it’s all in your head: an example

BEING A MOM, LOVE

What’s causing you pain and suffering is all in your head. That’s one of the main teachings from The Power of Now. I had a very vivid experience of this recently.

Our Little Precious The Most Beloved woke up crying in the middle of the night. I dragged my body out of bed to soothe her and even enjoyed cuddling her for the first few minutes. It’s always when your expectation sets in and your child is happily dancing far away from it that even a great patient mom like me begins to lose it. It did not help that husband GRUNTED and turned in the bed, as if he was having a hard time.

Part of me was feeling okay, but another part has woken up now and tapping me on my shoulder. She seemed very desperate, very concerned and very scared for me that I wasn’t doing a good job. She says, “Hey you need to shush your baby and put her to sleep.” I told her it’s fine, this isn’t so bad, I’m losing some sleep that’s all it is. But she kept going. “No you should have been able to make her sleep by now. And a decent mom and wife would have taken the baby with her somewhere, so that her husband doesn’t get woken up.”

“It’s not my fault!” I blurted out loud and blamed my husband’s grunting for it.

Finally baby was back in her crib, I went to the bathroom and next thing I know my head was in my hands and tears are dripping from my face.

What?

The desperate woman’s voice was still here. There’s no baby to distract me now and in the silent of the night, she’s screaming in my head “You’re such a bad mom Oh my gosh what have you done You’re just hopeless You’re the worst mom and wife ever”.

What?

See, up until this point, I had been tired and frustrated but not that upset that I would cry. The baby waking up did not do it to me. My husband’s grunting did not do it to me. I was sailing along. It’s that critical, mean voice in my head that did it.

It’s that voice in my head, not my baby or my husband, that I battled with.
It’s that voice in my head that made me feel so worthless and upset that I cried actual tears.

It’s not the outward circumstances that upset me that night. It’s my internal thoughts that crushed me.

What is that voice? There are many names. Call it Thought. Call it the Shame Gremlin. Call it a Deceptive Brain Message. Call it an Old Tape. Call it Negative Self Talk. The one thing people who have identified and studied it agree upon is that We Don’t Need to Listen To It. And most of the time, It’s Not True.

xxx

If you want to know more, here’s an interview of Eckert Tolle, the author of The Power of Now. If anything, just listen to his voice and the voice of the interviewer. Both are so soothing they gave me goosebumps on my head.

 

like it came from nowhere

life's little tasty moments, LOVE, SHORT STORIES

Coconut cream body wash splattered over her palm ungracefully like it dropped from a bird. She added some peach shower gel and rubbed the mixture over her body as quickly as she could. The goal was to leave as little time as possible for it to stay on her skin and for her mind to be skeptical and feel disturbed by the act. As soon as she realizes her mind already does both and this is a daily occurrence, she found it absurd to perpetuate. She thought, what if someone is using this for the first time? Someone who has never used a body wash. Someone who has not bathed for days and weeks. The peach gel works up a great lather and covers her body with bubbles. Just in that moment she felt like a young woman taking a hot shower in a nice house with a foaming, fragrant body wash for the first time, and she was overcame with joy for the luxury.

xxx

Right at her desk, leaned back in her chair, she slipped into the music in her ears. The half-written email can wait. Music circulates her body, waking up her muscles, which she used to enliven her joints. Right there in her chair, she lifted her knees, circled her head, arched her back, and took long breaths. That was easier to do with the music concealing her breathing sound from herself. Take another few seconds, and another few, because she felt such relaxation and joy, with not a care in the world. In the middle of a work day in the middle of an email, the music, the moving and the breathing carried her to her home within herself.

what movie are you?

creativity, LOVE

I was brainwashed by too many blockbuster superhero or romance movies before I remembered the obvious truth: there are as many stories as people in the world. Only few stories get made into movies. I used to think most people’s lives, my own included, are “not special” enough, until I saw a movie called Hope Springs on the plane. It’s played by Meryl Streep and it’s about an older married couple going into counselling, trying to find their affection and intimacy back. They are us, the ordinary people with a common mid-life phenomenon. The movie was nonetheless very cute and moving. The movie was possibly very cute and moving because of how we can relate.

So, what movie are you? And how many movies can we make of your life?

Remember, play the hero in your movie, not the villain, victim, sidekick or spare-parts in other people’s.

— Rebecca x

positive change is still Change

creativity, LOVE

Positive Change is still Change. Change is disruption of the status quo. For us to have more loving relationships, a more fulfilling job, to achieve our highest potential, etc, the status quo cannot remain. Your routine does not stay the same. What you say and do starts to be different. Change is disruption and it can be uncomfortable. The action and process to something better can be disruptive and uncomfortable, perhaps especially for your friends and family.

What if wanting a more loving relationship leads to ending your current one? Perhaps it calls for a lot of deep and awkward conversations? Or it leads you to a lot of trying and getting disappointed?

What if getting a more fulfilling job means you must commit to taking the new job even though your parents tell you it’s a bad idea?

You’re probably rolling your eyes because these are not what-ifs. These are all inevitable and necessary.

It is a bit scary. Results are not guaranteed. Things may work out differently than you expected. Things probably will get worse before they get better.

Are you ready?

how to change the past

LOVE, relationships

There is one way to change the past and it is the only meaningful way to do it.

It is to change the way we think about the past, thus altering how the past affects our present and future.

It is to reinterpret the past and come up with a better story. It is to figure out what you learned from those past incidents that continue to haunt you. It is to see each mistake, failure, disappointment, break up, betrayal, as a chapter, not the end.

When it comes to relationships, what I’ve read is this: in your memory, go back to the times you were still together. Remember the joy and love you shared with each other. Go back to that place, enjoy, feel all the warmth, and stay there. This alters the frequency between you and eventually, the conflict and hurt melt away, and you might be back in a relationship with them again.

quit your part in other people’s movies

LOVE, relationships

The time life drove home the point that we are each the hero, heroine and director of our own movie was when I got lost in somebody else’s. You’re lost in somebody else’s movie when moment to moment, day to day, you only see yourself through the eyes and judgment of other people. You’re “the loner”, “the unattractive one”, “the one who can never get a date”. A lot of these can sound very harsh. Or maybe you’ve done something terrible that made you fall out with your best friend, or your girlfriend/boyfriend. Maybe you’ve made a mistake, let your employer down. Then you’re “the let-down”, or “the disappointment”.

You’re lost when you’re living those roles and you no longer feel joy, optimism or otherwise remember that you still matter the world to some people. And whether positive or negative, you’re making a difference to the world just by being alive.

It wrenches our heart when we’ve done all that we can to make amends but what’s broken stays broken. When it becomes too much to bear, it’s the perfect time to remember you still have your own show to create. You might have played a great villain to someone’s life, and maybe that’s who you’ll ever be to them. But their movie continues and so does yours. You no longer have an active part in their movie, so come back to your own. Your movie is not finished. You are still the hero in it: not the villain, not the supporting actor. Your character now has a new depth because of her mistakes and failures and what she’s learned from it. If you were to tell the story of your life in twenty years’ time, this incident might not even make the cut, or it might be the pivotal point where the story starts to get very interesting.

lesson from a lobster

LOVE, relationships

I remember a few weeks after a break up I dreamed of an armored lobster that taught me a great lesson. It was one of those very vivid dreams that I wish I could go on and find out what happens next. As I woke up, it evaporated into a purple wisp of smoke. I couldn’t hold on to it. It’s gone. I blinked and sighed, still curious. I realized that for once, I was not waking up feeling miserable. It showed me that what’s passed is passed. No matter how much it hurt or how much I wish I could go back and change it, it was only as present today as that armored lobster (who even had wings).

You are the sky. Everything else is weather.

LOVE

you-are-the-sky

Did you know, your negative thoughts and self-talk are a purely biological phenomenon that you have no control over? They come up unbidden and grab you, making you feel very bad about yourself and your situation. You have a sense that you may be a bit paranoid, but how can you be sure that people are not actually judging the way you look or thinking that you’re not good enough? It may even feel safer to give in and agree, internally yelling at yourself “I know! I don’t need you to tell me!”

According to Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, author of You Are Not Your Brain, our brain produces what he calls “deceptive brain messages”. They are your negative thoughts and self-talk that are untrue. You may doubt that they are untrue, but he says that anything that’s not helpful is also a deceptive brain message. They create emotional sensations in us, which he differentiates from real emotions that arise from actual events. Grieving after loss is a real emotion. Feeling alone and unlovable at one certain moment, even though you do have loving family and friends, is an emotional sensation caused by a deceptive brain message.

Deceptive brain messages and emotional sensations are biology, so don’t blame yourself for having them. When they come, they come. What we do have control over is how we respond, and we should absolutely practice and exercise this power, so that we don’t fall into the downward spiral of self-loathing, or do and say things that are hurtful to ourselves and others.

Notice the negative thoughts and the discomfort they bring, then choose the action you take. Choose to direct your attention on something else. To engage yourself in something constructive. The discomfort will still be there at the start but the new focus and new activity will eventually take over.

You have negative thoughts, but trust that you are not negative.

You are the sky. Your thoughts and feelings are the weather.
—-
See Dr. Schwartz’s book for more details on this topic, and the 4-step process he teaches to overcome the deceptive brain messages and break out of any damaging habits you’ve developed when you tried to get rid of the unpleasant messages and emotional sensations. Dr. Schwartz calls this Self-Directed Neuroplasticity, and it means we have the ability to re-wire our brain.

when emotions go fast and furious

LOVE, relationships

Common scenario: Someone just made a remark that upset me at the dinner table. It’s not the first time. It always happens. People don’t change. I pick up my finished plate and go to the sink. My chest is tight, I don’t want anybody to see my angry face and I’m teetering between throwing my things into the sink in a passive-aggressive statement, and sucking it up, telling myself it shouldn’t be a big deal. In the latter, the explosion happens later, either at the earliest possible invitation, or it opens the floodgate for a lot of other lovely poisoned things festering at the bottom of your heart.

Or, you wash the dishes and ask yourself: Is this where you want to stay? Is this what you want to create?

If you can just pause for a breath in, for a breath out, just a few seconds, give yourself time to decide what you want to do about this. Suddenly you’re not hurtling down the path of fury and its usual follower, regret, or sinking into the quicksand of resentment and despair. Suddenly you are standing at a crossroad.

If I can get as far as that, often times I just stay at the crossroad. I just stay there and wait. Wait until a response emerge, or I’m called for the next thing.

On a more positive note, you are in charge of creating your next moment.

Good luck on a Monday, where everything starts over again!

— Rebecca x

what gratitude is not

LOVE, relationships

This is why I thought I was a horrible, ungrateful person for the entire 2016: I could not be grateful for some people I thought I ought to. I tried so hard to be grateful, despite the boundary issues we were having. I wrote pages of the ways they are good and deserve to be appreciated. I thought gratitude was the way to a better relationship. None of it worked and I ended up with that rotten story that I must just be a horrible, ungrateful person.

A lot of pain and months later, I can clearly see that only working on boundaries changed anything at all, not gratitude.

And I’ve been wrong about gratitude.

In that 4-minute video of Brene Brown in my last post, she says every night at the dinner table, her family takes turn to say what they’re grateful for that day. The kids may say something like they’re grateful for bugs, or the bedroom wall between them. Elizabeth Gilbert writes down her happiest moment every day. She said it can be “Somebody hands you a cup of coffee. You finally get to take off your shoes. It stops raining.” These are the practices that make these people joyful.

It seems obvious now but I’m thrilled to learn it: that a gratitude practice is not required to be in an area that you struggle. Gratitude and happiness are not asking you to be happy and grateful for the things you can’t be happy and grateful about. This is about focusing on the things and people that you are grateful and happy about.

So, if you were finding it hard to be grateful about something, like I was, then let’s just find something else to be grateful for 🙂

By the way, I enjoyed this article called 5 Ways Gratitude Can Backfire because I can relate to ALL 5 of them. Have a read and see what else Gratitude is not. http://berkeleysciencereview.com/5-ways-gratitude-can-backfire/