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The Simplest Things Are The Most Profound

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.)

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

The Order of Things

“Go do a little yoga,” the still, small voice in my head gently whispered.

“But I’m tired, and if I get online, it’ll help me wake up!” the competing voice argued with authority.

Guess which voice won out?  The louder, argumentative voice scored a victory this time.  However, not really a victory for me.  Oh sure, it’s a reasonable thing to check email and online networks and website.  But the timing was important here.  Instead of getting centered and grounded for my day, I began by dispersing my energy.

The order really matters.

It is important for me to connect with other people in person or online, but when I do that from a place of not being grounded and present and clear about my own priorities, I tend to jump willy-nilly from one thing to the next.  Perhaps it is a priority for the day, or perhaps it isn’t.  Perhaps it is something that needs to be done, or perhaps it really could have waited so I could have done something that really mattered for me that day.  Stopping to do even 15 or 20 minutes of yoga or  some other self-care practice is so small time-wise relative to the return I get for that time investment.  (And the form of yoga that I do requires more willingness than energy…)

Do you find yourself doing the same kind of thing?  You may have a vague sense or even a clear idea of how important it is to do something you know is right (often involving some kind of self-care…), but instead you end up choosing to do something else.  It may even be something that does need to be done or taken care of, but it is often something that could easily wait until you’ve given yourself the time that you need.  It’s the same idea that financial advisers use when they suggest paying yourself first, before paying for all of the other things that your money needs to take care of.  Give to yourself before you give to all of the other people and things that need to be taken care of!  The benefit of this is that you come from a place of solidity and increased focus versus feeling more scattered or unclear.

Getting Lost vs. Knowing the Way

What happened when I decided to get online instead of stopping to do some yoga first?  Well, I did check my email and wrote a couple of replies and checked Facebook and LinkedIn…but I know from experience that I need to be so careful when I venture into those tasks that I don’t get lost in doing them!  When I first do some yoga and/or journaling and give some centered thought to what I most want to accomplish that day, then it is easier not to get “lost” online!  (Or, if I do get “lost”, I find my way out more quickly than I would if I had not taken the time for myself.)

What is a self-care practice that you could engage in at the beginning of your day before you “jump into your day”??  Have you tried journaling?  What about taking a short walk or going to the gym?  Perhaps it is something as simple as having a few moments of quiet to sit and think about how you’d LIKE your day to unfold, rather than, “Oh my gosh, I need to do _________ and __________ and __________!  I better get going before I get behind!”

Can you feel the difference in the energy between the idea of the quiet moments to reflect on your day in a centered, positive frame of mind versus the anxious energy of the “behind before you begin” kind of thinking?  There really is something to this.  I have done my own personal experiments with it, and each way of thinking at the beginning of the day tends to set the tone for the rest of the day.  However, even if you start out feeling frantic or anxious about your day, there’s a saying that “You can start your day over any time you want!”  It’s not set in stone.  But you do need to stop to take the time to create some calm, peaceful energy to create a day that unfolds more smoothly.

“A.D.D.-ish”

  • Aha!  I finally found what to call “it”!  You know, that place where you kind of think you might have ADD, but you don’t know if you have ADD?  You’re not sure if getting distracted or being disorganized or procrastinating might mean you have ADD, or just that life is stressful and sometimes overwhelming.

“ADD-ish.”  I heard the term as an aside during a business teleclass I participated in, and I immediately liked it.  In our culture, it’s hard not to be “ADD-ish.”  With information overload and the constancy of communication, not to mention just our regular lives, there is a lot of information to screen in or out and then to process.

And More Questions…

So you wonder if your tendency to get distracted or be disorganized or stay focused is ADD, or is it just a sign of the times?  You are in very good company and plenty of company!  What is important about this question is the answer to another question.  How much is it affecting your day-to-day life?  How much does it bother you that you’re getting distracted or having trouble completing projects or being disorganized?  Do you manage to find some ways to cope with those challenges?  Or do those challenges feel like they’re near constant or looming very large in front of you?  Or perhaps you find yourself somewhere in between?

Answers?

Your answers give you some guidelines for how much attention to give this issue because there is already so much to deal with that we don’t want to unnecessarily add more to the pile!  Indeed not.  What I am hoping to do is to shrink your pile by giving enough attention to what NEEDS attention!  If you find yourself frequently

  • distracted,
  • disorganized,
  • and procrastinating,
  • and it’s causing you a lot of grief,

then it needs attention.  Funny thing is, we tend to put off giving it attention, thinking that we just need to try harder.  Haven’t you already been trying harder?  I truly do understand that it is difficult to answer this seemingly straightforward question because, to answer with a “yes” means that trying harder is not working.  That – is – very – hard – to – admit.  Believe me, I get it.  To say, “My best has gotten me where I am” requires a LOT of courage and humility.  And when we’re trying to save face because it feels like we keep screwing up, courage and humility tend to come hard.

But they can come.  And having a bit of encouragement or support can help.  It is no easy task to admit that we need help and then to ASK for help.  However, how long have you been miserable going about it the way that you have?  That long, huh?  Me too.  I was miserable a very long time, first because I just did not know what was wrong (thinking that I was inadequate or incompetent or even meaner words…).  Then, when I finally did begin to suspect that I might have ADD, well, who wants to be diagnosed with ADD?  I certainly did not.  I thought that it was yet another confirmation that I was inadequate.  So, I didn’t go running to the phone to make my appointment with someone who could do the assessment.

“Insanity”?

For a while longer, I kept trying harder.  Have you ever heard this definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  When I first heard that definition, I was quite insulted by the suggestion that I might be insane!  I wasn’t insane!  I was just frustrated!!  Well, no, I wasn’t and I’m not insane in the formal definition of the word.  But in the more casual use of “insane”?  Yes, I qualify.  Once I could loosen my grip on the formal definition, I came to love this definition.  It can help shake us loose from our own chains!

Taking Action

It was because I kept getting the same results no matter what I tried that finally led me to make the call to set up the appointment to get the assessment to be diagnosed with ADD.  And I am relieved and grateful that I did.  First of all, it put a name to all those years of misery and feeling inadequate and incompetent.  That was a relief in itself!  Secondly, medication can help improve my day-to-day functioning.  And thirdly, there is now so much more information available to adults with ADD.  There are books; there are support groups; there are oodles of resources online; there are coaches, AND there are other people with ADD.  You’d be so surprised to find out who all has ADD once you begin talking about it.  There are very successful people who are making their way in the world WITH ADD.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t have their challenges or setbacks or frustrations.  They do.  They’re human, and they still have ADD.  But instead of ignoring it or assuming that they are incompetent or inadequate, they give their ADD, and therefore give themselves, the attention that is needed.

So, is your “ADD-ishness” something that is just a small, manageable part of your life?  Or is your “ADD-ishness” something that is causing you enough frustration and self-criticism that it is TIME to do something about it?  If it is time, then go make that call to schedule the appointment.  Or go research it online.  Or go do some reading about it.  You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you do indeed have ADD!

Is There Enough?

Those icky, old familiar feelings.  Panicky.  Barely breathing because your lungs feel so tight.

“Not enough money.”

“Not enough time.”

“Not doing enough.”

“Maybe I’m just not enough…”

Yuck.  From there it can be a slippery slope to feeling discouraged, then overwhelmed, then hopeless.  Have you been there?  I certainly have.  Anxiously taking some kind of action in the hope of making things better, then feeling depressed that those actions aren’t having the intended effect.  Yuck again.

However, there is a “fix” for getting out of this yucky space.  It’s very simple, but it does require shifting gears.

Two simple steps.  (One is really all you need though.)

Step 1.  It can be very helpful to do something to shift physically, like taking a walk or even just stopping and taking a few focused, deep breaths.  Then you’re in a more receptive place for Step 2.  But even without Step 1, Step 2 can still work.  Just proceed.

Step 2.  Take a quick inventory of what is humming along, of what is in place, of what you do have, even if you don’t think there is anything right now.  It can be very helpful to write this inventory down.  It does not need to be all formal and pretty.  Just grab a piece of paper or type it out on your computer.  Do a quick brainstorm of what you do have and what is going well.  I find it very helpful to begin with very basic things, which usually helps me identify other things that are humming along or for which I am grateful.  Here’s the kind of list I’m talking about.

  • this computer
  • my bed (especially good to notice at night when I’m in this space)
  • my pillow
  • plenty of food in my frig and pantry
  • my health (I have to be careful here not to digress to what needs attention or is irritating about my body.  Stay focused on the list!)
  • my family’s health
  • the opportunities and blessings of my business
  • my writing
  • my office
  • the trails in Columbia so close to my home
  • the strength of my connection with my husband
  • resources to help us parent our teenage daughter
  • my ballet classes
  • yoga
  • spring and all that is blooming
  • my daughter’s talents
  • a car that I like that still runs well
  • a mechanic I trust

This is a powerful practice.  The more you practice it, the better you get at it and the easier it comes.  The more you can make the shift from “It is not enough” to “It is enough,” or even “There is plenty!” the more you will experience the power of gratitude.  It also helps to identify what is going well because when we get in that yucky space, we begin to notice almost everything that is not going well.  It’s like it’s all breaking down in front of our very eyes!

By creating a “what’s going well” or a gratitude list, you put your brain on an entirely different track.  You open the way for new possibilities and for new ideas.  You become more receptive to your intuition and creativity, which is often the very thing that you need to get you out of that yucky space and to set the stage for creating a plan that does work better.

“Are you noticing and using the resources you already have?”

We tend to notice what is missing, what is not enough, what is out of place.  Whether it’s human nature or whatever, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that you turn your head and notice something else, something that is enough, something that is working or is beautiful or even funny!

Get your paper out.  Write your list.  Or open up Word and type out a quick list.  It doesn’t need to take more than 5 minutes, unless you really get into it.  Just write or type as quickly as you can without over thinking it.  You’ll be amazed at what you come up with.

Post about what you discover, or email me.  The more energy you give this, the more it will give back to you.  And you’ll discover that

there is enough (and) you are enough!

Motivation for Change: Part 3

No discussion of change would be complete without your vision for change.  Your vision for change is what pulls you forward, is what motivates and inspires you to make the changes needed for that vision to become reality.  If your vision is lackluster or ho-hum or just not that compelling, what is there to pull you forward?  There isn’t anything to pull you forward!  That’s why having a powerful vision is so essential to the process of change!  If your goal is “I want to lose some weight,” and your vision doesn’t include how wonderful you will look and feel in your “new” body, then how do you expect yourself to make the changes needed to accomplish this?

Our brain LOVES pictures and is very sensory.  The more you can use your senses to determine how this change will look, feel, sound, taste, or even smell, the better because you are solidifying what it IS that you want for your brain to go to work on, in essence to be your ally!  You want to have as clear a mental picture as possible about what that change will be like!  You want to have a feeling of excitement and energy about this change.  Create a picture (in your mind or on paper) that stirs some energy and excitement for you.  Doing a collage or a “dream board” or something that helps you see and feel the change you want can create the energy and excitement that you want to have for your goal.

However, what we inadvertently tend to do is focus on how much we don’t like the way it is now, perhaps thinking that we will goad ourselves into doing “better”.  As human and as understandable as that is, it backfires on us because our focus is on the wrong picture!  Be really conscientious about redirecting your focus when you notice yourself heading down that path.  Refocus on what you DO want and where you DO want to be and how you DO want this part of your life to be!  That’s where the mental picture or collage you have created become so important.  It is very difficult to “just say no” when there is nothing to say, “YES!” to.  Because we’re human, we do head down the path of what we don’t want.  That’s OK.  Don’t berate yourself.  Just gently say, “Oh, there I go again heading down that path I don’t want to go down.”  Then you can turn yourself toward the vision that you DO have for yourself, your mental picture and/or your collage, and really let yourself soak that in.  By doing so, you effectively add power and energy to what you DO want because you are consciously choosing that and reinforcing that for your brain and for yourself.

Give yourself one of the resources you need for change, a vision that pulls you forward with a clear mental picture that you just might want to create a collage for.  Why not?  What do you have to lose (except some extra pounds or clutter or too much of whatever you may have!)

Effective Wisdom

When I walked into my 13-year-old daughter’s room, the entire floor was covered — with clothes, shoes (including many, many pairs of flip-flops in assorted colors), baskets, dress-up clothes, folders, binders, pom-poms, and who knows what all else.  The sight completely freaked out my husband, who made some comment about a tornado having hit.  I, however, knew enough to know that she had finally decided to tackle her cluttered closet, which had been so jam-packed full of anything that needed a temporary place to be, that the doors would no longer close.

She was in one of those delightful moods when she wanted to share what was going on in her life.  Nothing particularly noteworthy, but appreciated by me nevertheless because, in the volatile world of a teenager, she could be completely mum all next week (of course in her appropriate desire to declare her own individuality as she makes her way down the path towards adulthood).  I took full advantage of the moment and sat down (in a small space that was not yet covered) and enjoyed listening to her relate her recent experiences with her friends at a restaurant after a gymnastics meet.

I tried not to overstay my welcome.  I realized that she was politely asking me to leave when she said that she wanted to continue to work on her room.  I went about my day and engaged in what was mine to do.

I heard the vacuum cleaner running and later walked by her room.  Wow.  What a transformation!  Every single item was not only off the floor but had been sorted — either thrown away or put in a pile to be given away, with the remaining items neatly reorganized in a closet that now had, by comparison, almost nothing in it.  Absolutely amazing.

I decided to ask her if she was aware of how she had motivated herself to tackle this project and bring it to completion, without feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of it.  Here’s what she said.

1) I start by just doing one little thing.

2) I don’t let myself get distracted by other things.

3) That one thing then turns into the next thing to do.

4) I take breaks, but I make sure that I go back to finishing whatever little thing I’m working on.

That’s it.  The wisdom of a 13-year-old.  I’m so grateful when I can be humble enough to be curious and to learn from whatever experience is right in front of me.  Otherwise I would have missed the wisdom and inspiration of this experience!

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