How do we keep ourselves from living our best lives?
Most of us are familiar with the terms fear of success or fear of failure; but do we really understand what these concepts mean, or do they feel mostly like abstractions that we can’t quite define or recognize within ourselves?
I’d guess that most of us, when making decisions and choices, are hardly ever conscious of the fact that we might be sabotaging ourselves due to our response to these fears and other limiting core beliefs. And yet, we tend to self-sabotage on a regular basis through many of our habits or patterns of thought, emotion and action.
If these patterns were easy to recognize and change, we’d already be ahead of this game. But such things are rarely obvious or easy to spot and address. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do it or that we shouldn’t be continuously working on it, anyway.
We are certainly able to come up with convincingly valid reasons for hitting the brakes or checking out of life. Have you ever made a decision about changing something in your life that would bring positive results and forward-movement, only to find yourself grabbing onto the first available excuse (other people, life circumstances, etc) to interrupt the process? Don’t get me wrong, some of the causes for interruptions and change of course can be challenging, difficult obstacles to be surpassed. Life sometimes demands that we slow down or stop for justifiable reasons, such as the loss of loved ones and the consequent grieving process, or the management of a serious health issue, etc. It can be scary to get up and continue to move forward, especially after we take a fall or feel that life knocked us down; and that’s a particularly hard process for highly sensitive empaths. However, for many of us, that can also be reason enough to stop progress all together. Of course, I’m not referring to the normal (and quite necessary) rest and relaxation pauses and stops, along with play time, that all of us should take to be able to recharge; I’m talking about giving up.
More often than not, the most valid excuses mask our deepest fears, which is a fact that we can’t get away with ignoring forever. If we dig deeply enough, we are bound to recognize that life constantly scares us (especially in these intense healing and transformational times) and we don’t need much of an excuse to want to stop on our tracks or even go on reverse, if at all possible. The problem is that we’re not built to continuously hide or retract; sooner or later, our mind, body and spirit start paying the price for staying out of the stream of life for too long.
How long is too long? There’s no easy answer, but we know what happens when we choose to hide and avoid for unhealthily long periods; we’ve all been there and dealt with the consequences. We ‘re quite aware that, at a certain point, the Universe starts nudging us forward; if we continue ignoring the nudges, they eventually become full-out, impossible-to-ignore slaps on the back of the head or kicks in the heinie… So, rather than waiting for that to start happening again, it’s best if we take some time to consider in which areas of our lives we have slowed down too much or stopped the flow. Awareness is half the way; even the process of acknowledging stagnated areas and the need to start moving forward again can open the door for the next phase of the journey to begin.
These uncertain times call for taking a leap of faith as we continue to move forward, trusting that the path will reveal itself as we take the next step.
What’s one small step you can take to move towards your goals and dreams today?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 08/04/22
Image by Ana Pilar from Pixabay
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10 tips for the functional whiner
...Or How to Become One
Hi, my name is Gisele... and I’m a functional whiner.
What’s a functional whiner, you may ask? It’s someone who uses whining as a tool for venting, but still manages to roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done.
Some people are brought up to believe that they should be strong, they should toughen up, and they shouldn’t complain about stuff. Those with that kind of upbringing end up by internalizing their feelings and emotions, and often blow up in anger or get sick a lot.
On the other end of the spectrum, others grow up being enabled to whine about everything and everyone, and regard themselves as constant victims. They can’t seem to complete anything they start or achieve much in life.
Ideally, we should work towards finding a balance between practicing resilience when faced with life’s challenges and allowing ourselves to express what we feel during our weak moments. That includes being able to whine a bit.
Whining can help unclutter the brain and clear the space for imagination and innovation, including finding creative solutions for life’s problems.
One of my main mottos is: “It ain’t worth doing if you can’t whine about it.” However, I live by important whining rules that help create that balance between safely expressing myself and still being able to achieve my goals. Hence, the Functional Whiner.
The Functional Whiner Rules for Proper Whining Etiquette:
1) Choose the right ears to whine to. Try not to whine to the same person all the time; even if that person is someone whom you really can count on, such as your spouse or partner, another family member or your best friend. Spread the “joy” around! Sometimes, your journal can be your ears.
I also suggest trying the morning pages exercise mentioned by Julia Cameron on her book The Artist’s Way. This exercise, also known as brain drain or mind dump, is an effective tool for uncluttering the brain and sparking creativity.
2) Limit your allowed “whine” time. After all, you have to leave room on your schedule for the rest of... you know, life. If left unchecked, whining can surround you with an aura of negativity, consume you, and take over your life.
3) Whine... but always follow a whining session with a positive action step. In other words: Whine about what you have to do... and then do it, anyway. That’s called whining with a purpose!
4) Don’t whine-shame yourself (or others) and don’t accept whine-shaming. You gotta do what you gotta do to get yourself motivated and ready for action. If whining is one of your tools of choice, own it! As long as you use it well and don’t abuse the privilege, whining can actually help you move forward. But remember, if you dish it out, you also have to be able to take it.
5) Don’t over-whine; especially if you’ve already worn out all your available ears, and even your journal would refuse to open its pages to your woes, if it had a choice. At a certain point, it will be time for less whining and more action.
6) Don’t get caught up on the blame game during your whining session. Although you can certainly mention the perceived or real injustices and offenses from others in passing during your whining session, this exercise isn’t supposed to be about anything or anyone else but yourself and your own need to express your take on the unfairness of life. The main purpose here is to let it all go and move on after you’re done whining; so it wouldn’t help to get stuck in the blaming and finger-pointing part, right?
7) Select-whine (or Serenity-whine). As the Serenity Prayer goes, everyone has to learn to accept things they can’t change, build the courage to change what they can, and understand how to tell the difference. Obviously, it’s best to whine about things you can change, as you can use whining as a spring board to take some positive action steps about the things you do have control over.
8) Use whining as a tool, not an excuse. Venting off helps. Doing it to the point that you see yourself as the eternal victim and get paralyzed or lost in the whining phase, doesn’t.
9) Hire a professional you can whine to. The most attentive and helpful ears are usually the ones you pay for! You’re much more likely to receive useful advice, effective tools and guidance about your next positive steps from qualified professionals.
10) Whine not? Ideally, try to build up to the point where whining isn’t needed any longer. Even when properly used as a helpful tool, whining still takes a lot of time and energy that could be better used somewhere else...
Until then, whine away! Just start doing it more functionally and join the Functional Whiner club!
FYI, I still use whining as a tool... Something else to continue working on... ;)
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/14/22
Photo by Gundula Vogel on Pixabay
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How to Become a Peace Thief
The best things in live often involve stolen moments that provide priceless glimpses of peace. As I close my eyes, start deep-breathing and set the intention to recall the feeling of peaceful moments, countless of such instants easily spring to mind (and they do last but an instant in the fabric of time):
- Scuba-diving in the Florida keys on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, peacefully floating at the bottom of the ocean, barely touching the sand, admiring the sun rays refracting in the water and the colorful fish swimming around the brilliant coral reefs...
- Feeling the light Spring breeze and observing the leaves and flowers gently swaying as I sit outdoors for my daily sun meditation...
- Feeling the cool sheets in my soft, comfortable bed at night...
I could go on and on... As the saying goes, “life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” Stealing peaceful moments is especially helpful during periods of stress and overwhelm triggered by too many activities and not enough play time and rest. This simple practice is the perfect antidote to rushing through life on a “doing” mode; it helps you ease into a quiet “being” mode instead. Finding the space between breaths.
Become a peace thief and hoarder! Turn it into a game and challenge yourself to break your daily or weekly record. Create a “peace moment stealing” score card, invite a few buddies to join and compare “peace moment stealing” scores! Then plan a weekly or monthly celebration where the winner receives a small reward from the group.
Steal those peaceful moments whenever possible, throughout the day:
- Before getting out of bed
- When you’re getting ready to start your day
- When taking a shower or bath
- While doing house chores
- When waiting at the traffic light, school drop off/pick up line, bank drive through, etc
- Through a short meditation or prayer time
- By taking a sun meditation break (sitting outside in the sun for 15 minutes or so)
- By taking a rain meditation break (sitting by a window and watching the rain)
- On the treadmill or exercise bike
- When doing yoga, Tai Chi and other mindful practices
- At bedtime
How many peaceful moments have you been able to steal and hoard today?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 04/12/22
Photo by Disha Sheta on Pexels
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…Without Getting Drawn Into It
Holidays have always been emotionally loaded times; but everything that’s been happening in the world seems to have escalated the overload level in the past couple of years… Many of us find ourselves caught between wanting to have a good time with family during the supposedly cheerful holiday season, and having a gloomy idea of what that’s really going to look like…
All of us have issues to work through and resolve; however, it’s also true that some family members and close friends seem to bring more than their share of drama to the table. If we’re able to avoid getting together with people who need their fix of DDD (Daily Dose of Drama) to survive, and who tend to suck the energy right out of the room and trigger us in the process, sometimes that can be the best option. But this might not be possible without avoiding the rest of the family, or creating more issues and drama ourselves. In that case, those necessary encounters can always be used as opportunities to continue healing issues and improving ourselves, as follows:
- We can learn how to process our own emotions. Everything that happens to us reflects or mirrors something that we’re either reflecting back, or that needs more understanding and deeper healing within ourselves. Observing our triggered emotions and learning to express them constructively in a safe space are the first steps in the process of re-framing, healing and releasing them. Sometimes, professional guidance may be necessary.
- We can watch and avoid repeating old patterns of behavior. When we are with family with whom we still have unresolved issues, we tend to fall back into the same old patterns we’ve been repeating with them for a long time. Rather than falling into that same trap for the umpteenth time, we can choose to observe and deconstruct those patterns. Before reacting to a family member who did something to trigger us, let’s stop and think: Have I acted out or reacted in a similar way to the same person or situation before? How did that work out for everyone involved? Was it really worth it? If not, why would I want to do the same thing again? What can I do differently this time? At any given moment, we all have the choice to react to an old issue in a completely renewed (and hopefully more effective and constructive) way. Sometimes the answer is simply to not engage. Believe me, that takes a whole lot more discernment, sensitivity, perception and courage than acting out, reacting or overreacting in the usual manner.
- We can draw strong boundaries. Even if we have to be in the same place with someone we have issues with, that doesn’t mean that we have to engage or allow ourselves to be energetically and emotionally engaged by that person; we can still exchange polite greetings and partake in casual conversation without being dragged into the drama vortex.
- We can find a quiet place and connect with our inner voice or guidance, giving ourselves a break to reset, recharge and refocus before dealing with the person(s) or situation again.
- We can approach people and situations with caution, rather than fear. After being burned by the same people and situations over and over, it’s a normal reaction to start fearing and expecting the worst of any form of engagement. However, the “fear” language comes from the ego and just brings more of the same, along with its siblings, anger, resentment, paranoia, etc. On the other hand, the language of love only begets more love. Love always wins. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to just go out there and expose ourselves to harmful and hurtful people and situations. But even choosing to be cautions from a place of love and compassion is more positive and constructive than anything that comes from a place of fear.
- We can choose to not intentionally harm or hurt. That can be tempting, if we’ve been repeatedly harmed or hurt ourselves. Ultimately, though, we carry the energetic load of what we’ve done to others much more heavily than that of what’s been done to us. And who needs that kind of karma?
- We can avoid gossip (and not worry about what they’re saying, either). He said, she said… People who live on drama tend to gossip, lie, take things out of context, embellish or distort facts. Although that can be hurtful, in the end it doesn’t really matter what people are saying about us. Those who truly know and love us won’t pay attention to or believe in untruths, and those who would believe whatever is said without checking the facts or bothering to ask for our version or point of view are not worth having around or be too close to, anyway.
What matters more is what we’re saying about others. Is it positive or negative? Will it add to the dialogue in a helpful and meaningful way or just foster more negativity, separation, discord? Is it coming from love or fear? Let’s keep in mind the energetic load we’re creating for ourselves and others, and choose wisely.
- We can let go of trying to fix or save someone else. We can’t help anyone who’s not ready or willing to help themselves, and we can’t shorten anyone’s path. That would actually rob them of important learning and growing experiences. Each of us needs to be responsible for our own actions and reactions, our own healing and growth.
- We can try your best to feel compassion for that person (or persons) by remembering that everyone of us is doing the best that we can at any given moment. Self-compassion is also a must; that includes giving ourselves a break if we slip and react to someone or to a situation, despite our best intentions. After all, the holidays are about forgiveness, as well…
With all that being said, wishing you a lovely (and loving) holiday season!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 11/30/21
Photo by Frank Busch on Unsplash
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