self-care

Our wild and unruly thoughts are not the whole story

We are all hurting. If there’s one thing we share in common, it’s that we all experience pain and/or suffering.

Our thoughts can hold us hostage and sabotage our present moment. For example, when I got my new job, my husband suggested, “Let’s spend some time celebrating!”  In an instant my mind shifted into forward thinking.  There’s childcare needs, a new wardrobe to purchase, and a general fear of the unknown.  That moment to celebrate was ever so brief.  Sweet but not fully experienced, not completely felt.  In hindsight, perhaps I should have taken a moment to savor the excitement and opportunity and let a feeling of gratitude set in.

It’s over too quickly and we can’t get it back. I had a similar experience when my 19-year old cat Max died.  My mom and I never followed through on our plan to memorialize him.  We were in a state of grief and I had to take care of my toddler.  We didn’t get the chance to properly mourn him.  As a result we suffered on our own and grieved alone.  Instead of holding each other, we kept it inside.  A few years have passed since then.  And I don’t know if we will ever be in that space again.

Our thoughts can run wild if we let them. They can rob us from the rich and healing experience of being fully present:  to how we are feeling or what is happening in this moment.  Now I try to pause when I notice my mind going rampant or rehashing the same story over and over.  I take a deep breath and think, “I’ve already spent enough time, space and energy on this.”  I soften and I take a moment to notice my surroundings.  “How is this story, forward or past thinking distracting me from the NOW?  Is it causing me undo stress?”  Of course, it is.

Then I ask the question, “How do I want to feel instead?”  Usually I want to feel relaxed, present and connected to my family.

And the final question, “What can I do to make that feeling a reality?”  Usually it’s taking a few box breaths or utilizing one of my self-care tools.  I’m a work in progress.  There are days when I forget my tools and I get lost in thought and distraction.  I lose my grounding and connection to myself and the present moment.  I’ve accepted the fact that I’m continuing to learn and re-learn what works for me, and I will always continue to do so.

Now it’s your turn. How do your thoughts affect you?  Are they distracting you from what’s going on right now?  Are they causing you undo stress?  If so, how do you want to feel instead?  And what can you do to make that feeling come true?

I send you peace.

 

 

self-care

A less frazzled commute

How can I have a more relaxed morning? I feel it is a frame of mind.  I can choose to say, “I’m late!” and all the angst that follows.  Or I can just say, “I’m doing the best I can.  I got this!”  And I usually then feel less hurried.

My morning commutes used to be highly stressful. Then I realized the main source of my stress occurred when I was traveling in the high-speed lane.  As soon as I got over to the travel lane, I relaxed my grip on the steering wheel.  My shoulders relaxed a bit.  I took a few deep breaths.  Now I hardly use the high-speed lane when I’m driving to work.  I only will on the rare occasion when I have to pass another car.  And guess what?  I get to work on time!

I always seem to get there on time.

I don’t obsessively check the clock in my car during my commute. It doesn’t matter what it says.  I’ll get there when I get there.  And thank the stars I always do.

There’s a lot of road rage: angry, stressed, frazzled energy that crosses my path.  I could choose to feel the tension boiling beneath the surface where you don’t want to be the recipient on the tail end when I lash out.  I could charge full speed ahead in line with that energy or brazenly be “Me first!” with the tailgating and high emotions that follows.

Or I can choose to stay on my path: Just traveling.  Passing through.

We all have the same want: to get to our destination safely.  No one wants to get hurt.

How I react sets me up for good or bad. Is it worth saving a few more seconds?

The hardest part for me is being a passenger and relinquishing my need to be in control. I notice that at times I press my foot down on an imaginary brake when I think my husband is driving too close to a car in front of us.  Over the years, my husband and I tend to only have arguments when we’re on the road.  I judge his speed and length between cars.  I am unable to relax and be present.  All we want is to have a good conversation while we travel.

I can choose what to focus on. I can choose connection or outside factors beyond my control.  I want to let go of my need to be in the driver’s seat.  I want to make peace with the fact that I can’t control what other people on the road doing at that moment.  Only I can decide how I want to interpret my thoughts and feel my emotions.

What would you choose?