Ways to Cope With Change

How well do you cope with change? Do you find it fairly easy; are you at ease with being flexible? I have found that for most people change can be very uncomfortable, difficult and for many it feels intolerable. For those that experience change on the high end of distressful or intolerable life is very hard to manage. These individuals experience change as so threatening that it can disable them from functioning.

I am assuming that at this point in your life you have all learned that change is inevitable. And yet so many of us seem to resist it. And I am not thinking of only change that you perceive as negative. Change, whether positive or negative can still trigger the same feelings. Change indicates that you are moving from something familiar to something new. Change is an unknown; something unexplored. My hope is to give you some ideas on how to tackle the inevitable changes yet to come in ways that make it more bearable for you.

Reflect and remember are great tools to help ease your fear and worry. Reflect on the many changes that have already occurred in your life. Good and bad. Sometimes it helps to write four or five of these experiences down. Then remember the truth; which is that you did survive! The change didn’t swallow you whole. Reflect on ways you coped with those changes that were helpful and ways that you adjusted that you don’t want to repeat. Highlight what was helpful during those previous changes.

It is also helpful during times of change to focus on what aspects of you and your life are secure and not currently changing. For instance, what is unmoving for you may be that you still have the same partner, pet, family members, sport etc. Remind yourself of the constants in your life. This could be non-tangibles like your sense of humor, your faith, your love of nature. It is important to remind yourself of what you do have some control over during these times of transition.

Since change can be taxing on the body both mentally and physically I strongly recommend you attend to these areas. Ways to help ease and comfort the physical and mental include but are not limited to meditation, yoga, prayer, exercise and talking to supportive people about your worries and fears. It is also important to find time to play and have fun. Allowing your body and mind to have a release and rest is imperative in riding the waves of change as smoothly as possible.


How Do You Compare Yourself to Others?

comparison blog
How many of you are willing to admit that you compare yourself to others in one way or another? I am pretty sure that most of us have done this at some time in our lives if not still. Sometimes I think it can happen so automatically that we may not even realize we are doing it. It is as if we are just so accustomed to it that it seems normal. Do any of you relate?

Essentially it seems to be a form of competition. I am sure this historically stems far back in our history and would be an interesting study, however for the sake of this blog I will just put this truth out there and you can research it on your own. Sadly, today we as a culture carry this generational issue with us in our families, society, education, occupation and relationships of all kinds.

I was pondering the beginnings of this comparing one against another in our own lives. Think back to your childhood. How were you doing this then? Did you have many siblings? That comparison can start right in your own home. Maybe one sibling received better grades than you. Maybe you thought one was prettier. I won’t venture into how parents may contribute, however, I know the comparisons often starts in our own family unit; intentional or not.

In my family I was the oldest with a sibling that was four years younger than me. I was naturally athletically gifted; all genetics. I also had opportunity given to me to use those gifts. I tended to be good at whatever I tried athletically. I was also naturally outgoing. My sibling on the other hand was not naturally athletic and did not have a naturally outgoing personality. The reasons for his comparison to me are many, some natural being that I was the older sibling. Sadly, he didn’t have help identifying his strengths and finding his special gifts.

Then there are the wonderful school ages. Comparisons start early. From clothes you wear to how you look to who your friends are, etc. These travel throughout middle school, high school and into higher education. Assuming one survives those times you then continue this pattern into your adult life. How do you do this in your life today?

I believe changing this tendency of comparing oneself to others takes intentional mental focus. It won’t decrease just because you don’t like it. Most importantly is to become aware that you are doing it. Even if nothing else, that is a significant start in interrupting this automatic process.

I have many creative ideas on how to alter this habit once you are consciously recognizing it, however, for the sake of limiting the length of this entry I will recommend that once you recognize that you are comparing yourself then take a moment and write a reframe or an affirmation. It may be “My name is Nancy not Sue and three things that are special about me are…” This redirects you back to yourself and the positive truths about you. In summary, start recognizing when you are doing this and then shift the comparison to reminding yourself to focus on you and your positive qualities.

How Could I Be That Selfish?

selfish blog
What do you think it is that makes it so hard for many of you to put your own self-care first? Is it selfish to think of your needs? If you struggle with this I encourage you think about what it is for you that makes this idea difficult or uncomfortable. It may be that you were taught this verbally or non-verbally by your caretakers. Or it may also originate from cultural or religious learnings. Whatever has influenced you to believe it is “bad”, or “selfish” to think of yourself and your needs usually is learned young and has significant power over you; sometimes even at a subconscious level.

I often use the analogy that we have an unconscious rule-book we are living by. If you don’t become aware of some of these rules that may be hurting you then you will continue to struggle. I invite you to think of some of the rules you may have learned about thinking about yourself and your needs. Write as many down as you can come up with. Here are some examples:

It is wrong to put myself first
It is more important to help others
Others feelings are more important than my own
My needs aren’t important
Good girls are never selfish

Hopefully you were able to personalize your list of rules that are influencing you. Each person’s may be very unique or if we compared them we may find similarities. Once you have listed 6-8 rules then I invite you to evaluate how you can correct these so the new message will be more helpful to you. For example, “It is wrong to put myself first,” might be corrected to “It is important that I put myself first sometimes.” Or, “Taking care of myself is just as important as helping others.” You can chance any messages that aren’t serving your best interest.

This can be done with any of our rules about any topic, but for today I am focusing on the topic of self-care because I find so many of the client’s I work with have great trouble with this. They come to me depressed, drained and often with physical health issue all because they have not learned how to take care of their emotional selves. You are all grown up now and no one else is going to do this for you! I vote that you learn more about how to give yourself permission to take care of your needs.

What Path Is Your Life Following?

What path is your life following? This question will help you identify the areas in your life that are being fulfilled and going in the direction you want. It will also help you address the areas in your life that you are not happy with or the aspects of your life in which you know you are not living up to your full potential. Only you can decide when you are ready to take responsibility for where you are in life and where you want to be.

It is important to evaluate one’s life. If you do not, then you will just be reacting to what comes your way instead of creating or being proactive in your life.

Identifying the path your life is following encourages reflection on all aspects of your well-being. It is time to focus on and evaluate many components of your life. This especially involves how you feel about yourself and how those feelings, conscious or unconscious, either get in your way or help you. Wisdom comes from reflection, and without it you are just following the path presented instead of creating the path you want.

Identifying where your life is falling short can be difficult, but it is very valuable because only then can you concentrate on what needs to be changed. Maybe you are very successful in your career, but your interpersonal relationships are rocky at best. Maybe you are the one who helps everyone except yourself. Do others view you as very self-confident and secure but you know otherwise?

To get where you want to be you must first know where you are. This is of utmost importance. It is time to come clean with yourself. No one else can help you grow emotionally and spiritually until you are able to identify that you have an emotional or spiritual need. Self-honesty is essential. Pretending to be OK or strong is just that, pretending, and as you know, it is often a lot of work. Why not stop working so hard at being something you’re not and address how you really feel inside and how you can change the areas that need your attention! You are in charge of your own personal growth! Take charge!

Take Time To Live In The NOW!

What makes being present in the NOW so difficult for many of us? Being still; being quiet; being reflective, are often hard for people to incorporate into their daily lives. The demands of family, work, etc. seem to require so much of our energy and time. And yet, there is evidence that being still, slowing down, breathing, perhaps meditating can be helpful to one’s mental, physical and spiritual health.

This being true, why is it that so many are not taking action to live more in the NOW? It seems it is all too easy to get caught up in the doings, worries and pressures that are so familiar in most of our lives that it is easy to forget what is going on in the NOW; in this moment. What is the good that is occurring in your life in the NOW? In fact, what is actually happening NOW for you? How often are you even aware of the NOW?

If slowing down and being aware of the NOW; the present moment, is difficult for you I invite you to try to become more conscious of making the effort to spend time focusing on the NOW in your life. You could start with taking two-minutes in the morning, two-minutes in the afternoon and two-minutes in the evening when you take time to just stand or sit and do nothing but focus on your breathing, possible slowing your breathing down and become more aware of your body and your surroundings. No judgment of the circumstances, just being still and aware for a couple minutes. After doing this for a week, take notice of what it feels like to stop six-minutes out of your day to just be in the NOW.

It is always a good reminder that none of us can change the past; we can’t control the future; the only moment we have is in the NOW! How curious it is that so many of us have more practice at focusing on the past and the future and often little practice at purposefully being in the NOW.

What Are The Voices Inside Your Head Telling You?

I encourage you to take a moment each morning and check in with your mind. Being aware of your thoughts is essential for feeling better in your life. Check in with the thoughts that are traveling around inside your head. Take notice. Each of us have chattering going on inside our heads and if you don’t pay attention to this chatter you may not be aware how much it may be hurting you. I encourage you to find a system of paying attention to your thoughts instead of letting them be on automatic pilot.
One of my favorite ways of helping people do this is to have them set the timer on their watch or cell phone to go off every one-half hour or one time per hour. The alarm will interrupt your routine. When the alarm goes off I want you to take a brief moment and listen to your thoughts. Notice if your thoughts or more critical or more nurturing. Even if all you do is notice, it will have impact. The second part of this is to replace the critical with something more positive. I don’t care if you believe the statement just try it out. Don’t over analyze this, just do it. Then move on with your day. If when you check in and your thoughts seems neutral or positive then affirm that thought, “It is nice to be patient with myself.” Then repeat the same when the alarm goes off again. This whole exercise takes around 10-15 seconds.
The goal is to adjust your thought so they project you in a positive direction? However, being aware of your thoughts so you can correct them is imperative to achieving this goal. Your thoughts have great power and provide energy to your day, your week, your life. Take a moment and be aware of whether these thoughts are in alignment with how you want your day to go. I encourage you to alter any thoughts that do not serve your highest good. If you do not take time to pay attention and change these thoughts, they will have the potential to unknowingly drag you down.
It is important not to minimize the power of your thoughts. I invite you to remember this truth. The truth being that you are good. That at heart you are good and have good intentions. Allow yourself to think thoughts that honor this truth about you. Allow yourself to have confidence in your ability. Give yourself the encouragement and motivation you need. Even one kind word to yourself can shift the energy within you and the energy that you send forth. Be on your own side.

Are You Satisfied With Life?

There seem to be many people these days that express a general dissatisfaction with their lives. Often they seem unclear about how to change or even wonder if change is possible. We all get into “ruts”; however, I am speaking more of a perpetual feeling of discontent If you are struggling with this feeling you may be living in a reactive versus proactive manner.

What do I mean by the above statement? You are being reactive when life happens and you ebb and flow wherever and whichever way it takes you. Life and all of its circumstances control you. When you approach life more proactively you are alert and consciously aware of your needs. When you are proactive you take the initiative and responsibility for directing your life. Of course there are many aspects of life one can not control (natural disasters, deaths, etc.), but I am talking about being proactive in attitude; a general stance towards life. A proactive person will not let life and its happenings win.

In what areas of your life do you need to take more responsibility and ownership? I have developed what is called “The Circle of Life” which describes various components of your life. These areas are: emotional, social, physical, spiritual, occupational and intellectual. Emotional entails your emotional and mental health. Social includes all aspects of your social lives, such as, close friends, acquaintances, lovers and family. Physical includes your physical health and also your need for physical touch and also your sexual self. Spiritual is about seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. Occupational involves all aspects of occupational well-being and balance including one’s financial security. Intellectual has to do with your minds need to be stimulated and enhanced.

The “Circle of Life” is best when seen as a whole. If you are lacking in any area and especially if you have a deficit in several areas, then you probably feel unsettled or discontent. I find it useful to review this “Circle of Life” at a minimum every six-months as a kind of ‘self-check” on how you are doing. It is meant to help you take responsibility for the areas that are out-of-balance so you can feel more fulfilled. This is a constant challenge to balance your life so you can be as content as possible.

If you allow yourself to stay stagnant and do not take responsibility for the areas in which you are most lacking then you will usually feel like a victim. Victims generally feel powerless and believe bad things are being done to them. It’s unlikely that anyone would feel fulfilled with this kind of outlook or approach to life.