May 7, 2013

I saw today on Facebook that one of my cousins was surprised by some sudden changes in her life. I made a comment about better things coming.

A bit later I went to read my Daily Dose of Sanity, and the topic was… change!

Change is almost always frightening because the unknown is scary. But on the other side of fear is excitement – the potential for something new, stimulating, and even better.

The following is today’s excerpt from Alan Cohen’s book Daily Dose of Sanity. I’ve been reading it every morning for a few years now. I often find the entries to be oddly relevant and synchronistic.

Change always comes bearing gifts. – Price Pritchett

When I saw an ad for a valuable cell-phone upgrade, I called the phone company and placed an order. The agent told me that the response to the promotion was so great that there would be a 30- to 90-day wait for the phone. Okay, I can wait, I figured, and resigned myself to doing so. A week later while driving into town, I dialed a number from my cell phone. To my surprise, I received the message: “Your phone is not authorized for use. Please call the business office.” The business office had no clue why my phone would not function. My bill was paid, and their diagnostic test showed no problem. I talked to several agents, none of whom had any answers. “Try calling later,” they told me. I felt frustrated and confused, but I had no choice, so I decided to just table the issue for the moment. When I arrived home later that day, I found a FedEx box sitting at my doorstep. Inside was my new cell phone. I plugged it in, and it worked perfectly. The company had disconnected my old phone because it had transferred service to my new one.

If something in your life is not working anymore, do not fight to reinstate it or keep it alive. Hanging on to what has outlived its usefulness will create stress, confusion, and no real results. You will go in circles and only grow more frustrated. If you have to struggle or fight to keep an old thing going, it probably no longer belongs to you – and you do not need it. At some point your best move will be to simply let go and trust. Then marshal your energy in a forward direction. Quit focusing on what was, and focus on what is next. Ask yourself, “If that was not it, then what is it?” When you can tap into that answer, you will understand why the other thing had to go. Sometimes you have to release the old before you discover what the new is. Who knows, you might just find something better at your doorstep.

How might you make room for what is new and better by releasing what has outlived its usefulness?

Affirmation: I do not need to fight to hold on to anything. I trust and let the universe deliver my good.

My cousin has helped me through some huge changes in my life these past two years; I hope this reminder to trust will give her a bit of relief during the changes she’s now going through.

Love you cuz!

Look for the silver lining!

Look for the silver lining! Italy 2013

I came across an article in the Huff today called “Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Every Day.”

It provides a good example of how you can change your thought patterns, and stop making yourself suffer. The author refers to them as “automatic thoughts,” but I’ve also heard them called ANTs, Automatic Negative Thoughts. Notice as the ANTs go marching through your head, and you can redirect them!

I know I get ANTs in my pants all the time. Either I’m assuming something negative, or worrying about the worst possible outcome, or playing some sad storyline over and over in my head. As they say, awareness is the first step, and then you can choose the kinds of thoughts/words/images/stories you’d prefer to populate your head. That’s how you create a happy life. Happy lives don’t just happen; it takes practice.

A tidbit from the article:

“As long as I keep thinking, “This is terrible! I’ll be so bored! I’ll be exhausted! I won’t be able to focus on anything tomorrow. I’ll get even more seriously behind work than I already am,” I’ll feel irritated, perhaps angry.

Now I can’t stop those thoughts from popping up. They are what we call “automatic thoughts.” I’m not deliberately trying to think these thoughts. They just pop up spontaneously.

But now that I’ve identified them, I can do something about them. I don’t have to feel so irritated. I can change my thinking.”

Yes you can! 😉

Willpower & Change

August 6, 2010

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change, and others are not.” – James Gordon

Many people seem to get upset when I tell them I’m going to stop doing something for awhile. “But WHY?!” they say. WHY aren’t you drinking alcohol? WHY are you at a nightclub, drinking water? WHY are you ‘torturing’ yourself by ‘denying’ yourself dessert and chocolate and cheese?

I have two answers: Because I WANT to. And because I CAN.

I find when I’m ready to do these challenges – giving up booze/caffeine/dairy/refined sugar/processed foods – it’s not all that hard. It’s still challenging, of course, but it’s not so much of a struggle, and it doesn’t make me unhappy – because I WANT to do it, and I’m CHOOSING to make these decisions in my life.

A lot of people don’t feel like they have the power to affect change in their own lives – either they don’t have the willpower, or they don’t have other options. I think this is because most of us are taught as children that we don’t have choices or control, and we get conditioned out of trying – a milder form of  “Learned Helplessness.” We’re conditioned to conform and go along with what everyone else is doing, rather than listening to our own guiding voice and deciding what’s best for us personally. We’re taught to just do what we’re told and do what ‘normal’ people do.

Well, I don’t feel like being normal. See my blog on the Psychopathology of the Average for more on that – “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” said Jiddu Krishnamurti (love him!).

I don’t want to drink alcohol this month – it makes me tired and look dull. I don’t want to drink coffee or caffeinated tea – when I pay attention to my body, I can feel that caffeine makes me anxious, and it dehydrates me. I don’t want to eat sugar.* I DO want to eat a lot of vegetables, and maybe a pound of dates in a day if I feel like it. I don’t want to eat dairy** – it makes me break out, and I can get calcium from almonds and beans and kale (kale chips are really easy to make – put some olive oil on them & throw them in the oven!).

I still love wine and coffee and chocolate and cheese, but I’m just taking a break from them for awhile. I’d like for them to play a much rarer role in my life; I know I’ll feel better, and I’ll enjoy them more. Or, I end up enjoying them less, and not wanting them anymore. It’s a win either way.

*The average American consumes around 160lbs of sugar per year – and that’s not including sugar from fruit. That’s up from 115 lbs of sugar during the 60s. And that’s compared to only 25 lbs of dark lettuces consumed per year.

**The protein in dairy & other animal products may actually leach calcium from bones – animal protein is acidic, and you body alkalizes it by pulling calcium out of your bones. Interesting…