The Power of “The Pause”

Somewhere in my recovery I learned about a powerful tool that I like to call The Pause. I figured out, with some help, that I didn’t always need to reply with a quick snarky answer, or any answer at all in some cases. The Pause has kept me out of a lot of trouble since I started using it…

The trouble with it is actually remembering to use it. In the heat of the moment it’s easy for me to just blurt something out that may or may not be helpful or kind. I keep practicing though, pausing before I speak or act out, and it is now becoming almost second nature.

I try to ask myself and answer the 3 questions guaranteed to keep me in line:

1. Does it need to be said?

2. Does it need to be said now?

3. Does it need to be said by me?

When I’m irritated at a person or situation, the answer to all three of these questions is usually “no.” I can save myself a lot of grief later by utilizing The Pause and keeping my mouth shut now. The same principle can be applied to actions, not just words.

Another helpful set of questions I can ask myself before speaking that has been shared with me is T.H.I.N.K.

1. Is it True?

2. Is it Helpful?

3. Is it Inspiring?

4. Is it Necessary?

5. Is it Kind?

Practicing The Pause has helped make me a better person, and happier as well. It has enabled me to open my mind to other ideas because I’m not using my brain to quickly come up with a quick retort or snappy comeback.

The Pause has been an essential tool in my spiritual toolkit. It has saved me from having to make thousands of apologies and amends for my words and actions, and I’m sure it can do the same for you.

Just practice.

~Thanks for reading
LC

Anger is a Luxury I Can’t Afford

Time is money.

When I think of all the time I’ve wasted over the years being angry at people and situations, I get even angrier. I’ve literally wasted several hours in a day many times just sitting and fuming over things I’m mad about.

Is it productive? No.

Is it helpful? No.

Does it make me feel better? No.

Does it make my life better? No.

Is it justified? Yes!! No.

I can’t control how other people act but I can control how much space they take up in my head and my own actions. Anger, to me, is related to fear. Many times when I’m angry, it’s usually because something didn’t go my way, which plays into my fears.

Fear of rejection or failure. Fear of things not working out. Ego, jealousy,  worry, the list could go on…

Anger takes a lot of time. Wouldn’t my time be better spent thinking about things I’m grateful for and people I love?

Acceptance and the ability to move on, and not let people live rent free in my head for too long, are paramount to my recovery and personal growth. I can guarantee you the people I’m angry with usually have no idea just how much power they have over me and how I spend my time obsessing over them. And I can guarantee they are not wasting their valuable time thinking about me.

So why do I do it? Why do I waste my time obsessing over people and things I have no control over? When there is an assault on my sense of self (ego), it affects my self esteem, which can send me into a downward spiral of self pity and self degradation. In this spiral, I get to control what is said about me, and I get to control the outcome in my own head, even if it isn’t even true or even possible.

I can also turn it around.. I can choose to accept the reality of my anger, adapt to it, and acknowledge it from a more practical point of view. A viewpoint that is not self-centered.

I can remember the serenity prayer:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

These days, as the result of LOTS of practice, I’m much more aware of when I begin that downward spiral and I know how to take action to reverse it as soon as possible.

I don’t have time for anger. I choose to be grateful for what I do have.

I choose health and happiness.

 

~Thanks for reading
LC

Am I Still Learning?

I remember back when I knew everything. It actually wasn’t all that long ago…

I didn’t need to listen to anyone because I had all the answers. When I asked you a question I already knew the answer, I just wanted to see if you would lie to me.

I had a closed mind and there was nothing anyone could tell me that would, or could, change my mind.

Because I was right and I knew everything.

It turned out, much to my surprise, that I in fact did NOT have all the answers. That there actually were people out there who knew more than me. This realization made me feel like a fool.

I was worthless and stupid. The most worthless and the most stupid person on the planet. Of all time, living or dead. There was no one worse than me.

My ego had me thinking I was all or nothing. Never in the middle.

I was at the end of my journey. I had stopped learning. I had hit my bottom.

The good thing about hitting bottom is, there’s nowhere to go but up. Or die. I was so convinced I was so worthless that I couldn’t even possibly get suicide right so I chose to go up.

I chose life.

I chose to listen rather than speak.

I chose to open my mind.

I chose to learn all I could about how to improve my life.

And then I took action.

Every day I choose to expand my mind and explore views other than my own. I choose to be a worker among workers and a friend among friends rather than let my ego dictate that I should be at the top of the heap. Because I know that will just end up with me feeling like I’m at the bottom. Under the heap.

I choose learning over fear of the unknown. I accept and adapt to situations rather than force my will.

I choose joy and happiness over fear and anger. I choose gratitude over resentment.

What will I learn tomorrow?

~Thanks for reading
LC

Bad Luck is a by-product of Bad Habits

Bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to form. At least this has been my experience…

Sometimes I get so busy and so overwhelmed I forget to do certain things that help get me set up for success in any given day.

My number one problem is starting out the day with a bad attitude, but if I do certain things when I wake up to set my attitude right for the day, my day goes so much better, even when things don’t go my way, or as planned.

*A great attitude becomes a great day, which becomes a great year, which becomes a great life.

Not sure where that quote came from but I read it daily as part of my morning routine to help set my mind right for the upcoming unknown.

Back when I was drinking heavily and hating everything and everyone around me, I had a lot of bad luck.

Because I didn’t write things down in my calendar, I would miss appointments for things that would help me.

Because I constantly fought the flow of life instead of going with it, I would become increasingly, and visually, frustrated and people didn’t want to be around me.

Because I wasn’t interested in anyone but myself I didn’t have anyone to go to when things got really bad. The only place I had to go was into my own head (which I discovered later is a very dangerous place for me to be).

Things would never go my way and life got really hard.  I lost jobs. I lost friends. I lost my will to live. I was never helpful to anyone else because I was obsessed with myself. I would run out of gas and have to walk because I wouldn’t get gas when I could. It was hard to get a job because I had a bad reputation. I would eat unhealthy food that made me feel like crap.

And none of this was ever MY fault…

I knew I had to make a change or I would be miserable until I died and I didn’t want that.

I started researching ways to improve my life and how to change bad habits. Just about everything I read said to quit drinking so I did. I also read a lot about having an attitude of gratitude and began writing 6-10 things every day that I’m grateful for. This practice has helped me immeasurably. I can be grateful for my job now even when I have a bad day there. And bad days get fewer and farther between.

Here’s what I do daily to get my head screwed on right:

  1. Practice gratitude:  I make a quick list of things I’m grateful for. I try to always include a few things that I sometimes take for granted that I don’t always think about every day. For example a reliable vehicle and power, water, and gas. I also include people, like my husband who puts up with my crap, real friends, and great co-workers who push me to be better.
  2. Plan my Day:   I sit down with my calendar and go over places I need to be at what time, and tasks that need to be done. Then I figure out what order to do everything in. This includes making time to do something that puts me closer to my long-term goals, to improve myself just a little bit every day.
  3. I ask my higher power for help:  I ask for help to keep my thoughts away from self-pity and self seeking motives. I ask for insight about any problems that may arise. I ask to remember to pause if I get upset instead of reacting immediately. I ask for guidance on how I can be helpful to to others and how I can pack as much as possible into the stream of life. I ask to be helped to be kind and loving to everyone I come in contact with.
  4. End of Day:  I review my day to see what went well and what didn’t. I take a moment to enjoy the good parts, and I think about solutions to the bad parts. If I owe an apology I do it as soon as possible. I ask for my fear to be removed and for help being better the next day.

 

The mind is a powerful thing. It can make or break a person. People consumed with negativity always have a bad day, no matter how well it’s going.

I don’t hang out with negative people anymore. They brought me down. I keep them at arm’s length now. My serenity depends on it. I’ve seen a positive person have a worse day than a negative person and end their day in a much better place. Those are the people I want to be around these days.

I don’t play the victim. I look for a solution.

I don’t look for sympathy. I help someone else out instead.

I try to be the listener, not the talker.

I try to be the giver, not the taker.

I know the rewards will come soon enough. If I can achieve peace within myself, I will never have a bad day.

I try not to put things off. Why put off til tomorrow what I can do today? I try to stay ahead of the game. I enjoy my down time so much more when I’m not worried about what I have to do later.

I’m not the person who complains and tries to make everyone as miserable as I am. I’m the one who lifts morale.

I don’t believe in luck anymore. I believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t  have to know what the reason is either. I just know that when I do these certain things, my days go better and my life improves a little bit more every day.

I do this, and good things happen to me.

 

“You can’t fully commit to your personal growth if you’re still committed to your bullshit.”  ~ Neghar Fonooni

~Thanks for reading – LC

Meditation and Breathing Practices

silhouette of women on lake against sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Meditation and breathing practices are a good way to begin building your awareness of the body and mind to begin the transformation into a healthier, more positive you. Focusing on breathing helps you be in the present as opposed to dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future.

Mind/Body Connection

Interconnected and interrelated are the heart, mind, and instincts. I know when I get stressed my body gets tense and I’m uncomfortable, disturbed. This then sets off a chain reaction that finally culminates in bad eating habits, frustration, and bursts of anger. Once I realize this is happening, I focus on my breathing, my heart lightens, and I begin to relax a little.

Our breathing is connected to our emotions. We breathe differently when we become emotional. Once you become aware of your breathing, you can better control your emotions.

Being aware of my breathing is what helps me successfully make it through my day. It’s something I have to practice daily. When I practice relaxation and breathing it eventually becomes second nature. Bring the body and the mind will follow. I believe the opposite to be true as well. Since they are related, it would only make sense that if you bring presence of mind, the body will follow, too.

Healthy mind, healthy body = healthy body, healthy mind. Just work on whichever part is easiest, and with enough devotion the rest will fall in line.

 

Breathing Practices

Why practice breathing?

  • Clear the mind
  • Distracting thoughts subside
  • Experience inner peace and relaxation
  • Feel refreshed

So much of our stress and tension comes from the mind. When the mind stills, happiness and contentment arises.

The benefits of practicing breathing can ultimately be one of the greatest things you can do for your body, soul, and peace of mind. We can connect to our emotions through our breath. Since our emotions make us breathe differently it makes sense that we could control our emotions through breathing.

To elevate your presence of mind, become fully aware, and engage in the present moment, I practice regulating my breath. This helps me be present, or, “all the way there” when dealing with other people and situations in which I need to a part of. I’m easily distracted and my mind wanders a lot, which makes it difficult for me to engage in the present moment. Once my mind is right, my body soon follows. I’m then able to be of maximum service and fully present.

For more information on different types of breathing practices check out:

Breathing Practices and Pranayama in Yoga

and

6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less“.

 

Meditation

Why meditate?

  • To learn how to calm yourself when difficult situations arise
  • To achieve mental calm and peacefulness
  • To overcome external circumstances that distract from a feeling of “undisturbed”
  • Mental balance
  • Ability to control your mind

I’ve found, for me, the simplest and safest way to achieve balance in both my emotional and physical states, is through meditation, not medication. I don’t like pills and I don’t think it’s right for me to have to depend on them for my sense of well being.

My mental state has dramatically improved since I began practicing meditation and breathing exercises. It helps me to get my mind prepared and ready to tackle the day, and to be able to deal with any irritations that happen on a daily basis.

I highly recommend practicing meditation for at least 8 minutes a day for a life that knows peace and comprehends serenity. For more information, check out this article about the positive effects of meditation.

Take care of yourself and respect yourself. Give yourself every advantage you possibly can. It’s a scary world out there but it doesn’t have to get you down! Stay positive and invest in yourself!

 

~Thanks for reading – LC