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The Simplest Things Are The Most Profound

Photo courtesy of Dave Hoffmaster

A sunrise or a sunset.  Happens every day, doesn’t it?  And until we really notice and become aware of that sunrise or sunset, it just seems like such a simple, almost mundane thing.  The sun comes up.  The sun goes down.  The sun comes up.  The sun goes down…

But, what majesty!  What beauty!  How amazing what is occurring with our earth for us to experience something so seemingly simple, yet something so profound!

The same is true of our daily lives.

The simplest things are the most profound.

Take something like brushing your teeth.  You probably don’t think too much about it anymore; you just do it.  But what if you stopped doing it?  I would venture to say that, first of all, you would develop some rather foul-smelling breath as the bacteria took hold in your mouth…  Secondly, as the bacteria took hold, it would begin to create holes in your teeth.  Eventually, you wouldn’t have any teeth to chew your food with, would you?  Or not any teeth in very good condition anyway.  Brushing your teeth is a very simple thing that, when done, seems like nothing, but when not done creates all kinds of problems!

The simplest things are the most profound.

This applies to your thinking as well.  Let’s look at how you think about yourself and your capability.

You go through your days and most likely look like you’re capable and taking care of things.  And you ARE in many, if not most, situations.  But who knows why there are some areas that make your knees weak or fill you with dread?  Some unconscious belief lurking beneath the depths?  Perhaps.  Some fear of failing in some way?  Perhaps.  Some fear of succeeding in some way?  Also quite possible.

But, no matter.  It might be helpful to explore those issues in therapy or even in journaling, but often they are best addressed by taking some action.  However, take action with support so you don’t panic or procrastinate or sabotage yourself!  Sometimes you keep procrastinating because of the cognitive dissonance between how easy the task appears to be but how frightened you feel to proceed, for whatever the reason!  If you don’t appreciate your fear or if you minimize how hard or scary something really is for you, then you will keep wondering why you’re not making progress!

If you tell yourself, “This is really easy!” but you’re not moving on it, you eventually give yourself a lot of grief and judge yourself negatively!

IF, however, you are able to back off and give yourself a bit of acceptance and compassion, you can say something like, “Wow, it really scares me to make this phone call.”  However, do not add, “Gee, I must be really stupid, incompetent…” or some version of that!  The more you can identify when you are scared and offer yourself some compassion and support, the more you stand a chance to make some progress!  The hardest part is stopping your critic.  And actually, you want to notice your critic, to notice when you hear yourself say, “Gee, I must be really stupid, incompetent..” and respond to that critic with some facts!

It can help to remember that the critic is functioning from the limbic portion of your brain, which is the emotional part.  You want to respond from the rational, reasoning, frontal cortex part of your brain with something like, “That’s not true.  For some reason, I’m scared.  Being scared just means that I need some reassurance or support, not that I’m stupid or incompetent.”  It seems so simple that it is hard to believe that it is so powerful!

The simplest things are the most profound.

Here are the steps.

1) Decide that you would like to become more accurate in the way you you think about yourself.

2) Pay attention to what you’re thinking about yourself when a difficult or challenging situation arises.  Most of us have room for improvement in this area!                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

3) Say, “Stop!” if you find yourself making negative judgments about yourself and the way you’re handling this difficult situation.

4) Respond to this negative judgment as if you are defending your best friend or a young child you love.  You deserve that same kind of compassion and tenderness!  It’s not necessary to make up stuff.  Just be truthful.  You can say something like, “No, you’re not stupid (or lazy or worthless, etc.); you’re just learning how to do this (or, “You’re just in need of some time to relax,” or “You’ve just had a really overwhelming, busy week!”)

5) Watch yourself relax a little.  Compassion has a way of making it a little easier to breathe.  Even if this practice seems silly or awkward at first, press on!  It’s probably unfamiliar because you’re new at it!

The simplest things are the most profound.

Give yourself credit for being willing to try out something new, something simple that can indeed make a profound difference in your life!

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.  Here are the ways you can do that.

1) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

2) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

3) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

You Are Amazing!

You are AMAZING.

Truly, you ARE!  However, if “I’m not that bad” is as much as you can manage right now, please stop for a moment and find a statement that does not have a “not” in it.  Our brains disregard those negatives and tend to focus on the rest of the sentence.  Hence, “I’m that bad” is how your brain is translating it for you.  Perhaps not what you meant to say though…

Now, if you can say that with the positive twist it can have (“bad” meaning awesome…), then GO for it!  However, if it feels negative for you, then by all means, please change it to something like “I’m OK.”  Or “I’m doing the best I can.” Or some such phrase, OK?

Even better, however,

TRY “I am amazing!”

1) Get out a sheet of paper and write down “I am amazing” on the first line.

2) Then, have a dialogue with it.  What’s your FIRST response?  The FIRST thing you hear in your head?  Write down that response.  If it’s not, “I know!” then it might be something like, “No I’m not” or “That’s not true” or whatever.  Write it down.

3) THEN write “I am amazing” again.

4) And write down your response.  Could be the same thing.  Could be something different.  Doesn’t matter.  Write it down.

5) Keep going back and forth between “I am amazing” and whatever your response to that is.  Don’t over-think it; just go about it like you’re playing with it.  Because you are.

At your essence, you ARE amazing.

Each of us is amazing because of the uniqueness of who we are and what is possible for us.  Amazing, I say!

Try this out.  See what you experience.  Perhaps your experience will be nothing less than amazing, as an accurate reflection of who you truly are!

Comments?  Questions? Would love to hear from you by posting a comment on this article or by contacting me in the following ways:

1) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

2) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

3) Reply to this article (by clicking on “LEAVE A COMMENT” at the bottom of the article, below the email form, by “CATEGORY”.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

Gratitude

As I’ve struggled with writing three different articles over the past few weeks and not yet published a single thing, it finally occurred to me to write about something that I am so absolutely familiar with that I would have to completely snuff it out with perfectionism for it not to get published!  So, with today being the last day of November (the month of giving thanks), I realized that writing about gratitude is just right.  (I was about to say “perfect,” but that is a slippery slope for me!)

I also realized that I wanted to keep it simple because I believe that,

“The simplest things are the most profound.”

So, instead of writing about gratitude, I will simply write what I usually write when it comes to gratitude — a gratitude list.  Then I will be staying in very familiar territory and improving my outlook at the same time!

Here’s what I am grateful for today

People:

* My husband and our marriage of 18 years.  We’ve had our ups and downs, but I am grateful to say that we currently not only love each other but that we are also enjoying each other’s company these days!

* My daughter, who is now 14 years old.  Life sometimes feels like a roller coaster with my teenager, but she is one loving, thoughtful, joyful, creative, talented, intelligent soul who I am proud to say is my daughter.  I am blessed, and I am grateful for her.

* My stepdaughter and her family and what loving arms she has extended to me despite all that she’s been through.  My heart is full.

* My mom, dad, stepmom, sister, brother, brother-in-law, niece, and my stepmom’s family.  Despite our difference and challenges, I am grateful for the love that we share and for the respect that we have for one another.

* Family who are willing and find the resources to come visit us despite the flights and 2-hour trip from the airport involved in getting here.

* The many loving, joyous memories of my stepdad and an appreciation of my step-siblings.

* Fond memories of my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

* Dear friends over the years and all of the wonderful conversations that have brought me joy or helped me through difficult times.

* Delightful new friends I have recently met and “old” friends I have reconnected with.  I never cease to be amazed at how important friendships are!

Experiences:

* The years I’ve had in recovery programs, which have helped me to weather difficult times in relationships and taught me about loving myself so that I could love others.

* The psychologists and coaches I have worked with over the years who have helped me through trying times and facilitated healing of my “ouchies” so that I may more compassionately and effectively coach the people I now work with.

* My business and the opportunity to work with people in a way that I find life-affirming, exciting and joyful!

* All those who have been supportive of my business, especially my husband and his patience for it all.

* My clients’ willingness and courage to journey down new paths, not to mention their amazing creativity and resourcefulness!

* My love of writing.

Opportunities and Resources:

* The joy of watching dance and learning to dance.  So challenging and so mesmerizing all rolled into one!

* My love of swimming and how strong and graceful it feels to move through the water.  For me, rather like a moving meditation.

* The resources for excellent health insurance.

* My home and the opportunity to mold it into a place that nurtures and comforts and provides for my family and friends.

* Plenty of nutritious, delicious food to eat.

* Clothes that keep me protected from the elements and allow me to express who I am.

* My own home office to work in.

* A state-of-the-art computer.  (This had been on my wish list for a long time so it is particularly exciting to name it!)

* A new printer that spits out photos in a heartbeat!

* Financial resources to enjoy Christmas (as long as I keep perspective!)

“I Should…”

“I should  _________________________.”

How do you fill in the blank?  Got a long list of stuff that you “should” do?  Yeah, me too, but I am ever so careful to keep my awareness of that word on high!  When you hear (or think), “You should (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah),” don’t you get the sense that someone’s index finger is pointing at you, like you’re being accused of something?

“Guilty as charged!”

The same kind of feeling happens when you do that to yourself.  Sometimes it’s referred to as “shoulding” on yourself.  You’ve taken over where those authorities in your life left off!  You’ve internalized those authority figures.

Now, not all of that internalizing is necessarily a bad thing.  You need your conscience to guide your decisions.  But you don’t need “shoulds”!

Look at the difference in these two statements.

“I should ________________.”

vs.

“I want _________________.”

Small difference in words but HUGE difference not only in outcome, but in how you feel about yourself!  “I should _______________” implies that you haven’t done whatever it is and don’t really want to.  Right?

“I want _________________” puts you back in charge, raises your awareness of what’s really going on with you and is more empowering and choiceful!  With “I should _______________”, there is only one correct answer, right?  And that answer is not something that you want to do!

Turn it around for yourself!

Instead of “I should _____________________”,

USE “I want ________________________.”

Make it a game.  See how many times you can catch yourself saying, “I should ________________.”  You’ll be amazed at the frequency when you first start noticing your “should” thinking!  And, whenever you can, turn it around for yourself by changing it to, “I want _______________.”  It is so different.  It truly is like night and day both in how you’ll feel and in the increase in clarity and focus, which can help you get more done!  It’s an excellent way of reminding yourself that you really are responsible for your life after all!

If you’d like the support of a coach who intimately understands this issue and can give you the support and structure you need to be more effective in this area, contact me.  It is such a joy to be a part of you creating a lighter spirit for yourself!

Here are the ways you can contact me.

1) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

2) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

3) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

As I was doing my best to talk myself down from the increasing anxiety I felt about my list of “to-do’s” for the day, I automatically did something that was very helpful.  However, I didn’t really appreciate how powerful a strategy it is that I have learned.  It’s something that is so obvious to any kind of time management that many people might think it silly to address in an article.  Nevertheless, I believe that

“The simplest things are the most profound.”

This is one of those simple, profound things.

Here is what I did.

1.  I made a list of all of the things I hoped to accomplish that day.

2.  I put my best estimate of how long I thought each would take (going from my experience of how long something might take, rather than how long I think or wish it would take!)

3.  For several items, I put a range of time that something might take, like 3-4 hours or 20-30 minutes.

4.  I added up the total time, both the shortest and longest times.

5.  Not to be excluded because of its seeming simplicity, I also did my best to

realistically calculate how much time I had to work with

to get those items done.  It is so easy to skip over this essential step or drastically overestimate how much time I have by, say, not allowing time to prepare or eat lunch, or assuming that I can work for 6 hours straight or forgetting that I need to factor in a 15 or 20 minute walk for my dog, (who will then be much calmer and quieter for the remaining part of the day…)

6.  I thought, “Hmmm, there’s no way that I can get those 8-10 hours of things done in the 6 1/2 hours I have left before my daughter returns from school!  (I have realized that it is important to connect with my now 13-year-old, rather than continuing to attempt to get things done on my list, which takes away my focus and also takes away my presence for my daughter and for myself!)

7.  I identified the most important things for me to get done that day, either because of a deadline or because of the value they hold.

8.  I added my time estimates for the shortened “most important things” list.

9.  I compared whether my shortened list would fit into my “how much time I had to work with” estimate.  Still too long.  Bummer.

But, there’s hope.

10.  Back to #7.  Really zeroing in on

“What are absolutely the most important things that I want to get done this particular day?”

Sometimes the problem is that I was all geared up to finally get a particular thing done, but it is something that can actually be done on another day.  Sometimes the problem is needing to prioritize whether it is a family or personal or business thing that is most important on this particular day.  And sometimes it’s just that I have to recognize my own particular limits and appreciate that all of the little things I do in my home not only do matter but also do require time.  It’s still hard for me to do that, which is often why I run into trouble with time management.

Hopefully by this point, the length of time of my list of “most important things” now fits into the available time that I have.  If not, I repeat Step #10 until it does.  Sometimes I take my chances and jump headlong into it, in the hope of getting a bit more done than it appears I have time for.  Because I almost always use my longest time estimates when I add my total, sometimes this works, but typically it backfires, and my anxiety and frustration increase.  Not helpful and not what I’m aiming for!

Things always take longer than you think they’re going to take.

For reasons I’ve already addressed and for many other reasons.  Call it life, call it change, call it being human, call it whatever you want to, but it certainly helps to have this kind of strategy to increase the likelihood of getting done what you hope to get done.

And then, of course, follow your plan and do the things you’ve identified are most important!  By following through, you’re letting yourself know that what you have identified as important is of value and does matter.  Ultimately you are saying that you matter and what you decide matters.  Seems an obvious point, but it’s significant in our view of ourselves.

Keep your view of yourself positive and give yourself the support or strategy you need to more effectively manage your time.  And, as my husband sometimes suggests to me, you might even keep your lists for several days or a few weeks.  You’ll be astounded at what all you actually do get done as time goes on!

If you’d like the support of a coach who intimately understands this issue and can give you the support and structure you need to be more effective in this area, contact me.  It is such a joy to be a part of you creating a lighter spirit for yourself!

Here are the ways you can contact me.

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

Organizing Time

Otherwise known as time management, organizing time can be elusive.  When it is all laid out and clearly defined, all is well — except when there is too much structure.  Then there’s the temptation to scrap it all because it feels like there’s not enough space to breathe or move or think clearly!  I know I’m not alone, but that only helps a little bit.  It doesn’t do much for the practical side of wanting time to work more smoothly.

There is a gob of time management stuff out there, both in print and online.  I have waded through much of it, first in an attempt to get a handle on it in my own life, then with an intent to find what seems to be most useful for the people I write for and work with.

Consistency is the keyword.  Consistency.  Far easier said than done, eh?  We start out all gung-ho with our planner or calendar, wanting so much to believe that this new system or this new planner is THE ONE that will allow us to be successful with getting organized around time.  But…there’s often some key piece missing.

It may be that…

  • we have difficulty setting up a routine to check our planner each day.
  • there’s too much chaos in our daily lives, thwarting our efforts to establish some structure.
  • we don’t have the support we need to individualize our planner so that it works for us, rather than it working us!
  • we just don’t have the planner or system that “thinks” like we do.

Each of these challenges has a solution.  Your solution may be different than someone else’s.  Working with a coach is one way to not only discover what the right solution is for you, but also receive the support, structure and help with prioritizing that you may need to be successful.  A coach doesn’t do it for you but works with you to find the missing key or keys!  (Those “keys” may be literal or figurative!)

Something That Works

One of the keys that I have discovered is a system called the Planner Pad.  It is the closest system I have found for the way I think.  I have tried and used other planners and systems in the past, with some success, but this one comes the closest to what makes sense and seems to work the best.  I like it because it helps me keep track of the various categories of my life (personal, business, home, etc) and prioritize on a daily and weekly basis.  Each page is divided into three sections: the top is for categorizing your actions and projects, the middle is for daily prioritizing, and the bottom is where you schedule your appointments.

If you are a student or have a schedule that is not your typical 9 to 5 job, the Planner Pad can help you clarify what’s on your plate and what needs attention each day.  You still have to put in the work of creating the categories, identifying the projects and prioritizing what’s most important, but the Planner Pad provides a solid structure for that.

But It’s Not Magic

The biggest drawback for me was that I was attempting to put my entire list of everything (often referred to as a Master List) into each week’s categories.  You could certainly use some of the blank pages in the Planner Pad to put your Master List, but attempting to have everything that needs attention of some kind on each week’s pages is asking for overwhelm, which is particularly to be avoided when ADD is part of your life!  Aside from that, I have found it to be a really good system for time and project management.  It IS a pen-and-paper system, so it may not be the right one for you if you want to do that kind of planning on your computer.

A planner pad is only one system.  There are so many out there, both electronic and pen-and-paper ones.  Look around (if you haven’t already!)  If my description intrigues you or sounds like the way you think about time and project management, go check out the site: Planner Pad.  I found it to be very reasonably priced.  The site did have some hype (in my book, anyway), but it IS a good product that is different from other products out there.  I liked the description of  “How It Works.”

Looking for Support, Structure or Perspective?

If you’re looking for help with setting up a routine or dealing with chaos or just plain old need some support, contact me!  Working with people who have ADD (or who can relate) is a joy to me.  I love identifying your strengths and strategizing how you can use those to help in areas that are difficult for you.   It’s easy for me to see your creativity and all that you ARE doing RIGHT!  If you’re curious about working with me, here’s what you can do.

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!

What do you think of organizing?  More importantly, what do you think of yourself when it comes to organizing?  This is an area that many of us either glorify or curse.  We look at the homes of our organized friends and think, “Ah, what would it be like to live like that?  My life would be wonderful if I could live in a home like that!”  Or, we just berate ourselves because our homes do not look like that, and we see our own organizing ability as some kind of shortcoming or weakness.

What about getting rid of that dream of organizing perfection and all of the negative judgments that go along with it?  I’m not saying to get rid of organizing, but to get rid of the dream of perfection we’ve had about how it works and what it “should” look like.  For many of us, because we feel so embarrassed and/or guilty about this area, we do our best to hide it from others, which only increases our isolation and makes it more difficult to ask for and receive support!

Consider this idea.

Organizing is one form of self-care.

Organizing can be one form of self-care, instead of one form of self-criticism!  However, that does require rethinking the whole area.

Instead of “perfection,” think “good enough” and “What works for me?

I am asking that you find a way to wiggle yourself out of the seductive hold that the glossy pictures of perfectly organized homes have on you.  Keep in mind that nobody actually lives in those homes, at least not in the way that they are portrayed!  Interior design experts have been in that home, not to mention professional photographers, all whose job it is to portray perfection and sell something, correct?  Just what are they selling?  And do you really want any of it?  Do you really want to live in a home that exists to look beautiful but not necessarily be very functional?

If you can suspend your view of what you thought organizing was, then you have a chance to consider something more realistic and more useful!  A way that is more fitting for you.  A way that works for you.  A way that it is good enough and is more in line with how you really live.  In that view, you have a chance to look at organizing as part of self-care, instead of as a way to criticize yourself.

“How Do I Do That?”

Here is what I have learned so far.

* Little by little.  ONE STEP AT A TIME.

Not three steps at a time.   Not do it all at once.  Give yourself a chance to be successful!

* Separate out the projects from the tasks.

Tasks are something that you can do in 10 or 20 minutes.  If it’s much longer or full of steps, it qualifies for a project.  By identifying it as a project, you give yourself a chance to make progress on it by identifying the smaller steps that are involved in it.

* Before beginning a project, break it down into tasks. 

What all is involved in getting that project done?  If it feels overwhelming, what is one small action that you can take that would move that project further along?  Most projects have more leeway than we think because there are different ways that we can move forward on the project.  Stop trying to figure out the “perfect” way.

* The bigger the area you do at one time, the more likely you are to fail.

Don’t mean to be harsh or negative here.  Actually, quite the opposite.  Straightforward compassion, learned from lots and lots and lots of experience…  Stated more simply (and related to “Little by Little”), here’s the positive spin on this:

* The smaller and more manageable the area is to organize, the more likely you are to succeed in organizing it!

My thinking used to go something like this.  “I ‘just’ want to get my desk organized today.”  However, my desk was covered with piles of paper and folders and notebooks and reminders and — you get the picture.  “Just” getting my desk organized made success risky.  What has increased my success is identifying one part of my desk or one pile on my desk and deciding to take action with that one part or that one pile.  It may seem really small, but I am so much more likely to succeed, which builds my momentum and confidence for then taking action on the next part or pile!

Coaching Can Make A Difference!

I’m making progress in learning how to approach organizing differently in my own life.  The funny thing is that I’ve been helping my clients organize parts of their lives for a long time now!  The idea that, “You can’t see the forest for the trees” certainly applies here.  All those trees can block our vision of the forest when we’re standing right in the middle of them!  That’s why I have my own coach in this area, and that’s also why I’m able to be such an awesome coach for someone else in this area! 

If you’re looking for someone to help you change your approach or be more effective with organizing, I’d love to help.  Or, perhaps you want to learn how to take a kinder, gentler approach with yourself, which might surprisingly be the key you’ve been missing.  You can contact me in several ways:

1) Reply to this article (by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article.  Those comments are usually published, so let me know if you do not want me to publish your comment.)

2) Email me at LightSpiritCoach@aol.com.  (See the form below to make it easy.)

3) Call me at (573) 999-9809.

4) “Like” my Facebook page at Light Spirit Coaching.

Would love to hear from you in any of those ways!


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