That’s retaliation. I generally don’t think retaliation comes from a centered, grounded place inside. I think of it as a reactionary way to hurt another because you believe they hurt you. If it’s retaliatory, go back through the breathing, non-judgmental, non-reactive, just be with it place. Give it some time. Perhaps you will change your mind and find a healthier step you choose to take.
Tired of the same story new day theme we are living right now? Even with some areas loosening restrictions, most of the loosening (if you even have that) isn’t different from what we’ve been doing. We’re still being guided to wear masks, limit outings, and minimize contact with others. Personally, I’m over it. While I understand the necessity of this (after all my daughter who is in the at-risk group lives with us) I just don’t see how the shut downs are a long term solution. Even as a short term solution this has been devastating for so many across the globe. This simply isn’t sustainable. In my mind, we’re done. We’re not doing it anymore. But in reality, I have to abide by the rules. This creates conflict.
What do we do when our mind wants one thing and reality dictates another? We wrestle until we give up. Think of a two year old who wants her way. The caregiver says, “No” and follows through. The two year old throws a fit on the ground until she’s worn out and stops protesting. Then the caregiver gently pulls this pile-of-a-spent-tantrum child into her arms with a soothing voice, “It’s so hard when you really want something but can’t have it…” Brushing tear soaked strands of hair away from tear stained eyes. Caressing this spent child’s chubby cheeks and sealing it all with a sweet kiss.
I’m not two and there’s no one to really hold me like that. But I need it and you probably do, too. What do we do? When all else fails, we have to give this acceptance to ourselves. Try a visualization. Allow yourself to have that temper tantrum. Feel the anger and sadness all wrapped up in a powerful force. Cry if you need to, scream in your mind or into a pillow. Flail in the safety of your bed or in your mind if you don’t have that luxury. When the fit is over, cradle yourself in your arms. When I do this, I usually see God inviting me up into His lap. He gently envelops me in his powerful arms and soothes me. That might not be what works for you. Find a loving figure or your adult self and see them holding you, soothing you. Take a deep breath expanding your entire chest cavity. Exhale long and slow. Let it all out. Repeat. Let your body relax. Now go do something good for yourself that is healthy, legal and wise 🙂
From certain angles the pandemic and its effects are just too much to deal with. It seems you have no choice but to succumb to the despair. That’s one view. What we know about humans is we have the ability to look at the exact same situation and see a variety of realities all occurring at the same time. With this ability comes choice and hope.
What can you do to get out of despair or protect yourself from falling down that slippery slope?
Enlist your ability to choose and have power over your circumstances:
You get to decide the view you want. You can look at the circumstances around you and see all the bad or you can look for the good. Maybe you have COVID-19, feel miserable and are quarantined. The good here is if you are reading this it tells me you have internet access and a device to stay connected to others. You likely have shelter, too. What else can you come up with that is positive?
You can choose the attitude you want to have. You can be grouchy or kind. This doesn’t mean ignore your true emotional experience. If you feel mad, sad or angry, give yourself space to feel the emotion. Go through the emotion processing technique I wrote about last week. Then decide if you want to move toward a more peaceful state.
Engage in activities that elicit joy or at the very least busy your mind so you don’t swirl in the negative. This can be simple like going outside and listening to the birds or more complex like cleaning out your closet. Finding a way to volunteer or help others can also do a lot to move you to sense of purpose which helps with feeling more peace within.
One of my favorite reads related to choice is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. He found purpose and choice as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. If he mustered up the ability to choose in those dire circumstances, we can, too!
If gaining Power Over Circumstances is a challenge for you, join me for an interactive online workshop this Monday April 6 7-8:30p MDT for $20. Enrollment limited to 20 people. Click here to sign up.
Deep down we all want to be seen. We want to know we matter, that who we are at our core, all messy and wonderful, is accepted. Do you have that experience at home, with family, with friends, at work, anywhere? For some, your answer is, “No where and with no one”. You keep who you are at the deepest levels hidden. It feels safer that way. But it has a price. It’s isolating and it’s limiting your capacity to do, to be, to excel.
I know something about both sides of this. I know what it is to hold my cards very close, not to let you see the real me. I also know the freeing experience of being seen, truly seen, at-the-core-of-who-I-am seen and it is a powerful place to be. I invite you to join me there. To surround yourself with people who see you, know you, and love you in the midst of the beauty and the mess. They also let you see them in their beauty and mess.
It’s in being seen and loved that we heal. The pain of our past is tenderly bandaged and we begin to move beyond the limits the injuries created. We find connection in our relationships and new found exhilaration in our work. We find our stride and bring to this planet more light and love and creativity. Our world desperately needs this…you desperately need this. Come join me and find it!
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We rush through our days, flitting from event to event but often forget to stop and savor the moments. Life becomes a blur. We lose our purpose (or never stopped long enough to even ponder what it might be). Maybe right now, in this moment, you can stop. Stop reading and just be still. Notice your breath, what it feels like to breathe. Notice what’s around you, the sounds, smells, sights, air. Feel your body. What’s it like to be in your own skin? Notice tension or pain. Let your shoulders relax. Unclench your jaw. Breathe. You can do this throughout your day. Take time to be still and simply notice (without judgment) what’s happening the moment.
Anna is slowly healing. She goes to Pulmonary Rehab Monday through Friday where she walks, bikes, lifts tiny weights, and stretches. Tuesdays are the exception because that’s the day she goes to the clinic to see various medical personnel and her counselor. Yesterday, while waiting for her during one of her appointments, I was reading Jesus Calling. It’s a daily encouragement…like God calling you to tell you just how much He loves you.
It started out, “This is a time of abundance in your life…you are now traipsing through lush meadows drenched in warm sunshine…” at about this point I literally sighed, scoffing at these words. Abundance?!? A Meadow?!? Uh, no, I’m sitting in a hallway-turned-waiting-room on a rain soaked, dreary Durham day. My daughter is struggling to recover from her lung transplant. This isn’t my home. I am not working because I am busy taking care of my daughter and without working in my counseling practice I don’t make money. Hello! Abundance??? I don’t think so.
It was a lovely rant. As I stopped to take a breath, I realized instantly that I had missed the point. All those things that are hard in my life right now are true. I am also deeply loved by God. I could stop here and that would be enough. But wait! There’s more! My daughter is being cared for by one of the top lung transplant teams in the country. We are warm and dry on this cold wet day. I have access to healthy food and clean water…I am living in abundance! Sometimes it just takes tilting my brain to see things from a new perspective.