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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Great Article worth sharing......

http://www.dailygood.org/story/578/the-neuroscience-of-why-gratitude-makes-us-healthier-ocean-robbins/

A Great Article on Gratitutude- it highlights Journaling as a good tool!
and sites a 21 Day gratitude Challenge Beginning on November 7th!

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Family dynamics and you....

There is an old indian saying that translates into "We choose the family we are born into."...and then there is the scientific theory - which is that you are linked biologically to someone and that is why they are called family. The two perspectives are quite contradictory - the former- puts the onus on you to examine your individual and communal relationships with your family and the role you play in it. And the latter absolves you of any responsibility - it allows you to look at it in the context of biology and gives you the option of cutting yourself of from them should you choose especially if the relationship is toxic.




Yet if you think about it, the family is one's first contact with developing social relationships. The family gives you stability or instability, structure or lack of structure, trust vs. mistrust. The family is also where we first learn how to love, how to share - we learn about obligations, we learn about duty and responsibility. We learn how to interact with one another, how to communicate, how to love/hate one another through our day to day interaction with our immediate family and extended family. And over time, the definition of family gets extended - because it is not only just your own nuclear family- children are born, more members are added into the family by way of matrimony, etc...



The family is probably the first contact where you experienced feelings of jealousy, feelings of rivalry, feelings of unconditional love, feelings of guilt, feelings of pure joy, feelings of over protection, feelings of restentment, and feelings of lack of control/ and power struggles. Yet despite all this - we manage to work through these feelings because of the term "family" and because we want to make it work. No matter how dysfunctional a family is, because often they are the only people that really "get" you, you work through your differences so that you can be together. If there are children involved, then the desire to work through all these emotions is even more.



Yet everyone knows that because a family is a collective unit of individuals -kind of like a group- the dynamics in the group is not always going to be perfect. There is always going to be "the star", there is always going to be the "scapegoat", and there is always going to be " the troublemaker." We all have personalities we come with, we all have issues we struggle with - and imagine a home filled with loads of these personalities. What would the outcome be? especially if we all lived together?



The answer is clear -We make choices within the family structure as to whether we want the family to thrive or dissolve by our reaction to one another. It is not so much about the individual personalities at a certain point - it is about how we respond to them and what we choose to make out of that situation. Do we communicate effectively with one another and choose to really discuss our point of view?. Or do we avoid, internalize and/or express it violently/aggressively because we don't know how to effectively communicate. And most of all, how much of it is a sincere longing to have a belonging to someone that you call your own. We all want to belong somewhere and be part of something that defines who we are. It is a human condition and a family unit gives us that. But it also teaches us alot of lessons about living.



Sometimes it is about learning a lesson of "standing our ground." Sometimes it is a lesson for us to "not take on as much as we always do." Sometimes it is a lesson in 'learning to listen." Sometimes it is a lesson in " learning to forgive." Sometimes it is a lesson in "learning to develop empathy and compassion." Sometimes it is a lesson in "learning to be humble." Sometimes it is a lesson in "learning to hold onto to our beliefs when all others abandon it." And last but not least, " it is a lesson in learning to be patient."



Think of your own family dynamics - and think of the lessons you have gained, the struggles you have had to face, and think of the role you play in your family. What would you do differently? what would you change? Do you see patterns repeating themselves in various ways?



We are heading into November by the end of this week. The leaves are changing colors, and fall is definitely in full swing. With fall, comes holiday seasons - and not that i want to begin thinking of that, but I write this piece about family more so to begin a reflection of family and what it means to you. We go through life often like a bull running after a target - and if we stop and take a breath, we will begin to see patterns, ideas, thoughts within our family structure that will help us to either make a decision to heal/mend it or remove ourselves from it should it be toxic.

Sometimes it is worth it to go all the way to save the family - because in your heart you know it is the right thing to do. At other times, it is about letting things be as they are - and making a conscious decision of not allowing your self to go there.

Whatever the choice is, do it wisely and calmly.



Journal Prompt:

1. Do a five minute writing sprint on FAMILY.

2. Complete the following sentence - I want my family to _______________

3. For fun, have each member of the family do a poem with the words Vertically Written and write something. You can make a collage with it, or a photobook with it.



Fulfilling my needs, wants and desire

Amidst times of struggles and despair

Moving me in a direction of possibilities

Inspiring me to do more

Loving me unconditionally

You bring me closer and closer to you!



Happy Journaling!



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The other side of the coin...

 "If the only prayer you ever said was thank you, that would be
enough," said Master Eckhart - an so true it is.  This is a prayer
that has stuck with me since childhood - my aunt would remind me over
and over again that no matter what happens to you in life - be
thankful for what you have, because there are those around you that
are in worse situations than you.  As a child, i may not have fully
grasped the meaning in its totality, and maybe on some level just
began saying this prayer on automatic pilot because it stuck with me,
however as i grew and went into adulthood and all the different
changes/stages that we go through, saying thankyou was very helpful.


It has helped me shift perspective, and has helped me look at things
beyond what meets the eye.   It has pushed me to not get stuck in my
emotions which can be very draining, but more so it has allowed me to
live life - we often just let the whole day pass before us without
doing anything - and sometimes doing nothing is necessary, but i am
talking about it within a different context.   Living is not simply
just waiting for life to happen - it is actually making life happen -
and by saying thank you - we allow things to happen.   We are humbly
acknowledging that a greater power has provided us with so much and
more - we are humbly acknowledging that yes, our life could be a mess
right now, but there are other things that are also worth living for,
we are humbly acknowledging that we may have made a mistake, but that
there is also a second chance to do it over again and perhaps even a
third.  So there can never be enough of thank yous - and i think as a
society, we don't say it enough.
Everytime, i am at a restaurant and someone serves me my meal, i say
thank you - because it reminds me of how grateful i am that i can get
to out and have a meal, while there are so many out there that can't.
Everytime, i pay for a service, i say thank you -because even though
they are being paid to do it, there is still work involved on their
part and it take effort.    Thank you is an essential part of our
vocabulary and saying thank you also reminds us of those invisible
helpers that are there along the way (or even visible helpers) that
have helped make our life alot easier.
I do this practice with my son, and for those of you that have
children, i ask you to do that with them - because it teaches them to
look beyond what meets the eye- it helps them face the ups and downs
of life with courage, with optimism and with a humility that "yes,
this too shall pass."  But more than anything, it helps us get unstuck
- when we are stuck in our emotions, in our ways, in our thoughts
-there is no room for change.  Change can only happen if we allow our
perspective to change and allow our view to shift and change - and
then we will see daily things happening in our lives that we are so
grateful for.
I was struggling with an issue the last week or so - which i know has
no resolution  - but i revisit it every time and everytime my mind
gets stuck and my emotions get stuck - and this time i got tired of
feeling and thinking that way - so i decided to shift perspective - if
i shift my persepctive, then maybe my stuckness may get entangled and
i will be free - and as difficult as it is to do it - i had to push
myself to do so - Saying Thank you and listing out what I am thankful
for -making a list for myself of specific things that i am thankful
for helped me shift perspective.   THe message I got which I would
want to leave you with is " What happens to you does not matter - what
you become through the process is what matters and that is the meaning
of life."  It is understanding that all that is happening will happen,
but it is how i respond to it, how i become in the process that will
change my attitude - and i will say that sometimes one may feel like
you are walking through a fire when faced with struggles - but how you
come out of it, is so important  in the long run - so hold on tight.

Journal Prompt:
1. Do a five minute sprint beginning the sentence: "The worse thing
that could happen to me is
2. At the end of the day, make a list of all the things that happened
during that day and be specific - that you are thankful for - do it
for 2 days, then extend it to 3 days, and then make it 5 days, and
then make it a week.   See the change/shift if any and note it.
3.  Say Thank you GOD! Say THANK YOU! - people often feel unloved and
taken for granted - extend your thankfulness to those whom have helped
you along the way on your path - don't forget them.

Happy Journaling!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Power

When someone holds a position of authority, it gives them a sense of power over other people.  The more power someone has the more power he/she wants.   As the saying goes, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."  Power can be of different natures - an employer versus employee, power control between intimate partners, power of that of parent/child - the list can go on in terms of power differences can play out in various relationships.   What does it mean when the person in the position of power utilizes it unethically? Where, the goal is power and control over the other person, and taking pleasure in seeing the other person be subjected to humiliated, violated and weakened.  I have often said this and I will always say this - "no one should have that kind of power over you, where you feel you have to answer to their beck and call because they are in a position of authority."  But when fear kicks in and you feel that you are nothing without them - financially, emotionally, physically - then at that point what are you supposed to do? 
I write about this today because I have seen several individuals in situations where their behaviors are determined according to when they feel out of control of our lives and dependent on the other.   And the day that we realize that, is the day we need to wake ourselves up from this delusion. 

Fear is a paralyzing factor - and paralysis numbs you - it numbs your speech, it numbs your actions, it numbs your thoughts - at times it also may begin to delude you into believing that "YOU ARE THE PROBLEM." 
We all have something that is called Personal Power - and because of the fear we have forgotten our personal power.  

How would you define Personal Power - That within myself, I possess all the wisdom, the love, and the strength I need to operate in this world.  Personal Power is something that in innate within us.
If we stand up for what we believe in, and refuse to let another person/organization/group dictate our behavior and even our thoughts, we reclaim our personal power.   If we continue to live in fear and believe for example that our livelihood, our partner, our relationships will be lost, we have lost ourselves in the process.  We have given into the power play and lost.  

In order for that to happen, we must find a way to reclaim our personal power - and the qualities that are associated with that - if we discover that the qualities that are associated with personal power are things such as ego, anger, resentment, then we are in the wrong direction.   But if we begin to find qualities in ourselves that show understanding, that show honesty, that show compassion - we are heading in the right direction.  

What can we do to reclaim it? Here are some journaling tips that one can utilize for this context:

1.  Make a list of all the reasons we believe we are being victimized?  This is being honest with yourself to let u know that yes - your personal power is being taken away.
2.  Make a list of things you think you would lose if you begin to say "no."  And next to each item, answer the question " What is the worse thing that could happen?"  
3.  Out of that list, look at see what you can realistically do without?  The things that stand out to you that you need for survival - then put an "x" next to it.  Putting an "x" next to that does not mean you have to tolerate the power and control, but more so, determining how are you going to respond to it?  What Tools do you need? 
4.  Define what Personal Power means to you.   
5.  Write out a picture of how you would like the situation to be in your world?   What would you change? More specifically about yourself.
6.  Pick 3 things about yourself that you want to work for yourself - and for one week, keep a log of tracking your behaviors.   Notice if these behaviors are either sabotaging you to lose yourself or if you are beginning to change your thought process because you are more mindful of it.
7.  Be mindful of how you communicate - because that is key to reclaiming your personal power - are you quick to jump to defense mode, are you quick to resign yourself that "no one is going to listen", do you often throw a tantrum so you can be heard,  or  are you critical in your communication style.

Happy Journaling!
  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Patterns....

When is it okay to say "enough is enough."   What if you feel like you have reached your limits and can't handle anything else that life throws at you - and don't know if you can take it - what do you do then?  They say before the calm, comes the storm - and life is alot like that - it throws things at us, one after the other  -often without a particular time frame.  What if you feel you have hit rock bottom and don't know where else to go? Where else to turn?  When I mean "rock bottom" i am not referring to suicidal ideations - but more so you emotionally don't know how much more you can handle - then what do you do?  How many of us have been in that situation.   I know for one - i have on more than one occasion.  

But I also know that having been there before, what I will say to those who are going through it is - that your mind is stronger than you think.  And it is in times like these that it is so necessary to clear the clutter in our heads and begin looking at the situation with clarity rather than emotionally. 

I have been having conversations with my husband about life and the direction it steers us in - oftentimes we are in situations that when we are in it, we may be upset about it, we may be fighting ourselves through it, we may be questioning why - we may be wondering why we are struggling so much - and we may want justice - But during that time, do we ever stop and ask the question "What do I have to learn from this."   "What am I not seeing that I need to see."  "Am I reacting to a situation based on need versus a situation based on what I think I am entitled to have."   It is so important during turbulent times to have discussions like these with someone you trust, someone to confide in, and more than anything someone who will be able to see things objectively rather than sympathize with you - you want someone who can empathize, not sympathize!

Think of a time in your life - or lets say job - where you feel there is no way out - you feel trapped - you feel stuck - you wonder if you are going to ever see the light.   Or think of being in a job search and it not paying you the results and the effort you justifyingly feel you have put into it.   Think of the emotions that come up when u are trying to have clarity -but all you feel is doom, frustration, resentment. Then what do you do? Do you begin feeding yourself the same emotions or do you begin to say to yourself - i need to find a way to snap out of this - Think of other areas in your life where you have felt that you can't go beyond this.
The question has to be asked - "What do I have to learn from this? "

There is a meaning behind everything that happens to us - whatever happens to us, understanding that it is ultimately for our own higher good - and learning to keep that balance is so importnat in situations like that.   but it does not mean we fall into a victim mode and just accept the situation - we have to move beyond that light and try to understand the reasons.   Sometimes, and often times - the reason is not going to be visible immediately - in fact it may be several years down the road or it may take several months before we make sense of things, but when we begin to recognize the patterns in our lives, when we begin to see our reactions to things in our lives, when we begin to utilize a higher power as a means of acceptance - then the process becomes easier. 

Reading this, one might say - it is very easy to say these things, but it is so difficult to practice.  I agree - we will repeatedly make the same mistake in a different way over and over again just like a child learning to ride a bike, until we get it right one day.   But we need to be aware of what the lesson is.  The child riding the bike needs balance to ride - similarly, we need balance in our lives - and in order to gain that balance must practice over and over again, till we gain that balance.   Practically speaking -taking an internal inventory - and being open to seeing the truth about ourselves - good and bad.   Looking at ways to improve versus being victim blaming.   Beginning to change a perspective on things rather than just say "that's what's its like."  And last but not least - realizing that everything that comes our way - we alway are given a choice. 

I can't stress how journaling has helped me shift perspectives in my life, accept certain situations and relationships I cannot change, and yet allow myself to still feel in control of the situation.   More than anything Journaling has allowed me to have a deeper connection to my higher self - and to a higher power - who helps us make sense of things. 

Prompt for today:  The next step for me is to ......

Happy Journaling!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Triggers...


Think of some event in your life, something, someone, an issue that keep popping up.  Think of the hard work that you have made to move on with the issue.   Maybe you have spent time in therapy talking about the need to let go of the issue, maybe you have written in detail about it, maybe you have worked your way through prayer and meditation to put it past you, and last but not least, maybe you have engaged in a creative outlet to process this.  You feel like you are doing really well, and then BAM - something, someone triggers something in you and the same emotions of anger, resentment, hurt, anxiety all start resurfacing and you just don't know what to do with yourself.  

You begin to question yourself - and perhaps the way in which you let yourself heal.  You feel consumed with these emotions and you need to find another outlet or possibly the same outlet- to process it all over again.  And then the eternal burning question that you would not dare ask aloud is "WHY?" "WHY?" .....the answers are not there initially.  You begin to put the blame on the one you think is hurting you, or on society, or on an organization, or on circumstances - but do you question your role in this? Do you ask yourself - what about me - am i simply a victim in this or do i have a choice? The answer is - "YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE."   And that's true, you always have a choice but do you exercise that choice, or do you go back to your old patterns and old ways. 

We may ask 'WHY" and if we stop and listen to our higher self, we will find the answer - we may not like the answer, and so we may doubt the answer and question the answer - but the truth will not change.   "IT is WHAT IT IS." And we have to come to terms with it.   And then we realize - that the reason we get triggered, is because we have not truly let go of the person, the issue, the emotion, the event, -whatever it is that we feel in our mind that has done us harm.   

Letting go is a continous process - it is not a one stop shop -life constantly throws us in directions where we may be faced with a different situation but same emotions/same issue to confront - to see how we will deal with it.  Will we run or will we face it? Will be take a stand or be in the dark? Will we recognize our triggers without judgement and be willing to face this issue from scratch again - and accept the fact that this is just another lesson.  

What is your choice? How do you respond to the concept of Letting go?  What is your idea of letting go?

I ask you to do the following:
1.  List 5 things you need to let go right now ...and do it quickly without thinking.  START NOW!
2.  Now pick one of the items on that list and write about that for five minutes.  

Happy Journaling!