I used to wake from a dead sleep, crawl out of bed and slog into my closet to ensure my shoes were properly lined up.
I once declined joining my family for a beach day because I “needed” to clean the stove.
In fifth grade, I cried when I received a B in math.
The fruitless pursuit of perfection used to devour my joy. My tunnel vision only allowed me to view the imperfect minute details that needed tweaking, while real life lived outside that tunnel.
I experienced blips of relief when everything was “in its place,” but these moments were fleeting and were quickly wiped away by a new email flush with to-dos, a small human walking into my home and living life, or the general passage of time.
It seems our minds have developed an unfortunate dependency on worry. In the blips of time when “everything is under control,” the mind kicks into overdrive, determined to find a problem to latch onto, a problem to worry about.
Then, the pellets of doubt begin to drop and we are eventually drowned in an all-consuming flood of ‘what-ifs?’
It’s frightening how easy it is for me to put a negative spin on the positive. My brain has a lifetime of wiring supporting the perpetuation of worry.
What gives? Why the ceaseless pounding of doubt and fear?
As a Hypnotherapist, and chronic worrier, I’ve discovered a common root to this conundrum- the inner critic, the voice of incessant chatter that feeds off of problems, real or perceived.
I call my voice Sheila, and she is quite unpleasant.
After years of allowing her volume to grow to a nauseating magnitude, and witnessing the same phenomenon in clients, I decided that something had to give. There were voices that needed to be silenced, or at least significantly minimized.
The following release work has supported myself, and many others, in turning the voices of our motley inner crew down from 10 to ‘Shh…’
Mindful Breathing– The rhythmic patter of steady breath offers a productive replacement to the, “No you can’t, not good enough, what if, I think you’re wrong, just give up.”
It’s difficult to live in a state of chaos when our body is checking into its healing room, via breath work.
Try it- take five deep breaths, inhaling to a slow count of 5, holding for 3, and exhaling to a slow count of 5.
Allow the body to sink deeper into the inner healing room with each breath.
Tapping- We have an electrical system running through our body via channels called meridians. When we have a negative thought our electrical system is disrupted.
Each of the meridians has an end point, and we can release the negative energy by tapping on these points. While tapping, we verbally state the negative followed by our positive preference.
For example, “Even though I am sad my boyfriend broke up with me, I know I am wonderful and worthy of love.”
While repeating the statement, tap 5-7 times in the following locations:
In between the eyebrows.
On the temples.
Underneath the eyes.
On the upper lip.
Below the lower lip.
On the collarbone.
Repeat this round three times.
Write out the worry and rip it up- It is profoundly cathartic to physically destroy a piece of negativity.
Write down your worry, regret, fear, anger, or other variety of negativity on a scrap of paper and rip it up into minuscule shreds, or burn it- I prefer the later.
Self Hypnosis– There are vibrant worlds of possibility waiting to be sparked in the mind, and manifested in our reality. When this occurs, there’s no space left for that jerky inner critic.
Honor time by taking a few moments of focused stillness to tap into these flames of positive manifestation and allow them to thrive.
Let’s take the first step into this voyage. After taking your five breathes, allow the vibrations of relaxation to flow through you, flushing out the muck of worry that has latched on to your being.
Begin to envision your thoughts as clouds passing through the sky of your mind. You can view these clouds with a clear perspective, but are not intertwined in them- you’re just observing them with curiosity.
You don’t feel, absorb, or analyze the clouds- you just allow them to float by.
The dark clouds do not stay to rain down worry, they pass just as quickly as the others- they don’t touch you.
When you’ve separated from these clouds, feel yourself drifting deeper within, to your inner sanctuary.
Do a song and dance routine- Sometimes we need to stop taking our problems, other people’s opinions, and ourselves so seriously. The best way to do this is act like a fool in love with life.
After you’ve moved through the fore mentioned release techniques stick that cherry on top by playing your jam and dancing like a fiend.
We’re able to invest as much, or as little, time as we like to this release work, the time does not matter, it’s the intention that holds the power.
When we first begin our practice the voice may follow us for a bit, questioning the state of comfort that we’re floating in. But, the voice will eventually lose its luster, relinquishing its dominance to our true essence, residing in our core- the true essence that is composed of all that is good in the world, and all the wonder that is waiting to bloom into existence.
There is a trapdoor of love, which opens within us, as we release our fervent grasp on our time and gift it to others.
I’m a mother, a mother to an 18-month-old perkily precocious toddler/ runner. I, like most mothers, have piles of peed on baby laundry, dirty floors that desperately need a thorough wash, healthy meals that needed to be cooked (a week ago,) a baby raising partner who feels a tad bit neglected, in more ways than one, and a baby who desires my rapt attention ALL. THE. TIME. To put it simply, mothering is hard (and let’s not forget draining.)
With that said, I made the decision with the coming of the New Year to step outside of my hourglass of time and give to others; and not just give my money, but my time.
I decided to give my time to another mother.
Now, you may muse at this time that I’m a bit peculiar for choosing to go help another mother fold her laundry, clean her floors, cook some food, soothe her fussy baby, and do other mom-ish-esque tasks when I have my own fore mentioned unending list of mom chores to attend to; but let me tell you, it’s been phenomenal, in a wholeheartedly un-sarcastic meaning of the word.
The opportunity to volunteer in the home of a fellow mother, who was even more overloaded than myself, felt an easy choice for where I would place my gift of time. ‘I get it, I know, I feel the unspoken emotions, concerns, joys, and pressures that course through you fellow mama, and I’m here for you.’
My time with this family has opened my eyes, opened my mind, and opened my heart to the true potential that the gift of time, support, and unconditional love can give to not just those you serve, but you. You are the ultimate receiver when you gift your time.
These are five of the transformations that can occur when you discover the wonderful world of volunteering:
Stepping Out of the Enticing Comfort Zone. Volunteer work pops a little hole in the bubble we live in and slowly busts us through and out, into a vibrant new world, where we are intimately exposed to those who are not in our immediate sphere of community. The rote tasks of daily life cause us to pigeonhole ourselves into a self-induced comfortable mold. We release the constraints this mold has on us by choosing to step out and do something for someone else, that will not bring direct monetary gain, or critical acclaim.
Changing the World. You might not feel that helping one person, or one family will do much towards healing the crises our world is facing, but think again. If you, if I, if we each made the choice to step outside ourselves and lend a loving hand to another, and those that we touched then extended their hand to another, and a snowball of love slowly rolled through us all, we might just be able to begin to produce global healing. My volunteer work has sparked a newfound sense of global hope inside of me, and it feels really good.
Renewing of Perspective. All strife, struggle, and sacrifice is valid, but, exposing our hearts to the strife, struggle, and sacrifice of others has the potential to transform our perspective, of our own internal turmoil, to that of, well, gratitude. Many times, when exposed to the core obstacles others are facing, we would happily stick with our own.
Overwhelming Sense of Gratitude. When you experience the power of the change, hope, or simple smile you’re able to elicit in another, with the gift of your time, your world will open up to love, your flood gates of gratitude will be released, and there’s no going back. When you tap into the power of you, the power you hold within yourself that can be released through the simple act of just being there for another, especially a stranger, you’ll never see the world through the same eyes. Everything will now have an extra tinge of beauty, light, and irrevocable love.
Learning to Be Here It’s all here, everything we need, right here, right now. All we need to do to accept it and cease living in yesterday, or tomorrow, or two hours from now, but NOW. Live here right now. When you’re gifting your time, you’re there, right in that moment. You’ve stopped focusing on the email you need to send, the dry cleaning you need to pick up, or the cookies you need to go home and burn, because you’re there, in the moment, helping someone else make their life better, it’s not about you, and there is something so profoundly freeing when that realization hits. ‘I’m free to be here, right now, because that’s the only way I will truly help this individual, by being present for them in this moment.’ I was pleasantly surprised to find that if I wanted it to, the sense of now would follow me home and hang out with me long after I ended my volunteer work.
I used to think of volunteer work as something I would do “some day,” when I didn’t have as much “stuff” going on in my own life. I viewed it as a luxury of the rich or retired. What I’ve since discovered is that serving, volunteering, and giving, is not a luxury that should be put to “some day,” but is a basic human need. If I want to continue to not just survive, but thrive, I need to serve.
My child has ceased being cool with me doing anything without him. I go to the bathroom, he follows, I walk two feet to pick up the phone, he follows, I walk to the changing table…. He runs the other way. I guess there is an exception to every rule.
Because I have a 2.5 foot shadow my ‘solo exercise’ sessions have become a thing of the past. My weights have become dusty and my ‘too shabby for public display’ comfortable workout garb have grown lonely stuck in the back of their drawer. My shadow and I have taken to the streets. The only way for mama to get her sweat on, without risking stepping on sneaky baby, is to strap baby into a moving harness, that is not located in a moving vehicle, he’s not into that.
When we first commenced our tandem jogs, I was fascinated by the colorful cast of characters we would pass on the way; fellow runners, pairs of chatty Cathys, recreational bicyclists, ‘I’m going to work’ bicyclists, ‘move out of my way’ bicyclists, solo-talkers, and other ladies with babies.
When you pass someone on foot you have to do something, even if that something is ‘awkwardly look away,’ you do something. In the beginning, I would base my something on the other person’s something. If it looked like they were going to smile, I would smile, if it looked like they were going to avoid eye contact, I would avoid eye contact, if it looked like they were trying to work out a toot, I would start working on my own toot.
As our daily (or almost daily) jog-walks continued, my courage to be the leader in the something grew. At first, my something was to smile at the passing people, pets, and critters. Some people returned the smile, some people ignored us, and one day someone actually said something! Now they were courageous, they were actually talking to strangers! I needed to get me some of that stranger-talking courage.
The next morning, equipped with my baby, and experimental courage, I headed to the bike path that was sure to be flush with stranger-talking opportunities. As we neared the first pair of ‘ladies who walk’ I mentally conjured up the novel greeting I would use, ‘Good morning.’ As they passed I smiled and said….’Morning.’ Morning? What happened to the ‘good?’ My morning blessing had transformed into a ‘hey look it’s morning’ statement. The women smiled and mumbled back their own ‘morning.’ Where have all the ‘goods’ gone? I needed to stave off the laziness of my greeting and add some serious blessing in there. My chance was approaching, an older gentleman walking some poodle mix; labri-doodle, mini-doodle, oodle-poodle, something like that. As he neared, I prepped the smile, and willed the ‘good’ to precede the ‘morning.’ Here he comes; (smile) ‘goooood morning!’ Yes, my first ‘good morning’ was a bit exaggerated, but I did it! He was so shocked by the full morning blessing he stopped and talked to us! The adorable toddler, who was likely delivering his full-lipped irresistible smile, may have had something to do with it as well. This kind man and his oodle-doodle stopped and asked how our morning was going. We inquired as to how his morning was shaping up and we learned that he was on his way to his toddler-grandson’s house. We happened to have a few extra toys in our overloaded stroller and were able to impart one on him for his grandson. This exchange took less than 60 seconds but when we were once again on our way, our way was much merrier. Wow! It feels grrrreat to make connections with strangers.
After that I was a bike trail smiling-talking-greeting-blessing machine. We’ve also given away a few more toys (much to Hudson’s chagrin.) I would return from our runs feeling full, full of love, joy, and usually pee. I also noticed that Hudson had ceased to get pissed off half way through our jogs, it seems that the excitement of the varying interactions had worked to distract him from the fact that he was not able to sit and dig in the mud bordering the trail.
My resolve to be ‘little miss chipper lady with baby’ was occasionally tested when we would pass an ‘ignorer,’ but hey, maybe they were having a bad day. Although my ego would take a little bruising every time someone looked away as I would let out my over annunciated ‘Hi, good morning,’ I finally realized that it wasn’t personal. Or was it? No, I don’t think it was. Even if that person was, for some reason, peeved at me for smiling and speaking to them, I knew that I was just sending them some love, and I feel good about that.
These morning outings became my mediation on the goodness of humankind. I felt so much more connected to myself, my baby, and everyone else after getting over my shy ego, and becoming a connected being. This simple act of acknowledging other people on our runs spilled over into other parts of my life; it now takes me three hours to go grocery shopping because I stop smile, chat, and listen to my fellow shoppers (even if they’re not talking to me, eavesdropping can be highly entertaining.)
My Get Over Myself Checklist (Because every blog post needs a checklist right?)
-Meditate. Set a timer and meditate for 5 minutes every morning, clearing out any gunk of negativity that may prevent me from sending a bit more love out there.
-Smile. Smile at everyone, even that person that gave me the stink eye, smile even bigger at them. Smile at myself in the mirror, smile at my baby, even when he’s griping at me about my inability to properly toast toast (it’s always too crispy!)
-Let it go. If I’m thrown some negative energy, not so nice words, or a non-smile, I need to let it go. I’m still working on this one, but the times I am able to let negativity wick off me, I feel so much lighter. Why take on the weight of the negativity of others? That doesn’t serve them and it most certainly does not serve me. Let it go, because what’s the point of holding on to it?
-Listen. I’ve felt so much more connected to everyone and everything since I’ve begun to practice active listening. I never realized how vocal the crows outside out bedroom window were! I was never really listening. I never realized how interesting my friends and family are. I was always thinking about what I was going to say. I never realized how close my little 17-month-old love bug was to being a full-blown ‘talker.’ I was always talking back to him. Until now, I’m listening! Come and talk to me.
-Love. When it doubt, spread the love. When not in doubt, spread the love.
Here’s to making connections! (Even with grumpy people.)