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

Set Yourself Up for Success

The best way I’ve found to set up my day for success is found in my morning routine. After I make my coffee (first things first haha..), I think about the day ahead, what needs to be done when, and set my priorities.

I make a list of things and/or people I’m grateful for. This helps to keep me balanced and humble rather that resentful towards things I don’t have and people I don’t particularly care for.

I remind myself that things don’t always go as planned and tell myself to be ready to adapt to any changes that might arise.

I make sure I eat something. Healthy is best, but in a time crunch that’s not always an option. As long as I have something in my stomach to keep me from getting “hangry”, I can make it until I have time to prepare something better.

I get still and quiet, and practice deep breathing and meditation for 8 minutes, where I try to clear my mind and bring myself back to center. This was very difficult when I first started out. My mind would still be racing after the full 8 minutes, but after a lot of practice it got easier to calm my mind. If I don’t have time for the full 8 minutes I do less, but I do a minimum of 10 full deep breaths where I focus solely on my breath, the flow of air in and out. I find when I do this I have a much easier time with the things that go wrong during the day.

I also remind myself to pause if I become irritated. I remind myself that I can restart my day at any time. I try to work with things rather than against them. When I try to force my will upon situations rather than adapt to them it always leads to a bad day.

I remind myself to be kind to everyone even if I think they don’t deserve it. I remind myself to think of others and to be helpful rather than selfish and self-centered.

What can I do for others? What can I pack into the stream of life?

I look at where I went wrong the day before and try to take corrective measures to amend that behavior. This takes a lot of practice..

I remind myself that it’s ok to not be perfect. Not just for myself, but other people too. This also takes a lot of practice..

I don’t dwell on worry or remorse. When I do I’m not useful to others. I try to focus on the next indicated thing.

I remind myself to not dwell on fear but to direct my attention to love, tolerance, and acceptance.

When I do all these things I set myself up for success and even if my day doesn’t go as planned, it’s still a good day.

And lastly, I remind myself that a great attitude becomes a great mood. Which becomes a great day. Which becomes a great year. Which becomes a great life.

~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