Unsupervised Thoughts Create Our Results

Early this morning, as I was running, my thoughts were interrupted by a continuous horn. I looked ahead and saw a white truck doing a U-turn in front of a stop sign. By doing this, the driver was obstructing a red car, that was at the stop sign, from turning right. The red car laid on the horn continuously as the truck finished its U-turn, then followed it closely down the street for a couple of blocks its horn blaring the entire time. The irony struck me as so funny.

Who knows what they were really thinking. Maybe they were friends and they like to do this ritual every morning. Most likely, though, the person in the red car probably thought the person in the white truck was so inconsiderate and stupid for doing a U-turn in that spot making the person in the red car wait a little bit while they got on their way. This thought probably led to annoyance and frustration, which led to their action of being inconsiderate of everyone else in the neighbourhood by honking their horn continuously for a few minutes in the early hours of the morning.

This is what happens when we don’t supervise our brain. We become exactly what we don’t like. Notice this happening in your own life. We all do it. And when you really think about it, it’s kind of funny. It’s especially funny when you do it with your kids. “DON’T YELL AT ME!”

If you have this happening over and over in a certain situation, stop and think about how you want that situation to go next time. For example, when my 4 year old throws a tantrum, I would get in a bad mood for hours and want to just escape from my kids, throwing my own little tantrum. After he was done his consequence, I was still be mad at him and have a hard time being nice. I was tired of this happening so often, and decided to change how all of this played out. Now when he throws a tantrum I say to myself, “He can be mad, and I don’t have to be mad. He can throw a tantrum, and I don’t have to throw a tantrum.” It’s so nice to send him to his room, and then welcome him back when he’s ready to talk nicely, and move on. I don’t continue to snap at him, or speak unkindly. I just love him, and enjoy the time I get to be with him.

Where are you running into the same dynamic every time? What thoughts will help you react differently next time?

 

Thursday Thought: Time Will Pass Anyway

When my sister was about 27 years old, she decided to go back to school to get a degree. When you’re that age, 4 years can seem like a really long time. She said to me, “Four years are going to pass anyway. I might as well have a degree at the end of it.” She didn’t say, “Well, I’ll be 31 by then, and that’s pretty old to be starting a career.” (Which at the time would have made sense to me, but now sounds so funny as I’m in the higher end of my 30’s.)

This thought has helped me in so many areas. A big area is exercising. Actually, I had forgotten this thought for awhile until the other night when I was considering whether to do a 20-minute yoga practice or not. Then it just popped into my head, “Twenty minutes are going to pass anyway.” How much time do we waste trying to decide whether or not to do something? I could have easily spent 20 minutes trying to decide whether or not to do the yoga.

This morning I woke up a little before my alarm. I had planned to go running today, but hadn’t decided when I was going to fit that in. I figured I would do it later in the day, but since I woke up early I thought, “Twenty minutes is going to pass anyway, might as well go run instead of lay awake in bed.”

Especially as we feel like we’re getting older, we have thoughts all of the time, “I’m too old to start now.” Well, time is going to pass anyway, might as well. What were you going to do instead?

First World Problems

I listened to an interesting podcast by Brooke Castillo. Near the end she talks about “first world problems”. I hear this so much, and have said it myself. We say things like, “I should just be grateful because at least I’m not starving.” or “Lots of people have it a lot worse than I do.” While these thoughts can be true and sometimes helpful, sometimes they are not helpful at all.

They’re not helpful when we then ignore our feelings, or push them down, when we then decide not to do anything about those feelings. Remember that feelings are just chemicals released by our brains into our bodies, that give us sensations that either feel good or uncomfortable. So they can be warning lights that something is off.
The other day, I went to court to get a parking ticket fine reduced. The parking ticket was for completely innocently parking in a school zone. When I got to the courthouse, I was unfamiliar with where I was, and I parked my car somewhere I wasn’t sure was allowed. I asked several people if it was okay to park there, but no one knew the answer. When I came out of court, I had another parking ticket. I felt so frustrated that I cried the whole way home. Later, I realized that all in all I only had to pay $65 for both parking tickets. Why was I having such a big reaction to this?
I could say, “This is not a big deal. I shouldn’t feel bad about this!” Instead, I got curious. Why was I having such a big reaction to $65? I realized that part of it was the feeling of disempowerment. I was trying to follow the rules, but I still broke them and was fined for it. When I talked to the officers, they both said there was nothing they could do. When I asked to speak to their supervisors, both were unavailable.
I realized, though, that I had been suppressing other emotions that I felt I shouldn’t be feeling because, “I should just be grateful, and see the bright side.”
However, when I faced both of these emotions, then I was able to feel them and let them go. Then I was able to really figure out what I wanted to do about the situations. I could either just pay the fine for the parking tickets, or I could look into the legal system and by-laws, and rally to get them changed, or more leniency for people who are unfamiliar with the by-laws, or I could just not pay the tickets and see what happens. It feels so much better to make a choice from an empowering place than a disempowered place. It could be the same decision, but it affects how you behave and act towards the people around you.
It is good to realize your blessings and to see the positive. It is also helpful to get curious about why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling, no matter the circumstance, so that you can show up in the world consciously, instead of just reacting to whatever comes your way.

Thursday Thought: They Can Be Upset, and I Can Be Calm

We tend to mirror other people’s emotions. If you’re a parent, think about the last time your child got upset because of a consequence you enforced. If you’re married, think about the last time your spouse was grumpy or upset about something. If you have co-workers, think about the last time one of them was complaining. How did you feel? How did you react? Did you get tense and upset or grumpy or start complaining, too?

This is something I’m in the midst of working on. The hardest time for me is with my kids. My coach gave me the thought, “If they’ve made a bad choice, they should be upset, not me.” Maybe I want to be disappointed, or sad with or for them, but I definitely don’t need to be mad. I didn’t make the bad choice. So, I like to think the thought, “They can be upset, and I don’t have to.” I can be calm, and loving. Isn’t it a lot more fun to be sympathetic than angry? “That’s so sad you’ve lost your screen time. I don’t like it when I get a negative consequence either.” Instead of, “You should’ve obeyed the rules, then you would have gotten to do your screen time.”

So much nicer!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Just Because It Tastes Good Doesn’t Mean I Have to Eat It

I’ve been talking with my sister-in-law about weight loss. She told me a thought that has really been helping her: Just because it tastes good, doesn’t mean I have to eat it. This is really helpful in a lot of ways. One way is that it helps you to not resist your urge or desire. Sometimes when we’re trying to lose weight, we’re just resisting eating all of the foods we want to eat. This makes the desire even stronger. We say, “That’s not as good as I think it is.” Or we try to not have the food around, or even smell the food. What if you just saw the food and thought, “Yep, I love that food. That doesn’t mean I have to eat it.”

Think about it, we don’t do that with other things. Just because we love a few shirts, that doesn’t mean that we put them all on and wear them all of the time. We need to wash them sometimes. It’s more comfortable to just wear one at a time. The same with food. If we ate cookies all of the time, we wouldn’t be able to reach our health goals. It’s really more comfortable to not overeat, or even eat sweets all of the time, or other foods that may not contribute to our health.

Our brains are really convincing when it comes to things that give us a big dopamine hit. It’s good to have go-to thoughts like this one, so when our brains tell us, “That is really good for our survival. You should eat it right now.” You can gently remind your brain, “Everything is okay. We don’t need to feel pleasure all of the time. We can try other things to raise our dopamine. Just because it tastes good, doesn’t mean it’s going to contribute to my higher goals.”

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Your Story is Optional

What is your story about your life or situation? The story is just what you tell yourself about it. Sometimes our stories are helpful, and sometimes they are not helpful, or even hurtful.

I was listening to a woman get coached, and she said her story was, “Things just don’t work out for me.” Her brain had collected a lot of evidence for this. Our brains want to be right. So anytime we have a thought that we believe, our brain collects evidence that it is true. But then the coach pointed out how things just always work out for this woman. For example, she was getting coached. There were a lot of people who wanted to be coached that day, but that woman got a spot.

So who is right? They both are! It’s just how you look at it. However, the crazy thing is, you behave differently depending on which story you believe. If you believe that things just work out for you, you might try new things because you believe it will somehow work out. If you believe things just don’t work out for you, you may say, “Why try?” and give up. But you get to choose.

Think of a story you’re telling yourself, and try believing the opposite and see how it changes your life. Comment and let me know how it goes.

Thursday Thought: I Don’t Have to Make It All Better

Human nature is to want to make people feel better when they feel bad. There are just a couple of problems with this. The first one is that people can only feel better if they have thoughts that create positive emotions. We can offer thoughts to them, but they choose whether or not to believe them. The second problem is that emotions, positive or negative, are like lights on our car dashboard. They give us information about what’s going on inside. So if we just get distracted from our emotions or try to resist them, it turns off the lights prematurely, and we may be missing an important warning light.

I, like most people, have an urge to try to “make” someone feel better when they are sad or having other negative emotions. However, I remind myself, “I don’t have to make this all better.” Most of the time people know what to do to feel better. The answers are inside of them, and just having someone to talk it out to helps them come to their own answers. (We tend to think that good listeners are very wise because after we talk to them we have come to some answers that were inside of us all along, but it feels like they gave us the answers.)

Next time someone is upset, instead of telling them all of the reasons they don’t need to be upset, maybe ask some questions. Let them tell you details and more details. Be curious of how they are going solve this problem, or what thoughts are causing these emotions, or if they’re going to choose to just feel negative emotions for awhile, and know that you don’t have to make it all better.

Emotions aren’t harmful. They are just chemicals released by your brain traveling through your body that create sensations that are sometimes pleasurable and sometimes uncomfortable, very uncomfortable. But emotions can’t hurt you, so just take a few deep breaths and feel them. Another time I can talk to you more in detail about how to do this, and why it’s so important, but for now, you don’t have to feel all better.

 

 

Weight Loss Wednesday: Rewriting Your Story About Food

What is your story about food? Is it your enjoyment and pleasure? Do you love it and hate it? When you think about giving up a certain kind of food, do you feel like you want to cry? If so, you’re not alone. What if you could have a healthier relationship with food? For a few years, I’ve thought about giving up sugar. But I felt like all of my joy would be sucked out of my life if I did.

I decided I didn’t like that food gave me the most joy in my life. So, I’ve rewritten my story about food. I read it every day. The important thing is that I really believe these thoughts. Now I’m working on making the thoughts second nature.

Maybe this can help you with some ideas to get you started:

 

I’m not that into food. I could take it or leave it. I  enjoy some foods, but if I don’t have them it’s not a big deal, because there are so many other things that give me more joy.
I never eat until I’m really full. There’s just no reason to do that because there’s always going to be more food in a few hours. I skip meals fairly often because I’m either caught up in something or I’m not hungry at “mealtime”. I just eat at the next meal. (something I learned from John Gabriel, naturally thin people skip meals quite often, not on purpose, just they’re not hungry, or it’s not a convenient time to eat) I also just like to give my digestive system a rest, so I hardly ever eat in between meals.
I’m not afraid of being hungry. It comes in waves, so I get hungry, but then it goes away, and comes back a few hours later. I know my body knows how to get fuel from the fat on my body, so it’s not urgent.
Some of the things I enjoy more than eating are reading, organizing or cleaning out closets or spaces in my my house, art projects like making cards, meditating, hanging out with friends, snuggling with my kids.

 

What would your new story with food be?

 

“Do You Have the Courage to Bring Forth the Hidden Treasures Inside of You?”

I’ve been reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She talks about how we all have treasures hidden inside of us. They can help everyone around us, but most of all, the searching and sharing of them helps us individually. But it’s scary to show what’s really inside of you, to put it out in the world where someone else may not see or understand its value.

I have a sister-in-law that loves essential oils. She told me that so many people have oils in their house that they don’t understand their worth or value, and sometimes they throw them out. It’s so sad because there are other people, like her, that totally appreciate that oil that’s not being used.

So the trick is to remember that there will always be people who don’t appreciate your treasure, but there will be more who may be blessed or healed by the treasure inside of you, if you’re brave enough to share it.

In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the hidden treasures inside of you?”

Thursday Thought: I’m Just the Big Sister

I always had this idea that when you’re a kid, teenager, and even young adult that you’re just learning everything you need to know to be an adult so that you can share all of your knowledge with the next generation.

As I’ve become an adult, though, I’ve been very disappointed to find out that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. Wasn’t I supposed to know everything by now? Being a mom makes that even more apparent. How am I supposed to teach these kids when I’m a complete mess?

I had a friend that, because of circumstances beyond her control, had to leave her 12 year daughter in charge of her younger siblings pretty often. I felt so sad for this girl that I felt was “missing out” on her childhood. Also, she didn’t know what she was doing. She was doing her best to help her little brother with his needs, but she was just a kid herself. There was something about her situation that resonated with me, though. She was totally unprepared to take care of these kids. I felt exactly the same.

I think as parents we like to imagine if we could just get the right parenting philosophy, or if we could just stop yelling, or if we could just feed our kids better, then everything would run smoothly and our kids would grow up to be perfect adults ready to teach the next generation.

I would like to propose that this is all turned around. God is the Father. We are the older siblings. Yes, we’ve had some more experiences than our younger siblings, but we still don’t know what we’re doing. We’re still trying to figure it out.

I used to think God sent us these little beings so we can take care of them and teach them everything they need to know for when they’re grown. But now I think it’s the other way around. I think God lets us have an opportunity to have these little siblings in our lives because He knows that they will teach us so much. They will stretch us beyond anything we thought was possible. We’re just watching over them for a short time until they’re ready to have their own relationship with God and he can really get to work teaching them all that they need to know before they come back to Him.

We’ll all get the perfect opportunities in this life to prepare us to go back to our Heavenly Father. For those who are parents, a vast majority of those opportunities come as we watch over some of our younger siblings.

There was a time when I wanted to have more children, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Sometimes I felt like maybe it was because I wasn’t worthy for some reason. But now I know it’s just because it is another opportunity for Heavenly Father to teach me something.

I’m not really their mom. I’m just the big sister.