Posts tagged ‘awareness’

April 24, 2011

From overwhelmed to calm

by Dandy

We are all powerful people.  But powerful people have their limits.  How is your power being weakened throughout the days, weeks, months as we lead our professional, home, and personal lives?  There are aspects of our lives that can be creative, happy, and engaging in the right setting, but all too frequently we find ourselves overwhelmed and doubting our abilities.

We certainly all know the feelings of being overwhelmed and over extended.  Of having to put our time and energy into the frustrations of life.  In a state of being over extended we may find that our personal relationships are suffering.  We may find ourselves uninspired to connect in meaningful ways with our loved ones.  For some of us may find our jobs have become our primary relationship and our job has become an unforgiving taskmaster.

Health can suffer.  We may find ourselves unable to fall asleep or stay asleep with the nagging worries we have.  Unhealthy eating or not eating enough, our bodies become lethargic and weakened.  Purposeful exercise feels like it would be a luxury.  We are in a state of overwhelm when…

*Our shoulders feel the weight of the world on them.

* We wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts of worry.

*  We don’t look forward to doing what once brought us great happiness.

*  We find ourselves thinking if we only worked harder or did better than we could make it all work out.

Different choices need to be made when we are overwhelmed.  The following strategy will be able to help identify and get out of the over extendedness and prevent it from happing again.

  Know Your Limits

We must be able to recognize when we are over extended.  So many of us have been fighting and pushing for so long that we see it as normal.  Everyone of us has signs that let us know we’ve hit our limit and those signs are present before we are overwhelmed.  This is the line between being happily busy and productive to being overwhelmed.  To discover our limits we need to think back to a time to when we were happily busy and productive…functioning, not stressed.  What were we doing?  How were we doing it?  Discovering our limits requires an inner journey to discover how we want the rhythm of our life to happen.  By knowing our limits we can avoid or notice it more quickly and be able to correct it sooner.

  Change Priorities

When in the state of overwhelm there is a different way of prioritizing  that supports us, it is a mindset of crisis intervention, so to speak.  Rather than looking at the most important items and plugging away, look to complete the easiest.  So the project that can be done the fastest and easiest.

  Focus On the Inner Journey

Being overwhelmed is a state of mind.  Thoughts such as, “how am I going to get all of this done?” and “I don’t have any time for me anymore.”  Feelings of anxiety, frustration, and fatigue are telling us that we are running on fumes.  We must be mindful of filling ourselves up, with creativity, positivity, joy, and vitality.  This is our fuel.  When we recognize that our positive emotions are depleting, we must give ourselves the time and attention necessary to bring balance back into our lives.

  Restful Days

Just as our bodies need recharging, so do our minds.  This requires rest on a regular basis.  This means taking a day out of every week where the focus is on rest.  The rest of our days are already filled up with work, school, laundry, and grocery shopping.  A day of rest requires a different sort of energy… one of calmness, recharging, relaxing, and fun.  By taking this one day a week for ourselves, we are supported in keeping our creativity high and the ability to meet whatever presents itself to us in a positive manner.

Make the choice to choose a strategy that will have you transforming feelings of being over extended into feelings of calmness.  Know that you deserve it.

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January 17, 2011

Cognitive Distortions: Win against it

by Dandy

When you think about your negative thoughts do you see a possibility that your mind plays tricks on you?  Can you see how negative thinking can distort your view?  Cognitive distortions-where your mind puts a spin on the events we experience, and attaches a not-so-objective interpretation to what we experience.  These distortions of thinking happen all the time.  They are especially common in people with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. 

The theory of cognitive distortions came about in the 1960’s with Aaron T. Beck leading the way with his research.  Cognitive therapy has helped multitudes of people since then.

When we know to be aware of these thoughts, it becomes easy to see the cognitive distortions in ourselves and others.  Doing so in ourselves can bring lasting positive change in the way we experience stressors in our lives.

Here are the 10 most common (and officially recognized) cognitive distortions

  1. Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  2. Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  3. Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  4. Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.                                                                                                               >>Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
    >>The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  5. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  6. Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  7. Should statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  8. Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  9. Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.
  10. All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these?  To conquer over negativity and depression/anxiety, we can and must stop these automatic thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.  We have the power to change negative thoughts.  We have the power to live a happier, more fulfilling life.

December 30, 2010

The Highly Sensitive Person Part 2

by Dandy

If you have ever been told, “you are too sensitive,” or “you need a thicker skin,” chances are you are a highly sensitive person.  Those of us who are highly sensitive have heard these comments all our lives.  It is very difficult to get a person who is not highly sensitive to understand what it is like to have our kind of experiences.  It would be like asking an elephant what it is like to be a butterfly.  That elephant could spend its long life studying butterflies, maybe even try to get in touch with his inner butterfly self.  An elephant cannot stop ever being an elephant and a highly sensitive person (hsp) cannot stop being highly sensitive.  Some people may view this innate ability as a weakness, because there is no therapy, exercise, or pill to fix it.  There are some of us hs individuals who do not wish to “fix it” anyway.  One reason being is that the non-highly sensitive person can benefit from our compassion.  Compassion is just one of many wonderful traits the hsp possesses.  Other benefits are creativity, intuition, right brain intellect, and strong multi-tasking abilities among so many others.  A person not being able to understand the hsp doesn’t mean that they cannot learn how to treat us with kindness and love.  The example set out by Jesus is proof.  In my opinion Jesus was a hsp and he encouraged and inspired great love and compassion from others. 

Hsp make excellent healers, counselors, advisors, and leaders in part to our intuition and ability to read people.  We pick up on the emotions of others very, very easily.  Hsp have strong artistic, musical, and writing abilities.  We have an appreciation for art, animals, and children.  We can read people by their tone of voice, body language.  We also feel deep, profound sense of justice and fairness, hence the reason why we make great leaders and authority figures.  We have a keen attention to detail and fastidiousness.  We have a strong connection to nature and the spiritual world.  Many people who have psychic abilities are hs.  We revel in peace, quiet, and calm and have the ability to get into deep meditation.  Our relationships are usually deep, meaningful, and can last a very long time, because we are loyal people.  When we fall in love we usually fall fast and hard.

There is a flip side to being hs.  We are easy to hurt and can become quite isolated and cynical.  We are slow to heal from trauma and it is crucial for the hsp to be taught to appreciate and how to work with our sensitive natures.  Since the publication of Dr. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person over 10 years ago, acceptance of the hsp has been gaining in the psychological community and in our culture.  There are now educators, therapists, psychologists, and life coaches who specialize in working with hsp.  More and more books are being written to help people who are highly sensitive.  If you have a hs child, you owe it to them to educate yourself about this, especially the younger they are.  It may even take a hsp to point out that a child is hs to a non-highly sensitive parent.  It is also important for the hs child to appreciate their unique traits and learn how to keep themselves from being overwhelmed.  Children often do well with yoga and meditation.  It is important to not label them as overly sensitive.  There is no such thing as being overly sensitive.  There is such a thing as a sensitive person being overwhelmed with too much stimuli, and unable to handle it.

I remember as a child the noise and chaos of my 1st grade classroom.  One particular day the high-pitched voices, overly bright lights, the heat of the classroom, the noise coming from a record player in the background became all too much.  I needed a moment to put my head down in all this stimulation.  So that’s what I did.  I covered my arms over my head to block out the excessive stimuli.  I see now that what I was trying to do was center myself, only of course being 6 years old, I did not have the vocabulary to explain my needs.  My teacher Mrs. Johnson was worried I may be ill.  She brought in another teacher to see about me.  I couldn’t explain myself to them.  But having these 2 large adults stand over me made me feel there was something wrong with me.  None of the other children needed a break from the chaos like I did.  I felt alone.  It was the first time in my life I felt defected.   Fortunately with Dr. Aron’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person these situations do not have to happen.  I believe it should be a required read for every teacher.

It’s taken many years for me to realize that being a highly sensitive person really, truly is a gift.  By no means is it a defect.  I was just surrounded by people who didn’t understand it.  I love having insight into problems that others do not seem to have.  I love having a perspective that others do not.  I love hearing from people, “oh, I didn’t think of it that way.”   Many, many times in my life I’ve been told I have a strong and unique insight.   So despite the hurtful and confusing moments of my early years, I would not change being a hsp.  I choose to see the pros over the cons.  I’ve stopped apologizing for being sensitive.  I’ve honed in on my gifts and am aware of how it benefits me and others.

The world needs all sorts of people.  We need the straight talking, tell it like it is sort.  We need their tenacity and strength.  People who don’t need to contemplate and deliberate, they get in and get the job done.  Those are wonderful qualities.  The world needs the sensitive types as well.  We need insightful people who just seem to “know” things.   People who bring forth great compassion and understanding.  The world is complex and so are the people who are in it.  Isn’t it extraordinary?

December 20, 2010

The Highly Sensitive Person part 1

by Dandy

There can be a multitude of descriptions and definitions of the highly sensitive person.  It is agreed that the highly sensitive person, or hsp for short, experiences a deeper and higher level of sensitivity and have different nervous systems than those that are not highly sensitive.  Incoming information is processed and reflected upon so deeply that we are more likely to become overwhelmed and over stimulated than those who experience a lesser degree of sensitivity. 

The causes of hypersensitivity are not known to be biological, but rather an evolutionary trait inherent in a particular gene that has been with us since humans started walking this earth.  There have always been people of a strong spiritual nature.  We were known to be healers, saints, prophets, shamans, and philosophers – people known to be deeply rooted in their souls.  We are people who are able to access wisdom, knowledge, and love that comes from the sensitivity to the world around us.  Hsp are blessings to this world filled with chaos, violence, and injustice.  Highly sensitive people have access to parts of their brain that others might not experience.  Hsp use over 10% of their brain and filter out less reality through the optic nerve, so more reality is experienced.  Hsp notice energy fields and chakras can sometimes be seen.  According to Dr. Elaine Aron, who wrote the revolutionary The Highly Sensitive Person, hsp take up 15 to 20% of the human population.   The following are some common traits:

  •  Ability to perform deep processing of information.
  • Picks up on subtle details while in the learning process.
  • Are not able to learn effectively when over aroused.
  • Are known to be thoughtful, sentimental, and loyal.
  • Are able to accomplish tasks with great accuracy, detail, and speed.
  • Gets more affected by caffeine and other stimulants.
  • Can stay still for a longer period of time than others.
  • Has more right brain activity.
  • Creative by nature.
  • Highly imaginative.
  • Takes time to come out from the effect of some kind of stimulus.
  • Can understand human emotions more deeply than others.
  • Does not give their best while being watched.
  • Tends to mix less with others.
  • Does better work when the environment is relaxed, calm, and quiet.
  • Prefers to feel and experience quietly by themselves.
  • Are great organizers.
  • Are more loyal and hardworking than others.
  • Strongly compassionate and caring.
  • Are inclined towards spirituality.
  • Strong aesthetic sense.
  • More in tune with nature and elemental forces.
  • Notices subtleties in appearances, physical sensations, and placement of objects.
  • Prefers to work and play quietly.
  • Asks deep thought-provoking questions.
  • Gets easily disturbed by noise.
  • Reads the moods of others with great accuracy.

So as you can see by this long list of information the perception of things are magnified; therefore, the feelings and emotions are stronger in a hsp.  The hsp can strongly benefit from yoga, meditation, chanting, and/or deep breathing exercises.    Because the hsp is prone to become over stimulated and stressed it is of the utmost importance that coping techniques be learned and applied.  We are more sensitive to chemicals; therefore, a diet as free from chemicals, preservatives, and dyes should be sought.  We are more inclined to sleep disturbances so leading a disciplined life of proper sleep and relaxation is crucial.

Hsp are more open to negative fields.  We absorb people’s negative energy and emotional toxins.  We can feel a person’s psychic chaos very easily.  Physical symptoms can show in us such as chronic colds, allergies, sinus troubles, headaches, sore throats, stomach upset,  and breathing difficulties.  On a positive note, we are just as open to a person’s positive field.  Which is why it is imperative for us to surround ourselves with healthy, loving people.  Children who are hs are particularly sensitive to energy fields and are strongly susceptible to the physical ailments.

December 6, 2010

Deep breathing techniqes for well being

by Dandy

There are so many benefits to deep breathing.  It can help with physical pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, asthma, depression, etc,.   Just because we know how to breathe doesn’t mean we are taking advantage of all the great things that can come from it.  Most of us breath in a very shallow and aimless manner, with stataco jerks.  We are so used to this that it takes mindfulness to alter the breath.  But it is easier than you may think to develop an unconscious habit of mindful deep breathing.  Once we gain attention to our breathing and make an effort to stretch and lengthen our breath, we easily start breathing deeply.  However, as soon as our minds start to wander in some other direction we return to the shallow breathing.  But there is a remedy.

The first method is known as the Pause Breath method.  This is a simple, but powerful technique.  All you need to do is concentrate on the two pauses that occur while breathing, the inhalation and the exhalation.  Just by doing this you will start taking continuous deep breaths.  When you inhale deeply, you will need to exhale deeply.  Try this now.  You can do this technique anywhere and everywhere.  Just observe your breath.  So it for 5 minutes.  Start focusing on these breathing pauses twice a day for 15 minutes each.  Try to do the session of pause breath in a quiet, peaceful place at first.  As you do this, you will find that even when you stop focusing your attention on the pauses, you will still be breathing deeper.

The second method is called the Pavlov method.  We use “conditioned reflexes” for this method. There is a long list of things we do everyday without fail, like driving, getting dressed, reading the newspaper, internet surfing, etc,.  we will use these activities as external stimuli to train our nervous systems (minds) to automate the process of deep breathing.

Let us take walking as an example.  We walk to the bus stop, or the bosses office, or down the supermarket aisles.  We do all of this with purpose.  So all you need to do is choose one of these daily walks.  Just one.  Now when you walk for that purpose give attention to your breath.  Be aware of the pauses.  Try to breath deeply.  For this one walking purpose always breath deeply.  For all other occasions of walking, forget about it and take in breath the way you normally do. 

So suppose you choose to do this every morning you walk out to your car.  Always do this deep breathing.  After you are in your car you can breathe normally again.  You are not required to do deep breathing all day long.  Just to the car.  You will be unconsciously training your mind to start associating the process of deep breathing while walking to the car.  The simultaneous process of walking to the car and deep breathing will become automatic.  You’ll see that when you forget to breath deeply while walking to the car, your mind will remind you and your body will respond.  A “conditioned reflex” will be created!  You can apply this to other daily activities you do, like taking a shower, or washing the dishes, or checking your email.

If you do this several times a day during your daily activities, you can be deep breathing for 3 or 4 hours daily.  Just imagine all that pure oxygen running through your brain and body!

Do you practise deep breathing?  How has it benefited you?

November 11, 2010

Romantic relationships – an exercise on values

by Dandy

Romantic relationships – a heavy topic.  We all desire connectedness, love, respect, and companionship.  In todays very tough economical times, having stability in our relationship with our partner is so very important.    Continue reading for a fun exercise that can only make your relationship stronger and healthier.

We all desire to experience and share love, but yet we are all very unique individuals.  A persons uniqueness can lead some couples to have more in common than others.  Then there are couples who are drawn together because of their differences.   Couples must be willing to grow to understand each other’s full natures.  Impartial curiosity must be allowed to move them beyond their attachments so they can learn more by exploring each others values.

We are all guilty at times of trying to change the other person and to blame the other if something is making us unhappy. It is crucial to move beyond the need to be right and to seek the deeper answers, which will help both to learn how to relate on a level of deep awareness.  Perhaps then any differences will blur and soften because of a  stronger understanding of each others intentions and this will produce a greater compassion for each others values and needs.

It is so easy to get into a blaming state of mind.  But it is imperative to a healthy relationship to release the need to blame.  To have a bridge of support we must move beyond pettiness.  The bridge itself can be the common ground for better communication.  Throw away the blame and the need to be right and embrace compassion.

A wonderful exercise for couples is for each person to make a list of their own values.  Then on that list mark which values are negotiable and which ones are non-negotiable.  While doing this exercise leave judgement behind and use curiosity.  You will discover what your partners deeper intentions are as well as your own.  Each person will see that who their partner is is who they are.  The desire to change the other person will lesson.  Perhaps each person will see that there is no right and wrong.  Differences are not necessarily wrong or negative.  Both people have values and they are important to respect. 

In understanding each others values, a neutrality can be built.  When a conflict arises each partner can see a the other may not be coming from a place of selfishness, but rather a place of love.  This is why a deep understanding of each others values are crucial.  In a neutral place compromise is possible.  By taking inventory of greater values, each will come to understand that everyone has different needs and why they are expressed the way they are.  Needs will never be met by trying to change the other person.

Having open discussions of what you learn will be helpful in solving problems and conflicts, especially if they have been building for some time.

If your partner is currently unwilling to do this value exercise with you, you can still make a list of  your negotiable and non-negotiable values.  This self-awareness may be enough to change the dynamics of your relationship, creating an open space  for your partner to make a shift.  Being in touch with your authentic self can never hurt.

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