Happy Holidays! Right?
I wish. Just because everyone is wishing everyone else happy holidays doesn’t mean everyone’s having those happy holidays. Too many of us aren’t happy. We want to feel content with our life. We want to feel peace. But we don’t and we’re not quite sure why.
I spent years of my life wondering why I wasn’t happy. On paper, everything lined up. I had the college degree, the husband, the house, the kids, even the dog. But inside I was far form happy. In fact, there were many days I’d say I was miserable, stressed, and sad. I would beat myself up and ask why I wasn’t happier. Didn’t I have it all? Wasn’t this the life I designed? And if so, then why couldn’t I just be happy dammit!?!
Truthfully? Because I was spending my days and my years doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. I was thinking the same thoughts expecting something to change.“If you want something to change, you must change something.” Wayne Dyer Click To Tweet
What changed things for me? Learning that I was not my thoughts. Just because I thought something didn’t mean it was true. My head might be telling me one thing but I was in charge of whether I paid attention to it or not. Huh? Yep, thoughts are just thoughts. Thoughts are sentences in our head. Things we’re telling ourselves that aren’t necessarily true. They’re often things we’ve been told in the past by parents or siblings but are not necessarily true. The average human has 60-80,000 thoughts a day. Yep, we have 60-80,000 sentences bouncing around our head daily. Imagine if we could see those thoughts. Imagine if each thought was written on a scrap of paper. That’s a LOT of paper. That’s a lot of things to pay attention to.
Feeling overwhelmed? This may help. We don’t actually pay attention to 96% of those thoughts. Our days are spent doing the same thing that we’ve done over and over without consciously choosing differently. So, not only do we not read all of those scraps of paper, the pieces we do read are usually the same pieces we read yesterday, the day before yesterday, and the day before the day before yesterday. Do you have trouble remembering the difference between December2016 and December 2014? This is why. You keep choosing the same pieces of paper. It’s like you’ve pushed “repeat” on your life. Sure, your kids continue to grow and your external environment may change, but you feel like time has sped up and you’re on some crazy loop. You are. You’re in a rut. Let’s wake you up.
Here are 3 Ways to get out of your rut. I encourage you to choose ONE and focus on it for 3-4 weeks before starting another. Big change starts with little steps.
1) Start Sitting Still to Watch Your Thoughts. Yep, some people call this meditating. But my experience has been that if I encourage a mom to start meditating her eyes glaze over and she looks like she’s going to have a panic attack. She immediately thinks: “Did this woman not just hear how busy my day is? How much I have going on? How stressed and miserable I am?!?” Instead, I encourage you to set a timer for 5 minutes, to close your eyes, to breathe deeply, and….watch your thoughts. Meditating is not about stopping thinking. We have 60-80,000 thoughts a day. Our mind is going to wander. It’s going to think one of those thoughts. Instead, your intent is to become aware of what you are thinking. Which thoughts are you thinking? What are you telling yourself? So how do you sit and watch your thoughts? 3 Steps:
(1) Focus on something that’s not a thought (like your breath or a ticking clock),
(2) Your mind wanders,
(3) Bring your focus back to what you’re focusing on.
The magic happens between steps two and three. That moment when you notice: “Hey, I’m thinking about what I’m going to get at Target, not my breath” is your magical moment! No drama needed. No beating yourself up “See, I knew I couldn’t meditate”. This is meditating! The moment you notice your mind has starting thinking again but bring it back to the thing you’re focusing on, is when your brain does a push up. This is the magic and this is the beginning of more conscious living.
2) Start Telling the Truth. Who you? How dare I imply you aren’t honest all the time. Sorry but you’re not. Think of those times when you agree to something that you don’t want to do. How about those times when you’re asked if you can help with something and you say “yes” when your brain is screaming “Hell NO!”. This does not help you or anyone around you. You probably say yes in an effort to “people please”; to make someone else’s life easier. This topic in itself is huge and I’ve written whole blogs on it. For now, think of the cost of not telling the truth. Think of those times that you’ve said yes to help or do something that you didn’t want to do. How did you act to your spouse or kids when you came home? Saying yes to something you don’t want to do has it’s consequences. In addition to you paying the price in fatigue and burnout, you know who else does? Those sweet people you live with. Your spouse and your kids. Before you say yes to someone you see every now and then, think of why you’re putting their needs above your kids, their needs above your spouse, their needs above yours. Start telling the truth by saying something simple like: “That won’t work for me”. “I will not be attending”.
3) Start Dumping Your Brain. Yes, you could call this journaling however, similar to meditation, when I suggest clients begin journaling I get that same deer in the headlight look. Call it what you want. Journaling is the single most helpful tool to feel calmer. It is the single most powerful tool in managing your mind. It is the best way to understand why you’re feeling a certain way. Why? When you sit and write down what you’re thinking you see which of those 60-80,000 thoughts are driving your day. Remember how we don’t consciously choose to think 96% of the thoughts we think? Journaling, or “dumping your brain onto paper” is the how you we take back control of our days. When we see which thoughts we are focusing on, we see how those thoughts are influencing us. Try it. Think of what happens when you discover you’re consistently thinking: “I’m too busy” or “I’m disorganized” or “I hate my job” or “My house is a mess” or “My husband doesn’t listen to me”. Even if you continue to think exactly what you’re thinking, being aware of what you’re choosing to focus on helps you feel more in control of your life. How do you do a brain dump?
(1) Set a timer for 5 minutes and answer the question: “What am I thinking?” or “What am I feeling?”
(2) Write down everything you’re thinking.
Resist editing or wondering what anyone else will think if they read it. The goal is to get the thoughts out of your head and down on paper. Write and write and write without thinking of what you’re writing, who will read it, what your writing means, etc….just write it all. If you find yourself holding back in your writing, maybe you should start with idea #2, start telling the truth. If you filter what you’re writing, you are slowing your progress and growth. You aren’t telling yourself the truth. You can write your thoughts out on toilet paper and flush it. Write it out on paper and burn it. Just write.
Gift yourself the chance to slow time down this year. Choose one of the above actions and start today. If you choose #1 or #3, please write them on your calendar and schedule them in. If you choose #2, please schedule a time at night to pause and think of where you told the truth that day when you were tempted to do otherwise. No matter which action you choose, tell your coach or someone close to you what you’re doing. Change happens one small step at a time and is easier with an accountability buddy. Look around: You are not here on this earth alone which means you are not meant to do this alone. While you are not superwoman or superman, you are super. Take a step today to let that super-ness shine through. I believe in you.