Unclutter Your Life

How Do You Stay Positive?

How do you feel when you hit a goal?  Maybe your goal weight?  Maybe you ran a marathon?  Maybe you hit your sales goals?  Whatever it was, do you remember how you felt?  The excitement of achieving something you have been working for – were you giddy with happiness, or are you like me and cry tears of joy?

Now, how did you feel working towards the goal?  Frustrated?  Overwhelmed?

May is full of celebrations – my birthday, my 10th wedding anniversary and God willing, my 3rd year in recovery.  May is the end of the ThirtyOne fiscal year and I have already hit my HIGHEST year in personal sales since I started with the company.  With all of these exciting things, you would think it would be easy for me to stay positive, right? The truth is I struggle with staying positive.

So many of us work hard in pursuit of big bold goals – because it feels so good when we make them happen, right?  The truth is BIG wins don’t happen every day.  Sometimes not even every month, quarter, or year. Sometimes big dreamy goals take time, patience, and a whole lot of devotion to make happen. And it’s okay, it’s how it’s supposed to be.

But are we supposed to defer our happiness, our joy, and our contentment until those BIG dreams happen?  How many of you actually celebrate or give yourself credit for the baby steps you made on the way to your BIG goal?

Most of us (me included) forget to feel proud of ourselves in the here and now – in the moment BEFORE we reach the big goal. It is important for us to allow ourselves to enjoy the moment. We can make ourselves crazy if we continue to defer our happiness until some day in the future when we make those big dreams happen.

So what if we started to obsess over our little wins instead of the big ones?  What if we reconnected with the things which truly matter most in my life – the present, the here and now.  When we show up each day for our work and our life while taking care of ourself, our family, and our business – these are the things which truly matter most. The big wins are then the icing on the cake.  The little wins are the ones which truly shape and define a well lived successful life.  One of my biggest struggles in recovery (combined with the MS) is living in the moment.

What do some of your little wins look like? Do any of these look like yours?

I paid my bills this month on time and am reducing my debt.  That’s awesome.

One of my favorite customer/hostess wants to host another party. That’s amazing.

I got 6 hours of sleep a few nights this week! Go me.

I gave myself time and space to read an incredible book this month.  Woo hoo!

I created and shared original posts on social media this month I’m proud of.  I sure did.

I embraced guilt-free rest this week whenever I needed it.  Yes!

              I didn’t beat myself up with I made a mistake. Yes!

             I rode my stationary bike 3 times this week. Yes!

Do any of these sound like baby steps you took?

Maybe you got up, showered & dressed at least twice this week?  Maybe you you reached out when you were struggling?

So, what happens when you think about the little steps you took this week?  Were you energized, excited, and aligned?

Believe it or not, when you are focused on the little wins, you are less attached to the outcome.  You can feel proud of the hard work and devotion it took to make the BIG dreams happen without diminishing what it took to make the little, everyday wins happen too.

I’m challenging you to obsess about your little wins instead of the big ones.

What are five things you’re really proud of this week?  No matter what they are, embrace the positive feelings about the little wins.  Enjoy the feelings as you celebrate showing up each day and giving your life everything you’ve got.  Because it’s what really matters in the end.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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: My Story

Today I am thankful for my story….

There was a time when I was Negative Nellie, looking at my past and not liking myself very much.  I’m sure I am not alone, right? My story is a bit messy – addiction, relapse, recovery, and a whole lot in between but it is the story which made me the person I am today.  There are days when I don’t like the way I look or sit on the “pity pot” because of circumstances BUT for today, I am grateful for all of these things.  I am even learning to like myself, a little bit at a time.

I recently re-read a blog post by LYSA TERKEURST entitled “Learn to Love Your Story“.  It is helping me to change my perspective every day but especially on those days when Negative Nellie comes for a visit.

She talks about loving your story – your life – being content in the moment and enjoying it! WOW!  This week has been an emotional roller coaster and I am not sure I even know why.  No major fiascos, no crisis – just little hiccups which quickly sent me on a road less traveled (okay so maybe it is traveled a little bit more than I want it to be).

It is strange but I can almost tell when I wake up, if I am going to love my story day.  Crazy, right?  Hubby always ask for a warning or a text alert message.  Thankfully, I am starting to share how I feel without getting snarky.  On those days I  STOP, take a breathe and regroup.  Praising and thanking God for my life… my story.  See I forget sometimes.  My life may not be a story book or full of lots of happy endings but it is MY story.  It is the life he gave to me.

Hubby and I were talking the other day about just this thing.  We were reminiscing about days gone by.  I have no regrets nor does he because it is because of those things we are blessed to be in each other’s lives today.  We had our struggles.  We had our heartache.  We had our joys.  Life wasn’t perfect but we got through it to get us where we are today.  The struggles still come but now we try to look at the differently – together.  I’m learning this time around in recovery, marriage is a joint effort and I don’t have to carry things all on my own.

Lysa talked about “pre-deciding” to LOVE her story.  NOTE to self: change my point of reference BEFORE the day begins.  Stop thinking about the “what if” and “predicting” what may happen in any given situation.

I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we’ll start to look at our stories in a different way.

A more beautiful way.

So I whispered, “Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments.”  Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

Thank you Lysa for reminding me to look through the “lens of lovely” today.

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!

Unclutter Your Life

Are Emotions Ruling Your Decisions?

We have all done it, right?  Let emotions rule our decisions.  I am sure there are more time than I can remember where I made impulse decisions based on how I was feeling instead of thinking them through.

When we make an important decision at the height of an emotional state – whether we are angry or ecstatic, frustrated or giddy – can lead to decisions you regret.  How about the shopping spree when you were feeling down?  Or the eating binge? Or maybe you left a job after a bad review or incident?

Emotions are powerful. Sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative, but they always have the power to move us into action.

I have to admit, I take action more often when the emotions are uncomfortable – like fear or anger or frustration.  The end result was to always get rid of the feeling.  Yup, stuffing feelings lead me to my addiction and then to my relapse so many years later.  Those inner gremlins reared their ugly head and made me feel less than in so many ways.  They compared me to what others were doing in similar situations (or so I thought).  The end result was some really bad decisions leading to credit card debt and more negative feelings.

Emotions can  be brought on by the circumstances and events in your life, or by the manipulative behavior of a particular person in your life.  The key is to take notice when you feel pressure to make an important decision in the midst of strong emotion. Is it easy – NO!  The pressure of our emotions is strong.  It allows those inner gremlins we thought we had dealt with so many years ago to gain some strength.  Emotions or stuffing them, allows old behaviors to come back creating more of a mess.

The next time you feel pressured by your emotions, I want you to do something different…

That’s right. Do absolutely nothing. I know it is scary – trust me, I have been there more times than I can count lately.  Let yourself feel uncomfortable, afraid, angry, sad – and don’t make a decision or take an action. Just sit with the emotion.  No, I’m not crazy (well, maybe a little).  Talk it out with someone BEFORE you make the decision.  Over the last eight months, I’m grateful to have found a group of like minded people who help me through the emotions BEFORE I make a decision.  I hate asking for help.  I mean at 61 you would think I could make them on my own.  The truth is I can’t….

We need to embrace the idea that your emotions don’t have to rule. The are not facts they are feelings.  Emotions can actually teach you something. What message is your emotions sending you? What can you learn? And when would be a better time for you to make a decision or take action?

I’m a person who seeks instant gratification.  I hate feeling uncomfortable.  I don’t like people to see me being emotional so I stuff feelings which doesn’t make for good decision making either.  Do you stuff your emotions or do you share them?

The reality is – it is oaky to be emotional. It’s natural. Just don’t let your emotions think for you. Slow down. Take a breath. Be wise.  Remember emotions are not facts!

Today, I challenge you to not let your emotions rule your actions. STOP! Be still. Hold off on making a decision until you are less emotional. When we are emotional, we fell the NEED to make a decision immediately to get rid of the feelings.  But, what would happen if you refused to make a decision or take action in the midst of high emotions?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!