Pocket Therapy

20150309_072645Just thought I would share a little technique I share with class participants that helps people refocus when they are caught in a cycle of obsessing about something or they know they have a ‘button’ that gets pushed.  “Pocket Therapy” is a loose term, obviously it is NOT therapy but it is fun and mine has actually worked for me the couple times that I have pulled it out and looked at it.

The idea is simple, take a small matchbox of some sort.  You can decorate your matchbox any 20150309_072653way you like.  On the front you are going to put the word or action that you get stuck in a cycle in….see my pictures of mine.  On the inside you are going to write your ‘therapy’…your quote, your thought that gets you to stop and refocus your mind.  I also put a quote on the back of my box that was relevant to my issue – which is over-thinking 20150309_072723something.  I keep my box in my bag that I carry every day to and from work.  Will it ‘cure’ a big issue or solve all your problems?  Of course not, but sometimes all we need is a little reminder that our thoughts are not facts and refocusing can be a simple step to finding inner balance again.

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Oseola McCarty and Achieving Your Goal in Your Traveler Notebook, Part 1

Not very many people know about Oseola.  She was born in 1908.  Her family was poor.  When Oseola was in sixth grade her aunt became very ill and needed home care.  Since the aunt had no children of her own Oseola quit school and took care of her.  She never returned to school.  She later became a washerwoman, washing clothes for the people in her town. Oseola took her pay and gave 1 dime to her church, 1 dime to each of her three relatives, and set aside in a savings account, 6 dimes to the University of Southern Mississippi.  Oseola worked as a washerwoman her whole life, retiring in 1994 because of arthritis.  In July 1995 it was announced that Oseola had established a trust for Southern Miss in the amount of $150,000. She accrued this money by slowly, painstakingly saving little amounts of money out of every dollar she took in.

Oseola McCarty

Oseola McCarty

This isn’t a lesson about financial management or savings, this is a lesson about never giving up, never losing sight of that goal.  Sometimes a goal can be accomplished in days, weeks, months and sometimes that goal will take years to come to fruition.  There are other lessons here about how giving helps you get, a lesson about how putting others first means you receive far more than you will ever extend as well….

Oseola’s gift was earmarked for kids who were disadvantaged and could not afford college.  She is still giving long after she died.  I’ve been teaching Oseola’s life lesson since 1997 in my Joy Is A Choice classes for women in mid-life changes who want to take their lives in a 180 direction.  I tell them if Oseola can give .60 cents at a time and create a trust, they can take a goal and by committing a little energy every day to that goal, accomplish great things.  Mark Twain said most people miss success because it is dressed up in hard work…and he is right.  That consistent, constant effort is what makes the difference in the end, just look at Oseola when you doubt that.

If you have a goal…whatever it is…take a blank insert, a very lovely, special one in your Traveler Notebook.  Find a label, put it on the front with the title of your goal.  Inside, put a header titled:  Goal, in a couple pages, Steps to Goal,  in a few more pages, Brainstorm,  in a four or five pages, Why I shouldn’t (Yes, I said shouldn’t).  Then spend some quiet time writing your goal on the first page.  As you think of other components or dynamics to your goal record them.  After you write out the goal, start listing the steps you need to take to achieve it in the next section. The steps do not need to be in any order at all…they will be re-arranged later…leave room for other steps you think of later on…keep your notebook with you, with pen, because thoughts about your goal are going to pop up at the most random time and I want you to write those very random thoughts in the brainstorm section, additional steps in the appropriate section and ANY negatives that pop up in the ‘why you shouldn’t’ section.  Some of those thoughts will later be re-organized in to coming sections.  Then, when you have more quiet time, I want you to write in the ‘why I shouldn’t’ section every thought you’ve ever had as to why you cannot go forth with your goal….maybe financial reasons, logistical, space, people, whatever the reason, write them down…this isn’t the place to argue with those reasons or challenge them, simply record them.  These can also be negatives others have said to you about your goal.  Don’t move on to any other steps until Goals, Steps and Shouldn’t are completely exhausted and filled in….Next week, we will talk about what comes next.  I can tell you this process, if you are faithful to it, is going to result in some amazing things happening in your life.  Keep watching for Part 2 in Achieving Your Goal, Oseola Style.

Review of Writing Down Your Soul

Are you thinking about using your Traveler’s Notebook for journaling?  I have always been a firm believer in journaling and recording moments of your life.  Writing down quotes, perceptions, observations, keeping paper ephemera of your life is an excellent way to connect to your true self, understand your personal truth and leave a lasting memorial for family if you so choose to do that.  One of the best books I have read on the subject is Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Connor.

If you have ever had a hard time knowing where to start, how to start, why you should even bother, this is the book….Janet helps readers connect with the ‘inner voice’ in a very easy way.  If you were on the fence about journaling, she will push you over to her side and sell you on the importance of doing it.  I have read a multitude of comments that call this book life transforming and I agree.  One of my favorite parts was helping the reader give a name to their journal, I’ve always journaled but never with a directed name and now I do.   You can find the book on Amazon.  Used copies sell for as little as $7.99.  I don’t know Janet, get no credit for this, I just think this is a worthwhile resource.  If you want to start journaling in your Traveler’s Notebook, here is an excellent way to start.

The 2 by 4’s of Your Life

Just as a house is built with 2 by 4’s, you too have an infrastructure to your life.  Your infrastructure is built on your core values.Core Values Street Sign  Everyone has core values, very few have identified exactly what they are.  Core values guide our choices, help us know when we are making decisions that aren’t in alignment with our values and our true north.  Once you have identified what your core values are, you can look at common threads that have run throughout your life and see how they guided you, protected you, helped you succeed and grow.  Knowing what they are is a life affirming action that will show you that you are taking care of yourself and trusting yourself.

So how do you identify what they are?  I have a very easy, five minute exercise that will help you figure it out.  We should all have three core values.  In this exercise, you will dowload this document that is just a list of many different core values.  I’ve listed the most common core values, and some that are not so common.  Once you have the list, I want you to spend a few minutes and circle the twelve (12) most important values to you.  After you have done that, cross off three (3)…I know, not so easy but you can do it.  Now, cross off three more, you can do it!  Now cross off your final three and what you will be left with are your three most important core values.

Core values can change as we grow, mature and have different priorities in our lives.  Maybe in your twenties family was not a core value and now in your 30’s it is.  It’s ok for your core values to change as you age.  Now that you know what your core values are, you can use them as guideposts, as a gauge for those big life changing decisions you may be faced with, to help you know if what you value most in life will be well served by one choice or another.  Figuring out your core values, as you have learned, is not a complicated thing at all…take the list, share it with family and friends, it will be an easy way to get to know those in your life better!

I’m Fine…………..really……….part 2

Have you ever identified a lie that you tell yourself to justify something in your life that you don’t want to change? I’ll give you an exalow-self-esteem-380x2601mple. I was a very skinny kid – a rail if you will. When I grew up and started having kids I started putting weight on, just a little at a time but it added up until I found myself at 40 years of age with about 40 extra pounds….a lot for a 5’4″ woman. But I always had thin wrists, tiny if you will and I would tell myself I wasn’t that overweight because my wrists were so thin. This is an example of telling yourself a lie to justify something you are or aren’t doing, in my case to justify not having to confront my weight issue. It sounds silly to say it or even to see it written down but I actually used this ridiculous lie for years to not confront my weight issue. And truthfully, the lie harmed no one but myself.

Lies we tell ourselves appear harmless on the outward appearance but they can be life damaging because they keep us in a rut. Ruts can be very comfortable and feel safe when in fact they are holding us back from true joy and success. You may tell yourself lies about your job or the relationship you are in. No one else in your life may even be aware of these lies and you yourself may not be fully cognizant of the lies.

Look at areas in your life that may cause you discomfort or stress. Are you lying to yourself to stay where you are? The lie may make you temporarily feel better about the situation and may make you stop thinking about it for a while but it will pop up again. Confront these lies and lay out the truth of the situation….my wrist size has nothing to do with my overall weight and health. Once you clearly see the truth through the lie you can then write out a plan for change based on the truth – not the lie.

Ancora Imparo

I have been asked in my workshops by students, ‘How do I know when I’ve arrived…when I’ve ‘fixed’ myself.’ My answer to that is ancora imparo or ‘I am still learning.’ We never stop learning, growing or moving forward. The place you think is an ending to a dream or goal is really only the beginning of a new dream or goal. Personally, I think we never arrive. The very reality of being human invites constant learning, growing, changing and evolving. Every moment we are in gives us the opportunity to change anew and alter who we are. Every person we meet irretrievably alters our lives as we take a part of that person with us. When you think you are finished simply say – ancora imparo.

Re-writing Your History

In my workshops I am often asked what the difference is between my emotional wellness philosophy and the twenty zillion other sHeart_clipart-8elf-help philosophies out there. The cornerstone principle is that all the extra baggage you carry with you i.e. past relationships, failed marriages, addictions, hurts and ‘failures’ are not experiences and feelings to let go of but to use as building blocks to create the life you want. Face it, all the things I just mentioned – and many more only you know about – are PART of who you are as a human being. If I were to tell you to get rid of these things, I would be telling you to get rid of part of yourself, instantly setting up an adversarial relationship with yourself right at the beginning of your ‘self-help’ journey – not a very effective way to help someone.

Just because a relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean it was a failure. Failure is based on a perception of how something should have gone. The negative connotation associated with relationships that fail is based on a very archaic concept that we should meet, mate and stay with that person our whole lives….as kids these days would say – whatever!

Every experience, every memory, every little quirk that is a part of you, makes you who YOU are. So many self-help philosophies want you to ‘let go’ of those. Can you just let go of a arm or leg that is hurting? What I am asking you to do is take these past experiences, beliefs and memories and make them work for you. Take a different look at them – at what they gave you, at how they changed you and use that information to create what you want in life. A paradigm shift may be called for here if you are always looking at your past very negatively. Negative thoughts and actions breed negativity, positive thoughts and actions breed positive results.

As a little exercise take one experience that you have always looked at in a negative light. This would be an experience that maybe you privately berate yourself for. Write down everything you honestly remember about the experience. If you can’t remember some details – don’t fill them in with guesses – only write what you know. Next, write what your negative connotations are about the event. Then, I want you to look at what you just wrote and write what you have gained as a result of the experience. Maybe you gained an emotional strength or you had learned to do something you otherwise would not have. Be honest. After writing this all out, keep it somewhere where you can refer back to it. When you are troubled by the memory, pull out what you wrote and read it, add to it if you want, contemplate the event in a positive tone – it may be the first time you have ever done that.

This is a building block to a new life. Every time you take something negative from your past and change your perspective on it, you are in a way re-writing YOUR history truthfully instead of shrouding it in negative perceptions. It is a very powerful exercise that you can do with any negative things in your life. As you go through your past and look at events and memories that you feel have held you back you are laying the foundation of a positive future. You aren’t letting go of these things – you are simply incorporating them into who you are now in a positive way. Negative energy sucks the life out of you, positive energy will embolden you and make you see your life in a new light – it will give you gratitude that is unlimited and help you choose joy everyday. What are you waiting for?

The Mechanics of Change

When we talk about creating the life you dream of we always have to talk about change because any growth or creation involves changing. Unless you understand how change happens, you are destined to stay where you are. Change is very difficult and takes a long time. It isn’t something that happens overnight. Human beings are creatures of habit, structure, and things staying the same all the time. We like life to be predictable and to know what is coming down the pike. When we want something different it throws everything in chaos because now things are unpredictable.

What motivates change? Well, fear of dying is not enough motivation. Dr. Dean Ornish, a renown heart Doctor studied what would cause his patients to make fundamental and permanent changes to prolong their lives and fear of dying was not enough motivation! (In fact, 90% of heart patients who have had health crises do not make life saving changes)….Dr. Ornish found that joy rather than fear motivated his patients. Finding joy in life was more likely to cause those life saving changes. He also found that radical changes were more likely to succeed rather than small incremental changes! In fact when he used the above principles a whopping 77% of his patients made changes that positively affected their health.

We know that joy can bring about change. In order to make the changes in your life that are positive you need to be motivated by the joy that will come with the change. You also need to realize that habits take up to eight weeks to form to where the action becomes expected and automatic by your mind and body. If you want to replace an old habit with a new one expect to consciously work on it for about eight weeks. You may need to put reminder notes around your house or work area. Just remember, putting joy first in your life and using that as a motivation is the most successful way you can succeed. Joy feeds your soul and makes life worth living.

Are You Listening?

The reality with which we view the world is filtered by our sense of self esteem. For example, looking at a fashion magazine or maybe a magazine about cars will bring up many negative or unresolved feelings about how we see ourselves fitting in to the world around us. You may feel you are not worthy of a nice car or a particular kind of outfit. It may sound silly but it is true.

Our self esteems are molded in childhood. How we fit in to the world around us was shaped and creatIMG_1467ed by how OTHERS in youth treated us. If you had a particularly traumatic or trying childhood you may have many unresolved self esteem issues. Your ‘self’ absorbed all the good, bag and ugly you heard about yourself and integrated it in to who you see yourself to be. Self esteem and dysfunction are intimate bedfellows and hard to separate. Does it mean it isn’t possible? No! There is a secret undamaged person in every individual. And the first duty of loving yourself is to listen to yourself. Having a damaged self esteem also is not an excuse for bad behavior. We all, for the most part, very easily differentiate between good behavior and what is unacceptable.

Often the damaged part of a self esteem is hurt because of things we now perceive we did not receive as children – let me repeat that. The damaged or hurt part of our inner selves is because of things we now perceive we did not receive as children. Maybe you never got that special bike you wanted and therefore felt unloved. Maybe your father was never home so you did not feel worthy of his love. The good news is this can be undone…we can unwind the clock so to speak. Healing a hurt self is not easy nor is it a one-time process. It can take a long time to repair the damage but persistence and determination are vital to this process.

Here is one of the most powerful exercises I use in my Emotional Wellness workshops and it inevitably brings many tears to many eyes during and after the process.

Write down on a piece of paper or in a journal, in whatever order or way they come to you, the things you wish you had received in your childhood — and did not. Take 10 minutes to do this exercise. Write whatever comes to mind – whether you believe it now or not… It can be time with a loved one, a thing – what ever it is, how ever many things there are. Do not stop writing.

Once you are done, review your list. You have just written what you should do for yourself now! Any surprises? This simple exercise – and following through with the results, can help to start to connect you with the undamaged child in you and rebuild/create a positive self esteem. This is the singular most powerful exercise I have students do. Did you want a pony, then go find a riding stable and take lessons. Did you want more time with your mother and she is now gone? Sit and write letters to her and have conversations with her on paper. Did you want braces? Go get them. Re-nurture the child in you. Be your own parent and caretaker. Remember I said the first duty of love is to listen? Your inner child is begging for you to listen, provide what is needed and help him or her grow in to the person you now are. Are you listening?

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