Well, let’s start with this past week’s reflections, shall we? Good. Here we go.
Alright, so this past week, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon inspiration. What is inspiration, where does it come from, how can we get more of it, and what do we do if we run out of it. Very important questions. And?
Well, this week I’ve also been reflecting upon the creation of a new series. A series that can encompass a multitude of topics, and, yep, this is it, and inspiration will be the first topic.
Some of these developmental discussions will be longer, and some will be shorter. It will depend.
Alright, for this entry, let’s tackle the first question on inspiration. Ready? Good. Let’s go.
Where Does Inspiration Come From?
I really do love this topic, as it seems so simple, right? Inspiration, well, it’s all around us. Some people say they find nature inspirational, or other people in their lives, such as their friends and family, or coworkers. And, that is beautiful. Truely. Yet, there is something missing here. Do you know what it is? Hm.
It is the viewpoint. Meaning?
That inspiration does not live outside of you. Nope. It lives inside of you. We look outward and place inspiration onto other things and people, yet that inspiration comes from within. Always has come from within, and always will come from within.
Why does this matter to your development? Good question. Here is one, of many, reasons why.
When we know inspiration comes from within, we stop looking outside of ourselves for our own inspiration. Being aware of the source of our inspiration is important to our development, because when we fully realize that our inspiration comes from within, we are not bound to the changing tides of people and things. Simple. And?
Well, we know that change is inevitable. It is part of life. Yep. And, when we get clear on the fact that inspiration does not live in the changing world, that, in fact, it can be developed, and maintained, regardless of external circumstances, we become more powerful. Really.
Does that mean that we don’t ever feel down, or stressed, or sad? No, it does not. We are meant to feel all of our emotions; to feel them, know them, and learn how to talk about them.
And, yet, we can still find our inspiration even during the most stressful times. Why? Because even though we may consider a situation stressful, we know that our inspiration is always there. Waiting for us.
Alright, so what can we do to connect, or reconnect, to our own inspiration? I think there is one thing we can all do that will assist in making our connection, or reconnection, to our inspiration stronger. What’s that?
Make time for yourself. A must.
When we create time for ourselves, to be with ourselves, just for ourselves, we get to know ourselves better. And, the more we know ourselves, the more clear on our own inspiration we become. Really.
Next time, then, when things are really hectic, and you are feeling overwhelmed, stop. Stop doing what you are doing, and go for a walk, sit down under a tree and look around, or look up at the beautiful stars in the sky. Stop and just be.
For it is in this space, where your inspiration will find you.
The Leadership Psychology of How We Think and Feel
This past week a colleague of mine and I were talking about leadership. Well, to be more accurate, we are always talking about leadership. Fun.
Anway, this colleague was talking about the upcoming leadership group training they would be facilitating, and they were talking about how important it is for leaders to understand how they think, feel, and act.
After reflecting upon the concept of thinking, feeling, and acting, which I totally agree with, another concept occured to me. Speaking. Also important.
Thus, the idea for this first-half of the two-part article on Developing the Self was created. Before we get into our discussion, however, let’s reset the first installment in the Leadership Series.
We also discussed 2 things that are very important to be clear about early on in any leadership development journey, which are
Understanding your leadership style.
In this second installment, we will discuss understanding yourself as the very first step in a leadership development journey. Why? Good question.
Let’s take a look, shall we.
There are two ways we will approach this discussion.
Ready? Good, let’s go.
Right, so, what in the world is leadership psychology? Well, in this context, we are going to address two main concepts. Thinking and feeling. Both are very important to understand for anyone in leadership.
If you don’t know why you think and feel as you do, you’ll never be able to understand how and why others think and feel as they do. Simple.
And, as a leader, you must understand how the people in your team, organization, business, and or family, or friend network think and feel. Very important.
Having an impact starts with us. Each of us. Understanding how and why we think and feel as we do is a necessity in any leadership role. Any and all leadership roles.
An entire article, nay, book can be written about how we think in regards to, well, just about everything in life. Leadership included. It’s that important.
In fact, how we think drives everything else we will discuss in this article. It all starts with the mind. The quality of our mind. Meaning? Good question.
As I’ve written about in other articles, human beings are meaning-makers. Meaning, pun intended, that we take in data, information or stimuli, and we convert those stimuli, whatever they are, into narratives.
We do this to make sense of the world, and our place in it. A simple example can illustrate this point.
If my thinking is about the past, and all of the wrongs I’ve suffered, or bad things that have happened, I will bring these thoughts, feelings, verbalizations, and actions into the present moment. And?
I, in essence, will recreate the past. Reliving, as possible, past trauma again and again. And, so will everyone else I am interacting with and in relationship with.
However, if I am aware of my thoughts, and how I think, I can work on the thought impressions, called samskaras in sanskrit, and, over time, release them.
When they are released they stop showing up as a thought. It takes time.
These samskaras, thought impressions of old patterns and habits, loose power when you inquire into why they are there in the first place. Meaning, that creating self-awareness for a leader is a crucial aspect of leadership development.
When we have some sense of our own self, we can step outside of those thought patterns or habits and create new ones.
And, it is in the creation of new thought patterns where true empowerment is found for leaders, first, yes, for themselves, and then for their teams, organizations, families, and friends.
There are four things I do on a regular basis to increase my self-awareness.
Each of these contributes to self-awareness in unique ways, and they combine to increase clarity, calmness of mind, well-being, and insight into who you are as a human being, and how you relate to yourself and everyone else. Very important.
As was aforementioned, how we think really does affect, even predict, how we feel, speak, and act, and how we feel on a general level and even on a more specific level, which is very important.
Important to how we relate to ourselves and everyone else.
I grew up in a household where people definitely displayed emotion, yet it was still hidden, and definitely not talked about. And, that’s not a demerit. Why?
Because my parents were not shown how to understand their emotions and then how to constructively talk about them. It is far more normal, especially in the United States, than people might imagine. And?
Not helpful to your own development, nor is it to your teams, organizations, families, or friends. If you don’t know why you feel the way you do, you will not understand how others feel.
And, if you are unable to understand how you and the people around you feel, you cannot talk about feelings in productive and constructive ways.
However, when you know how you feel, understand why you feel as you do, and learn how to talk about emotions in healthy ways, you can navigate more complex conversations and situations as they arise.
And, in leadership roles, nay, in life, complex situations and conversations happen all the time. Sometimes every day.
In addition to meditation, diet, exercise, and weekly coaching, there are a couple of other things I do to understand my feelings and emotional state.
Journaling, and reflecting upon how you feel, is a very important process; especially when we are truly interested in understanding how and why we feel as we do. Some questions I typically ask myself are as follows.
What is the feeling that I am feeling?
What is the thought that is driving that feeling?
Where did that thought come from?
When you understand what you’re feeling, what thought is driving the feeling, and where the thought came from, you can begin to acknowledge the feeling.
When we can acknowledge how we truly feel, we can then release that feeling once we’ve gained true understanding. And, true understanding may mean working on a thought/feeling combination for some time.
Now, I’ve written most of this section with an assumption in mind. That, the work we do to understand how we feel, is needed mostly when we experience “negative” feelings, or emotions.
The emotions and associated feelings that bring us pain, discomfort, worry, and anxiety, for instance.
Why is it important to work on these “negative” emotions and feelings?
Because if we don’t understand how we feel and why we feel as we do, we will regularly give out all of that “negative” emotion to other people. And?
And, then, yes, we are giving out all of our anger, frustration, sadness, or whatever other feeling we have to everyone around us, and we are doing so unintentionally.
If you want to see an example of how this looks, just go to the grocery store and hang out for a while. You will encounter someone that is completely unaware of their emotional state. It won’t take long.
It happens all the time, every day. As was aforementioned, especially in the United States, where there is still, yes even in 2020, stigma about talking about our emotions. Not helpful and extremely unhealthy.
Now, understanding our feelings does not mean that we run out and tell everyone that we meet that we are frustrated, for instance, and here are the reasons why. A paradox? Yes?
Understanding your emotions and why you feel as you do, helps you do the exact opposite.
When we understand why we feel as we do, we can hold our emotions more, and find the right times to talk about them in appropriate ways; meaning healthy and constructive ways. Very important.
Alright, though I have more to say on both of the aforementioned topics, for now, that concludes the first part of this second installment in the leadership series. Next?
We will take a look at Leadership Sociology. And, yep, you are correct, Leadership Sociology and Leadership Psychology are connected. They influence each other. A reciprocal relationship, if you like.
For now, remember, leadership psychology as defined here, understanding how we think and feel is an important first step in developing ourselves, yes, as leaders, and even more importantly as human beings.
When we are open to our own development, we can create contexts that are growth-oriented for everyone. It works that way.
Remember, it starts with you, with me, with each of us. Therefore, when we catch ourselves looking outside of ourselves for answers to why we think and feel as we do, we must remember to look within.
Because, my friends, within ourselves is the only place we will find the answers.
Alright. Now, as I’ve written before, I understand why vulnerability is defined as it is, yet I see and experience vulnerability completely differently today.
Let’s explore three of the ways I experience vulnerability in this article. Ultimately, I believe, vulnerability leads us to new possibilities. New ways of being. Bottom line. Truly. And, here are three reasons why.
Vulnerability as Growth
When we enter into situations or create contexts that are vulnerable, we are instantaneously navigating a space that is full of growth opportunities.
Being vulnerable is about growing. In fact, growth is impossible without the ability to be vulnerable. Why?
Because it is in the areas that we fear to go most that our largest measure of growth awaits us. Truly. And?
That growth potential already exists within you. It is there. Awaiting you. Now, you can leave it there, if you choose.
There is absolutely no issue with not practicing vulnerability, and it is not a problem at all. However, to really be alive, to feel alive in every aspect of your being, you must allow yourself at times to be vulnerable, and to grow as a result of that vulnerability.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to take up every vulnerable situation, or continuously create vulnerable contexts for yourself to grow. Really.
Rather, being mindful about vulnerability simply means taking a vulnerable step. One at a time.
I think sometimes people think it is an all or nothing proposal, or approach to vulnerability they must choose from. You must be vulnerable all the time to grow, all day everyday. Not so. That is daunting, and, well, impractical and quite scary. Nope.
If you are looking to add more vulnerability into your life as a way to grow yourself, take one step at a time. One vulnerable moment at a time. And?
Before long you will find that you are adding another vulnerable moment to the previous one; and that my friends is growing.
Vulnerability as Understanding
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we also gain a much deeper understanding of ourselves. And, as we learn more about ourselves, we also learn more about everyone around us, and all of humanity. Why?
Because to be vulnerable means to feel things that we’ve resisted or avoided feeling. For instance, to feel and be with the fear or anxiety we have about doing something or talking to someone.
When we face those fears, step into them, and work through them, we learn. And, inside of that learning, we get to know more about how our minds work, how our feelings work.
And, as we learn more about our own mind and emotions, we can readily understand how other people think and feel that much more.
There is a measure of grace and compassion that grows within you as you practice your own vulnerability. Really.
Vulnerability as Active
Though vulnerability is labeled a noun, I see it as a verb. I do believe that being vulnerable is about being active. Taking action in our own lives, entering into situations that stretch us, and creating contexts where we can grow.
Again, though I see vulnerability as active, we create those actions and can choose when and how often we practice our own vulnerability.
The notion that vulnerability is about weakness in any area is an outdated concept, both psychologically and sociologically.
What is known psychologically is that the brain is very plastic, flexible. Meaning, that throughout life we have the ability to create new brain patterns, which are simply manifestations of new habits. Seriously.
Yes, you can change your brain patterns by creating new habits. Yep. In fact, you can argue, as would I, that creating new habits is a practice in vulnerability.
In fact, we could say that vulnerability, the act of being vulnerable in situations we know little about so we can learn and grow, is creating a new brain pattern.
Yep. And, as you continue to take those vulnerable actions, that brain pattern, or groove in the brain becomes deeper.
Which is why as you practice being vulnerable it becomes easier, or, rather, you become more comfortable doing something that is, and can be quite uncomfortable.
And, sociologically, we know that as we practice vulnerability with others, we gain a new understanding of who they are as human beings. Which from a sociological perspective is very important.
The more we understand each other, the better we communicate and relate to each other; both of which are very important sociological concepts.
Alright. Well, that was so much fun, I might create a series out of the topic of vulnerability. We will see.
Please remember, being vulnerable and practicing vulnerability is about growth, understanding, and being in action in life. And, guess what? Like everything in life you create, you also create when you want to be and or how often you practice vulnerability. And?
No matter what you choose that’s just fine. You are whole and complete just as you are.
Practicing vulnerability is not about changing who we are; being vulnerable and practicing vulnerability is about experiencing life in all of it’s pains and pleasures. Because in the end, both pain and pleasure are about being alive.
Self-expression is one of the most empowering experiences. Being able to feel and say what is needed. Important. Often, people hold back, as I once did, for the sake of “not rocking the boat,” or fear of reprisal. The issue?
When we hold back how we feel and what we think, we are actually still continuing to communicate those feelings and thoughts. Though, because we’ve been holding back, they will come out in a less than productive communicative way.
Today I find it better to express the truth about how I feel and what I think, even when, and, maybe, most importantly when, it means how I feel and what I think may spur a difficult conversation. It is really okay, and is needed.
We communicate more about how we feel and how we think nonverbally than we do verbally. That is the truth. Which is why it is so important to be transparent with ourselves, first, about how we feel, and what we think, and then to communicate that to those we care about.
Again, if we choose to not communicate how we feel and what we think, we will still communicate these feelings and thoughts through nonverbal communication.
Whether that is an skance glance or gesture, or some other form of nonverbal cue. And? People close to us will pick up on it, even if they are unconcious of it, and, yep, will react to it. The issue?
When we lead communicative experiences that are healthy and transparent, we have the opportunity to create a context that is free of the fear of reprisal, or the inauthentic experience of “not rocking the boat.”
By the way, when we actively try to “not rock the boat,” know that the boat is probably already rocking. And?
It can be settled a bit by being open and communicative about how we feel and what we think.
Shaping Our Experience
Communication really does shape our experience. As my awareness has grown over the past three years, I am able to notice when my nonverbal cues are picked up on by other people, and, likewise, when I pick up on theirs.
It is an interesting experience, and is one that is ultimately empowering. We have the potential to create contexts that are communicatively healthy once we are aware. Aware of just how important healthy communication is, both verbal and nonverbal.
We all get frustrated, and, yes, even angry sometimes. That happens to us all. It is part of being human.
However, it is important to practice communicating with others when we feel this way; and, to take the time necessary to understand why we are frustrated or angry in the first place.
For, as we know, when we are frustrated or angry, we are not frustrated or angry because of what other people are doing. We are frustrated or angry with how we are thinking and feeling about what other people are doing, or what we are doing, or not doing. It’s always that way.
All communication starts with us. How we communicate with ourselves is the beginning for how we ultimately communicate with others. And?
When we take the time to communicate with ourselves, which includes listening, we understand ourselves that much better; and, we also understand the people we love and care about that much better too.
And, for me? That’s what it means to live and love a communicative life. It’s about taking the time to practice communication. Practice communicating with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. It is quite lovely.
A 3-Minute Reflection on Being Alive and Experiencing Aliveness
It’s interesting to title a post as a reflection series, as every post and/or article that I write is a reflection. Really. All of them. A reflection of myself and the world. Yep. And?
Well, I wanted a place to create a similar dialogue, conversation, and discussion with you in a shorter format. Yes, yes, it’s true. I do tend to write, and write, and sometimes, even write more. My challenge, then? Good question.
My challenge in this series will be to connect with you similarly , yet to do so in under 3-minutes. The next question? Yep, that’s it. Can he do it?
Don’t know. Yet, I do know that I’ll have fun finding out. Ready? Alright, here we go.
A 3-Minute Reflection on Alive and Aliveness
What does being alive really mean? I mean, really? Have you ever pondered what it means to be alive, to know your alive, to really feel alive, and the resulting aliveness, if you will? Hm.
As you reflect upon those questions, let’s take a look at what I see.
When I was growing up, being alive simply meant not being dead. Really. You were alive, that’s all. You breathed in and out, and you did this or that, whatever this or that was, and you lived your life. Yep.
Yet, as I’ve aged, and developed, I’ve come to think about being alive differently. Being alive, or experiencing aliveness, is different from simply accepting, passively, that you are alive, as in my aforementioned example.
Aliveness, for me, is an active activity. Yep, I did just use active and activity back to back.
Right, so being alive is about feeling, loving, working, being, and doing, and doing so intentionally. Creating our intention to live the fullest life possible, whatever that looks like to you, or me, or anyone for that matter.
There is an important distinction here. Let’s spell it out more clearly.
Passively alive – reality happens to me.
Active aliveness – I create my reality.
A very important distinction. Why?
Because when we believe that reality happens to us, our locus of control, stay with me, is pointed outward; whereas, when we believe that we create our reality, or locus of control is pointed inward. Very important distinction.
Locus of control? Yep, here we go.
People with internal locus of control tend to expect reinforcements (1) to be the consequences of their own efforts or behavior, whereas people with external locus of control expect them to be the consequences of chance, luck, fate, or the actions of powerful others.
Basically, locus of control is how we think about the world, and our place in it. Do we believe that we create our life, or is the creation of our life in the hands of someone else.
Now, there are two more important distinctions here. Ready? Here we go.
Locus of control is not a binary – meaning that how people view their reality, and the creation of it, lives on a continuum.
Locus of control is psychological and also philosophical – we will look at the former in this post, and, maybe, the latter in a later one.
Now, when we believe that we create our reality, that our actions cause change in the world, change for us, and change for others; we have an internal locus of control. And?
And, if we regularly act on this internal locus of control, creating the life we want to live, one action at a time, we will experience more aliveness.
More feeling, more joy, more of, well, everything; and, this moreness in this example, if you will, does also include sadness. Why?
Because we are living more, doing more, creating more, risking more, loving more. Well, doing everything more, so it does follow that we will experience more joy, and also more sadness. It works that way.
Yet, we need not think about experiencing more sadness as a problem or an issue. It’s not. It is beautiful, because we are creating and living out our own authentic life. Fun.
Remembering that we are the creators of our experience, and, thus, our life.
We create our life, feel our life, and live our life via our intention. An intention about the aliveness we want to experience, which we create in every moment of every day. Now, and, now, and now. Just like that.
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” Mae Jemison
There. When we remain curious, we are actively acknowledging there is much more in the world to know about than is known. Yes, by us, and by everyone else for that matter.
I’ve written many times about the known and unknown, and, essentially, that it is the space between the two where people choose to grow or not.
We can choose to go back towards what is comfortable, known, and remain as we are today; or, we can choose to go towards what may be uncomfortable, unknown, and grow.
Those that are naturally curious, are intrigued by the smallest things in life. Things that other people might pass right by without even noticing.
In fact, I think people that are curious have a keen awareness of themselves, which means they also have a keen awareness of the world around them.
Alright, then, here are
7 Reasons Why Remaining Curious Can Move You From a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset
1. Recognition of the unknown
When we know that there is much more to learn about the world, and everyone in it, than we actually know, we are instantly curious.
Being curious is about being real with ourselves about all that we know, and all that we don’t.
Just writing that last paragraph makes me smile. Smile because I know everytime I leave my house, there is an opportunity to learn something from someone. Always curious. Fun.
2. Replacing what is known with new knowns
And, as we learn more about the world from other people, we get to replace some of our knowns with new knowns. How?
Well, humans often get stuck inside of limited thinking. Thinking that because they are an expert in a certain field, that their learning is complete. No so.
Every topic and subject is incomplete from a perspective of all there is to learn. Really. Every topic and subject.
When you are in a conversation with someone that proposes that their perspective is the final perspective on a topic, you can smile internally knowing that is not so, and remain curious about the topic.
I guarantee you there is more to learn and to know.
3. Remaining hopeful about the future
When we are curious, we are naturally hopeful about the future. We have to be. Why? Because being curious means believing in a future where growth and new possibilities flourish.
More, it means actively creating that future every day. One idea, goal, or dream and corresponding action at a time. Beautiful.
4. Recreating ourselves each day
Curiosity, like all things, starts within. When we do our internal work, inquiring into why we think and feel the way we do, we are actively interested in recreating ourselves often. Every day, in fact. Really.
In each moment lives the possibility of something new, a new possibility for that moment, and then, yes, the corresponding context, and the greater world. It starts with us, and goes out from there.
5. Regenerating our sense of self in each moment
And, as we recreate ourselves, we also create a new sense of self. We let go of the person we were, and welcome the developmental iterations that will come as a byproduct of our own curiosity and interest in ourselves.
And, guess what?
When we treat ourselves with this kind of respect, that respect, along with the curiosity and interest, go out to others. It will infect them with a renewed sense of who they are as a human being.
Wonderful to watch and be a part of.
6. Reinventing the contexts we engage with
As we recreate ourselves each day, we also reinvent the contexts that we’re engaged with. Why?
Because, as we recreate ourselves, we are leading a transformational process that will affect everyone around us. It has to.
And, as we reinvent our contexts, we get to invite other people to participate in our curiosity. Our curiosity, yes, about ourselves, first, and then our curiosity with other people, the work they do, the possibilities we see as a product of the work we are doing in ourselves. Much fun.
7. Remembering our truth
When we remember our truth about the human being we are, and the future human being we are actively creating each day, we stay curious. Curiosity is a transformational practice.
When we remain curious, we get stuck less often. We feel more connected to ourselves and to everyone else around us.
We are, in effect, living our lives as a child would, full of wonder and hope. Knowing that dreams do come true, because we actively see them come true all the time.
When we live our truth, we see the world through a whole new lens; and, part of that lens is a lens of the curious being that we are all meant to be.
When we are actively curious, question all things, we are living in a growth mindset, which really just means that we are open to learning about all things from all people.
We are open, flexible, and eager to learn.
A growth mindset is about learning as much as we can, and then using that knowledge to create the life we want to live. Each and every day.
Curiously pondering everything around us, wondering, dreaming, and then taking all that we learn and applying it to our lives.
I’ve written several posts about the fact that human beings develop narratives about what they know, what they see, and what they are told. All of us do. We are natural storytellers, and meaning makers. It is how we make sense of the world. However, there is an issue here. Can you see it?
As we create stories about our reality, about what we believe to be true about the world, we can get stuck inside of faulty thinking. And, inside of this faulty thinking, we can begin to create realities, which are not really real. Yep, it’s true.
Right now, on the west coast of the United States we have a raging wildfire issue. At this same time, we are living in a pandemic, and have people all across the country in the streets, like they have been in Portland, OR, for months, protesting against systematic and institutional racism. The issue with the latter, of course, is not the protesting, it is the fact that systematic and institutional racism still exists.
Okay, what’s the issue with these issues, you ask? Hm. Let me explain it this way. Here you go.
Connecting Disparate Events and Situations
I’ve talked to several people this past week that are connecting these disparate events, creating stories about the compound effect of this year. However, these issues, while severe and highly problematic, are not connected. They are separate, and are just happening.
Because we are storytellers and meaning-makers we create something more out of what is happening than is really happening. We make these connections. That we do this is not a judgment or a demerit. It is how we are programmed.
However, it doesn’t help our mental health when we connect disparate events. Why? Because when we do, we can go into overwhelm more easily, and start blaming these situations on other people, and, yes, even ourselves. It happens all the time.
Think about a time when you failed a test, or didn’t get a job; and, in that same week or during that same timeframe, a friend or coworker upset you, and then a family member did something you didn’t expect, which also upset you. Well, did you pull these events apart, or did you rather, like most humans, connect them? Important distinction.
If you did connect them, you are not a problem. You are human.
Understanding that our brains work this way instantly creates a new awareness, which can be used to our advantage. How? By understanding that when events happen, they just happen.
We may not like them, or understand them, however, that is part of life. And, these events that just happen are not connected to each other. They are separate.
When we fully grasp this, we have more power over our reality and our life. How? Hm, okay. Here are 5 ways you can create more power over your reality by understanding that disparate events are just that, disparate.
5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Reality
Notice when you are making connections between events that are disconnected – the first step is always to create more awareness about how our mind works. Knowing that all human beings are storytellers and meaning-makers instantly creates a new awareness. Now that this awareness is there, notice when you are making connections between disparate events. Just notice.
Pull those events apart, separate them – when you start to create stories about your reality, which include connecting events or pieces of information that are disconnected, you can pull them apart. Separate them, and leave them that way. More power.
Reorient yourself to the current reality – now that these events, situations, and or information have been separated, you can reorient yourself to the reality as it is, instead of the reality you’ve been creating. Be with that reality, connect with it, really see it as it is.
Notice the difference in how you feel – as you practice noticing your mind and how the mind connects disparate events and information, notice how you feel. How do you feel when you have the power to pull those events apart? Empowered, maybe? Excellent. If you don’t feel empowered right away, don’t worry, keep practicing.
Repeat – building healthy habits, as has been aforementioned, takes practice. Humans also like patterns, or habits, so continue to practice noticing. It takes time. Know though that the only way to become experienced in this practice, like anything, takes doing it again and again. There is no one way, and there is not right and wrong. There is just doing. Again, and again, and again. And, you will get better at it.
There we go. Now what?
Well, if you are so inclined to do so, practice. If not, that’s okay. What I can say is that there was a time when I suffered from terrible anxiety. Much of my anxiety had to do with the stories in my head, which were, of course, not really real.
They were created through habitual thinking. Through connecting disparate events about the world, myself in the world, and about information contained in my head.
You do have a choice. Today, right now. You can choose a different path. One with more power, and empowerment. It takes time. Yet, anything worthwhile always does.
How many of you write as a release? Write to get the ideas, thoughts, concerns, dreams, wishes, and hopes out of your head and into a format that you can read and reflect upon. Yes, no? Maybe?
For most of my life, I didn’t. I didn’t regularly write out any of the aforementioned. Not because I wouldn’t have found it beneficial, more because I didn’t really know how. Sounds funny. It is true though.
I would tinker with writing here and there, yet never really developed a system to do so. What I realize now is that having a systematic way you write, or enter into any creative process is, at least for me, very helpful.
It is how I can continue to do so. To write through my pain and heal.
I find that writing of any kind, on a whiteboard, in a journal, in a computer document, anything, is very therapeutic. Why? Because you can then study what you are thinking, instead of simply thinking about it.
There is an important distinction here.
If you only ever think about something, you don’t really do anything with it, with the exception of maybe obsessing over it or worrying about it. Which, in the end, does nothing to move you forward as a human being.
What are some of the writing strategies I use to work through my pain and heal?
I have several different ways that I get ideas out of myself and into the world. And, all of them work well. For, it is really less about the strategy, than that you develop the habit of writing through any situation or context that you find yourself in. From pain toward healing.
Here are some strategies I use daily.
Whiteboards – I have three at home, and many at work, which include a complete whiteboard wall in my office. Very helpful. And, yes, there is also pain and healing that happens at work. It’s not just in our personal life that we need a release for our pain, whether that is frustration or some other emotion we are working through. I actually think that it is in the writing, considering, and working through the pain that healing occurs.
Post-its – on the go, these work very well. I will typically then collect them on a piece of paper, or tape them to a larger 2’x3′ post-it, so that I can play with the ideas. See what’s there, and what possibilities I can see for moving forward.
Journaling – I don’t write in a journal as often today, yet it is still a strategy that I recommend. Especially if you are new to writing about your own pain.
Those are the top three I’ve used, and use daily. And, they all work well, and can be used in combination. Example.
I will also tape post-it’s to pieces of paper, and put them on my magnetic whiteboard. Good visual, and easy to move around, and play with.
Why write through your pain to heal?
Because we all need the release. When we hold all of our pain inside, we cannot heal. It will reside within us, and actually make us ill. Not helpful.
Moving forward from pain, especially deep pain, requires visiting that pain often. Understanding it, working on it, and eventually releasing it. Carrying it around is unnecessary, though many people live this way.
Writing opens us up, and is a safe way to get out that which resides within. There are many different ways to write about pain. You can simply write about the pain, or you can create poems, or other stories about the pain.
What matters more than the writing medium you use, is that you provide yourself the opportunity to heal. Very important.
Know also that it takes time to heal. You may write about something that is causing you pain, and not know healing from that pain for some time. For me, it also takes reflecting upon the pain in my writing.
When I can sit and contemplate that pain, I can see more, and have new insights. It is common for me to go back to something I’ve written several times before I can see a pathway to healing. Very normal.
How can you get started?
Start writing. Write on anything and at any time. Get your pain out of you and into the world so you can actually see it, and work on it. Important.
If you leave your pain inside of you, that is where it will always remain. Literally.
Choose times that work best for you, and create a habit of writing often. For it is in the healthy habit that you create to write about your pain often, that you have the best opportunity to know healing from that pain, and all pain.
Developing a healthy writing habit that is honest and reflective of the pain that lives inside of you creates a connection between your mind and your heart. And, it is inside of the connection between the two that all healing lives.