Need space?

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Regardless of annual income, or lack thereof, the only real estate that we all have guaranteed to us is our own personal space.  I’m not talking the walls that house and shelter you, I’m talking about the intangible energies that embody who we are and how we conduct ourselves.  We are constantly maintaining, creating, and promoting the space around us.  Think about the last time you said, “I just need some space.”  What is it that you were craving at that time?  My guess would be you were looking for a sense of peace, calm, or perhaps clarity that seemed unattainable at that moment.

A combination of our thoughts, perceptions, and ongoing behaviors create the space that we call our own and each of those things perpetuate either positive or negative energy around us.  What I continue to learn most is that if I am in a place of fear, uncertainty, insecurity, and separation…I tend to react with tension and even anger to people around me.  However, when I’m relaxed, feeling connected to the world around me, and open; I am more likely to experience patience, tolerance, and warmth to those very same people and circumstances.  Notice, I said, “more likely”.  It’s not as if we become immune to all those things, but perhaps we become more adaptable.

All sorts of things can negatively impact the equilibrium we experience within our personal space and at the end of the day it is up to us to decide if there is going to be a small ripple of a current or an all-out smashing wave of discontent that smacks us in the face. It may be the ongoing responsibilities that seem to pile up during the work day.  But it can also be the uncomfortable feeling when you are not feeling yourself and someone close to you asks what’s wrong and you simply don’t know how to put your feelings into words.  Often though, it’s that sense that the world is crashing down, things are changing too fast, and nothing feels certain.

Whatever the case, we can arm ourselves with tools that help us create, maintain, and promote the best possible space around us that is full of love and hope.  I’m not suggesting we put our heads in the sand and pretend that bad things don’t happen or that some days are not going to be harder than others.  However, if we become intentional about our personal space and diligently assess our interactions, we will begin to realize whether our perceptions, thoughts, and actions are being impacted by fear and uncertainty.  And ultimately through increased awareness, we can determine if the space we need is a complex layers of a process which identifies our true need…which is love.

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A powerful reminder

This week I have been reminded that when people act out in prejudice, discriminatory, and outright ignorant ways…they are being driven by fear.  It may be fear of themselves, fear of uncertainty, or such a deep fear they don’t even realize it exists within them.  My response will either give fear more power and promote separation or provide the antidote and guide us towards unity.  It doesn’t mean I accept behavior and ignore the consequences of their actions…it means that I generate something that is impossible to exist in a state of fear: love.  When we respond in kindness, patience, understanding, and generosity we promote a strand that connects us a human beings and reminds us that we are all the same perfectly imperfect and beautiful being that is.

Strength training for everyone.

If someone asks you how your week is going, what are you most likely going to focus on?  Too often we get caught up in the things that we didn’t do well, the tasks we didn’t complete, or simply the daunting things piling up in front of us.  And sometimes, all of those things start to sound like a negative committee in our head that is communicating that we are not good enough or working hard enough to celebrate exactly who we are in this moment.

What if you paused today and simply asked the question:  “What did I do well this week?”  There is something powerful about this question because it holds the answer to where our strengths are found.  Through examining this question, we can reveal what we do automatically, and sometimes with little to no effort.  Herein lies the key to what really makes us strong.

Now for those of us who have a particularly loud inner critic, this exercise may prove to be more complex and require careful attention to avoid the desire of focusing on  deficiencies.  However, if you follow these simple steps, you will be on  your way to a stronger you:

  1. First, gather your writing paper/pens (this is better than the computer to decrease the likelihood of distractions).
  2. Next, sit and allow yourself to feel calm.  This will look different for everyone, but do what works for you.  It may include abdominal breathing, remembering self-compassion, smiling, soothing music, or even just thinking positive thoughts.  Whatever works for you, take as much time as you need.  Being calm and present is the most important part of this task.
  3. After you feel calm and relaxed, reflect on your week and think about all the events from the past 7 days.  You may want to jot down certain names/places/things that happened.
  4. When you have brainstormed for a minute or so, begin documenting the things that you did each day that you enjoyed, brought you satisfaction, made you smile, and/or you want to repeat.

That’s all.  Don’t worry if you had one great day and then one really crappy day….you are focusing on the positives.  If you woke up early one day, had a good workout, connected with a friend over dinner, and noticed a beautiful sunset, then you write it down.  However, and this is VERY important, if you find your mind wandering to the day that you overslept, had a conflict at work, ate all junk food, or argued with your partner; take a deep breath and focus on listing out only the things that you feel good about.  Sure, maybe you had a crap day for the most part, but can you find something that was positive?  Maybe it was the fact that you got up and dressed that day? Or maybe it was that you decided not to go bed angry.  If you sincerely look for the best parts of your day, I believe you will find it.

Every day we do something that supports us, that makes us feel whole, that motivates us to try again the next day; but we can get so caught up in the one or maybe five things we did ‘wrong’ or not quite good enough that we overlook and even forget the small awesome moments. Please do not think any act was too small….if you smiled at even one person one day; that is something work celebrating and acknowledging.

The whole exercise should only take a few minutes and the most time-consuming part may be the getting to calm but it can be incredibly powerful to consciously acknowledge all of the good things you did this week.  And as with any exercise, you will need to repeat it often to reap the full benefits.  So start today, see how you feel, then try it again next week.  Hopefully with a few intentional exercises of highlighting your own strengths you can start to recognize that you really are stronger than you realized and that you have incredible potential to become even stronger.

Be happy, be healthy, be strong.

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A resolution of love

New Year

New Year

The L in ‘LUCK” stands for love and the complexity of this emotion is never lost on me.  Loving someone else is a natural process yet the idea of loving self become complicated, conditional, and at times unfeasible.  I wonder why it seems so natural to experience love for others and so unnatural to experience love for our own self?

When our friends make mistakes, we can rationalize their behavior and even experience compassion for them even when their actions may have directly impacted us.  However, we are unable to find that compassion and understanding for ourselves quickly, if at all, sometimes.  We hold ourselves to standards that can be impossible.  We judge ourselves constantly and compare what we ‘should’ be versus accepting exactly what we are in this moment.

Have we ever examined a relationship in our lives and thought, “if only they were perfect, had no flaws, and made no mistakes…I could love them more?”  So why in the world do we hold ourselves to an unattainable and undesirable standard?  Not only are we able to accept flaws and imperfections in others, but we find value in them.  Those are the traits that endear us to them and make them unique and full of character. We find tolerance through our experience of love for them.

I wonder what amazing things would happen if today we all started only one resolution….to simply love and accept ourselves completely as we are?  This is not to suggest that we can’t explore ways to become more aware or gain more understanding and knowledge of ourselves and acknowledge opportunities for continued growth.  It’s simply an invitation to accept that who we are at this very moment is worthy of love and that we don’t have to wait until we are ‘better’ to fully engage in self-love.

I fully believe that loving our self leads to a better sense of well-being, happiness, and peace which transcends into more peace, love, and happiness around us.  My resolution for this year?  More love.  Absolutely.