Tuesday, December 23, 2014

These Are the Times

Considering the end of the year approaching, I wanted to write something extra this week. I wanted to write something that was so positive that everyone who read it would leave feeling fully encouraged. I wanted to write a post that readers could tell their friends, "You have to see this!" I wanted to write a great message in preparation for the new year. However, if I'm being honest, 2014 knocked the wind out of me. Sure, there have been wonderfully fabulous times. I visited beautiful cities with the beautiful people with whom I share my life. I have grown stronger. I told my story publicly without turning into an emotional wreck. I have laughed loudly, eaten well, loved hard, and been extremely grateful. Still, this year has been a force. As I stare at this blinking cursor, I wonder where I will find enough encouragement and sunshine to share while I am yet trying to catch my breath.

In a dream world, when a new year starts, all that plagued you in the past ends. You hit a magic reset button with the flip of the calendar. This is life, though, and there is no reset button. Difficulty and uncertainty will try to cuddle up next to you and make themselves at home. Circumstances and challenges don't care about your resolutions or promises to get it right this time. Life is not interested in making you comfortable. Life is instead always leading you—leading you to become more than you imagine, with greater purpose than you believe, and with more love than you feel you deserve. For that reason, these times of uncertainty aren't intended to rock your foundation so hard that you give up. These are the times that rebuild that foundation and help you discover the truth. These are the times when you step out of the comfort of where and who you've always been and step closer to where and who you are destined to become. These are the times you evolve.

Even with all that you have to be grateful for, maybe you feel like this year, or even the last few years, have knocked the wind out of you. Maybe you discovered that someone who said s/he would always support you had conditions on that support. Maybe someone you love became ill or passed away. Maybe your sense of security or safety was shaken by a job loss or traumatic event. In either circumstance(s), these are the times when you rebuild your foundation. These are the times when you discover and affirm your truth. These are the times when you step out of what was and up toward who you were destined to become. These are the times when you catch your breath and take that first step.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Power of Your Thoughts

Imagine having a friend who rarely has a kind word and constantly spews harsh criticism. Imagine every time you eat anything from a salad to a bowl of ice cream her saying, "You need to loose weight," or "You're so fat." Imagine how you would feel if when you saw someone you found attractive that friend telling you, "S/he couldn't possibly be interested in you. You'll be single forever." Imagine her telling you every morning, "You don't matter." Consider how you would feel about yourself hearing this friend say, "You're not good enough. Not for a better job. Not for a partner. Not for a life of meaning." How long would you allow her to be a part of your life? How long would it take before you kept your distance, stopped taking her calls, or simply told her to shut up?

This example seems extreme, but sadly, this kind of discouraging conversation is common. It may not reflect how any of your friends speak to you, but the sentiments are familiar because this is the same type of messaging that is allowed in your head. You wouldn't permit this kind of disregard from others, but what happens when the culprit of cruelty is you? Do you fully understand the magnitude of the damage you are doing to yourself? And if you do, are you ready to stop?

What you say to yourself is either working for you or against you. There is no middle ground. Your thoughts aren't without consequence or impact. Your thoughts have a direct influence because your future is scripted by your internal dialogue. You surround yourself with those who support your beliefs and those who do not support your beliefs are dismissed. You act in ways that confirm what you think. Essentially, what you tell yourself is how you live. You constantly seek confirmation on what you believe about yourself.

Your life is not over, too far gone, nor ruined. Stop telling yourself that! You are not worthless, broken, nor unlovable. Stop telling yourself that! Your desires are not silly, unattainable, nor impossible. Stop telling yourself that! You are afraid to believe the truth—that you have worth, that you are valuable, and that you deserve love—because you are afraid to hope. You have convinced yourself that it's better to not have expectations and be surprised than to have them and be disappointed. You have convinced yourself to live fearfully instead of fully. You have convinced yourself to avoid instead of accept.

If you want a different life, think differently. If you want to be better, think better thoughts. If you want to feel more fulfilled, focus your mind on fulfillment. Transformation is attainable when you are ready to acknowledge and manage your thoughts and what you believe about yourself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Change the Script

Today I faced a situation that most find annoying and uncomfortable, yet for me, it had the potential to be emotional and traumatic. As I prepared for it I realized that I had two options—I could suffer through and beat myself up for it as I'd done in years past or I could change the script.

Life is filled with challenges and tests. We face realities associated with coincidences and fate. We live with the decisions of others and the consequences of our own choices. Whether we are coping with what has happened to us or through us, we are responsible for being healthy. We must make choices that will bring growth instead of sitting in solitude and unnecessarily suffering. We have to change the script.

Today I did something very difficult. I let go of my ego, pride, and stubborn will. I freed myself of this unhealthy, unrealistic, and counterproductive notion that somehow keeping my mouth shut meant I was stronger. I released the ridiculous belief that I deserved to take this situation on by myself. I decided I wanted normalcy more than I wanted what I always had. I changed the script.

Be bold enough, smart enough, and desire good health enough to make the switch from hoarding your hurt to actually helping yourself. If you are unsatisfied with how your life is playing out or the direction it is headed, change the script. If your life has been less than you imagined or you are on a roller coaster ride that you would rather get off of, change the script. If the words you tell yourself are discouraging rather than uplifting, change the script. Make sure that your narrative is true instead of comfortable, helpful instead of hurtful, and takes you where you desire to go instead of where you've always been. In order to change your life you may need to change the script.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Outside Influences

Details vary, but all of us have at least one long-term challenge that shapes our lives. Some battle chronic health issues, mental illness, depression, the effects of abuse, addiction, and/or a distorted sense of self. We have to accept our challenges and their impact before we can learn to cope and maneuver through the hurt and influence associated with them. Acceptance and coping can take years, but living past hurt can be even more complicated by outside influences.

How many times have you heard that time heals all wounds? People who love you say it. It's printed on posters and in memes. You may have even repeated it to yourself. That statement, and others like it, imply that simply crossing days off of a calendar can push you forward. Some struggles can't be abandoned. Some require more of you than walking away. Some require attention and tedious emotional work. Time passes and can lessen the sting, but without the emotional work, the passage of time will only serve as a mark of frustration and justification for impatience and self-loathing.

In addition to passively giving time the power that you possess, working through a complicated situation can be made more complex by others. It may be easy to walk away from those who don't play an important role in your life, but what happens when the ones causing you pain and frustration are relatives and friends? What do you do when your parent, sibling, cousin, or childhood friend refuses to accept what you need to heal or tramples over your boundaries?

You are responsible for not allowing the same people to hurt you in the same manner again and again. This can be difficult and demand skillful maneuvering. It may require repeated readjustments of expectations and more defined boundaries. Easy? Not at all. Necessary? Absolutely. Those who cannot respect your boundaries may need to be on the other side of those boundaries. You have enough to live through without carrying the weight of clich├ęs and the expectations and desires of others on your back. Do the work to take care of you and the rest will take care of itself.