It’s been hard to motivate myself since the pandemic created a massive change in everyone’s lives. It’s slowed down my already diminished “have to do” list. My routine has become, I wake, shower, meditate, eat, clean dishes, call family and friends, check the news, eat, clean dishes, watch movies on Netflix, sleep.
In between I procrastinate with reading what’s new during the pandemic—what changes are being made and when and how we will be able to move freely again. I am also lured into watching movies Netflix is adding to its site.
Eager to write for my blog again after taking time off to finish a book I’d written. I vowed that I’d write every day so I could post every week. But that’s not happening.
I confess to not having been a responsible blogger in the past. I didn’t always post fresh material each week.
But now it’s worse. I don’t feel the inclination to write about what I wrote before. That never stopped me from sitting at my computer until an idea propelled me on to write.
It’s possible that having slowed everything down to essentials in my life has resulted in not feeling any urgency to get my work done. My reaction to the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic was to double down on meditation and walk to commune with nature every day. I watch only movies and read books that are funny and/or uplifting. It’s my carefully calculated way of keeping myself from becoming depressed.
Knowing this is not who I am, I wonder how I can keep myself from feeling distracted each time I sit down to write. Having become so calm has turned into a problem.
My research brought up the fact that procrastination is because of discomfort, but at first that made little sense to me. Feeling discomfort writing before didn’t stop me from writing. It was a little anxiety that helped me to begin writing before.
We motivate ourselves to work with something outside ourselves. When our work is something we love to do, the work itself motivates us. Because I no longer had a routine, I needed to find extra motivation to work despite having lost what had motivated me before the pandemic.
Celebrated author Nir Eyal shares powerful insights on the science and psychology of procrastination in a podcast on Mindvalley. He says that everything we do is to escape discomfort. We need to learn how to control and manage our discomfort to take action.
In my case, needing to learn a novel way to manage my discomfort became my goal. First, I needed to acknowledge that involving myself with something other than what I planned to do was due to discomfort. By naming what it was, I realized whatever had my attention was procrastination, not anything else.
Nir Eyal offers two ways to do this. The first step is the 10 minute rule. You say to yourself, “I don’t crave distraction anymore. I can get past this distraction in 10 minutes”.
Set a timer for 10 minutes. You can either return to the task you wanted to do or sit with the discomforting sensations of either blame or shame.
Blamers criticize other people. “It’s So and So’s fault for keeping me from being able to work.“ Shamers condemn themselves. “If I had any guts, I wouldn’t be tempted with stuff that doesn’t serve me.“
Be present with the urge to blame or shame until it stops. Allow the thoughts to play out until they lose their strength.
The second step is for when you feel guilty about making time for entertainment. If you want to watch something on Netflix, instead of feeling guilty, if you intend when you want to do this, you are changing how you’re approaching what you think of distraction.
By determining the details first, getting the information, then defining by scheduling the time, you do it without feeling you’re procrastinating.
Another suggestion from Eyal is that if you set a period of time you will lock out on your calendar to work without distraction, you don’t have to deal with the discomfort of feeling pulled away from working to procrastinate.
These suggestions helped to help me overcome the fears that came up when I tried to write. Telling the truth to myself helped me define what was happening. Rather than judge my response, I could distinguish what action to take.
The best that’s come from facing the truth is I don’t crave distraction anymore. It’s so much more satisfying to feel good about a job well done.
Besides, now that procrastination is all right when I plan for it, I can still enjoy it.
When I learned we had to stay home and distance ourselves, the news wasn’t alarming. I’m an artist and writer, and I’m used to being alone.
That was then. I knew I could meet friends for lunch, go to the gym, go shopping, and anything else I wanted to do after working. Now, there’s nothing to do besides work, cleaning, cooking or finding something to entertain me after work.
That would have been fine for a little while, but hard when we don’t know how long this isolation will last. Nothing is certain now. There’s nothing to look forward to.
My two granddaughters were to graduate in May, one from high school, the other from college. I’d been flippant when I heard they wouldn’t get to celebrate with their friends. When I wrote that I’d watched them get their diplomas in my imagination and told them how proud I was, I thought it was a cute way to approach their loss.
Today, I read two articles about grief. The first was about all the students who won’t be able to have a graduation ceremony. It described how hard it was for these students to lose all they’ve been looking forward to these last four years.
These youngsters had been looking forward to all the festivities and honors for over four years. Now that was being taken away from them, my initial response to my grandchildren in my estimation turned out to have been disrespectful.
I’d become one of those women who has lost touch with compassion. I know women like that. Their entire world revolves around themselves.
That’s not who I want to be.
The second article about grief was about all of us. A group who met shared their feelings about living with the pandemic. One woman said she felt grief. They asked an expert, David Kessler, to find out how to manage their feelings.
Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. His new book adds another stage to the process, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.
Kessler says, “Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. Losing normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”
What can individuals do to manage all this grief?
Kessler advises us to start with work on the different stages of grief. The stages aren’t going to be linear. He says, “There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.”
And he states “Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance. I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn how to work virtually.”
There’s anticipatory grief, which is really anxiety. Anxiety is fear and conjures up worst-case scenarios. That’s when you must make yourself think about the best-case scenarios.
“We all get a little sick and the world continues. Not everyone I love dies. Maybe no one does because we’re all taking the right steps. Neither scenario should be ignored, but neither should dominate either.”
- To calm yourself, you want to come into the present. You can name five things in the room. Breathe. Realize that in the present moment, nothing you’ve anticipated has happened. In this moment, you’re okay.
- You can also think about letting go of what you can’t control. What your neighbor is doing is out of your control. What is in your control is staying six feet away from them and washing your hands.
- It’s a good time to stock up on compassion. Be patient. If someone is usually adaptable but is now contrary, think about who they usually are and not who they seem to be in this moment.
- This is a temporary state. It helps to say it.
Finally, Kessler adds; “I’ve been honored that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s family has given me permission to add a sixth stage to grief: Meaning. I had talked to Elisabeth quite a bit about what came after acceptance. I did not want to stop at acceptance when I experienced some personal grief. I wanted meaning in those darkest hours. And I do believe we find light in those times. Even now people realize they can connect through technology. They are not as remote as they thought. They realize they can use their phones for long conversations. They’re appreciating walks. I believe we will continue to find meaning now and when this is over.”
It’s helped me to find meaning to this pandemic. One way I’ve found meaning is that when distancing myself from others, instead of being stoic in my aloneness, I am finding balance in my life between being sequestered and in touch with my humanness. I feel better about myself and find that I’m more accepting.
This pandemic might hold some significant meanings for you, too. Challenges are the beginnings of change and growth.
You can read the entire article, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” at: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief?
The way to eliminate negative thoughts is to change them to positive thoughts. Sure, but how do we?
I’m sure you’ve heard of the inspirational best-seller-of-all-time, The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale. It was first published in 1953.
Besides the colossal success of Peale’s book, successful Happiness Courses are being taught at Harvard, Yale and other institutions. There have been many other books written about happiness, even Happiness songs. And achieving happiness has been the subject of many movies.
So why aren’t more Americans getting any happier? Only one in three Americans say they’re very happy, according to a recent Harris Poll.
I think this is why. I contend that our thoughts determine our feelings, and most of those thoughts are fearful, worrisome, or they’re scary.
Hardly conducive to a sunny disposition.
These negative feelings play havoc with our ability to see options. They impede feeling happy. They cloud our mind so we don’t perform in the most focused way.
The thoughts seem to come out of nowhere. They can come from an incident in the past. Sometimes they come after we begin something new, doubting our capabilities of succeeding. Or we may have a habitual thought come up repeatedly in the present.
All the feelings born of negative thoughts, if not questioned, become buried again until something else triggers them. Questioning the thought is the first step in preventing unwanted thoughts to crop up.
All the suffering that goes on inside our minds is not reality, says Byron Katie. It’s just a story we torture ourselves with.
To question a thought, you can use Byron Katie’s technique. Ask yourself;
Is it true?
If it still seems likely, ask yourself, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?”
How do I react – what happens – when I believe that thought?
Who would I be without the thought?
There’s a lot more you can learn about the questioning. Check out her website for more information: http://thework.com
The common denominator of most thoughts that pop up is that they’re negative thoughts.
When we don’t question whether the thought is true, we may end up anxious, overwhelmed with doubt and uncertainty. We feel stressed.
Sometimes we feel like a victim, unable to see any other option but live with what we wish wasn’t happening.
Our thoughts and feelings have a huge impact on our body. This is because of the mind-body connection. Most of the time we act because of habit, without thinking, and let our negative emotions rule us. This can cause distress.
It’s hard to remain happy when we’re not feeling the higher vibrations of love, joy, and gratitude, and hope.
The way to remain happy is by developing the skill of having these positive emotions most of the time. Positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind. Thinking about remaining positive each time you feel negative emotions like sadness, fear, doubt, and guilt helps build new skills and resources that provide value in many areas of your life.
How can we build positive thinking in our lives?
In my last post, I described how to get over negative feelings. Anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love will work. Taking a walk, calling someone I love or cooking a favorite food to eat do the trick for me.
There are the three ways James Clear at JamesClear.com has found to increase positive thinking:
- Meditation – Recent research by Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions than those who do not. Some positive aspects I have experienced are stronger self-confidence, reduced stress, tension, and states of deep relaxation. I have a general feeling of wellbeing. It has lowered my blood pressure readings, and I’m able to concentrate and focus better than before.
I know some of you may be thinking, “No, not meditation again.” I used to feel that way. But with all wonderful new ways to meditate now, and with a little research, I’m confident you’ll find one you love and can’t wait to start your day.
2. Writing – James Clear, in his blog, The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work, tells about a study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality that the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses than the group who wrote about a control topic.
I’ve been writing in a journal for eight years and writing posts on my blog for three years. I loved my journal from the start because writing my thoughts helped me discover ways to solve problems. The more positive outcomes I experienced, the more I became addicted to feeling positive. I began to look forward to each new positive experience I could write about.
Another way to feel more positive is to use your journal every day to write what you’re grateful for. Gratitude provides a cumulative effect of positivity.
3. Play is another way to feel positive. Schedule time each day or at least weekly to do something that makes you feel happy. You might hike up a mountain or pursue some adventure. Maybe it’s spending time with a certain person or finding a hobby you love.
“When we are ready to make positive changes in our lives, we attract whatever we need to help us.” Louise Hay
Facing a new challenge can feel daunting at first but if you persevere, you’ll find it getting easier. Each time a new experience affirms you’ve progressed, trust me, you will be happier.
Bonus; Esther Hicks, inspired by Abraham, generously provides videos of her answers to questions from people in her many workshops in over 50 cities in the United States. The videos are uplifting and filled with positive vibes. I used to watch these as I was learning to think positively. I still do from time to time.
Check out the videos at:
Or go to her main website for more information at:
For more on how your thoughts affect you, go to:
“Let’s sweep it under the rug,” This is what my mother would say whenever I wanted to know a truth she didn’t want to deal with. I can’t recall the exact instances causing this response, but I do remember that whatever subject we were discussing always involved a complication or conflict she didn’t want to address.
My mother’s steely demeanor and hasty dismissal indicated the conversation was over. She wasn’t going to deal with the information, and so, I let it go. Sweeping seemed to work.
Another target she arranged to sweep away were negative feelings. Whenever I felt sorry for myself, angry with my brother, or humiliated by my friends, my mother would cart me off to one of the charitable agencies she volunteered to work at. Impressing me with how much better off I was than many other children did get me in touch with how giving to others seemed to ameliorate the pain, but I never learned how to deal with the pain in a healthy way.
For example, at the age of twelve, I was taken to New York City to have an operation to correct a birth defect. Two nerves on the lid of my left eye were crossed and caused my eyelid to go up and down every time I moved my jaw. The condition is called Marcus Gunn, and because it is such a rare disorder, and because this was a teaching hospital, several rounds of doctors, residents, and students would come to my bedside each day to gape and gawk at the eye.
I felt vulnerable and defenseless. All that mattered to those men was my eye. I was no different than the goldfish in the bowl I stared at on the counter of the nurses’ station. Like the goldfish, I was being exposed to whoever saw me without having anywhere to hide.
Feeling sorry for myself, my mother dealt with my remorse the same way she always had. She offered a man with both eyes bandaged to have me read to him. This time, though, her way of helping me feel better didn’t. It only caused me to want to avoid any circumstance that would expose me to the truth that I was vulnerable.
Unfortunately, an infection after the operation caused my left lid, the one that used to go up and down when I moved my jaw, to freeze in a stay-open position. I could close it with mental effort, but the eye now looked much larger than the other one.
I found a way to emotionally deal with a “bad eye”. I became the observer. I would watch other people’s reactions to my eye while feeling separate from the experience. That allowed me to not have to be the one being judged and to not have to feel vulnerable. I had found a way to feel a sense of power instead of being a victim.
However, as I grew older, complications from having swept away circumstances and feelings began to crop up. The more I tried to stay safe from feeling vulnerable, the more complex they became.
If you keep sweeping things under the rug, you’ll trip over it and fall flat on your face. Don’t ignore problems, fix them!
Not sharing my emotions kept me from ever being authentic. I lived in a constant state of acting, pretending, and doing anything that would obscure the fact that I was different. And when my actions failed to keep me safe, I suffered.
Because I had become motivated to be a person others wanted to be with—my way of coping with a defect—I began doing and being what I thought would impress others instead of feeling free to be me. This tactic kept me from ever being able to express my truths, further burying them from sight. Relationships failed due to my holding myself back. I became depressed, not knowing why.
If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Addiction, Rage, Blame, Resentment, and Inexplicable Grief.
Then I became rebellious at the age of forty-three. Rather than feel guilty for not having the strength and courage to face the truth that I had a “bad eye”, I began blaming and judging those people I had previously tried to make like me. Separating myself from them, they had now become my reason for my unhappiness.
I moved away and began to see a Jungian psychotherapist who specialized in dream therapy. That was when I had a dream that changed everything.
In the dream, I am walking down a long hall towards a banquet room. Judging from the long wooden tables adorned with table settings of metal, and the dress of the other guests at the banquet, I guess the time we’re in to be the period of King Arthur’s court. A lot of noise and laughter is resounding in the huge room as I find a place at the table to sit. Not long after getting settled, I notice someone approaching the dining hall. It’s someone I don’t want to see me, so I duck down under the table to hide. Feeling bored, I fidget with a rug underneath the table. Rolling the rug from the end, my curiosity is leading me to examine what is underneath. Suddenly, all kinds of stuff begin spewing out from under the rug. All shapes and sizes of things, the mass and vast array of so many objects startles me.
How could so much stuff hide for so long in such a small space?
I had an Aha! moment. This was all my stuff! This was the stuff I’d swept under the carpet during my whole lifetime.
“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
C. JoyBell C.
I knew I had no recourse but to finally face whatever I was scared of seeing. This sign wasn’t some random event. It clearly was a warning to me.
Digging through a giant mound of unwanted, crammed, disposed-of stuff is a daunting task. It requires taking one step forward, only to find that you can’t move forward until the next step is taken. It necessitates that you discover the truth, what caused this part of the stuff to be swept away. It can’t be done in a day, so you distract yourself towards more fun, rewarding things to do. But the pull to grow becomes stronger.
There’s a saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”. That’s why bringing buried fears to the light is so hard. You have to trust and allow for life to bring you the circumstances or relationships to trigger each one. If you are dedicated to being a better you, and if you are persistant, that motivation will bring you the happiness you desire.
“Be your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be. Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else. Give yourself permission to be your authentic self.” –
I wanted to finally feel the freedom I’d suppressed more than I feared what the truth was. It took me years to uncover most of the stuff I’d buried. Each time I succeeded, I did feel lighter and that inspired me to dig deeper. Now that I feel freer, I am having fun being me. I love who I am, and that love attracts more love to me.
Don’t be afraid of the truth. Remember, “The truth will set you free.”
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
For a related article, go to: https://wordpress.com/post/dorettab.com/2077
Why has the subject of self-compassion become so trendy over the last few years? Why are psychotherapists, mindfulness teachers and life coaches touting its benefits today?
Self-compassion, a Buddhist belief, became a mainstream and popular idea when psychologist Kristen D. Neff of the University of Texas became interested in the subject. After reading Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg’s book, Lovingkindness in 2003, Neff wrote a paper on the subject and it was that paper instigated a snowball of interest,
Neff tells us that self-compassion is based on the premise that showing kindness to oneself is essential for showing love towards others.
Three indispensable elements of self-compassion she found from her reading were:
- Self-kindness vs. Self-judgment
- Common humanity vs. Isolation
- Mindfulness vs. Over-Identification
Since Ness’ paper, research has found that self-compassion has many positive rewards. You are less prone to anxiety and depression. Self-compassion bolsters confidence. Being kind to yourself can make it safe to fail, which encourages you to try again. You are more than likely to sustain stronger relationships with others. And psychologists have found that there are links between self-compassion and health-promoting behaviors related to eating, exercise, sleep and stress management.
My first encounter with the concept of self-compassion took place around 1980, way before all the hoop-la. I was driving back home from shopping with my daughter, who had just graduated college. Upset with myself over a mistake I’d made at a store with the money in my wallet, I was overcome with shame and guilt,
“I’m so stupid!” I told my daughter. “I can’t believe I did that! It was so careless. If I had just paid attention instead of talking so much, I wouldn’t have been so negligent with my money. I can’t imagine how I managed to pull a hundred-dollar bill out and lose it.”
“Mom, why are you being so hard on yourself,” my daughter asked? “You never speak to other people like that.”
That moment was an Aha! moment. Where had that negative self-talk come from? What my daughter told me was true. I had never scolded my children or criticized others like I just had done to myself.
A simple conversation, my daughter’s response ended up changing my life. I became aware I didn’t know my mind. There had to be a great deal more going on inside my head if I had been ignorant of what triggered my scolding myself.
Unfortunately, at that time, in the 80’s, no one was sharing advice with how to deal with self-judgment, much less self-compassion. It took a long time, and experiencing many clues, to finally learn how to deal with my negativity. But I never gave up wanting to know more.
All the self-help books I read didn’t approach the subject. It seemed like almost everyone around me was also judging themselves in one way or another. Most everyone believed our thoughts of judging and negative beliefs were true, part of being human.
Finally the first clue came from a book about forgiveness around 2009. Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping was written to help overcome anger and blame, however forgiving others also helped me to perceive gifts that I would never have received without those difficult encounters. Forgiveness served to give me a sense of peace.
Besides opening myself to a sense of compassion for the person I was angry with, I found myself able to forgive myself for my part in those broken relationships.
I also realized, through forgiving others, a stronger sense of commonality with all those I had judged and felt anger toward. But even though I felt compassion for others the voices in my mind persisted. They became more annoying now that I had felt that sense of peace.
Then I picked up Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul. I finally had a way to put an end to frustrating, habitual thoughts plaguing me. Singer suggests that, instead of fighting with them, by allowing them, not judging them, and by backing away from any connection with them, seeing them as the lies they were, they didn’t bother me anymore. I could even laugh at them.
I really thought that I had become enlightened, but that cocky attitude crumbled as anxiety and stress crept in again. I quit procrastinating, and began to meditate again. This time, instead of feeling more anxiety while I meditated, I enjoyed a deep peace.
Now I know what self-compassion is and what it’s done for me:
By doing all I could do to stop judging myself, I learned how important being kind to myself was. I laughed more, felt lighter, and loved myself more.
With forgiveness, I healed relationships. My anger had caused me to feel isolated from that person, and now a sense of our common humanity existed in its place.
With meditation, I became more mindful. Writing and painting are easier now that I can focus.
So, why bother doing all you need to do to become self-compassionate?
You’ll be kinder to yourself, you’ll enjoy being with yourself more, and you’ll feel more peace, love, and compassion.
You’ll be surprised with how much easier and better you have become at what you do. You’ll have more fun and work will feel like play. And a whole lot more!
It took me a long time to finally feel compassion for myself, but now with support all over the internet, such as Kristen Neff’s website, with everything you need to know about self-compassion, you can get the help to feel so much better about yourself.
Your perspective sometimes lies. You think you’re being self-aware but you’re buying into an excuse to relieve your doubts and fears.
I thought I had my life in control. I thought I had been doing the right thing by discarding the unessential to focus on what was necessary. The trouble is that I was counting on my perspective to be the reality.
My routine of walking every day for exercise had dwindled to only walking when I absolutely had to get somewhere. I had a great idea for a painting, and got lost in doing what I love do. Busy with more important things than have to take the time to exercise, my rationalization to skip my exercise seemed reasonable.
I would only take the required steps from my car to the grocery store. The closest parking space became my priority.
My son came to visit. He noticed how sedentary I had become.
“Use it or lose it,” he entreated.
After that I couldn’t help but recognize how much l would talk myself out of doing something that’s good for me because I felt lazy. I wanted to take better care of myself, but found ways to legitimize any excuse. “I’m too tired”, “I’ll definitely get to this tomorrow”, “I’m on a roll and I don’t want to disrupt the creative flow” were just a few of the justifications that passed my test for validation.
But it wasn’t just exercise that I stopped doing. When I was unable to continue some action I had faithfully taken in the past, after an interval of inaction, I had a hard time getting back in the routine of doing it again. I would procrastinate and ended up doing nothing at all.
We are creatures of habit. It doesn’t matter if the activity is something we love to do or if it’s something we do out of necessity. If the habit is broken, it’s like having to start again. And it doesn’t seem to matter if we have to or not. We still put up resistances making it harder to commit to the change.
Recently I had the flu that lasted for a month. I was sick and had no energy, so I didn’t write on my blog. I tried, but finally had to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to. Better to rest and to take care of myself, I thought. When I finally regained my energy and I felt better, you might think I would take action, but I didn’t.
I found every reason imaginable to excuse myself for becoming so inactive. It’s hard to think of something to write when you haven’t written for a long while, it’ll be easy to get back to it when some really good idea comes to me, and I deserve a little rest after having to endure being sick, were valid excuses, I thought.
I’d find other projects to keep me busy. I accepted invitations I wouldn’t normally accept when I was committed to posting on my blog every week. I began to prepare more fancy dishes because I just had to try that recipe making the rounds on Facebook.
Finally, one day I had to face the truth. I was procrastinating. I had allowed myself to become a victim again. Full of fear, doubt and worry, I became anxious. I began to itch all over.
Looking up itching in one of my favorite books -Heal Your Body by Louise L. Hay-the probable cause for itching read, “Desires that go against the grain. Unsatisfied. Remorse. Itching to get out or get away.”
Our bodies tell us the truth, I’ve found.
That sounded right. I’d been reacting to my fears and not to my consciousness. My perspective had been clouded because of not wanting to have to stand up for myself and control my situation. It was as if I had become another person, someone who I didn’t recognize. I had always been eager to do what I love.
Once I woke up to the fact that my doubts, anxiety and fear were causing me to cower, I was able to easily reclaim my power. I knew now that I would write whenever I decided I would.
But just to make sure that I’d follow through, I made a commitment to write every day for a month. A month is a long time and enough time to reclaim a habit.
This is the first of my 500 words writing sessions, and I’m looking forward to what will come up next.
And the icing on the cake is that after writing this blog post, going back to painting was just as easy. If you work through any hesitancy toward change in one area of your life, you’ve worked through every other obstacle you’ve talked yourself into.
The bigger questions of life, such as, “Who am I“, come up when we’re dissatisfied with our lives, unhappy with the choices we’ve made, or maybe overwhelmed with working and not getting ahead. We thought that what we wanted would make us happy, but it isn’t. We’re bored with our lives, or we’re tired of pretending to be something we aren’t.
“Man, Know Thyself.
You probably have seen this quote. I had read this many times, but earlier in my life, I judged it. I thought only a self-indulgent, narcissistic and pompous, a pedantic person would contemplate questioning, “Who am I”. I mean, we’ve lived with ourselves and already know all our idiosyncrasies, our faults, and our strengths.
Then I found myself being asked the question. I was feeling depressed in my thirties and not sure what was wrong with me. I had been sure of myself before that, having success as an artist, and I was loving my life. Now I was feeling worthless and unlovable. Nothing about my life was fulfilling anymore.
My husband and I joined a group led by a psychologist. The group was an extension of a Parent Effectiveness Training class we had taken.
I find it ironic that after learning how to deal with our children more effectively, we ended up having to deal with ourselves.
Here we were, in a group playing like children in the class. We played games which our reactions-I realized later-would possibly trigger negative experiences.
In one of the games we played, a group of eight of us sat in a circle. Our psychologist instructed us to tell everyone else ten things we were when it was our turn.
I thought this would be easy. “I know what I am. I am a mother, a wife, an artist, a good cook, a contributing member of our community, a woman, a teacher, a docent, a traveler, a fair skier, and a better tennis player.”
But, when my turn came to answer, “I’m nothing” was all I heard as I rattled off the list of things I had mentally prepared to say.
My reaction to the question “Who are you?” startled me, upset me even more than my inability to feel happy had before. Now it had become official. There was definitely something devastatingly wrong with me.
I can laugh at myself now that know better. I don’t see that reaction I had in the group as tragic today. If I were to face a similar encounter now, I would respond differently. I would celebrate.
I would see it as a chance to start with a new, clean slate, a blank canvas on which I could create the woman I wanted to be. But at that time I wasn’t aware of what I know now.
The realization that I believed we are what we achieve, convinced me that so I had become the woman I was because I was seeking approval and respect. I did it out of fear of being rejected.
The sad part to me now was not that I realized what I’d become was nothing, it was that I didn’t know who I really was.
Through counseling, I discovered that I didn’t really know what I liked. I had been so eager to please others that I didn’t have a clue what I’d prefer eating, which movie I’d rather watch, or what songs were my favorite.
I didn’t know that my thoughts were the reason I had become so unhappy; that and the belief that I was the victim of life’s circumstances. I hadn’t been able to see I had choices.
I have this quote on my refrigerator:
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
I did end up having to find myself (aka: Know thyself) before I was able to create myself as I preferred to be. This is also what creatives need to do. An artist has to develop the skills to paint what they wanted to share, and a writer needs to write a lot before they can be aware and adept enough to know what they really wanted to express.
We have to do the same in our lives. We have to have the skills and know-how to be able to discover what is in the way of our being happy.
I bought the quote for my refrigerator as inspiration while I created a new me, and through the process, I realized I didn’t want to create myself as anyone who needs to impress for approval and respect anymore. I had come farther than that. What I wanted now is my self-respect, sense of worth, and the confidence I was lacking.
What I’ve found since then is that creating ourselves isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a never-ending journey.
Because of circumstances and events that are thrust in our lives, the changes we face force us to change, too. The woman I was is not the woman I am now. And future versions of myself will evolve from one moment to another depending on the realizations I’ve made.
Sometimes we make awarenesses that will enhance who we’re being.
Now I’m certain I don’t have to remain stagnant. I can change any time I want to be happy.
Who am I? I’m nothing like I’m going to be.
For more on Self-Awareness go to https://wp.me/p9td7w-w3
Curiosity has me pondering changes I might take on my blog. I’ll explain.
Yesterday I received an email from someone touting a new way to interact with other people who share the same interest on my website. I was curious so I read to the end of the lengthy article. Rather than the blogger lecturing to their audience, I would be building relationships with other like-minded followers, people who are also curious and want to be in deeper discussions, answering each other’s questions, and learning from each other.
I guess that’s what you could describe as a tribe. This would be a group of people interested in the same subject, dedicated into delving into their experiences, sharing what helped them to overcome blocks and obstacles, and growing as a result.
This concept piqued my interest because I’m feeling more and more that I’m closing myself off by separating myself from other people. Blogging requires me to find subjects other people would be interested in, and I don’t really have a clue without some repartee.
Besides that, I love learning. Writing by myself doesn’t give me the opportunity to have exchanges and to learn from others.
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
This sounds more exciting, more stimulating, and more interesting to me than sitting yet again in front of the computer, trying to come up with the idea that will make a difference. But without feedback, I write material that interests me at the moment I’m writing. But I envision a much more meaningful interchange with the help of a group of people who have similar interest. I see us in a lively exchange of ideas, making new awarenesses, and receiving inspiration to try new things.
We’d all be inspiring each other to move forward.
I’m curious about how this could work. Certainly I need to have feedback from those of you who might be interested in such a group.
Would you be interested exploring how your creativity shapes you and your life? You might want to share what you’re aware of with a like-minded group of people, people who wouldn’t look at you curiously, wondering what the heck you’re trying to say? Have you ever considered meeting with more people who “get” you?
Please comment on this post if you’re also curious about being in a group such as this one. Share any ideas which have. And please let me know if you’d be interested in helping to form this kind of tribe.
The button to post a comment is to the left of the post.
Thank you so much. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
If you’re interested in reading more about this subject, go to:
This painting, entitled The Winding River, reminds me of the path I’m on now. As I took all the steps I had to in order to arrive at my goal, I came to more self-awareness and more sure of what I really want. All the sudden epiphanies I’m having now are providing new ideas with more choices to make. So, I’m finding more and more that the way to my destination hasn’t and will never be a straight one.
“As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you – the first time around.”
― Oprah Winfrey
The definition of self-awareness is: knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character. I learned a lot about myself when I wrote a memoir. As I wrote and went deeper into the reasons I had acted the way I did during some past experiences, I discovered strengths and weaknesses, vulnerabilities and passions, and in some cases, idiosyncrasies.
From these awarenesses I discovered that sometimes I rely on other people’s judgments of how best to achieve my goal, when it’s obvious that the person’s approach won’t benefit what I want to express. Sometimes I see that what I’ve accomplished contradicts what I’ve just learned about myself. Always though, clarity makes it obvious what I’m really striving for.
“Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance.”
― Anthony de Mello
I’ve always known there’s more to learn. I remember when I received my B.A. degree in English and Art, thinking, This degree just shows me how little I know. However, when not actually learning in a classroom setting, or some online course, or reading a book, living your life doing the same things each day, we tend to keep things we know about ourselves hidden. We may not have considered them because our lives have become structured. There may be things we are ashamed about; or things that we really don’t think important or things simply best forgotten. It’s easier and safer to go with the status quo.
When I committed to writing a memoir, I knew I’d have to be more honest with myself than I ever had. But I was ready. My life was a mess. I wasn’t happy in my job. I wasn’t making enough money to pay all my bills, and then my body broke down so that I had to quit my job. Bodies are like that. They close down when we wallow in stress and inaction.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
― C.G. Jung
Now that I’m aware of how much influence our unconscious choices have in key areas of our lives, how much they influence, sabotage and sometimes derail our desires, I always check in to make sure that the decisions I make are coming from my heart. If it feels right, despite everyone else’s opinions, it’s the right choice for me.
So far, for me, this has proven true. Yes, it’s harder. Yes, sometimes you have to deal with other people’s dissatisfaction and discomfort, but in the end, it’s you who has to be happy doing what you love.
Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.
The gift of self-awareness is that it steers us in the direction of certainty and faith. Our journey becomes more enjoyable, even when confronted with difficulties. We’re no longer all over the place, questioning ourselves and our decisions. We’re full of conviction, making the journey easier and more fun.
For more about self-awareness, go to https://wp.me/p9td7w-uA.