I want to first be clear that as a Life Coach I am not a counselor, psychiatrist, or have the degree and schooling to prescribe medications and help those who are struggling to live a baseline life. A few examples of issues that require a licensed professional’s help are having suicidal thoughts, persistent depression, intense trauma, or abuse. I am grateful to the mental health profession and all they do to help those who need them and make society a better place as a whole.
As a life coach, I personally help those with codependent behaviors who are living a baseline or above life. They are sad sometimes, get frustrated and overwhelmed, experience moments of anxiety and depression along with feeling out of control. The Lady I love to help is the one that knows there is more to her than how she is showing up in her relationships. This Lady wants help to create clarity and implement it into her life.
A fixed mindset will give you what you already have. An open mindset can show you what is possible. Unconscious or not your life reflects what you believe in the core of your soul to be your reality When looking back on your past experiences can you see moments in your life that you manifested from your own desires? We can only become the effect of a situation if we allow ourselves to see it as something that is happening to us. When it comes to our past, we can decide now, in the present, how we want to view that memory.
Being human, we have memories of pain and experiences that leave their marks. The truth is we all experience pain, no one will go through life without experiencing pain on some level. When you talk to enough people you begin to realize that there are many who have had pain; some pain you don’t relate to and others you do. Then why is it that some can move on and others get stuck? As a Life Coach, I believe it has a lot to do with conscious mind management.
The future is wide open for interpretation; how you navigate your future plans will create the reality that is to be. If we are that powerful when it comes to our thinking of the future, can we not use that same power on the past? Here are four questions that might help you in changing your past:
What did I learn from this situation?
How is this memory hurting me today?
What do I need to let go from this memory?
How can I see it another way?
Might it be possible that we are using our past to reason with our present as it allows us to excuse ourselves for why we stay where we are? Remembering that life is 50% good and 50% bad is a thought that might help you see your past in a different light. The bad stuff is formed in memory but there were good times, too. When life is rough, asking yourself, “What is the good that I can see in this situation?” or “How is this creating me into the beautiful lady that I am today?”
I am not suggesting suppressing emotions from the past, but rather come to a conclusion of how you want to use this information when you look back and decide how the events in the past were part of creating the perspective that you needed to live for today.
Would you like to feel deep joy, the kind that once ignited will not go away? If you are willing to sit in misery you can feel that, do you still want it? Are you open and willing to allow sensations, and emotions to really feel deep joy?
I want to explore allowing and tolerating feelings, and “buffering,” or avoiding feelings. Emotions and sensations are how our body and brain talk to each other. Our brain does not know if something is real or imagined; what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is real and then our body has an emotional response to those “real life” sensations. It is important to understand that our brains are hard-wired to seek safety and comfort, as it tries to avoid pain and discomfort. Our brains will always want to offer us solutions that feel warm, cozy, and familiar. Memories play a vital role in assisting our brains to relate past experiences and those emotions and sensations to new experiences.
How do you know when you are avoiding a Feeling? Instead of sitting and being still to allow it, your inventive mind gives you the option to do something else, something that you might find familiar, a habit you have formed that gives you comfort, even if it’s temporary. Examples of distractions that your brain might give you are going for a walk, working out at the gym, eating comfort food, calling someone, drinking, smoking, cleaning, watching tv, getting on social media, and reading a book.
You might be asking, “Now, Angela, what’s the harm in cleaning or working out at the gym if something is bothering me?” Avoiding or buffering your emotions with distractions is not useful, even though you think you are being productive. Unresolved and uncomfortable Emotions want to be processed since that is how the brain and body communicate. If you feel the joy you embrace it and cherish it, so I am suggesting that if you embrace the uncomfortable emotions, they too will pass and be only a memory.
When a circumstance occurs and you have a thought about it, feelings arise, and it’s a feeling that you do not want to process. So, you choose your distraction of choice—anything to avoid processing what you are feeling. You are not building tolerance or awareness of that emotion instead you are doing what I call buffering with action, so you don’t process and allow the feelings to pass through your body. Once you begin and allow emotions rather than buffer them, self-awareness becomes sharper and you find yourself not reacting, but responding to life. Building up tolerance takes practice.
Once awakened to how your brain works, you get to choose how you want to pivot from this moment forward. Stopping and questioning your reasoning might be a good place to start. Is this real? What are the facts? Getting to the root cause and not putting on the band-aid could heal your soul on a much deeper level, causing you to begin to experience that deep joy life offers us…if we are willing and open to taking it.
It really doesn’t take too much to understand that we are always conditioning our behavior. Whether good or bad, that which we repeat will become part of the equation that in return forms who we are. A favorite quote of mine is as follows:
“Watch your thoughts; for they become words. Watch your words; for they become action. Watch your actions; for they become habits. Watch your habits; for they become your character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.” – Lao Tzo
The smallest things will make the biggest difference in our lives. Isn’t it interesting that instead of just taking on one small task at a time we start with a big goal and then wonder why nothing has changed? Failing to see the little changes that did happen because we are so focused on the big goal. Focusing on obtaining the end result will set us up to think we have no will power so why even try to change.
I’m going to tell you something that you might not have heard before. You don’t need to know what your end result is when you are wanting to begin. Ask any high school student what they want to do for a living and 7 times out of 10 they will be doing something different in 10 years from graduation. Knowing the end goal doesn’t declare victory, but Knowing, I want a career, or I want to lose weight is by all definitions a start.
I want to help you prove to yourself that it is possible to slowly show yourself that you have what it takes to start working toward your goals. For the next week, I want you to decide on one little thing to change and prove to yourself that you can create a habit that is important to you.
An example I am going to use is one most woman have attempted, the goal of losing weight. Realize I am only using this as an example, you can use the following concepts as you see fit for a goal of your choice.
Here are some suggestions for you to start this week:
Do some research on different eating habits and take notes.
Keep a food journal this week, not changing what you are eating, just writing it down.
Choose to make one meal this week something you have never made before.
Up your water intake daily for the week.
Creating the awareness around your habits might be an awakening for you. There is no need to jump into the latest fad; instead become an observer of your habits and let your conscience guide you to your next move for the following week.
One little thing at a time can make all the difference and having a weekly win can build up your confidence. As you prove to yourself that you can and are following through on your goals, your faith in yourself will grow. Telling yourself, “I am building my strength through small, daily successes.”
A gentle reminder for you: Because you are beginning something new, you could run into some internal dialogue or external input of resistance, or both. Be prepared to coach yourself through it and let yourself know that it is only a week and you can do anything small for one week. And if you find yourself really struggling, well…That’s what I’m here for. It would be my honor to coach you and walk beside you on your journey.
When it comes to self-coaching it is important to have a basic working knowledge on how the brain works. By having this basic knowledge, it can help you, “be onto yourself.” It might be helpful to know when you don’t feel like doing something new it is a completely normal feeling to have. That tells you that your limbic is doing its job, trying to protect you and keep you safe. In fact, it is only through repeatedly engaging your prefrontal cortex and making the decision ahead of time that you are going overcome the limbic’s natural response.
For example, most of us have to talk ourselves into exercise or even just to go for a walk. It’s not just the thinking it is the action you decide to do after the thought. The idea of not getting up will not completely go away but you can create a neurotransmitter pathway that is so strong that you don’t necessarily have to talk yourself into anything anymore; you just get up and do it. Creating a Habit truly is a conscious decision.
When it comes to the human brain, I will be the first to admit that I am an amateur as to understanding its complexity. I find it so interesting that I’ve completed much independent study on the matter. I marvel at the way our brain works and how throughout history you can see us evolving as our world evolves.
We would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the hard wiring of our limbic system. As we grow from infancy to a child, we learn the boundaries of what is safe. Memories of each life event are stored so we can use it as a reference point when something similar occurs later in life. The Limbic System keeps us safe from things that might harm us allowing us to react when needed based on instinct. From the beginning of time, the limbic system allowed us to conserve energy, find safety, reproduce, and protect ourselves and our loved ones. My thought when I think limbic is “caveman.”
Our Prefrontal Cortex fully engages when we stop reacting and start creating with our own choices. This is the reasoning part of our brain; it helps us to navigate our daily lives through problem solving. As we became more self-aware, we grew more creative as can be evidenced by the Industrial Revolution and the many objects of convenience we use today. Someone thought it out, then created it, not knowing if it was possible or going to work, then it became a reality. Such an action as this is us deciding to use our prefrontal cortex.
Realize your limbic system is there to protect you from potential danger. This realization could be helpful when trying something new, if you foresee obstacles ahead of time and plan for them, this is you being in the driver’s seat using your prefrontal cortex. You are not ignoring the warning signs you are aware and say thank you to the Limbic but move forward in spite of it.
If It was up to our limbic, we would stay in bed, eat what and when we want, watch what we want, and make little to no decisions. If the caveman had our resources that might be exactly what they would have done. Animals also have a limbic system, so animals instinctively do what is needed to survive. What animals don’t have is the reasoning part of the brain. As our world becomes more automated it is up to us to make conscious decisions on how we want to live our life; constantly afraid or creating solutions to obstacles in our path.
Do you know where the old saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” came from? Back in the day you would bathe once a week if you were wealthy or once a month if you where poor. Dad would get the fresh water, then any other boys of the house hold, then Mom followed by the girls and last the baby. By the time the baby hit the water it was mud water. You could literally not see the baby and throw it out with the bath water if you where not careful.
In this week’s blog I’d like to offer that just as with not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, one can see multiple points of view of an event and take away from it what is valuable to you. The more I work on managing my mind and helping clients see their thinking, the more I realize that I can see two opposing views and hold value in both. When we hold the concept of all or nothing in our thoughts and in our actions, we miss growing opportunities.
“If you believe this way, then you must think that.” But why must we think this way? It’s so much more complicated than that; people can enjoy a common interest, but for completely different reasons. For instance, Gal One likes going to the racetrack because she likes the sound of the cars while Guy One likes to go because he enjoys looking at the different models of cars. They both enjoy the same interest, but for different reasons.
With all or nothing thinking might I suggest that you become clear with your beliefs and convictions first, with your own reasons for believing something, and understanding that when you listen to others, they may have differing points of view than you that are just as true; their reasons may not be your reasons. Although deciding this is what you believe, it makes sense to you, and you don’t have to prove it or change anyone’s mind is a comforting thought to some, deciding that your view, as being the best, might not serve you or those around you.
One of my go to emotions is curiosity; if you approach conversations with true intent to understand where a person is coming from, and not to fix or change their point of view, you can learn to truly see how it is they see it. Slowing down and explaining a viewpoint can be a challenge for anyone, especially when emotions are involved. When you choose to really listen and hear someone explain their stance on a topic it is surprising how much that person gains respect and trust in you just by the fact that you have no intent to change them.
Understand that just because you were willing to listen does not mean that the person you heard from wants to hear from you, sometimes people just want to be heard and to have someone listen intently and without judgment. Remember growth is an individual job and the more respect you show toward others the more respect you are showing towards yourself. Don’t engage if you are not truly curious, be willing to be truthful with yourself and others on the limits you have for certain topics that might need more development on your part of belief.
When someone is listening and you are actually present with them, not thinking of what to say in return but merely listening with intent to understand, life can open up to you and the relationships around you.
“When you have the choice in being right or being kind, choose kindness.” – by Dr. Wayne Dryer.