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Posts tagged ‘making changes’

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) 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.)

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

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

“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!

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!

Organizing … Part of Self-Care?

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!


Caring for Yourself by Pursuing Your Passion

As I watched a mesmerizing performance by Missouri Contemporary Ballet a couple of years ago, tears came to my eyes.  Tears?  Why tears?  I experienced the simultaneous feelings of total bliss and deep sadness.  The bliss was very easy to understand because I love dance.  I love watching dance, and I have always loved to dance (although performing, for me, has been mixed because of the anxiety that goes with it.)  On the flip side, the sadness was in response to the loss I felt from not having had any dance in my life for the previous few years.  I hadn’t been to any performances, and I hadn’t danced or taken any classes for a long time.  What grief I felt as I watched those dancers, yet I also felt uplifted and joyful.  No wonder I felt so strange as I watched them move their bodies in exquisite turns, leaps and contortions of strength and flexibility!  Such total immersion I felt in the experience of witnessing those dancers perform.

Ballet Classes For Adults!

The dear friend sitting next to me at the performance noticed how strongly I responded and showed me the back page of the program, which advertised ballet classes for adults.  BALLET CLASSES FOR ADULTS???  I nearly jumped with joy as much as I was in disbelief at the idea.  Really??  I could take a ballet class?  But, would they really let me in when they discovered that I wasn’t a young 20 or even 30-something?  I had to find out.

I called the number and got the information I needed and found myself taking ballet again — many, many years since I had last taken as a child.  After my first class, because I worked so hard to do everything as well as I could and because my body had only faint memories of my childhood classes, I was literally almost unable to walk out without my legs buckling because they were so sore.  I burst into tears when I got in my car and wondered if I would be able to continue.

Hope For The Journey

That was two years ago.  Not only am I now taking two ballet classes each week, I have also ventured into a tap class, which is delightfully fun yet also quite challenging for me, and I am considering adding a class in modern dance.  That last one might push my schedule to its limits, but time will tell.  I love each class.  Sometimes I leave feeling frustrated that I have not been able to learn steps more quickly or that I am not as strong or flexible as I want to be.  But I work with what I have — the age I am, the body I have, and whatever my physical gifts or limitations may be, not to mention the focus and memory that is required!

What Is Your Passion?

As is apparent, my passion is dance, and it is crystal clear to me that pursuing my passion has given me energy,  joy and confidence.  It has become such an essential part of my self-care, not only to go to performances, but also to participate in dance by dancing!  There is a life force and an engagement and a focus that comes from participating in what you love to do.  For me, it is dance.  What is it for you?  What is it that calls to you?  What is it that intrigues you?  What is it that makes you smile, or perhaps makes you cry because it has been missing?

Fitting In One More Thing

I wondered how I would find the time or the money to pursue dance classes.  As much as I wanted to try it out (although with a bit of nervousness about whether I could really do it), it felt rather indulgent and even frivolous to proceed.  It also seemed on the edge of overwhelming to add one more thing to my schedule.  But I also knew in my heart of hearts that it was the right thing to do.  I took the next step and made a phone call, even though I wasn’t really sure how it would all work out.

The amazing thing is that adding something that you are passionate about can create more joy.  And through that joy, the challenges and stress of life become a bit easier to handle.  Perhaps we gain a bit of perspective.  Perhaps we actually get better at coping with things.  I don’t really know.  What I do know is that life improves.

Put something joyful in your life.

Start small.  Make a phone call.  Do some research online to get more information.  Talk to someone who can tell you more.  Write down several ideas you have about it.  Let yourself dream, and also take some kind of action!  You may find that your life begins to improve in unexpected ways.  Your joy is an important part of self-care.  Taking care of ourselves is more than just eating well, exercising and sleeping enough.  It is also about including in your life the things that matter to you and that are important to you.

Let yourself matter enough to include joy!

Good Night?

Did you have a good night?  Are you having good nights?  Sleeping, that is.

When your nights are not good (or just too short…), your days tend not to be good either.  Up to a point you can exercise the old “mind over matter” strategy and affirm having a good day despite your sleep deprivation, then do all you can to engage yourself positively in the activities of your day.  However, night after night will catch up with you.  You might be getting through your days OK, but are you giving yourself and your body the sleep you need?  Do you feel rested and ready to go in the morning?  Do you have enough energy to sustain you throughout the day?  If not, it might be worth taking a look at your sleep and consider making some changes to get the sleep your body and mind may be craving.

Getting Enough Sleep

Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night.  Some seem to do fine on six, and others need as many as nine.  To add to the challenge, the quality of your sleep is as important as getting enough of it.  It’s a little easier to start with the length because that’s often the easiest to do something about.  Most people need or want to wake up by a certain time in the morning, which means that, for most of us, the part we have to work with is what time we’re going to bed.  And, for many of us, we often stay up late on Facebook or Twitter, or we’re texting or surfing the web or playing computer games.

You have to be very committed to disconnecting from your day and letting yourself go to sleep.

And even then, if being on the computer or your cell phone or watching TV was the last thing you did before you went to bed, you might have difficulty falling asleep or might have difficulty sleeping well.

Wow!  There’s a lot to this whole area, isn’t there?  It’s generally recommended that you disconnect yourself from your cell phone, computer and TV at least an hour before you want to go to sleep, to give your brain a chance to wind down from that kind of visual stimuli and processing of information.  Perhaps you might consider reading a book you’re enjoying (but not on your Kindle…) or listening to some music or journaling or perhaps even doing a relaxation exercise during that time instead.  It is generally much easier to replace an old habit with a new one, instead of just trying to do nothing.

Stimulants and Sleep?

On to another sleep stealer — caffeine.  One of my favorite beverages.  There’s a lot of individual variability with caffeine, but the same kind of recommendation holds true.  Don’t drink coffee or caffeinated tea or soda too close to your hoped-for bedtime.  What is too close?  I’ve seen recommendations to stop drinking caffeinated beverages as early as 3:00, and some people know that they need to follow that advice, or they’re not able to fall asleep.  Caffeine does affect your body for several hours so you might consider backing up when you stop drinking it until you notice that you can more easily fall asleep.  Three to fours hours would be a good place to start.

Also, for those of us taking ADD meds, be very careful to take them as prescribed.  If you’re taking short-acting Adderall, for example, you want to make sure that you’re not taking your last dose too close to your bedtime!  Otherwise, you’re likely to lie in bed and want to go to sleep but not be able to!  It’s a yucky feeling.  I’ve tried it for naps.  Very frustrating!

A Relaxing Drink Can Backfire

On the other end of the spectrum is alcohol.  We usually drink it in the evening to wind down or enjoy time with friends, but it has a rebound effect that occurs several hours after we’ve imbibed that can wake us right up, sometimes making it hard to fall back to sleep!  If you do drink, please be moderate, and keep in mind both sides of the effects of alcohol, the initial relaxation and the delayed rebound effect.  When you’re aware of this, you’re in a better position to make a good decision for yourself about whether to drink that evening.

Checklist

* Am I getting seven to eight hours of sleep?

* Am I allowing some time before I go to bed to let my brain wind down from the computer, TV and cell phone?

* Am I doing something relaxing before bedtime that helps my brain and body wind down?

* Am I being careful to stop drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages a few hours before bedtime?

* Am I conscientious about taking my ADD meds as prescribed so they don’t interfere with my sleep?

* Am I remembering that even though drinking alcohol can be relaxing, drinking it in the evening can cause me to wake up in the middle of the night?

There are so many things that can affect our sleep, in either a helpful or a detrimental way.  By answering these questions, you have a good starting point to assess your own sleeping habits and see if you’d like to make any changes.  Sleep is something that can dramatically affect the quality of our days, and it is worth our time to do what we can to enjoy our days as much as possible!

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!

“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!

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.

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