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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!)

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.)

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

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

“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!

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