Of all the wonderful qualities to demonstrate which ones would you most like to be?
Do you realize you have a choice in what you are thinking about? At any time, you can choose your focus, change your thinking to something more interesting? Pick a wonderful quality and run with it! Consciously demonstrate something positive. It could change your life! The choice of what you see in the mirror is always there... choose the good.
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What is your focus? What thoughts circle around in your mind frequently? What grabs your attention in the course of the day? If you were a transmitting station what’s your frequency? High or Low, Positive or Negative. Is ‘what’s wrong’ on your mind? Often? Do you think about how “hard” everything is? Are you criticizing yourself: how you look: too fat, too thin, too tall or too short? Are you not smart enough, not educated enough? Are you falling short in every area of your life? Maybe your thoughts are on someone else: your co-workers, your boss, your mother, that terrible boyfriend from college? Do they keep doing what they have always done, even if you have asked them to stop? In the midst of a global pandemic, we are worrying about our friends and family possibly getting sick, or worse. Jobs and the economy add to the swirl of fear and worry.
Do you realize you have a choice in what you are thinking about? At any time, you can choose your focus, change your thinking to something more interesting: what are some ideas you have that you take some very small steps toward. Is there something you could do to support or uplift someone else, like a phone call to check on a neighbor, a snail mail note or organizing a Zoom or Face-time call with your favorite people. Giving support and uplift to others is a great antidote for anxiety or fear. Maybe you just need to fold the laundry: what is the next, small, forward moving step?
This shift can be made at any time during any day. When you notice that you have drifted back into negative or fearful thinking, passing judgement on anyone or everyone, yourself included: Take a deep breath! And smile! Because you WILL return to old patterns of thinking. This old way of thinking is deeply ingrained in our brains. Even though I have been many years removed from an active eating and exercise disorder, I can fall back into worry about body and food. Getting curious about why these thoughts surface, I learned that it’s mostly a distraction. If I’m procrastinating doing something I don’t want to do or I’m writing and feel “stuck”, old thoughts about not being worthy, asking “who do you think you are?”, and “if you take care of this you won’t have time to work out!” raise their very familiar chorus. It’s been a learning curve, and one that I haven’t mastered…yet. It’s an ongoing process. I also wish I could say that I don’t get mad at myself for taking a step back into the fear, negativity and judgement. In life coach training I was taught that getting mad and/or giving up creates more of the same old pattern. Gently turn your focus to where you would like it to be in this moment.
Like learning anything new, it takes your attention and desire to do it. If you think this a positive change you would like to try, there is no time like the present! In this time of pandemic and uncertainty, it may be one of the best things you can do for yourself. It is a gift you give to everyone as you release others and yourself from criticism, judgement, fear, worry and doubt. When the old thoughts come up, you can ask yourself: what is more kind, more peaceful, more proactive for me to think about?
This tool is a practice, and you will very likely have to return to your commitment to up level your thought patterns many times. Instead of seeing this as a good reason not to try, could you be interested in trying it for a day? Can you see the possibility that negative thoughts are exhausting you, making you feel overwhelmed or angry or depressed? Holding this practice lightly, not taking your yourself so seriously, can offer some light for your spirit during challenging times.
As Courtney Carver*, writer extraordinaire says: “you don’t have to believe everything you think”. Noticing, getting curious about what you’re thinking, weeding out thoughts or beliefs that are not helpful or positive, or false, that don’t serve you well, is a process, one that I find myself turning to over and over, as I allow myself to journey forward. Allow yourself to change your focus. Give yourself credit when you do and when you don’t because it’s a practice, you’re learning something each time. This is a tool I have found to be helpful as I journey along with everyone else.
*Check out Courtney Carver's blog here; I also highly recommend her books, Soulful Simplicity and Project 333
It should be obvious that 'one size fits all' doesn’t work. Most clothing cannot shrink or stretch to accommodate all, or even most. But how often do we notice where we are asked to fit in, to try to pretzel ourselves into the way it’s always been done. In my demographic, education started with the idea that all students had to “sit down and be quiet”.
Consider the rigid, invisible structures we create for ourselves. For so many reasons, we start on “self-improvement’ for body, mind and life. Around 8th grade, Seventeen magazine entered my life, and it targeted all the insecurities that most 8th graders had and still have. For me, it started with my very curly hair that wasn’t featured in any pictures in any magazine and that tug of war reigned for decades, only to be surpassed by the war I engaged in with my body and food. So much “self-improvement” leads to so much self-destruction. Even though we know that one size doesn’t fit all, so many of us buy into the idea that some expert has a system or a diet or a workout plan designed to make us smarter, thinner or fitter. Self-improvement comes from a sense that we’re less than everyone else, there is something wrong with me; maybe THIS program, diet, book, will fix it, fix me.
We lose sight of our “expert” within. We aren’t always encouraged to trust our body, our feelings, or our own experiences. True growth, in mind, body and soul comes from acceptance and love. Acceptance of what is, in this moment. And love is the only thing that will allow change. Client’s say: “If I love myself now, nothing will ever change!” thinking that the self-loathing is the motivation. But self-hatred doesn’t create change, it just generates more of the same. Life Coach training taught me that I can choose to shift my attention to what I want, instead of focusing on what I don’t want, what is wrong. We can all choose to focus on something more interesting. This takes practice. It IS a practice, one you can choose over and over. And instead of beating yourself up when the old thoughts come calling, remind yourself, gently, that you are going to focus on the positive, on uplifting your thoughts (and thus, your health, your life, your entire expression and experience). It’s practice, not a perfect. Beating yourself up for drifting into the old habitual thoughts is more of the same old negativity. Hold yourself and this practice lightly, with compassion for the you that you are becoming.
As for the idea that you will do everything you really want to do once you have the body, the money, the job, the whatever; instead “start with the end in mind” (a saying of Marc David, my teacher at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating). Identify those things now. It could be taking a class, travel, going to a concert, participating in a community play. Start small, and pick one, and very importantly, put a 'by when' date on it. If it’s someday, it’s just a wish. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to prepare, but be specific. “I will go hiking at the county park with my friend Clare, by July 30, 2020.” Setting goals is also a practice: focusing on what moves you forward. Practices don’t make perfect, practices bring you closer to the expert on you: YOU.
As a graduate of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating’s Coach Certification program, I highly recommend Marc David’s book "The Slow Down Diet".
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This is My Coaching for Life!
I hope this blog and site will help others to tap into their best self. I'll be sharing some of my own experiences, as well as delving into topics and tools from my studies in Transpersonal Psychology, Psychology of Eating and general Psychology that I find especially helpful while navigating life.
If you need more one-on-one help, please contact me so we can start our journey together.
Mary is a certified Life Coach in Omaha where she enjoys reading and sharing books, taking in nature and exploring all life has to offer with her husband Kurt, and rescue dog "Scruffy".