The Uncomfortable Feeling of “Soul Growth”

As you start to dig deeper into your soul, undoubtedly, things will come up that you thought you had dealt with before.  Your head is feeling a bit groggy as you wake up, and you are trying to remember the last bit of a dream.  The thing is, it’s the same old thought pattern you’ve had before and it isn’t doing you a bit of good now.  Not when there is nothing at all you can do to go back and change the past.

It’s unsettling, really.  There is an eerie quietness around you, almost like the calm before the storm and things keep coming up.  There is a high stress level, or type of anxiety that you can feel.  It’s palpable.  Your relationships feel incomplete.  Almost as if you are going through the motions.  There is so much more to the world than this masquerade, really.

At times you might fluctuate between feeling fulfilled to feeling empty and drained.  Unfortunately, you feel drained more often than not.  Friendships don’t have the luster they once held for you…they might, if you could really feel connected to them instead of withdrawn, but you know that they are not being open with you, and so you too, must hold part of yourself back as well.

What happens during this growth process?

When we are in a place of “growth”, it can often be interpreted as struggle.  We feel confused, drained, unsure and perhaps even lonely in this place for a while.  We feel as if this hellish stage is going to last forever, but the truth is, it is only a moment out of our vast experiences and it propelling us ahead to learn more.  Sometimes, you try to compare your growth to another person’s and that just makes things worse.

It’s like comparing your DNA, the thing that makes you “you”, to anyone else in the world.  It’s just not realistic.  We might want to hit the fast forward on this uncomfortable phase, but in no way shape or form is that going to help us get to the growth that is specific to our soul.  It’s almost like it was preordained.  Wait a minute?  What if it was?

How we can get comfortable during this process:

  1. Be aware of your thoughts.  You might experience some strange recurring thoughts during this time.  One of the best ways to deal with the shifting thoughts is just being aware that they are there, and then letting them go.  If you notice yourself staying stuck in the past or even the future, get realigned with the present moment by focusing on your breath.  I teach different breath work exercises to my Club, but the easiest is just holding your hand on your belly, right above your belly button and feeling the breath rise and fall as you repeat the words “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”
  2. Let the tension out.  Pain is there to remind us that we are holding something in.  I have been there, and I know that the last thing anyone in pain ever feels like doing is moving, but you have to really (my story here if you want a brief overview).  As we work on getting the stagnation out of our lymphatic system, we start to feel better and movement helps us tremendously.  Even baby steps can help you as you move a little bit each day like I go over in 4 Weeks to Wellness, but you do want to move.  remember that struggle proceeds the growth.  Pain proceeds the change that you are making.  I also knew that if I was going to be in pain daily anyway, that what harm could it hurt trying out a new plan?  Hint:  it worked.
  3. Try to keep up a routine.  It is at this point we get so very tried.  I know.  Maybe we feel the need to purge (yes!! That’s moving stagnant energy too and is good!), maybe we feel sadness come out of the blue for no apparent reason (hint: what are you eating as it’s seriously connected to how you are taking care of your body?), maybe our immune system even seems out of whack (again, are we leaving our self-care to the whim of “if I had time?” because that ship has long since sailed and you know you have time…we all have time for what we make time for).  I get it.  I do.  But if you are a reader of many years, read some of the past archives and see the similarities perhaps in my story and yours.  Maybe you already have.
  4. Connect with other like-minded people.  Here is the hard one.  Sometimes we feel as if there is no one we can connect with.  The stories we tell ourselves are so ingrained.  No one understand me.  I am alone.  I’m too old to change or to make new friends at this point.  These are just stories that your mind is trying on you to see if you will push through, past this uncomfortable feeling, and grow.  Growth is right there outside of the comfort zone and I am here to help you.  If any of this resonated with you, come find some like-minded people, who told themselves all of this and more at one time, and have found a place where they are not just merely surviving.  It is freeing being able to push on through.  You were meant to see this today.  I know you were.  >>> Head|Heart|Health Club <<< The club with soul.

Healing the Doormat Ways…3 Tips on Getting Up Again.

Healing the Doormat WaysWhat is a doormat personality?  It is someone who believes they are actually unworthy of boundaries.  The people pleasing behavior is there and it doesn’t ruffle feathers.  There is a desire to be accepted that is so strong that it seems to override the part of the brain that says “Hey, you are better than this.  Say something!”

Where does this come from?  It could come from a past history of feeling abandoned, ridiculed to the point of low self-esteem, or it could actually just be there with one particular person for reasons unknown to you, but you recognize it, and want things to change.

As we work towards healing the doormat ways, you have to understand that this is not an overnight process, but a work in progress, and that’s perfectly okay.  Once you have recognized the signs, know that there are things you can do to change yourself, but not the other person.  You can only ever work to change yourself and this is a key factor here.  The other person will not change, so repeat this to yourself.

It is important to recognize these 3 key thought patterns and work on yourself, not them.

3 Tips on Healing the Doormat Ways:

  1. Recognize when you are going into victim mentality.  It might be like this in your head “I am not at fault here.  I had nothing to do with that.”  Sometimes, the truth is hard.  It is harder still when you start to look at the facts of what is happening objectively and you actually see your involvement in a situation.  Maybe you haven’t been all that clear in your interactions with someone and you thought that things were implied. This leads to you not having to take a stand and then it loops back around to the victim thinking.  You never actually had to say out loud how you felt, but it was implied, therefore you didn’t actually have to involve yourself in life’s disappointments and feelings.  I know that sound complicated right now, but think about it.  Does everyone know where they stand with you when you feel disappointed?  Next time, use I feel statements.  I feel cornered when you don’t call ahead and just show up here asking me to babysit. It puts me in a difficult situation.  There.  It’s out.  Not implied.
  2. Set boundaries that you admire.  We are each responsible for our own boundaries, and sometimes we “wish” we could be like someone else.  So if you admire someone and how they handle situations, think about what it is that you actually admire.  Do you like the way they say no without apologizing?  Write that down on a list.  Do you like the way they tell their friends that their kids can’t ruin their couch by eating on it?  Write it down.  Maybe it’s how they handle relationships and boundaries.  Now apply these thoughts to your life.  No, we can’t change other people nor can we become other people, but we can take some cues from them and start to apply the good parts to our own lives.  In this situation remember this, the clearer you are on what you want to allow in your life and what you want to repel from your life, the clearer your energy is.  Your thoughts, actions and body language will start to reflect it.  You are working on you.  No one else is going to do this for you.  So use this list only to work on yourself, your actions, and your thoughts.
  3. Start learning how to detach from approval.  This one is going to take some time and will not happen overnight.  Grab your journal and write approval in the middle of the page.  What does it feel like to you?  Circle it and branch off with why you want it, how it feels, and what it does for you.  Okay, good.  Next, write dislike on a page.  How does that feel?  Branch off, and keep going.  What is the worst thing that can happen if you are disliked?  Did you write it down?  This part is going to be uncomfortable as growth often is.  Growth can be disguised as struggle and pain.  So for just a minute, think about how it is going to feel when you start to stand up for yourself.  And then you keep doing it over and over again.  Interestingly enough, the feelings of standing up for yourself will be similar to the ones under the approval cluster.  Only this time, you will have created those feelings for yourself.

As you begin to make this change to your inner self, your outer self will start to reflect it as well.  Note that people in your life, especially narcissistic ones, are not going to like this change and they might start to fall away…and that’s okay.  You are now learning how to meet your own needs and make boundaries that are appropriate for you, not them.  You might start to see less of them, and eventually not see them at all.  The people who are meant to be in your life will now have more of a clear space and that my friend, is where you will find peace and balance.  Looking for more tips on creating balance in your life and taking back your life?  Check out the >> Club with Soul. << where journal therapy, meditations, yoga poses for beginners (even if you have never tried it and don’t move much), and tutorials are available to you 24/7.

How to Practice the Lost Art of Being Present

The Lost Art of Being Present“Mom!!  Can so and so have a ride, and such and such.  And can I go over to this person’s house later?  But first I need some new cleats…okay?  Oh and 40 snacks.  Like right now to take into band.  And I forgot to tell you we have to have people over to finish tie-dying these shirts.  And then can you take Person X back home because they don’t have a ride?”

Ohmmmm.  That was just one of my teens on one particular day this week.  I know that it sounds a bit frantic, and it can be, but so can grocery store shopping if you let the overwhelm get to you.  >> Check out my latest video on staying balanced over here <<< 

So the days of doing nothing, not having a cell phone, not having to feel connected to a device are long gone (perhaps).  However, you can inject mindful moments into your day by practicing being present.

This might be a typical experience in your mind Present moment thought. Past. Past. Past. FUTURE! FUTURE! Present moment thought.  It’s kind of like scrolling through your feed, right?  Checking your social media, and then deciding what you want to click the like or love on.  I would like you to practice the lost art of being present consistently, for one week, before you scroll onto something else.

How?  Your mind screams.  Why should I?  Your mind also thinks.  This is the kind of stuff those “yoga” people do.  I just don’t know if I can do it.  Well, before I was one of those yoga people, I was trapped in so many patterns of over thinking that my thoughts were just like ping-pong balls.  I was exhausted from over thinking because I was time traveling everyday without the Tardis.  Seriously.  If you don’t believe me, try this.

There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.  Leo Tolstoy

How to Practice Being Present:

  1. Take out your tiny notebook and write P for past, N for now, and then F for future.  Using little tick marks, start tallying your thoughts.  Yes, it might be a lot of work to do in one day, but try it for one day.  Which column had the highest score?  You are going to be very surprised.  You spend more time in other moments even if you start thinking about paying a bill in the future, what are you going to cook for dinner, what do you need from the store, I can’t believe that guy just cut me off in traffic, my boss is a ___ for treating me ___ in the meeting, I have to get 40 snacks, and so on.
  2. Notice your activities.  This might surprise you, but you struggle because you also are judging yourself.  So don’t judge how you are being in your activities, just start to notice what you are doing.  As you garden, start to notice the dirt shifting around your hand or garden spade.  As you come into a new yoga class, don’t notice what anyone else is doing, just focus on the way your body feels on the mat.  As you are walking, start to notice the way your foot moves on the path, and how you are breathing.  Are you breathing shallowly because you are overthinking?  Notice, observe and shift back into the present moment.
  3. The present moment has arrived.  There is no guess work as to what is happening right now.  We already know it.  So practice during one of your normal routines like eating lunch.  Just notice the way you make your sandwich or even your kids sandwiches.  Put music on and listen as you work.  Be fully present so much so that other people’s energy does not throw you off.  That becomes the key which only you hold.  There is only room for your energy as you stay present.  What other people are doing with their frantic thoughts, which then spirals out, can’t really bother you if you are staying present.  You start to become an observer of what is happening. 
  4. Triggers will become apparent in this way.  As you notice your energy, you will start to observe which friend, colleague, child, neighbor, etc, are using old mechanisms to trigger you.  They have learned that behavior as well, particularly anyone who wants to ruffle your feathers.  I will use myself as an example.  I value honesty as one of the top qualities a person can have.  Dishonesty triggers a wave of energy that will result in anger if I don’t ride it out and then breathe deeply.  This includes using tactics of “omission” from my darling kids.  So I have discussed full examples of this so that “Hulk Mom” doesn’t come out.  Instead of worrying, I proactively explained what will happen.  This helps work around a possible trigger.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.  Buddha

If you are interested in learning more about staying present, learning how to focus on your own energy, and harness your inner power, I invite you to try my Club out for a month >>> The Club with Soul.  <<<

How to Practice the Lost Art of Being Present

 

 

Feeling Down? 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up

Feeling down? 7 ways to pick yourself back up.Feeling Down? 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up!

A Guest Post By Leo Babauta

From time to time, we all get a little down, maybe even a little depressed. Maybe we are feeling overwhelmed, or feel bad because we’re not doing well with our goals. There are many reasons for feeling down, and I’m not qualified to discuss all of them, their implications, or clinical treatment. What I can talk about are some things that have worked for me.

Feeling a little depressed can interfere with achieving our goals. We know we should be doing something, but we just don’t feel like doing anything. This can last for a long time if you don’t head it off as soon as possible and take action. Here are some of the things that work best for me:

  1. Make a list. Sometimes we are depressed simply because we are overwhelmed with all the things we have to do that we haven’t gotten around to doing. You might be into GTD, but sometimes every GTDer falls behind with his system, and sometimes you just don’t have the energy to do so. So all the “stuff” that’s in our head can overwhelm us. Start simply by picking up a piece of paper and a pen, and making a list of the most pressing things you have to do. Sometimes it’s work stuff, sometimes it’s stuff around the house that’s bothering us, sometimes it’s goal tasks, or a combination of these and more. Simply making a list can be a big relief — you’re getting things under control. You can see, right in front of you, what you need to do, and that alone can pick up your mood.
  2. Take action. You’ve made a list, and you still feel overwhelmed? Well, get started on the first thing you need to do. Is it a big task? Break it down and just do the smallest task, something just to get you started. Once you get started, once you get into action, you’ll feel better. Trust me. You might still feel overwhelmed, but at least you’re doing something. And once you start doing something, you’ve got momentum, and that feels much better than lying around feeling sorry for yourself.
  3. Exercise. I know, you might not be in the mood for exercise. But just do it! Taking a walk, going for a run, going to the gym, whatever it is you do for exercise — get out and do it now! You don’t need to do a real hard workout, but the simple act of exercise can lift your mood immediately. Just do it!
  4. Shower and groom yourself. Laying around in your underwear, smelling bad, is not going to do you any good. Simply showering, and feeling clean, can do wonders for your mood. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, shave, do whatever it is that you need to do to feel clean and good about yourself. Instant pick me up!
  5. Get out of the house and do something. Sometimes, if you stay home lying around, feeling depressed, just getting out (after showering and grooming) will change your mood. Staying home all the time can really get you down, and you may not realize this until you go out and do something. Preferably something on your list (see No. 1).
  6. Play some lively music. I like Brown Eyed Girl, the Kinks, the Ramones, or an upbeat Beatles tune, but you might have your own brand of feel-good music. Whatever it is, crank it up, and let yourself move to the beat. It may just be what the doctor ordered.
  7. Talk about it. Got a significant other, best friend, family member, co-worker you can talk to? Bend their ear. That’s what they’re their for. If you don’t, there are hotlines, or professionals, you can talk to. And then there’s always online groups. These are great places to find someone to talk to. Getting things off your chest makes a big difference, and can be a huge lift. It can also help you work out the reasons you’re feeling down.
  Not convinced yet?  Here are a few more articles to help you:
 What works for you?  Feel free to leave a comment below if you tried any of these tips.

Lies that keep you from moving forward.

Lies that keep you from moving forwardOccasionally, someone has to be the bad guy.  You know that one friend who really wants you to succeed so they tell you something you really don’t want to hear.  Well, that’s me today.

Life is going to be a million different things for you.  It’s going to be beautiful and brilliant one moment and the next is going to suck big time.  You’re going to be up one moment only to be smacked down again a minute later.  You’re going to be minding your own business going to your “routine” doctor’s appointment and then you get told that a few more tests are needed.  So you panic…and go from point A to Z in your head in a matter of minutes.  But the bottom line is, it’s your reaction that counts. It’s what you do in those terrible moments that define you.  

I remember getting the news that I had a few incurable diseases.  If not treated, they could have killed me, yes.  But I was 23 years old so you know, I probably had the same amount of time as others ahead of me.  That was before I was even married, before I even really thought about being a mom, before I said yes to my first real job and before I had ever even bought a house, experienced the joy of paying bills and taxes and whatever being an adult encompassed.

Some of you have heard this part before, but for those who want to learn more here are a few posts from the early days, and the rest of you can keep reading after this:

So, I do get it folks.  I do.  In full disclosure…I don’t mind pissing people off with the truth. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it’s liberating, sometimes it’s messy and ugly and then you wake up the next day and you feel amazing! Why? Because maybe you weren’t fully being honest with yourself about who you are and maybe you were hiding living in your truth. So that “courage” it took you to finally speak your truth feels better. Like you are finally living in your own skin. Well, it’s time for you to stop telling yourself these things.

Lies that keep you from moving forward:

  1. I will never _____.   The truth is, if you start something off with that, you won’t.  Period.  I will never find a person who loves me (says your mind, or your status).  I will never get that promotion.  Oh that can never be me.  It won’t.  Not with that attitude.  So what does one do with this?  You take baby steps with your mind.  Okay, right now the situation seems out of my control.  So what can I control?  My reaction.  My thoughts.  My ability to change me.  I will one day feel amazing again.  I just know it.  <<< So that was my head after 5 years of pain.  Straight and constant pain daily had almost gotten me to I will never…and I realized that I had to do something drastic.  I had to start saying “One day I will….” and I got there.
  2. They are just lucky.  You have convinced yourself that someone else is more entitled to a share of luck than you are.  You are therefore not as lucky and will never have whatever it is.  What you don’t know is that “they” have worked their ass off for whatever it is.  They have felt defeat so many times it wasn’t funny.  They were trying their best one day and were on the 50th time of trying to get ahead when it finally happened for them.  So what can you do?  Start small again.  This is exactly what I teach my Club.  Look, I never knew the word “manifestation”.  I didn’t watch the “Secret” and I don’t care what that secret was because I know I have it figured out.  I believed that “it” whatever it was, was going to happen for me.  So in the beginning, it was just to live without pain.  That was enough for me because it would mean I had my life back again.  I was going to create my own luck and that is exactly what I teach.
  3. The past or future is better than right now.  Achoo bullshit.  Sorry.  I call it like I see it.  I miss the past too sometimes.  And yes, there’s grief for people I lost, but I know for a fact they wouldn’t want me to live that way.  I did take an entire year to grieve once and I don’t regret it.  But then it was time to pick myself up and keep moving forward.  Of course, shortly after that I was diagnosed with my first disease, but I did keep moving forward.  So what can you do?  Create Mindful Moments.  If it is very hard to live in this moment right now, try to notice when and where your thoughts wander.  Gently pull them back to the present moment.  I am not saying yoga cures everything, but it does actually change you.  I brought myself to my mat and practiced what I needed to do.  Time and time again until it became less practice and more second nature.  If my mind strayed to the pain, I would then focus on the way my hand was pressing into the mat.  The way the next day, it was easier to hold a position for a few seconds longer than the day before.  Until one day, I did something I worked on for an entire year and I will never forget the way my buddy smiled at me as I said hey, look at me!!  I did it.  There was this internal glow that I created all for myself and I had that power within me…so do you my friend.

I’m not saying that I have all the answers because I don’t.  I just know that you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.  Over the course of my 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training, I doubted myself more times than I can count.  I would come home and soak in the tub and be in immense pain.  I would look up at the heavens and ask why me.  But the answer was always the same “why not me?” and so I learned to stop telling myself lies.  I really could do this.

If you’d like more information on my journal therapy/yoga mindset/learning to live your truth Club, here it is >>> Head|Heart|Health Club <<< Click there.

Overthinking 101: Learning How to Postpone “Worry”

Look, I get it.  I worry with the best of them.  In fact, I come from a long line of “worriers”.  Things like Don’t push the trash down with your hand or you will get cut. Or If you go snow skiing, you will probably fly off the mountain.  Recently it was A shark might eat you if you swim in the ocean and if that doesn’t happen a rip tide will get you. 

I actually love swimming in the ocean and taught my daughters to jump waves as well as my niece with my brother…while the worrier was watching.  We all came back in one piece.  So what does this type of habitual practice do to your brain?  Well, I probably should have been in therapy, in fact I tried it once, but she just there listening to me saying “umm hmm” so that made me wonder what was going on in her head and that was worse to be honest.

Anyway, I discovered yoga years ago, but I didn’t actually “get it” at first.  I love this article on it because it was like this.  I started to think if a freaking neuroscientist thought just like me at first, then perhaps I am not the only one noticing that some people do go to “yoga” and in fact are not doing yoga at all.

So what did I start teaching that was different in my own yoga classes (and in real life, including my HHH Club)?  I started teaching yoga-like thoughts and being aware of the absence of thought, even if it’s just a minute.  Now, what if you worry about all of the above mentioned things, plus many others that never ever come to pass?  Here are a few tips for you.

Overthinking 101 notes:

  1. Postpone worry.  On your calendar, write out a time that you worry.  I know, it’s crazy.  But seriously.  As you are working, if worry starts to come into your head while you are busy doing something else, just stop, write worry at 5p.m. today, and keep going.  If it gets really bad, set a timer as well so you can worry about the sky falling for exactly 15 minutes and if you start to think about it longer, you are reminded you devoted enough time to that thought, now it’s up.  Like an appointment.  Meet back there in your head tomorrow at a different time if it still lingers, but don’t think about it anymore.  This actually allows you that slight bit of control that we need.
  2. Obsessive thoughts can be faced.  So imagine for a minute you are Sheldon Cooper.  What happens if he doesn’t knock the third time?  Can he go a whole day without that?  So if you don’t get this, Sheldon is a character I love on a T.V. show.  He has to knock three times and say his neighbor’s name.  But let’s put this in perspective again.  My dad uses antibacterial squirty stuff like it’s going out of style.  What if a germ actually gets on him?  To test this theory and face not using the anti-bac, he would have to touch something and then not use it.  See if he can last after being in public. Each time maybe go a bit longer.  Again, you get the drift here.  Each time try to go a little bit longer without feeling like you have to do the obsessive behavior and see what happens.  Are you okay?  Can you make it from one task to another without reaching for the anti-bac or knocking on the door a third time?
  3. Use a mantra to relax.  As you begin to feel stressed, say “I am in control of my thoughts.”  Then breathe in and hold at the top of a breath just a sec and focus on that feeling, then release and breathe out.  Keep breathing in and out for a full round of three.  Start to notice the tension in your body releasing.  Notice the set of your jaw, and unclench the teeth.  Let the shoulders relax, and just be aware of being in your body.  Notice how you control the rise and fall of your chest by breathing deeper, not shallow, short breaths, but deep, controlled breaths.  You are in control.  You are able to breathe deeply and focus on the now.

As I have been working on my practice of teaching others how to control their thoughts, I am reminded again and again that just like anything we do, the power of now must be practiced.  We mindlessly go through our days sometimes and that is really not healthy.  Flex that muscle and learn to practice the power of now through tiny activities like washing the dishes, going on a walk, gardening, yoga and meditation.  Each of your tasks can be a mini-meditation in itself.  Like riding a bike, but just practice staying present.

Want to learn more?  >>> Head|Heart|Health Club <<<

 

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9 Steps to Achieving Flow (and Happiness) in Your Work

9 steps to achieving flow

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

A Guest Post by Leo Babauta

Have your ever lost yourself in your work, so much so that you lost track of time? Being consumed by a task like that, while it can be rare for most people, is a state of being called Flow.

In my experience, it’s one of the keys to happiness at work, and a nice side benefit is that it not only reduces stress but increases your productivity. Not bad, huh?

When I wrote about the Magical Power of Focus, I promised to write more about how to achieve Flow, a concept that is very much in vogue right now and something most of us have experienced at one time or another.

Today we’ll take a look at what Flow is, why it’s important, and how to achieve it on a regular basis for increased productivity and happiness at work.

What is Flow?

Put simply, it’s a state of mind you achieve when you’re fully immersed in a task, forgetting about the outside world. It’s a concept proposed by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and these days you’re likely to read about it on blogs and in all kinds of magazines.

When you’re in the state of Flow, you:

  • are completely focused on the task at hand;
  • forget about yourself, about others, about the world around you;
  • lose track of time;
  • feel happy and in control; and
  • become creative and productive.

One thing I love about Flow is that it takes the very Zen concept of being completely in the moment, and applies it to work tasks. It’s a concept I’ve talked a lot about on Zen Habits — being in the moment, focusing completely on a single task, and finding a sense of calm and happiness in your work. Flow is exactly that.

Why is Flow Important?

I believe the ability to single-task (as opposed to multi-task) is one of the keys to true productivity. Not the kind of productivity where you knock off 20 items from your to-do list (although that can be satisfying), where you’re switching between tasks all day long and keep busy all the time.

The true productivity I mean is the kind where you actually achieve your goals, where you accomplish important and long-lasting things. As a writer, that might mean writing one or two important and memorable articles rather than 20 or 50 unimportant ones that people will forget 5 minutes after reading them. It means getting key projects done rather than answering a bunch of emails, making a lot of phone calls, attending a bunch of meetings, and shuffling paperwork all day long. It means closing key deals. It means quality instead of quantity.

And once you’ve learned to focus on those kinds of important projects and tasks, Flow is how you get them done. You lose yourself in those important and challenging tasks, and instead of being constantly interrupted by minor things (calls, emails, IMs, coworkers, etc.), you are able to focus on the tasks long enough to actually complete them.

And by losing yourself in them, you enjoy yourself more. You reduce stress while increasing quality output. You get important stuff done instead of just getting things done. You achieve things rather than just keeping busy.

Flow is one of the keys to all of that.

How to Achieve Flow and Happiness in Your Work

So how do you achieve this mystical state of being? Do you need to meditate or chant anything? No, you don’t (although meditation can improve your ability to concentrate). And Flow is anything but mystical — it’s very practical, and achieving it isn’t mysterious.

It can take practice, but you’ll get better at it. Here are the key steps to achieving and benefiting from Flow:

  1. Choose work you love. If you dread a task, you’ll have a hard time losing yourself in it. If your job is made up of stuff you hate, you might want to consider finding another job. Or consider seeking projects you love to do within your current job. At any rate, be sure that whatever task you choose is something you can be passionate about.
  2. Choose an important task. There’s work you love that’s easy and unimportant, and then there’s work you love that will make a long-term impact on your career and life. Choose the latter, as it will be a much better use of your time, and of Flow.
  3. Make sure it’s challenging, but not too hard. If a task is too easy, you will be able to complete it without much thought or effort. A task should be challenging enough to require your full concentration. However, if it is too hard, you will find it difficult to lose yourself in it, as you will spend most of your concentration just trying to figure out how to do it — either that, or you’ll end up discouraged. It may take some trial and error to find tasks of the appropriate level of difficulty.
  4. Find your quiet, peak time. This is actually two steps grouped into one. First, you’ll want to find a time that’s quiet, or you’ll never be able to focus. For me, that’s mornings, before the hustle of everyday life builds to a dull roar. That might be early morning, when you just wake, or early in the work day, when most people haven’t arrived yet or are still getting their coffee and settling down. Or you might try the lunch hour, when people are usually out of the office. Evenings work well too for many people. Or, if you’re lucky, you can do it at any time of the day if you can find a quiet spot to work in. Whatever time you choose, it should also be a peak energy time for you. Some people get tired after lunch — that’s not a good time to go for Flow. Find a time when you have lots of energy and can concentrate.
  5. Clear away distractions. Aside from finding a quiet time and place to work, you’ll want to clear away all other distractions. That means turning off distracting music (unless you find music that helps you focus), turning off phones, email and IM/PM notifications, Twitter, and anything else that might pop up or make noise to interrupt your thoughts. I also find it helpful to clear my desk, even if that means sweeping miscellaneous papers into a folder to be sorted through later. Of course, these days there isn’t anything on my desk, but I didn’t always work like this. A clear desk helps immensely.
  6. Learn to focus on that task for as long as possible. This takes practice. You need to start on your chosen task and keep your focus on it for as long as you can. At first, many people will have difficulty, if they’re used to constantly switching between tasks. But keep trying, and keep bringing your focus back to your task. You’ll get better. And if you can keep your focus on that task, with no distractions, and if your task has been chosen well (something you love, something important, and something challenging), you should lose yourself in Flow.
  7. Enjoy yourself. Losing yourself in Flow is an amazing thing, in my experience. It feels great to be able to really pour yourself into something worthwhile, to make great progress on a project or important task, to do something you’re passionate about. Take the time to appreciate this feeling (perhaps after the fact — it’s hard to appreciate it while you’re in Flow).
  8. Keep practicing. Again, this takes practice. Each step will take some practice, from finding a quiet, peak time for yourself, to clearing distractions, to choosing the right task. And especially keeping your focus on a task for a long time. But each time you fail, try to learn from it. Each time you succeed, you should also learn from it — what did you do right? And the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
  9. Reap the rewards. Aside from the pleasure of getting into Flow, you’ll also be happier with your work overall. You’ll get important stuff done. You’ll complete stuff more often, rather than starting and stopping frequently. All of this is hugely satisfying and rewarding. Take the time to appreciate this, and to continue to practice it every day.

“To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement.” – Bertrand Russell

Dear Reader, we are working on uncovering our gifts this month in the Head|Heart|Health Club and using Flow to our advantage as we step into our power.  Want to try it out for a month and see how your life changes?  Feel free to join us!  Just click on “I need support” to read more.  <<<

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5 Self-care Tips for the Empath

5 self-care tips for the empath

First of all, you know you are an Empath because you are here.  If you are a bit unsure, read more over here on this article.  <<<

As a highly sensitive person, it is necessary to continue your self-care routines daily, not just when you remember.  So before we even get into that, I want to tell you to write on your calendar “self-care time” and devote at least 15 minutes a day to it.

I teach intuitive people how to best care for their emotions and improve their relationship with their thoughts.  When we get into overwhelm mode as an Empath, lots of things start to happen to us.  We feel physically sick, suffer from headaches, begin to feel drained, and literally have no energy for our own lives.  I know we want to look around at the world and shut down at this point, but this is the time we have to get serious about our own needs.  Do not feel guilty here.  We must put on our own oxygen masks first by practicing self-care.

What happens when we don’t take of ourselves? 

I want you to think back to the last few weeks.  Look over your calendar as you do so and put a “heart” on any activity where you took care of yourself.  Put a “minus” next to anything you were doing where you felt drained, depleted and possibly had to rest the next day.  Only you know the answer to this and only you can be honest with yourself and your schedule.  Are you showing up in your own life as the director or perhaps the side kick?  How many hearts are in your calendar?  How many activities do you plan just for you?  Do you make note of that?  Try to keep a record for a week of anything you have done after reading this article and see what happens.  Begin with these 5 self-care tips for the Empath and keep adding to them.

5 Self-care Tips for the Empath:

  1. Cut off all electronics at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed.  There are lots of reasons for this including various studies on brain waves, the light, and more, but for us, it’s also about what we are feeling through the social media feed.  The routine that will nurture your soul is not found online right before bed unless you are searching for a journal prompt.  <<
  2. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude to elevate your energy daily.  Because we feel so much and we see way more than we let on, we start to feel very alone and perhaps a wee bit mistrustful of others.  This lack of trust leads us into isolation and hermit mode as we know that at least alone in our thoughts, we can’t let ourselves down.  While we feel this is true, we actually do need a support system and ways to feel grateful again about the world around us.  I have created a support system in my closed group, but it is also important to note what we are grateful for each day that might seem to be a coincidence, but truly, is not.
  3. Learn to distance yourself from the drama and anyone you truly know is lying to youAs you begin to create better boundaries for your Empath world, things start to feel lighter and more free.  A lack of good and decent boundaries means that you will continue to suffer.  Why?  Energy vampires will continue ti drain you because of your good nature.  Gently start to notice where you need to shore up the low places in your defenses and don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to things that zap your energy.  The person who asks you for help 24/7 and never once has taken your advice.  The angry person who doesn’t lift a finger to change themselves, but vents to you.  The “time warper” who messages you and hours later you are like “Where has my night gone?” and you feel a headache coming on.  <<<   Sign of a person leeching your energy away.
  4. Meditate, or learn yoga poses to cope with getting centered and grounded.  I started recording a few yoga poses monthly for my club because I don’t want people to think they have to do an hour-long flow.  No.  You can do one pose a day, and I even break it down to chair yoga for those who want that, but it can be really simple.  I am convinced that those who want to change, will.  Those who want to feel better, quite simply will.  If you are reading this, you are probably pretty sick of feeling sick in this world.  I teach a 4 week course that is yours to keep for life on Journaling for the Empath which includes a break down of steps to take to clear your energy and start realizing what is yours and what might be taken on from others.  <<< It can be repeated as often as needed to clear your thoughts and align with your own energy.
  5. Do a check on what you have done for yourself weekly.  Not sure how to do that?  Here is my free Empath self-care checklist.  Make time to get outside, read, journal, meditate, do yoga, get grounded and many more self-care routines that are truly available to us each and everyday.  Learn to see your gift as a gift and not a burden.  Life truly is what you make my soul friend, and I hope this inspired you to make it a great one!

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The Inauthentic Person and the Empath…Why We Must Leave.

I can sense a fake post a mile away.  Just skimming the headline of an article that has been stolen and reproduced usually gives me a shiver.  So it is no wonder that meeting fake people causes me to draw back from any and all people associated with them.  And I do mean all.

I would rather have no friends at all than a fake one.

As an Empath, I have always been sensitive to clues.  Years ago, I met a lady who was to work with me very closely.  She was too happy…all the time.  One day, she started telling me a story about how her husband had cheated on her.  She laughingly said “Hahaha.  I could murder him.”  I looked at her and I knew that was one of the few things she actually had told me that was completely and totally true.  Her hatred was as great as the Emperor’s from Star Wars.  Seriously.  I had this vision for a second and it was gone.  I saw beneath the mask.

Later, she would do other odd things until one day I could take it no longer and I had to report her behavior.  I later left the school because yes.  We worked with children and they didn’t believe me.  A year later she was let go and I ran into her working at a yogurt shop.  The mask was there again.

I have many stories like this when the words, body language and energy of the person don’t match up.  There are people with massive followers that I refuse to associate with as I have seen the mask slip.  All it takes is one time for me to have that feeling click and I know.

Energy doesn’t lie to me.

I have been manipulated by a person who was once one of my closet friends.  She would smile at me and tell me how much she wanted to see me, but wouldn’t I invite so and so over as well, a male friend, to my house…because you know, she was married.  I would later hear things about parties she had, that I wasn’t invited to, or outings she had that we had planned, but she took someone else.  I am a grown woman.  I left high school a long time ago.  If you are sensing these things in your adult friendships my friends…get out.

Signs you must leave:

  1. They are your friend or are friendly to you when they need you.  At other times, like the time you say “Hey. I have had a really bad day.  Can I come over?”  They tell you “Now is not really a good time.”  Had the situation been reversed, you would have changed your plans, got come wine and chocolate and opened your door in your PJ’s.  <<< truth.
  2. They compliment you daily…but you sense something else.  This started with the lady who I worked with.  I realized I was probably working with a psychopath and pathological liar who continued to pretend she was stable so she complimented everyone around her all the time with this giant smile.  I could almost sense her real words underneath.  It gave me the creeps.
  3. In each situation, they are a new person.  This is a huge sign. <<< My close friend was never the same person and I noticed it, but I guess I wanted a best-friend so much at the time, that I just passed it off as insecurity.  I tried very hard to form a close relationship, but I never knew what type of person I was dealing with.  Just when I thought I got through, it would happen again.
  4. The lies and stories are so thick, you aren’t sure what is truth anymore.  In the end, they have changed different versions of a story so many times you are left feeling completely and totally used.  Drained.  Even though they have tried many ways to keep anger, pain, or something else hidden, you always sense it.  It is the true self under all the stories.  Your instincts are right no matter how much they deny it.

What do you do now?

  1. Avoidance.  This is my go-to thing.  I know it.  I “hermit” because I am so damn tired of being lied to.  I can’t stand the fakeness I see daily and that includes social media and twisted “news” that isn’t really news at all.
  2. You learn to trust again…eventually.  To do this, you have to be willing to put yourself out there to make new friends.  I get it, I truly do, but not everyone is the same.  Trust your gut.
  3. You join a club or go to a local meet-up of people with interests like you.  If there isn’t one, you can always start one, but it is important to find people you can trust.  I know it’s hard.  You are always welcome to come join my Club as well if this resonates with you.
  4. You journal about your experiences and you move on.  You get very clear on how you want to feel and you start to create that for yourself.  No one wants to feel used for sure.  Start making a list of how you want to feel.  Loved, energized, important, lifted-up, and of course, authentic.

Want more help? >>>  Here is Journaling for Empaths.  <<< A workbook to heal your soul.

5 Hacks to Relieve Anxiety and Blues for the Empath

I have been told that I needed to chill out occasionally on the stress…which is kind of funny considering that is what I teach others in my yoga classes.  Here’s the thing though, if you walked around like a piece of Velcro picking up the feelings of every anxious person you came in contact with, you might understand.

I am going to go over the 5 hacks that will help you relieve anxiety and help you through the blues, but listen.  I give you permission to let it all go right now.  It’s not easy being an empath. << to read later if you don’t know if you are one.  The world doesn’t fully grasp how we came into existence and they think it’s lots of woo-woo stuff that can’t be explained.  Don’t worry, that’s not your job, or mine really, to explain this to them.  I used to think I had to explain this “gift” or curse as some say, but the truth is, we don’t owe the world an explanation.  We only need to take on our own problems, and that is half the battle.

What’s happening to me?

So here is what is going on with us.  We can read other people just like they read the news, but the difference is, when they close the article they are reading, the words stay there.  With me?  When we close our reading, the words jump onto us and follow us home…or in the case of anxiety, they somewhat merge with us.  As we go about our day, we can’t help but ponder why so and so was acting the way they did or we just wish we could help them because we know they told us they were fine, but clearly they aren’t and what if they do something stupid or worse.  Ack.  What if I am solely responsible for their bad decisions because I knew what they were thinking and I didn’t stop them.   Does this sound like a situation your brain has pondered?

Now you are anxious about things that haven’t even happened yet.

Trust me, I get it.  Your stomach hurts, you get a headache, you don’t want to see anyone and your brain is replaying things.  Nothing has even happened.  Quite possibly a few days go by, and you seem to let it go.  Trying to have a great day when out of no where, feelings of sadness overtake you.  You are already emotionally worn out and exhausted and now this.  What is going on now?  How can you stop this roller coaster of feelings?

5 Hacks to Relieve Anxiety and Blues:

  1. Focus on yourself.  I get that you are stressed, but let’s stop replaying what is happening with this other person.  It is time to focus on your needs.  As we focus on them, we are likely attracting more of their “stuff” our way.  Here is a tip from my new Guide.  Take the path of least resistance and sit in stillness for a round of 3 deep breaths.  You might want to be barefoot and put both feet flat on the floor.  Feel your toes on the ground or carpet.  What sensations can you feel?  What sounds are you listening to?  Continue to breathe and focus on the feeling of the air moving in and out of your lungs.  You are in control of your breath.  You are in your body.  Visualize a brilliant bubble surrounding you as you breathe.  Only what you allow to come in, gets in, and that is only positive energy to refill you.  You have now come back to your body.
  2. Follow that urge.  Do you have that itchy feeling sometimes that you need to get away and be alone?  Maybe read a good book or journal quietly?  That is your natural intuition telling you what you actually need to refill your depleted energy stores.  Energy is always changing and when it is in fatigue, it must be refilled.  Even more so for the empath.  Sadness might be telling you that your stores have reached a really low-level.  As we learn to let go from the other person’s emotions, we start to heal.  Getting back to nature can also help this process, going by the sea, or getting yourself to yoga where the energy is really high right towards the end of class and then everyone melts into savasana.  This is the most healing part, so try to follow your intuition here.
  3. Boundaries are your friend.  It is very important that you don’t take on too much and that the moment, and I am not kidding here, the moment you start to feel anxious in someone’s presence, you don’t question it.  That is your internal compass telling you who to steer clear of and it is time we stopped questioned it saying things like “Could it just be me?”.  No.  Your body knows.  If you are unsure how to set boundaries, practice using this article.  Everything we do has to be practiced so that it becomes like a reflex to us and we move into feeling instead of thinking.  That is actually our gift, and we need to recognize it and use it.  If someone causes a feeling that bring you down, recognize that as well.
  4. Take note of your own personal feelings.  Keeping a journal will be very useful for you so that at night, you can download what is really yours and yours alone to paper.  Not sure how to do this or want direction?  I recently was asked by well let’s say everyone who knows my journal practice for myself, to write a guide that would help empaths.  You are more than welcome to check it out, but the most important thing to remember here in all of these tips is that you have to do the work inside your head in order to make it become a habit that is second nature to you.  That is where the power lies.  It’s all inside of you already.
  5. Ground it out.  It’s time to put down the burdens of others.  Take your shoes off.  Feel through all four corners of your feet and lift your toes.  Walk outside on the ground or on your carpet if you prefer, but really focus on the feeling.  Being in nature is key here, but you can also take a shower and visualize the water cleansing the stagnant energy off of you.  Use sense of smell to make you feel safe and secure.  Do you know what the number one smell is that helps clear your head?  Fresh baked cookies.  I know, I know, but it’s true.  It invites feelings of warmth.  Last, but not least, make a list of 5 things that you like to do that soothe you.  Refer to that list often and re-evaluate it if something changes.

I hope you really use these tips and refer back to it as needed.  As we start to make taking care of our feeling first a routine, we will be less likely to fall into the trap of overwhelm, anxiety and sadness.  Need more?  My monthly Club is always available with open doors.  The content changes monthly, but I know you will enjoy it!

5 Hacks to Relieve anxiety and blues

 

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