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Tag: stress

Color Outside The Lines

A common theme I have noticed lately is the amount of guilt we suffer with as humans. Many friends and clients I interact with have shared stories with me about their guilt and how they’ve allowed it to control decisions they make or skew their perspective. These conversations have lead me to realize how much we allow guilt to paralyze us. We constantly suffer from guilt, let it eat us alive, and alter our decision-making. We feel guilty for things we don’t do, things we do, things we do or don’t say, not doing enough or doing too much. And if we let it, guilt is a never ending cycle of torture. And it causes us to fear life rather than enjoy every twist and turn it has to offer.

The way out of guilt is to look inward. We cannot allow guilt to run our lives. When we do, we are not living our own truths, and we are veering off path from the things we want to experience. Life isn’t about fearing and second-guessing every decision we make. Life is about navigating fear, not letting it win us over. Life would be so much easier if we feared less, and only you can remove the fear.

Unfortunately, it is so normal for us to abide by the rules set by other people and institutions. We try to avoid feeling guilty or avoid being out of compliance with what ‘rules’ have been set for us. But we have to push aside what people and institutions have said to us; all the rules, the do’s and don’ts. I am not saying having morals and values are not important, but we do not need to feel guilt for making mistakes or just doing something different. Morals and values can change with our growth as an individual, but we fear going against the norm. There is so much fear instilled in us through people and institutions that we forget to ask ourselves the most important questions; What do we want for ourselves? What is it that we want to experience?
We live in such fear of doing ‘wrong’…We forget that we are in the driver’s seat. Ask yourself who ultimately gets to decide what is ‘wrong’ for your life…Why aren’t we deciding for ourselves what is right or wrong?

We put way too much emphasis on other people’s and institution’s feelings and expectations of us. But the contradicting part is that it is our life to live. You are a good person, you are loved, and you are human. People put so much emphasis on guilt or fear around a ‘judging God’ (and by God I mean any higher power, institution, spirit, etc. you believe in). God LOVES you, period. You will not be judged for going this way or that way in your life. There is no judgement from God…just love. This is the hang up many people have; displeasing a ‘judging God’.

We cannot allow fate to happen when we live in fear, yet we try to allow fate and fear both to be the most impactful and dominate factors in our lives….This idea is impossible. Fate cannot express itself if the motivating or controlling force behind our actions/decisions is fear. We are distracted from experiencing our fate because of the guilt we hoard. We need to be easy on ourselves and let go a little bit. There is nothing to fear.

When we remove the guilt and focus more on our wants and our own decisions or rights/wrongs, we feel better. We become more certain about what we want. If we can remove the guilt, our minds and bodies will tell us over time what direction is right. Of course it’s human of us to want to consider how our decisions affect others, but don’t forget to keep yourself in that equation as well. The love for yourself should be of the upmost importance to you.

There are many situations in my life where one would assume I’d need to feel guilt, but I don’t let that consume me. I am my own person who is making my own decisions based on what I want at that time. No one can tell me what is right or wrong for me, only I know what feels right and what needs to happen for me to move forward. I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

It’s okay to color outside the lines now and then. Your feelings, opinions, and actions are legitimate because you say they are. You meander through life as your own unique self. You are not purposefully trying to harm institutions you believe in or hurt other people you love. And the God you believe in knows that. You’re just doing your best and living life on your terms. We are all just trying to figure it out. And how beautiful is that?…Isn’t that what life is about?

Once you decide to live on your own terms, notice who rises to the surface to be beside you. Who accepts you for who you are, and who knows your value and your heart. Those are the people who truly understand you. Quit apologizing for actions you take or saying sorry for being who you are, just be aware of it as this helps you understand what you want in your life.

We are always changing, learning, growing. We do not need to tell people every single time we change or justify our behavior, because we are just changing continuously. We do not need to straighten it out, fix things, apologize…It is okay to just be changing, as we all do. Change helps us grow, and growth brings us happiness.

Guilt is a sure way to unhappiness and stress, and guilt is a constant state of paranoia around ‘doing what you’re supposed to’ (whatever that means). The rest of your life is a really long time to not be sure if you’re happy. It is important to ask yourself if suffering with guilt and living in fear is worth compromising your own truth, well-being, and experiences that you’d want for yourself. It’s important to know that whatever choices you make, they are a part of you. They are teaching you, and that does not make you a bad person. Don’t forget that YOU get to decide. You are a good person, and there is only LOVE.

No amount of guilt can change the past. No amount of anxiety can shape the future. 

-keep shining

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The Future Is Not Real


Breaking News:
There is no such thing as the future. The future is our make-believe. It is where we think up the most exciting parts of our lives, as well as where we create some seriously stressful situations.
Our mind is where we are predicting a future while simultaneously missing out on the present moments in our lives.

My thoughts about the future are chaotic. Sometimes I think of things that I assume will happen, and get really excited when they do. But other times, my thoughts of the future  leave me really disappointed when life does not pan out the way I assumed. Does this ever happen to you?
On the flip side, sometimes I assume certain stressful or scary situations are going to occur, and they never do. It is true, after all, that 90% of what we stress about each day does not happen. The what if’s, just in case’s, but’s, the what would happen if’s…..They are endless.

The truth? The stressful thoughts do not predict our future, and neither do the positive assumptions.
Think about how much time we waste focusing on the make-believe future instead of what is right in front of us. We lose out on many moments in life because our focus is on what’s coming next, instead of the ‘now’. We need to focus on the ‘now’ to develop a more confident, focused, and successful self. The ‘now’ helps us to learn gratitude and patience for what is coming next since we are content in our present self.

I challenge you to think this thought: I am open-minded towards the future and what is or is not going to happen…
Think about the relief that can come with this thought when you truly believe it. We do not need to worry about things panning out perfectly, or be disappointed when they don’t. Sometimes we have no control over parts of our lives or the paths we are meant to take, and we just have to accept that- plain and simple.

The unpredictability of our life path is fun, it’s exciting, and it’s how we learn to be our best selves. We cannot plan our futures, but we can focus on what is in our control and what is going well right now. What am I enjoying right now in this moment, and how can I capitalize on that?
Let’s start turning away from focusing on the ‘what-you-want-is-what-will-be-the-reality’ frame of mind. We can focus on what we want, loosely, while also understanding that life takes you down an unpredictable stream, and we can’t craft our future as we envision. Stuff happens, and if we want to make the most out of life we must be flexible and open to this.
I will challenge you to work on some grounding techniques which can be researched easily online, or check out my past blog on grounding. <—click here

Think about how many curve balls you’ve been thrown in your life, and how those got you to the present moment….
What have been some life changing moments in your life?
Once you determine those moments, think about how your life may be different now had those curve balls never been thrown your way.
That is pretty incredible, isn’t it? And I bet it was unpredictable too!

The future belongs to those who believe in the power of now.
-keep shining

Dear Stress….I am breaking up with you.


90% of the things we stress about each day never actually happen.

….Whoah! That’s a lot of stress. That’s a lot of pointless stress.

Can you think of anything you’ve let consume your mind and it never even happened? A lot of times I stress over not meeting a work deadline, however I always get my work turned in on time. Or have you ever worried that someone is going to be mad at you, and you replay the scenario regarding what you’re going to say to them over and over in your head? And how many times does it actually end up happening?

Why do we torture ourselves so much?! I think for everyone the answer is different. But the question for me isn’t focused so much on the why, it is more so focused on the what can I do about it?

Stress is not what happens to us. It is our response to what happens. And we can choose the way we wish to respond.

For me, one aspect that helps is to focus on positive stress. Yes, the term sounds contradicting but there is such a thing as positive stress- planning for a wedding, packing for vacation, preparing for a baby…The list goes on and on! And how wonderful are those things? So, for me, I ask myself what things am I allowing to consume my mind that are positively stressful?. By thinking about and recognizing those positive things, I start to get more excited about them!

Make a list. If I start to feel overwhelmed it is really helpful to write things down and out of my brain. Whether it is a to-do list, a shopping list, a list of reminders, etc…I write it on paper or on my phone. I literally feel myself exhale as I am writing.

Can I control this? This one is difficult for me. If I am stressing over something that is out of my control, I often let my brain be consumed by it. I have to ask myself if I can control the thing that stressing me out, and if the answer is no then I have to let it go. For example, I am getting married soon (yippie!). My wedding is going to be outside, and I find myself worrying about the weather. Can I control this? Nope! So instead I focus on the fact that regardless of the weather, I am going to be married that day. And that is the goal, after all, isn’t it?!

Find a reason to smile. This one is always important. Smiling is truly one of the body’s best medicines. What helps you to relax, smile, laugh, and have fun? It’s okay to take a break and breathe once in a while, and to include laughter in that break is ideal. For me, sometimes it’s not even about laughter. It can be just finishing up a tough work out and smiling afterwards because of how good I feel.

Know that you have done your best. At the end of the day we are exhausted, aren’t we? Sometimes things don’t go as planned or we don’t get everything accomplished that we wished to. But, we have to tell ourselves that we have done the best we can. And if someone else is upset with us because of that, that is okay! Some days, especially in social work, I have to remind myself that I have done my best. There are days that I may be the only one who recognizes that, but that is okay. You must know within yourself that you made the right choices and you have to be able to accept that.

Recognize priorities. Is not getting my laundry and dishes done today really important? It this really worth stressing over all day? Of course not! If there is a list of things overwhelming you, simply eliminate the stuff that does not need to be done today and focus on the important tasks that need your attention.

Will this matter tomorrow? A week from now? A year? Ask yourself if what is overwhelming you today going to matter in the future. Is it worth your time?

Just remember: It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it.

Dear Stress…I am breaking up with you, for GOOD.

Sincerely, A Happier Me.

-keep shining