Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whether you think you are enough or whether you think you are not – you are right!

Our beliefs create our reality Рit sounds like such a clich̩, but it is true. The way we experience our life is very much shaped by our beliefs.

This often happens without us even realizing it. Most of us have a belief deep inside that is some form of “not being enough” – whether it’s not smart enough, beautiful enough, thin enough, successful enough, or interesting enough. We often go through life and interpret events based on this belief.

We don’t get the job we wanted, we don’t get invited to a party, we don’t hear back from a friend. It’s easy to immediately think that it’s because we are not good enough, not popular enough, not important enough. And because we like to be right, we continue to collect evidence that our belief is true.  

He didn’t call as he said he would. My friend wasn’t supportive when I talked to her about a problem. I didn’t get any comments or likes on my Facebook posting. So it must be true. I am really not good enough, not popular enough, not important enough.

I now also act a certain way based on my beliefs. Since I don’t believe I am good enough or important enough, I don’t tell people about my wants and needs. As a result, others don’t consider them. I don’t invite others over. So I don’t have friends coming to my place. I use this as further evidence that I am not important.

What would happen if I decided to believe something different? What if I decided that I was going to believe that I am good enough and important? I would start collecting evidence that this was true instead. A friend trusted me enough to confide in me, a colleague asked me out to lunch, my niece drew me a picture. So it must be true. I am really good enough and important.

And I start behaving a different way. I tell others about my needs and wants. I invite people over. I initiate conversations. So others consider what I need and want. My friends invite me in return. I have more meaningful interactions with people.

And I interpret events differently. I realize that not everything is because of me – people are busy, distracted, stressed, and are dealing with their own issues.

My experience of life is a completely different one, even with exactly the same life circumstances, based on this different belief.

We really do create our own reality. So select your belief carefully. Which one will you choose?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-Changes Part II: Being in the moment

How much of your life are you living in the moment? I mean, really, really being in the present moment, enjoying it and taking it in whether good or bad, not wishing something was over or anticipating the next thing? 

 To truly love yourself you have to be in the moment, because it’s not about loving the person you used to be or the person you are hoping to be in the future. It is about loving yourself RIGHT NOW, in this moment, just the way you are.

But far too often, especially when we are going through a change or transition, we think of it as something to “get through” or “get over with” in order to arrive at whatever the next milestone is. I know I was really looking forward to finish moving. I just talked to a friend who can’t wait to be in a relationship again. And I know some people who are very eager to find their next career.

The same thing can also happen when we are engaged in something we really want to do. When we are performing in a show, we might anticipate the actual performance so much or be so busy preparing, that we are not fully enjoying all the moments leading up to it. When taking care of a loved one, we may be completely engrossed in the next thing we need to do rather than being fully there.   

How can we be more in the present moment and enjoy it more fully? By building a new habit and practicing it: We can remind ourselves throughout the day to just stop and breathe and really appreciate the moment, no matter what we are doing. Tell yourself: “I am going to take this moment to really enjoy being here.”

But what if you are going through something you really don’t enjoy (moving, doing your taxes, looking for a job, cleaning your place, etc.)? Simply make a decision that you are going to enjoy the process as much as you can. Even though I generally don’t like moving, I made a decision that I was going to enjoy the process, and as a result I felt much more content throughout my recent move. I focused on the good parts – spending time with my boyfriend while packing and carrying boxes and furniture – and I tried to use humor as much as possible.

How about if you are going through a hard time or are feeling really sad or angry? Just allow yourself to be in the moment and let yourself feel the sadness, anger or whatever emotion you are going through. All those feelings that are not happy are part of us and our lives, too. So we want to accept and honor them as well.

Take a moment now. Be really present. Breathe. Take in just being here, right now, being alive. In this moment, there is nothing you have to do, nobody you have to be. Just be…  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-Changes: Every Transition begins with an Ending

We all go through changes in our lives. Many times it’s something external that happens – a job change, getting married, moving, losing someone close to us, returning to school, welcoming a new baby or having a son or daughter move out of the home – but sometimes it’s an internal change – discovering a  new dream, reaching new insights about yourself or deepening your awareness. 

The last few months have brought a number of changes for me: moving out of my old neighborhood, adopting a puppy with my boyfriend, and moving in together to a new place. The changes are ones that I wanted and they allow for so many new possibilities – yet no matter whether the change is desired or not, it is always a time of transition that requires adjustment.

Dealing with the outer change is one thing – we can make to-do lists, check off action items, get the packing done, the interviews, applications, read relevant books, etc.  But we often don’t think about the inner adjustments that also need to take place: letting go of who we used to be, changing the definition of who we are, and becoming our new self.

Sometimes we are sad about letting go of the old, and part of us may still hold on to it. It may make us wonder whether that is a sign that the change was a bad idea. When I turned in the keys to my old place, I felt a wave of sadness. This was the last time I would be walking in and out of this home. I looked around, just trying to take in everything. The sadness took me by surprise, but in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense. This place was my home for the last few years and it was part of how I identified myself: This is where I live. It was now time to say good-bye and let go of that part of my identity.

Becoming a puppy Mommy was another big shift. It has certainly changed my day-to-day life, activities, and thoughts. With changes like these, where so many people are excited for you, it sometimes feels like there “shouldn’t” be any letting go or grieving of the past. But it is a significant change – your life is very different from before and there is a loss of some freedom and alone-time. Loving yourself means that it’s ok to be sad about that and grieve the loss of your old life. It’s all part of the process to make the transition to embracing my new life.

The same thing goes for moving in together – it’s exciting and wonderful, AND it is a big change as well. From agreeing on how to organize and decorate to the loss of personal space and time.  Mourning the loss of my old life doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy our new life. 

As much as we may want to rush past them – endings are the first part of any transition. This is the time to practice self-compassion and allow ourselves the time and space to grieve the loss of the way things were so you can let go of the old life. What events have brought change into your life in the past year? Have you allowed yourself to be sad and let go of your old life or old self before jumping into a new beginning?