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Posts tagged ‘compassion’

Lullaby…and Good Night…

Sleep, glorious sleep, why are you so elusive?  For me, anyway.  How about you?  Are you getting enough sleep?  Are you getting quality sleep?  I don’t remember sleep being so problematic when I was a kid.  But, it does seem to be problematic now, so it deserves my attention to make it the best I can.

“Getting enough sleep allows you to feel more rested and be more focused.”

No doubt.  But I’m not getting enough sleep.  Are you?  What can I do to improve this important area of my life?

The obvious answer is to get more sleep!  Yeah, right.  I know I need to get more sleep.  You probably know the same thing.  But you’re not, are you?  Why not?  Oh, for probably a hundred reasons or so.  OK, I’m exaggerating.  But, clearly, if it were easy to get enough quality sleep, we’d all be doing that, right?  One of THE MOST IMPORTANT things I learned in grad school was this.

“We’re always doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”

Credit goes to Dr. John McGowan for having repeated that sentence enough times during his counseling class that it stuck with me.  And I am so grateful because it provides a compassionate view of the way we’re doing things.  He didn’t say, “And we can’t do any better.” What would have been the point of being a helping professional?  It bears repeating.  “We’re always doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”

So, if I go with what I learned from Dr. McGowan, somehow I must be in need of something I “don’t got,” right?  What is it that I might be missing?  The first thing to recognize is that it could either be internal or external.  Internally, it might be something physical, such as feeling too hot or too cold, or having some pain that I’m not able to ignore.  Or it might be something on my mind that is worrying me.  It could also be something external, such as my old, in-need-of-being-replaced bed, or loud thunder or a dog barking or needing to care for a baby or a sick child.  The list could go on and on and on and on…  But you probably already know what your reasons are.  So let’s follow up on that.

Acknowledgement and Compassion

The next question is, “Have you really acknowledged all of those things that are making if difficult for you to sleep well?  Really acknowledged them?  Like a wonderful friend would do if you actually told them all of the things you are contending with on your path to sleep?  They’d say something like, “Wow!  That’s really a lot!  That sounds really tough!”  They wouldn’t say, “Buck up and deal with it!”  But I bet you are telling yourself that.  Or perhaps you fluctuate between, “Buck up and deal with it,” and “Oh, there’s no hope; it’ll never change; I’ll never get more sleep!”  If so, just tell yourself, “Oh, that’s right.  I’m human.  I forgot for a while there.”

That’s the kind of compassion I’m talking about.  The kind that recognizes that you do indeed have your challenges and that you are indeed doing the best you can with what you’ve got, and that

You deserve compassion and TLC.

Just because.  Just because you’re human, not to mention that we all function more effectively with a bit of compassion.  So, perhaps you could offer yourself some, or ask a dear friend to listen and let you cry on their shoulder because it’s been really hard…  Having that compassion can give you a bit of relief and can often help you towards figuring out what it is that you might need to do to get more sleep.

If you just jump to making a change, it doesn’t always stick.  Why not?  Lots of reasons, but one is that it’s important to make sure that you

clearly appreciate and understand the problem

so that you have a chance of

choosing the best solution for you!

What works well for me may not work well for you and vice versa.  In 12-Step meetings there’s a reminder to practice

1) Awareness

2) Acceptance

3) Action

They’re in that order for a good reason!  You first need to be aware of a problem before you can come to some acceptance of it before you can take appropriate action, not just any action, but action that is appropriate for you and for your situation!

Next week I’ll take a look at possible slumber strategies. Perhaps this week you might practice awareness or acceptance of your sleep issues so that you are one step closer to taking the action that is appropriate for you to get more of the sleep that you may be dreaming of!

Getting Things Done?

When it comes to getting things done, how do you proceed?  Do you take the “eat-the-biggest-frog-first” approach and do the biggest or most difficult thing first?  For some people, that approach can work very well.  The idea is that by tackling the “biggest frog” first, you not only get that project done, but you also free up the energy that you might have spent thinking or worrying about getting it done.  If this idea appeals to you or works for you, go for it.  Use it to get those items on your to-do list checked off!

Moving With The Flow

However, if that has not worked so well for you (or has not worked at all), there is another, completely opposite approach which can be equally effective for getting things done.  It’s the idea of “the path of least resistance.”  As the name implies, you move with the flow, not against it.  I have known about and appreciated this idea for some time now because it fits for me philosophically.  However, I attribute a better understanding and more practical use of it to Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office.  I participated in a class she offers called “The Wish Kit” in which she guided us to create not only a vision for, but also the initial steps to creating an office or studio or workspace that works for us and even nurtures and inspires us.  (Please check out the link if this sounds intriguing at all.  It’s very reasonably priced!)

Path Of Least Resistance

In “the path of least resistance” approach, the idea is to generate energy and build momentum for what you want to accomplish.  Instead of going for the “big frog,” you begin with the task or project that has the most appeal, that sounds like the most fun and/or is the easiest.

“What?”  You may say, “That won’t work!  I’ll just do easy stuff and won’t get the hard stuff done.”  Perhaps.  However, the brilliance behind this approach is that it tends to clear the way so that you can get stuff done!  Doing the easy or even the fun task has a way of lightening our mood and increasing our energy, thus creating a better environment to do those very tasks that we may be putting off or even dreading.  This approach is like oiling a rusty or squeaky part in our home.  The part becomes smoother and easier to move.  And we often feel an “Ahhhhh” sense of relief.  Using the path of least resistance allows our own process to move more smoothly and easily.

Let It Be Easy!

Next time, instead of gritting your teeth and pushing through something, why not give this approach a try?  Purposefully decide to experiment with this way of getting things done.  Pick something that you’d like to do, something that you want to do, something that is easy to do, then notice if you feel less stuck or if you have more energy or your thinking becomes clearer.  Any and all of those results are possible.  It is a tried-and-true approach!

Kiss Your Monster On The Nose

Then you are in a more effective position to “kiss your monster on the nose.”  (Doesn’t that sound preferable to eating a big frog????)  If you think about “kissing your monster on the nose,” it has a sense of peace and resolution to it, not a sense of having to “gear yourself up for battle.”  Kissing your monster on the nose may just be a matter of breaking down the project in front of you into the tasks or steps that will allow you to accomplish it.  It may be that you just haven’t stopped to take the time to think through what may be involved or that you need to do some research to get more information for what’s in front of you.  You want to make sure that you have the necessary information and resources you need to accomplish your task or project!

If you think about being your own best friend, you want to encourage yourself with positive motivation as much as you can instead of forcing yourself or giving yourself grief when what you’re doing isn’t working!  And, aside from being a “kinder, gentler way,” the path of least resistance is very effective!  You do get done what you’re wanting to get done, but you go about it in perhaps a very different way.

If you’ve been looking for an approach to increase your productivity without being mean to yourself, give this one a try.  You may very well be surprised at how incredibly effective it is!

Drained, Dry and Devoid of Ideas

Oooo!  How inspiring!  “Drained, dry and devoid of ideas”!

As I went about the process of writing my article, I stumbled a bit.  Well, I stumbled a LOT!  I didn’t feel well on the day that I had picked to write it, nor the next day.  I had some ideas that I could have certainly developed, but I didn’t even feel like I had any thoughts about those ideas.  Uh-oh.  Kind of makes the process of writing a bit tricky, to say the least.

Instead of completely panicking, which used to be my response, I had learned enough to step back and practice at least a little bit of TLC, good ole’ tender loving care.  Instead of criticizing myself or attempting to push the issue, I backed off.  Instead I went for a short walk and attempted to be kind to myself.  The walk definitely helped, but I found myself in limbo, not quite able to really relax and take it easy, but not able to think clearly enough to write.  Yuck.

The Power of Wondering  

I had enough awareness to wonder, “What was going on, and what had happened?”  How did I get to this place of feeling drained, dry and devoid of ideas?  Ohhhhhhh.  Intuitive flash.  (The intuitive flash could come through because I finally slowed down and stepped back a little.)  I realized that I had not been stopping to do fun things or take a break.  I had been going from taking care of my aging diabetic body (checking blood sugars, taking the prescribed three-times-per-week walks, doing a reasonable job of eating nutritious foods) to coordinating my 13-year-old’s schedule to caring for my home to running my business to occasionally checking in with my husband to see how he was doing.  And, I had not connected with any friends for more than a “Hi, how are you?”-in-passing, kind of connection.

Taking Breaks and Having Fun

When I look at it, it’s easy to understand why I hadn’t taken the time for breaks or fun.  And I bet the same is true of your life, if you really stop to see what all you do in a day or a week!  Nevertheless, when we push and push and push, and we don’t take breaks or let ourselves have any fun, how can we expect to be full of life and ideas????  It’s almost like factory work, in that you need to do the same kinds of things over and over, then you fall into bed exhausted!

I don’t think that I’m particularly unusual.  We all have schedules or lives that tend to be very full and seem to lead us, rather than us leading them!  It is so important that we periodically assess HOW our days and weeks are going.  Yes, of course there are plenty of things that need to be taken care of.  However, when we slow down enough to stop and take a few moments to reflect, here’s a powerful question to ask.

Can any of it be:

1) Let go?

2) Delegated?

3) Done differently?

I’m the first to offer a quick “No!”  Obviously, no one else will be checking my blood sugars or figuring out how many carbs I’m about to eat so I can match my insulin to that.  Nevertheless, there must be some ways that I could go about my days a bit differently.  Delegating?  Perhaps I could find a playful way to gather my family and do some brainstorming or mind-mapping of all that needs to be done in our home.  Perhaps there are some routines that can be shared.  Perhaps there are some jobs that one of us finds really distasteful but that another doesn’t mind at all.

What about done differently?  Probably room for that as well.  For most of us with ADD, there is usually room for backing things us and doing them earlier so we’re not so rushed and frantic.  Or perhaps there’s room for doing a bit more planning.  It might be planning out which days you’ll exercise, or it might be planning out what meals you’ll have for dinner and then getting the ingredients all at once, instead of making several trips to the grocery store.

One Small Change

With even some small changes, I then have the opportunity to slow down and take some breaks and even find time for some fun activities.  Making these changes is NOT meant to create the way to get more stuff done, but to create some balance in my life to slow down and enjoy it more.

How about you?  What is ONE SMALL CHANGE you can make to 

  • slow down?
  • take some breaks?
  • put more fun into your weeks (and even days!)?

Is there something that you can let go of?  It might be an unneeded or unused item, or it might be an activity that is taking up time without really being necessary or nurturing.  Is there a task that someone else could do or someone else could share doing?  Or what about a way that you could do something differently?  Taking the time to reflect on your schedule or perhaps planning meals for the week?

What might it be for you?  I bet there is something.  And if there is something, then you have a chance to create some balance in your life by slowing things down a bit and putting in something joyful.  We all cope better with rest and with joy to break up the routine of our days.  When we’re also managing ADD, the balance of enough structure (but not too much) is even more important.  Making sure there is joy in our lives can give us the energy we need to manage the rest of our lives!


“I DON’T WANT TO!”

Is Your Inner Child in Your Face?

Mine has been lately…

"I DON'T WANT TO!"

Very adult-like (I thought), I set out to make some changes…

“AAAAAAAAUGH!” screamed that little person inside my head, followed by “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

This response didn’t happen right away, and honestly, the words in my head weren’t exactly those, but they do quite succinctly summarize the feelings behind my adult response to the challenge of change.  In my head it sounded more like, “I don’t really need that much sleep…” or “I will just be on the computer a few more minutes…”  (Yeah, right…)

I have been attempting to get more sleep by cutting myself off from the computer past a certain time.  I have tried to use 9:00 p.m. as my cut-off time.  Sounds very reasonable, doesn’t it?  (Well, not for some of you who I know are awake at 10 or 11 p.m. and are on Facebook or writing emails!)  All that I have read about getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep (including those deep sleep stages when your body is doing important repair work for you) — says that it is important to disconnect from electronics for a period of time before you go to sleep so that your brain can slow down and sleep well.

Knowing vs. Doing

Well, I know what they say to do, but can I DO what they say?!  “Simple but not easy” the saying goes.  Very simple to understand what needs to happen, but another story to follow through with what I know.  When I pay attention to what I am doing, (like heading back to the computer or just staying on the computer past my 9 p.m. time), I hear myself trying to justify what I am doing, in an attempt to make it OK to continue with my old habit.  If I were only two or three years old, it would probably sound more like “I DON’T WANT TO!”  Really so much more honest and straightforward, but the more I learned that it might not be OK to say, “I DON’T WANT TO!” when an adult asked me to do something (and the better my verbal skills became), the more I learned to justify and rationalize my behavior.

I don’t want to totally knock justifying and rationalizing.  Sometimes we do really want someone else to understand the bigger picture of what’s going on with us.  Or we want to understand it.  But in cases like this, I’m just throwing in extra obstacles for myself to deal with.  It can be helpful to ask, “What is going on here?”  It is more productive to ask when I’m not trying to justify why I’m currently heading to the computer, by asking at a time that is more neutral, when I am actually receptive to my own answers.  And, it is SO important to ask in a way that is compassionate, like I am asking a dear friend.  Otherwise, I’m just setting myself up for unproductive, defensive answers.

Food for Thought

1) What is going on here?                                                                                   

2) Why am I wanting so much to be on the computer?

3) What is it that I like about being on the computer?

4) Is there something I am avoiding?

5) Is there something I am afraid of?

Kind Questions, Not Mean Ones!

1) Are there other ways to be on the computer that work better in the long run?

Perhaps I could be proactive and conscious about computer time and actually give myself the computer time I want by consciously putting it in my day somewhere?  I think that part of what is at play here is a “I’ll do what I WANT!” mentality.  By proactively giving myself what I want, I “take the wind out the sails” of that toddler mentality because I’m going about it in a way that is more reflective and aware, instead of in a mind-less way that is so easily a part of computer use!)

2) If there is something that I am avoiding, what is that?  Is there a way of handling that thing I’m avoiding differently?  Do I need support?  Do I need to look at it from a more detached perspective and see if there is something missing for me?  Would it help to talk to a compassionate friend?  Do I need some “down” time?  (Probably.)

3) If there is something that I am afraid of doing, who or what might be helpful?  Could I offer myself some compassion?  Is there perchance some kind of resource I need to shrink my fear so that it is more manageable?  Maybe I just need more information.  Or maybe I just need to know that other people have similar fears.  (You can be assured this is so, no matter the fear!)

What is important is to    being mindless and to   being judgmental!  Then I have a chance to practice being objective, to practice viewing myself and my habits from a more detached, compassionate perspective, as if I were a wise master studying her student and wondering how best to help.

Just this shift will go a very long way.  Compassionate viewing of something creates a shift and just enough of a change to create space for a little more change…

As for my own computer time and trying to get more sleep, a wise friend suggested that I ask my 13-year-old what I might do differently.  What a great idea!  The willingness to consider other perspectives is what allows us to keep growing and changing.

“Do I Have ADD?”

Do I or Don’t I?

“Do I have ADD?”  Does this question ever pop up for you?  Or, has someone else suggested that you have ADD (often not very kindly…)?

If not knowing is bothering you, or if you find yourself struggling to cope, then by all means, please go meet with a psychologist or psychiatrist who is skilled in the area of ADD diagnosis, and find out!  For many of us, there is HUGE relief in doing so because

1) You finally have a name for what has been ruling your life.

2) You finally have a way of understanding why life has felt so hard.

3) You can then respond more positively to having ADD (and quit giving yourself so much grief).

4) You can learn about ADD, be treated for ADD and have a much better chance of functioning more effectively in your life!

The Upside to a Diagnosis

So, if you are really struggling, it is worth finding out, as much as a diagnosis of ADD is not something that most of us are eager to embrace.  ADD tends to come with a lot of judgment and misunderstanding, particularly for adults with ADD.  That’s so odd because, no, you don’t outgrow it, as people used to think.  The symptoms do tend to subside during adulthood, especially for those with ADHD, (when you have that extra energy that can make it hard to sit still), but ADD and ADHD do not go away.  We often get better at hiding it, or we develop some coping skills that can help, but it doesn’t go away.

That’s why it’s so important to learn about it and get connected to other people who seem to be managing it OK or who have a positive attitude despite it!  We need to know that we’re not alone in our challenges with ADD, no matter how old we are.

The Downside to Not Knowing

The problem with not knowing that you may have ADD is that you expect yourself to be able to cope with life like someone who doesn’t have ADD.    That’s like expecting someone with Type 1 diabetes to have good blood sugar without insulin.  It ain’t gonna happen!  Someone with diabetes who doesn’t know they have diabetes is not going to feel very well because they don’t have the insulin their body needs to function well.  Someone with ADD who doesn’t know they have ADD is not going to cope very well because they don’t have the resources or possibly medication they need to cope well.  But you don’t know WHY in either case because you don’t know what’s going on!

What Do You Mean, Forgive Myself — For Screwing Up?

Once you know what’s going on, you can learn about yourself, ADD and why you respond to life’s challenges in the way that you do.  You can then cope more effectively by taking advantage of the resources and treatment that are available and can help!  You have probably been expecting yourself to handle certain parts of your life without the skills or resources that you need.  That’s not very fair, is it?  But that’s what we tend to do to ourselves (or other people do to us) because we (or they) don’t understand!  You may choose to take medication, work with a therapist or work with a coach.  (If you’d like to learn more about working with me as your coach, click here.)  You might even decide to take advantage of a professional organizer who understands ADD and can help you create an environment that works better for you.

The next step is forgiving yourself for all that you have not handled as well as you would have liked because of your ADD!  It is so important to go back and look at how ADD has affected you and to forgive yourself.  You have always been doing as well as you have been able to do with the skills and resources that you have had!  It is so important to give yourself the understanding and compassion that has been missing all along!

With Acceptance Comes Change     

With a bit of light shed on the subject of ADD in your life, you are in a better position to move forward, to stop fighting the way you are and instead ACCEPT the way you are.  As you accept those things about you, you can much more effectively begin to learn about strategies for living life a bit differently.  It’s not about saying, “Gee!  I’m so happy I have ADD!”  But it is about saying, “Well, I have ADD.  Now what?”  It puts you in a much better position to respond more effectively to the challenges in your life.

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!)

Motivation for Change: Part 2

I jumped right into the meatiness of this topic in Part 1, but by doing so, I got a bit ahead of myself.  Before you look at making changes and creating a SMART goal for yourself to increase the chances of successfully meeting your goal, first you want to see what you already have on your plate!  Is your plate already so full that the food is falling off the edges (like at Thanksgiving)?  Is there anything to which you can say, “No thank you”?  Are you wanting to keep everything that is already on your plate and add more?  Are you (perchance) attempting to bite off more than you can chew?

If your plate is full and you then add something else to it, what might happen?  Does food begin to drop off the edges?  Hmmmm.  Does this sound like a plan destined to fail in some way?  Perhaps you will be successful with your new goal, but chances are that something else is going to fall off your plate.  Or, you manage to keep everything on your plate, but you wonder why you’re not having much success with your new goal.

It is just too much! Call a halt! Stop! You don’t want to neglect yourself, your loved ones, your work or some other part of your life that is important because you are attempting to cram too much into too small a space!  How can you come back to some balance?

Stopping.  Stepping back.  Assessing.  “OK, exactly what is it that I have on my plate?”  It may have been awhile since you really looked.  Sometimes life can feel like it’s going faster than we can keep up.  That is when it is most important to do what is counterintuitive and stop.  Just stop.  The urgency of it all is causing you to think you can’t, but you can indeed and must find a way to stop.  Then take a few slow, deep breaths.  Now look at your plate.  Not with judgment or harshness or criticism.  Just with neutrality and curiosity.  Like you are looking at it for the first time.  “Hmmm.  How interesting.  I have three rolls, a huge piece of steak, no veggies, a tiny serving of fruit and two desserts.  Hmmm.  Isn’t that interesting?”  Not, “Oh my gosh!  My nutrition has gone down the toilet, and there’s no hope for me!”  That is not the kind of gentle assessing I’m talking about.  You are observing your plate (like a scientist studying something) so you can see what is what, what you have plenty of, what you might want more of, and what you could do without, perhaps to make room for something more!

All of this is really a way of stopping to appreciate all that you do.  It’s recognizing that you probably take care of and accomplish more that you give yourself credit for.  I’ll bet that, in some way, somehow, you are taking yourself for granted.  We don’t like it when other people take us for granted, do we?  But look at that; we’re guilty of the same thing!  Instead of taking yourself for granted, try this out.  Step 1.  Write down every single thing you accomplished today.  If you are really diligent about recording what you did, you will have a much longer list than you thought you would have.  Yes, making the bed counts.  Doing the dishes counts.  Running an errand counts.  Completing the paperwork counts.  Feeding the dog counts.  Going for a walk around the block counts.  It ALL counts.  Write it all down.  Step 2.  Give yourself a pat on the back or a high-five or a “Way to go!” for all that you did do today.  Right now is not the time to be concerned with what you thought you “should have” done or what you didn’t do.  Keep your focus on all that you did do.  Because you did a lot.  And you deserve credit and appreciation.  So give yourself some!

From this place of appreciation, you are in a much better position to make good decisions and see if there is any room at all for something new.  Without first assessing how things are now and giving credit where credit is due, it becomes very difficult to make changes, much less to feel motivated to make changes!

Give yourself those gifts: 1)stopping, 2)assessing, 3)appreciating.  By doing so, you are more prepared to move forward into the possibility of change.

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