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 worry strips you of POWER (and what to do about it)!

Worry strips power

Worry.  Worry is one of the most useless habits that I have.  Worry strips power.  It changes nothing at all, and yet I physically feel drained.  It doesn’t help me in any way, shape or form, and yet it is still there.  Trying to get my attention.

This could go wrong, it screams in my head.  You have busted your knee up for good girl, screams the voice.  You made so much progress, but it’s all gone now.  UGH.  None of this is helping me at all.  So yesterday, I told it where it could go.  And it stayed there all day long.  It really did.

I know that in practicing yoga and creating lasting mindful habits, I am happier.  I know that wearing a knee brace and worrying that my MCL is not healing correctly is ruminating and I get that from certain family members.  It hasn’t helped them either by the way.  Let me explain.  I have been to the doctor.  I have had it checked out.  I am following what he said to do.  However; every other day a person named “dad” calls me to “worry” about my knee with me.

I have two daughters, so I get it.  I really do.  But worry doesn’t prevent anything from happening UNLESS you were actually using it to create some plan of attack on the battlefield or something.  Maybe it was designed to help us at one point way in the past.  However, my dad must be planning an attack on everything in his life.  Whew, it’s exhausting.  And he knows this, so I finally had to say if my knee comes up one more time, he had to give me money.  HAHAHAHA.  One thing that will keep him quiet…money.

How to take back your Power:

  1. Name the worry.  Acknowledge it.  Say hi to it, then put it in time-out.  I did that yesterday.  I created a how-to video for yoga on modifications with an MCL injury.  I was very, very careful and know that I am getting a re-check today anyway.
  2. Staying present took its power away.  I mindfully cleaned my living room.  Thinking about each task.  Didn’t go to past or future, but stayed in the present moment on purpose.  I didn’t day dream…for once.  I made sure I started my day by grounding with 3 deep breaths.
  3. Emotions are just that.  They pass.  Anger, shame, guilt, and worry.  All pass.  This will pass.  This anxiety will pass.  This feeling will pass.  I know it as I have lived through other “worries” that never came to pass.
  4. Don’t encourage it.  I didn’t want to be rude to dad, but I also didn’t want to talk about the same thing each and every day without it going anywhere.  That’s like the old saying about worry being like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.  I don’t feel like being that person anymore.  I am creating boundaries around this that it can’t get through.
  5. Be real.  Okay, so it’s natural to worry a bit.  As long as you don’t stay there.  What can you do instead though?  Everyone in my Head|Heart|Health Club knows that I am going to ask you if you are putting the work into what you DO want to happen and take it away from what you don’t want to happen.  How you manage life is up to you.  If you start to notice this pattern, remember that it is truly up to you to change.  Redirect this energy to Empower.

Still need more help in this area?  Want to practice taking back your power on a regular basis?  Join us!

Inhale confidence.

 

4 Ways to Let Go of Your Past Mistakes

Coming to the close of a year is sometimes difficult for people.  Looking back over the year might bring regrets, or worry.  There could be lists of things you haven’t accomplished yet, or things you really wanted to do.  But the truth is, none of that matters except for the present moment.  I know.  It’s shocking.  All that worry for nothing.

We can’t go back and change anything.  Not a damn thing.  All we can do is move forward. 

Each year, I get a shiny new journal and I am ready to start my new goals.  I never say resolutions…nope.  My goals are constantly changing.  My past cannot change.  It really is what it is no matter what.

So how can I move forward even if I know I have made some mistakes or didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to?  Here are a few pointers for you on doing just that.

Let Go of Your Past Mistakes:

  1. Decide to let it go at this very minute.  You have to consciously MAKE this decision in the present moment.  Write it down on a piece of paper, say it to yourself in the mirror, but do it.
  2. It’s okay to express your regret as long as you know your responsibility in the matter.  Take responsibility for what you put out there.
  3. Don’t be the victim.  Please, please, please stop placing blame.  I was talking to someone earlier who might be related to me and was in the same story yet again because blame was being placed everywhere else.  **Sigh**  Here are 3 Tips for Turning Pity into Self-care.  For later…not now.
  4. Learn to focus on the present through mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the here and now.  When we are not here, we are trapped in a story of our past or future worry.  The true way to move forward is with mindfulness.  It is really powerful.

How Can You Be Mindful?

  1. Practice Mindful Breathing by putting your hand on your belly and breathing into your hand feeling it rise and fall.  In your mind just mentally repeat I am breathing in, I am breathing out.  Feel the air expand and contract.
  2. Become aware of your body.  I notice when I am not present or grounded.  My husband will tell me this entire story and I will mumble along.  Ha.  Then he never learns to look at my eyes and see if I am “here”.  I make sure if it’s important I ask him to stop and look at me.  You are most powerful when you are present, but we all zone out.  Learn to be powerful in your conversations by making eye contact and making sure the other person is present as well.
  3. Do a brief body scan and notice where you are holding tension.  Mine is always my jaw.  Ugh.  I clench and I know it.  I try to relax it throughout the day and give myself a break from working to stand up and stretch.
  4. Forgive yourself and stay in the present.  Don’t beat yourself up if you float into the clouds or are trying to practice that breathing exercise, and start to zone out.  Just bring yourself back to the present moment over and over and over.  It is a work in progress that gets more powerful and easier to do the longer you stick with it.

When you learn to be more conscious, you can learn to let go.  When you let go, it opens up new doors to the future you are truly ready to create.  ~Aimee

conscious

Motivational Monday…procrastination

Procrastination.  Excuses.  Reasons why your path looks like Billy’s from The Family Circus when he had a job to do.  I don’t want to hear it.  We all know deep down what’s holding us back and usually it has one name.  Fear.  You need to pull a Bruce Willis on that thing and just go for it.

Things do come up.  I know they do.  But if you let these “things” get in the way of your goals, then your life will become a string of excuses.  I meant to do that, but…   We were going to, but…  I’m not saying I don’t have my own fears because I do.  I certainly do.  It’s just that I am ridiculous when it comes to them and do stupid things to get over them so I can move on.  Like the time I got bit by a snake, then was afraid of snakes for a while.  So then I volunteered at the local Virginia Living Museum, and learned how to stick my hand in a pillow case and pull out a snake.  Yes.  True story.  I also learned how to identify which ones were venomous in my area.

Quitting my job when I had no extra income was like sticking my hand in that pillow case.  I knew when I went on my “sabbatical” I was never going back.  I knew I needed more.  Starting my business was that more.  I love getting messages from clients asking me for help.  That’s brave of them as well.  They have tried lots of things to lose weight, feel better, get healthy, but for whatever reason, fear, they need a little extra help.  And that’s ok.  I did too!!  I was afraid I was going to stay stuck at my old weight forever.  When I got on the scale and realized how much I weighed compared to old me, I was shocked.  At 5’2 I knew I needed to get a handle on it.

When I put all my research skills into formulating a plan that worked best for my diseases and body, I knew I was finally on the right track in December.  I have now lost 14 pounds, but I am not done.  I have 6 more to go, and the extra 20 will be gone.  I am going to be adding yoga back into my routine again and I will also write about that.  I have been being a taxi cab, so I made excuses why I didn’t make it to yoga.  I sat down today and wrote out the yoga schedule so it was in front of my face!!! I know that going back worries me.  I am afraid it will hurt because of my existing pain, but I know that it will help me.  I have researched exercises for fibromyalgia and this is one of them.  So, I’m going to pull a Die Hard and go for it.  Stick your hand in that pillow case folks.  Go for it!!

 

Fear

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Judge Judy…

I was reading this blog post from a very popular source recently on parenting.  It strikes me as funny when she says she has felt “judged” by other moms.  When I read her articles, I think she has it together.  She talked about how she always thought the worst of herself as a mom when she was out in public.  It reminded me of what I do to myself.

Somehow, I am unable to take a compliment.  I stutter thanks, but immediately point out all my imperfections and why I am not nearly as put together as I appear.  I mention things that no one really cares about, except me.  Things no one would even notice, if I would stop pointing it out.  Nice cover up.  “Well, you should see my stretch marks.”  Why in the world would anyone want to?  They are there.  Move on.  Great photo!  “Thanks.  I wish I had gotten my hair done before this picture.  It wouldn’t look like such a hot mess.”  Really?  Who are you kidding.  You hate to do your hair now…probably some trauma from the 80’s and 90’s.  Don’t look back.  Love my sunglasses?  “Oh, it’s because they are hiding the bags under my eyes.”  Why can’t you just take the compliment and run with it??

A while ago, I took a very enlightening class.  It was about creativity.  I realized I have it, but am afraid of using it.  I often feel that I will be judged if I don’t write something in just the correct manner.  If I mention things that everyone knows, but doesn’t want to accept, will it sound bad?  Once I learn to leave Judge Judy outside, in the car, or far away from me, my creativity seems to flow much better.  I also find that in those moments, I write the most amazing blog posts and people really connect with them.  I am open and honest, and able to feel the positive energy.  So, if you have been having far too many conversations with the “Judge” in you, take her away.  She needs a vacation and so do you.

What people remember about you are often things you don’t even realize you have done for them.  Not what you look like, if your house is clean, or if you lost weight recently.  Those are the things YOU worry about.

“Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality.  All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.”  ~Niccolo Machiavelli

Appearances

No stress…

It’s been a long time since I have written about my job.  Mostly because my once “anonymous” blog became more well-known.  However this topic needs to be explored tonight.  Many years ago I was an excited first-year teacher.  I went to a place that all teachers knew so that I could make die-cuts for my brand-new room.  I said hello to everyone in there and saw that several people signed in with the name of the school I was assigned.  I loudly said, ohhhh that’s my new school!  Who works there?  Not a single head came up.  Hmm. I thought.  Strange.  I guess they left.  As I was leaving the room, one man approached me and said he worked there and would see me at the start of school.  There were plenty of people still in that room who worked there I later found out.  Odd they didn’t speak.  What was their deal?

Fifteen years later, I guess I finally figured out what was wrong.  They work all day and have little to no time for a bathroom break.  If you happen to work in a school with no planning period, you get approximately 15 minutes in the morning to use for the bathroom, but since the time is so precious, you get busy working on setting up your room, answering e-mail, working out a bug in your lesson, or doing attendance and by the time you realize it, your class is back and you never left the room.  You stand on your feet, crouch, bend over or sit in lilliputian chairs.  You sing even when you have no voice, dance even when you don’t feel like it, and smile even if you just got bad news.  That fire that destroyed a home?  Yes, that was your student and now they have nothing left, so you organize a clothing drive.  That man who committed unspeakable acts?  Yes, he was the father to one of your students so you organize counseling.  The mom they found living in her car?  Yes, she still gets her baby to school even without a home, and you do everything in your power to help only to find out they decided to go to another school.

So, at the end of the day, when other people have come home from their jobs and left it all at work, these teachers might be worried about how their children are going to make it from day-to-day.  At Christmas, when they see the joy their children have in opening presents, they might be shedding a tear for that student who walked to school when he missed the bus.  When friends and family smile at them and tell them how great it is that they have a “break”, they might be worried about what their students will lose while no one is reading to them at home.  And if that one person dares to say “Well, at least you get the summers off”, they will try their hardest to act like that is the best gift in the world when in reality, they are always thinking about the year to come and if their six sick days will make it until the next year (they usually don’t).

Now I understand why the teacher’s lounge is so quiet when I go in there to heat up my lunch.  Why hardly anyone looks up when I say hello or acknowledges my presence during our 30, sometimes 20 minute, lunch break.  I know we are all tired and exhausted at this time of year.  This is the time we are most stressed, and I realize it, but we have to start lifting each other up.  We know the burdens we carry, and they are great, but so is our character.  Never underestimate the power of a good teacher.

“Teaching is not a lost art,
but the regard for it is a lost tradition.”
~Jacques Barzun

P.S.  If you are a parent reading this…your child really did that thing we said they did on the note, and we have witnesses.

I would not lend a hand…

So I am driving home from work today, and just like usual, my mind is swamped with thoughts.  All of a sudden, a certain song comes on the radio.  Maybe you have heard it before.  A little ditty by Phil Collins called In the Air Tonight.  It gets to this part “Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand…” and I got thinking how harsh that sounded.  Phil, I’m disappointed in you.  Why wouldn’t you lend a hand?  You seem like a nice guy.  I mean after all, wasn’t your band named Genesis?  I don’t know, maybe it didn’t refer to the Bible.  But then again, you do say “Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes.  So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been…it’s all been a pack of lies.”  I doubt you are referring to Cain and Abel, you aren’t quite that old.

Alright, I’m going to cut you some slack tonight Mr. Collins.  Quite frankly, I have felt this way myself sometimes.  I mean, I wouldn’t let someone drown per say, but I really would like to wipe some grins off some lying faces sometimes.  The problem is, you have to beat them at their own game.  This is easier said than done.  My friend and I were talking through a problem the other day and she said it was like a game of chess…you don’t know where their next move is going to be.  She also said that sometimes it is better to let them get caught in their own web.  This part is hard for me because it always appears these people are going to get away with their foolishness.  I try to give Karma a hand whenever necessary…I’d like to even give her a head start.  I have heard that things may actually work out for the best in the situation my friend and I were discussing, so maybe she’s right.  I need to “LG,LG” she says.  I’m trying.  I’m trying.

“O, what a tangled web we weave; When first we practice to deceive!”

~SIR WALTER SCOTT, Marmion

Have a Tootsie Roll…

Last month was very stressful for lots of people I know.  So the month of “Newvember” is a celebration of sorts.  I don’t know how many people just try to make it through the day.  I’m not sure if you are one of those people who love the mornings or hate them.  I don’t know if you rush through your week trying to be 3 places at once and then, when Friday finally arrives, you breathe a small sigh of relief only to realize you have tons of housework or other activities to do.  However, if any of this sounds like you, you might be an adult.  Try not to let that scare you.

I have no idea why a conversation with a co-worker (also a friend) has made a difference in my way of thinking in just two days, but I find it hilarious and keep applying it to lots of situations.  Since it helped me, I am going to share.  We were talking about dealing with unwanted situations and perhaps the subject of ornery people was mentioned.  She said she had a bunch of Tootsie Rolls in her pocket, pulled one out and handed it to someone and told them to have a good day.  We took it one step further, and well, me being me said “It’s too bad we can’t have the letters CTFD on it.”  Calm the foul down…where was your mind?

Anyway, it has made me laugh for two days now.  Which brings me to my point.  Here it is:

You know you will be singing that tomorrow.

“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.”  ~Lao Tzu

Time to recharge…

It’s quite sad really.  I named this month Sucktober.  Was it all bad?  No, not all bad.  I did get to spend my tiny one’s birthday away and I really needed that.  The sad thing is that I realized the school year is trying to beat me down and it just started.  What to do?  I have planned fun escapes for myself starting this weekend.

Some of you might be in the same boat I am in.  Things do not seem to be going your way lately.  Life has taken a turn you were not expecting.  Do not let it beat you down.  When you leave work, leave it there.  It will be right where you left it when you get back.  Finish the book you started reading this summer.  The laundry can wait as well.  Snuggle with your kids or pets.  Take a walk.  Plan to do something at the end of each day that is just for you.  I am planning on getting my passport renewed.  It is way past time.

I wish had more for you right now, but I think Theodore said it best:

“I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, others come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me.”  

~Dr. Seuss

P.S.  Got an idea for a random topic?  Get it in before next Tuesday or post it here.

Achilles’ heel…

I happen to love Greek mythology.  It was one of the many courses I took in college.  If you are not familiar with the phrase Achilles’ heel it refers to a weakness or spot of vulnerability.  We all have our own imperfections in life.  I know what mine is…sad to say.  I have been working to overcome it for about two years now.  Most of the time, we wrestle back and forth.  Sometimes it pins me down, and other times, I grin triumphantly as I slam it back down.  What am I talking about?

Worry.  Such a small word to be so overpowering in my life.  Anguish, apprehension, concern, disquiet, call it what you like, but it all boils down to the same thing.  I can’t change the events in my life by worrying about them.  The funny thing is, I come by this naturally.  I have been told on more than one occasion that I am like my father.  My dad will call me a week later about something I don’t even remember mentioning and say it’s “worrying” him.  I mean to get rid of this Achilles’ heel…okay, so I’ll settle for making it smaller.  More like an Achilles’ mole.

So now that I have identified my problem, what am I going to do to solve it?  I mentioned a while back that I was going to hot yoga.  Well, I fell off the wagon so to speak.  I am renewing my membership, and starting back up again.  It really does calm my mind and increase my balance as well as my focus.  I work hard to do what the teacher says, and at the end I feel refreshed (even though it is like 102 degrees and everyone is sweaty).  So I realize that the benefits of this outweigh the price and time it takes me to get there.  If you are reading this right now, I would like you to identify your own Achilles’ heel.  Be honest with yourself, and come up with a plan for how to overcome your weakness.

“As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.” ~Julius Caesar