Letting Go

Letting go. How does that phrase make you feel? It has been my experience that most folks, including myself, feel a bit icky when they hear these words. Why is that?

I’m discovering that letting go (of stuff, feelings, habits, relationships that don’t help us grow, etc.) is a heady experience. Recently I had the interior of my house painted. As a self-admitted “neat freak,” this was quite painful as it put the house into a shambles (the painter’s word). But on the day that I decided to start putting things back together, I re-discovered the joy of letting go through cleaning and purging. I had dreaded this and had let it go a few days, but once I got started putting the furniture into place, I decided to clean out drawers and cabinets while I was at it. I threw out stuff that I forgot I had (and wondered why I kept), and this inspired me to rearrange the furniture in a couple of rooms. After taking several bags of “trash” outside, I ended up totally changing the furniture around in my master bedroom. I put fewer items on the walls. I decided to store a desk in my storage room instead of leaving it in the bedroom. I have to tell you I could hardly get to sleep that night I was so excited. My energy level was raised dramatically just from this change and the de-cluttering.

Why am I telling you this? Well, it gave me some insight into what energizes me, and I suspect that some of you are wired the same way. On the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I’m an ENFP, which means that I am easily bored and need frequent change. I’m way more excited about what could be than what is. Being on the borderline between P and J, my J tendencies put the “neat freakishness” into my personality, which causes me to feel much better when things are neat and tidy. So having an evening in my newly-painted home where I cleaned out some clutter AND made the bedroom look new was just too much fun!

I’m applying this knowledge to other areas of my life as well. I’ve learned over this past year that our thinking drives our feelings which drives our behaviors which drives our results. I use this to regulate my emotions through managing my thoughts. When I catch myself in the middle of “stinking thinking,” I am now much more likely to recognize it and start to shift my thoughts to support better feelings. I’m applying it to how I deal with eating and food (an area of great anguish for me since I was 6 years old), making decisions, socializing, resting–you name it.

So, back to letting go. I have found that if we are able to let go of what is not serving us in our lives, we are lighter, freer, and more likely to not get stuck. “Stuck” is one feeling I hate and I spent a long time in my 30’s feeling just that way. I feel lucky to have found a way to work myself out of it when it strikes. It’s in my control, because it has to do with my thinking and whatever actions I take based on that.

What next? I think I’ll tackle the closets…

lettinggo

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“Good Enough”

I am good enough. You are good enough. We are all good enough. How do those statements feel? Do you believe them, I mean really believe them?

I’m learning, through much deep work and affirmation from myself and others, that these statements are true. The middle sentence I’ve never doubted. The first and last ones–since they’re in the first person–have ALWAYS been troublesome.

The power of getting to the belief that I am good enough is major. I approach the world in a different way. A therapist I used to see commented once that I needed to let go of the “self-condemnation.” I can see now that that kind of thinking about myself caused me not to live my life to the fullest. It was instrumental in my making some, shall we say, less than stellar choices about how I spent my time and with whom I spent it. People-pleasing ran rampant; boundary-setting seemed impossible. A “fearless and moral inventory” of myself taken a mere 3 years ago showed that “not good enough” was my number one fear. And of course I know I’m not alone in this.

The good news is that I don’t live like that anymore. Do I do it perfectly? NO. And I mean NO. But my awareness has changed; my consciousness has been raised. And for me that means that I practice being Good Enough. I believe in action and practice and managing our thoughts (see last post).

How do I do this? In several ways. I practice treating myself with kindness, which means that when I catch myself talking to myself in a mean way, I stop it and replace those words and thoughts with kind ones. I buy clothes that fit and are my taste and style. I practice good self-care. For me that means I try to get enough rest, social interaction, “Lisa time.” I get regular mani/pedis and buy my favorite beauty and grooming products. I think of self-care within a Body, Mind, and Spirit framework–I fill my days and nights with activities, people, books, food, animals–that feed all three. Wish I would have known to do this at 20!

Some of you have seen one of my Facebook cover photos that says, “My religion is simple; my religion is kindness,” a quote from the Dalai Lama. I believe that unless we can be kind to ourselves, we’re really not capable of extending it to others in a genuine way. It’s like the axiom of, “putting your own oxygen mask on first” when flying in a plane. If you don’t, you won’t be conscious (literally) to help others put on their oxygen masks.

A spiritual path that I’m exploring right now postulates that we are holy children of a loving God from whom we were never separated, but rather we perceived we were separated. We’re not broken; we don’t need fixing. What we do need is to forgive ourselves and others, and practice love and kindness and acceptance. I love this and it’s a totally different lens through which to view myself and the world. I’m glad I found this path.

So, I urge you to start treating yourself with the love and kindness you would give your children, your pets, your spouse, your loved ones. It’s a practice, not something that comes overnight. I happen to love my cats very much; they are my children. If they make a mess or do something I don’t particularly like, I think no less of them nor do I withhold total, unconditional love from them. I am endeavoring to treat myself and others the same. Give it a try; I think you’ll like it.

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“There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

The title quote is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 2, scene 2.

Positive thinking–a plethora of books, articles, workshops and such abound around this concept. In light of such, why is there so much negativity in the world? I stopped reading newspapers and watching the news a few years ago. I  just couldn’t stand how it made me feel to see all the horrible things going on in the world. For a while I even felt guilty about tuning out. (God knows why?) But then I began to find other souls who felt as I did and had decided to ban that kind of input into their lives. Maybe we should start a movement? 🙂

I want to share what I have recently discovered, and that is that positive thinking has the power to alter our lives forever. Yes, our thinking. Thoughts. The sentences and phrases that run through our minds, usually in response to a circumstance. Through studying spiritual writers such as Byron Katie, Pema Chodron, Brooke Castillo, Eckhart Tolle, and others, I’m finding that this simple concept of changing how I think works in my life just like it has worked in countless others’ before me. And I find this just too exciting NOT to share.

My favorite resource for a quick start is Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching 101. In it, she proposes a model for changing our thoughts that is simple yet profound. The thesis is that our thoughts create our feelings, feelings cause our actions, and actions cause our results. Sound too good to be true? I’m finding through working it that it is not.

You may be thinking, “That sounds very Pollyanna-ish.” A few years ago I would have said the same thing. But I have decided that I would rather live a hopeful, optimistic existence than the negative, curmudgeonly life that I used to live. Why? BECAUSE IT FEELS BETTER. Period. And isn’t that what we all want, to feel better? We chase it from the cradle to the grave–from crying to get fed or warmed or snuggled, to using drugs, alcohol, food, sex, relationships, sports, hobbies, geographic cures–all in an effort to feel better. And I’ve decided that there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s human. It’s real.

So I urge you, if you are interested, to do a little research. Check out Byron Katie’s books on Inquiry, Eckhart Tolle’s works on staying in the present moment, and my favorite for a quick start–Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching 101. These all tell us HOW to get going on the work because, as a fellowship to which I belong avers, “You must take ACTION.” Reading, journaling, sharing–while good, will not do the trick. You have to actually do the work. (I’m finding this to be true in every area of life too.)

Let me know if you want to know more or if you try it and want to share what it’s doing for you. I predict you’ll be amazed.

Could Shakey have been correct? I believe so. Is this growth? I think it is; therefore, it is. 🙂  Maybe being 50 isn’t so bad after all.

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Hello world!

I’m just getting started here. I plan to make this blog a place to write and share my spiritual journey.  I look forward to meeting new friends as we travel this road together.

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