Tag Archive | self care

Finding Yourself in Transition

Have you ever found yourself in transition?

Let’s break this down: How you ever found yourself in a transition that you chose? Have you ever found yourself in a transition that you didn’t choose?

Those can feel a lot harder, can’t they? Transitions we choose can sometimes feel exciting, empowering, refreshing. But if we didn’t choose it, it can feel like the rug got pulled out from under us. Those can also be the best spiritual lessons ever!

Chris Chenoweth, who has spoken here in the past and was the minister at Unity Village Chapel for years, called these kind of lessons “Blessons” because they were both blessings and lessons all in one topsy-turvy package.

I recently moved from an apartment to a house with my son, and it’s been a whole bunch of blessons left and right and it’s been a great time!

While I was packing, I somehow managed to pack all of my coffee filters two weeks before my move, or at least I thought I did. And let me tell you why this is a big deal. I’m the person who sets up the coffee the night before so all I have to do in the morning is push a button because when I mess around with ground coffee before my coffee, I end up making a mess all over the place. That’s the kind of morning person I am. I’m cheery and pleasant, just don’t ask me to make any major life decisions before at least half a cup of coffee.

I was packing and taping boxes together with a tape gun. You know those large tape dispensers that get the job done fast? I’m taping up boxes and somehow I pick up this tape dispenser by the sharp edge and poke a couple holes in my finger. So now I’m bleeding everywhere, and do you know what else I packed?

No, I hadn’t packed my Band-Aids because I hadn’t gotten to the bathroom yet. The things I barely use, like Band-aids, were right where I needed them in the moment; while the things I use every day, like coffee filters, were packed in a taped-up box somewhere. So, lucky me, right? The Universe was watching out for me that day, right?

Yes, so I bandage up my finger, not because it was a bad wound, but because I didn’t want to bleed all over everything as I was boxing things up. So I bandage my finger and I’m finishing boxing up the kitchen, and guess what I found? More coffee filters. Doh!

So why am I telling you all of this silly stuff? Because things can be topsy turvy in times of transitions! That’s part of the fun!

St. Francis advised his followers to“wear the world like a loose garment,” What he meant was that in order to be free, you need to be in the world without being attached to how it hangs on you.

Transitions, times of change, are those times when we are pushed to hang more loosely, loosen our grip on what we thought was solid ground, because there is no permanent solid ground in life! Things are always changing, and if one thing in your life isn’t changing now, just stick around–it will!

Wear the world like a loose garment. Jesus demonstrated being in the world but not of the world. That’s not so hard when it’s a simple move and we’re talking about coffee filters, but what about losing a job, or a loved one, or a minister, or a house in a hurricane?

I learned from my meditation teacher, Jane Elizabeth Hart, to manage change with grace and wisdom. She taught me about her “Seven Steps” process soon after I first met her 25 years ago, right before I got married because it was a big life transition, and the whole title of the original Seven Step process is “Seven Steps for Moving through Life Transitions.” That’s exactly what it’s for!

It came to her in a vision when her mom passed. She was grieving and didn’t know what to do. She saw these Seven Steps and the different facets of a grieving process: Gratitude, Good Times, Hopes and Dreams, Disappointments and Difficulties, Forgiveness, Release, and Completion. She knew she had to work those steps, too, so she journaled them and was able to move forward after losing that outer connection with her mother.

Over the many years or working with this process, for changes big and seemingly little, I learned that embracing any change is part of life, and it is possible to flow with it, even when you puncture yourself with a tape gun!

In my therapy practice, I share the “Seven Steps” all the time because it’s a great tool for working through all the emotions and confusion that come up during times of change. Doing this work does, indeed, make the crooked road straight! So I share it with everyone I possibly can, as often as I can!

Whenever we have something in our life that we have invested time and energy into, it becomes part of who we are; be it a relationship, a home, a car, a job, anything! When something becomes part of our identity, it’s a garment that we’re wearing. When it’s time to change, we need to take it off the old garment, appreciate all its aspects, then let it go, so we’re ready to put on the new and improved garment of the next scene in our play.

Anytime I’ve ever moved, I’ve taken the place I was moving from up those “Seven Steps” in order to release the attachment and emotion from the current situation so that I’m walking into my new circumstances as clear and open as I possibly can. Before I started packing my coffee filters prematurely, I took my condo up the “Seven Steps” to let it go and move forward.

Our road is clearer when we aren’t taking our emotions, positive and negative, into our new situation. But we have to do our part on that.

I don’t always quote the Bible in talks—I usually leave that to the professionals—but when I do, it’s because a quote or a story has stood out to me and meant something significant to me over the years.

One story that I both love and resist (and you’ll find out why shortly), is Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins:

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (NIV)

1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9“ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Why do I resist that? Because it’s a great story about being prepared for the next step that’s coming, and that means work on my part, and I’m human, so I resist that! Isn’t there enough work to be done during a transition? Why would I put myself through more work?

Because, like the women in this parable, we have to be prepared for our next step. If we’re not clearing the way for that step to happen as seamlessly as possible, we could end up missing something very important—like making our transition much easier on ourselves!

What’s one thing we can be fairly certain of in times of transition? Uncertainty! We’re moving from one thing to the next, and we have only an imaginary idea of what’s coming, based on the little information that we have.

In times of transition there is so much going on already, why would we want our emotional baggage to interfere and put a hindrance there that isn’t necessary? Why do that to ourselves instead of doing what I call the “front-end maintenance” of the spiritual/emotional/mental work of releasing the old and preparing for the new?

Right now, think of a life transition that may be coming in the future, maybe a making job change, getting a new car, moving to a new home, perhaps someone in your life is preparing for a life transition that will take them out of your life somehow. What in your life needs releasing? What garment needs to be worn more loosely, or replaced altogether?

Use the “Seven Steps” or some other conscious, thorough release process to let it go so that you can walk forward free and clear. Then when you prematurely pack your coffee filters, it’s no big deal! You can adjust and keep moving forward!

 

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Note: This is not a verbatim transcription of the talk. In preparing for a talk, one often prepares far more than needed, and remembers far less than desired. At least, that’s true for me. So this “article” is based on my rough notes before the talk, which is not exactly how the talk went. But, I’m a busy professional, so this is the least time-intensive thing I could post with the video.  I hope you enjoy it!

Here are other ways to connect with me:

http://www.chicagobrainspotting.com

https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiPZRbreVv-QYhu5NlWsq3Q 

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Generate the Motivation to Reach Your Goals


Do you ever wonder where motivation comes from? Do you have goals that go by the wayside because your motivation seems to have waned?

This is definitely goal-setting season! There is a process for reaching a goal that I put into a graphic a while back that helps to define where we are in our goal-achieving process—and waning motivation is simply part of the process! It is also where our work really begins.

process-for-taking-a-spiritual-step

I call the process, “Process for Taking a Spiritual Step”, because any goal or change we are working on is a spiritual step within itself! The steps are: Commitment, Resistance, Strengthening, Triumph, and New Energy. The more we understand this process, the more readily we can cooperate with it, and do our part to generate the motivation to make it happen!

Commitment The first thing we do, obviously, is to define and commit to a goal. This is the step where the motivation energy comes in to support us. We feel excited about our commitment, we are enthusiastic about taking steps towards it, and goal-achievement seems easy!

For example, let’s say my goal for the year is eating healthier foods. I may feel energized by thinking about how to incorporate healthier foods in my diet everyday: what I’ll buy at the store, what recipes I’ll try out, what I’ll add to my diet and what I’ll keep out—all those might be fun to think about!

Resistance  …for about three weeks. Then the novelty wears off, I don’t feel the new energy of my commitment as strongly as I did at first, and the new behaviors I need to incorporate just aren’t as fun anymore. This is the resistance stage. It is where our new behavior runs up against our old behavior, and we hit what I call the “Wall of Status Quo”. This is where the real work begins.

We are status quo beings. Our bodies are designed to maintain functioning at a status quo level, and our minds and emotions operate that way as well. In my example, eating poorly might have been my status quo at the time I set my goal. That status quo was built on thousands of small choices that created a thought-form in my mind, brain, emotions, and body, that made eating poorly the automatic mode of behavior. When I try to change that behavior, I am going to naturally run up against these systems that have been used to a certain way of being. That is the Wall of Status Quo, and it will start talking to me in ways that could pull me back into that old behavior. That resistance talk might sound like, “I’ve tried this before and failed, why bother?” Or, “I really don’t want to do this anymore; it’s not fun now.” Or, “This is too hard.” Often, it will turn into the critical voice we all battle, and get really nasty with us.

But when we can see it is just the old behavior trying to maintain itself, we can impersonalize it a bit and stand up to it. We could say, “No, I understand that you’re just the old behavior talking. I am making new choices now.” Or, “Oh, I see you, silly Wall of Status Quo! You can’t fool me!” Or, “My excitement doesn’t feel as strong, so I have to make my new choices even when I don’t ‘feel like it’”.

Strengthening  Many times a day we have to redirect ourselves back to the new behavior. We make those little choices to withdraw from the old behavior and reinforce the new. It takes time, persistence, and patience.

Triumph  But eventually we win out. Eventually, our new status quo is created and becomes part of who we are.

New Energy and Insight  We begin to see things in new ways. In my example, it might be easier for me to choose kale over cookies, fruit over sugar, salad over bread. I can remember that it used to be hard to make those choices, but now it seems easy. Why? Because I have created a new status quo for myself!

The process then starts over and repeats with the next commitment we want to make for ourselves. It’s a process! And we can cooperate with it and generate motivation through our awareness and moment-by-moment choices.

What goals do you have for the new year? How are you generating your motivation?

Goal Keeping

goalkeepersNo, I’m not talking about soccer. Or rugby. Or quidditch.

I’m talking about those goals you made last month for the new year. How are they going for you?

Committing to a goal is exciting. It brings with it new energy, new hope for happiness, and…change. Uh-oh. There it is. Change. Our commitments require us to change. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t need to commit to something in the first place, would we? We often secretly expect new year magic to come in and make us different so we can have the outcomes of our new year’s goals…which come from the awareness that we need to change. See? Tricky!

Let’s look more closely at what our resolutions really require us to do. Run one of your goals through the following questions to see what you are really committing to:

1.     What is my goal? (Keep it simple, realistic and attainable.)
2.    What would keep me from achieving this goal?
3.     What do I have to give up in order to make this goal happen?
4.     What do I have to begin doing in order to make this goal happen?
5.     What would support me in achieving this goal?
6.     How can I break this goal down into manageable steps?
7.     What is a good first step toward this goal?

Knowing what we are in for when committing to anything helps us know how to be prepared and advocate for our success. You are an evolving soul that embraces change. Cooperate with that metamorphosis!

Watch for tomorrow’s video on generating the motivation to reach your goals!

Increase Body Awareness, Increase Intuitive Sense

Did you know that your body awareness has a great deal to do with your intuition?

Intuition is a higher expression of our emotional sensation and perception. While emotions are mixed in with our contradictory human issues, our intuition is free and clear, always speaking to us!

To increase our awareness of both our emotional and intuitive bodies, we can practice being aware of our physical bodies.

Here are a few ways to increase body awareness:

1. Physical movement: yoga, martial arts, walking, exercise of any kind

2. Mindfulness body scan

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breath)

Work with one or two of these daily to increase your body awareness as well as intuition!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW
http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/
Links to Body Scan and Breath exercises:
http://mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html

For more on Soul Evolution and intuition:
Center for Enlightenment
http://www.cfenlightenment.org
http://www.soulevolutionist.com

Five Tools for Inner Housecleaning

IMG_5332

Spring cleaning is not just for Spring, or for your house! Here are five tools for your inner housecleaning that you can use daily, as needed, and enjoy the fresh air that peace of mind brings!

1. Meditate. For five minutes a day (at a consistent time and location), observe the thoughts that go through your mind. Don’t push them away, judge them, or feel ashamed; just notice what they are saying to you and let them pass.

2. Journal. Write about the time during the day when you felt frustrated, hurt, sad or angry. What were you feeling and thinking? Get to know your reactions and look for a pattern in them. Writing about your feelings can help you understand when to back off, and when to stand up for yourself.

3. Forgive. Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is an excellent forgiveness method. Unforgiveness balls you up in body, mind, and expression; while forgiveness frees you to experience more overall joy.

4. Use difficult people to learn about your hidden issues. Take that guy at the office that grinds you like fingers down a chalkboard. Get your journal and list all the qualities and behaviors about him that bug you. Ask yourself who this person represents to you. You can learn a lot about what is blocking you from your potential by embracing those you find difficult to be around. Forgive them even if you don’t know what it is that you don’t like. The health benefits of this action alone will be worth your effort.

5. Trust yourself above all others. There is no teacher, master, therapist, guru, or life coach out there who is any good unless they are telling you to listen to your own inner promptings. As you watch your own thinking and journal out your feelings, you will begin to understand more about who you are. This is a wonderful and scary thing! Trust that your inner wisdom will reveal itself and support you as you work to resolve fear and false beliefs.

Life Isn’t Solved by a Facebook Post

Did you grow up with platitudes that don’t seem to work in everyday life? Can you recognize them as you scroll through Facebook?

A platitude is a statement, usually with a moral message, that is used so frequently that it loses it’s true meaning.

Even though my family was part of a positive spiritual community, I still grew up with several platitudes that I eventually had to unlearn.

Anytime we receive advice from others, or see an inspiring message on social media, we need to still run it through our intuition: Is this right for me? Will it help me resolve and move forward from my present circumstance?

What platitudes have you evaluated and found to work only in certain circumstances?

Thanks for watching!
Lynn

P.S. You might also enjoy Discernment versus Judgment!

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Discernment versus Judgment

I hear from many people who worry overmuch that they are thinking or saying something judgmental, when in reality they are making a clear and healthy discernment regarding a person or situation.

In this video, I help define discernment–which is healthy and helps us make wise decisions–versus judging, which generates negative feelings and energy for everyone.

The questions to ask yourself when you are worried that you are feeling judgmental are:

  1. What is happening?
  2. What is my experience of what is happening?
  3. What can I do about it?

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences!