This is a topic that I love and have really gotten passionate about. And honestly, I think that’s because I’ve seen its positive effects so greatly in my life. Mainly in the last couple of years. These effects started happening when I started putting real effort into practicing daily gratitude- not just saying “Thank you” to people, or walking around with a grateful heart. Which I think many of us always try to do those things. But there is something SIGNIFICANTLY different about intentionally practicing gratitude every day, and taking the time to notice and appreciate specific people, moments, experiences, and blessings.
Gratitude truly can be a lifestyle. And ya know that shift in your brain I’ve mentioned before? The shift that so many of us want and need at some point in our life. That shift that takes us from feeling mentally/emotionally bogged down to feeling more liberated and in control of our well-being? Well… practicing gratitude is a VERY powerful way to help create that shift.
Scientific studies have shown that practicing gratitude can actually increase mental strength, improve self-esteem, enhance your empathy, improve sleep and even improve physical health. Tell me that’s not amazing! And that’s just a few of them!
Ya know what else it does? When you get in the habit of focusing on the things you are grateful for every day, you will naturally start to attract MORE good things and experiences into your life!
This really proved to be true for me. Within a week of me intentionally focusing on gratitude, things started happening to me that don’t typically ever happen. Even little things- like the day I was leaving Target and a stranger walked over to me and graciously offered to put my cart away for me. (never happens!) It was quite a walk back to the cart corral too and she had no interest in using the cart herself as she was also leaving. She just saw me and felt the urge to be kind and to serve.
Another day I was getting some services done on my car, and once it was finished, the auto guy came and told me he went ahead and checked something additional that he just felt he should check… and turns out that a part in my A/C system ended up needing to be replaced. It should have been a $50 replacement, but he told me he had already gone ahead and replaced it at no charge. Again, that has never happened to me before.
Or that same week when both my kids were having terrible melt downs inside Smart n Final… and FOUR different people stopped and told me I was doing a great job as a mother and promised me it would get easier. (Typically I would have just gotten dirty looks in a situation like that 😂). And as I was checking out, a sweet man told me to go ahead of him in line even though all of his groceries were already on the belt!
These are just some of the little instances and experiences I’ve had. They’ve been constant. There are many more but I won’t keep going. But I do want to also mention all of the kind smiles from people, the cheerful “hellos, and friendly conversations I started experiencing more of. At least it seemed like they were happening more… But perhaps my brain just noticed them more because I had been focusing so much on being grateful and finding the good in the world. (Your brain does that ya know- it will look for whatever it is you’re focusing on and believing in).
Simply put… Gratitude changes you. It changes your perception, it enhances your desire to connect and live fully, it enriches your life in ways that you may not even expect. It changes the way your mind thinks. It helps you have a positive outlook in situations where most people can only see the negative. It helps you become very aware of your current blessings and very quick to recognize additional ones when they come. Gratitude is an incredibly HEALING emotion to generate within yourself. It has definitely been that for me. And there are a number of ways I like to practice gratitude. Ill do a “part 2” of this blog post and I’ll share them here by Friday! ❤️ They just might be things that you want to implement in your life!
Hey there! Sorry I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, but I’m relieved to say that I’m “mostly” recovered from the most brutal flu I think I’ve ever had. It was no joke. But it’s made me appreciate my health even more, that’s for sure! I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and that you’re starting 2019 with intentional peace and joy! (See what I did there?) 😉 I’m excited about today’s blog post! It’s fun and positive and one that I think you’ll find useful.
Have you ever seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love?” It’s one of my favorites. Do you remember the scene when Liz was in India and she was going through some mental struggles? She was sitting down having a conversation with her new friend Richard and he gives her this advice: “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
I’ve remembered that quote for years. But it wasn’t until more recently in my life that I started understanding it’s truth and developing this skill for myself. So, I’ve put together a list for you of 9 of my favorite thoughts! Thoughts that I find incredibly useful and empowering. Thoughts that I choose to think on purpose and that give me much better results in my life. Some of these thoughts I learned from life coaches and some I created myself. Feel free to use them in your own life! They just might be game changers for you as they have been for me!
“I CAN MAKE ANYTHING FUN AND WORTHWHILE”: I love thinking this thought always but especially when I’m faced with something that I perhaps don’t naturally feel excited about. Whether it’s helping my kids clean up their messy playroom, or folding laundry, or making slime for the millionth time with my son, etc. Whatever it may be… this thought is a great one for generating more positive emotion around the task!
“MY SPOUSE’S ONLY JOB IS TO BE THERE FOR ME TO LOVE“: When I first learned this powerful thought, it literally saved me and freed me. I remember when I used to think that my husband’s job was to make me feel loved and beautiful. I believed that part of his job was to be whoever I needed him to be, and that also meant he was supposed to meet the majority of my expectations so that I could feel happy and complete. Oh how wrong I was about that. It was such a disempowering and desperate place to live my life from… and quite honestly created A LOT of unnecessary negative emotion. So, you know what I realized? You know who’s job it is to make sure I feel beautiful and loved and happy and complete? MINE. It’s my job. And that is the best news ever… because I realized I don’t have to rely on anything or anyone outside of me to make me feel what I want to feel. I get to be in control of that! And by intentionally thinking and believing the thought that “my husband’s purpose is to be there for ME TO LOVE”, it has allowed me to open up my heart more and to actually experience way more love in my life, more compassion, and more light in our relationship than ever before.
“PEOPLE ARE DOING THE BEST THEY CAN”: I love this thought! Because you know what it does? It keeps me from judging people and helps me feel compassion for others and give them the benefit of the doubt. This is especially a great thought to use when your brain feels “wronged” by someone. Or if someone was maybe rude to you for no reason. Or in any situation where you’re experiencing some negative emotion towards someone and you know that emotion isn’t necessary or helpful to you. Trust me… It feels much better to believe that people are doing the best they can, rather than believing that everyone sucks and you always being offended by others. Whether it’s regarding people your close with or even strangers. Sometimes people’s “best” is actually terrible. And we cannot always know why that is or what they’ve experienced in their life that’s influenced their behavior.
“MY LIFE EXPERIENCE IS EXACTLY AS IT SHOULD BE RIGHT NOW”: Sometimes we go through things that seem unfair or just too hard to bear. Sometimes our trials seem to come at the worst time and they may even last for much longer than we expected. This thought and belief serves me really well especially during those times. It brings me peace and helps me have faith that nothing has gone wrong with my life. I am experiencing exactly what I should be right now and the lessons I’m learning from it are helping me grow and evolve into a better version of myself. The version of myself that God wants me to be and knows I can be.
“MY BODY IS A GIFT AND I LOVE TAKING CARE OF IT”: This thought makes me feel grateful for my body and more motivated to take better care of it. When I intentionally direct my brain to this thought as often as possible, it helps me make better eating choices, drink more water, and actually get excited about exercising! Try it out! See how it makes you feel and what actions it leads you to take 🙂
“MY KIDS ARE CHILDREN OF GOD”: I’ll be the first to say that I get frustrated with my kids. They of course don’t always behave the way I want them to and I have impulsive thoughts like “Why do they act this way” and “They are such terrible listeners” and “Man, they are so difficult today”. Those thoughts turn me into a more frustrated, less loving mother. Those thoughts have led me to act in ways that I’m not proud of. But when I direct my mind every day to the thought “My kids are children of God”, it is amazing the feelings of calm and peace that I get. And in those moments when my brain sees my kids as being difficult, I can think that positive thought and it helps me act differently towards them and show them more love and patience.
“LIKING MYSELF IS MY JOB. NOBODY ELSE’S”: This thought is SUCH a powerful one and it’s truly freeing for someone who tends to be a people pleaser. Or for someone who struggles with caring too much about what others think of them. And to clarify, this thought does not mean to say “I can do and say what I want and I don’t care about anyone else”. It just simply means that you are 100% likeable and worthy no matter what anyone else thinks or says about you. It is not anyone’s responsibility to like you but YOUR OWN. Is it nice when people like you? Sure. But it says nothing less about you if they don’t. To me this thought means that you will always have your back and know how amazing you are… and you don’t need validation from anyone else in order to believe that you ARE amazing. Talk about a sense of freedom!!
“I CAN WANT WITHOUT NEEDING”: As humans, our brains naturally want so many things. They want people to behave a certain way, they want plans to go the way they envisioned, they want us to eat whatever we’re craving, they want to control circumstances, they want our kids to be happy and make good choices, etc. But did you know that you can want all of those things and not NEED any of them to happen in order for you to feel good? I’m serious. You can want your spouse or your kid to change their behavior, but when they don’t, you can still be emotionally ok. You can want your plan to work, but when it doesn’t, you can still be confident and find the silver-lining. You can totally want a circumstance to be different, and still feel at complete peace that it’s not. THAT IS WANTING WITHOUT NEEDING. And it’s a concept that has been life changing for me as I’ve tried to master it. (Believe me, I’m still working on it). As Jody Moore puts it, “When we need something, we are waiting for it to happen before we allow ourselves to feel good. But when we want it without needing it, we allow ourselves to feel good first, which makes it much more likely to happen.” I’m telling you…understanding and practicing this thought has been a game changer for me in my emotional life.
“LOVE WINS”: There is a lot I could say about this thought but I will try to keep it short. Love is the most powerful feeling/emotion in the world. Love for God, love for yourself, love for your family, love for everyone. Love never fails to make you a better person. Real, Christlike love… never worsens a situation or a relationship. It saves people and lifts them up. It changes them and shapes them. I direct my mind to this thought all the time. And I try every day to live my life from the emotion of LOVE. Especially when it’s hard. Because loving when it’s easy doesn’t necessarily help us reach our full potential. But choosing to love when it’s hard… that’s when real miracles happen.
I hope these thoughts find you at a time when you need them. They can be so powerful and can truly create so much good in your life. I promise.
Do you love yourself? Really give it some thought. Do you feel unconditional love for the person in the mirror? Do you feel compassion for all that that person has been through AND embrace all of their flaws? And do you celebrate all of their gifts, talents and accomplishments?
If you do… Keep on keepin on! That’s AWESOME!
But the reality is… many of us don’t. Many of us struggle to feel this kind of love for ourselves. And it’s not always because we don’t want to. Some of us just don’t know how… and some of us have a hard enough time getting past the things we “hate” about ourselves that the thought of “loving” ourselves can sometimes feel like an unrealistic dream.
For me… hate was never really the problem to be honest. For me it was apathy. For years I just felt apathetic towards myself and was completely unaware of how much I was truly neglecting my relationship with ME. My dreams, my goals, my thoughts, my desires, my self awareness. I had just kind of let all of them go on autopilot. I stopped checking in with myself basically. I stopped questioning if I was OK because I was focused so much on my family and other things going on outside of me. I didn’t understand what self-love looked like, nor did I focus on making it a priority. It seemed selfish to me in a way. I even cringe a little as I write that- because that mindset is one that held me back for so long!
I grew up a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and my belief that I am a child of God has always been something I live by and trust in. But at some point in my life I started forgetting that this belief shouldn’t ONLY be a belief. It should also be put into ACTION. An action taken by ME. I say that because for a long time I believed that much of my worthiness and lovability had to come from other people validating it. Like many people, I depended on other’s actions and words to help me feel that love for myself.
I’m so thankful I was wrong about that concept. And I’m even more thankful that I finally REALIZED I was totally wrong about it! I found help and guidance through amazing life coaches and other empowering women who at one point in their lives were in the same place I was mentally and emotionally. Below I’ll share some incredibly useful things that I’ve learned in my journey with Self-Love.
3 THINGS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT SELF LOVE:
SELF-LOVE STARTS IN YOUR MIND: Just like most of the things I write about… it’s mental. Your mind holds the key that unlocks this feeling of self-love. I promise.
SELF-LOVE IS NOT SELFISH: It’s actually the exact opposite. I have found that when you love yourself you actually think about yourself much less! Because you stop putting so much energy toward worrying about you and your own flaws, and you start being able to put that energy and focus into loving others more.
SELF-LOVE MEANS MAKING YOURSELF A PRIORITY: When you make a To Do list of things that HAVE to get taken care of, YOU should be on that list! Whatever it is that your mind, spirt and body need… making it a priority and seeing it as something that’s necessary is key! Otherwise it’s just too easy to push aside.
5 WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF-LOVE: (some of the ways I love to do it)
POSITIVE THOUGHTS & SELF TALK: Remember how I said it all starts in your mind? It’s because it truly does. The way we THINK about ourselves shows up in the way we treat ourselves (and others)…it also comes out in the things we SAY about ourselves. Choosing to be aware of your thinking is the first step toward changing your thoughts about yourself and redirecting your brain to more love and positivity. I’m telling you this is powerful!
MAKE A LIST: Get out your journal or even just a piece of paper! Now, make a list of 50 things you appreciate about yourself. Seriously, do it! It may sound like a lot but I bet you will come up with things more easily than you thought you would. And remember this is YOUR list so it can include whatever you want. It doesn’t just have to be your gifts and talents. I once read a list by a woman who got creative and put all kinds of good things that she appreciates about herself like, “I laugh out loud at movies, I sing in my car, I am not a perfectionist, I know how to love difficult people, I am at peace with my past.” See how she went deeper and didn’t only list surface level stuff? This is such a good exercise for your brain and it’ll actually help you with changing your thought process about yourself!
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE “LITTLE THINGS”: Things like making your bed every day, organizing your master closet, taking a shower and getting dressed every morning, eating well and being active, etc. There was a long period of time where these things didn’t really matter too much to me. I just lived my life day to day not giving any priority to these things, and all the while I had no idea how much it was contributing to the mental clutter inside my mind. Not to mention the feeling of apathy I couldn’t seem to escape. Now I see it so, so clearly. Little things can make a world of difference!
MAKE TIME EVERY WEEK FOR YOUR “THERAPY”: Whatever it is! I have several things that I pick between that I feel are therapeutic for me and feed my spirit. Reading is one of them. Painting watercolors is another. Sewing is another. Writing has been a big one for me this year especially. Whatever it is…Set aside time to do it and DO IT! Even if it’s actual therapy you’re needing. Do it! You are worth it. AND by deliberately doing these things every week you are conditioning yourself to believe that you are important. 🙂
BUILD YOUR FAITH: Having faith in someone or something means “believing in or trusting in” that person or that thing right? And often it means doing so without any proof. Many of us believe and have faith in God even though we can’t physically see him or even though we weren’t physically there to witness his miracles we read of in the scriptures. You can apply this same faith to the concept that you are a child of God and you are 100% loveable! Whether or not it seems true or evident to you at this point… you can STILL believe in it!
You can believe that you are capable of anything you want to achieve mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. Even if you’ve never achieved it before. BELIEVING in yourself even if the proof isn’t there yet. BELIEVING that you can achieve “that goal” even when there’s no evidence yet. BELIEVING that you can love yourself even though you’ve never fully experienced it before. BELIEVING you can heal from whatever it is you might be struggling with in your life right now. BELIEVING in what’s possible for you. That’s part of building your faith. That’s part of Self-Love.
“Learning to love yourself is one of the most important things you will ever do in this life… and one of the most important things you could teach anyone else.” -MK
So many of us struggle with it from day to day and some of us have it more severe than others. I’m not going to pretend that I know everything there is to know about anxiety. I don’t. But I do know that anxiety has greatly affected my life and the lives of many people who I love… and from my experience it is something that never completely disappears. It is a life long condition that you either learn to manage… Or you don’t.
Some of us feel it the strongest first thing in the morning. Some of us feel it most when we have a super long TO DO list to tackle. Some of us feel it in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations. Others struggle with it as a side effect of medications they take. And many feel it because of certain trauma they’ve experienced in their life… It could also be a combination of some or all of these of things. Or perhaps you have absolutely no clue what triggers it for you. Maybe it’s just always there.
Anxiety can create so much interference in our lives if we let it. For me personally, it’s at times led me to do things like back out of commitments, or stay in bed way too long, or procrastinate important things, or over eat when I’m not even hungry.
But over the past months of my life I have finally been able to cultivate some very helpful things that have actually worked for me and have given me so much relief and empowerment in managing this thing called Anxiety. Some of these ideas came from people who I admire and who’s research and experience have proven these tools to be very effective. Some of them might be super effective for you too!
THE FOUR POWERFUL TOOLS THAT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE FOR ME:
ACKNOWLEDGE IT AND ACTIVELY ACCEPT IT
The way you acknowledge and actively accept your anxiety is by NOT RESISTING it. I used to always try resisting and avoiding the anxiety, but it only made it stronger. Now, I’ve learned to just remind myself that nothing has gone wrong and I am just experiencing a FEELING… when I consciously label it as “just a feeling”, that alone takes away so much of it’s power for me. And then I simply OBSERVE my thoughts and direct my mind to either empowering thoughts or peaceful thoughts or whatever I choose! But the first step is just allowing the anxiety to be there without fighting it. Just RELAX into it. I know this might sound easier said than done but the more you practice this the better you’ll get. I’m not perfect at it but when I intentionally do this it REAALLLYYY helps the anxiety to ease up.
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE
I’m referring to the language you use when you’re talking or thinking to yourself. What is your self-talk like? Is it positive or negative? You might not even be aware of it. But you can become aware of it just by spending some time (I’d say a few days) listening to your inner dialogue. Notice if you have a negative voice in your head that’s critical or self- sabotaging in some way. (I totally did for years and didn’t even realize it- Mine was a voice or fear, stress and blame. Which constantly influenced my anxiety to sky rocket! ) WRITE DOWN the thoughts that you notice are frequent or repeating in your head on a daily basis. Now this is where you could implement THOUGHT WORK which could be super effective for you! If you want some help or guidance with that go to my previous post!
SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE ANXIETY
I have found a very effective way to do this (which I learned from Professor Brene Brown and Life Coach Brooke Castillo). You can help separate yourself from the anxiety by thinking or talking in third person as you work through your thoughts. Or just by simply using the phrase “my brain”. That’s what I often do. For example, Instead of saying “I’m so anxious, I’m feeling so much anxiety over this”, I’ll say “My brain is obviously anxious about this situation” or “My brain is feeling stressed about this… I wonder why?” That alone really helps to take away it’s power and lets me separate myself from it. It allows me to have a more neutral(or third party) perspective of my thoughts and emotions. And most of all it helps me to get curious about my thoughts and emotions rather than just getting lost in them. I’ve learned that when I allow myself to get lost in them, my anxiety will just continue to spiral. And for me personally, that’s just not something I ever enjoy or find useful.
FIND THINGS THAT WORK FOR YOU
Inspiration may come to you about actions you could take or things you could try that could help. DO IT! Don’t just let it go as a fleeting thought. It could end up making a HUGE difference for you. Something I felt guided to do earlier this year was change my morning routine. My anxiety used to always hit hardest first thing in the morning. So instead of sleeping until my kids wake up I decided to start setting my alarm to wake up 30 minutes before my kids typically do (which felt like a HUGE deal because I loooove my sleep). But it was one of the best decisions for myself that I could have made. I use that time to shower (in PEACE) and connect with myself. I get my mind in a strong place and focus on my intentional, positive thoughts. Then I get out and typically turn on a podcast or music that I love listening to while I continue getting ready for the day. Ever since I started doing this my days have gone so much smoother and it’s allowed me to start the morning with MUCH more mental and emotional strength and waaaaay less anxiety. Depending on your schedule this may not be an option for you but if it is you may want to give it a try!
–Exercise! Get your body moving. Whether it’s through a gym class, or dancing, or just simple workouts at home. Whatever works for you! There is plenty of research that proves exercise to be incredibly effective and beneficial for your brain, your emotions, etc.
–Herbal Teas– My close friend drinks a couple different herbal teas that she finds super helpful in easing her anxiety. The ones she recommends are Chamomile and Passion Flower. There are many others you could try as well.
–Breathing Control– You’ve probably heard someone tell you to “Just breathe” at some point in your life. But it’s actually way better advice than I ever realized. If you deliberately slow down your breathing when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, there is scientific evidence showing that it literally calms your brain. For me, it works. There are plenty of breathing exercises you can find online!
–Soothing Candle and Music- This is one of my personal favorites, but you’d obviously have to be at home to do it. It helps my brain to create calming and peaceful thoughts, which then allows me to FEEL calm and peaceful emotions, which then helps me to function better and have a more focused mind throughout my day (or night).
–Find Alone Time and Write in Your Journal– I’ve mentioned before how beneficial it is to write out your thoughts so you can see what’s going on in your brain. I just can’t say it enough. And I find it INCREDIBLY helpful in dealing with and managing my anxiety.
These are just a handful of suggestions! There are so many things out there that could help you in managing your anxiety. But I think the most crucial place to start is within your own mind. Deciding every day when you wake up that you’re anxiety is only stronger than you if you allow it to be. That doesn’t mean it wont be hard or it wont still feel scary at times. But It’s knowing and telling yourself as many times as necessary that “this is just a feeling. I am ok.”
You are more than ok… You are AMAZING! And I would love to hear some of YOUR tips for managing anxiety! Feel free to reach out!
So I just wanted to take a second and say THANK YOU to everyone who takes the time to read these blogs. I really do enjoy writing them and even though this is only my fourth one I’ve already received quite a few emails, direct messages and comments from you guys letting me know how much you’re connecting with what I’m putting out there and how it’s already helping you in some way. I can’t even tell you how happy that makes me! Thank you so much for being so open and for reaching out. Keep it up! I love it!
I know many of you have been looking forward to this post about THOUGHT WORK and I truly hope you get out of it what you need! Here we go!
So, let’s start with a quick background on the BRAIN. I think this will just help the concept of “thought work” make sense to you.
A while back I watched an online interview of a psychologist. He was explaining some super fascinating things about the brain that just stuck with me. And since then I’ve heard this same explanation from other psychologists and life coaches that I follow and study. (You may already know this information I’m going to share!) But what was essentially explained was that we have a LOWER BRAIN and a HIGHER BRAIN.
Our Lower Brain was the first part of our brain to develop. It is designed to keep us safe and it does NOT seek change or growth. It wants to stay the same as it’s always been and wants to use as little energy as possible to function. It’s where impulsive thoughts and emotions like fear, stress, and anger are created. Among others.
Our Higher Brain on the other hand is where our intellect and intuition live. Our higher Brain is where we have joy, gratitude, spiritual connection, creativity, confidence, etc.But it takes much more intentional effort to operate from the Higher Brain. So how do you get to where you can access your higher brain more easily and naturally? One of the most effective ways that I’ve learned to do it is THOUGHT WORK.
5 THINGS “THOUGHT WORK” CAN DO FOR YOU:
It can help you recognize the thought pattern you have (and possibly have had since the time of your childhood, or maybe since a traumatic experience (or number of experiences) that occurred in your life, etc)
It can help you become aware of the relationship you have with yourself and see where it needs to improve.
It can help you create NEW thinking habits, a NEW belief system, and NEW emotions to operate from more frequently instead of the ones that have just been natural,impulsive and engrained in you for so long. I’m only talking about the ones that you actually want to change. The ones that aren’t serving you in your life.
It can help you learn to train the inner voice in your head. We all have one. And practicing“thought work” is a super powerful way to become more aware of what your inner voice is saying. You can literally train that voice to be more kind, more loving, more compassionate, more productive, less jealous, less stressed, less lazy. Whatever you choose.
I think the BIGGEST PAYOFF of all (which I touched on a little in my previous post) is that it will help you with LIFE! It can help you gain the clarity and confidence to accomplish goals you’ve been staring at for months or even years. It can help you strengthen your relationships, it can help you to stop being so frustrated with your kids or your spouse. It can help you with self-love and body image, it can help you feel empowered to make decisions, take action and be more productive. It can help you to feel the good emotions you want to be feeling on a day to day basis, it can help you heal and move on from something you’ve experienced in the past, or things you’re currently experiencing or even things you’ll go through in the future. It can just help you be mentally stronger in all areas of life.
With that said, if you JUST experienced something that was traumatic or life changing in some way, I think it’s super important that you let yourself feel and process your thoughts and emotions about it. That’s part of being human. Don’t be in a huge rush to immediately start working on your thoughts regarding that traumatic experience. Give yourself time. Let your brain get to a more receptive place before you start working through it. And then you decide when you’re ready. (This is simply my opinion from my experience)
5 SIMPLE STEPS TO START IMPLEMENTING THOUGHT WORK IN YOUR LIFE:
BECOME AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS: You do this by taking a step back and “watching” your brain. Pick something that you’re experiencing or struggling with currently in your life (this can also be something from your past). No matter how big or small. Get a notebook or journal out and start writing everything that goes through your mind about that circumstance or problem. You’re basically downloading all your thoughts onto the paper. Letting it flow. Don’t hold back. Don’t judge yourself. Just write. Get your thoughts out so you can physically look at them. (So important)
SEPARATE YOUR THOUGHTS FROM THE FACTS: Once you’ve written it all out you can then more easily separate your thoughts from the actual facts. I typically find that maybe 2 of the sentences I wrote are factual statements. The rest are just thoughts in my brain. And once I realize that I typically have an “AHA”moment where I suddenly think, “Oh my gosh, no wonder I am still feeling so angry about this! Or so stressed about this! Or full of fear over this!… Look at my thoughts!”
ASK YOURSELF WHAT THOUGHTS YOU WANT TO CHANGE: I like to start with choosing just 3 or 4 of the thoughts that I can see are negatively affecting me. You could even start with just 1 or 2 if you want. And then INTENTIONALLY decide what new thoughts you want to cultivate and believe instead. Really think about it…What new thoughts do you want to replace these old thoughts with? These new thoughts should be believable to you and should resonate with you on some level.
Here are some very general examples: If you try to go from the thought “I’m not enough” to “I’m freakin amazing!”, your brain might not believe that transition just yet. If it does then go for it! But often it starts with baby steps. You could try going from “I’m not enough” to “I am someone… and I have a purpose.” Or if you often struggle with the thought “I’m so overwhelmed, there’s just too much to get done”– you could maybe try going to the thought, ”I’ll use my time wisely to get everything done that I truly need to”. Or if it’s a thought like “I’m so anxious I can’t take this anymore”– try directing your mind to “This anxiety is just a feeling. It will pass. Everything is ok. I am ok.” (That is one of my personal go to’s.)
These are just suggestions, only you can know what thoughts will work foryou. See what you can come up with! And like I said those are just general scenarios. Your thoughts might be totally different and way more specific which is great!
PRACTICE BELIEVING YOUR NEW THOUGHTS- For me, this is the fun part and the most important step of all. And it’s the only thing that can truly start creating new thought patterns in my brain. These are the ways I do it– By thinking the new thoughts on purpose, every single day, many times a day (don’t under estimate the power of that). Writing them out in my journal every morning before I start the day is super powerful and effective as well. Saying them out loud is also very helpful to the mind. Letting myself really FEEL these thoughts as if they are already 100% true. Now, when you do this and the old negative thoughts pop up in your head (and they will), remember to not judge yourself. Just simply notice them, and then LOVINGLY redirect your mind to the new thoughts you’ve chosen. This will get easier with practice. And the best part is when you start to see the results of your new thought pattern!
REMEMBER THIS IS AN ONGOING PROCESS AND COMMITMENT: The change in your brain will not happen overnight. But if you truly take the time to start applying this in your life, I can promise you the improvement in your mental and emotional well being will be substantial. And the more you do it the better you will get at it… and the easier it will be to notice your negative thoughts and redirect them in a split second if you want to. It’s NOT meant to take away every single negative thought you have or to make you feel happy all the time. That’s not realistic, nor is life supposed to always be positive. Thought Work is about finding greater balance through learning how to manage your mind.
By doing this you’re essentially strengthening your brain, you’re forcing it to grow and change, to unlock greater potential. You’re forcing it to think thoughts that it’s not used to thinking, which will probably be a little uncomfortable at first. Your brain would much rather continue thinking “I’m not good enough”, or “She’s a better mom than me”, or “I don’t feel like trying this new thing” or “I’m so overwhelmed.” For many of us it is MUCH EASIER and more familiar for our brains to think those types of thoughts. And it will continue to do as it’s always done… unless you tell it to do otherwise.
So, I invite you to challenge your brain with “thought work!” Start with one area of your life and just work your way to other areas as you choose. I am not perfect at it and I still have plenty to work on concerning my own thoughts. But I have come a LONG way. And I can promise you that it’s an incredibly liberating and empowering skill to cultivate. I think we often forget that our mental health matters just as much as our physical health. But remember that your mind is worth the time and effort! You are worth it! The people in your life who you love are worth it! Be intentional. Find Peace. Find Joy. And go buy a THOUGHT JOURNAL!
As always, please reach out if you have any thoughts, questions, or just want to connect!
I’m so happy you came back! If you read my post on Tuesday than you already know that this is PART 2 that I promised. I mentioned in my previous post of how I came across a life changing tool that was created by a life coach and has helped me in countless ways to achieve greater mental and emotional balance, and to understand my mind on a different level. It’s called the CTFAR Model and it’s kind of similar to a math equation in a sense. It is a powerful resource that we all have access to and I only wish I would have known about it and understood it SOONER. Like years sooner.
BUT! I also believe that we learn things and figure things out at the time in our lives we are supposed to. And that timing can be different for everyone. With that said, if you are struggling at all in any area of your life (which I think all of us are to some degree- otherwise you must not be human) then this tool can help you immensely!
Ok, so first I want to quickly talk about the purpose of this tool so that you have a clear understanding.
The purpose is NOT:
-To put a band-aid over your emotions
-To make you happy 100% of the time
-To ignore your problems
The purpose IS:
–To help you understand how your brain works
-To help you see that very often the “problem” is not what you think it is
-To help you recognize the very real connection between your thoughts and feelings
-To help you separate your thoughts from your circumstances
-To help you see that your emotions are more flexible than you think
-To help you take action
There are a million other benefits I could list but these are the main points I think are most helpful to understand. You do not need anything special to use this tool. All you need is pen, paper, and your brain! So here we go. I will explain each one in detail and then include a diagram at the bottom so you can see a clear, simplified version of how this formula works.
(I’ve tried a thousand times to explain this in a condensed, shorter way…but it’s just not the same. So I chose to elaborate and explain it well. It may take you a few minutes, but it is worth the read)
CIRCUMSTANCE: This is where you would write the situation or problem you’re struggling with. But only the FACTS! The things that are outside of your control. For example- your loved one’s choices and actions, health issues, unexpected life condition or tragedy, the childhood you had, the body you were born with, someone else’s reaction to you, the children you were given (or not given). These are all examples of circumstances and things that you cannot control. And the MOST IMPORTANT thing to understand about circumstances is that they are always NUETRAL. They do not become positive or negative until the person experiencing them interprets it one of those ways.
THOUGHTS: This is where you would write all the thoughts you have about that situation or circumstance. Our brains have constant thoughts that are triggered by our circumstances. We have positive thoughts and negative thoughts which is obvious. But what so many of us DO NOT truly realize is that our thoughts are totally optional.
We get to think however we want to about the circumstances, situations, or people in our lives. But our brains are so often conditioned to think a certain way and believe certain things as if they are facts. Without even questioning it. This is where we get ourselves mentally and emotionally stuck by believing thoughts that are only hurting us and holding us back in life. When really if we just looked at the facts and then intentionally decided how we are going to think and feel about those facts, then our emotional wellbeing and what we create in our lives would drastically start to improve. I can promise from personal experience that this is true!
Some examples of thoughts that could be holding you back: “I’m not enough”, “My kids are so difficult”, My life is hard”, “This trial is breaking me”, “My spouse is such a jerk”, “I’ll never be able to forgive (insert person’s name) for what they did,” “I’ll never have the body I want”, “I’m just not good at (insert skill or talent), “I’m so stressed all the time”, “Obviously that person deserves more happiness than I do”, “I just don’t know what to do”, “This is something I’ll never get past” etc, etc…
These are all things that we often mistake for the actual circumstance or problem. When in reality they are neither of those things. They. Are. Thoughts. (And the great news about thoughts is… we can change them if we want.)
FEELINGS: This is where you would write the feelings/emotions you’ve been struggling with especially whenever you think the negative thoughts you are having about that circumstance (or person) in your life. Depending on your circumstance and your thoughts about it you might be experiencing feelings like Anger, Resentment, Defeat, Fear, Apathy, Confusion, Hopelessness, Stress, Sadness.
There have been periods of time in my life when I’ve experienced a few or all these feelings on a very regular basis. And if you’ve experienced it you know how debilitating it can be. I’m not talking about when we genuinely need to feel grief or sadness over something for a time. THAT is part of healing. I’m referring to when we CONTINUE to live, and consistently operate from the emotions I mentioned above. That is not healing. That is emotional prison. And I believe that God wants so much more for us than that.
ACTIONS: This is where you would write the actions that you’ve noticed yourself taking or not taking as a result of your feelings. Our actions are literally driven by the feelings/emotions we’re having, which at times can even drive us to the action of Inaction. (ya with me?) – For example, do you ever wish you could stop doing something that you know isn’t good for you? Or wish you could get the motivation to start doing something you know you should? Me too!! And THIS is what made me understand why that is! Our feelings are driving those actions or inactions! Which may seem pretty obvious but some of us don’t understand how to help ourselves get to the positive, productive feelings we need in order to take actions we know we should take. So how do you get to those feelings you want/need? Yep. You start with your THINKING.
RESULTS: This is where you would write down the results you keep getting in your life because of the actions you keep taking or not taking- (In relation to the circumstance your struggling with). Many of us keep getting results that we really wish would change. Maybe it’s that you keep falling short of your goals, or you can’t seem to get a project done. Perhaps you continue to be angry at your spouse all the time and its affecting everything else in your life, or maybe you constantly feel frustrated with your kids, or perhaps there are parts of mom life that keep you feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Maybe your master closet has been a mess for years and you have no idea where to start with it. Or maybe you’re struggling to forgive someone in your life. Perhaps you have a health issue that you wish you could stop feeling so discouraged about. Or… maybe there’s a life altering trial that you’ve experienced, and you can’t seem to escape the emotional torment of it. Maybe you just simply want to feel at peace with your current situation.
WHATEVER IT IS YOU’RE GOING THROUGH- I promise this tool can help you. Because if you actually do this exercise from beginning to end you will not only see how it is an equation that makes perfect sense, but you will see how you are actually in the driver’s seat when it comes to your thoughts, feelings, actions and results. And you will see how one affects the other in a seamless ongoing chain. And most importantly, you will see that your feelings, actions, and results could all change and improve significantly if you decide to start working on your thoughts. So my next post will be all about thought work and how to implement that in your life!
The thing I’ve realized is this… we are all experiencing this CTFAR model whether we believe it or not. Whether we see it or not. It is happening. It’s how life and the universe work. The difference is some people choose to be involved in the process and have more control over it while others just let their emotions and their lives happen to them. I chose to start being involved in the process and to live my life with more intention. And it was one of the most empowering and healing decisions I’ve ever made. It’s changed the way I view myself, my life, my experiences, my trials- both past and present.
So how do you become involved and gain more control over the process? After you write out your first CTFAR Model, you then do it again, but this time you will fill in new thoughts, new feelings, new actions and new results. The ones you actually desire. The ones you wish you could be experiencing instead of what you are currently stuck in. (This is where “thought work” comes into major play.) Notice I didn’t say you would change the circumstance itself. Because you cannot change something that’s out of your control. Trying that is pointless and frustrating. But what you can change is how you choose to think about it, feel about it, and act towards it. You can choose to show up in your life regardless of your circumstance. And that… can change everything for YOU in the most wonderful way.
This is the experience I wanted to share first because it is the first thing that opened my eyes to more self-awareness and allowed me to start having a deeper perspective into my life… and into my mind. (As I mentioned before I’ll often share personal experiences on this blog because I think that’s how many of us learn and relate best) I know I do as least. 🙂
THE BACK STORY: SELF-PITY
I had just finished running a bunch of errands when I looked back and saw that both of my kids had fallen asleep in their car seats. Instead of going home I decided to go park at a little vista point near my house that overlooks the beautiful valley we live in. I was feeling emotionally defeated this particular day, which was not unusual for me. I was thinking about all the things that were overwhelming me in my life and everything I wish I could change but just couldn’t. You know the feeling I’m talking about.
The piles of laundry that were never ending, the unorganized areas of my house that seemed bigger than my ability to address, trials and heartaches that my loved ones were going through, my parents’ recent divorce, my own trials with marriage and motherhood, challenges that my husband was facing in his job, past experiences that I hadn’t fully gotten over, my constant lack of energy, my personal goals that sat untouched, my anxiety, the list went on and on.
I sat there wondering if my life would ever stop feeling like this. Would I ever be able to get passed these things that seemed to weigh so heavily on my emotional (and even physical) wellbeing? Is this normal? I knew I had so much to be grateful for. But why can’t I ever seem to feel any peace? Why in the world do I so rarely feel joy or motivation? Why can’t I get in control of certain things? Do I need to go see a doctor? Or do I just have to wait until my life circumstances change in order for me to feel better? These are the questions I was always asking myself.
And sadly, I did believe that my job was to just wait. To just endure. To just hope for external change to possibly happen. Hope for things to get easier. Hope to feel happier. And my constant prayer was that The Lord would give me the strength and guidance to get through it all until I did. But this day something was different. I found myself wanting to do more than just “get through” it. And I fully believe that God was ready for me to do more than that as well.
THE SUDDEN SHIFT: SELF-AWARENESS
I often listen to podcasts when I’m in my car. But this time I decided to search for a new one. And long story short, I was led to the podcast of a brilliant life coach named Brooke Castillo. I had heard of her name and her work weeks prior and finally decided to see what she was all about. My first thought was… “What the heck does a life coach do exactly?” Well, have you ever felt like The Lord was speaking directly to you through someone else? Or like you’ve just learned something that you were always meant to understand? That is exactly what it was like when I listened to her. And I’m not exaggerating when I say within 45 minutes something inside of me started shifting! I went from feeling like a drowning wife and mother who was struggling with emotional defeat to feeling like I could freakin do something about it!! She explained things that I so badly needed to hear, understand and apply.
If you are familiar with Brooke Castillo’s work, then you know what I’m referring to. But for those of you who aren’t I’ll gladly explain the details and my experience with it in my next post on Thursday! (Otherwise this post would be ridiculously long.) The concept she teaches is based on years of research and study. She named it the “CTFAR Model”. It’s basically a simple equation of how life works, and what Brooke did is create a practical way to understand it and use it to coach ourselves through this thing called LIFE.
I’ll be forever grateful for this “brain tool” as I like to call it. It made me start asking myself some really important questions that changed everything for me in a very empowering way. I’ve been applying it in my life for quite a while now and I truly feel it’s one of those things I couldn’t live without. It is INCREDIBLY helpful and effective in helping a person understand what their brain is doing, what thought pattern or belief system is keeping them “stuck” in the same cycle of results in their life and how to change that! It’s also effective at helping a person understand their emotions and what’s causing them. And its an amazing way to help yourself change or adjust certain emotions that you feel aren’t helping you at all in your life. Most of all… it helps one see that their circumstances do not have to control their mental and emotional wellbeing. And THAT is the Best News Ever!
So, COME BACK on Thursday if you’re interested in learning the details! I’ll expound on how it works, what my experience has been with it and how it can also help you!
Hi there! I’m so grateful that you’re here and I’m super excited to share this blog with you! This is what I’m going to call a “Letter of Introduction” to you all. It should give you an idea of what I’m all about! It is a bit lengthy, so bear with me! 🙂
First, can I just say that I never imagined that I would be starting a blog or let alone even have the desire to start one. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I definitely have an appreciation for blogs but I just NEVER saw myself creating one. However, I have been through so much personal growth and development in my life this past year, I’ve been feeling inspired in all sorts of ways lately. Starting this blog is one of them. And to quote podcaster, Alison Faulkner, “If you feel inspired to do something, FREAKIN DO IT!” So here we go!
There are two purposes to this blog. One is to be a space where women and moms (or anyone!) can come to receive inspirational ideas on HOW to achieve more mental and emotional balance and how to simply BE the kind of individual you want to be in your life. I’m not a psychologist but I do feel very strongly about using the mind as a tool and seeing it for what it truly is… one of God’s greatest gifts to us. I believe in this concept so deeply because I’ve seen firsthand it’s positive effects in my life again and again. I know everyone’s life circumstances are unique and one person’s journey may be totally different from another’s. I just simply want to share what has been so incredibly useful to me in mine. If this blog helps even one person than I will be THRILLED. I must be honest though and tell you that I’m also doing this for me. I’m using this space as a way to express and create and let my thoughts live. And my hope is that it will turn into something that others find as helpful and as meaningful as I do.
Every week I’ll share empowering lessons I’ve learned along with some tips, ideas, and tools that I chose to start applying in my life and how it truly can change so much if you let it. I feel sure that you’ll find things on this blog that you resonate with, things you can implement (and perhaps you already are!), or maybe things that just simply inspire you. I named this blogsite Intentional Peace and Joy because I truly believe that we are meant to have peace and joy in this life…a LOT of it! And I also believe that we have to choose it and work at it–intentionally and consistently. It’s one thing to WANT to have Peace and Joy in the journey.. but learning how to CREATE it is a journey in and of itself. And one that’s totally worth taking!
Before you assume that I’ve always had this figured out, let me assure you that’s not the case. I’m going to be pretty vulnerable for a minute and tell you that at a certain point during my life I became a very mentally stuck individual. For years I was often consumed by things like fear, sadness, doubt, apathy and anxiety. Sound familiar? I bet it does. Because it’s so normal. Too normal in my opinion! These emotions definitely serve a purpose, but when they literally consume us for an extended period and prevent us from feeling any peace or from taking needed action in life then that’s when it can become a problem. This problem felt out of control for me in the sense that I couldn’t seem to manage or change any of it. Difficult or tragic experiences would only magnify my struggles. Many people who know me might be totally shocked to hear this because I was fairly good at hiding it. But it greatly affected many areas of my life, including my marriage and self-confidence as well as my all around health and productivity. It even affected things like my ability to achieve certain goals, or to tackle my To Do list every day, or to even fold and put the dang laundry away every week. It’s true that a person can seem totally fine on the outside and yet on the inside it’s a completely different story. And I know so many of you can relate.
I believe there will always be certain trials and heartbreaks that we experience in life that cause deep sadness and negative emotions in us…and I think that pain can be necessary and even healthy for a time. I think we definitely SHOULD allow ourselves time to feel whatever we need to feel. That’s part of true healing in my opinion. But some of us continue to feel so broken because of things we’ve been through. Whether it was someone else’s actions that hurt us deeply or a spontaneous life event that we weren’t expecting. For me personally, I got to a point where I just wanted to be able to handle these hard experiences better. Regardless of my circumstances. Regardless of other’s choices. I didn’t want to ignore my pain nor did I want to let it consume me anymore. What I did want was to be able to think and act in a healthier and more useful way that allowed me to HEAL and feel that peace and joy I longed to feel. Even amidst my trials. Simply because… I believe I’m worth it. I believe YOU are too.
Over the past year I have learned some invaluable things that have taught me how to achieve that. How to move forward and heal after a difficult experience, how to create more peace and joy for myself, how to deepen my relationships and feel greater love for those around me, and how to be better driven and organized in my everyday life as a wife and mother. Just to name a few. I am nowhere near perfect, nor will I ever be. I have so much to work on.. but I can say that I am a MUCH more balanced and happier individual now because of this self-love and self-development journey I decided to take. The growth or changes that have taken place in my life are in large part due to me IMPLEMENTING what I’ve absorbed from amazing life coaches, inspirational podcasters, bestselling authors, and most importantly guidance from The Lord. (None of this would have been possible without Him).
For example, have you ever experimented with “thought work?” It’s essentially learning how to direct your mind instead of allowing your mind to direct you. It’s about questioning the thoughts that take up space in your brain and intentionally choosing or creating certain thoughts that help you heal and progress instead of struggle and suffer. This is just one example of something that I KNOW can play such a crucial part in so many areas of life! And especially as a wife and mother. I have to work at this consistently but by doing so it has contributed SIGNIFICANTLY to my mental, emotional, spiritual (and even physical!) health. And as a result has helped me overcome struggles and achieve goals that perhaps otherwise I never would have.
So let me just say that I am SO HAPPY for you if you already understand and practice these things in your own life. But I’m positive that so many of us do not. Maybe you’ll read this blog and realize you’ve had a very similar journey as mine. Or perhaps very different…Or maybe you just feel the need to relate to someone who’s like you because life isn’t always easy. And it feels good for our souls to connect and be inspired by what others have experienced or learned or struggled through. This blog is for all of you. Whatever part of the journey you’re on. Whatever your reason is for reading this.. Thank you. I hope you’ll keep visiting and I hope this blog will help you feel encouraged to live your BEST life with real intention and feel more PEACE and JOY through it all. It IS possible. And it starts inside of YOU!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton