Breathe & Keep Up

Live your best life, one breath at a time

‘Transition’

‘the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another’

Our lives are filled with periods of change. There are ones deemed exciting: starting a new promising career, entering a new relationship, moving to a better home or city. And then there are changes we find more difficult, being let go from a job, losing a loved one, dealing with an illness.

It’s much easier to be present in the big moments, the exciting ones, the ones that stimulate all the good feelings. But what about the tough moments? The sad or angry ones? And the seemingly insignificant or mundane moments? We tend to want to escape during the challenging times. We reach for distractions and look to be anywhere but the uncomfortable.

Why is our approach to transitions important?

Because everything is in this moment.

The teacher, the lesson, your growth, it’s in this moment – if you’re not here, you’re missing it.

What does that even mean?

Let’s start with the most tangible. Your physical body is always talking to you, it’s sending messages all the time but you have to be aware. A headache, a sore neck, butterflies, a tight chest, a runny nose – sometimes we don’t notice them until they’ve gotten unbearable and at other times we just shrug them off:

“whatever”   “it’ll pass”    “it’s no big deal, I’m used to it”

But these are signs form the body that something is not in balance.

Your emotions are messengers too.

Joy is your right, if you’re feeling anything but that, pay attention, it’s trying to tell you where you’re out of alignment. The so called ‘negative’ emotions – sadness, anger, frustration, jealousy – we tend to supress them, hide them, wish them away, but while they’re uncomfortable, they’re also a gift.

We read signs in the weather, in politics, in relationships, in others, but we shy away from ourselves.

Why? It can be scary.

So what do we do?

Know that we don’t have to love it to explore it.

The point or the objetive isn’t to smile and be happy for anything difficult that comes our way. The point is to be aware of everything that comes up, to face it with curiosity instead of judgment and be willing to see what the lesson is.

There is room, there is space to hold the pain and the opportunity.

Recognize and reflect on the transitions in your past.

Consider your past. The challenging transitions in your life, the moments, days, weeks you may have spent wishing away instead of also recognizing the blessing that lay hidden. What did you learn from those times? How did they make you stronger? How are you better off today for having gone through them?

Be here, be willing.

As life goes on and you encounter the tough moments, the uncomfortable, the uncertain or the mundane – be still – still the body, deepen the breath and  bring your awareness to where you feel unease in the body. Keep breathing deeply and try to relax the parts of the body that feel tight, unsettled. Do the best you can.

Now notice the feelings that come up, sadness? anger? frustration? Allow them to come up and out – find a safe space to write it out, scream, cry, punch a pillow, shake it out.

E-motions are energy in motion, keeping them pent up, contained, will only create more pressure later on.

Once you feel a release, a calming, then be willing – be willing to see more than the pain, be willing to see the growth, see the opportunity. You don’t have to work hard at it, and don’t expect an answer immediately. Just be willing.

Know you’re not alone.

I am constantly challenged by transitions in my life. I continue to remind myself that I am never done growing and so each of the tough moments in my life, the trying ones, the hands up in the air “why  me?”“why again?”“please, not now” moments, they are here for a reason and so I keep recommitting to feeling all of it, to opening myself up instead of shutting down, to being willing. It’s hard but so worth it. Because with the growth comes more resilience, more love, more compassion, more calm. Know that I’m committed and finding my way along this journey with you and so are many, many others.

Be here, be willing, do the best you can, it is enough and so are you.

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‘Scarcity’

‘being in short supply, insufficiency, a sense of lack’

The feeling that you have been waiting for your turn while everyone else has been basking in glory.

Wealth, wisdom, health, success, love, beauty.

The feeling that you’ve had it tough and everyone else seems to get it so easy.

Do you ever feel the rush to achieve it NOW?

Notice all the other people with it and think, “I’m just as deserving as they are, if not more!”

Feeling the urgency of our desires, the feeling that time is running out.

There is a part of this feeling that is healthy, the burning desire, the thirst, the hunger to realize our dreams, it propels us forward.

But there is another part of this feeling that has us racing against time, doubting ourselves, thinking, “If I haven’t got it yet then maybe I never will?”

Maybe I don’t deserve it? Maybe it’s too late? Maybe I’m not good enough?

So where do we go from here?

We build awareness.

Begin to take notice: where does the mind run to when you start to feel the scarcity?

The feeling of lack often results in panic, we may feel anxious, frozen, stuck, limited and small.

In the moment of panic, we often go in one of three ways – run to distraction, allow the ego to take over, or recognize and act from a place of abundance.

Each of the three options may still propel us forward and allow us to achieve our goals, but the last one, recognizing and acting from a place of abundance, this option ensures success, growth and it supports not only ourselves but those around us.

Let’s examine each one:

Running to distraction

Feeling panic isn’t a pleasant sensation and so we move towards what is pleasant, to what is comforting, distracting – it can come in many forms: talking to others, exercising, spending, sleeping, consuming alcohol, drugs, food, tv.

Allowing the ego to take over

To escape feeling small the ego will often begin to rationalize. We may start to belittle and criticize others to make ourselves feel better – make them small to make ourselves feel big. All of this happens so fast, we barely notice that we’ve given power to the ego to make us feel grand or ghastly in comparison to others.

It may sound like this:

“They may be good at X but they’re lacking in Y and Z.”

“Everything was handed to them, I actually have to work hard.”

“I could do that so much better than them.”

But using the ego in this capacity, as our coach, our pep talk – it’s temporary, a quick fix, a band-aid. Imagine a world where we all kept thinking this way about each other. We may see how it could create animosity, separation and power struggles.

Recognizing abundance

There is a profound shift that takes place when we start living with the belief, the knowing, that we deserve good things, great outcomes, that there is more than enough for everyone.

We begin to see that the lack, the scarcity, it has nothing to do with there not being enough opportunities, enough money, enough good people, it has to do with the perception we have of ourselves.

At some point in our lives we unconsciously interpreted a particular experience to mean that we were undeserving, not good enough, and this created a belief system that continues to replay in our lives.

Maybe someone didn’t share with us, include us, invite us, someone scolded us, hurt us. Can we consider that what happened to us was not personal? That what the other person did was propelled by their own story and journey and had nothing to do with what we deserved.

Exploring our current belief patterns allows us to break down the ones that are unproductive and consciously introduce the notion that we have always been, and always will be deserving of great things. In thinking abundantly we are able to celebrate the successes of others without feeling slighted ourselves.

What things, events, people have come into your life in the last week, month, year that have made you smile, laugh, feel happy?

What experiences have come into your life in the last week, month, year that have propelled growth? Strength? Knowledge?

Spend some time accumulating a list, visualizing each one in your mind and remembering, re-inviting the feeling they brought and allowing it to fill your heart.

These things, events, people, experiences, this is life showing you that you’re being supported, showing you that abundance has always been yours. We think abundantly to invite more abundance.

The ego will continue to speak up and assert itself but by noticing its workings instead of engaging in it, your relationship with the ego can change. Notice the ego wanting to compare, criticize and then actively, with purpose and intention, chose to break old belief patterns and replace them with the notion of abundance!

‘Pattern’

‘recurring with the same form, a repeated design’

There may be outcomes in our life that seem to keep repeating. Outcomes that we feel we could do without.

Maybe we find that our days are always rushed. Or the opposite, our days feel boring, dull, disconnected. Maybe we feel like we deal with a lot of rude people throughout the day.

Maybe we feel people aren’t there for us, people don’t get us, the right people aren’t coming into our lives, the right opportunities, success, health, love.

What in your life is playing on repeat?

What keeps happening that you complain about but have almost come to expect and accept as normal?

“It’s just the cards I’ve been dealt with.”

“It’s not in my control.”

“It’s just the way life is.”

Well it’s not true.

The outcome you want and deserve, a better outcome, better days, better interactions, better health, more love, fun – it’s all waiting for you.

If you’re sighing at this point, rolling your eyes or ready to switch tabs, don’t. Sometimes we need to open our minds and do exactly what annoys, frustrates and makes us scoff the most.

The change you want is found in doing things completely differently.

See the whole pattern.

It’s not isolated. The outcomes, what life presents to you, it’s all linked to your thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours.

So go backwards and forwards.

Think of an undesired outcome in your life. A specific interaction, when you first met a certain person, a specific event, call, meeting.

Now think to 1 minute, 1 hour, 1 day before the event, interaction and ask yourself:

Were your thoughts positive or negative?

Were you feeling energized or drained?

Did you believe deep down that you deserve and will have positive, productive outcomes in your life? Or were you believing deep down that life will always be a hustle, a struggle?

What was your body language, tone, facial expression, posture?

Stay with me.

Now go forward, 1 minute, 1 hour, 1 day after the event and repeat all the same questions as above.

When you go backwards, you will likely find something in your internal messaging that was expecting a negative outcome.

When you go forwards, the feelings that resulted from the event were likely internalized and validated a negative belief about yourself – and so the cycle continues.

It’s not about blame, it’s about curiosity.

It’s hard to admit and accept that most outcomes are in our control.

Why is it so hard?

Because we are so quick to blame.

It’s their fault or it’s ours. And we definitely don’t want to point the finger at ourselves all the time!

So don’t. You don’t deserve bad things, life is not after you – in fact, it’s always supporting you.

We perceive things as bad, as awful, when really, everything that comes our way is for our own growth – it’s meant to show us where we’re stuck.

We could explore, examine the obstacle and find a way to work through. But instead we go the other way, we’ve gotten so comfortable wearing blinders, shrugging problems aside, and pointing fingers.

Change the pattern, change the outcome.

Start now.

Continue to go backwards and forwards with the outcomes in your life.

Notice your thoughts, and with intention, start to replace the negative ones with positive, productive, ones.

Fake it until you make it.

It will feel strange to introduce new thoughts at first. You won’t believe them.

Why should I say “I deserve love” “I am healing my body” “I will have a great day”  “I am good enough” “success is all around me” when I don’t believe it?

Because you are sending a message.

Your subconscious mind is always working, it processes information 1000 times faster than your conscious mind, and it is always trusting you to direct its efforts.

You have a faithful, tireless servant, what will you tell it to do?

Be intentional, purposeful and send direction clearly and consistently.

The subconscious mind does not respond well to mixed messages.

Train your mind like you train the body.

You run, go to the gym, yoga, pilates, whatever your method. At times, you may struggle to get up early, to motivate yourself after work, sometimes you skip it, but you do your best to commit and keep at it.

It’s the same with your mind. Commit to a practice, to observing patterns, to sitting in stillness, to writing out your thoughts. Start small, work up. Sometimes you’ll do it happily, other times you’ll roll your eyes, sigh, or skip it all together.

The discipline is in continually coming back to a practice without judgement or criticism.

Notice your patterns. Replace negative unproductive thoughts, beliefs, actions with positive productive ones. Be Patient, recommit, and see your world shift.

‘Inaction’

“not doing, not reacting, inactivity”

Do you ever react impulsively and then question your actions later?

Someone says something we don’t like – we react. Someone does or doesn’t do something – we react. We feel a certain emotion – we react.

We react instantaneously, and at times, it isn’t thought out, it isn’t intentional, and it isn’t in our best interest.

What if we slowed down our rate of reaction?

What if we allowed the stimulant to hang out in the air in front of us without rushing to grab it, bat it away, own it, or destroy it?

What if we sat back and watched the mind do its song and dance.

When we create this space, we build strength, resilience, character, we build integrity because we start to act from a place of truth and love.

Why do we have a hard time with inaction?

We take everything so personally.

Someone interrupts us and they have disrespected us. Someone didn’t say thank you and they have taken us for granted.

“No one walks all over me, no one talks to me that way – I’ll show them.”

And so we react, we hurt back, we bully back. It becomes a game of win or lose and so the cycle continues.

Let’s re-frame. Let’s realize that we also sometimes say or do things that could be perceived as hurtful – intentionally or not.

Why?

Most of our negative actions can be linked back to fear. It’s hard to admit it. We don’t want to see it, acknowledge it, because many of us see fear as a sign of weakness.

We’re afraid of not being enough. Intelligent enough, loved enough, attractive enough, successful enough.

We function from a place of scarcity.

We feel this nagging sense of lack. And so we look to the outside world to be filled up, to feel more worthy and deserving. But when we look externally to be filled up, to be validated, then we are also susceptible to external things threatening our value.

We give our power away.

To money, to fame, to people, to external things. When these things go our way, we feel powerful, grand, enough. But when they don’t go our way, we feel helpless, weak, dis-eased, lacking.

We give our power away to forces that are not in our control.

When we’re searching for a job, a partner, a certain goal, we may feel insecure in the process. We may feel less than, doubtful, rejected. But when we obtain the goal, we feel validated, worthy, successful.

This external target holds power over us.  Without it, we feel drained, frustrated, anxious, dis-eased.

So, what do we do?

Identify where your power lies.

We start by defining what holds power over us.

What do we feel lacking without? What are we afraid to give up? What do we crave with urgency?

Making this list creates awareness, the first step to any intentional change.

Build your personal power.

You have to go inwards.  It’s about clearing the clutter. All the bags, boxes, dust that have built up over the years.

Clean up your mind by seeing your mind.

Allow the negative, self-destructive thoughts to purge out. We tend to stuff the negative stuff deep down or ignore it and this is how we end up with all that clutter. Instead, allow the negativity, the fear, to come up, out and float away. Then, intentionally fill your mind with positive and productive thoughts.

When you feel the impulse, notice and take a pause.

Inaction isn’t forever. It’s meant to create space between an emotion and a reaction.

Taking a pause allows you to see more clearly.

When you feel reactive, rushed to respond, ask yourself, what is driving my reaction? Do I feel threatened? Have I given away my power to this person or situation?

See all the options for action.

The first few responses or reactions that come to you are often in the interest of the ego. They serve to make the ego feel grand, make someone else feel worse, to lessen any threat. Allow them to come up and float away.

Once the murky ego-driven water has passed and things are flowing smoothly and clearly, see the options that come from a place of truth and purity. Then with intention, choose your direction to act.

It may take some time for the murky water to run its course, days, weeks – be patient, be strong.

Keep at it.

As you continue to practice, it will get easier, less uncomfortable and faster.

The patterns of your mind will become obvious. You’ll find yourself less rushed, less anxious, more settled and acting in ways that serve you best.

Let’s be inactive for a bit?
 

 

 

 

‘Ideal’

‘satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable.’

There is this notion, this nagging feeling of what our life is supposed to be like – our career, our friends, our partner, our body, our free time – we may have standards and expectations for all of these.

We want these ideals, we see others with them and we are bombarded with the promise of them. The wanting, needing, waiting for things to turn out as they’re supposed to – it’s exhausting.

The ideal is supposed to bring us happiness and security.

When we don’t have the ideal we feel resentful at what we do have and we continue to crave something better.

It occupies our mental space, this feeling of the current state not being good enough.

But what do we do when what we want doesn’t equal what we have?

Question it.

Challenge your ideals and discover what is actually fueling the need, the rush, to have it.

Where do your ideals come from? Are you trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Have you defined success, beauty, love for yourself? Or have they been defined for you?

It is completely okay to have desires, wants, but let’s dig deep to make sure we are intentional about them and that they are coming from our best self.

Why isn’t what we have now enough? “Because it could be better? Because I could be happier?” And so we function in this constant dis-ease of the current state being insufficient.

The sense of lacking is always lurking around the corner.

See the tug of war.

When our sense of being complete or enough is attached to the achieving of something, to the expectation of something, then we also have emotions attached to NOT having achieved something.

For example, if our happiness is tied to getting a promotion, then our disappointment is tied to not being promoted.

We are not aligned, we are pulling ourselves in two directions.

On the other hand, if we are happy in our current role, and we continue to simply do our best, any opportunity that comes up, is simply that, something to consider and take on, or not. When we start to live completely in this moment, this shift happens easily and before we know it, many doors start to open.

But when there is a goal in mind that is tied to being the source of our happiness, then we become stuck – we may still achieve our goal but life will keep sending us lessons until we get it: we are enough NOW. We are whole NOW. There is nothing lacking here. So…

Be here.

This moment is your best teacher.

In the thick of your craving for your ideal, what comes up for you? Anger, frustration, sorrow, anxiety, a feeling of lacking, of being ‘less than’?

What do you run to? Your phone, food, the internet, tv?

Next time it comes up, dig deep – this is where the learning is.

These feelings come up because we have created beliefs around not having this ideal – it may translate to not being good enough, not intelligent enough, not attractive, unloved, alone.

Where do you feel you’re not enough? This is where we do the work.

We may be so used to going outward to validate ourselves, we’ve likely had years and years of practice finding peace this way – but it’s always short-term – soon we’re looking for our next fix.

So sit still, take a few breaths, and ask yourself, really ask yourself, what is the lesson here? What do I need to know?

There is great power in sitting still and practicing inaction.

When we practice not reaching for a fix, practice sitting through discomfort, we watch as our mind comes up with all the possible choices we could act on. Then, purposefully, we pick the best option.

In this way we become an active participant in our lives, we become intentional, we live in accordance with our best self.

You’ll feel antsy, uncomfortable, your mind will feel unstoppable in its urges to give into the fix – so smile, literally smile, send the message that you’re not taking all this so seriously, that’s it’s not the biggest deal that your mind is making it out to be, that nothing will fall apart if you just sit still for a minute…and then for another.

Live ‘as if’.

What if we lived “as if” – as if we already are successful, beautiful, loved, as if we are being completely taken care of, as if there is no other way for things to unfold except as they are right now.

Can we surrender to this? Stop resisting, stop fighting and let this be what we come back to?

When we live ‘as if’, there is no rush, nowhere to be, no overwhelming feeling to get it all done. We’re already there. There is an ease in living ‘as if’. This moment becomes all we have, and so we give our best right now, right here, and things start to feel easier, lighter.

Don’t make this practice into another ideal.

You have been acting in a  certain way for years. Now you’re asking your mind to do things differently. Change is challenging for everyone so your mind will fight you at first. Allow it to fight you, welcome the challenge, remember that there is no rush, you have nowhere to be but here.

Bring your eyes, ears, body back to where you are in this moment, surrender to the notion that you are being completely taken care of and re-commit to giving your best right here.

‘Wall’

‘encloses an area, protects, divides, confines’

I’ve built many walls. I’m busy building one right now, could you step aside? I can’t let you inside it.

Sometimes when I feel scared, vulnerable, open, raw, I build walls. You can’t tell they’re walls. Sometimes I can’t either. Sometimes it’s me being cold, defensive, sarcastic, sensitive. And at other times it’s me being ‘Zen’, one with the world and its workings, confident, secure.

I sometimes tell myself that those who love me will know how to break my walls down. That’s the romantic notion isn’t it? Oh, my family, my friends, my partner, they know me so well, they will see the ‘real’ me and love me anyway.

But this is our usual habit of relying on others to do the work, to provide love and validation.

It’s time to pick up the hammer, break down the walls myself.  But do I have the courage? To see what’s back there? The insecurities? The imperfections? What if I’m human?

And then what? I see all my stuff, the junk, the garbage, then what? Who is going to sort through all this? Oh, still me? Ok, right.

There are so many layers. I see disappointment in others. I see that I’m better than others. I see that I’m not good enough.  I see judgement, of others and of myself. I see a lot of fear.

What do I do with all this stuff?

Start with a smile.

Have you ever finished prepping a big meal only to drop the entire pot onto the floor? Just finished a big project only to have your computer crash and realize you never hit save? Most of these times we panic, we cry, we freak. But every now and then, we just stare at the floor, at the screen, and smile…maybe even laugh. We realize how life is completely out of our control, despite our desperate attempt to put each puzzle piece neatly into place. In those tiny moments, others may thing we’re hysterical, senile, ready to lose it. But this is the moment we connect with being human. This is the moment where we stop taking ourselves so seriously.

Smile at all these layers.

Keep digging.

We think the layers of the wall will insulate us, protect us. We feel safer with these blocks of cement around us. And too often we don’t dig deep enough. We get a few layers in, and hang out there.

We speak out and blame others for our disappointment, for not meeting our expectations. We shy away from new experiences that could propel growth, bring joy and happiness, because they’re not a sure thing – we are afraid to get hurt, afraid to feel, afraid of rejection, afraid of pain. We are constantly using these layers to evaluate risk and determine if the possible return is worth it.

Who built these layers? It was not our best self. The builder was not the one that truly cares about our growth and our happiness, it was not the one that brings a field of possibilities, creativity and personal power. The layers are built by the ego, created through labels, masks, and judgments.  We have to get underneath these layers to see our true self.

Our true self is love, a personal power so strong that fear is not a part of its language – our true self sees every experience as an opportunity for growth. An opportunity created specifically, uniquely, handcrafted, just for you. This can be hard to believe because some experiences feel so ugly, so painful, so much suffering. But there is a lesson here.

To get to the lesson, to get to the growth, we have to work through the strongest layer, it lies between living our truth and getting caught up in the thoughts and emotions of the ego; that layer is fear.

Fear of failure, rejection, being alone, disapproval, death.

Face the fear.

Our thought patterns are addictive. The ego will strongly resist our attempt to come out of our usual habits and stories. There will be withdrawal. It’s fear of what we’ll find. Fear of the comforts we’ll have to give up. Fear of the work involved, the discipline it takes to think differently, to be intentional with our actions.

So why do it?

Because doing what scares you is how we get to our true self. Facing our fear is where growth lies, it’s where opportunity is, it’s where you discover who you are, it’s where you discover you can fall, really fall, and get back up again. It’s where you surprise yourself in all that you can do, achieve, and overcome. It’s where you let go of things you thought you needed, you thought you couldn’t live without, and you realize that in releasing the dependence, you feel stronger, better, free.

When you start to face your fears, it won’t be easy. It won’t be free flowing. You won’t have a serene smile like all those people you see in the photos meditating.

It’s hard but it’s worth it.  You’ve got the fight in you, I know it.                 

Don’t get stuck in all the chatter.

There is a real light bulb moment once you start to see the layers, start to discover your deep rooted fears, where they come from, who they come from. This where we start to share all these discoveries with friends, family, sometimes anyone who will listen! And this is where it’s easiest to get stuck.

Empathy is a beautiful thing. Feeling like you’re finally being heard, understood, seen, it’s a great feeling and it’s a relief. After feeling stifled behind all these walls, feeling heavy and exhausted from carrying so many layers for so many years – you finally feel free. Sharing this with other people who can relate, who have shared similar struggles, is an important step in our journey. But it is just that, a step, that needs to be followed by another.

It’s easy to get stuck talking about your wounds, stuck in constant processing. This is meant to be a place of transition, keep moving.

What will you DO?

Knowing what to do, learning about it, talking about it, it’s not enough. You have to do it. No one can tell you what your truth is, you have to begin your journey to find it. You have to put in the work, the discipline, to master your mind. To create stillness so that you can see and hear without all the noise. It’s a daily discipline, a challenging one that requires you to re-commit every minute (sometimes every second.).

Start by learning to sit still. When you’re with others, when you’re on your own. Notice what’s moving – Is your foot tapping? Your hands fidgeting? Your eyes wandering? Your thoughts racing? Are you analyzing, judging, waiting to talk, waiting to move? Come back to where you are, the person you’re with, your breath. Start here.

It’s an iterative process, the walls, layers, fears, they’re not going anywhere – but what you do with them will change profoundly.

Practice, commit, I’m right here with you, in fact I’m working on breaking through a layer right now.

 


 

‘Residue’

‘a small amount of something that remains after the main part has gone’

We have a growing number of life experiences. The people we meet, the places we go…some exciting, adventurous, they make us come alive. Other experiences, more rough, they leave some bruises and don’t quite fit. But each leaves its mark on us, it changes us, maybe only slightly, but we’ve changed.

The experiences that made us come alive – they may leave a residue of joy, inspiration – we embrace these feelings fondly and allow them to propel us further, allow them to push us out of our comfort zone and grow.

But the experiences that left bruises – we tend to ignore them. When we’re reminded of them, we shrug them off quickly and bury them deep. We don’t want to go back. They may bring up sadness of something lost, anger at something that hurt, disappointment at a dream unrealized.

When we’re reminded of these times, we may feel frozen in panic, the feeling, the memory, it consumes us, our breath gets caught and we may feel like our heart actually hurts.

How do we deal with this residue? Keep ignoring it until it goes away? We could…but this will limit our growth instead of expanding it.

So how do we find the opportunity for growth?

Acknowledge that the residue is a part of you.

You can’t wish the residue away. It simply doesn’t work like that. You may use distractions to run away for a short time – friends, sleep, food, drinks, shopping, working out, all provide a temporary escape but acceptance is the only way we can start to see the residue’s purpose.

Instead of running away, face it, accept it and work with it.

Pick it up like play-doh and describe it.

It’s hurt. It’s disappointment. It’s trying and not getting what you want. It’s loving deeply and feeling loss. It’s sadness. It’s anger, defeat, deep pain. It’s unanswered questions. It’s incomplete, it’s grey.

Seriously, describe it and say it out loud.

There it is. Out in the open. Take it in your hands. It’s tangible, it’s workable.

Breathe.

Get to the root – see the story you’ve created.

Emotions are one thing but the story-line we create around the emotion is where we limit ourselves.

The feeling comes up – a jolt of anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration, fear – but do you see the story associated with it?

“I’ve been disrespected”, “bad stuff always happens to me”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never get it right”, “they’re a horrible person”

Do you know this to be true with 100% certainty? No. These are the stories the ego creates to protect itself.

Stick to the facts. Come out of the story. The story can cause us to react in unhealthy ways. We bury our residue so deep that we don’t connect our actions to the pain, we don’t see the patterns of behaviour that we keep repeating because we’re not facing the pain, the fear.

Healing and growth requires work.

Don’t run

Notice yourself wanting to ignore the residue, run away from it, wishing it would flush out of your system, disappear.  Distractions will give you the false notion that you have healed, that you have successfully gotten away, the escape is rewarding, and so we repeat it over and over again, but the escape is temporary.

You’re not alone in how you feel. But can you sit still and alone with this feeling? Can you pause, breathe and be still to acknowledge what’s happening?

We want to run, that’s natural, it’s our fight or flight response kicking in, wanting to protect us from this perceived threat. Except that it’s not a threat, it’s a perception created by story not by fact. You can sit through it, I know it.

The residue has a purpose. It is full of opportunity – to open your heart further, to have compassion for what so many others are also feeling but may not be acknowledging or expressing.

Act differently

It may not feel like it but you have everything you need to be whole, to succeed, to feel joy, to feel safe and secure – you have always had it all and nothing can touch that.

Know that you are enough in this very moment and let that bring you the courage to do things differently. What habit can you change? What reactive patterns have you created based on your story? Break those patterns now and consciously CHOOSE to act purposefully, according to your best self.

Your intuition wants to speak to you, it wants to tell you what’s in your best interest but if you’re always rushing, always letting your mind control you, you won’t hear it. Create a pause, create some space and silence to listen.

It won’t stay the same. 

Nothing is permanent or static. Other experiences will come and mix with our residue, changing  it, allowing us to see it differently, creating new residues…it’s in accepting this that we can let go of the overwhelming feelings, allow ourselves to move forward instead of running away, allow ourselves to face our fears instead of hiding from them and wishing them away.

No matter what, the residue can be held in our hands, it’s tangible – let’s pick it up, realize it’s not too big to handle, see our usual patterns and choose to face our fears and do things differently this time.

The scratches and bruises, they won’t break you, you’re so much stronger than you think, you’re not alone, you can get back up, there are so many hands that have your back, mine are just one of them.

 

 

‘Uncertain’

‘Not known or definite, up in the air, unsure’

The unknown tends to make us uncomfortable.

We’re conditioned to categorize our happenings into something concrete and tangible:  Is it good or bad? Go or no-go? Happy or sad? Yes or no?

When something is uncertain we may feel anxious, seeking to classify the situation into black or white, running as fast as we can from the grey zone.  The result is a mental suffering, driven by a continued back and forth between hope and fear. We want to know where we stand, we want the answer, the conclusion. We seek certainty.

 “What’s the next step?” “I don’t like surprises” “I like to be in control” “Where is this going?”

If something is seen as positive, life is hopeful, life is good.

But when it’s seen as negative, life feels scary, there’s fear, we’re upset, and we seek to urgently resolve it so that we can be hopeful again. We want to feel safe, secure, feel the ground under our feet.

What if we could hang out in the grey zone? What if uncertainty was the accepted status quo. What if impermanence was the only ground we had to stand on?

Does anything stay unchanged in our lives? Is anything 100% certain?

All we have is this moment. Are you secure enough in your inner self to get comfortable with uncertainty? Can you believe that YOU are enough?

Can you have faith that everything is unfolding as it should? Can we see this space of grey as a time to go deeper, get more grounded, be in this moment and nowhere else.

Can we get out of our minds? Get away from all the chatter, all the story-lines that we’re constantly creating about others, and ourselves.

Life has shown me many times that nothing is a given, nothing is permanent and yet I continue to crave the surety – someone to hold my hand, something to validate me, to ascertain my worth.

And so I go inwards…

Work with the facts – not the story

Separate the facts from the story-line you’ve created. Our egos are quick to create a story out of everything that happens. Our attachment to these stories create the anxious cycle of hope and fear.

Perceived positive things inflate the ego, validate our worth – we seek to sustain this feeling.

Perceived negative things threaten the ego, tell us we’re not good enough – we run from this feeling.

Can we stick to the facts of what’s happening? The facts are what everyone would see when looking at the situation:

“I didn’t get the job” “We broke up” “I got a raise” “I’m getting married”

The story is the ego working to either inflate itself or express how it’s threatened so that it can seek solid, positive, safe ground again:

“I’m not good enough” “all bad things happen to me” “I’m not loveable” “I’m the most intelligent” “I’m the most beautiful”

Association with the story creates the hope and fear – it continues the cycle of suffering, the constant need for validation and security. The pain, the hurt, the elation, it comes from a deep rooted sense of not being enough as we are.

Stick to the facts. Work with what IS and take your next step from there.  Fully knowing that YOU are enough, just as you are, in this moment, to deal with whatever comes up.

Know it’s happening for a reason.

The change, the shift in momentum, it’s happening for a reason. You may not see it yet. It’s not imperative that you do.

Have faith that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Life is unfolding exactly the way you need it to. You are always being taken care of.

Everything that happens is leading you to your best self, to your true self – this is where deep joy resides.

Consider: “what you resist, persists” – Carl Jung

Our suffering comes from our resistance to accepting what IS.

Resisting requires energy, work, putting up a fight. What in your life are you resisting? What are you holding onto with urgency? Can you see the hope or fear that’s driving the fight? Can you see the story-line?

We may find solid ground for a little bit, but when we don’t deal with the root cause, the sense of lacking, then life will find a different way to drive home the same message. Do you see the pattern in your own life?

State the facts and accept the situation as is.

Acceptance doesn’t mean you’re giving up – it means you’re opening up to the lesson in this experience – opening up to the opportunity for growth.

Letting go of our need for safe ground releases the resistance. It’s freeing. It means letting go of the story-line we’ve created, working with the facts and acting from a place of wholeness and clarity.

Get out of your mind

Come back into your body. Notice your breath. Feel the energy pulsing through your hands, feet, chest. This brings you into the present moment – it provides a pause from the rushing thoughts, a pause from the urgency to find solid ground. Don’t miss out on life because you’re caught up in the story.

When we release the story-line, things get clear, less muddled, and our next step in this groundless space becomes evident.

State the facts, have faith, let go of the need to define it and be in the now.  (Repeat, repeat, repeat….)

‘Choice’

‘an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.’

Do we see the choice available to us? Or are we functioning largely on autopilot?

Have you ever had a nagging feeling that has stayed with you over days? Months? A lingering sadness or anger over your situation?

Maybe life has felt tough.

It’s important to allow feelings to be expressed in a healthy way so that we can face them and heal –  we know that time has to run its course, that healing doesn’t happen overnight.

But what if we reflect and realize that time has passed and that feeling of sadness, anger, being a victim, has gotten very comfortable inside – it’s made a little home, it’s tucked itself into bed with a cozy blanket and has no plans to move anytime soon.

Things are cozy in the blanket. Rest and recuperation are important and what better place than in a warm blanket where things feel safe, familiar, secure.

But then there is an inkling…barely noticeable at first but it keeps poking at you to change, to make a choice to live differently, think differently, move out of the comfort and grow.

‘But it’s so warm here!’ you scream back… and so the familiar feeling snuggles in a little deeper.

Friends and family come along, reminding you of different perspectives. You tell yourself they don’t understand and for a time this feels right – no one can truly be in your shoes. But then you haven’t walked in theirs either – everyone has their story, struggle, setback, triumph. Maybe advice, perspective can be more general, more widely applicable?

Can we see past the person giving advice and simply see the choice in front of us?

Maybe today we decide that we will shift our feeling, perspective, state.  YOU choose.  There is an extreme power in this. Be empowered.

It won’t be easy. You’ll find yourself saying it’s so hard – others will empathize and you will linger in the warmth a little longer  – but you will always come back to the choice.

It’s not our situations that are the problem; it’s our reaction to them.

A tough pill to swallow because that means change is in our control – it’s so much easier to blame someone or something else.

Are you ready to choose? Here are 4 steps to help:

1. Get to know your sh*t

Get familiar with what’s keeping you in the cozy blanket.

What do you feel? 

At the root of most feelings is fear. We’re afraid of failure, afraid we’re not good enough, afraid to get hurt, afraid to be alone, afraid of being rejected, afraid of what others will think. What are you afraid of?

What habits have you created based on this fear?

We see fear as a threat and so we create patterns to protect ourselves, to avoid feeling discomfort and pain. Consider how you’re responding to your feelings, to your fear.

Do you close yourself off to others? To new experiences? To being challenged?

2. Re-frame it

How could you look at it differently? There is opportunity for growth in every setback. What is life teaching you? What is it showing you?

The impermanence of things? A pattern that needs breaking? A new opportunity?

How can you create more growth, more love, more joy, more peace, more smiles and laughter? What will serve YOUR core?

3. Say ‘I Choose…’

These are strong words. They send the message that you are in control. Your best self is taking over, moving into the driving seat, setting direction, setting the intention.

I choose to see the opportunity here. I choose to grow from this experience. I choose to face my fear. I choose to forgive.  I choose to see myself in a new light. I choose to live my best life. I choose to love. I choose to open up. I choose to stay with it.

What do you choose?  Say It. You may not believe it, you may not be convinced. That’s okay. Say it anyway.

4. Repeat # 3 again…and again…

This is the most important step.

Think about being wrapped up in a cozy blanket, feeling warm and relaxed – it may take a lot of convincing to get you to come out of the blanket. You may come out for a little bit, reluctantly at that…and then feeling the chill, run back for cover.

Come back to the choice and re-commit. As often as needed. Allow yourself to feel like a broken record. Eventually the choice becomes your new reality.

The choice is there for the making.

See it, say it, re-commit.


 

‘Urgent’ 

of a state or situation requiring immediate action or attention’

Living life in a state of urgency takes its toll on the body and the mind. I know, I lived this way for years.

I expected things to be efficient, clear, on schedule and immediate. If they weren’t, I was impatient, irritated and critical.

Transportation, conversations, appointments – I didn’t want to wait. “get out of the way” and “hurry up” were common statements circulating in my head and almost escaping out loud.

I wanted the quick fix – to take away sadness, anger, frustration, fatigue and discomfort. I reached for food, relationships, stimulants, intense exercise and television – these were common GO-TOs for my ready fix.

Feed the urgency, find the fix. I unknowingly lived this unhealthy cycle for years.

How did I know it was time to stop living this way?

I believe life first sends you messages in a whisper and if you don’t listen, it starts to yell. Well, life screamed at me in a way that I had no choice but to stop dead in my tracks and take notice. A lifestyle of urgency had impacted my health, relationships and mental wellbeing.

My body was tense, which resulted in headaches and severe neck and shoulder pain. I was taking my friends and family for granted, not spending enough time and giving enough attention to the people I should. And most importantly, I wasn’t facing my fears of being good enough, smart enough, strong enough, of being alone. By avoiding these feelings I not only hindered my own growth but limited my ability to relate and feel compassion towards others. Hope and fear – we all struggle with the same stuff.

So, enough was enough.

How did I change?

Not overnight. I’m still working on it but I have come a long way. Here are 4 steps I still use to deal with the urgency:

1. Take notice.

The first step is awareness. Reflect on when the state of urgency hits you. What are your triggers? What do you reach for as your quick fix?

For example, maybe you get antsy when you’re alone and you reach for the television.

2. Call it out and accept it.

The next time your trigger hits, call it out and make it real for yourself. State what’s happening.

“I’m feeling frustrated at the traffic”  “I’m feeling lonely”  “I’m feeling bored”  “I’m feeling impatient at this line-up”

We have hundreds of thoughts demanding our attention at any given moment – calling out a specific feeling or thought focuses our attention and awareness.

It also helps us face our fear. We often reach for distractions because we are afraid to face that which we’ve been conditioned to interpret as negative or weak:  loneliness, insecurity, anger, sadness, hurt and fear itself. When we call it out, we can try to see it, make it tangible and workable instead of all-consuming.

Accept it. It’s happening, it’s already there – you’re not alone, you’re human. Love yourself enough to accept all parts of yourself.

It’s not the thoughts or feelings that are the problem; it’s our reaction to them.

3. Do nothing for 1 minute (….and then 2)

Once you’ve called it out, pause for one minute.

Wait one minute before doing anything – before calling someone, consuming something, criticizing, blaming – before reaching for anything. Then do what you need to.

Often, your reaction will be different when you call it out and give it some space.

Holding the space without reacting may feel challenging and uncomfortable. You’re breaking a habit and that takes discipline and time. Start small, start with 1 minute.

Focus on your breath. Slow down the breath, slow down the mind.  Release the tension with each exhale and let the urgency for a quick fix go.

Next time give it two minutes. Then five…

4. Be prepared with a healthy substitute.

Have a healthy substitute in mind for the next time your trigger hits. Give it space and then allow yourself to shift to something that serves you well.

You can call a safe and trustworthy friend. Go for a walk. Stretch. Meditate.

Be deliberate, instead of habitually reactive.

Notice it  – State it & Accept it – Pause with it –  Shift it