I was putting away suitcases from holiday and work travel. As I emptied out the little odds and ends it got me to thinking about emotional baggage. According to the urban dictionary the word baggage now has additional meaning beyond a container used to travel. It states that painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past sexual or emotional rejection.
All of us have baggage. But for a visual example, some of us have little paper bags and others are running around trying to pull cargo containers with them. What is your bag? Is it a backpack, a suitcase or more? A fun way to find this is to sit down with colored pencils and draw a picture of yourself chained to a container big enough to hold all your rejections, hurts and even false beliefs getting in the way of your happiness.
We need to clean out our container. If you are chained to it and it is bigger than a backpack you are not going to have a very easy time moving forward in life. It anchors you and demands your attention. Your experiences have to filter through all that. If your container is large, the reality comes out distorted.
It is the time of year where many make New Year’s resolutions. There is nothing wrong with setting a resolution. It gives you a goal to achieve. If we compare this to a road trip across the country, we have a set destination we wish to arrive at. Without a plan to get there or asking for directions one could wander in a whole different destination. You need a road map even if it is on your phone.
When setting resolutions, look at them from these viewpoints. Is it specific so that you know exactly what you want and what it would look like to be there? You also want to look at whether it is reasonable? Is it completely under your control? It is almost impossible to achieve a goal if part of it is not in your control and the uncontrolled part is not headed in the same direction as you are.
This time of year tends to increase feelings of loneliness, depression and stress reactions. With that comes a lot of acting out such as outbursts, short fuse and even withdrawal. These are often talked about throughout the mental health community. I wanted to focus on what to look for around the topic of being held hostage emotionally.
To do that, we first need to define what it means to be an emotional hostage. When individuals use fear, anger or guilt to get what they want they are attempting to take you emotionally hostage. This technique is often used by abusers. It could look as simple as throwing a fit or threatening to go back to drug use if they don’t get their way. Basically, they don’t want to take responsibility for their words or actions and instead attempt to blame others. With addicts new to recovery, it may be an excuse to return to use.
This is the season where there is an increased focus on being thankful. While this is a great reminder to look for the good in life, it is something you really need year around. It isn’t just good for your positive outlook, it impacts many areas in your life.
In an article by Robert Emmons -2010, he shares that keeping a gratitude journal for just three weeks had huge impacts some of which were unexpected. That study included over 1,000 people. Some of what was reported included the following.
People that they had higher levels of positive emotions such as joy and pleasure. They became more aware and alert. There were many reports of more optimism and happiness with life overall.
Self-discipline is a dirty word to many people. It means saying no to extra sleep, that fudge sundae or not being able to say no when we are overloaded. The truth is, self-disciplined individuals have shown to be happier. Why you ask? They feel more in control of their life which leads in an increased send of life satisfaction.
The first step is to take a bit of an inventory and find your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing where you are weak, whether it is gambling, food, or overcompensating, is the only way to begin to overcome it. If it is something with a visual cue then the rule of out of sight, out of mind is a useful tool. We don’t keep junk food in the house because if we begin to crave it, it is often not worth getting in the car and driving to get some.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
― Mother Theresa
I wanted to tell you about the beginning of my week. I am a cancer fighter of four years and on Monday I had an appointment with my oncologist. My doctor informed me that the chemotherapies known to be effective for my situation where no longer doing their job. If we did nothing, I had eighteen months. The recommendation was surgery, but it was unlikely as a tumor was literally on a main blood artery in my liver making it too dangerous to operate.
Now I am usually centered, but this knocked me off my base and inner peace was not present. My doctor had basically told me my life had an end in sight. She made me an appointment with a surgeon to take a closer look at the tumor in question for Tuesday. Despite meditation and other skills I use to maintain a sense of calm, I spent the evening future tripping. I must have traveled through 100 ‘whatifs’. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night.
Fairness is such an odd expectation. Many of us believe that the world should be a fair place. It should be, but the reality is that it’s not. Some are born into wealth, others poverty. It is just a fact that we are not born into equal opportunities and we don’t have the same strengths and weaknesses. It is not a right or wrong, it is just the way things are. This is our reality.
Despite this, the odds are not stacked against you. It doesn’t matter where you have found yourself, you can change the portions of life that are causing you distress. You are not helpless. You can change these things in most cases.
There are a lot of opportunities in life. But the question is, can we recognize these? We need to take the time and figure out what beliefs are causing us barriers. There are a lot of things we believe that are not necessarily true. The most common ones are the beliefs we have about ourselves. We have prejudices about our own abilities and worth. “I am not good enough.” “I am too stupid.” “I don’t deserve success or happiness.” They come out in our self-talk.
This self-talk creates a prison. The bars are beliefs, our subconscious and desires. They wrap about us just as effectively as actual bars and keep us locked in place. We even tell ourselves untruths rather than take risk. “I have to stay in this job that I hate because I need the money.” Many people will then try to make the best of the situation and live depressed and unhappy. This leaves them largely unprepared for change. The fact is things change. Be ready for it.
Along with opportunities in life, there are traps. Sometimes these traps form slowly. There is a story that is often told about if you put a frog in hot water, it will leap out. If you turn up the heat slowly, it will stay in the water until it’s cooked. Life can be like that. Things build and build, and we put off dealing with things as they occur and then we look around and we are trapped in a circle of problems that finally all connected trapping us and creating despair.
Why do I mention all these things? Change cannot happen if we believe we are helpless and have no way out. Being able to recognize these traps is the first step in finding true inner peace. What are some of these traps? Alcohol, gambling, shopping, taking on debt larger than our income’s ability to pay off and in some cases staying in an unhealthy relationship.
Life is an adventure to be experienced. It is going to happen so do you choose to live it in despair or happiness? The first step as I said is to recognize the traps around us and in front of us. The second is beginning to recognize opportunities for what they are and have the courage to reach out and grab them once we recognize them. This is the start of your journey into happiness and inner peace.
If you need help on this journey, I would love to assist you. I have four openings for this week. I offer a free consultation to see if we would be a good match and to define what you are looking for from a coach. Just reach out and contact me.
Have a great day and keep your eyes open.
Inner Peace and Happiness Coach
Fear and Peace
Fear is an emotional tool for the body. It prompts the flight, fight or freeze phenomena. This tool became part of the survival mechanism. Yet today, many of us have paralyzing fears that have nothing to do with our physical survival. Because it is part of our survival mechanism means that some fears are healthy and constructive.
Constructive fears can prompt action; things like studying, humility and motivation. It proceeds many personality changes, increased confidence and increased authority. These fears are instruments of change and progression. .
Destructive fears are fears that hold us back. It includes things like public speaking, being in crowds, failure or loss of respect, fame or fortune. It is often induced by lies we tell ourselves. That means the basic fuel of fear is deception. You have to confront those lies head on with truths. Often these fears originate from an event in our past and could go back as far as childhood.
So the first thing you can do reduce destructive fear is self-talk. We are born naturally cynical so you have to work to have that more positive mindset. Affirmations are used throughout the business world and have been proven to work. It is a major step in bringing peace into your life. Replacing these lies that rule us with positive outcome statements can create measurable change.
You can also replace the cynical mindset by watching what information you consume. If all you read, hear and see is negative, it will be almost impossible to create that positive mindset. You have control of your input. What you read, watch on videos or t.v. and in some cases music makes a difference in your outlook and attitude. Work to make most of these inputs positive.
Prayer or meditation is another tool that works well for many people. Focusing your energy on positive outcomes, visualization exercises of you without the fear and mindfulness are just a few ways to take that more meditative state.
The last thing you can do is face your fears. You won't grow if you jut try to stay comfortable. Let's take the fear of crowds, the more you react to this fear the greater it becomes. It can grow so strong that eventually you won't want to leave the house. Giving yourself short exposure to a crowd and then working to increase the time we can remain surrounded will slowly eliminate the fear.
Finding peace means giving up fears that lead to worry. Worry destroys inner peace. One of the ways to reduce worry is giving up a vested interest in the outcome. This will not work for fears that relate to our physical survival or the loss of someone we love. When you do what you can where you can and let go of the aspects you cannot control, you will increase inner peace.
If you do not know how to let go of a worry, I offer a 1/2 hour session that teaches a technique to at least reduce the amount of stress from fear and worry. This class is only $59. I am so sure it will work that I will offer a money back guarantee. If my techniques does not reduce or refocus your worries after four uses, I will gladly return the teaching fee.
If you would like book a session just send me a message from my contact page at creategoodliving.com.
So many of my clients over the last 10 plus years have come to me in a great deal of stress. They speak of needing to keep up, wanting a promotion or a raise. So they work long hours and often bring work home.
The brain is not made to stay under constant stress like this. Such stresses release a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol damage the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. This is why vacations are so important. Your brain only works at maximum efficiency when it has down time. This can be found through new adventures, restful sleep and even exercise.