A Simple Perspective Change…
As this year comes to an end, most of us are realizing that we’ve fallen short of accomplishing all of the goals we had set for the year; therefore, the pressure of making changes for the New Year starts to build up, which often prompts us to make new resolution lists. This year, however, I've decided to try something different: Working on a change of perspective, rather than a long (and ominous) resolution list.
Have you ever watched the movie How Do You Know? This delightful rom-com features excellent actors, including Jack Nicholson; but the best thing about it is the fact that it has some really good quotes. Here’s one of my favorites:
“So I was just wondering if there was one general thing that you've found over the years to be generally true in a general way that would help anyone in any situation?” (Lisa, Reese Witherspoon’s character)
“That's a great question; yes, I would say figure out what you want and learn how to ask for it.” (Psychiatrist, Tony Shalhoub’s character)
From the same movie, here’s what George (Paul Rudd’s character) says to Lisa, after using the awesome story of how Play-Doh was created as an example:
“We’re all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.”
For this New Year, I’ll be working on figuring out what I really want, learning to get better at how I ask for it, and being open to all those small adjustments that can make life work :)
Happy New Year!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 12/28/21
Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash
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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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…But Being Defined by Labels Can Become a Deficiency
Never before have we had access to so much information about… well, pretty much everything. That can be helpful and useful in many ways, if we have the discernment to sift through the overload of available information and determined what’s accurate, what’s inaccurate, what’s distorted by the sponsors behind the information being disseminated, and so forth. If we do manage to come out on the other side of the maze, there’s plenty of reliable information we can access on our own or through reputable healthcare professionals to help answer our questions.
Due to the outspread availability of information, it has also become easier to label conditions, even when those labels mean that current knowledge doesn’t have all the answers and healthcare professionals don’t really have a clue about what’s going on or how to cure it. Still, there are plenty of labels that get thrown around in relation to diseases and illnesses with internal, external and unknown causes that doctors can’t quite define or understand, from autoimmune to brain-related/neurological conditions such as RA, Fibromyalgia, Autism and Alzheimer’s, to name just a few.
On one hand, it’s important to know as much as possible about health issues and conditions that may limit our lives in any way. Knowledge is power; it can enable us to manage such issues and maintain a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.
On the other hand, being defined by such labels can become a deficiency if that instills fear in us, preventing us from living life to the best of our abilities. It can become a deficiency if we accept these labels without question and feel limited to the point where they are used as excuses to stop growing, to justify the belief that we’re not capable of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, trying to overcome our circumstances and doing better every day. Labeling can lead to resignation that makes us forget the power of the mind and spirit.
As someone who deals with frequent anxiety and even the occasional panic attack due to OCPD, and who has discovered as an adult that I might be on the lower end of the neurodivergent spectrum (in addition to having physical issues such as herniated disks and hip repair surgery), I understand how difficult it can be to deal with and manage a limiting condition. Because I don’t want to take medication, managing myself takes a combination of alternative therapies (hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, flower essences, essential oils, etc), along with regular meditation, breathing techniques, etc. Exercising and practicing yoga also help; so do writing and coloring book therapy. In other words, proper self care is vital; that includes establishing priorities and strong boundaries that involve plenty of quiet time, while not neglecting to stay connected with loved ones. I also developed the habit of deliberately shifting my thinking when I start obsessing and feeling anxious about something; I try to focus on the ultimate goal, set my intention and simply say to myself: "I give this to God (or my guides, Angels, Source, Universe, etc)." That opens the space to receive clear guidance and be able to follow it, even when it’s unsettling. Not beating myself up for not being perfect is also key!
Of course, each individual has different needs and needs to find their own ways to cope or recover; but here are some additional tools that have been effective for myself, my clients and others who have tried them:
- Rather than reminding myself of why I can't do something, I make sure to constantly re-frame that thought by teaching myself how I can do anything I set my intention to accomplish.
- Hypno-coaching can help jump-start healing on a subconscious level by using scripts such as Gateway to Healing by Linda Bennett and Self-Health by A. Chips.
- The Emotion Code is a simple technique to help release trapped negative emotions from the body: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g7pRNLJKh4
- Mel Robbins' 5 Second Rule and other similar techniques are effective shortcuts to trick the brain into doing what I want it to do: htthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI2VQ-ZsNr0
- The morning pages exercise (also known as brain drain or mind dump) is a powerful method of uncluttering the brain and opening the space for creative solutions to life’s puzzle:
Here's Everything I Learned From Doing Morning Pages Every Day
FINAL WORD: We are all works in progress, doing the best we know how at any given moment. Whatever challenges we deal with on the physical, mental emotional and spiritual levels, we are the only ones with the power to define ourselves; and that in itself is an organic, ever-changing process. Let’s not get stuck on a label!
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 09/28/21
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
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A few weeks ago, as I was walking on the beach during a much needed break and observing to myself how much we take Nature for granted, I noticed a couple of scenes that got me thinking about how each one of us tends to react to life.
First I noticed two women in their early 30’s emerging from a home by the beach and walking towards the water. One of the women kept a brisk and sure-footed pace, quickly got in the water and kept wading farther in. The second woman moved at a much slower and tentative pace; she seemed to be waiting for the other woman to go in first. When she reached the edge of the water, she called out from the beach: “Is it cold? Is it really cold?” The other woman, who was already waist deep in the water, answered, “Sure, but you get used to it.” The last thing I noticed as I continued my walk was that the slower woman was still hesitating, standing at the edge of the water and barely allowing her toes to get wet.
I smiled to myself, trying to remember the last time I had been brave enough to swim in the ocean, in spite of the chilly water temperature… Then I thought about what I had just observed and considered how we often oscillate between these two approaches: fear and hesitancy, as opposed to confidence and daring. Which choice usually allows us to make the best out of opportunities in life?
The woman-in-the-water’s reply (“Sure, but you get used to it”) also reminded me of how powerful the simple act of shifting our perspective and mindset can be. Many years ago, when my former business partner and I owned a graphic design and publishing business, we used to make some of our magazine deliveries as an opportunity to network and maintain our connections with advertisers and supporters. These deliveries would usually take a few hours; so I always brought a water bottle with me, which I left in the car in between deliveries. For the better part of the year here in Orlando, FL, it doesn’t take too long for the water to get very hot in the car. I remember that I often whined about the water being too hot, although I could have chosen to do something about it (such as getting an insulated water bottle, bringing a cooler or adding some ice cubes to my water bottle before leaving the house). One day, my former business partner (who was probably tired of all the whining), told me in a facetious way: “Pretend it’s tea.” Her comment actually inspired an ah-ha moment. I took her advice to heart and started pretending that a nice bottle of hot tea was waiting for me in the car after each delivery, instead of hot drinking water; and from that moment on I happily drank and thoroughly enjoyed that hot water. Sometimes I would add lemon juice in my water bottle, so that I could pretend I was having lemon tea. In the end, it’s all about the perspective…
Next, I passed by a woman in her mid- to late 40’s who was spending a day on the beach completely on her own. She was very focused and engaged in the process of building a rudimentary sand castle with a moat around it. I thoroughly enjoyed watching that lady looking so at ease, as she allowed herself to relish in her fun playtime on the beach (with no need to have children around to justify it). How often do we feel that we need someone else around or something more to be able to fully enjoy life, even when what we may need the most is to enjoy a few moments with ourselves?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/31/21
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