What’s in the way of following our bliss?
Surely, it’s easy to come up with a long answer to this question, as we can list countless reasons why we find ourselves incapable of making positive choices in life and being happy. But the truth is that most humans get a kick out of being miserable. No point in denying this simple fact; scientific studies prove that our brain is wired for negativity (please see What Is the Negativity Bias? Article under References).
Research also shows that our default tendency is to say “no” and protect ourselves from change. According to an article from Psychology Today (The Power of No; please see under References), “the human brain is hardwired to respond to No more quickly, more intensely, and more persistently than to a positive signal. No is stronger than Yes.”
Of course, knowing when to say “no” is an important survival skill. The problem is when we get stuck on the “no.” Since change is the fiber of life (and one of the only constants in our lives), that means we tend to spend a lot of our time and energy resisting change by trying to avoid or control it, which is a sure recipe for misery. As misery loves company, we often contribute to making others around us miserable by resisting the changes they might be ready to make, trying to hold them back or resenting them when and if they do manage to change their lives. In turn, they do the same for us.
Another reason that prevents us from finding our bliss and keeps us stuck in misery is not being able to let go of the past. Past trauma can lead to PTSD and other serious issues that often need to be addressed with professional help. However, there’s always a choice to be made: Seeing ourselves as victims and refusing to let the past go, or acknowledging, accepting and working to heal from past suffering, remembering that our past experiences helped shape who we are.
So what’s the solution?
6 Rules for Leaving Your Misery Behind:
- Being willing to use “no,” while at the same time going with the flow. Developing and maintaining healthy boundaries is vital for allowing ourselves the space to seek self-fulfillment and live well. On the other hand, misery ensues when we keep saying “no” to the flow of life. The trick is to tap into our inner and higher guidance to find a balance between “no” and “yes.”
- Accepting change as a fact of life without trying to control it. Remember Ben Franklyn’s ol’ adage, “nothing is certain, except death and taxes”? The word “change” should be added to that saying. No point in digging our heels; it’s gonna happen...
- Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Life is full of discomfort. Trying to constantly avoid it doesn’t serve us well; it just makes us afraid and keeps us stuck.
- Reconciling with the past with the help of some core work. We can use tools we’ve familiar with (such as forgiveness) and learn new tools or get professional help.
- Sharing our story with the right audience as part of our healing process, and as a means to help inspire and guide others through their own challenges.
- Consciously choosing to leave misery behind! It does take a conscious choice or decision on our part. Less misery means more room for bliss!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/26/22
Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash
What Is the Negativity Bias?
The Power of No
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...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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Blooming Into Your Authentic Self
It's been a couple of months since my last enewsletter. As I shared during our TriH - Healers Healing Healers online monthly meeting, the Covid years have been tough enough; but the last couple of months have been especially challenging, involving personal health issues, family concerns, loss and grief, news of war, and so much more.
The Universe has been supporting us by setting the stage and creating opportunities to help us awaken from a long sleep... Until now, there was nothing much to do but to go with the flow, continuing to move forward and working ourselves out of the snowy woods as we weathered this long Winter.
"Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it will your heart survive."
— Rainer Maria Rilke
Gratefully, the renewal of Spring is finally upon us.
Use My Ego
I recently had a dream that shed some light on this healing and transformational process. Summing it up, I was saying goodbye to a loving family member who was present to support me through the process of fighting a negative, evil entity. In the dream, I had the awareness of the fact that I was meant to die in this process, as I destroyed this entity. However, similarly to the final chapter of Harry Potter’s hero journey, I was able to destroy the evil entity and was told that I would live.
To my understanding, this dream was symbolic of destroying the negative, fragile, fearful, controlling part of my ego. That part of the ego had to die, so that I could learn to fully live. I believe this purging and purifying process is what so many of us have been going through; especially healers. These challenging times are meant to help purge and burn away everything that doesn’t serve us any longer. Judy, a member of our monthly meeting group, beautifully communicated after our last meeting: “As I listened to my friends share their personal stories of struggle from the last several months, I pictured a beautiful phoenix rising out of the ashes. I've turned to my guides to light my path and they have provided me with angel numbers, and spirit animals—messages to reassure me. Yes, at times my journey has been difficult; however, I now see that it is all part of a larger divine plan... a karmic journey that will lead me to opportunities in harmony with my higher good. I truly believe that ALL that happens is contributing to my spiritual and psychic growth. Every thought and every action attracts a vibrational energy. I will be more conscious of my thoughts and actions and trust that ALL that I attract is part of my healing journey.”
These are encouraging words about the healing and transformational journey we’ve all embarked upon... Until the moment when I emerge from the ashes purged and purified, however, I ask of my higher self: Don’t wait for perfection; use my ego as it is right now, incomplete and perfect in its imperfection, and channel this energy in positive and life-affirming ways.
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 03/25/22
Photo by Iulia Mihailov on Unsplash
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