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Do you ever have nights when you can’t sleep? You toss and turn and still, sleep evades you? After a while, your mind starts churning… you dwell on some event from the past–the conversation you had with your mother that didn’t go well, the appointment you missed, the mistake you made, the email you sent and hit reply all instead of forward. You rehash the past, wishing it away but to no avail. You can’t change the past and you can’t get to sleep while you are thinking about it. But you can’t seem to stop your mind. Suddenly, you’ve gone through a time warp and you’ve zoomed into the future and find yourself thinking, “I’ll never be able to get up in the morning.” I have a long ride tomorrow and I’ll fall asleep a the wheel.” And, the longer you lie there, the more tense you become and more tense you become, the longer the sandman remains aloof. In the matter of a few (long) minutes, you have traveled from the past to the future with only a temporary stop at the present to acknowledege your wakefulness. If this situation rings a bell with you, try this technique that will firmly anchor you in the present, where sleep awaits you. Turn on the light (I don’t care if you will disturb your partner. It’s all about you right now.) Grab a pen and a piece of paper and make 2 lists. The first is a list of Worries From the Past. The second is a list of Concerns About, or Things To Do in the Future. Now, empty your mind onto the page. When you are done, fold up the paper and put it away in the drawer of your bedside table, safe and secure until morning. Now, plump up your pillows, take a nice deep breath and BE IN THE PRESENT. Do a full body relaxation exercise. Starting with your toes, consciously release the tension in every cell in your body. Ever so slowly, feel the tension leave your feet, your ankle, your calves and shins, your knees and, one part at a time, let your mind focus on traveling up the body and release all the tension. Feel it ooze out of you as you melt into the mattress. If you are still awake when you get to the top of your scalp, take some slow, deep breaths and think to yourself, “I am fully relaxed. My eyes are heavy. My body feels loose and limp. I love this feeling of being warm and cozy in my bed.” Keep noticing your breathing, the relaxed state of your muscles, deepening that state with each breath and your present moment focused thoughts. For it is only in the present that we can have what we want… whether it be sleep or anything else.
Is food your medication of choice? Or shopping? Or drinking? It may be no wonder if you said yes. Many of us were conditioned at an early age to use some external action to soothe our hurt feelings, our sadness, our boredom or to celebrate our successes. For example, as a child, when you were upset, did your mother suggest you sit down and have some cookies to make you feel better? After a victory on the soccer field, did the coach treat the team to ice cream to celebrate the win? After a bad day, did your parents come home and declare, “What a day. I need a drink”? When you were feeling stressed and busy, maybe a little overwhelmed, did one or the other of your parents say something like, “oh honey, don’t worry about cleaning your room right now. Go ahead out and play. You can clean up later.” Or maybe life’s disappointments were soothed with a shopping spree. If you saw your own childhood experiences pass before your eyes as you read this, it may be no wonder that today, as an adult, you turn to food or alcohol or something shiny and new for comfort or celebration or that you have other ineffective habits in your saddlebag. You are just doing what you learned. And, you probably haven’t given it much thought until now.
When you are trying to make a change, it is important to uncover the root of the behavior you are currently doing so that you can untie the knot that links certain life experiences with ineffective ‘cures.’ An event triggers an emotional response which begs for a behavior. When we can understand that chain, we can unhook the parts and change the behavior. So, the next time you find yourself automatically engaging in your go-to behavior (eating, drinking, shopping, procrastinating, etc.), stop. Ask yourself, “do I really want to do this or am I doing it to soothe an uncomfortable emotion?” If you discover that it is the latter, choose a different, healthier response, or, just be with the feelings. You’ll find that you can survive the dis-ease and, you can actually make yourself feel better by making a positive, healthy choice. It may be difficult at first, but, after a few successful repetitions, you’ll be on your way to a new, more empowering habit.
Today’s blog entry comes courtesy of Mark Hooson who originally posted it for The Change Blog.
By Mark Hooson
Technology is a marvelous thing. In the always-connected world of 2011, if we hit a problem with a piece of software or a gadget – the manufacturer can issue a patch or a firmware upgrade to solve the problem.
When it comes to humans, however, fixing our problems isn’t as straight forward as downloading an upgrade, plugging in and re-syncing.
If we were able to upgrade our ‘personality firmware’ however, here’s how I think it might look, with the ‘Personality 2.0’ firmware release notes!
Personality 2.0 Release notes
Revised January 1, 2011
Main features of 2.0 release:
Features removed from previous firmware:
Known issues with Personality 1.0:
1. Personality 1.0 was known to become overwhelmed with pressures and stresses, resulting in avoidance, procrastination and shirking of responsibilities.
Personality 2.0 allows the user to face perceived stresses and pressures head on, as soon as they are recognized, so that they can be dealt with as quickly as possible. The new software uses interfacing with friends to discuss stress so that the user is better equipped to deal with stress, eliminating procrastination.
What I mean is…
In 2010, I was too quick to feel defeated and overwhelmed by the things that stressed me out. In 2011, I plan to deal with my stress honestly and up-front as soon as possible, and to use my friends for support.
2. Personality 1.0 was flawed as it suffered from excessive negativity, hampering productivity and happiness and resulting in increased stress.
Personality 2.0 gives the user a positivity upgrade which forces the personality to consider the bright side of life, cataloging the user’s blessings and creating increased contrast between the positive and negative.
What I mean is…
This year I am pledging to be a more positive person, and I plan not to dwell on my perceived shortcomings. My attitude in 2010 was holding me back and having a detrimental effect on my life. In 2011 I plan to smile more, seize more opportunities and attempt to look on the bright side of life.
3. Personality 1.0 encountered difficulties with planning processes, resulting in poor management of time and money.
The new firmware (Personality 2.0) features better tracking of appointments, spending and deadlines. The fixes will allow for more efficient management of money by creating savings and employing new financial classifications.
What I mean is…
Many of 2010’s stresses came down to poor planning on my part. Surprise expenses like car repair bills wouldn’t have been so stressful if I had money in savings to pay for it, or if I had changed my attitudes to credit cards which might have been appropriate at the time, had I been better educated about them.
4. Personality 1.0 suffered from networking problems which saw users experiencing limited connectivity with peer networks.
Personality 2.0 features increased connectivity with peers as a result of an upgraded networking infrastructure. The fix allows better connections to friends and family via the network.
What I mean is…
In 2010 I wasn’t a great friend; I did not make enough time for my friends and made excuses for not attending social events. In 2011 I plan to make sure I see my friends more often, get more involved in the lives of my friends and offer to help them out when they need it.
It might not be as simple as fixing a bug in a piece of software by upgrading the firmware, but thinking of your personality in terms flaws in a previous version and the fixes you would like to see in a firmware upgrade is a fun way to think about what you would like to improve about yourself, given the chance.
Author Bio: Mark Hooson is a journalist-turned-copywriter who enjoys music and the web. Mark writes for the financial team at Moneysupermarket.com about savings, balance transfer credit cards, and debt.
To Love fully. Laugh daily. Be silly. Embrace your dreams! Feel gratitude for the simplest of pleasures. Discover the beauty of silence. Spend quiet time alone each day. Live from your heart not your head. Keep a gratitude journal. Be an inspiration to others. Shine your light for others to follow. Be more -do less. Release fear. Allow yourself to receive the blessings of life. Living a joyful life is a choice – choose wisely. Release the shackles of self-judgment.
Step outside your comfort zone. Take baby steps each day toward the life of your dreams. Believe in the truth that anything is truly possible – because it IS! Discover the wisdom within! Be prepared for life’s curveballs and remember to duck. Remember that you are not your past or your mistakes. Release the mistakes of the past and carry forward only the lessons they contain. You have the power to rewrite your story at any time. Journal daily.
Surround yourself with those who honor the best in you. You are a unique gift to the world and you are meant to shine. Follow your passion and you will never dread going to ‘work’ each day. To make a new friend – be a friend. In every relationship, both personal and professional ask yourself “How can I serve?” Reach out and support the dreams of others. Join a Mastermind or two and connect with those who encourage your dreams. Imagine the possibilities then create them.
Live your life – not the life others imagined for you. Be a spiritual warrior! Embrace your Higher Power. Connect daily to your source. Live a juicy, joyful, passionate life. Your passions are your guide to your divine purpose – follow them. Write your ‘bucket list’ and cross things off each week. To make a friend – be a friend. View every interaction as a path to growth. Find your ‘tribe’. Look at every life experience as a tool to reconnecting with your authentic self. Visualize the life you desire. Create a sacred space in your home. Give back. Pick a cause and support it wholeheartedly.
Discover your unique passion and mission and bring it forward to make a difference in the world. Surround yourself with those who lift you up. Release those people or things that prevent you from shining your light. Believe in the power of forgiveness. Open your heart to see the divine beauty in everyone. Read publications that inspire you to live from the inside out. Tune in to the wisdom and insights of those who have walked the path before you. Ignite your passion! Honor your body and feed your soul. Nourish your relationships. Maintain balance. Be your own best friend. Embrace change.
And most importantly – love yourself! You are perfect just as you are!
When I finished reading it the second time, I decided to make it into a sort of checklist. I looked at where I think I’m doing pretty well and where I could benefit by doing some things differently. I’ve put a copy next to my bed and posted one above my desk. I’m going to use it as a reminder to myself about how much power I have over my life circumstances and my happiness and I’m going to use that power to continue to create my best life!
Thanks, Linda, for the great gift.