Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Trick of the day…

So… as some of you may have noticed… it’s Tuesday night. Usually I post on Monday sometime during the day. Yesterday, however, I did not get a chance as I was busy with a sick kid and had no spare moment between holding hair back and rinsing the bowl!

I was planning to blog about “acting as if” – a little trick I like to use when things aren’t going my way.  What’s funny about that, if you can call it funny, is that I completely neglected to use this little trick at all yesterday. Hello! I got caught up in the story of “poor me, having to deal with a sick kid all day” and puttered about the house. It made me wonder what keeps us from slipping into autopilot and acting in a more conscious way? I’ll have to think about that one and get back to ya… as obviously I don’t have that mastered just yet!

Anyway, when I do manage to catch myself in a situation that I don’t like and can become consciously aware of it, I sometimes use this “what if” trick I was mentioning above.  Yes… I’m still going to talk about it even though I neglected to use it yesterday! After I catch myself, the next step is to imagine how I would like the situation to be. I ask myself, “If I was feeling great right now and everything was fabulous, what would I be doing? What would I notice around me? What would I hear? see? smell?”  I can’t always make the whole scenario happen, but usually I can influence one or two things that end up making a difference.

I’ll give you an example from last week (when, apparently I was more conscious!). I was having a little battle with my daughter, who was having herself a tantrum and not being very nice. I, in turn, was feeling less than nice and not very happy to be in the situation. Instead of getting mad at her for her bad attitude, a scenario that has played out many times previously with less than stellar results, I decided to try the ‘act as if” trick. I thought about what I would be doing as I made dinner if things were very happy and wonderful at that moment. I realized that I would put on some music, pour myself a glass of wine and fully enjoy the cooking process. So… that’s what I did. I ignored the behavior I didn’t like, implemented a few key changes that supported my new affirmation that all was well, and enjoyed the task at hand. I’m happy to report, as you probably guessed or I wouldn’t be encouraging you to try it, it worked quite well.  My daughter calmed down on her own… who knows, maybe she just needed a little down time herself? I didn’t get caught up in the drama or irritated at my life.

In reality, it was a small disagreement. The thing is… it could have gone either way. It could have easily escalated into a full-blown battle if my reaction to her reaction had been different. If we had continued to give each other things to push against, we would have continued to push. By shifting away from the pushing, and focusing on what I wanted to see moving forward, I was able to positively influence that future state. The good news is… I know this works for others, too.  I mentioned this scenario to a friend of mine, and she brought it up the other day at lunch. She had used this trick with her own daughter and had similar results.

Want to try?  Pick a scenario that you’d like to improve… getting up in the morning, meeting with your boss… whatever. Imagine what you would want, or wish, that scenario to look like.  Then act as if you already have your wish. Let me know if you have any success with this technique… I can’t wait to hear!

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Just do it… really?

I’ve been thinking about how to be happy lately. Can you just decide to “do it?” To be happy… regardless of what comes your way. To choose it. Do you have to pretend? Do you physically do and the emotion follows? How does it work, exactly?

The other day I was leaving work. I’d had a rough day for various reasons… I had to drive that day (rare for me), so I got on the freeway and was immediately stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. A song came on the radio that brought up emotions for me and I started to cry. I decided to call home and get a little happiness infusion into my day. My husband answered, and I knew immediately I had looked in the wrong place. He was cranky and dealing with cranky kids and in no mood to be cheering me up.

I started to get really down. Then I caught myself. Why am I allowing myself to get caught up in all these negative thoughts? Well… I thought… because I’m not sure how to stop it. But then I realized, upon further reflection, that yes, indeed, I did know… I just wasn’t in the habit of doing it. So… I went ahead and tried it. My first thought was to try the acceptance work I’d done in 2010. So I went with that. I repeated to myself… paying very close attention to my feelings at the time… I accept that I’m feeling (sad) and that’s ok… I accept that I’m feeling (helpless) and that’s ok… I accept that I’m feeling (discouraged) and that’s ok… {this is a technique I learned from Doreen Banaszak (http://www.doreenbanaszak.com/) – check out her site)}. Anyway, I won’t say that by the time I got home everything was perfect and magical, but I will say this… I was in a much better mood and I know that it affected how I walked in the door and the course of the evening!

Flash forward to this morning… My daughter was throwing a fit because she wanted to go get hot chocolate before school. We didn’t have enough time to do so…. plus I had no intention of rewarding the crabby attitude… and that resulted in a very rough morning. I was driving the kids to school… with lots of attitude and crankiness from the back seat… and I thought to myself… how do people switch the mood once their in it? How do I turn this around? Can I turn this around… or is it too late for that? I tried the acceptance thing again… I accept that I’m feeling (irritated) and that’s ok… I accept that I’m feeling (disrespected) and that’s ok… I accept that I’m feeling (frustrated) and that’s ok. I dropped the kids off and moved on with my day. I’m not sure how they felt… but amazingly enough, I felt better.

Flash forward to tonight. (Did I mention it’s been a tough week?) My husband and son are off to hockey practice. My daughter and I are home… she’s in a mood because she wants to get Jamba and I said no (are you seeing a theme here?)… I’m dealing with the crabby attitude, talking back and demanding Jamba. I’m feeling lots of irritation and frustration… and a general lack of knowing how to handle this parenthood gig! I take a moment to assess my situation and all the many things I’ve read and learned over the years. So far, I’ve managed to remain calm, but definitely do not feel in-control or in any way in charge of the situation. I’m realizing that my daughter is completely controlling my world right now… and I’m totally letting her!

At that point, I thought of a comment that my husband had made earlier in the week. He said something to the effect of… things are good and I’m happy… because I decided. That caught me off guard… I’m usually the one making those kind of statements. But it reminded me in this moment… and I made a similar decision. My daughter is not responsible for how I feel… that’s my responsibility. I decided that in that moment, regardless of what kind of mood she was in, and how she was acting toward me… I could decide to be happy. I had to actually stop and think for a moment… If I was happy right now, what would I be doing? (and, yes, I had to ask myself this because in that moment I was not feeling happy and I was not acting happy and getting to happy seemed like a really big leap).

I realized that if I was happy right now, I would be listening to music as I made dinner. Enjoying the luxury of time to make a good dinner, which I rarely have on any other night than Monday due to my work schedule. I grabbed my iPhone and turned on Pandora. The beauty of the situation, which I had not planned on nor anticipated, was that my daughter’s mood totally shifted. As I began to choose happiness for myself, she “came around” so to speak. She dropped the attitude and softened her resolve. It probably helped that I chose to play music that she liked, but the reality is, it was really good for both of us.

The remainder of the night turned out well. Did my tactics work or was it coincidence? You can believe what you will… but I’ve had too many opportunities to practice these tactics to believe that it is only chance. The trick is being able to catch yourself in the moment and consciously decide to do something different. It’s very easy to follow the status quo and wonder why things always turn out the same (disappointing) way!

This week, try catching yourself in those moments of frustration… notice your feelings and take a moment to acknowledge and accept them.. and then decide… yes, it sounds simplistic… but just try it… to choose happiness. What would it feel like if you were happy right then? What would you be doing if you were happy in this moment? What would you be experiencing from others?

As Nike would say… just do it! There’s a lot to be said for that simple tactic… and yet, so often we make things so much more complicated than that. Cause… aren’t they? Wait… yeah… they are! Or is it just what we tell ourselves when we’re feeling overwhelmed? I know it’s what I tell myself when I feel overwhelmed! Is it possible to simply change your mindset… your state-of-being… in the blink of an eye?

Here’s what I’ve found… becoming aware of my feelings is the first step. Not as easy as it seems. At first when I started trying to be aware of my feelings, it usually happened after the fact. Like later… when I was feeling guilty about my poor reaction or over reaction to the situation. The next step is deciding to consciously change the pattern. I’ve mentioned a couple of my own tactics above… becoming aware of the feelings that are coming up, accepting that I am having these feelings… and acknowledging that it’s “ok.” Another tactic is to choose happiness in that moment… asking myself what it would look like, feel like… what I’d be doing in that moment if, in fact, I were happy right then. Then do it! And the final step… repeat… repeat… repeat!

What strategies do you use to get happy? Does it take an army… or is it something you can do for yourself in any moment? Is it an inside job for you, or do you rely on others to decide your mood for you? I’ve shared some tactics that I use… but as is the case with so many things in life, I believe that there are as many “right” answers as there are people. Share your best moves. I’d like to try them myself!

Spiritual Baby Steps… continued

SO real quick… before I jump into my post for this week, I need to check in on a little logistical matter. I keep getting feedback that people can’t follow me or leave comments on my Spiritual Baby Steps blog that I set up via Blogger.com. Brien suggested that I try out wordpress… so here I am! So far I think I’ve named my blog RASHELBELL instead of Spiritual Baby Steps… and I have no idea what my page is going to look like… off to a great start! I tried to make the font cute… but it was going to cost me $90, so I passed on that. Obviously, I need to play around on here a bit to get the hang of it! But I’m’ trying it out, so please let me know what you think!

Anyway, on to more important things! I just attended an Intentions Event this last Saturday and it was such a great experience. For one thing, spending an entire day with a group of talented, professional, inspiring women was fantastic. Our facilitator, Denise Brouillette, did an amazing job of keeping us on track and having us walk away with a solid theme, list of intentions and some clear guidance for our year ahead. She is truly and amazing, inspiring leader!

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to take time for myself. It’s such a rare gift that we often don’t allow ourselves… men, too, I know, but especially women… and even more especially, Mom’s! There are just so many things to do in a day – none of which usually include reflection, introspection or silence of any kind! I believe that we get more of what we pay attention to. I also believe that getting clear on what we want is extremely important if we’re ever going to move in that direction. SO… spending this time for myself on getting clear was a true gift.

What about you? What do you want your theme to be for 2012? What do you want to spell out, call attention to and make progress on in the coming year? Have you thought about it? Is it abundance? A new job? Getting healthy? You don’t need to know how it’s going to happen… you just need to identify the theme. I can tell you from past experience that an amazing thing happens when we take time to get clear on what we want… we tend to see some progress in that area. Now, in my multiple years of setting intentions I will admit to this… my intention is not always actualized by the end of the year. However, I always (and I know that’s a big statement, but it’s true!) see progress.

At the intentions event we did a short meditation to get grounded and quiet our mind… opening us to the wisdom within. Then we did some individual brainstorming around what was coming up as potential themes. We had a chance to talk through the themes and bounce them off of a few other people. Then we talked about which one resonated most. I highly recommend that people take a little time to do this.

Here’s what I ended up with… This is my year to honor and speak my truth. I can’t wait to see how that manifests for me this coming year! Let me know what you come up with!! Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

Loving What?

Oh right… what is, what is! Thank you, Byron Katie!

If you’re not familiar with Katie’s fascinating spin on life, it really is worth checking out… in a nutshell, she states that every single bit of our discontent comes from arguing with reality.
http://thework.com/thework.php

What would it be like if we didn’t argue with our present moment? Her concept truly aligns with much of what I have come to believe about managing my diabetes. Previously, I would argue with reality… I don’t want this… I don’t have this… this doesn’t affect me… and on, and on. Acceptance was a huge turning point for me. However, there’s a lot of negative connotation around “acceptance.” Does that mean – I give up? Does it mean I don’t care? Or does it mean I’m just not interested in arguing with reality anymore?

I’ve come to believe the latter. Acceptance, to me, means not having to try so hard to change what is currently my present reality. If that sounds funny to you, think for a moment about all the things you complain about. Then take another moment to think about how much time you’d free up if you weren’t thinking about those things. What would it take to accept that this is where you are in your life right now… and that’s ok?

According to the dictionary, the definition of “acceptance” is…
1. the act of taking or receiving something offered.
2. favorable reception; approval; favor.
3. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.

4. the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.
 
I really see no negative connotations to the actual definition of the word. So when did acceptance become negative… giving up… settling… giving in? What if acceptance took on the positive connotation of approval… believing… receiving! Don’t we all truly desire to be accepted? Why is it so hard to accept others… and, more importantly, ourselves? What does it really mean to accept what is? If what we focus on and tell ourselves every day matters… and I’m a firm believer that it does… how do we move beyond the negativity of “reality” and to a place of happiness… a strong and true, passionate love… of what is in front of us now? Because I really do believe that is, at least in part, the answer… to really and truly live in a place of gratitude and appreciation of what is currently in our lives. Not just sometimes when we happen to think about it… but always and with every breath.
 
Not that I’m an expert… but I do have a destination postcard! And I just downloaded Byron Katie’s app… The Work – currently on sale for $4.99 – I get no proceeds – just a sincere desire to share!
 
Let me know what you think about the concept of “Loving What Is.” Yes? No? Still deciding? How does this factor into your daily life? If you’re brave enough to check out the website and start questioning your beliefs… I’d love to hear about it. I know for me, it turned my world upside down! More to come on that in future blogs… for now I’ll wish you all an amazing fabulous HAPPY NEW YEAR and a sincere gratitude for reading along with me. Love and laughter to you in 2012!!
 
~Rashel

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