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

Meditation: A Tool for Better Health and Better Life

Meditation is an invaluable tool that has helped me in my journey to a better, healthier life. I haven’t mastered it and I hope I never do. For it’s the practice and learning process that keep me moving and growing.

Like a shower is for cleaning your body, meditation cleans the mind and soul. When I first sit down, getting still is the hardest part. My mind is still racing, full of different thoughts, things I need to do later, things I have done that bother me, things that make me happy, or sad. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, worry, regret, future plans, etc… All this stuff flying around in my head, in no particular order, makes it difficult, but not impossible, to calm my thoughts and feelings.

One thing I’ve come to realize is this: Feelings aren’t Facts.

Meditation helps me to sort out my feelings and thoughts, acknowledge them, learn from them, and let them go.

Carl Jung stated that “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”

I acknowledge my thoughts but I don’t dwell on them.

I start by getting into a comfortable position, usually lying flat on my back. I close my eyes and take 20-30 deep breaths breathing in through my nose, and out my mouth. When I first begin, it’s really hard to count. Sometimes I lose count and have to start over, depending on how much junk is flying around up there. Sometimes I imagine the numbers I am counting appear, and then slowly drift away and fade as I count.

Once I get to 30, I stop counting, but continue to breathe deeply. I think about a large piece of white paper. Whenever a different thought pops into my head, I go back to the white paper. Blank. I concentrate on my breathing. How it feels when the air goes in my nose and out my mouth. This process takes as long as it takes until I reach the point where I’m not concentrating so hard.

When junk thoughts enter my mind, another thing I’ll do is imagine those floating up and fading away, like clouds. It takes a lot of practice to get calm, but the end result is well worth the trouble. I come to, feeling refreshed, less stressed, and better equipped to handle life as it comes at me.

I’ll probably never get to the point where I can just turn stress off immediately, but it’s in the practicing where I find the real me and achieve personal growth.

 

~Thanks for reading
LC

 

 

Why I Keep My Trash Can Clean

Emotional garbage can fester and eventually stink up everything around it. Keeping spiritually fit and conducting a daily inventory of my actions, thoughts, and feelings every day is imperative to my overall happiness.

Much like the physical garbage can in my kitchen, my mind and body accumulate trash. Poor eating, poor thinking, and poor actions build up a kind of filmy layer of scum that is much easier to clean and sanitize than if it’s left to rot.

My daily inventory includes reflection and ideas for action. I identify the character defects in play and then look at the opposites.

Resentments, anger, jealousy, condescending thoughts and words, arrogance, hatred, fear, frustration, selfishness, hard-headedness, guilt, sarcasm, hurt pride… These are all things I need to be wary of because these are the things that run me off the rails and into a severe downward spiral if left unchecked.

What are the opposites of these?

Resentment :: Contentment, Happiness

I’ve discovered it is possible to choose joy, live in happiness, and to love and be loved.

Anger :: Calm

Deep breathing exercises and taking the time to re-center myself help with this. Anger and resentments are luxuries I can’t afford.

Jealousy:: Admiration

What can I learn from this person? What do they have I don’t? What is it about them I can emulate to improve myself ?

Condescend:: Respect

It’s important to show people respect even when I don’t like them. I can learn something from someone even if I don’t think they possess the same level of education or experience as I have. At the very least I can learn what not to do, and show them the same courtesy I would to those I actually do respect. Perhaps by setting a good example I’ll be able to be helpful to them

Arrogance :: Humility, Modesty

It helps me to remember we are all human and that mistakes will be made daily. No one is perfect, even me. First I have to learn to give myself a break. When I can forgive myself for my imperfections, it makes it easier to forgive others for theirs.

Hatred :: Love

I don’t have to like everyone, but I have to love them. My sanity and sense of well being depend on it. Hatred is a very heavy load to carry around all the time. It will wear me down in a very short time if I don’t keep it in check. It’s also a lot easier to hate than to love, which is why this is something that requires constant vigilance.

Fear :: Faith, Calmness, Confidence

I connect with my higher power on a daily basis. I ask for my fear to be removed and my attention directed to what it would have me be. I turn over my will to my higher power. When I try to force my will I become disconnected and the fear takes over. Being connected helps me stay calm knowing everything will happen the way it’s supposed to. Even if it’s not the way I think it should be, I have faith that there’s a reason for it.

Frustration :: Satisfaction

This goes hand in hand with fear. When progress is not being made the way I think it should be, I need to look at how I can be helpful instead of looking at how it should’ve gone. Criticizing something that is already done is not helpful and adds to the frustration. Having faith that things will work out in the end, even if it’s not the way I wanted it to go, helps me achieve the feeling of satisfaction.

Selfishness :: Generosity

‘Tis better to give than to receive. Getting what I want at the expense of others doesn’t make me feel good. Giving to others in need does. Generosity builds confidence, goodwill, and awareness of others. I am not in this world alone. We are all in this together. This is one of the best deodorizers for my “trash can”.

Hard-Headedness :: Realistic

I’ve learned that being right just for the sake of being right, isn’t right. It doesn’t make me feel good in the long run. It creates animosity and is generally unhelpful in every way. Its much more practical and realistic for me to collaborate and hear others thoughts and ideas.

Guilt :: Peace

What’s in the past is done. I can’t go back. I can only try my best to correct my past behavior. Only once I can forgive myself can I move forward.

Sarcasm :: Sincerity, Kindness

A first cousin of anger, sarcasm is the gateway into all the other defects. It’s a very quick way to begin the decomposition of garbage in my “trash can” and the smell, and consequences are horrendous. Before opening my mouth I try to remember to ask myself the following questions:

  1. Is it True?
  2. Is it Helpful?
  3. Is it Inspiring?
  4. Is it Necessary?
  5. Is it Kind?

This is known as the “THINK” method of speech. It has really been a game changer in my quest for self improvement.

Hurt Pride :: Let it go

As stated above, no one is perfect. The sooner I can get over myself, the sooner I can move on. Dwelling on the words and actions of others doesn’t do any good. Those are things I can’t control. Sulking leads me into that downward spiral that is very difficult to get out of. It’s better for me to laugh something off and learn from it than it is to fixate and worry.

Keeping my trash can clean every day helps me be better equipped to deal with life on life’s terms. Not mine.

Eating healthy foods and getting physical at least once a day are also important building blocks in my inner transformation.

When I put junk in my body, junk comes out of my mouth.

When I do something active every day, no matter how brief, I feel physically better and get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This carries over into my mood.

A great mood becomes a great day, which becomes a great year, which becomes a great life.

~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

Fear: What it Means to Me

“If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. If you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.” – Stephen Covey

 

When I was a little girl, I had no fear. I didn’t know anything about the consequences of my actions. When I failed, I tried again. I didn’t worry what other people thought. I was like a sponge, learning every day, making discoveries, making mistakes, and learning from them.

Think about it, when you’re a child learning to walk, you’re going to fall. That failure isn’t going to scare you into giving up You just do it again. And again, and again. You don’t worry about what other people think, you just keep doing it until you learn. It’s built in. You haven’t been taught fear yet.

As we grow older, fear begins to creep in. Outside influences slowly begin to mold our personalities and behaviors, and take a major role in how we formulate our opinions. We aren’t even aware this is happening.

We learn about worry.

We learn about responsibility.

We learn about consequences.

We develop habits. Some good, some bad.

We form relationships. Some good, some bad.

If you’re reading this, you probably got to a point in your life where you realized what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been living your life doesn’t feel right anymore.

You need something to change.

That’s what happened to me.

I drank so much my brain felt like mush.

I was overweight.

I could be really mean sometimes, even to the people I  love the most.

I had no drive, no ambition. I was stuck in a daily cycle that didn’t include anything related to self-development or self-improvement, only self-loathing and self-destruction.

I surrounded myself with like-minded people, and together we dwelt in our “happy” toxic world where we all  judged other people, hated those who were successful or physically fit, and anyone else who wasn’t as miserable as us. I acted as if I didn’t care what other people thought, but deep down I really did, and I hated myself for what I had become.

I had all these dreams and grand ideas but I never took any action, never had any follow through.

Never once did I ask a successful person how they did it. I just sat back and would growl to myself, “Must be nice..” Never once did I think about what it took for that person to be where they are today or how much work they must’ve put in to get there.

Fear had completely engulfed me and I either didn’t know it, or I just didn’t accept it and ignored it.

Fear had me in its mighty grip, grasping tighter every day.

Fear of financial problems.

Fear of my health.

Fear of disappointment.

Fear of acceptance.

Fear of life.

No fear of death, though. I had truly gotten to a place where I didn’t care if I lived or died.

 

Today I don’t let fear rule any aspect of my life.

I’m working on going back to that no fear mentality I had as a small child.

I’m comfortable with my body. It’s not picture-perfect, but I’m not overweight anymore.

I love learning new concepts and sharing what I’ve learned in the hopes of helping others achieve a better quality of life.

I’m not afraid of being wrong or failing anymore. I look at failure as an asset. Something to build on.

I don’t fear my financial situation anymore. It’s still not ideal but I’ve taken steps to educate myself on budgeting and saving for retirement. I’ve shifted my focus on what I can gain later rather than instant gratification.

I quit drinking and wasting time in a bar with the people I thought were my friends. They were really just acquaintances who had the same fears as me, and we just fed off of each other. We were in the same downward spiral pulling each other further and further down.

Turns out, they don’t even miss me. No one from that part of my life ever calls me to ask where I am. They don’t care.

I’ve started forming more healthy relationships with people who have what I want out of life. People who pick each other up instead of judging and putting people down.

I’ve traded negativity for positivity.

I read every day instead of watching TV.

I exercise every day.

I research every day.

I write and brainstorm every day.

I learn every day.

I improve just a little bit every day, and since I’ve made that change, my life has improved immeasurably!

I’m not afraid to try new things, I’m not afraid of change. Change is inevitable. Now that I’ve gotten more comfortable with the concept of change, I no longer fear it.

Change for the better is a good thing, and change for the worse is a learning experience. Which is a good thing.

In order to change your life you have to change your paradigms. In order to change your paradigms, you have to change your attitude.

I’ve found that it’s much easier and more efficient to change myself than it is to change everyone and everything around me, to suit me.

To have a better life, it takes work. But it’s totally worth it!

Don’t give in to fear.

Take action! Change your inner circle of friends if you need to. Nothing is more important than your personal well being. Because without that, you can’t be helpful to anyone else.

 

Thanks for reading ~ LC

 

Willingness

Lack of willingness held me back for so long I really don’t know how I made it this far. I always had to have my way in order to be happy, and I didn’t know how to live life on life’s terms. I had to live life on my terms. I didn’t know there was any other way. I wasted so much of my life trying to manipulate people and situations to suit my own agenda. I was constantly struggling and fighting against the flow instead of working with it.

I just wasn’t willing to do the right thing. I wasn’t willing to be helpful to others. I wasn’t willing to do what it would’ve taken to make my life better because I thought it would be easier to try and change everyone and everything else.

I was dead wrong.

After becoming so sick and tired of being frustrated and angry all the time, somehow I finally managed to find the willingness to begin to transform my sick and selfish mind. I became willing to live in joy, to love and be loved. I became willing to let people in and to let people help me. I didn’t fight anymore. I became willing to take suggestions. I became willing to take into account other people’s points of view.

I became willing to do the work it was going to take to turn my life around. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been well worth it. And even though it hasn’t been easy, it’s been a whole lot easier than trying to fight and manipulate and argue my way through.

Before I could change my mindset, I had to become willing to change. I had to be willing to be honest with myself and others.

I had to become willing to do things I didn’t really want to do, but that I knew would good in the long run. I had to be willing to stop taking the easy way out to have things become easier in the long run.

I had to experience a lot of pain to get to the point of becoming willing. I caused a lot of pain too, and now I am willing to make amends for it.

I don’t know where I’d be right now if I hadn’t found the willingness to change, but I know it would be in a much darker, worse place than I am right now.

 

~Thanks for reading – LC

 

 

Fake It ’til You Make It

black and white person feeling smiling
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Back when I drank a lot I had trouble focusing and being completely mentally present at any given moment. I didn’t have the willingness to do the work it would’ve taken to turn my life around. I wanted my life to be better, but I wanted it to just happen, with no effort whatsoever on my part. I had no interest on living my life on life’s terms. I wanted to live on my terms. Life had other ideas…

My life had to get completely unmanageable for me to finally get the willingness I needed to even begin the process of working toward my goals. Once I got the willingness, I started acting “as if”. I began looking at my life “as if” it were already better and I began acting “as if” I really wanted to do the work even though deep down I still didn’t.

I learned in AA that if I brought my body, my head would soon follow. So I started going through the motions until my actual state of mind caught up with my new approach on life.

This was a slow but steady process, and it worked! My life has improved immensely since I started the simple process of acting “as if”. I just focus on doing the next right thing and I try to improve myself just a little bit every day.

I’ve been able to apply this technique in other areas of my life as well. I’m able to adapt to sticky situations much easier now.

Now, if there’s something I don’t particularly want to do, I fake it ’til I make it!

~Thanks for reading – LC

Feel Good, Look Good = Look Good Feel Good

silhouette photography of people near body of water
Photo by Bithin raj on Pexels.com

When I look good, I feel good. The reverse is also true. There have been many days where I know I didn’t look my best, but I felt good and it showed. Other people could see it and remarked how good I looked. I thought, “Really? I haven’t showered and I’m still in my grubby work clothes.” People notice.

On days where I don’t particularly feel good, (like when I’m stressed out, frustrated, and feeling resentful towards everyone and everything) but I manage to take the time to make myself presentable and look good, that shows too! And when I look good, it helps to make me feel better too.

The best way I’ve found, for me, to look good and feel good is to work it from the inside out. If you put a bunch of junk in your body, then junk is what’s going to come out. Same theory applies to what you put in your head. Aside from the occasional treats I allow myself, I eat healthy, whole foods. Not fast food or any pre-made microwavable stuff with ingredients I can’t pronounce.

I like to make large batches of food ahead of time to keep in the freezer so I can have something good when I’m in a hurry. I split it into smaller portions so I can pull out a little bit at a time.

==>Recipes

A good nights sleep is key to me looking and feeling good the next day. I organize my clothes I’m going to wear the next day as well as my thoughts. I have a plan in mind for the morning so I’m not scrambling around, grabbing whatever is convenient to eat and trying to rush out the door barely in time for work.

I do something good for myself first thing. I can’t be helpful to anyone else if I don’t first take good care of myself. And when I take care of myself on the inside, I can be fully present and more helpful to others. And being helpful to others also helps me feel better!

I take deep breaths and meditate while moving my body in a fluid motion trying to become one with the universe. Ebb and flow. I do some light yoga stretches. All this gets my blood flowing to my brain waking me up and clearing out any junk thoughts that might be floating around in there.

All these things make me feel good on the inside. I think of it as building layers, kind of like an onion, from the inside out..  When I feel good on the inside, it’s easier to look good on the outside!

Then I get myself ready on the outside.

I brush my teeth, do my hair, clean up and put my fresh face to the world. I put on clean clothes. I smile at myself in the mirror and tell myself “It’s going to be a great day!” (Even if I really think it won’t, I say it anyway. I fake it til I make it..)

When I leave the house feeling and looking good, inside and out, the world knows it, and I am better able to practice kindness to both myself and others, which ultimately benefits me in the long run!

I’m also particular about what I feed my mind. I rarely watch TV because it’s mostly junk. I prefer to read. And mostly what I read is uplifting and motivating. I try to build layers of good from the inside out. It’s helped me become a more helpful, productive, and positive person.

And I feel great!

~Thanks for reading – LC