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You Are Not What You Feel

Once upon a time, I feared and dreaded everything.  My school work, my work schedule, my living arrangements, my next meal, my lack of self love, my family, and my marriage. I just didn’t put a larger value on happiness then. It would have been nice just not to feel.

Every realm of my life was polluted with anxiety and anticipation. I never felt like I had a handle on anything. I was just subsisting, putting out fires, and living re-actively.Fiona and her princess shoes on Shalavee.com

With the discovery that I was in fact not made of what I felt, my journey to heal myself and find out who I am without all that mayhem has proven slow but positive. My days did not have to whirl off and away in a predictable storm of anxieties and fears. I was given permission to listen to and then refute the crazy shrieking voices known as Cognitive Distortions. I get to choose how I feel and thus how my day goes. And it’s been going pretty well and a lot better than even a year ago.

The process of being mindful of my emotions and wrong angled thoughts started by knowing that how I react to my thoughts is a choice. Sometimes thoughts want to dive and dodge off into directions that aren’t very nice. But when I read and understood that the bad feelings were being created by a short list of erroneous conclusions I was making about my life or what might happen, then I realized I could refute my conclusions. I could argue with the bad feelings and their validity.passed out in the car on Shalavee.com

I have the power and the possibility to redirect my thoughts and say that all of my days as a parent won’t be filled with a screaming misbehaving toddler, just some of them. Some of the others will find me enjoying her. Or I might think I’m never going to have enough money to feel secure and enjoy a lifestyle of comfort. And I may refute that with one day I will feel even better about my finances and I will continue to make plans towards that time and save for what I need.

The strongest most powerful tool we have is our power of suggestion. If I believe in something and it’s possibilities, I’ll be open for them to happen. And if I don’t, I won’t. I’m a really big fan of hope and happiness and want to hedge my bets at every curve. So here’s to turning the volume down on the voice of Disaster Sister in there and turning up the sound for the music and rhythm that is the dance of a happy life. I plan on stumbling but always keeping my eye on the choices and steps I’m choosing to take and how to feel about them.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Chaos Junkies Beware : Anxiety While Life’s Good

Last week was a mostly unstressful week. Sure there were one too many appointments to show up for, one of those running weeks I usually don’t like. But life was still good. And I found myself nibbling on my lip as I do when I’m nervous . My nervous habit, my tell of anxiety.

Don’t get me wrong, being a parent to a ten and a two-year old, soon to be eleven and three, is a stressful undertaking. Throw in some nasty hormonal fluxes and people in need of their daily constitutional and you’ve got some stress and poopy moods. But truly, it’s just life at that point.

So I brought this to my therapist and said, what’s up with this? She said when you have spent your whole life in anticipation of what’s next like the crisis and the struggle, you are so familiar with the chaos that the absence of it feels like a void you could fall into. I was nervous that there was nothing to be nervous about. tire swing and barefeet on Shalavee.com

Turns out, being anxious at the lack of anything to be anxious about is a “normal” thing for people who’ve grown up with constant chaos such as an addict in the house especially a parent. And fearing the calm is par to the course for lifelong chaos lovers who are trying to create less stressful lives for themselves and their children. Knowing that this is “normal” made me feel a little better as sharing is apt to do.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Janu-Wary

I was feeling the bliss, the rolling high on the “Ok-ness” from the holiday downtime until yesterday when suddenly I felt myself starting to knock all the happy little hope bubbles off the 2016 shelf where I’d so carefully placed them. Exactly 2 weeks in and suddenly there’s nothing new anymore about the year?!

I’ve read New Year’s posts galore and copious word of the year choices. And there were warnings to be careful about resolutions that would fail you as opposed to themes that could guide you. Or meditation that can ground you. Or just plain awareness of your choices to feel bad as opposed to good. Someone wise said beware when the newness wears off. Glad to have that warning because I think that just happened.Janu-wary on Shalavee.com

Suddenly I felt the old thought patterns knocking at the door. Familiar voices calling out to me about my not enoughness. Why don’t I have a clearly defined purpose and a twelve month plan on exactly how I’m going to carry that out ? Like that woman with the shiny blog and an online creative career? Surely if I could just choose to be impassioned by something, my life would completely change and fall right into place.

So off I go to the gym hoping for inspiration and a change in thoughts. I’m on the treadmill and I recognize the familiar devaluing myself based on others cognitive distortion going on. “Comparison is the thief of joy” I chant and “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides” came to mind. Comparison to others is unfair. No I may not know my complete “Why” but as long as I stay focused on gratitude and the creative work in front of me, I am so close, in the zone. Janu-wary on Shalavee.com

If that involves month-long collaborative projects, great! If I feel like I need to have weekly themes, great! But I do not have to be or do anything other than what makes me soulfully happy. That’s purpose enough. That’s really all I have time for besides the mothering of a toddler and a ten-year old and the maintenance of this household. Truly I am enough for just this realm of activities.

And then a friend/acquaintance comes over and scares the heck out of me, as my earphones were mighty loud. She wanted me to know that she’d read my blog post, something I’d written. She says I write really well. And I said “Thank you” and meant it. Thank you for the reminder Universe. My shelf of little hopes remains in tact.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Feeling My Phantom Worry Limb

This past year, I’ve become more aware of where my thoughts wander. And where they don’t wander anymore.

My improved self-awareness means I notice how my thoughts behave differently now than they did before all this hard self-work. I take notice of my options and choices when moments of decision bubble up to the surface of my everyday. This is the way I’m taking my power back against the anxieties I’ve had all my life. You know, the anxieties that ruled my every waking moment while I unconsciously allowed them to do so.Phantom worry limb post on Shalavee.com

Let me explain what I’m saying and how my life is different. During my days, as I try to accomplish the daily tasks of a Mom and a blogger/artist/writer, I’ll suddenly become aware that my anxiety is missing. I can hear how my previous thoughts would want to worry me about how and when everything will work out. With the what ifs and the myriad of possible outcomes. About my competency and about others’ thoughts about me. It’s like having a phantom worry limb. I recognize where it should be but it’s just not there. Now I choose to focus on doing the task at hand and completing it first. Instead of reliving the anxious mode which feels like I’m falling into a bottomless anxious pit, I’m choosing to keep my nose to the grindstone and am plowing through.

Being present and in the moment is the perfect foil to anxiety. That and being as proactive about everything as I possibly can. Planning and scheduling ahead helps immensely. Now there’s no procrastination being used to bring on anxiety. I often do things before they even get on a list.

Fear can not exist in the same place as gratitude. And as you are present to feel that gratitude, you will not be in the past or the future where that fear lurks.

Phantom worry limb post on Shalavee.com

In this way, I’m actually feeling better about my accomplishments as opposed to having my pride robbed or kept from me as I fret about an outcome which I’ll never be in control of. Now is the only time I’ll ever have. The best use of my time is to be willing to trust my decisions and to be here doing the best job I can and to be present for my children.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Cognitive Distortions

I may be on my sixth therapist but who’s counting. I love that light feeling I used to get when I was walking out of the office after the appointment. Like I’d just been too confessional. Thing always felt more hopeful, even if they really weren’t.

Late last year, my then therapy gal told me she’d gotten a job in the big city and we were breaking up. She was really sweet and I hated to see her go but I knew I’d been sliding and gliding with her. I had done my work but I knew there was bigger work to be done and I needed bigger guns to do it.

Enter my new therapist Kathleen who is keenly aware of what I need to do to move myself on. And she gave me some feedback this week that smarted. Because sometimes I need compliments and sometimes I need truth. And I need new materials to mentally devour that aid in my processing.hello kitty pool 2 on Shalavee.com

Seems strange but in all my reading and studying up on self-help stuff, I apparently never studied cognitive therapy. Quick summation of this technique/concept: If you’re depressed, it means you’re having sad thoughts. And these give you sad feelings. And more often than not, those first thoughts you had are based on some illogical distortions that you have used to process your life since forever. When the bad feelings “validate” the bad thoughts, you are full circle. Your original feeling must be truth. Makes sense in the moment.

What if the first thought includes an “always” statement or a “never” statement. Like “I always lose” and “I’ll never win”. These are probably not truths but there you go basing your feelings on that self-fed misinformation over and over and over. A pattern has formed in my life that has so ensconced “never” and “always”  in my psychic garden that I’m having a tough time pulling them out.

As outlined in David D. Burns, MD’s book Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy, there are 10 “cognitive distortions” us thinkers use regularly and I spoke about them in Summer’s Stutter Start. Like the 20 something fallacies I had to learn in my college Logic class, they’re like equations that once you’ve become familiar with them, you can recognize them again when they’re laid out. And you can either choose to believe them again or call them out for the phonies that they are.hello kitty pool 3 on Shalavee.com

My most popular distortion recently seems to be over-generalization where I see something bad happening and then assume it will always be like that. Three weeks ago, Fiona got sick. Her schedule was thrown off, she was clingy, waking up all night, and generally life wasn’t much fun. The next week, I believe she was getting her molars in. Another week of not quite rightness and I could only expect that the rest of my life with this child was going to ridiculously hard and exhausting.

Those thoughts stressed me out and my eye twitch returned for an encore jiggity-jig. And then the following week, she’s lovely. She’s talking and playing on her own and napping. And I think, “Hey wasn’t she supposed to be terrible for the rest of our lives? “. This isn’t the first time I’ve concluded another distortion called Catastophrization. Or how about The Fortune Teller Error as in “I can see that it will always turn out badly”. Why try right?

So here I am really starting to realize that my thought processes are a little hinky when my therapist, with mere seconds on the clock before her alarm sounds, gives me this :

I tend to look for things I know I’ll fall short on instead of giving myself credit for my accomplishments.

I had to write that one down. Then I felt sad. That seems like such a mean thing to do to somebody. If this was my daughter, wouldn’t I praise her efforts and her accomplishments? Wouldn’t I smooth over the crappy stuff and help her focus on the hopeful skill building fun future stuff? Yuck. hello kitty pool fun from Shalavee.com

From an article written by Alice Boyes, PhD on the Psychology Today blog, a little overview of Cognitive Distortions and

Overcoming Catastrophizing

– Mindful awareness –You have to catch yourself having cognitive distortions to be able to do anything about them,

– Consider Other Possible Outcomes
Consider positive predictions, neutral predictions, and mildly negative predictions, not just very negative predictions.

– Make a Distinction Between Significantly Unpleasant and Catastrophe
Key to overcoming catastrophizing is making a distinction between something being significantly unpleasant and it being a catastrophe. Failing an important exam would be extremely distressing but it does not doom the person to a life of failure.

– Increase your perception of your ability to cope.
If you believe you can cope with negative events, anxiety will be much less of a problem for you ”

That last one is about self-efficacy. I am in dour need of upping my self-efficacy. I’ll be studying my cheat sheet of cognitive distortions to help my mind learning along and shove the happy life hot air balloon higher up into the sky.

And for your clarity, you can contract with a therapist for a specific amount of time with certain goals in mind. They make an action plan or a “treatment plan” with an end date on it. My plans are to work on seeing my potential and build my esteem around my writing and blogging. I can imagine many people don’t want to start therapy because it seems endless. There is another way.Doable chunks.

Let me know what you think about any or all of this. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

If you can’t tell, I don’t mind talking honestly.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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