Hope Wissel, Recovery

How To Sparkle

sparkle

 

This week starts my first “official week” at the gym.  Last week was all about talking to people about my goals, setting up a personal trainer and getting a schedule in place…..  I actually put it in my planner so I don’t blow it off.

Despite my best efforts those inner gremlins have been trying to rear their nasty heads.  They still seem to hang around but are becoming weaker as I spend more time in recovery working the steps….

Let’s face it, we all have inner gremlins.  Have you ever wondered how you can prevent the “inner gremlin” of low self-esteem from creeping in and setting up camp?  Have you ever felt like “I’m not good enough”?  Have you ever thought “I can’t do that”?  Tidbits of negative beliefs creep in every day even when we least expect it.  Let me tell you, when the personal trainer said “one week we will be working in the pool”, I was ready to jump ship!  I was all of a sudden self-conscious about my “jiggle thighs”.  I was worried what people would think.  I wanted to shout “do you  know the last time I was in a pool or even put on a bathing suit????”  She saw the look I gave her.  She asked what my greatest fear was. Then she suggested shorts with a tank top to get over my “fear” of being seen in a bathing suit. Yup, in 3 weeks I will be doing exercises in the pool….

For some, they could quickly slam the door on those inner gremlins.  Others let the negative thought simmer for a moment before kicking it to the curb. Then there are some of us who let the negative thought of “I’m not good enough” ruin their entire day.  So where do you fall in the spectrum of stomping out this inner gremlin?  I will admit, I can fall into anyone of those places on any given day.

When self-doubt creeps in here are some tips which might help:

1. Remember “Life is perfectly imperfect”.

Strive for personal excellence instead of perfection.  I know, I should practice what I preach, right?  When we try to be perfect, we set ourself up for failure and Negative Nelly starts to creep in.  Look for YOUR personal best and when you reach it – CELEBRATE!  Recovery and MS has taught me so much about this.  I do  my best – I don’t (or at least try not to most days) compare myself to others.  Yes, I am going to  celebrate the fact I even getting in the pool.  I actually had a dream where the pool was one of my favorite things to do at the gym.  Don’t worry I will keep you posted.

2. Positive thinking is your decision.

Yes, you get to decide if you want to allow positive thinking to come to your rescue when negativity is banging on the door.  To turn things around… you must have faith, release the fear (let it go…. yes, you can sing the Frozen song if it helps), and focus on the solution. Positive thinking can improve any situation, no matter how awful it may appear.  The positive aspect of the pool (my focus) and going to the gym is to help my muscles stay strong to fight the MS AND drop a few pounds or at least tone up some.

3. Everyone makes mistakes!

Yes, EVERYONE! The real truth is mistakes teach us and allow us to grow. Mistakes are evidence we are trying and doing the best we can.  As we learn and grow from our mistakes, we begin to see more success in our life. Success takes work and mistakes are part of it.  There is a sign I pass every day in front of a local shop which says “We learn from our failures not our successes”.  Focusing on my relapse and what I “coulda, shoulda, woulda” had is not going to help.  I have learned MANY lessons, gotten a little older (okay a lot) and accept my mistakes.  Do you accept your mistakes or do you beat yourself up?

4. Be kind and gentle with yourself.

This has been one of the toughest things for me to learn!  I have to believe I am doing the best I can and so are you.  Your light is shining, no matter how small the flame.  Think of a flower garden – every flower blooms at it’s own pace and shows it’s unique beauty. Continue reaching for the light, and much like the flower, your life will come into bloom as well.  It may not happen as quickly as you (or I) want it but it will happen.

5. You deserve your own unconditional love and forgiveness.

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”- Max Ehrmann

Letting go is not easy.  Some days it is easier for me because I can’t remember.  Hubby has always said it is God’s way of helping me forget some of the pain.  By letting go of bitterness, resentment and negative feelings; you can move to forgiving yourself for past mistakes. Forgiveness allows you to “love YOU no matter what”. It will lead you to more positive feelings of understanding, compassion and empathy, allowing you to embrace the experience.  On the days I LOVE me, all is right with the world.

6. You can’t always change things, but you can ALWAYS change the way you look at things.

This moment, this negative thought was created by a collection of past thoughts, words and actions.  The bottom line is times can get tough – but you need to believe you’re tougher. When I struggle to remember The Serenity Prayer helps to keep me in check:

When you believe you ARE good enough to create the life you desire, and you believe YOU ARE good enough to make it through any situation…….AMAZING things happen.  The way you look at things suddenly change, and before you know it, your reality positively changes with it.

Now, who said you’re not good enough? Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Focus

Today I am thankful for having focus….

Life with MS can be difficult – not usually physically for me but mentally.  Focus is defined as “a center of activity, attraction“. On any given day brain fog makes focusing on anything next to impossible.

Since stopping my Co-paxone (the doctor said it wasn’t helping with the change in diagnosis), I find I am having more days where I can focus.  On those days Negative Nellie and Doubtful Debbie pay a visit and I don’t need to tell you what happens then.  A mini-pity party starts and NOTHING gets done.

Some days, I loose focus because I try to get too much done in one day.  Sometimes I just wake up in a fog.  I keep a list in my planner and am grateful I am able to tick off more things getting done.  I love seeing the pink highlighter line meaning I have completed a task.  Some days I squirrel.  Yup, I have a plan and then get side tracked by something else.  Now, it could be something which also needs to be done BUT instead of being grateful to get another task done,  I look at the fact I am behind schedule.  Tell me I am not alone, right?

I listened to a John Maxwell program where Les Brown talked about focusing on what we have and not what we don’t have.  When we do this, we will get more done.  WOW!  What a way to change perspective.  Instead of thinking about all of the things I don’t get done and how behind I am – cleaning, errands, making phone calls, creating new angels, shipping orders, following up with customers, etc. You get the picture right?

I need to STOP and think… I am blessed to have customers to call, people who want to place orders, the ability to create things and a space to do all of this in.  The truth is the more I focus on the negative, the worse things get.  So I have asked Negative Nellie and Doubtful Debbie to leave. I am ready to restart my day with a change in my focus.

I never lose sight of my overall goals but when I focus on what I don’t have versus what I do have, they seem unattainable.  Life may toss you a load of lemons but it is what you do with them that makes the difference.  Will you make lemonade and share with everyone or will you grumble about the fact that it takes too much time and energy to make the lemonade?

What are you focusing on this morning – what you have or what you don’t?  Change your focus and see what happens.

Have a blessed day!

 

Unclutter Your Life

Thankful Thursday: Expectations

Expectations is defined in the dictionary as “a belief someone will or should achieve something“.  I actually like the NA definition better “Expectations are premeditated resentments”.

Do you have expectations of yourself or others?  I will admit, I have lots of them.  I am working on getting rid of them because they really are the stepping stone for resentment and anger.  So, why then would I be grateful for expectations, right?  Because having them allows me to learn and grow…

imagesLet’s start with the expectations we have for ourselves.  If you are like me, they are pretty high and as a result, I seldom reach the level of perfection I expect of myself.  I know, no one is perfect BUT don’t we set those milestones for ourselves.  Thinking we can handle everything, juggling all the balls in the air – motherhood, work, life, and whatever else comes our way.  The word “NO” seldom escapes from our lips because we “expect” we will be able to everything.  Self expectations allow my inner gremlins to have a field day in my head. Expectations  of others  leaves  me  feeling  frustrated,  angry  and disappointed.  Whether it is business or in love, setting expectations whether they be realistic or not is a setup for disaster.  If  the  words  would  of,  could  of  or  should  of  are  part  of  sentence,  I know I am  in  trouble.

Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings the words invoke.  The longer you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down the inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop the label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How can I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a blessed day!

Woohoo Wednesday

Thankful Thursday: Judgement

 

Judgement is defined as the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, from circumstances presented to the mind”.  I know, why would I be thankful for “judgements”, right?   First because I am learning when I am judging someone else, I better look at myself in that particular area.  Second, I am learning to turn Judgement into Curiosity…..

Think about how many times you have judged or been judged by someone – no matter what the reason?  I know we try our best NOT to judge but isn’t it human nature to judge others.  I will admit since being in recovery, I realize how often I judge people and I don’t like it.   I usually find the reason I am judging them is because something is missing in me – a relationship with my Higher Power or a case of envy or jealousy. 

Isn’t it natural to form an opinion about information we receive?  The problem arises when we proclaim our opinion as the truth, even when we don’t have enough information to come to a definite conclusion.  How often have you done this?  I know I am not alone, right?

We judge people for the way they look, for the way they dress, where they live, what we “think” their life is like, what they eat, how they act……….you get the picture, right?  Social media doesn’t help either because we only see the image people want to project which is usually positive with all of the struggles.  As a result, we determine what their life is like based on just a few pictures.  I have found I do the same thing in my direct sales business as well as my small business.  I judge who may be potential customers or be interested in certain products.  I have already decided they may or may not buy based on what we think or what we perceive.  BUT have we talked to them?  Have we asked them any questions?

The first step in wanting to change this habit is to be aware AND admit you are doing it.  When you stop judging others, you will notice yourself connecting with people more authentically and learning valuable information about them. When others feel like they are being heard, they are more open to hearing you.

I challenge you to try this: The next time you are tempted to be judgmental, instead, be curious. Instead of deciding you know their motives, intentions or backstory, withhold those judgments and listen. The only way to build bridges is to refuse to jump to conclusions, and instead be curious.

1. Be curious by asking questions of yourself.

  • Why do you suppose they did/said/feel that?
  • How does it affect me, if at all?
  • Why does it bother me?
  • What could I learn from this person or situation?

2. Be curious by asking questions of others.

What if we asked them to tell us more about (fill in the blank)?  Or maybe you have been in their shoes, so you can share with them, or ask how they are feeling.  Better yet, say nothing at all. Let them talk and just listen.  Listening can be tough when we have already “judged” someone but force yourself to LISTEN!

We can learn so much about people by turning away from judgment and towards curiosity. When you ask those two questions – of yourself and others – you will gain a new unexpected perspective or a new piece of information providing insight you might not have had before.  It will help you build trust which will  open the door to greater connection.

Who have you been (tempted to be) judgmental towards recently? At work? On social media? With a friend or family member?

Maybe in your business…. Have you hesitated because you had already decided they wouldn’t be interested or couldn’t afford the products?  Have you missed an opportunity to connect with someone new?  Maybe you have missed out on giving or receiving a blessing because you pre-judged them and their situation.

What would happen if you were curious instead of judgemental? Share your AHA moment with us.

Have a blessed day!

 

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Mistakes

A mistake is defined as “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.” .  We have all made them from the little ones to the ones which wreck our lives or those around us.  Do you think of them as leaning lessons and are grateful for the mistake?  OR do you beat yourself up swearing to never do anything “stupid” like that again?

I will admit, depending on the mistake – I can go between the two.  No matter how you handle the mistake, you are not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another and reacted differently each time.  The truth is if we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

The good news is, you can learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom to help you in the future.

1. Acknowledge Your Errors

Regardless of the size of the mistake or who it has effected,  you have to accept full responsibility for your role in what happened.  You need to ask yourself, “What role did I play in this?”.  The answer can be uncomfortable sometimes (okay, maybe most of the time), but you need to own your part.  Once you have said “I messed up,”  you can start to learn from it.  This is all part of changing and hopefully, not making the same mistake again.

2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions

You don’t want to dwell on your mistakes (this is a tough one for me) BUT reflecting on them can be productive. I don’t know about you but when I dwell on mistakes, I tend to beat myself up a little bit.  So, if you ask yourself these tough questions, it can turn a bashing session into a productive one:

  • What went wrong?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • What did I learn from this?

Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.  Let’s face it, we have all had them at one time.

3. Make A Plan

Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road.  It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.  Make a plan to help avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change  No matter how you track your progress, find a way to hold yourself accountable.  Remember what works for one person might not work with someone else.

4. Make It Harder To Mess Up

How will you be sure not to mess up again?  Does willpower alone prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification (I want what I want when I want it). Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again. Find creative ways to become more disciplined. If using credit cards is your struggle – cut up the cards or freeze them.  Yup, in a big block of ice.  Whenever you try to thaw the block of ice, you will realize how ridiculous the situation is and stop spending money you don’t have.

5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again

We all have weak moments and the next thing you know, we have made the same mistake again!  Why not create a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track and be self-disciplined,  you can refer to during tough times. Put the list some place where you can see it – if shopping is a problem, put the list in your wallet next to your debit/credit cards.  If flirting on social media is a thing, post your list on your computer so when you start scrolling or are tempted you see the list.  Is it a guarantee?  NO but it may help you to resist the temptation.  Self-discipline is like a muscle. Each time you delay gratification and make a healthy choice, you grow mentally stronger.

Mistakes aren’t always one big blunder. Sometimes, they are a series of little choices leading to failure.  So pay attention to your mistakes, no matter how big or how small they might seem. Recognize each mistake can be an opportunity to build mental muscle and become better.

Have a blessed day!