Joy

Mindfull Help for the Holidays

Here we are…knee deep into the holidays. How are you doing? Raise your hand if you’ve already eaten what feels like your entire body weight in holiday treats. Raise your hand if you’ve already lost your shit with your relatives.

Oh, the joy of the season.

Okay, first of all, join the club. In my opinion, there is WAY too much emphasis on this time of year, and WAY too much pressure for all of us to do things perfectly.

The truth is, it’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. So let’s accept that. And instead of killing ourselves to get it right, let’s find a way to actually enjoy the end of the year without shame, anger, exhaustion, and an extra 5 pounds to lose.

If you’re in the self help world (and if you’re reading this, you are) likely, when the word ‘mindfulness’ is muttered, you glaze over as if you were reading a computer manual. It’s a phrase that has been overused and under-explained and truthfully underutilized.

In a previous newsletter, I created a few new names for this practice…’mind awareness’ and ‘presence practice’. Both of those labels, in my opinion, more accurately describe the practice. And also, I’m not using the word ‘practice’ by accident…we ‘practice’ this every day.

Let’s not waste time, let’s get right to practicing immediately!

Feel your feet. How do they feel? Are you in shoes? Socks? Barefoot? Are they cold? Hot? If you had to describe how they felt what would you say…in detail…?

Okay, you just got present. You practiced ‘mindfulness’. Well done.

But what’s the point? Why do this? How can this possibly help me when my holiday to-do list is longer than my arm and all I want to do is eat holiday cookies?

Here is the thing about our bodies and the presence practice. Our bodies are living in the here and now. Second by second, breath by breath. Our bodies couldn’t care less about what you did yesterday or, what you have to get done by the end of the week. Our bodies know nothing about shame, regret, or worry. They are simply here, right now.

So, when you are panicked about what to wear to the holiday party or worried about getting the table set in time for the guests, zone in on a part of your body and feel it fully. (And, FYI, this takes about 30 seconds so ‘I don’t have time’ is not an excuse.)

“But I thought you had to sit and meditate” is likely what your voice of resistance is saying in your head.

Wrong. Well, not entirely. I mean, yes, it’s lovely to sit and notice your thoughts and breath in and out in stillness (and you can check out my fave tracks from my home page on my website). I highly recommend doing that as many days as possible. But meditation without action is only getting 1/2 the benefit of meditating. Think about it. How many times have you finished your meditation practice, got on with your day, and were in a fight with your co-worker by noon? (Confession…I have left yoga classes feeling amazing and within minutes caught myself flipping someone off on the drive home.)

‘Mind awareness/Presence practice’ is your meditation in action. Stopping for 30 seconds to FEEL something in your BODY brings you to the present moment. It interrupts your knee jerk reactions and negative assumptions. It brings you back to the present moment thus releasing you from future worry and past guilt. And, if find you are eating unconsciously, this practice helps you catch yourself before you overeat.

Once you get into the habit of doing this throughout the day (I recommend putting reminders on your phone to chime every hour), see if you can do it while you are busy at work, etc. You CAN keep a part of your mind on how your feet are feeling while talking to your mother. (Yes, it even works with mothers!) You can notice how your breath feels as you inhale and exhale while shopping at Ralph’s. You can notice how the sun feels on your skin, while sitting in traffic.

By just staying present with your body, your stress level is instantly reduced. And less stress means better thoughts. And most likely, more control over your reactions to other people.

So, while you read the last bit of this newsletter, notice your feet, or some part of your body. Just keep part of your mind tuned into that physical sensation while you read on.

Notice you’re not making your shopping list in your head. You are present and able to absorb what you are reading. And, you are more likely to remember everything you need to buy when you go shopping later.

Practice this incessantly over the holidays! In fact, if you do NOTHING else, do the ‘presence practice’ all day long.

 

HAVE AN AMAZING HOLIDAY SEASON!

And repost, retweet and forward to your friends.

 

 

 

 

Clearing the slate for 2018

Clearing the Slate for 2018

We are almost at the end of another year. This can actually be a stressful and confronting time for many of us. Around this time of year is when we realize we did not accomplish all the things we had hoped to. This realization causes many of us to throw in the towel and just coast until New Year’s resolution time.

But, there can be great power in clearing the slate before the New Year.

I’m not saying to go crazy attempting to turn around all of this year’s let downs. Let’s be realistic…you likely won’t be able to achieve everything if you’re only starting now.

And, to truly clear the slate…you will probably have to let some things go…possibly eliminating some goals completely.

This is the time to write up your ultimate “to-do” list…write out your goals, your desires, your responsibilities…put it all on one long page. (Include the mundane things you would like to have behind you such as donating old clothes, updating your calendar, getting the oil changed for your car.)

Write everything down. This could take some time. I recommend taking this list with you everywhere for a few days. Often things pop into our heads when we are in the car or in the bathroom…jot things down as they come to you and do not discriminate. Big or small, put them all on paper. (or create a list on your iphone and tell Siri to add things as they pop into your head)

When you think your list is finally complete, set aside a few uninterrupted hours to actually look at your list.

Circle the doable items that will give you a great sense of relief knowing they are finally DONE. By actually completing these things, you will be entering the New Year “mentally” clutter free as well as opening up the time to start new things.

Then, cross off or politely bow out of the things you agreed to do that simply won’t get done or will hold you back from the more important tasks on your list.

Then, look at the “big goals”…that you did not accomplish.

Why didn’t you accomplish them? Is it possible that they no longer serve you? Sometimes letting something go is more empowering than hanging onto it for dear life. Goals and dreams actually do have expiration dates. Put on your truth lenses and ask yourself if this is still worthy of your time and effort. Ask yourself why you set this goal in the first place and more importantly, do you still feel the same way about it now? This step of letting go may feel a little painful or sad, but there is great power in being honest with yourself. Honoring where you are NOW will ultimately help you to make better decisions as to where you want to go in the future.

How do you know if it’s time to let it go?

Is it taking too long? Is the pain outweighing the joy? Are you getting nowhere? Are you hanging onto it because you are afraid of what other people will say if you decide to “give up” on it? Is there something else nagging away at you? Could you actually try something different or new and still fulfill the desire that the original goal was meant to achieve?

Sit with this awhile. These are not easy questions to ask…even harder to answer with honesty and self compassion. But they are worth asking and answering.

You may decide to let it go. You may shed a tear or two. But then, you can allow yourself to open up to other possibilities you were too preoccupied to see.

Or, you may decide absolutely, NO! I’m not letting it go. And in that realization you will discover more clarity as to WHY you must keep this on your list of goals and desires.

The point is to be honest with yourself. And compassionate.

After you’ve decided what you will finish this year and what’s worthy of being brought into the New Year, set an aggressive massive action plan to get all that you can…DONE. Open up your day planner or calendar and schedule every task on that list.

The idea is to start 2018 with a CLEAN SLATE. Not a slate with stale leftovers from last year. Ideally the only goals being invited into the New Year are your passion projects that you have revisited and have even more clarity on. All the other stuff should be completed or at the very least, completed as much a possible before the New Year begins.

Take agressive action NOW. Not only will you feel a ton of relief to have these things done, but you will also set up your momentum for the New Year when you set you goals for 2018. If you kick it into full throttle and get things done (even if some days it’s simply dropping off donations and gathering earthquake supplies), you will begin creating the habit of GETTING THINGS DONE. Then, when you get clear about your desires and set your goals for 2018, you will be more specific and make clearer distinctions as to what you REALLY want to see happen next year.

So…write it ALL out. Decide what shall be done, what shall be let go of for good, and what shall be reinforced and invited into the New Year.

Then, go getter’ done!

I’d love to see your lists! Send them my way and keep me posted on how you’re doing. And if you want some extra “kick butt mojo”, get in touch and we’ll tackle it together.

 

 

 

Are you truly ready for your dreams to come true?

‘If there is something you really want, you are going to have to work really hard, take advantage of opportunity, make some mistakes, be patient, and above all never give up.’ – Jane Goodall

And I would add to that, are you prepared for the life you say you want?

If your dreams actually came true…would you be ready for what your life would look like?

Who doesn’t want to win power ball? Think of what those millions could get you. But, what do you know about managing millions of dollars?

A lot of people wish they were famous. But, I suspect when the reality of fame came along, they wouldn’t be prepared for the life fame brings.

Success comes to those who are prepared. Which often means a lot of hard work with little pay off…for quite some time.

I’m not talking about the “struggle” mentality meaning, where ‘everything is a struggle’. No, nobody wants that!

But ask any successful entrepreneur or artist if was easy getting to where they are today? I guarantee they will tell you it took a LOT of work. I mean a LOT of work. But they will also say it was worth it, now that they are living their dream.

Let me share a personal story about working hard and succeeding in the end.

I’m originally from Canada and when I was in my 20’s I wanted further my acting career by moving to the US. But I had no working papers so even if I booked a job, I couldn’t do it.

So, on one of my trips to LA I met with an attorney who told me exactly what I would need to do to get a green card. I did what she told me and eventually, yes, I got my green card! Unbeknownst to me though, I was actually following Jane Goodall’s advice from the above quote.

Hard work? I asked every PR person from every show I’d done, for a copy of all the press they had on their shows. That included international press from Europe, etc. (this was before the internet so that meant snail mail) It took about six months of constant work to collect all the press I needed.

Whenever my friend (the Producer from a show I was on at the time in Canada) met with anyone in LA, I asked him if I could also meet with them and convince them I was worthy of a letter of recommendation. I almost always walked away with a “yes”. So, I was looking for opportunities to beef up my case for my attorney.

Mistakes? Sure, I made mistakes. I ran out of money for a while (had to work as a janitor in a children’s acting school) because I didn’t calculate the exchange rate from Canadian to American money. I also didn’t ask about other fees I would need to pay for down the road as the approval precess began. But, this mistake helped too because then when I DID move to LA, I could more easily calculate my real costs of living in the states. I was preparing for the life I was intending to live.

Patience? Well, I was dealing with the government…which moves at the pace of molasses so yes, I had to wait a long time for my hearing.

And…I didn’t give up.

In hindsight I’m amazed at how determined and absolutely ballsy I was! And I can cite many more times I’ve approached my goals with this same mindset…starting my own business, co-producing a movie, getting my Pilates certification, setting up my own etsy shop…etc, etc.

Anything worthwhile that I have accomplished has been through this same formula.

So in terms of achieving our desires, we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to put in the work it will require? Are we willing to risk making mistakes while creating opportunities? Are we in it for the long haul?

If you need help refining your plans, get in touch and together we’ll figure it out. And remember to share, retweet, repost…and don’t give up!

 

 

Reflecting to help find Clarity: a different way to define what makes us truly happy.

This is a quick and fun way to see if your life is actually in alignment with your true passions and desires. Don’t be surprised by it’s simplicity. It’s a powerful spotlight into your soul’s desires.

Take out a piece of paper or open a fresh page in your journal.

Step one.

Don’t think…just write: your favorite memories from the last year or so. This can include trips, jobs, relationships, tv shows, parties, classes, etc. All the highlights. Without overthinking it, just write down the times you were full of life and happiness.

Step two.

Pattern recognition. Do you see a theme or two running through your list? Usually there is a lot of repeated experiences on your fave list. Can you clump them into a group with a heading or title? For example, when I did this exercise, I had 3 distinct patterns which I titled: crafting, meaningful travel, and spiritual practice. So these 3 areas are most important to me to feel truly happy and fulfilled.

Now go back to what you wrote and see what patterns have emerged. Then give each pattern it’s own title.

Step three.

Notice what you did not mention on your list. Noticing what’s missing can also shed light on what we ‘think’ we want rather than what truly brings us joy. For me, as much as I love my clients and my work…it didn’t really come up for me. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit my job and water color all day long! It just shows me that although work is great, it’s important to create time to cultivate those other aspects that make my soul sing.

So think for a moment and notice what you thought would be highlights but actually didn’t make the cut? And again, this is so you can view your life in a more accurate way. There are things you enjoy doing, and then there are things that you LOVE to do.

Now reflect on your life…is it a nice balance between the two? Or is your life kind of lopsided and too focussed on what you ‘think’ you love? Can you include more of the activities from your “true joy” list? For example, meaningful travel won’t be something I can do every month. But, it will help me decide where to go and who I’ll travel with. Therefore, my travel will have more of an impact on me if I remember to make it meaningful rather than allowing it to just be a getaway.

I’d love to hear your discoveries with this exercise! The key is to not overthink step one, take the time to reflect on step two, and plan a way to do more of what you love in step three.

And, if you need help figuring out how to incorporate more joy into your life, get in touch and we’ll work on a plan together.

 

 

 

What the world needs is people who have come alive!

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive…and then do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman

This is a common problem for many people…”what am I going to do with my life?”. That’s a big question! Holy big responsibilities, Bat Man!

Many of us are pressured by our parents to go to school and study (fill in the blank) so we can have a career. Artists and entrepreneurs are almost always encouraged to get a ‘back up’ career…just in case their dreams don’t come true. And some of us look at our friends who seem to be moving along easily in their work life, and we feel like we’ve somehow missed the boat.

Here’s the thing, our world is not the same world as it was for our parents. There are very few ‘back up careers’ left anymore. And most of us won’t stick with the same career for our entire lifetime anyway. Most of us will have several careers over the span of our lives.

So let’s drop the notion of figuring out ‘what to do with our lives’.

Instead, ask yourself what lights you up? When do you feel like you are in the zone? What are you doing when you feel like you are running on all cylinders? What are your favorite things to do?

From there you can start to investigate what work might interest you.

For example, let’s say you love horses. Well, you could teach riding lessons, invest in a barn and lease space to horse owners, work at the racetrack. You could sculpt horses or draw paintings of horses and sell your work in a gallery or on etsy…

I, and many of the people I work with, don’t have just one job. Yes, I teach Pilates and Life Coach but I also teach crafting workshops and have a store on etsy. I’m utilizing as many of my passions as I can to make money and feel fulfilled. So even when I was offered a job to manage a Pilates studio at a gym (a ‘real’, full time job) I turned it down. Managing people sounds like a big drag to me (…even though I’d probably be good at it.) But I know I need to be independent and work for myself. That means risking that I might have less work from time to time. But, it’s worth it…to me.

There are plenty of opportunities to work at doing what we love but we first have to know what that is!

So, pay attention to when you are most alive, most enthusiastic, most passionate. What truly turns you on?

Hint: when you are in the ‘zone’ and time flies by without you noticing, that’s usually a signal that you are doing something you love.

There are no guarantees in life so don’t ‘settle’ for a career because you think you are supposed to have a 9 to 5 job. Pursue your passions instead. The world needs that special aliveness that is unique to you!

I work with many people dealing with this issue. If you are having trouble with this, get in touch and together we’ll figure it out.

Remember to retweet, repost, and forward this to a friend.

What is your social media feed saying about you?

What are you putting out in the world?

I’ve said previously that although you may have no control over a situation, you do have 100% control over your response. How you react to whatever is happening is totally in your control.

And, is your responsibility.

Everything we do is either contributing to joy or adding to suffering. Everything. And how you show up to your work, your relationships, your art, and even your yoga classes, has an effect on the energy of others. You always have the option to add to the joy in this world…it’s a choice.

And never has that been more important than now.

Social media can be absolutely inspiring and thought provoking. I’ve read posts that were so heartfelt I’ve cried real tears for a person I didn’t even know.

And some of the most hideous and hateful things I’ve ever read have been on social media too.

Remember, social media never goes away. So my suggestion is to not just manage what you post…curate it as if it was a display of who you are. Because in many ways, what your Facebook page says about you, matters. Your Instagram feed is constantly putting out energy from the pictures you post. And others can see what you pin on Pintrest so even if you think you’re just screwing around on the internet, people are watching you. Remember, employers actually look at the Facebook pages of potential employees before hiring them. (thank God there was no internet when I was a kid!!!)

I’m not for a second suggesting that everything be cherry blossoms and fairy dust. But sincere comments add more depth to communications than attack tweets. We can be disturbed by the injustices of the world without shutting down the other side with a shaming post. Social media has the power to create positive change if we bring our humanity to it rather then our knee jerk reactions. And although bringing our truth to the world might be scary, our bravery and honesty will have a greater impact on more people.

So how can you avoid lashing out when you see something disturbing and unacceptable? Stop. Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself if you can at all relate or at least be compassionate about what this person has said or done. Then choose your language wisely. Avoid adding more fuel to the fire…and that might very well mean saying nothing at this time. If you’re really fired up, sleep on it. We always see things more clearly once we put a little space between us and the problem.

This is what taking responsibility for ourselves really means: Choosing the energy we are putting out into the world. You have the capacity to add to the sum total of joy in every moment of the day. You also have the power to increase the level of anger and hate in the world. How you REACT is YOUR responsibility. So, think before you tweet. Take a deep breath and reread what you are about to post. Are you being true to who you are or shaming someone for their opinion? What exactly are you contributing if you press “post”?

You always have a choice…especially on social media.

 

 

feel like you don’t have enough time, part two

Why some people seem to have more time than others…

part two

In my last newsletter I went over setting healthy boundaries, playing to your strengths, and finding other people to do the rest.

If you missed it, let me know and I’ll send it to you. Or, go to brigittadau.com where all my newsletters are published.

Today, I’m talking about prioritizing the most effective actions to take, how to build momentum, and how to avoid our personal “time sucks”.

Successful people don’t just willy nilly start taking actions. They discern which task, when completed, with give them the most benefit. Remember when McDonald’s was ‘super sizing’ things? That was because they knew which items sold the most. Fries? Who doesn’t want to super size that?
And as much as they tried to introduce salads, what still sold the most? Burgers. Now, they are being more “artesian” with their burgers but you will see they are not going that route with the healthier choices. Their big money comes from burgers and fries. They focus on THOSE products because that is where they make the most profits.

The Gap also tried to expand into other fashions but lost money on all those fads. They came back to the products that earned them the most…jeans and t-shirts.

 

So, when you take a look at your list of actions, there are likely a few tasks that will reap you the most rewards…those are the actions to take first. And it should only take a minute or two to figure those actions out because your past experiences will point you in the right direction…just like it did in the above examples.

The other thing successful and motivated people do is take advantage of their momentum and avoid their pitfalls. They don’t wait to take action…they just do it. (I wrote a newsletter about that too…go check it out.) And, more importantly, they are honest about their weaknesses when it comes to getting distracted or thrown off course. If social media is a threat, they don’t go on Facebook on their break. Instead, they may grab a cup of coffee or go for a walk. If they are trying to avoid sugar, they likely don’t have candy in the house or at the office. If they know Netflix is addicting, they won’t go near the TV until they are finished everything for the day. (Notice how many people write at Starbucks…likely they have too many distractions at home. They know they’ll get more done if they are away from those temptations.)

This philosophy is now being utilized when patients are recovering from surgeries as well. They plan ahead for that moment they will want to bail on physical therapy, etc. That way when their resistance comes up, they are prepared and can more easily stick to their recovery plan. And, studies have shown that people who plan ahead to avoid their excuses, are more likely to have a faster and easier recovery.

The key then is to “know thyself” and honor your strengths and weaknesses. Then, prioritize your daily tasks based on the biggest rewards for the least amount of effort.

So, look at your list of things to do today and ask, ‘which of these actions will reap the biggest rewards?’ And remember my previous newsletter?… Do those actions play to you strengths? (Hint: your strengths are usually the things you feel confident doing.) If not, who can help you get them done? What can you do RIGHT NOW to get the ball rolling and build some momentum? And where are you likely to slip up? (social media is the #1 time suck in my opinion…! Turn off those notifications!…unless you are actually utilizing social media to improve your business.) How can you take your distractions away?

This is a lot to tackle! After all, it’s an entirely new mindset for a lot of us. If this feels overwhelming and you want help with it, get in touch and together we’ll figure out your best game plan.

And pass this on to your friends, retweet, repost…share the momentum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We are the Choices we Make”

“We are the choices we make”…Meryl Streep

News flash…you will never “find” yourself. The truth is, we “create” ourselves…every moment of every day.

That means our thoughts, our language, what we choose to act on, and what we choose to skip, all will have an effect on our lives. And not just our lives, but the lives of others as well.

We all know that saying “one person can change the world”…well, the reason it sounds cheesy is because there is truth to it. The ripple effect is real. There was a study done on this very topic. (“Implications of Vascular Theory of Emotions”…very dry read!) It’s summary states that 1,000 people are within 3 degrees of each other. That was not a typo…you are 3 degrees away from effecting the lives of 1,000 people. So how you show up in your life really matters. There is no better time then right now, to own our lives and the actions we take. And not just the big juicy actions…the little decisions matter too. And how you talk to yourself is crucial to your success and self worth. Despite how small this distinction is, it’s effects on your life are huge.

Do you ever listen to what you say to yourself? We all do it…we all have that running commentary going on in the backs of our minds. Who does your voice sound like? A cheerleaders or jailer? A loving supporter or destructive tyrant? A compassionate parent or an abusive one?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” is total Bullshit.

Words mixed together into sentences are bundles of emotions. They can move you to tears of joy, or tears of pain.

Words matter.

Most of us have some fairly vile self talk that we fall victim to sometimes. And we all know that we would never say those things to another living being. For some of us, our self-talk is so violent it’s not fit for anyone to hear. Yet we listen anyway.

Why is it important to change our inner dialogue? Well, let’s apply some common sense. Let’s say the only water you drank was polluted and toxic? What would eventually happen? You would BECOME polluted and toxic.

It’s the same with thoughts! If all you feed yourself is harsh criticism and shame, you will BECOME fearful of everyone and most likely paralyzed by your shame.

So how can you expect to go out and take risks, and make the world a better place, if you think you are something to be ashamed of?

It’s time we changed our relationships with ourselves. And it starts by tuning in to what we tell ourselves on a daily basis.

I call the negative talk in my head “YSR radio…You Suck Radio”. And when it’s on in the background, I don’t just turn down the volume, I change the damn station!

I’m over simplifying, I know. But this self monitoring doesn’t’ have to be a total drag either.

Pull out your journal and write out your own “You Suck Radio” program. This won’t take long because you know it by heart by now. But taking the time to put it on the page is useful because then you can use your own words to shift your perspective.

For example, maybe you are unhappy with your weight. Write out all of your self talk around how much you weigh, why you’ll never improve, why you are destined to be as fat as a house for the rest of your life…(that was my self talk by the way), etc. Go for it. Let that vicious voice in your head have it’s say…and write it all down.

Now reread what you wrote. Is any of that true or helpful in any way? Does thinking you’re destined to fail motivate you to take positive actions in your life? And can the opposite be true as well…like the times you actually DID succeed at something?

What are you focussing on? Your successes or your failures? Is “You Suck Radio” blaring in your head? And if so, how do you think that will affect your day? How will it affect all the people you interact with today? Remember…we are all just 3 degrees away from affecting 1,000 people.

Start to listen to your thoughts about yourself. Your words matter whether they are directed at you or other people. Write them down and question their validity. Tune in to what station is playing in your head. And if it sucks, change the station.

Don’t forget to forward this to your friends, repost, and retweet!

The Truth about Change

Growth does not come from a checklist…The truth about change.

Real change can only happen when we love ourselves enough to stand up and do what we know is best for us.
Take a look at your To-do list. How do you feel when you read through it? Could you easily call it your “ to create more joy in my life” list? Does your list make you feel passionate and inspired? Does it help you feel happy?

Or, is this a list of “should’s” to someday feel like a better person? In other words, if you check all the boxes does that mean you’ll feel more validated, more worthy, more acceptable?

For some of us, our to-do lists have become a hustle for our self-esteem. We believe that the more healthy, organic, spiritual, and meditative we are, the ‘better’ we will be as people. On top of that, we have to take actions towards our goals, make more money, and somehow find time to stay current on the latest TV shows. Not to mention keeping up our Instagram feed…

The problem isn’t our goals or our desires or all the actions we intend to take each day. The problem is when we turn these goals and actions into a gauge of our self worth. Because if achieving all these things is our only way to feel okay with ourselves, our days will leave us exhausted and empty. After all, even if we do accomplish it everything, tomorrow we have to start all over again…new day, new list.

For many of us, we have ‘self improvement’ reasons behind our plans. “If I include a green drink every day, my liver and kidneys will be happy. If I practice guided meditation I won’t get sick. If I stop procrastinating I’ll actually have enough time to practice yoga. If I get off my ass and exercise, I’ll be worthy of that gift massage I’ve been putting off.”

This sounds more like a “I’ll be a good person if I do these things” list to me.

Notice your plans…are they more about how to fix yourself than to create more of what you’re passionate about? Ask yourself this question…”Do I think that if I accomplish everything on my list, I will like myself more? That I’ll be a better, more acceptable, lovable person?”

Seriously, why are you doing what you’re doing?

More importantly, does getting all that done feel freeing to you?

Unfortunately, often we are so desperate to feel good about ourselves we can’t accept ourselves as we are in this moment. Believe me, if constantly viewing ourselves as a self improvement project actually helped motivate us to take action towards our dreams, then I’d be all for it!

But that is not how growth works. I repeat:

Real change happens when we love ourselves enough to stand up and do what we know is best for us. We naturally ‘improve’ when we are passionately living our lives…not when we are checking things off a list.

So, when I work with people on their goals, the first thing I get clear about is why they want those things in the first place.

And then? We toss that old to-do list. Instead of a long list of not so exciting things (I mean really, how exciting can green juice be?) we come up with 3 actions a day.

Personally, every day I write the 3 things I will do that day to help me feel like I’m moving closer to my desires…not my self esteem. The difference might seem subtle but it’s effects are huge. Working for what I’m passionate about creates energy and is exciting. Whereas, making up for my supposed shortcomings is depressing and only fuels my self-shame.

What if you rewrote your health plans in ways that excited you? For example, instead of listing ‘yoga 3 times a week’ how about saying, ‘this week I will move in ways that feel great 3 times’. Maybe yoga totally fills you with mojo. Great. But by taking away the restriction, maybe you’ll bust out the African drumming album and dance your ass off instead. (also excellent exercise and super fun!)

How could you revamp your spiritual practice? Maybe instead of insisting on doing a seated meditation every day, you could instead say “I will connect to my source every day”. This opens you up to more ways to fuel that desire. Yes, you could sit and meditate. But you could also include the option of compassion meditation (something that does not require you to sit still for any period of time…contact me if you want to learn more about it at brigittadau@yahoo.com). Simply stopping to enjoy nature for a moment could be a beautiful way to connect to your source. Also practicing mindfulness, or noting what you are grateful for could be a way to keep your spiritual commitment.

Putting extra pressure on ourselves to get things done will never lead us to joy and liberation. Loving ourselves, will. And by making your desires easy and fun to act upon, you’ll immediately start to move in the direction you want to move in. Your days will begin to change and be less about proving your worth through accomplishments. They will be more about bringing your true self to all of your encounters. And when you show up authentically in your life, your need for approval automatically dissipates.

So, go back and take a good hard look at your goals and your to-do lists…are they bringing you joy? Do they light you up? Do they fill you with enthusiasm? Or do you feel like you are hustling for your self worth? Don’t get trapped by your “should list”. Instead, lighten up on the restrictions and write your new “path to Joy” list.

As always, if you liked this, repost, retweet, and forward to someone you care about. And if you want help with this, get in touch.

 

Mindful Eating

Using Mindfulness to stop Distracted and Emotional eating

Raise your hand if you eat in the car. Do you tend to overeat when out with friends? Are there times you find yourself eating when you aren’t even hungry? Do you read or watch TV while you eat? Do you tend to overeat when you are around your family?

So many of us have a distorted, unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve had issues with food since I was a young child. So, getting over emotional eating was a part of my path to healing and ultimately re-creating my relationship with food.

The real gateway for me was what Geneen Roth (author of the fabulous book, “Women, Food, and God”) calls the ‘presencing practice’ also known as ‘mindfulness’.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is simply being totally aware in the present moment.

How do we apply this to eating?

Here are some things to try:

For one meal a day, do nothing. Just sit and eat your food. And, be present. Notice how it tastes, the textures, the smells, the colors. If you had to describe this food to someone who has no clue what it tastes like, what would you say? Also notice your feelings? Does eating without distraction bring up anxiety? Or other uncomfortable feelings?

The first thing that happens when you do this, is you slow down your eating. And if you are eating to stuff down your emotions I guarantee you are eating too fast.

The other thing that happens is your body is now free to tell you how it’s feeling and more importantly, when it’s had enough to eat. The cue to stop eating is usually subtle. And if you were raised to “finish everything on your plate”, then your natural experience of feeling full is likely skewed.

For me, if I’m paying attention, my breathing changes when my body has had enough. It’s subtle, but eating beyond that moment would be overeating.

I promise you if I’m out with friends I will often miss that cue! But, if I remember to eat just one meal a day, totally present without distraction, I will be more likely to notice when my body really has had enough.

Some of us eat so unconsciously that we’ve forgotten how it feels to feel hungry. So, that is another thing to try to do once a day…

Don’t eat until you feel actual hunger. Our natural feelings of hunger are also subtle.

I’m not saying to starve yourself! When you’ve gone too long without food, that’s when “I’m hangry” kicks in. And that’s when you are more likely to choose something with too much sugar in it. There are countless commercials preying on that very impulse telling you things like “you’re not yourself until you have a snickers bar”. So no starving!

Just choose a meal that you can eat when you are hungry, rather then at a designated time (lunch break, etc). Practicing this once a day will also help if you have a fear of getting hungry. That is quite common. Feeling panicked that you won’t have food, can lead you to eat before you are truly hungry. Which leads to overeating because your body wasn’t ready to eat in the first place. Thus, your body’s signal to stop eating likely won’t happen. If going hungry is a fear of yours, have food with you. I have nuts with me all the time so if I’m worried about getting hungry later, I know I’m covered.

Try those two exercises for a few weeks and see what changes in your behavior around food. Again, just one meal a day, totally present. And for one meal a day, wait until you’re actually hungry before you eat.

I’m here to help if you are ready to tackle this and need extra support.
Having said that, if you know you have an eating disorder, PLEASE get medical help. Do not wait or think you can handle it alone. Contact your Doctor immediately.

We all deserve to have a healthy relationship with food. And we can. But for some of us, we have to slow down and get present first.

If this resonated for you…forward it, retweet it, repost it.

And let me know how these practices went for you.