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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Why You Aren’t Happy Right Now…and How to Change That!

One of the top questions I hear is “I am making improvements in my life, why am I not happy yet?”  I get asked this about many things, but in a nutshell, the answer is actually because you really haven’t thought about being happy.  Shock!  I have thought about it a hundred times…you think.  But it drifts off into the sea of other thoughts around what you need to make you happy.  If I only had…a bigger house.  If I only had…a relationship.  More money would really help make me happy.  You then carry on with your day and your thoughts about things that would make you happy.

Lots of people are looking for happiness in the wrong places.  Some people believe happiness comes when they get what they want.  Interesting.  What next?  Do we stay happy after getting what we want then?

Life is a series of complex decisions; however, what if it didn’t have to be.  What if you could declutter your life, get rid of things you don’t want and start over.  Interesting concept.  Downsize instead of supersize?  No way.  Hmm.  But what if?

Many people don’t believe happiness is a choice that only they can make.  I am going to provide you with some tips on how you can choose happiness over and over again, and maybe, just maybe, start to see that is not based off some magical formula, a fairy tale, or even a myth that has been handed down for generations.  Happiness is truly what you make of it.

How to Create Lasting Happiness Right Now:

    • Start a gratitude journal if you don’t already have one.  I know you guys have been watching my weekly talk about this on my fan page when I am Live, but have you started your journal with me?  I am not going to stop talking about it, because we focus so much on what’s wrong, we have forgotten our joys y’all.  I had to throw a y’all in there so you would know I am serious.  Just take a look at your feed.  Count the people who post their blessings…for REAL.  Umm hmm.  Not many, right? Anyway, my exact journal is posted above.  I love it!
    • Clear your space for happiness.  Do you get depressed in a dirty house?  An unmade bed?  Dirty sheets?  No nice smelly things like oils, etc.?  Start tidying up to make room for happiness.  Happiness can start with an intention.  We feel better now because we have done something.  It actually raises our vibration to walk into a nice, clean, insert favorite scent here, room.  I have a diffuser similar to this one to help me feel relaxed and at ease.
    • Work only on what you can change…about you.  So many times, I see people worrying about what others are doing on a daily basis.  The corrupt politicians, the boss, work issues, family who do x, y, z.  All these people have faults just like you.  We aren’t getting anywhere in this world by talking about what we don’t like.  Period.  It has not ever changed one thing in my life.  What has?  Focusing on what I can do to make things better.  Writing articles to help people.  Helping people take back their lives makes me happy.  No strings attached, just pure happiness.  As I work to promote the good I see, things inside of me change as well.  As I help others, I help myself.
    • Practice makes perfect-ish.  I wanted to use this old saying, but let you know that no one is actually perfect.  However, practicing gratitude and changing your focus over and over again can actually change your percentage of happiness.  No Way.  But yes way, because a fancy researcher said so.  According to Robert Emmons, PhD in his book, Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, those who regularly practice gratitude can enhance this set point by as much as 25%.  I don’t know him, but what a cute book.  I am actually reading a similar one…but it’s almost too behavioral study based and long-winded for me.
    • Use a wide viewpoint…and not just a narrow one.  If you consistently see your problems as the only ones, then that creates an ego-based viewpoint of the world.  Be aware of your circle of friends, and what the world is also going through.  Cultivate compassion for others and their needs…but not to the point of using your needs as a basis for inserting it into every conversation.  That still brings it down to a narrow viewpoint.  Social media has made it more “me based” instead of “us based”.  Don’t be that way with your friends.
    • Always keep trying.  Just because you have a set-back, or something sad happens, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel it.  Of course you are.  But don’t stay in that place forever.  Keep on going.  Just like I said last week, you have the power to live any reality you want simply by shifting your thoughts to where you want to be. 

happiness_oneselfStill looking for more support?  Check out the tops tabs.  Work with me, or the Head|Heart|Health Club.

 

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How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes

Act on your dreams

Guest post by: Steve Pavlina  (Link at the end)

How do you discover your real purpose in life? I’m not talking about your job, your daily responsibilities, or even your long-term goals. I mean the real reason why you’re here at all — the very reason you exist.

Perhaps you’re a rather nihilistic person who doesn’t believe you have a purpose and that life has no meaning. Doesn’t matter. Not believing that you have a purpose won’t prevent you from discovering it, just as a lack of belief in gravity won’t prevent you from tripping. All that a lack of belief will do is make it take longer, so if you’re one of those people, just change the number 20 in the title of this blog entry to 40 (or 60 if you’re really stubborn). Most likely though if you don’t believe you have a purpose, then you probably won’t believe what I’m saying anyway, but even so, what’s the risk of investing an hour just in case?

Here’s a story about Bruce Lee which sets the stage for this little exercise. A master martial artist asked Bruce to teach him everything Bruce knew about martial arts. Bruce held up two cups, both filled with liquid. “The first cup,” said Bruce, “represents all of your knowledge about martial arts. The second cup represents all of my knowledge about martial arts. If you want to fill your cup with my knowledge, you must first empty your cup of your knowledge.”

If you want to discover your true purpose in life, you must first empty your mind of all the false purposes you’ve been taught (including the idea that you may have no purpose at all).

So how to discover your purpose in life? While there are many ways to do this, some of them fairly involved, here is one of the simplest that anyone can do. The more open you are to this process, and the more you expect it to work, the faster it will work for you. But not being open to it or having doubts about it or thinking it’s an entirely idiotic and meaningless waste of time won’t prevent it from working as long as you stick with it — again, it will just take longer to converge.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster).
  2. Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
  3. Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
  4. Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.

That’s it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a counselor or an engineer or a bodybuilder. To some people this exercise will make perfect sense. To others it will seem utterly stupid. Usually it takes 15-20 minutes to clear your head of all the clutter and the social conditioning about what you think your purpose in life is. The false answers will come from your mind and your memories. But when the true answer finally arrives, it will feel like it’s coming to you from a different source entirely.

For those who are very entrenched in low-awareness living, it will take a lot longer to get all the false answers out, possibly more than an hour. But if you persist, after 100 or 200 or maybe even 500 answers, you’ll be struck by the answer that causes you to surge with emotion, the answer that breaks you. If you’ve never done this, it may very well sound silly to you. So let it seem silly, and do it anyway.

As you go through this process, some of your answers will be very similar. You may even re-list previous answers. Then you might head off on a new tangent and generate 10-20 more answers along some other theme. And that’s fine. You can list whatever answer pops into your head as long as you just keep writing.

At some point during the process (typically after about 50-100 answers), you may want to quit and just can’t see it converging. You may feel the urge to get up and make an excuse to do something else. That’s normal. Push past this resistance, and just keep writing. The feeling of resistance will eventually pass.

You may also discover a few answers that seem to give you a mini-surge of emotion, but they don’t quite make you cry — they’re just a bit off. Highlight those answers as you go along, so you can come back to them to generate new permutations. Each reflects a piece of your purpose, but individually they aren’t complete. When you start getting these kinds of answers, it just means you’re getting warm. Keep going.

It’s important to do this alone and with no interruptions. If you’re a nihilist, then feel free to start with the answer, “I don’t have a purpose,” or “Life is meaningless,” and take it from there. If you keep at it, you’ll still eventually converge.

When I did this exercise, it took me about 25 minutes, and I reached my final answer at step 106. Partial pieces of the answer (mini-surges) appeared at steps 17, 39, and 53, and then the bulk of it fell into place and was refined through steps 100-106. I felt the feeling of resistance (wanting to get up and do something else, expecting the process to fail, feeling very impatient and even irritated) around steps 55-60. At step 80 I took a 2-minute break to close my eyes, relax, clear my mind, and to focus on the intention for the answer to come to me — this was helpful as the answers I received after this break began to have greater clarity.

Here was my final answer: to live consciously and courageously, to resonate with love and compassion, to awaken the great spirits within others, and to leave this world in peace.

When you find your own unique answer to the question of why you’re here, you will feel it resonate with you deeply. The words will seem to have a special energy to you, and you will feel that energy whenever you read them.

Discovering your purpose is the easy part. The hard part is keeping it with you on a daily basis and working on yourself to the point where you become that purpose.

If you’re inclined to ask why this little process works, just put that question aside until after you’ve successfully completed it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll probably have your own answer to why it works. Most likely if you ask 10 different people why this works (people who’ve successfully completed it), you’ll get 10 different answers, all filtered through their individual belief systems, and each will contain its own reflection of truth.

Obviously, this process won’t work if you quit before convergence. I’d guesstimate that 80-90% of people should achieve convergence in less than an hour. If you’re really entrenched in your beliefs and resistant to the process, maybe it will take you 5 sessions and 3 hours, but I suspect that such people will simply quit early (like within the first 15 minutes) or won’t even attempt it at all. But if you’re drawn to read this blog (and haven’t been inclined to ban it from your life yet), then it’s doubtful you fall into this group.

Give it a shot! At the very least, you’ll learn one of two things: your true purpose in life -or- that you should unsubscribe from this blog. 😉  (his…not mine)  Update 8/8/06:  Be sure to read the follow-up to this article, especially if you’re having trouble with this particular approach (there’s an alternative method you can use):  The Meaning of Life: Discover Your Purpose.

**** Aimee’s Note:  I just was feeling really off today, and my business mentor told me about this site.  I did this exercise…and I was already a bit raw.  However, what I came up with at the end really had me in tears.  Because when I added one extra sentence, I just knew it and it shocked me.  Soooo.  Here it is: “To change the face of invisible disease and be a role model.”  <<< the last part is what I have struggled with and it brought me to tears.  I would love to know how you feel about this.