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Posts Tagged “Empowered Action”

Oath of Sovereign Connection

I affirm to myself, for all time and in all ways, that my direct connection to source and spirit will be sovereign and unimpeded. That no external truth, whether it be personal, familial, cultural, institutional, or any other, shall dictate the terms of this direct knowing. That all alternative perspectives worthy of such will be considered and honored for their truth. As considered, they will be learned from and used to strengthen my direct connection but will never supplant my direction connection with spirit itself.   

Through this, I affirm and avow that no outside source will dictate or determine what is right and good in my relationship with God/Goddess/Source or have the power to assess my moral correctness above and beyond my deepest knowing, truth, and what aligns with God/Goddess/Source itself. I choose to live in accordance with Divine Law and in devotion to the Highest Light in each and every aspect of my life. This devotion and alignment cannot and will not be mediated. 

Through this, I clear any previously made bonds that are not of the Highest Light which do not uphold this sovereign connection. I ask to be made aware of and clear all agreements, inside and outside of myself, that distort or limit my direct connection with God/Goddess/Source regardless of whether well or maliciously intentioned. I forgive myself for any times or in any capacity in which I forgot and foresook my direct connection with God/Goddess/Source. I forgive any perpetrations aimed at breaking this direct connection. I ask for guidance and protection from any agreements, vows or bonds, inside and outside of myself, that do not strengthen my connection with God/Goddess/Source. I ask to see dogma, rhetoric, and all mechanisms of disempowerment for what they are and through my clarity choose a direct and sovereign connection. 

I understand that affirming my sovereign connection with God/Goddess/Source is an essential. I know that I have been afraid to affirm my deep knowing and sovereign connection with spirit because I have been afraid of losing sight of my human limitations and thereby being corrupted by negative forces. I ask to see clearly the distinction between human limitation and Truth, to learn from human limitation, and to be guided by Truth both inside and outside of myself. I choose to see with eyes of benevolence and love the human limitation of myself and each person I meet regardless of spiritual rank attained, institutional backing, or even depth of wisdom. I ask that I may see the Truth in all things -especially when it comes to my own limitations- and through this remain a Guardian of the Light.

Through my actions, I choose to empower myself and all others to know my and their deepest and truest connections with spirit. I surrender my need and desire to understand or be understood, promote a way of being or seeing, or even protect and guide others in ways that are limited by my lower-self and ego. I offer myself in service of each and every being knowing their divine unmediated connection with the Highest Light and that they are God/Goddess/Source itself. 

I ask that any statements made herein that are not in accordance with Truth and Divine Law be purified and that I may align with this Truth. I ask for support, guidance, and strength so that I may stand firm in these commitments. I ask for grace, humility, and love so that I may uplift and heal on my journey. 

So Be It.

Amen.

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The Secret to Self-Confidence

Self-confidence seems to be such a slippery thing to hold on to, as it can be heavily impacted by our environment, our experiences, and the feedback we receive from others. If only there was a self-confidence vitamin we could take every morning…

Fortunately, there is a simple system to gaining and maintaining your self-confidence, and you can add it into your daily self-care routine, right along with those other vitamins! Are you ready for the secret to self-confidence? It is having greater self-awareness – being aware of how you think, feel and act – and it has four important components:

  1. Know Yourself
  2. Understand Yourself
  3. Accept Yourself
  4. Love Yourself

Know Yourself
The first step in creating greater self-awareness is to know yourself. Do you pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions? This is absolutely essential, because you can’t change what you don’t notice.

As you move through your day, listen to your thoughts. Are they mostly positive and productive, or do you have a lot of self-criticism or other mental chatter running through your head? You may even want to carry a small notebook around with you to record your most commonly recurring thoughts.
Our feelings are highly accurate barometers of how well we are taking care of ourselves. Feelings can be triggered by our thoughts, our experiences, and our interactions with others. Notice your moods throughout the day (again, you may want to record this in your notebook), so you can get a clear picture of your emotional ups and downs – and, most importantly, what caused them.
Finally, take a good look at your actions. Do your actions support your goals, or do you find yourself distracted with trivial activities or procrastinating getting the important things done? Consider using your handy notebook to make a list of absolutely everything you do during one 24-hour period (and how much time you spend doing it). You may be amazed at how much time and energy is lost in optional or non-essential activities.

Understand Yourself
The second step in creating greater self-awareness is to understand yourself. When you take the time to notice and know your thoughts, feelings and actions, you will begin to see patterns of beliefs and behaviors. Once you recognize these patterns, it is important to explore how they were created and how they may be limiting and restricting you, rather than supporting you.
Review your list of your most common negative thoughts, and see if you can remember when they first began to appear. Perhaps you can remember a specific event in your childhood that created this thought pattern, or perhaps a particular set of thoughts sound just like your mother or father… Understanding the origin of your thought patterns and beliefs can be a powerful first step to realizing that they are not serving you and figuring out what you need to do to break free from their spell.
The only way to understand your feelings is to allow yourself to feel them – without judging, stuffing or denying them. When you feel a strong emotion, remind yourself that it is okay to feel this way. Then ask yourself what is underneath the emotion. Perhaps your feelings are trying to draw your attention to an unmet need or some unresolved pain from the past. Discovering why you feel a particular emotion helps you to understand yourself and ultimately take better care of yourself.
You may want to review your 24-hour activity list, paying extra attention to those activities that could be considered an unproductive use of your time, energy and focus. What excuses, explanations or justifications did you tell yourself to make it “okay” to choose these activities over something else? What kind of motivation, support or resources would have made a difference in helping you make healthier or more productive choices? Understanding how and why you select which actions you take throughout your day will help you to remain more conscious (and conscientious) about your activities.

Accept Yourself
The third step in creating greater self-awareness is to accept yourself. As you gain a greater understanding of your thoughts, feelings and actions, it becomes easier to lessen your self-judgments and become more self-compassionate. Accept yourself for who and how you are in the moment, know that you don’t have to be perfect, and maintain a steady momentum of personal development to bring you even closer to your ideal you.
It can be challenging to quiet negative mental chatter and focus your thoughts in more healthy directions. Don’t beat yourself up when you get into a mental funk – that’s just creating more criticism and judgment! Instead, take a deep breath and redirect your attention to more constructive thoughts. Since your brain can only hold one thought at a time, you may want to create a list of affirmations or positive statements to say out loud or silently to yourself to replace any negativity.
Give yourself permission to notice and feel your feelings, and be gentle with yourself when you feel vulnerable. Notice if you need support in expressing and releasing your emotions and find a healthy way to get that support, whether it is with friends and family, your spiritual community, counseling, or another resource.
Choose your actions wisely. Seek a balance between productive activities that will bring you closer to your goals, and recreational activities that will nurture and energize you. Reward yourself when you do something spectacular or achieve a big goal, and forgive yourself if you have a frustrating or unproductive day.

Love Yourself
The fourth step in creating greater self-awareness is to love yourself. When you choose to accept yourself, rather than judge yourself, it’s easier to notice your good qualities and celebrate your successes. You’ll grow to like the person you are, and then one day you’ll wake up and realize that you’re in love with your life and yourself!
Your thoughts will be loving and supportive, and you will have a much more positive outlook. Your emotions will flow freely, and you will feel comfortable expressing your wants and needs. Your actions will be in alignment with your goals and dreams, and you will feel empowered to live your life to the fullest.
When you know yourself, understand yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself, you will naturally be more self-confident. Incorporate these four steps into your daily routine, and you will be amazed at how much better you feel about yourself and the world around you!

Shannon Lee, The Stuck Spot Remover, is the Director of the Self-Awareness Institute and the founder of Inner Harmonies. Shannon is a personal growth expert with over 20 years of experience in helping people to identify and overcome their obstacles to happiness, success and well-being. Visit her website at www.SelfAwarenessInstitute.com

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6 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude and appreciation are two powerful weapons we can use against depression and anxiety.

In fact, Dan Baker writes in his book, What Happy People Know, that it is impossible to be in a state of appreciation and fear at the same time.

Here, then, are some ways we can cultivate gratitude.

1. Keep a gratitude journal.
According to psychologists such as Sonja Lyubomirsky at the University of California-Riverside, keeping a gratitude journal —where you record once a week all the things you have to be grateful for — and other gratitude exercises can increase your energy, and relieve pain and fatigue. In my daily mood journal, I make a list of each day’s “little joys,” moments that I would fail to appreciate if I didn’t make myself record them, such as: “holding my daughter’s hand on the way to the car,” “a hot shower,” “helping my son with his homework.” This exercise reminds me of all the blessings in my life I take for granted and encourages me to appreciate those mundane moments that can be sources of joy.

2. Use the right words.
According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words literally can change your brain. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they write: “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. According to the authors, they propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and build resiliency.

3. Remember.
“Gratitude is the heart’s memory,” says the French proverb. Therefore, one of the first steps to thankfulness is to remember those in our lives who have walked with us and shown kindness for deeds big and small. I have been extremely fortunate to have so many positive mentors in my life. At every scary crossroad, there was a guardian or messenger there to help me find my way. The mere exercise of remembering such people can cultivate gratitude in your life.

4. Write thank-you letters.
According to psychologist Robert Emmons at the University of California at Davis, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, a powerful exercise to cultivate gratitude is to compose a “gratitude letter” to a person who has made a positive and lasting influence in your life.

Emmons says the letter is especially powerful when you have not properly thanked the person in the past, and when you read the letter aloud to the person face to face. I do this as part of my holiday cards, especially to former professors or teachers who helped shape my future and inspired me in ways they might not know.

5. Hang with the winners.
Peer pressure never really goes away, you know. Studies show that married folks hanging out with happy couples are more likely to stay married themselves; that if your friends eat well, their willpower will rub off on you; and that if you surround yourself with optimists, you will end up more positive than if you keep company with a bunch of whiners. By merely sitting next to a person who likes the words “thank you,” there is a high probability that you will start using those words as well.

6. Give back.
A while back I wanted to repay a former professor of mine for all his encouragement and support to me throughout the years. However, nothing I could do would match his kindness. No letter of appreciation. No visit to his classrooms. So I decided I would help some young girl who fell into my path in the same way that he helped me. I would try to help and inspire this lost person just as he had done for me.

Giving back doesn’t mean reciprocating favors so that everything is fair and the tally is even. That’s the beauty of giving. If someone does an act of kindness for you, one way to say thanks is to do the same for another.

Originally posted on Everyday Health.

Working with Your Inner Critic

We all have one — an inner voice that expresses criticism, frustration or disapproval about our actions. It might sound like, “you should,” “why didn’t you?” “what’s wrong with you?,” or “why can’t you get it together?” The actual self-talk is different for each of us, as is its frequency or intensity.

It is a cultural norm to believe that criticism or guilt-induced comments will motivate behavior. Perhaps the thinking is that if you realize that your actions aren’t good enough or ideal, you’ll want to change. The critic also gives us a sense of control. So others in our lives may make “helpful,” yet critical comments to reinforce and control our behavior or control their feelings. We can also use judgmental or controlling thoughts with ourselves as a way of coping with fear, shame, and the unknown. Over time, these comments (from both others and ourselves) internalize and become our “inner critic,” the persistent negative self-talk that keeps us stuck.

Unfortunately, this type of communication is anxiety-provoking and shaming, which is the opposite of motivation. It triggers us to avoid, reduce anxiety and stay safe. Avoidance (reducing anxiety) is not the same as motivation to change. Avoidance generally includes things such as procrastination, addictive behaviors (such as overeating, grazing when not hungry, drinking, smoking); behaviors such as constantly checking your smartphone, or watching excessive TV; or even avoiding the source of the criticism or shame such as the person, activity, place, or even yourself (i.e., staying busy to stay out of your own head).

If the messages are shaming, such as “what’s wrong with you?” or “you’re not good enough,” we can become paralyzed. When we feel shame, we feel that something about us makes us so flawed that we don’t deserve to be in connection with other people. Shame disconnects us from others and teaches us to feel alone. As humans, we are hardwired at a cellular level for connection. When we feel shame, these feelings physically make us want to go inside ourselves, withdraw, and can further trigger avoidance behaviors as a way to comfort or soothe. The point is that shame and self-criticism keep us from doing the things we need to take care of ourselves and ultimately find comfort, connection and motivation.

Awareness is the first step to recognizing and letting go of your inner critic. Many of us don’t even realize its presence. Catch yourself the next time you’re aware of feeling anxious, distracted or numb. Identify the voice of the inner critic. Identify the situation that may have triggered the inner critic. What are your authentic feelings about this situation? Remember, the inner critic helps you to feel in control. So ask yourself, “what am I afraid of? What would it mean if that happened? And what would that mean?” Allow yourself space to dig deeper and find your most vulnerable feelings about the situation. This is what the inner critic is protecting you from feeling. Do you really need all that protection? Probably not. You can handle it!

Here’s an example:

Jessica went shopping. She didn’t know her sizes at this store and tried on a few things. She thought, “Ugh, these clothes are tight, they don’t fit, I feel like such a failure, I’m so fat and ugly.”

What is she afraid of? “I’ve gained weight, which means I’m a failure. It means I’m old. I’m ashamed and scared of getting older and gaining more weight.”

What authentic feelings might she be having about this situation that aren’t related to shame triggers? What are her vulnerabilities? (Identify your vulnerability and feel those feelings.)

Jessica says, “I feel out of control, fear, grief/loss. My body is reacting differently than it did in the past. It’s harder to maintain weight and muscle tone, it feels hopeless. I feel afraid, overwhelmed.”

What do you really need? Jessica says, “I can deal with it. Acknowledging my vulnerability prompts me to take better care of my health. When I feel worthless, there’s no hope at all. Shame is not motivating.”

Try this for yourself. What are some self-criticisms that you are aware of hearing yourself say? Say it in the second person. For example: “You’re such a coward. You’re despicable, worthless. Be careful or you’ll get hurt. You should try harder.”

How do you feel as you hear that? Get in touch with that feeling. What are you afraid of or afraid of feeling? What are some authentic feelings you may be having about this situation that aren’t related to shame triggers?

What are some opposite feelings? What are some reactions to these?

What do you say to that voice that says you are useless?

What do you really need to take good care of yourself? Or, what is it that you really need to hear? Express this to your inner critic with compassion in the following steps:

Express empathy for the inner critic’s fear and out-of-control feelings (what you felt in step 3 above). For example, “I understand that you are terrified of getting hurt and feeling rejected. I know you’re trying to protect me from those feelings.

Express your reaction (steps 4 and 5). For example, “Your critical voice is not helping. Please do not talk to me that way. It is preventing me from getting what I need, which is to feel connected to others. I will be OK. I will be able to cope with whatever happens. What I really need (step 6) is to reach out and connect with others. I don’t have to be afraid nor do I have to deprive myself out of fear.”

The inner critic’s self-talk tends to fall into one of two categories, “bad self” and “weakness.” Bad self is shame-based. Those who struggle with it might feel unlovable; flawed; undesirable; inferior; inadequate; deserving of punishment; or incompetent.

The weak self is based on fear and anxiety. Those who fight it might feel dependent on others; unable to support themselves; submissive; unable to express emotions without something bad happening; vulnerable; worried about loss of control; mistrustful; isolated; deprived; or abandoned.

These beliefs are neither useful nor helpful. They are generally destructive. Practice listening for clues to these beliefs by paying attention to the self-talk of your inner critic. Challenge those beliefs! They are not true. You are worthy, capable, and deserving of love.

reposted from psychcentral.com

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How to Fight: 10 Rules of Relationship Conflict Resolution

Great relationships develop not from the absence of conflict, but from determining an agreeable pattern for how to resolve conflict. Defining the rules of engagement for how you “fight” with someone you care about is ultimately much more important than trying to never have a disagreement.

If you care about someone, then consider adopting these 10 rules as part of the way you communicate with them when you are trying to resolve a conflict:

Rule #1: Don’t yell. 
Adding emotion clouds the clarity of what actually happened. If the other person is yelling, it becomes especially important that you don’t raise your voice so as to prevent a natural escalation of competing interests.

Rule #2: Always start and end the conversation by affirming that you care about the other person. 
In the midst of a disagreement, you can never underestimate the power and importance of reminding the other person that you care about them and believe in them.

Rule #3: Be open to the idea that you made a mistake even if you are sure you did not.
People rarely get upset for no reason, so there is a good chance that there is at least a kernel of truth to what they are saying.

Rule #4: Don’t speak in generalities of another person’s behavior; speak only to direct examples and instances of action. 
It’s hard for anyone to own up to a generalization and so you’ll likely just see his or her defensiveness activate. By isolating an instance of fact, everyone can quickly see where he or she was right and wrong.

Rule #5: Always work to be the first to apologize when any dispute arises.
Although the idea of waiting for the other person to apologize first seems vindicating, it’s actually a guaranteed sign of how you care more about being right than in coming to a reconciliation.

Rule #6: Focus on trying to discover what’s right, not who is right. 
When thinking about what happened, try to remove yourself from the situation and evaluate right and wrong based solely on the actions that took place regardless of which side you’re on. Treat it as if you are refereeing someone else’s game.

Rule #7: Do not cuss. 
Exaggerated language is often proof of an exaggerated understanding of what actually happened. If you swear, the other party is likely to only hear the expletives and will stop listening for any validity in what you’re saying.

Rule 8: No name-calling. 
Belittling a person always shifts the focus off of resolving the actual problem. Verbal abuse is never welcome to a conflict resolution party.

Rule #9: Remind yourself the other person also cares about reconciling the relationship. 
One of the fundamental causes of many disagreements is feeling hurt that the other person is no longer considering your perspective, but if they didn’t care about a resolution with you they wouldn’t be fighting for one.

Rule #10: Remind yourself to never expect the other person to fill a hole in your life that only they can fill. 
Sometimes we fall into the trap of placing improper expectations on other people because we are hoping for them to satisfy a need in our life that they are not really capable of satisfying.

If we are fighting with someone, it means we both care about finding the best course of action and we both care about preserving the relationship. If we didn’t care about one another, then we would just ignore each other and leave.

The reason these 10 rules are important is because as long as they are in place, then no disagreement or conflict will ever shake the critical bedrock of knowing that the other person cares about you. As long as we know the other person cares about us, it will give us a common ground to work from as we try to unite two seemingly conflicted views.

Reposted from www.huffingtonpost.com (more…)

Returning To Love In A Conflict Situation

It is often the case that the people we love most are those that we have the worst conflicts with. Our most intimate relationships can touch upon our deepest places of hurt, mistrust and wounding often leading to misunderstandings, distance or fighting. Although these bumps along the path of relating may be inevitable, we can smooth the ride (or at least manage to stay on the path!) by remembering to return to a place of love in all situations of conflict.

What does this mean? Well, It means that no matter how you are triggered, how right you feel, how hurt you are there is nothing that will support your relationship (and you) more than being able to stay connected to the deep love that you feel for the person with which you are in conflict.

There are lots of ways to practice this but today I want to give you the step by step of how you actually make the physical, mental and emotional shift from negative emotion to a place of love. So, that you can be more effective at solving the conflict and building trust and intimacy. These are the steps to take when you start to see red while engaging with someone you love. Whenever possible, as soon as you become aware that you are getting agitated, take a breath and a moment to do the following:

Step #1: Recognize where you are. See your desire to hurt, blame or separate from the other person.

Step #2: Switch your perspective. You don’t have to forgive, agree or accept them, anything they say, or what they are doing. Just remember what it feels like to love that person.

Step #3: Think of what you would do or how you would act if you were feeling this love. In other words, if you were to choose loving connection over hurt, blame or disconnection what would you do.

Step #4: Decide what you want. Now that you have seen each of the options, which is the one that you want to choose?

Step#5: Love yourself for making the best choice you can in the moment regardless of what it is.

It is really easy in the heat of the moment to lose sight of everything that we valued and believed when we were not in the conflict. Simply by reconnecting with the memory of being loving towards the other person, it frees us up to find new options for resolution and connection.

Join Dr. Kate Siner with her guest, relationship expert, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of Romantic Alchemy, Tabatha Bird Weaver as they discuss ways to connect with compassion no matter what situation you are in on this weeks hour of Real Answers Radio. Tune in for the tools to reduce conflict and create deeper levels of trust and health in all of your important relationships. Thursday, March 12th at 12pm EST. Learn more here.

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Work-life balance: Tips to reclaim control

There was a time when the boundaries between work and home were fairly clear. Today, however, work is likely to invade your personal life — and maintaining work-life balance is no simple task. This might be especially true if you’re concerned about losing your job due to restructuring, layoffs or other factors. Still, work-life balance isn’t out of reach.

Start by evaluating your relationship to work. Then apply specific strategies to help you strike a healthier balance.

Married to your work? Consider the cost

It can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you’re trying to earn a promotion or manage an ever-increasing workload — or simply keep your head above water. Sometimes overtime might even be required. If you’re spending most of your time working, though, your home life will take a hit.

Consider the consequences of poor work-life balance:

Fatigue. When you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly might suffer — which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes.

Lost time with friends and loved ones. If you’re working too much, you might miss important family events or milestones. This can leave you feeling left out and might harm relationships with your loved ones. It’s also difficult to nurture friendships if you’re always working.

Increased expectations. If you regularly work extra hours, you might be given more responsibility — which could lead to additional concerns and challenges.

How to strike a better work-life balance
As long as you’re working, juggling the demands of career and personal life will probably be an ongoing challenge. Consider these ideas to find the work-life balance that’s best for you:

Track your time. Pay attention to your daily tasks, including work-related and personal activities. Decide what’s necessary and what satisfies you the most. Cut or delegate activities you don’t enjoy or can’t handle — or share your concerns and possible solutions with your employer or others.

Take advantage of your options. Ask your employer about flex hours, a compressed workweek, job sharing, telecommuting or other scheduling flexibility. The more control you have over your hours, the less stressed you’re likely to be.

Learn to say no. Whether it’s a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child’s teacher asking you to organize a class party, remember that it’s OK to respectfully say no. When you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you’ll have more time for the activities that are meaningful to you.

Leave work at work. With the technology to connect to anyone at any time from virtually anywhere, there might be no boundary between work and home — unless you create it. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time. When you’re with your family, for instance, keep your laptop in your briefcase.

Manage your time. Organize household tasks efficiently, such as running errands in batches or doing a load of laundry every day, rather than saving it all for your day off. Put family events on a weekly family calendar and keep a daily to-do list. Do what needs to be done and let the rest go.

Bolster your support system. At work, join forces with co-workers who can cover for you — and vice versa — when family conflicts arise. At home, enlist trusted friends and loved ones to pitch in with child care or household responsibilities when you need to work overtime or travel.

Nurture yourself. Eat a healthy diet, include physical activity in your daily routine and get enough sleep. Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as practicing yoga or reading. Better yet, discover activities you can do with your partner, family or friends — such as hiking, dancing or taking cooking classes.

reposted from the Mayo Clinic Online.

5 Quick Tips to Reduce Stress and Stop Anxiety

Like a monster from under the bed, stress and/or anxiety is stealing the peaceful nighttime Zzzzzs of nearly 70 million Americans. Anxiety may also be sabotaging your confidence, turning your stomach into knots, and impacting your general wellbeing. Learn how to squash the uncomfortable consequences of stress and anxiety with these 5 tips.

1. Remember: This Too Shall Pass

Laundry is piling up, the baby has a fever, and your boss wanted that report yesterday. Sound familiar? No one managing his or her own life is devoid of stress and too much of it can lead to excessive worry, nervousness, dread, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. The first step to overcoming such negative feelings is to recognize that you are experiencing a very common emotional state most commonly identified as anxiety (learn more signs of anxiety). Although it’s uncomfortable, the negative feelings WILL PASS. Fighting the anxiety can make it stronger. Paradoxically, accepting that you are feeling anxious helps activate the body’s natural relaxation response.

2. Learn How to Self-Soothe

Imagine walking down a nature path only to be greeted by a snarling grizzly bear — or worse, your boss demanding that report. When we are faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, our body’s sympathetic nervous system automatically triggers physiological changes. Our breathing quickens, adrenaline is secreted, and our heart begins to race. This natural survival mechanism — called the fight or flight response — is intended to help us to escape a true, life threatening emergency. However, when the threat is imagined (e.g., I’m going to bomb this presentation and everyone will know I’m a fraud), the fight/flight response is unnecessary and very uncomfortable.

Self soothing techniques that reduce the stress response:

Diaphragmatic Breathing
One of the most effective ways to activate the relaxation response is by decreasing the heart rate. Since we can’t voluntarily alter our pulse, more tangible measures are needed. Luckily, a rapid heart rate can be lowered with deep breathing techniques. The most commonly utilized strategy is breathing by contracting the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle in the chest located just above the stomach cavity.

Positive Self-talk
If a small child told you he was nervous about going to school the next day, what would you say? Unless you’re an abusive lunatic, phrases like “you’re such a dumb little kid” or “you should be nervous because no one will like you” would never leave your mouth. This is because we intuitively know how to help others combat stress sometimes better than ourselves. To increase emotional comfort, it’s imperative to practice reassuring and realistic self-talk. When anxious, practice self-talk phrases such as:
“This feeling will pass.”
“I will get through this.”
“I am safe right now.”
“I am feeling anxious now, but I have the power make myself calm.”
“I can feel my heart rate slowing down.”

Muscle Relaxation
Stress causes our muscles to tighten and become tense. To increase a relaxed state and physical comfort, tighten and release muscles beginning with the largest muscle group. Watch this video to learn progressive muscle relaxation exercises.

3. Check Your Diet
What we eat and drink largely impacts our emotional state. Foods most associated with exacerbating anxiety are ones containing caffeine and alcohol. Even consumed in small amounts, studies have found that the stimulating effects of caffeine can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability. Caffeine — commonly found in coffee, colas, tea, and chocolate — also causes physical symptoms such as trembling and shaking. Abruptly eliminating caffeine from the diet can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, restlessness, and irritability so it’s important to decrease caffeine consumption gradually. Similarly, although alcohol is often consumed to “take the edge off” it dehydrates the body and ultimately increases anxiety.

An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can also cause many symptoms associated with anxiety and other mood disorders. Researchers at McMaster University found evidence that the balance of bacteria in your gut may have more to do with your mood than any other contributing factor.

4. Get Moving

Most of us know that exercise is good for our physical health. For the past few decades, research has suggested that exercise is even more effective than medication (learn more from this helpful article from Huffington Post (link is external)). Maintaining a regular (healthy, non-obsessive) exercise routine has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, enhance self-esteem, and increase energy levels. During exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with receptors in the brain to causing euphoric feelings and reduction in physical pain.

5. Get More Sleep

Nearly everyone feels a little crabby after a rough night’s sleep. Disrupted sleep is common in many emotional disorders and it’s difficult to know which started first — stress or poor sleep. A study from the University of Pennsylvania (link is external) showed that losing just a few hours of sleep increases feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and exhaustion.

“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you are fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert

reposed from Psychology Today

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Your Body Knows

The saying, “listen to your gut”, really makes sense. Your gut is basically your digestive system. You know when you feel hungry. Some physical signs can include stomach pains, growling, or even headaches. If you feel tired, your body is usually dragging. It’s incredible but true, your body just knows!

Our body always talks to us but we’ve taken it for granted. In fact, when a psychotherapist wants a client to connect to his/her feelings, she will ask, “Where in your body do you feel_______”.

It is essential to to make the feeling-body connection. Otherwise, one externalizes feelings and situations instead of understanding that it comes from within. The answer is always within. 

Do you recall a time when you knew how you felt in your body  about something but you didn’t listen? How about when you did listen? Did you listen right away or did it take time? Think about the consequences of listening vs not listening. I am certain that when you listened the outcome was more favorable.

 

I believe we humans are not as conditioned as we’d like to listen to our bodies. I do believe we have certain feelings, like fear or nervousness, that can be very strong. The fight or flight response comes to mind. But there are the more subtle signs that come from our bodies that we have not yet tuned into. 

I know I had a hard time tuning in to my intuition. It definitely took me some time to learn to listen to it, at least in terms of making important life decisions. But why? What got in the way? Why couldn’t I tune in? Well, of course! The dreaded mind! Our mind is often very busy undermining us. It is very good at distracting us from what we already know in our heart, in our soul. 

As a business owner there are so many things to think about. But there are as many to feel about!  According to Human Design, a subject I learned about at my retreat, our mind (head) is in charge of reason, logic, and execution. But it is not the Authority. Our mind wants to be the authority and make the decisions for us but our Authority lies below the throat center, within. This is a fascinating subject to learn more about and can help you understand more about how you, the unique you, functions. 

As children, we are definitely more attuned to our bodies but contamination happens and our bodies get silenced as we get older. Or at least it seems a little harder to hear when we get older, literally for some of us, right?

Where does this contamination come from? Usually from things we are taught as children or grow up believing about ourselves. It could be we learn that we shouldn’t make noise or speak up. It could be that we learn that what we feel is not important. Both of those beliefs can silence us and our bodies. 

Trauma is another example of something that silences our bodies. Especially physical or sexual. This subject area is more delicate and needs special intervention but your can begin to understand how different situations in our childhood or throughout our life affect our ability to pay attention and listen to our voice, our truth, our intuition, our bodies.

 

As adults, how can we decontaminate and practice listening and paying attention to our bodies?  By being more aware of our bodies.  By knowing that we can trust our voice, our intuition. By realizing we can and should feel connected to our bodies, our hearts, our souls. And by doing physical activity to help us do just that.

   

The practice of yoga, quieting the mind and connecting to the source, is a good way to help us listen more to our bodies, our soul, our hearts. Dancing is another activity that helps you focus on your body, as long as you can stop thinking about your next step. Letting go of our thoughts can be so very complicated and yet so necessary.

Everyday we have an opportunity to FEEL MORE and THINK LESS. When you woke up this morning, how did you feel? Sleepy? Where in you body did you feel sleepy?  Or maybe you felt tired? Where in your body did you feel tired? Did you feel energized or excited? Where in your body did you feel this? When you arrived at work, how did you feel? Where did you feel it?  

The above is a good example of how we can practice getting used to making the feeling-body connection. Try it! Maybe it could be a nice practice to help you listen and pay more attention to what your body is telling you. Just remember, think less, feel more!

Contact Guisela at gpintocaballero@gmail.com

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How To Overcome Stress

The story goes like this, eighteen hours before my plane is going to leave for vacation, I discover that I cannot find my passport anywhere. I spend the next 10 hours turning my house upside down –still no passport. I was calm at the beginning. Of course it will show up I thought. It really can’t be that far but by the time I was convinced it was in fact lost and began looking for solutions to replace it, there were very few solutions and all of them were expensive and time consuming.

Still not fully convinced that I was not leaving in the morning, I went to sleep. When I woke up I gave one last search and surrendered to the fact that I would not be getting on the plane in a couple hours. This is what my day looked like. I showered, drank some coffee, jumped in the car and picked up new passport photos. I started the trek to Boston in rush hour traffic. While in the car I was talking to the airline, the passport agency, a friend at the airlines, and finding a place to print my itinerary. It seemed everything could get done but not in the order it needed to get done so I kept wiggling the pieces to try and get them to fit to get on the plane the next day while driving down the highway in stop and go traffic.

Um, yeah, stressful…

There were some things that helped me navigate this situation and remain relatively unstressed but more than anything what this situation reminded me of what how important it is to remember that stress is not an essential part of the equation and to use the tools that I know work!

Remember that stress is optional: Somehow we collectively came to the decision that if things are not going the way we want them to, stressing out about it is the right thing to do. While a small amount of stress can increase our focus and performance a large amount of stress has a very clear detrimental effect. When things are spinning out of control the only thing that is in our control is how we feel as we go through it.  If you find yourself getting stressed, you can ask yourself if that is how you want to feel. Believe it or not sometimes we are hooked on our negative states and we are reluctant to let them go. It can be helpful to accept the desire to be negative and find out why it seems so important to hang onto. Maybe it is a form of self-punishment or maybe it is a desire to get support or attention. If it feels too important to let it go then awareness is all you need to do. When you are ready, you will be able to choose to put down your unnecessary stress regardless of the situation.

Ask yourself if it can be easier:
One thing that can slip our minds when we are stressed out –as I said being stressed out is not good for our decision making- is to remember to make things as easy as possible. So, stop, take a breath, or maybe even three. Look at the situation. Aside from your mood, what can be done to streamline or simplify things? Do you ever find yourself getting ready to go on a trip or prepare for some event and all of a sudden you add in a bunch of other things to get done? For example, it is your kids birthday party in a few hours and you decided to clean out the laundry room all of a sudden? May sound crazy to some but I know plenty of people who have done it. Finding a smoother and easier way to do things is usually possible. Like I said, stop and take a breath and then ask yourself “What can I do to make this easier?”

Focus on what you want:
When things start to go wrong it is so easy to start to focus on everything that goes wrong. Every little bump becomes another stress and every potential bump is seen and fixated on well before it has even arrived. The purpose of stress is to make us hyper aware so that we can solve the problem at hand. However, while that makes sense evolutionarily, it only gets us to baseline –we can only prevent bad things from happening we don’t have much of an ability to make good things happen. By switching our focus to the outcome we desire in the big picture and in each moment the potential that we can create is much, much, greater.

Be nice, use your people skills, and ask for help:
When we get stressed it is really easy to share our stress with others via being curt or even aggressive. If we can take a moment and recognize that the other person has no way to understand why we are acting the way that we are and stressing them out only makes for two stressed out people, then we might be able to adjust our behavior to get more of what we want.  So, remember to smile (which coincidentally will help your mood!) and use please and thank you! In addition, it is easy for some of us to go it alone. Remember that people are out there and can help you through this challenging stretch so if you know someone who might be able to help, ask and make your life a little easier.

Is stress an issue in your life? Tune in this week to Real Answers Radio. I will be hosting Grace Dulude, integrative therapist and yoga instructor. Grace and I will be sharing special insights on how to make each moment of your life more stress-free.

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