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Mindfulness

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

I Have a Hangover.

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I love this title because luckily I’m not sitting on the couch, curled in a ball with a tall glass of OJ and an Aspirin.

I have a different kind of hangover.

An expectation hangover doesn’t begin with any Cranberry Vodkas and Champagne. It begins with tiny seed thoughts planted into your mind.

I first read about this concept in one of my favorite books, The Twenty-Something Manifesto.

It’s when you live your entire life thinking you need to follow a certain path because, well, it’s what everyone else is doing.

And then one day it hits you. These aren’t your expectations! This isn’t what you wanted at all. Yet here you are, basking in them, finally having that college degree/house/job you THOUGHT you always wanted, somehow feeling a pit of emptiness lingering.

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It hurts. It’s confusing, and your head is spinning with possibility. If this wasn’t your path, what is? You think, “How can I be (insert age here) and still not have it figured out?”

You stumble on this hangover, so you try explaining it to a friend.

“I think I’m meant to do something more with my life. I think there’s something else out there for me.”

She squints at you as if you’ve just grown an additional head, but manages to spurt out something kind-hearted. “Well, what is it you want to do?”

“Um. I’m not sure exactly. Maybe something with children, or writing. Or maybe lobbying? Maybe a non-profit. Yeah. You’re right. This is weird. I have no idea what I’m saying. Nevermind.”

I’ve been lost in this expectation hangover for a while now, but The Universe has given me an amazing gift.

The Universe has connected me with new friends, old friends, and random acquaintances who aren’t following those rules. I’m meeting people like me who understand exactly what I mean when I say everyday life isn’t for me.

Tonight, through a series of coincidences, I reconnected with a friend from High School who recently spent 6 months in Africa. She and I sat in the booth of my local coffee shop, something I’ve done every day since I was in the tenth grade.

Here I was, in that same booth, listening to her tell stories of a place and an experience I couldn’t begin to visualize.

Surrounded by my comforts, I suddenly felt the thrill of the same possibility that terrified me before.

I told her about my expectation hangover, and her eyes said she knew what I was talking about.

She followed with one piece of advice.

Jump into something you love, do it with passion, and wherever that takes you is where you should be.

 

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

Can You Show Your Vulnerable Side? Take the Quiz.

I used to love taking these quizzes in my magazines. Here’s one we can all relate to: Vulnerability. It sounds scary- but it’s actually something to aspire for. No one can relate to perfection. Vulnerability allows you to be true, to be real, to have faith, and to be fearful in a healthy way. How do you deal with vulnerability? Take the quiz to find out.

1. Your boss asks you to give a speech in front of a crowd of people about a topic you feel passionately about. Do you…

a. Lie and say, “I can’t. I have to have major dental work that day. I made the appointment months ago.”
b. Think about it for a minute, but decide it’s really not in your comfort zone. Talk about all the ways you will help with the presentation without speaking.
c. Take a deep breath and commit to giving your all to the speech. You’ll take it as an opportunity for growth and development.
2. A coworker of yours admits she’s been having a really rough time with her relationship. You think you know exactly what she could do to work on the problem. Do you…
a. Tell her all about how your relationships have been good because you’ve been so committed to working hard.
b. Share your own story of relationship ups and downs, trying to make a connection with her and help her feel better about her situation. Passionately give her the advice and find yourself a little annoyed if she chooses not to follow it.
c. Validate her feelings, tell her you can relate to her troubles (without going into detail), and ask what would be the best way for you to support her.
3. You get an invitation to a dinner party you’d love to go to, but you won’t know anyone there except the hostess. Do you…
a. Make an excuse that’s so convincing you even believe yourself.
b. Apologize and admit you’re uncomfortable going because you don’t know many people. You suggest maybe she could stick by you at the party? Or you could bring a friend?
c. Push through your uncomfort, put on your most fabulous dress, and promise yourself you will talk to at least two new people. After all, aren’t we all just always in the same boat?
 
4. You’ve been struggling with an issue you’re dying to get an outside opinion about. Do you…
a. Turn to the next person who’ll lend an ear so you will feel better immediately.
b. Talk to the friend you know will tell you exactly what will make you feel better, even if she hasn’t been all that trustworthy in the past.
c. Express your feelings to one of your most trusted friends, asking her to please just let you bounce your thoughts off of her. You’ll simply need her support.
5. You’re just beginning a new relationship. Things are going really well, and you want to introduce him to your family, but you’re not sure if he’s feeling as committed as you are. Do you…
a. Forget it. You’d rather not ruin a good thing.
b. Try to convince him it’s not a big deal to meet the family so he will go without feeling too overwhelmed.
c. Ask him if he would be comfortable involving your families in your relationship. Keep an open mind to his thoughts, and let your faith take over your fears.
Ok. Are you ready for your HONEST score? 
Mostly A’s: You’re an avoider. You hate the feelings of fear and vulnerability, and you’d rather escape unharmed. You’re an avid excuse-maker, and you’re content to miss out on opportunities for happiness and growth in the name of feeling comfortable. Sorry to break it to you, but the best medicine for you will be to face those fears.
Mostly B’s: You’re a bit of a controller. You’d like to change and manipulate situations to best fit how you pictured them. You are comfortable in a low-risk environment. You’d rather not throw caution to the wind, even if it means your opportunities are stiffled.
Mostly C’s: You’re vulnerable. People can connect with you. Friends like how relatable and humble you are. You may be afraid, but you go for it anyway. You’ve embraced the unknown and left everything up to faith. You’re trusting that every life event is part of your journey. You’re not afraid to let your truth be known.

*Oh, and by the way, I’m not claiming perfection here. I’m a former Type A Avoider with Mostly B Controlling tendencies and always struggling and working toward a Type C. Can you relate?

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

The One Time You’re Not Responsible

This is somewhat of a Note to Self. I’m always feeling guilty or nervous about how someone might feel because of something I say or do. I wonder about what they’ll think of me, how they’ll react, and I am hyper-sensitive to how people will feel.

But I think I need to realize something. I don’t control the feelings of others. I don’t even control my own feelings! It’s kind of egotistical of me to think I have that power.

On top of that, I’m not responsible for their feelings. If they’re upset with something I’ve done, if they think I’m acting like a total jerk, and even if they CRY because of something I said, it’s still not my responsibility.

People need to deal with their emotions, and I can’t protect them from that by dancing around issues, avoiding them or by sugar-coating every little thing until it is so sweet I’m not even telling my truth anymore.

Let’s put our truth out there and let the world respond how they will. One thing’s for sure. Whatever it is, they’ll get over it.

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

Random Mantras on a Wednesday Morning

I had some random thoughts I wanted to keep in mind these days…so here are my little mantras.

1. No matter how much worrying, planning, and avoiding I do, I can’t control the outcome, so I should really not bother trying. Life is meant to be unpredictable.

2. Because of this, I will make my decisions based on what is best for right now, not for the future. I will try to be mindful of the fact that as long as it’s right for now, it will be right for the future as well. I need to trust the path I’m on.

3. I will remain in the present rather than in the past or in the future, taking each moment in and enjoying it or just feeling it for what it is, even if it is painful.

4. I will stop judging myself, comparing my life to others, and picking apart my flaws. Perfection doesn’t exist in me or in anyone else, and that’s Ok. Stop expecting it.

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

A Note About Excuses

I had so much going on yesterday…

I have an apointment…

I don’t feel well…

I’ve been so busy with work/school/fill in the blank…

I’m guilty of using all of these along with just about all of the excuses I can possibly think of. I actually take pleasure in having a real, fact-based excuse vs. a flat-out fib. (Please tell me you can relate.) I’m even guilty of (falsely!) blaming my pets and family members for my faults!
As I was trying to think up a creative excuse I hadn’t used yet to explain off another short coming, I came up with a brilliant idea.

What if I just skip the excuse and apologize for what I’ve done? You know, take some ownership? And I don’t even want to promise to make a change unless I really intend to, or that just adds to the lying trend I have going on.

After all, excuses really serve only to make us feel a little better about something we didn’t put our full effort into.

What if, even for a week, we tried skipping the excuses? Just apologize and omit the reasoning behind it. Simple.

I bet the person on the recieving end will appreciate not having to roll their eyes at what they know very well is just another awkward, lame excuse.

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

Reminder: Don’t Procrastinate.

This isn’t going to be super philosophical or anything. It’s not going to be a huge lightbulb moment where you realize something you had never thought of before.

It’s really just a reminder.

Since I’m a teacher, this comes at an especially important time. It’s September, and school is starting up again. I just wanted to remind myself not to procrastinate.

Don’t put it off, don’t avoid it, don’t throw it in a pile off to the side. As soon as a task comes your way, just bite the bullet and get it done. If you can’t get it done in the next five minutes, put it in a folder labeled “To Do This Week” or “To Do Today”. But, if you can do it in the next five minutes, just DO IT! Remember the reward will be deleting it from your e-mail account, crossing it off your list, or just getting it out of your already-full mind.

Life Lessons in Fear Fighting Mindfulness

Lists and Dreaming

I admit it… I’m a total list person. I write everything down to get it out of my head and down on paper. Without lists, I’d probably be more lost than I already am. And, of course, I always manage to lose said lists. 🙂

I’m also a sucker for journals, but I love them so much… I have 10 going at once. I managed to keep one for a few months, but I left it up at camp- so I’m forced to start over again. Guess this means a trip to Barnes and Noble is in order! (I have to pick up and feel every stinkin’ journal before I can decide on one. If you’re a journal person, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. To normal people, I’m just talking some kind of crazy right now.)

In the meantime, I tried looking for a digital solution. I definitely don’t like digital list-taking or journaling as much, but if I can keep my lists in my beloved cell phone, I’ll never lose them.

This search led me to Evernote. It’s a free App that will store all of your lists, notes, journal entries, etc. I was reading about it online, and apparently it’s the Adobe Photoshop of note taking. (i.e. You can do all sorts of cool things with it, but you’ll never really understand it until you buy some sort of manual.)

The best part is you can take photos of the lists you make on little sheets of paper, and it will store those as notes too. The Internet also told me it can clip websites and e-mails to organize into your Evernote notebooks- I’ll have to figure out how to do that.

Ok…off on a tangent about Evernote- now back to the list thing. I have a friend who is all about Dream Boards and Inspiration Boards. I feel like this goes along with list-keeping and journaling because it forces you to focus on short-term goals and long-term goals.

Something about writing your goals down really makes it concrete. It forces you to think about them. If I put them in the front of my mind, maybe I’ll remember to work toward them.

So, I set off to make my Dream Board. I took a picture of it with Evernote just so I could carry it around with me…and not lose it!

It doesn’t have to be fancy,  but it could be! You could just jot it down on the back of a paper bag like I did, or you could get out your scissors and glue & cut pictures from magazines.

I’m going to create 3 Pinterest Boards for each section of my Dream Board. I’ll fill it with feel-good photos and tips to make my goals more attainable, or at least prettier and more inspirational.

What will you put on your Dream Board? Get out a piece of paper or a dry erase board and start writing! You’ll feel accomplished, you’ll feel philosophic, and maybe you’ll make a step toward some of them. Whatever you do, don’t lose your list!