Live in The Moment

I’m sure you’ve had someone tell you this a time or two. Or you’ve been the one telling someone else. Is living in the moment easy for you? It is, then this post may only help you understand those of us who can’t. If living in the moment is a struggle for you, you are not alone my friend. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do in life.

Glennon Doyle summarized it perfectly in this explanation in Untamed:

It’s just that living with anxiety — living alarmed — makes it impossible to enter the moment, to land inside my body and be there. I cannot be in the moment because I am too afraid of what the next moment will bring. I have to be ready.

Living alarmed.

Those two words explain so much about my life without going into great detail. I live alarmed and on edge every single day. I have to be ready. I have to be prepared. I have to know what is coming next so I can be ready for it.

I have to be observant and watchful.

I have to be inconspicuous and calm.

I have to divert the crisis that is about to happen.

I cannot live in the moment and enjoy it because I have to be ready for the next moment that is almost surely going to be some sort of disaster.

Anxiety tells me that something bad is always going to happen next and that I need to be prepared to control it. I need to be prepared to take action. Anxiety leaves me living in constant vigilance of what is coming next.

Not just next in the next second. Next in the next minute. In the next hour. In the next day. In the next month. In the next year. In the next five years. In the next eternity. Whatever is next, I have to be ready.

Spontaneous fun? No, that is not acceptable. I can’t be prepared for it.

Just chilling and hanging out. Mmm maybe but I’m still going to be considering what is coming next once I stop chilling. Also, this must be planned. It cannot be spontaneous.

Why does everything just want to be spontaneous and live in the moment when there is surely something that will go wrong?!

Because they are wired differently.

It doesn’t mean we are bad people because we can’t live as free as they can. I know we have times that life seems easy and spontaneity is possible and living in the moment is possible. We can all get there occasionally. But when we can’t, we are in a constant state of panic.

Some people call us high-strung. They are wrong. We are sensitive people who just want to make sure everyone we love with be alright. And that everything is put away where it goes and done exactly as we think it should be. That’s how we stay safe.

Living in the moment sounds delightful and terrifying at the same time. If you live or are around one of us who carries anxiety with us, give us a little grace as we navigate spontaneity and working to live in the moment. We are working through more than you can see on the outside. We are struggling and happy at the same time, most of the time.

Living in the moment will work for us sometimes and not others. It is nothing against you, it is merely how we are wired. We are working through it. We are struggling. We are overcoming. Take our hand and help us through it without condemnation or some smartass comment. That doesn’t help.

We want to live in the moment, but we also want to hide from the moment so we can prepare for the next one.

Fused Thoughts

During my guided meditation this morning, the idea of fused thoughts was brought to my attention. I had never heard the concept before, but as soon as it was explained, a light bulb went off in my thoughts sending me in so many different directions. It’s as though this concept of fused thoughts explains so much about how my mind behaves.

I knew I had to share this concept with you and did some quick research to look more into it. In “Are You and Your Thoughts the Same?” on Psychology Today, Sarah-Nicole Bostan provides the following definition of cognitive fusion:

Cognitive fusion is a construct stemming from Relational Frame Theory which forms the basis of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy and is understood as a state in which one is unable to distinguish between the content of one’s own mind and what he or she is actually experiencing in the world.

It makes complete sense to me. My mind will run absolutely wild thinking of all of these scenarios, usually scenarios that involve conflict, and will cause tension within myself. Not only do those thoughts cause immediate tension within myself, they cause a sense of tension walking into situations with people in the future. It’s as though my mind only knows how to plan out future situations with scenarios involving some kind of conflict that I am involved in because others harass or bully me. I can think back to many different times that my mind has created these scenarios and then I get to the situation in question and I already feel on the defensive.

It’s time to stop these thoughts. It’s time to work on these fused thoughts and stop allowing them to negatively dictate my future. But first, why does my mind immediately go to negative situations?

I believe my mind, and probably yours too, jumps to negative scenarios because that is part of our subconscious fight or flight programming. It is easier for our minds to see the negative or potentially harmful scenarios because that is what our brain was designed to do so many years ago. Now that we all live in a vastly different world than when our lizard brain was formed, we have this pent up fear that isn’t as vital to most of our lives today. I believe that pent up fear is what causes our minds to jump to negative scenarios with the automatic cognitive fusion that we are experiencing.

So, how do we change this automatic process? We take it one step at a time and start to notice when these thoughts are occurring. Of course, we won’t be able to always identify every single instance, but if we start trying and we start identifying more and more, we will begin to take over the cognitive fusion process.

During my meditation, the lesson on how to change the trajectory of these thoughts was to first identify when they are occurring. If we can start to recognize when these thoughts are taking over, we can start to change them. The meditation suggested that once we identify the fused thought, we mark it as ‘noted’ and change what we are thinking. I want to take that a step further in how I plan to use this method. Note the thought, acknowledge it and say thank you but I’ve got this. Then change the scenario. Who was being a bitch to you? How were you getting hurt? Change it. That person is showing you more love than you’ve ever experienced from them. That situation you were getting hurt in is now a situation that you are shining in.

I truly believe that these fused thoughts are part of what keeps me limiting myself. So instead of just trying to push the thoughts away, I want to refrain them to help me grow into appreciating and celebrating myself. I want to refrain them to my advantage.

In my quick research to share this thought with you, I also came across a list of other methods to defuse the cognitive fusion. I only resonate with a couple of them, so those are the ones that I am going to share. They follow along the paths that I’ve been using for my current growth process.

Name your mind with a capital M. Using this method, the suggestion is to think of your mind as a separate entity and give it a name, Mind. When you identify one of these thoughts, or simply some anxious thoughts, acknowledge them by saying “There goes Mind again” or “Mind is at it again telling me how everybody hates me”. This method is very similar to what Andrea Owen suggests for identifying and naming your inner critic. So no matter what you name that inner voice, acknowledge it for the lies it is telling you and tell it to fuck off.

This one is a fun one that I actually adapted to how I know I can use it. Imagine you are sitting in a car listening to some awesome music, then a shitty song comes on that just makes you feel horrible. What are you going to do? You change the channel. When your mind goes into one of these fused thoughts that you can identify, change the channel. Your mind sent you down a path that your family member is telling you much you keep fucking up? Change the channel. You walk into their home and they are happy to see you and give you a compliment and a hug and welcome you in. They ask about your life and share theirs. It’s a loving situation.

No matter what method you use, or what combination of them, I know that these will help you, and me. I truly believe that if we can get a hold of our unconscious thoughts, we will be able to improve our anxieties and our life ten fold.

How are you going to work on your fused thoughts? Do you have any common ones you can identify right now?

Are You Asking The Right Questions?

I am a very black and white person. It is or it isn’t. I only see gray on a few things, like my professional career. For most of my life, I ask the black and white questions: Can I do X without failing? This usually holds me back. It keeps me from exploring that thing that I might want to do.

So when I heard one of my mentors talk about asking the right questions, I had to stop to meditate on what they were implying. The thing is, we tend to ask the same question over and over. We don’t ever change it to see a different point of view. You probably see this happening most when you are fighting with your spouse. You or your spouse says the same thing multiple times because the other person isn’t responding the way you want to doesn’t understand your point. What if we changed the question? What if we put it a different way?

I have started to do this when talking to Eddie. We rarely fight, usually just have disagreements, but it all comes down to miscommunication. You see, we are creatures of habit and we speak how we understand things. We plan in a way that we understand. We look to the future in a way that we understand. When people suggest something that is different than what we know, more often than not, we get uncomfortable and want to stay in our comfort zone.

It’s time that we break up with our comfort zone and start asking different questions. Here is an example:

Question/Goal: I want to lose 20 pounds
New Question/Goal: I want to eat a healthier diet

or

Question/Goal: How do I get millions of followers to become the well-respected life coach I want to be?
New Question/Goal: What do I need to start doing today that will lay the foundation to eventually become a well-respected life coach?

Here’s the thing, we tend to ask questions about our end goal, about the big thing that we want to accomplish. We don’t ask ourselves how other’s did it or what are the little steps that, if we take them now, will lead us to the big goal.

Here is another one:

Question: Why can’t I quit drinking alcohol when I’m around Sally?
New Question: What is it about drinking alcohol that makes lunch with Sally better?

It’s time to stop living in a black and white world. There is so much gray area that we can make brighter if we start asking different questions. No longer is it just this or that. We are in new times with new technologies and possibilities that we can ask the same question in so many different ways that we can get so many different answers.

When I started this blog, I wanted to grow and become a life coach in just a few months. I wanted to be making millions and quit my project management career. Why? Because that is what all the life coaches do. I was asking the wrong question. That isn’t my focus. Following in their path isn’t my path. I have my own path and I need to ask myself different questions to get me to where I am fulfilled and happy.

What questions can you change to ask differently? What is the new answer?

I Am Me

I am me, regardless of my weight.

I am me, regardless of my salary.

I am me, regardless of my job.

I am me, regardless of who my immediate family is.

I am me and that is who I will be.

I am me and I am learning to be comfortable with who I am.

I have spent most of my life trying to be someone else. I was a chameleon trying to change who I was to fit who I was around and the situation I was in. I was never true to myself. I was changing and blending so much that I lost who I was.

I was lost. I have been lost since I was a teenager, probably even before. I was never truly myself. I knew deep down there was a picture of who I wanted to be, but that person was so far away, that I didn’t think I would ever actually be able to be her. I thought that person was someone who had to stay hidden so I could be what others wanted me to be.

I started drinking to fit in. I drank A LOT. I partied. I buried my introvert so deep she had no idea how to come back out.

I kept drinking and partying because I made friends that way. I made friends everywhere I went because I was free and happy and lively.

I made friends, but I didn’t truly connect with people. They let me in, but I kept everyone at an arm’s length, or farther. I wasn’t willing to let anybody see who I truly was or where I was from. I didn’t know who I was. I was ashamed of where I was from.

I wasn’t me.

I got tired. Everything I buried away started creeping in. I started feeling again. It sucked. I hated it and tried to drown my feelings with more partying. Except that didn’t work. I really wasn’t happy. I didn’t know who I was or what I truly wanted out of life.

Until I gave in. I started working on myself. I started working on the hell of my past. I started letting people in, just a little bit. I let Eddie in and he crushed every fucking wall. I was caught in this space of not knowing who I was and being this party girl who checked all the boxes depending on who I was with.

Then I leaned in farther. I explored the feelings. I found others like me. I started to learn who that person that I pictured could be. I started to see her more clearly until I finally invited her to be part of my life.

I never thought it would be possible to be comfortable in who I was or am. I have a lot of regrets in life and one of my biggest is not learning to truly be who I am earlier in life.

I still struggle to overcome the chameleon, but every day that I lean into me is another day that my love for myself grows. It started with a baby step, then another, then another, and another. Baby step after baby step brings me to who I am today.

I still have a lot of growing to do, but I can truly, confidently say I am me.

I am me and that is who I will be. I am for me. I am me.

Freedom

For most of us in the United States, the word ‘freedom’ signifies our freedom from oppression. But most of us don’t think about what freedom means on a more individual level.

Yes, you have the freedom to work where you want, eat what you want, drive what you want, etc., but have you thought about the freedom that is even more granular than that?

Each of us has a truth that we either speak or hide. What we do with our truth determines how happy we are.

In The Soul Frequency by Shanna Lee, she writes “Freedom is born from finding the courage to speak our truth.”

The problem I see and have had for many years is that I don’t know what my truth is. I never stopped to think what I wanted from life. I just kept repeating the same patterns I had always followed. I didn’t know anything different. I didn’t have the courage or the heart to learn that there was more to life. That I had a truth buried deep inside that I was denying.

The truth I have been living:
Go to college, get a master degree, get a good job that pays a lot, get married, have kids, work until the normal retirement, travel some if you can afford it, retire, die.

The truth that I’m discovering deviates from what I have been living. I went to college, I earned my MBA, and I have a great job that pays well. I got married. We tried to have kids, that didn’t work, and now we have decided to prevent any possible oops. I want to do something more with my life than work for someone else until I retire. I’m learning what I want that something more to be.

My truth is still being defined and that’s okay. We don’t have to have all the answers laid out when we muster up the courage to start living our truth. We just need to live our own truth and not the way of our family, community, or society.

If you don’t know what your truth is, that’s okay. Start listening to the nudges you get to do something different or to experience something. Those nudges are your truth trying to help direct you. Some nudges lead you to a long-term experience, some come and go. No matter the duration, these nudges are leading you to the truth you are meant to live. Follow them.

Happy Soul, Happy Life

We’ve all heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life”, right? What if, instead of listening to that, we created a new phrase? I mean, I personally don’t want my husband just to appease me to make his life happy.

IMG_20190717_063209_549000.jpg

I came across this phrase a couple days ago and it just stuck with me. So instead of “happy wife, happy life”, I want to start a trend of “happy soul, happy life.” I know, it doesn’t rhyme, but I don’t care.

When was the last time you did something that truly made your soul happy?

Do you even know what makes your soul happy?

I can honestly say that I don’t do enough of what makes my soul happy. Some of it is because of health limitations, but most is out of pure laziness or setting absurd rules for how my life will be run.

I realized this week, that I have carried through my life the rule of ‘not on a school night’ that I was raised with. It has now become ‘not on a work night’. I literally don’t allow us to really do much on a work night, unless I can work from home the next day.

I have seriously limited our ability to live life and have fun or have hobbies because I’m afraid of doing things that will ruin the next day. When I put it into words, it sounds dumb! Hell, I wouldn’t even allow us to grocery shop during the week. I have had to have everything done on the weekends.

This has severely limited what we can do that makes our soul happy.

I experienced a lot of happy soul moments this past weekend though. We went camping for the first time since my surgery and for the first time with our overland trailer and RTT. We spent two nights camping in a beautiful place. We went offroading and relaxed. I took time for myself and just laid in the tent for a while and read. I cuddled with the dogs and watched other people’s children get absolutely dirty. I saw deer that were interested in Radar. I climbed up a ruin of an old mine. We even took our time driving out of the mountain by taking the long way home.

My soul was happy. Very happy. I felt refreshed after this trip.

I don’t fully know what makes my soul happy, but I’m opening myself up to learn. I know that having Radar ask to cuddle in my lap while I’m sitting here typing this at my desk makes my soul happy.

I am going to spend some time this year figuring out what makes my soul happy. I challenge you to do the same thing.

Do you already know? Share with me in the comments. Are you learning what makes your soul happy? Share what you are learning. Let’s work together to inspire others to find what makes their soul happy.