The World is Full of Good People: Focusing Our Energy On What We Want

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My daily routine includes scrolling my Facebook feeds of pages I’ve liked. All of these pages are there to surround me with the good energy I want in my life. I love seeing similar messages from different pages that inspire love, positive action, and moving people away from victim thinking. Every once in awhile, I will see messages that promote good people are hard to find… WHAT??!!! No, great people are easy to find if our energy is in the right place. If we appreciate the amazing people around us, more will continue to show up. If we tell the Universe that there are no good people, then we will be constantly seeking out the sick, unhealthy people to prove our point. We have to decide if we want the good people in our lives and acknowledge and appreciate that we have them. From the tellers at the bank, cashiers at check out, friends who reach out, we are responsible for recognizing them. If we are focused on the negative we will continue to get that check-out person who is more insulting than helpful.

This is the same for relationships, if we tell ourselves, there are no good men/ women, we will continue to put our energy into knocking people down, and attracting people to our lives that prove the point we sent out to the Universe. Keep the messages that you send out to the Universe clean. Embrace the feeling that the messages you send out are true. They will be, you choose if it is for your benefit or detriment. This is the Law of Attraction.

If we want better for our lives, we have to change the language we are putting out there. Every moment we spend knocking others down, we are taking time away from our own joy. Search out the good people in the world, put your energy there. They are not hard to find. Some sites are dedicated to showing people in their best lights. When we are ready to see the kindness in the world, it will start appearing all around us.

Most import, be kind to yourself, because you will have a harder time spotting it in the world if you are constantly knocking yourself down. You are worth more than that!!

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

BLAME, BLAME GO AWAY!

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If you knew that blaming is what is keeping you from being happy, would you stop doing it? Well, it is. I’m not saying this is easy to change. We have become a society full of blamers. Constantly pushing the blame to somebody/something else while the problems sit and grow. I love that definition of insanity that says, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Blame is one of those vicious cycles that it is easy to get caught up in, even if we know better.

Blame is destroying us in so many ways. We use it to destroy  our relationships, ourselves, our families, our communities, and our humanity.  It is hard to find working solutions when all we see is the problem and who is at fault. When we feel the need to be right, we don’t even listen to the concerns on the other side. Our minds are closed and we start a war. Things get ugly and nothing gets resolved. All we are being taught is to feed the fire and blame more.

Blaming equals disrespect. We all know it subconsciously, which is why our defenses  can go flying up and we become ready for a fight. Nobody wants to feel disrespected, ignored, and unimportant. The funny thing is we do it to ourselves more than anyone else. How many times have we gone against ourselves, our beliefs, our self-care, our peace, and our happiness? If we are not showing ourselves value and respect, how are we expected to give it somebody else?

In my teenage years, I stopped learning to blame other people for my feelings, actions, reactions, and thoughts. The problem was I put the finger on me and BLAMED myself. Blame is destructive whether it is pointed outward or inward. Even going into my adult years, I thought I was doing it right. I couldn’t understand why I still wasn’t happy, and still falling into negative patterns. I turned such a critical finger on myself that it created a monster festering inside me.

I kept trying to make things better on the outside. I had no idea the havoc that was going on the inside. I acted out in so many different ways. I had no idea the kind of harm I was causing. I still was blaming things like alcohol, drugs, work, cars, name the object, I could blame it. I didn’t realize the blame was making me blind to the truth. I had to explore the unpaved trails to learn what was real. The only way to do it, is to be aware and  watch where we place your feet. Our missteps may hurt, but they can teach us a better way.

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I didn’t learn until much later in life that it isn’t about blame at all. It is about taking responsibility for my actions, making positive changes, and then letting it go. I am only responsible for my part. Figuring out what that is can be tricky, especially when the situation is extreme. Byron Katie taught me how to take responsibility without turning it into self-abuse. I have been shown so many different ways to look at a situation through her videos and books,  which you can find by searching her name on the internet. Her work gives me the tools to get out of the vicious blame cycle. I’m not happy there. I don’t like the way it feels when I have to be right to the point where I’m in a constant internal argument in my head with someone who isn’t there. I’m letting someone else’s path wreak havoc on my peace. When I become aware that I’m doing it, I have the opportunity to change it.

Getting away from blame is a process. I stopped beating myself up when I get caught up in it. I acknowledge how I participated in it, and I pray for the awareness to catch it sooner next time. If  I can take an action to change the situation, I do it. Writing is one of the ways I use, sharing pieces that spread compassion, passing on positive messages, being apart of love in action, volunteering, or simply becoming aware of when when we are participating in the blame game all helps to spread seeds for change. Whatever we choose to do in a more loving and compassionate way is contributing towards finding solutions. How we want to live our life is a choice we each need to make as individuals. What other people choose is not our business. They have their own journey. We can hope and pray that they find happiness and peace within themselves. When we know that we want peace and happiness in our own lives and commit to becoming aware of the times we stray from it, life will get better. When we find peace within, we won’t stir up chaos outside of ourselves. We will start seeing what is working, what is beautiful, and what is real. There is nothing real in chaos, just hurt and ego.

My awareness helps me to see and accept my responsibility and change faster. The lessons become less dramatic, and easier to spot.  As I have grown, I am able to see clearer, live happier, and as Byron Katie says, “Be a lover of what is.”

Wishing you all internal peace and outward gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

3 Powerful Lessons I learned about the Law of Attraction

Along the road of self-discovery, I have stumbled across 3 jewels in understanding the law of attraction. I had to go through some very hard lessons to find them, but under all the muck and gruel, there they were; little diamonds. When I first learned about the Law of Attraction, I didn’t understand the POWER my the choices, emotions, thinking, and  all the patterns that came with them.

1. Power of Prayers

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Each prayer attracts lessons and/or blessings. How we pray is important to what we will attract. Every inner conversation has the same power as a prayer. Be careful of the energy that is being put in. If we pray from a place of “not enough”, we will create a life that is not enough, and/or be exposed to lessons that give us the opportunity to see that we are enough; life is enough; the world is enough. The lessons will give us the opportunity to change or submit to the messages we are telling ourselves. When we enter prayer with loving energy, we are blessed in some way. The key is we have to stay present to spot the blessings. If we do that, more and more will be brought to us.

When we pray for the people who hurt us, we are sending a love into the darkness. The more loving energy we can send out, the more we invite into our lives. This shows up by noticing that the negative people start to fade away, and they take a back row seat in our lives. When we wish no evil on anyone, no evil energy can penetrate us. When we wish evil and feel hate we are apart of the same energy we are fighting against. It is counterproductive. When we pray with compassion, we are helping to heal the world.

When prayer is out of desperation, because we are in physical, mental, and/or emotional pain it is VERY IMPORTANT to watch our prayers. We are in the midst of a powerful lesson; how we pray matters. We have challenges to overcome. We may ask to be healed, but the healing may be in a different way than we thought about. Part of our purpose might be that we have a physical ailment, emotional and/or mental challenge, or a disease. Our purpose may be about spreading awareness, finding a cure, or overcoming mental anguish around our ailment. We have NO idea! This is where I learned to change my prayers. I started asking for help:

  • Fulfilling my purpose
  • Understanding the lesson
  • Healing my thoughts
  • Doing the next right thing
  • Focusing on things to be grateful for
  • Finding reasons to love myself and others

Changing my prayers in these simple ways has transformed my prayers and the power behind them. Now they are focused on what I truly want to attract to my life.

2. Being Aware of Inner/Outer Dialog

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The Power of Can’t

I laugh at myself every time I say can’t.  Don’t want to try and/or don’t want to do it is more accurate. Can’t is attracting energy in two different ways:

  • Using the word and language of can’t establishes limitations on what we CAN do. It sets up an invisible force field on what we will allow and/or attract to our lives. It gives us an excuse not to focus our energy on how to bring the possibility to our lives.
  • Focusing on the energy of can’t may bring some challenging lessons in what we can do. When people use phrases such as, “I can’t survive this”, “I can’t make this work”, and “I can’t live without…” it also may be asking the Universe to give us a lesson in showing us exactly what we are capable of doing and/or handling. These hurt to go through, but they have been my greatest gifts when I am ready to look at them from a loving perspective. These lessons are about what we want in the bigger picture. If we are asking to be stronger, braver, wiser, and in service to humanity, we need these lessons to show us how.

Avoiding the Thought of Never

When we put out the energy of Never it WILL have a lesson, because we are focusing on a negative energy. When we say, I will never be with a cruel, unhealthy, negative or abusive person, we are focusing on the energy that will bring them to our lives. She/he may present his/herself in a different kind of relationship than they did before, but the relationship will show up if we don’t change the dialog.

Focusing on What We Don’t Want

It is extremely important to focus on what we DO want. If we find ourselves saying, I don’t want… I don’t want him/her to do… I don’t need this in my life. Oh boy, watch out; get ready for a very bumpy road ahead. Sometimes we need to be challenged in order to see what we do want. Be grateful for the lesson, forgive them and yourself, and move on. If we choose to stay in the negative energy, we will repeat the same patterns and lessons until we get it. This can last a lifetime for some people. It is up to us how long we want the same lesson to last. Breaking patterns and attracting loving energy takes practice and a lot of work. Depending on how long we have been embedded in the negative energy, we may feel out of our element for some time, but keep the faith. Every time we hear ourselves saying or focusing on what we don’t want, we have an opportunity to look at it in a new way. We have to find the words and mantras that give power to what we do want.

3. Investing Time in the Right Places

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When presented with life’s challenges, we have a choice. We can put our time into the problem or the solution. If we truly want to learn from our circumstances and transform the energy into something better, we HAVE to invest our time wisely. If we are obsessing about the wrongs of others and ourselves, we are not helping anyone. We are attracting more of that energy to our lives.

If we know, we don’t want an abusive person or something negative in our lives, question what that looks like. What does a healthy person like? What do healthy people do? How do they treat others? How do they talk to their parents, friends, co-workers, and family? Really dive in and figure it out. Research healthy relationships if you don’t know what they look like. How do healthy people communicate? How do they express feelings? What love language do they speak? There are plenty of resources out there. This will transform you into becoming a person that another healthy person would be attracted to. We will always attract the energy we are putting out.

We need to invest our time in the energy we want to be attracting to our lives. Here are a few ways I have taken the initiative and invested my time and energy into the blessings I want to attract to my life.

  1. Gratitude lists
  2. A Can collage: This is a jar or can, focusing on the energy of what I CAN do. I cut out words from magazines that described the person I want to be and what I want to contribute to the world. I glued them all over the can inside and out. Then I write myself notes: I need to work on… I am proud of myself for… I want to learn about… I am doing ________ in order to reach my goals.
  3. Vision Board: If we are visual learners it is important to see what our vision is. I cut out pictures of the lifestyle I want to attract. My inner dialog must match my vision if I will be successful in attracting outer goals.
  4. Read, watch, and focus on the subjects that will help me focus on the life I want. I love audiobooks, books, blogs, and positive messages to keep me focused on the energy I want to attract. It would be really easy right now with the bombings, politics, educational systems, prejudices, and hate to focus on the problems, but it doesn’t fix the energy that is creating the problems. I have to face those things with love or I’m contributing to the what I don’t want. Focusing on the negative energy will only create more. I try to figure out how to focus on love to come up with solutions to spread a more loving energy. I only can give what I have inside. I need to make it count!
  5. Lists: I make list of what I want and make sure everything is in the affirmative. If all I know is what I don’t  want, I think about what the opposite looks like. The lists help me figure out what healthier choices and thoughts look like and they help me to shift my language and behaviors.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Please check out other articles on FromAlovingPlace.com , and join me on facebook.com/fromalovingplace (click on the red words to get to the sites mentioned). Let’s focus on meeting life’s lessons from a loving place!  I hope you will join me on this adventure. Please feel free to like the page on Facebook and send me a message. I would love to hear from you!

 

Which Path Do You Choose Today? Love or Fear

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Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil-he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good-he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you-and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

-Cherokee legend

We choose whether to follow with love or fear in every moment. This is a small sampling of topics and questions to illuminate which is getting most of your attention:

Disasters Such as 9/11, the Holocaust, Civil Rights Issues, or Natural Disasters

  • Do I focus on the heroes who helped or the people who created the problem?
  • Do I do something to help or get caught in the blame game?
  • Am I inspired to act by the people reaching out to help others or the ones filled with hate and rage?
  • Do I focus on the people and families who have been affected by the tragedy or the people, government, races or religions I want to blame for it?
  • Am I touched by my love and compassion for humanity as a whole, or I am stuck in anger, fear, and despair?

Romantic Relationships

  • Am I happy with where my life is now or desperately want it to be filled with another person?
  • Do I allow space for a healthy partner to present themselves or do I allow anyone in who shows interest?
  • Do I stay because I have the love I want, or do I stay because I am afraid of their not being someone else?
  • Do you love myself or do I do I feel like someone else’s love for me will make me feel better?
  • Do I see myself as a whole person, or do I think I am missing a part of me if I don’t have a romantic partner?

Religious Paths

  • Am I inspired by the loving actions of the figuresI follow or do I fear the wrath?
  • Do I believe that every life has value or only the ones who follow my ideals and beliefs?
  • Can I show compassion to any human who is suffering, or do I rationalize human suffer with anger and hate towards how the person is choosing to live?
  • Does love for humanity dictate how I treat people or does my judgments about a sinful lifestyle?
  • Do I understand that loving yourself is a part of the journey or do I feel my life has no value in my religious practice?

Work or Career

  • Do I see the value and importance of every position and person, or do I see others and myself as greater or less than someone else?
  • Do I believe in myself and take pride in the work I produce or do I come from a place of not enough?
  • Do I strive to do my best no matter what the task,  or do I think, “I don’t want to be here” and let the work suffer?
  • Do I see my opportunities to make a difference or do I shrink to fit into a box?
  • Do I stay in a situation because I love it or because I am afraid to see what would happen if I followed  my passion?

Overall Interactions with People

  • Is it more important to show compassion or be right?
  • Am I open to look at the situation from a different perspective, or  Do I have to judge other people’s journeys?
  • Am I happy for other people when they are successful or do I find a reason to attack them?
  • Do I see my own beauty or attack other people’s imperfections?
  • Do you I responsibility for my own choices or blame others?

Myself

  • Which is an easier list to write, what I like about myself or what I hate about myself?
  • When I make a mistake, I learn from it and move on, or I beat myself up?
  • I can look in the mirror and smile at the reflection in the mirror or I judge the reflection in the mirror?
  • I understand and accept that I’m not perfect or I expect myself to be perfect?
  • I can choose to be better or I am stuck in a vicious cycle of self-abuse?

Remember, there is no reason to beat yourself up for ANY time you have chosen to live out of alignment with love. We all make that choice sometimes, it is one of our greatest teachers when we can see it and take a step in a different direction. Understand that we are all humans and will choose based on what we feel is best at that moment. If we are not showing ourselves love, it will be easy to slip into fearful actions.

Try not to judge those who choose fear, because then you are choosing it too. Instead, see the opportunity to learn from the situation and figure out how to inspire love in the given situation. It will have amazing benefits for you and the other people involved. Your hate, anger, fear, and judgments are signals. If investigated and transformed into loving thought and actions they have the power to make wonderful changes in your own life and the lives of those around you. The ripple effect will go on and on. Does the ripple you choose inspire love or fear? Every word and action matter. Do the best you can.

Sometimes fear will get the better of us. If we get past that, forgive ourselves, and move on, we will have so much more to contribute to our world and our humanity. If we can stand up for what matters from a loving place, we will be able to see so many more opportunities and ways to fix the things that are hurting us. Together our love will heal the world. Divided we will suffer and struggle. Which path will you choose today? I choose love.

With love and gratitude for all,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Not Stupid After All: School Testing and Self-Worth

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The divergent thinker has considered the problem from all angles and made connections between the question and each of the potential answers. He has now spent four times as long on the question as the person who is tuned to think convergently, and his likelihood of choosing the “right” answer is still no better than chance. Instead of eliminating some of the answers to improve his chances of making the correct choice, his divergent thought processes have brought all answers into the realm of possibility.

-Shelley Carson, PhD, Your Creative Brain p. 128

I have always loved learning, but all through high school felt stupid. The feeling came from taking multiple choice tests. I don’t remember when my anxiety around these tests began. I didn’t realize how bad the experience was on my self-worth until I was an adult.

I had to study more than many of my peers. I took notes on everything in order to get it. I had to practically memorize the material to get an 100% on a test. I realized, if I could focus on the material in the book, I could get an A on the test. When other people were doing dance and sports, I had to spend that extra time taking notes on what I was reading.  I used to pray for essay tests, because I knew I could get an A without a problem. I used to run out of room because of the amount of details I could provide. I didn’t understand why I had such a problem with multiple choice. Come SAT time, I was a complete mess. When I didn’t have specific material to study my anxiety would take me to a shameful place. My self-talk was brutal. My hair twisting and pulling increased to a level where I’m surprised I have hair today. What was it about these tests? Why couldn’t I figure out the right answers?

When I was an adult, I realized  I also had a fear of filling out forms. I was so scared of answering a question in the wrong way. I wanted to be honest and accurate, but I found myself wondering do they mean this, or do they mean that. In order to be a pre-school teacher, I had to take courses filled with multiple choice tests. I remember being told that many people don’t pass them the first time. I can’t tell you what that level of pressure did to me. Luckily, by the time I got to the test I was grounded in my spiritual path and I prayed that I would be able to pull the knowledge from my head as needed, and thankfully I did. Yet, I still went through the constant questioning in my head during almost every question. I just kept trying to remember the words that the books used. I still felt stupid. Why weren’t the answers black and white? I knew the material well enough that the tests should have been a breeze.

So, why did I feel so stupid when it came to multiple choice? I wasn’t going to understand that until I was around 37 years old and back in school. Eckerd College is known for their strong writing program. The Program For Experienced Learners (the program I attended) held us to the same high standards as the residential students. I loved it there. The classes were small, professors were available, lots of writing, and very few multiple choice tests.

The answer finally came in a course called, The Creative Process, taught by an amazing professor. I knew I would love the course just by the title. Once I met my professor, I knew I was in for a big ride in self awareness. The reading materials for the course were eye opening, but one in particular would help to heal years of pain and anguish over my fears and anxiety around multiple choice tests and filling out applications.

Your Creative Brain (This is a link to the website): Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life by Shelley Carson, PhD.was the book that would give me understanding about brainsets and where I was most comfortable. The book explains all the different brainsets, then has a little test to show the reader where her/his personal comfort level is. The best part is in the next chapters she gives the reader exercises to strengthen the different brainsets. Based on the test, I was most comfortable in the connect and absorb brainsets. This made perfect sense to me. This has been my strength in my personal and professional relationships. It was what made me successful in sales and marketing. It is the power behind my creativity. It is the reason, I am driven by the connections I make with humans, nature, and animals through love.

How could this gift cause such anguish in school? 

“Convergent thinking is the type of thinking you do when you access the contents stored in your brain (including knowledge and memories) to come up with the one correct answer to a well-defined problem.”

-Carson, Your Creative Brain p. 125

OH! Multiple choice tests are based on convergent thinking. Now, everything is starting to make sense. I don’t fit into the mold of this type of education, wait a second… My son is completely immersed into the testing world, and he is having the same struggles and feelings that I did. He is an A/B student who is feeling frustrated, stupid and lost in the school system. I’m so glad, I have been educated enough to help stop the negative cycle that I have lived with since I was a child in school.

I have broken many of the negative cycles that came from the generations before me. It can take a long time to heal old wounds. I still feel my stuff come up when my son is discussing school, and it is a challenge to try to figure out what is the best thing to do for him. I need to approach him and the educational system from a loving place, but sometimes the how is hard to find.

I have watched many groups try and fail to change the educational system. I have read the research that is being used to fight the system. I have listened to countless parents and teachers who know that all this testing is not good for these young developing brains. The tests keep coming. Little changes keep happening, but I feel like we are still left with a lot of misunderstanding. Some teachers don’t know how to spot convergent and divergent thinkers and that makes a huge difference in how a child will absorb material. We are still focusing on the broken system. The negative energy is feeding the beast. What if we collectively could put our focus on what we did want to see in schools, instead of what we don’t? I still struggle with this one. I know the answer comes from a loving place, I just don’t know what it is.

My son was lucky enough to have an amazing third grade teacher. She made the time to really look at him as an individual and figure out how he needed to look at the material in order to be able to see the correct answers. She helped me to see that it was possible for a divergent thinker to work with these tests. There are so many  kids, parents, and teachers who don’t know what is going on in these students’ brains. How do we get this information out there in a way that it is not done through angry messages of what we don’t want to see anymore? How do we not shame people for not knowing any better? How do we inspire change through loving actions? 

Finding out about the different brainsets and how they contributed towards different areas of my life has been priceless. It has helped me gain understanding about myself and others. I finally know, I am NOT stupid. I actually have a beautiful gift of a divergent mind, and its because of this gift that I am here now. I figured out that the things I negatively labeled myself with are actually the very parts of me that I love the most.

An Open Letter to Those I Have Judged…

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“Unconsciousness, dysfunctional egoic behavior, can never be defeated by attacking it. Even if you defeat your opponent, the unconsciousness will simply have moved into you, or the opponent reappears in a new disguise. Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” -Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose p. 75

To all of those I have and haven’t judged:

First, I would like to apologize and to say that this letter is directed at me as much as it is to you. I don’t know anything about your life experience. I don’t know what got you to the place you are right now. I have no idea what you experienced as a child, a teenager, or an adult that contributes to the decisions you make today. Whether you lead the life I think I want, or it’s a life I can’t imagine having. Either way, judging it or myself in comparison, is not how I want to live my life anymore. I am no better or worse than you are, I am different. I finally understand the power of the negative energy that I have been putting on you and me. I will choose to be happy for your successes and send loving thoughts to those who are struggling to make healthy choices for themselves and others.

I know that every person has strengths and weaknesses, and it is my personal journey to embrace either one I choose. I can decide to get out of my own mental/emotional position, at any moment, for better or worse. I know that judgments (including about myself) put a negative energy into the world and I am contributing to the problem instead of the solution. I know that things such as the media, politics, society, poverty, wealth, food, technology, health, religion, and addictions are the way they are, because of focusing on the negative energy in myself, others, communities, and the world. If I keep focusing on what I don’t want to see in the world, I will keep making it worse. If that is where my focus stays, then I am responsible for my part of that energy.

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

-Mother Teresa

I know that when I look at the world with love and compassion, I only see more examples of it. I know if I stop contributing to the hate, then I’m contributing to the same power that comes from the miracles of prayer. It is not my job to tell you who to be or what to believe. It is not my business if you pray, send positive thoughts, or are being the example of love in motion. When I am the change that I want to see in the world, the world has no other choice than to get better. Even if it starts with the people around me, I know that love will spread.

From this point on, when I catch myself judging, I will instead, send you love. I will look at myself and ask myself if I have the right to judge anyone else’s life? The answer will always be no. If you are contributing to the love in the world, I will send you more for added strength and courage. If you are contributing to hate, whether it is for yourself or others, I will send you love in hopes that it will help you see a better way.

My hope is that this message spreads to all of those who are feeling alone because you are not perfect. I want you to know, neither am I. I have made poor health, partner, parenting, love, and life choices too. I will send my love your way and pray that you get the energy you need to make the choices that will help you become stronger, braver, and more compassionate to yourself and others. I hope that you find away to forgive yourself and start a new day.  In life or death, let no one else’s energy hold you back from leading a love filled life.

In closing, I want to thank all the people who lead different lives than I do. I learn what I want to improve about my own life. I learn how to be stronger, braver, and more compassionate to all those around me. I know that if I focus on the lesson instead of the judgment, I grow as a person. Each one of you helps me become the person I know that I want to be. I am a person building a house on a foundation of love.

With all the love I have to give,

A Better Me

Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff (as always)

This piece was also featured on BeingBetterHumans.com. The site is filled with wonderful inspiring stories. 

Embrace the Breakdown

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When I was 17, I struggled with severe depression.  I could send myself into a tailspin within seconds. It got so bad that I agreed to be admitted into a hospital to get help. I used to believe that it was only going to get worse, and that there was no hope in my future.  There was a period of time that I’m surprised I survived.

This was the time frame that I learned to embrace the breakdown. Like many others, I used to do anything I could to avoid the breakdown, but learning to embrace it made me see breakdowns as good things. I wasn’t going to hit an emotional bottom. I was going to break through a barrier that was holding me back.  It is empowering to be in charge and  head down a downward to have a break through. I say I’m getting ready for a  growth spurt. The bigger the spiral, the bigger the growth spurt.  Learning this skill did not keep me from experiencing dark times, but it helped me see that the dark times would pass as soon as I got what I was meant to get out of the situation. A lesson could take a day, month and sometimes longer. It really depended on how stubborn I was being and how tight I was holding on to the problem.

Growth spurts are what I call my emotional break throughs that lead me to better places. I  usually have something great happen after one of my breakdown to break through episodes. After I embrace the breakdown, which is feeling all the feelings that are going through me. Sometimes I am hit with a lot, all at once. Those are my category 4 hurricanes. Next, I look at the situation from other perspectives. I’m not going to lie, I had a great role model for this part. We lovingly refer to my mom as “Pollyanna”. She modeled the skill of looking at things from a much brighter and less sinister angle. I remember getting so annoyed when I wanted to stay in a bad mood. Eventually, I came around and realized it wasn’t that bad. It’s funny watching my kids’ reactions when I do it to them. The best part is, they have now started to keep me on track too when I slip. After that, I look at the lessons in what’s causing me stress, anxiety, and/or depression.

In my early thirties, I was introduced to the work of Byron Katie. A friend gave me a CD series called, Making Your Thoughts Work for You By Dr. Wayne Dyer and Byron Katie. I had already done a lot of work on this, but her methods are truly amazing and easy to use. There are tons of videos out there of her work. Her method is brilliant. She even has an easy to use worksheet on her website. Katie’s way of looking at a perspective is a tool I use on a regular basis when I get triggered by anybodies actions or words. For the parents out there it is a great tool and a great way of life to teach children. It gives us great tools to see our children clearly and teaches them to take personal responsibility, while not getting caught up in what my mom calls, “awful-izing”. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but just like anything else it plants a seed.  When they are ready, it will grow.

Another thing that works for me was suggested  by my first sponsor in AL-ANON. She said to stand on a chair and look at the room from a different angle, then do your daily routines in a different order. My favorite was to change the order I put my foot in my underwear. I had to literally put a note in my underwear drawer to remind me to get out of my head and make different choices. I’m in my head a lot! I am one of those people who have to do a lot of work to get out of my head. I love hiking off-trail to help me with that one. When I have to pay attention for sticks, snakes, and direction, my mind stays clear!

I have worked with a lot of people on the topic of personal growth and I can share a couple of observations about what has kept myself and others in the vicious spin cycle longer.

  1. We try to run away from it using people, places, or things. I have used the busy world of doing, relationships with my children, family, and friends to keep me distracted from looking at myself. I have seen others use excess alcohol and drugs. In my experience, it never works to solve problems. Create problems, YES! Solve problem, No! I learned that when I feel over emotional about something I avoid alcohol completely or keep it to one glass of red wine in a relaxing environment. The relaxing environment part is essential.
  2. There is something about the chaos that makes us feel comfortable. Here’s an example: I used to be in a relationship with a lot of yelling and name calling. I was always on edge. I never knew what was going to come next. The reason it was comfortable to me is because it was what I experienced as a child watching my parents’ relationship. There was a normalcy in it. It took a lot longer to break that pattern than it did others. I had to consciously study healthy relationships and surround myself with friends in healthy relationships.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but for me, these are the ones that always stand out.  Don’t be scared to feel everything that comes up. This can take time. This is not a quick fix. If it doesn’t work, go deeper. In the beginning for category 4 breakdowns it would take me a month or longer to get through it all, and some days were downright ugly. As I have practiced the skills and have learned to spot warning signs, I can tend to get through the process in about a day. But, not all the time. Around three years ago, one of my breakthroughs was from a failed relationship that was a carried pattern of many failed relationships. I had tried before to go deep, but it obviously wasn’t deep enough. I had to deal with childhood shame that was buried deep down. That took a lot of time and tears to get through. If there is shame involved, face it. If there is guilt involved, forgive yourself. If there is anxiety involved, get present. Anxiety comes from fears of future, and future in not predictable (at least for most of us). If there is anger, forgive them. Don’t forgive for the other person, forgiveness is personal. Repeat the mantra, “Breakdown to break through, breakdown to break through!” I will share my break through reading list soon.  First, I have to do some digging.

Most importantly, treat yourself kindly from a loving place. It has been said many times by many different people, “We are our worst critics.” We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have been given. You deserve love and compassion just as much as all the people around you.  Cry, scream, let it out! Stop running and embrace the breakdown.