There is No There.

Do you have this dream that you will arrive someday?  Once you complete your mission of manifesting, that your work will be done?  I do too.  But I know that this kind of thinking is delusional.  I hate to pop this lovely thought bubble, but there is no point where you arrive at your goals.  In the ideal situation, you have long ago set new, higher goals, so by the time you arrive it is already old news, and you are still in that spot of working on something.  Even if this isn’t the case, you find that when you get to where you are going, there are new problems to solve and new thoughts to manage.  Either you peel back a layer of the onion on a block, or your personal life has a shake up, or there is a situation that is out of your control, and you find yourself right back at where you were.  Striving towards something. 

Now, this is not a bad thing at all!  It keeps us growing and changing.  Striving is actually a good sign.  Because the alternative is stagnation.  Both are uncomfortable.  Alternating between the two is probably where we will spend most of our life, interspersed with brief moments of elation and success, sorrow and despair that round out the fabric of the emotional landscape.  This, I would argue, is what makes us human.  A life well lived means experiencing the whole range of emotion. 

Learning how to live in the thick of it is really what most LOA teachers preach.  Taking the good moments and squeezing them to the last drop and managing yourself through the bad moments.  Coming to grips with our past hurts and traumas, while focusing on a beautiful future.  This is life.  But have you noticed that some do it a bit better than others?  That some manage to navigate between the storms and sunny skies without too much turbulence?  How do you get good at what Ed Mylette calls the “Blissful Discontent.”     

There is a big difference between living a life on the default setting and taking charge of your manifesting.  Whether you believe it or not, you are manifesting all the time.  Intentionally or by default.  So, I’m making a case for taking your own life in your hands and starting to manage your thoughts and emotions so that you can live a greater, more intentional life.  It doesn’t mean that we will never experience bad things again.  Nor that you will always have positive emotions.  But it does mean that you will take the control back.  You will be able to manage yourself when those situations do come up.  And, you will bring good things into your life. 

But… how you might ask.  I have given you all the building blocks you need to start a daily manifesting routine.  The planning pages (https://bit.ly/2KFE4em)  give you a big picture overview, weekly check ins and daily tasks covering intention setting, gratitude, daily 6 to-dos, reflection and goal check in.  In the 7 day challenge (free as well!) (https://bit.ly/2P7uTSm)  I walk you through some exercises to address blocks and limiting beliefs as well as guided meditations and daily planning support.  I have other rocking programs and resources that are available as well, but those 2 things are enough to get you started TODAY, for FREE.  No more excuses Manifestor!  Show me your #bestlife  I dare you.

Love Always,

Carmen

All the Whys

Today I want to talk a little bit about my why.  Why me? Why Save the World? Why bother changing a habit? Just all the Whys.  So lets dive in.  Why Me?  I am an educator.  I think I always have been to a certain degree, even though it wasn’t my first career, which was Massage Therapy.  I have a degree in education, I taught and did the instructional design for  a new Massage Therapy program for a College, after that pursued a career in the private sector in training and development, and then, I couldn’t handle the stifling lack of creativity, so I became a yoga teacher.  I love witnessing people transform their lives, and I love transforming my own life. I think the other half of me, which is a healer (I don’t mean I actually heal people because I think all healing is an inside job, but the holding of space for people to heal themselves is what I mean.  Anyhoo, that’s another soapbox.) is quite complementary.  I think the movement towards the place I am now has always been in the works.  I used to wonder what the purpose of the stressful times when I was struggling in the Public Education System.  But now, I think it was practice.  It lead me to this moment, with the right skills to deliver my message. 

So, that brings me to Why Save the World.  A series of wonderful, and horrible events happened to me that led to me buying a property and renovating it to become a Yoga Studio in my home town.  I said this in the passive tense, which I realize is incorrect.  I created a situation where I had no choice but to become an entrepreneur.  I couldn’t handle one more day of a job where creativity had long died.  My health was adequate, but nothing special.  My personal life was feeling the strain of being stressed out at work all the time.  Basically, a pretty everyday situation from what I can tell.  But then I almost died.  Which you can read all about in my other blog post called: That Time I Almost Died.  Let me tell ya.  That was hella clarifying.  And, I realized I desperately needed a change.  And that it had to come from me.  So, change I did.  And lessons were learned. 

Which brings me back to Why Save the World?  I got to thinking about the times when I had manifested great things.  Like the 6 figures I needed to get the yoga studio off the ground.  The destiny level manifesting; the things that seem to just flow through you.  You don’t even know you are taking action towards it before it manifests?  Yeah, that level of manifesting.  The easy and awesome stuff.  I wanted to figure out how to get into that manifesting mode on purpose.  What all of these things had in common, was that the outcome benefited more than just me.  That what I was manifesting provided value to a group, not just an individual.  Now, not to say that I didn’t and haven’t benefited.  That’s totally not true.  The real secret to all of this is that when you provide something valuable to other people, you benefit a lot!  And, what’s more valuable and important than saving the world? 

I think the reason using this filter in setting goals works so well has 2 mechanisms of action.  1.  It helps you combine your energy with other people thinking and problem solving, and desiring change in the world.  Like attracts like, so you end up meeting the people, and finding the resources you need easier because it is something many people create energy and emotion about.  Basically, you can tap into an energy stream that goes way beyond your own power.  2.  It helps you move beyond your own blocks and set points.  It can help you override some of those thoughts and feelings that you aren’t deserving enough to receive what you want because what about the other people who are affected if you don’t succeed?  You benefit as a by-product of the value you create by solving big problems, but it is not the main focus.  I struggle to manifest money just for the sake of money.  But applying this filter on purpose has been a game changer for me.

The other “hack” that I teach takes a lot more work.  You have to live in that zone of genius of manifesting on purpose.  Which means you need to check in with your goals and do mindset work daily.  Yeah, I said it.  Its not easy to prioritize the 10-30 minutes you NEED to make these changes happen.  Especially because this often means getting out of bed half an hour earlier than you would normally.  It means you have to sift through some of you negative and limiting beliefs and emotions.  It means you need to set the bar higher for yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit.  You probably have a lifetime of practice of negative thoughts, maybe even about the idea of routine.  When I told you to get up early, did you totally resist it? 

Working through that is what it takes to change a habit.  Basically, you need to have a plan for overcoming the resistance, and a way to create emotional fuel for the commitment to your practice.  The good news is that this is nothing new.  Think of the billions of people who put exercise into their life.  They still have resistance to it, but they are practiced at overcoming it.  The desire to sleep in won’t go away, but you get much better at refocusing on doing what you need to do.   I see you desire, but I have bigger, better plans.  Like my girl Rachel Hollis says: “You have to choose between what you want now, and what you want most.”  And, on that note.  I will send you some loving vibs today while you ponder how you will save the world with your genius. 

Love Always,

Carmen

The Easy Button is Not Worth Your Time

Let’s talk about the concept of easy.  It is an insidious thought.  That if it isn’t easy, fast and painless, that it isn’t going to work.  This is where I feel like “The Secret” got it wrong.  Remember the scene where the guy was driving the car from his armchair, then he got the car?  But what about the middle part?  What about all the things he acted upon to get to that point?  The middle is where the real secret is.

  Can I posit that if it is easy, that you weren’t dreaming big enough?  Maybe you need a bigger challenge if it was that easy?  Something that comes easily does us a disservice.   If we get something easily, it does not train us for the next task and it certainly doesn’t require us to develop new skills.  Can we flip the script on easy and say that if we do hard things, it gives us the strength to improve, and keep going, and develop confidence in ourselves?  This is where the real magic happens!  This is how we make our lives great.  That hard things are actually a good sign because it helps us become stronger, more capable people? 

Elizabeth Gilbert offers us the concept of a Shit Sandwich in her book Big Magic. Any given creative endeavor comes with its own flavour of shit sandwich.  When you love your art so much you are willing to eat the shit sandwich in order to continue to play in its arena, that’s when you know you are on the right path.  Even though its not all sandwich so to speak, you have to figure out how to enjoy it as a part of the process.  Or at very least, not let it derail you from accomplishing what you are working on.  This is so relevant to LOA.  Each goal will have its own Shit Sandwich.  And tackling the shit as part of the puzzle of bringing the goal into reality is when you know you are operating in that zone of genius.  That zone of creation.    As far as I’m concerned, Big Magic should be required reading if you want to live a life of greatness.  It has so many profound gems. 

We may reframe bad things to make them more tolerable, which I fully recommend BTW.  I suggest that you learn how to relish hard days.  Count the win, that you came out of it alive, maybe a little tarnished, but alive.  Lessons learned, forgiveness extended, progress made.  Maybe minor progress, but this day, the hard one, is what prepared you for the challenges tomorrow.  So, choose to tell a different story about easy and hard.  Because the stories we tell our self about our days, become the stories we tell about our life.  What are you repeating?  What are you practicing?  Are you practicing the story that you killed it problem solving your day?  That you learned from situations and mistakes?  Or are you telling the story of woe and victimhood.  Have you had a hard life or a great life?  Did the problems of the past make you who you are today, or did they bury your confidence, light and joy?  Its not too late to fix that story in case you were wondering.  There is no statute of limitations on telling yourself a better story about your past, whether that was one minute ago, or a lifetime ago. 

.Love Always,

Carmen

Resistance is Futile

Imma talk a little today about resistance.  I feel like it is a big part of my manifesting process, and one that is not widely spoken of in the LOA world.  More specifically resistance to change.  Here’s the thing: My brain is really good at receiving what it is used to getting, and can even manage small incremental changes without much resistance. It is familiar, we already have processes and thought patterns about how to go about accepting and welcoming it into our life.  But, when I ask my brain to focus on something big, or outside of the normal experience, it often puts up a lot of resistance.  It stirs up the self doubt, the unworthiness, the shame, guilt, fear and anger.  I am good at identifying what I want, but as soon as I direct my brain to focus on it, it goes into meltdown mode.  Error!  Unfamiliar territory ahead!   It tells me we are better off right where we are, thank you very much. 

Sound familiar?  Yeah, I thought so.  It is standard operating procedure for any brain.  Protect the human from scary, unusual situations.  Survival instinct 101 keeps us in a holding pattern unless we do the mental work of developing new neural pathways to train the brain that this is now the new normal.  I started my LOA journey when The Secret was released.  I just looked it up, and it was March of 2006, don’t do the math.  I have and its north of a decade.  I have had many teachers, and influences since that time, but only one of them talked about resistance in a way that sunk in.  Brook Castillo works a lot with thought management around overeating and over drinking.  Her work as a whole has been the most applicable and actionable out of all the things I’ve read, watched and consumed about LOA and life.  One of the things that has been most liberating about her message is that it has allowed me to understand that it is OK that it is difficult to manage thoughts.  That I’m not doing it wrong if I have negative emotions, and resistance. 

There is a process for changing any habit in your life, including your thought patterns.  I know this is not new information for you.  There are as many processes as there are teachers in the world, and there are many, very good teachers in the world.  But for me, where I always went awry is when I met with internal resistance.  It wasn’t enough to totally block my plans, but it was enough to create inconsistency, and this fed the resistance.  What I learned from Brooke (I hope she thinks its OK I feel like we are on a first name basis) is that it is normal, natural and expected to have resistance and negative emotion.  It is just your survival mechanism kicking in.  It is not because I’m doing it wrong, or am bad at it.  It is because humans of the past needed the brain to protect them from unfamiliar situations to stay alive.  Mind. Blown. 

So the best part is, that if we know we are going to meet negative emotion and resistance, we can have a strategy to deal with it.  In the past, I thought it was supposed to be easy, that you decided what you want, and were supposed to be blissed out in the emotion of having what you want until you got it. Until I got frustrated at not having it, did a thought loop around guilt because it wasn’t easy for me and gave up because the same thoughts kept coming up, creating the same results.  The thought patterns that create our current existence are habitual.  And, like any habit, we can change it, first by identifying what is causing it, then consciously changing our pattern.  We have to be OK with the discomfort of the new thoughts (because they will 100% have discomfort attached) until our brains become familiar with the new thought pattern.  Oh, but we resist the process so.  But, like everything worthwhile in life, the more you practice this, the easier it gets!  But the discomfort, and negative thoughts that surround any changes worth making will always be there. 

So… how do you change a habitual thought pattern?  The first step is identifying the thoughts and emotions that might be standing in the way of where we want to go.  This can be challenging.  You might have to start with identifying what emotions you are feeling in any given moment.  You may have a pattern of ignoring your emotions and letting thoughts run on default for so long, that this is a really unusual request of your conscious mind.  Maybe a good first question to ponder is what am I feeling, and what thoughts are creating this emotion?  Over a few days, take a few moments to think about this question throughout the day.  Or, ask yourself this when you are feeling something negative. 

Once you understand what thoughts are creating anger, fear, insecurity, etc. you can examine them to see if they hold any truth.  Do you want to continue thinking that way, or is there a better feeling thought you can start thinking when you start to feel that way.  If affirmations work for you, use them.  Just make sure that you replace thoughts with something that feels believable and true to you.  If you want to generate a million dollars, telling yourself that you already have a million dollars might cause more negative emotion because it doesn’t feel true.  Start with I have money or the universe supports me in all I do.  This would replace a thought like I never have enough.  Now, rinse and repeat this process with all the thoughts and beliefs about money, your body, your relationships etc.  Some of them you may want to keep, some you will want to replace.  Be aware that this will take repetition.  It won’t feel comfortable until the brain can recognize the thought as familiar, and true, so be persistent.  And, don’t beat yourself up if you feel negative emotion along the way. 

That brings me back to resistance.  It is just an emotion we can feel in the body.  Similar to thought patterns, it will keep coming up until you re-set the new normal.  You will need to give yourself time and space to feel negative emotion.  If you allow negative emotion, rather than resisting it, you can take the power out of the experience.  If you are in the middle of a negative emotion, consider describing what it feels like as a physical sensation.  It gives you some space and time to experience it, and if the worst experience you can have is the physical sensation of an emotion, you can get through anything, including the discomfort of change. 

So to summarize identify the thought pattern that is causing the emotion.  Let yourself experience the sensation of the emotions positive and negative.  Then figure out what you would prefer to think instead.  Then slowly start to turn the tide of thoughts to create positive emotions surrounding the change you want to create.  There are a lot more tools you can use to do this, but too much to include in this blog post.  Keep reading though!  I love sharing things that work to focus my energy and shift from the discomfort to gratefully receiving.  Keep manifesting my friend. 

Love Always,

Carmen

Negative Emotion Guilt

Do you feel bad, because you are feeling bad?  Now that you’re into this LOA thing, knowing that thoughts and emotions will create experiences, do you beat yourself up when you can’t stay 100% joyful, thankful, focused and happy?  Do you wonder why it seems so easy for others but impossible for you?  You are experiencing negative emotion guilt. 

Many of my most trusted teachers gloss over this, preferring to focus on the positive thoughts, but for me, this just made me feel like I was crappy at manifesting.  It made me feel like the negative emotions that I could never quite get a handle on weren’t part of the process itself.  That they were the enemy that I had to resist and eradicate.  I always felt bad that I couldn’t keep my focus on the good stuff, and keep feeling the good feels.  Something always got in the way, and it made me feel worse because I would worry that I was going to create bad things by feeling bad, and cue negative thought reel.  So, here’s the thing that has helped me tremendously.  Negative emotions happen.  Especially when we ask for big things and big changes.  It is the brain’s early warning system that unfamiliar thoughts and feelings are lurking. 

The first thing is to get a handle on how much of your day is spent in negative thoughts and feelings.  I didn’t realize how many of my habitual, ongoing thoughts and thought programs were bad for me.  I didn’t even realize what I was thinking to make me feel that bad, because I wasn’t used to examining my thoughts.  And even after I started working with LOA, I ignored negativity because I was trying to eliminate it.  I thought If I just didn’t acknowledge it, it wouldn’t exist.  But there it was.  Running in the background.  Creating in the background.  It wasn’t until I started to give these thoughts some attention that I realized how mundane most of the things I was worrying about and, how old situations and circumstances were just looping around when I went on autopilot.  The thoughts I didn’t take the time to clean up, became part of the background noise. 

So, my solution to negative thought patterns?  Give them some time, front and center.  Identify the underlying emotion that they are causing.  Feel it in the body.  Decide what action you need to resolve it, or if you even want to resolve it.  Do you need to forgive yourself or another?  Do you need to shift your energy around it?  Do you need to let something go?  Do you need to create space and time for healing?  It may not go away the first time you give it space to feel what is going on, but allowing yourself to be willing to feel negative is a critical step in taking the power out of negative thoughts.  Resisting and avoiding will either feed the flames, or take it underground.  I ask myself one question when I have a negative situation: Is the inconvenience of giving this some space, room and healing worth the inconvenience of it becoming part of my self-talk narrative?  The answer is almost always no.  Big things take more compassion, and effort to heal, but also worth it. 

Create a safe space for yourself by setting the intention you won’t judge yourself.  When you consider that many of our habitual thought patterns, especially about things that relate to our survival were solidified before the age of 7, you should cut the child you were some slack that they may have adopted some pretty twisted versions of reality.  If you have been berating yourself for years about your self-worth, your abilities and strengths, your importance as a person, and your lovability (this is a very short list, you can fill in the blank here on what speaks to your inner monologue) these beliefs may be shy about revealing themselves to your conscious, critical mind.  But this Pandora’s box is worth opening up to the light of day.  Especially if you are struggling to get beyond a surface level in your manifesting journey.

And negative thoughts, feelings and experiences are going to come up because it is part of the process. In fact, if we can re-frame negative emotions as a sign that we are making changes in our thinking, we can reinforce the belief that it is on its way.  If we can face it and feel it in the moment, it won’t have time to become part of the background noise.  Negative emotion is part of the human experience.  It helps the good stuff feel good, and gives us variety in our emotional landscape. 

I have said it before, that if you stop learning, then you are dying, and I think learning how to manage ourselves in various challenging situations is part of life, and the sooner you can get on with it, assume some responsibility for your thoughts, and what you are creating, good and bad, the sooner you can start choosing better thoughts and emotions.  Not 100% of the time, but enough to feel a difference, and give up the fear and guilt about feeling bad.  Negative thoughts aren’t going away, but the way we manage our thoughts can change.

Love Always,

Carmen

Anxiety Part Deux

Today, I’m talking about Anxiety, part 2.  Like I said in my first post, I have no medical qualifications to talk about this.  I’m speaking to the people who are sub-clinical.  If you need medical treatment, GO GET HELP.  All I have is my own experience and applying my study of thought management to the topic.  Feel free to stop reading at any time. 

Anxiety seems to have this unrealistic power because it feels so big and uncontrollable.  It has an urgency, and an edge that is difficult to resist, and easy to justify as “reality.”  But at the end of the day, anxiety is just another vibration in the body.  Now, I’m going to lose some people here, because what I have to say next is controversial, and hard to hear.   Maybe you allow yourself to get anxious because it is the easier route than managing your thoughts.  I’m right there with you.  I indulge anxiety when I get sloppy about managing my thoughts.  It is easier to say that it swept me away, and I just couldn’t do anything about it.  And am I alone here in feeling like it’s a guilty pleasure to go along with it? 

I am fully aware I can control my thoughts, but that takes a lot of effort.  Especially in a pattern like this where my brain has developed superhighways of neurons ready to fire with the least stimulation.  Why would I take the footpath where I need to blaze a path with a machete, when I could be chauffeured by habitual thought patterns along the 18 lane highway?  Now, in the moment, you never choose the hard route, so that’s why its so important to lay some groundwork when you are not in the  midst of a panic attack, or an emotional flare up if you don’t want to use that term.  When you’re under stress, you will most often choose default mode in your brain.  It is what its good at, and goes there easily.  Its also a survival mechanism, so pushing the override button is nearly impossible once you trip the fight or flight response.  I won’t spend too much time on this, but basically anxiety becomes problematic when things that are not life threatening activate fight or flight.  An argument with a co-worker, stubbing your toe or putting your bank account into overdraft are not worthy of a f/f response… but somehow they have figured out how to elicit it in order to get more press time.   

Back to actionable things to do to gain some control of your thoughts and emotions.  You’re not going to like this, but you have to take the footpath a few times before you are triggered into a fight or flight mode.  You have to take a new route, make a new trail and do some mental work before being faced with the stimulus.  Making decisions to practice a new route in the moment just doesn’t happen.  You automatically go to the path of least resistance, which is the path that is the most practiced.  Unless you have made a decision before the situation comes up, and have strategies in place to use when you go there, you will end up going over the same thoughts, triggering the same emotions, creating the same results. 

So how do you do this?  Good question.  First you need to IDENTIFY the THOUGHTS that are triggering the reaction.  This is tough because I don’t want to think about anxiety when I’m not experiencing anxiety.  Its also difficult because these thoughts disguise themselves as common sense, reality and obvious.  I have been socialized to think that these thoughts are normal, and if you don’t worry about the future, your finances, your health, your relationships, your whatever, you are abnormal.  I’m telling you that there is another path.  It truly is the path less travelled, because it is an uncommon choice requiring mental effort.  It isn’t difficult, but it takes patience, self-love and practice.  Most importantly, it takes the willingness to allow yourself to believe that you do have control.  That you are not a victim, but the creator of your own prison.  

If you have read any of my other work, this won’t come as a surprise to you that I suggest meditation and journaling.  Identifying thoughts that trigger a response is like an onion.  You start with the easy and obvious thoughts, then as you do this activity a few times, you start to unravel some of the deeper, more protected and ingrained thoughts and beliefs.  Did you think you would only have to do this one time?  Oh cricket.  If you take this path, you are in for a lifetime of self examination, so get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Once you have a list of thoughts that cause your response, ask yourself the following questions about each of them: 

  1.  Is it true?
  2. Where did this thought/belief come from?
  3. Do I want to think this way?
  4. Can I reach for a better feeling thought?

Now, we aren’t jumping right from a bad feeling thought to a good feeling thought because your mind will reject it.  Just shift it higher up the vibrational thought ladder.  You also need to give emotions some space to exist.  Feel the sensation in your body.  Describe it, roll it around in your experience.  Be able to identify the sensation so that next time you feel it, you can stop in the moment and ask yourself what thoughts are creating that sensation.  Get used to identifying thoughts creating experiences before they hit the threshold of fight or flight. 

One last, and very important point.  The goal is not to eliminate negative feelings.  That, my friend, is impossible.  The point is to identify the thoughts that will trigger emotions that will take you on a merry-go-round of anxiety, shame, guilt, fear, anger, whatever it is.  Feel the emotion (not resist it.  I will have a whole other post just on resistance.) identify the thoughts creating that emotion, decide if you want to continue to feel the emotion or shift it up to a better feeling thought. 

We talked about some heavy stuff today.  I’m going to do some yoga to reset my energy on this one. 

Love Always,

Carmen

Garden Variety Anxiety

Today I’m going to address a topic that is out of my usual realm.  You might ask what qualifies me to talk about anxiety, and my answer is absolutely nothing.  I feel some form of anxiety on a daily basis, but nothing like the debilitating panic attacks I’ve observed in my husband.  I studied anxiety as part of my training as a massage therapist many years ago, have taken a course in mental health first aid, and as a yoga instructor I teach people to be present in their bodies and breathe.  I have done extensive self study on managing thoughts, emotions and directing actions.  But, I’m not a doctor or psychologist, and anxiety is a medical condition that may require treatment to address a chemical imbalance in the brain. 

So, before we go any further, I want you to take 10 breaths.  Observe each inhale and exhale, how it moves your body.  Count them as you move through each breath cycle.  Now intuitively answer this question: “Do I need medical attention for my anxiety?”  Go with the first thing that comes to your mind.  If your answer was yes, get your phone and make that phone call now.  There is no shame in getting treatment for a medical condition.  If your arm was broken, would you be arguing with me about booking an appointment? 

Still with me? Let’s drive on then.  I just want to clarify that this is an opinion that I have about anxiety.  Please feel free to disagree, and stop reading if you wish.  But, this post was keeping me up last night, asking me to give it a voice.  I usually try to honor this type of urge to create, so I’m coming to you from a sincere place, but like I said, not my usual thang.  I’m going to cycle back to my own experience with anxiety.  I think I got my version of anxiety from observing my parents anxiety.  I would describe it as low to mid level.  It is a generalized feeling of doom, dread, insecurity and fear.  I have had times in my life where I barely slept more than 3 hours a night if that.  I never stop jittering, and can be oversensitive to physical and non physical stimulus.  In short, garden variety anxiety, except for the sleep thing, but that is resolved for the most part.  Common, unremarkable, annoying anxiety.  But, not uncontrollable.  I just choose to give it its head most of the time, but I’d never admit that out loud if you know what I mean. 

Let’s contrast this with my husband’s experience.  He would be offended that I call what I experience anxiety.  Panic attacks, severe sleep disturbances, uncontrollable thoughts about death/illness, nausea and vomiting and whole bunch of other unpleasant sensations are part of his daily experience.  So I want everyone to understand that anxiety falls on a spectrum, and what I have to say may not help everyone.  I have been binging Brook Castillo’s podcast lately.  I didn’t even know she existed until about a month ago, and let me tell you: Life changing.  Much of what I’m going to talk about relies heavily on her and Byron Katie’s work, so if you want more after this, check out those 2 sources. 

So, ask yourself this.  What is the worst that can happen?  Anxiety takes the worst case scenario, and plays it out in your mind.  Using those scenarios (that have not yet, and probably will never happen, or thought cycling around a problem from your past) to torture yourself with.  Imaginary scenario, amped up by emotion creating a physical response.  Garden variety anxiety at its best.  Short of bodily injury and death, the worst that can happen is an emotion.  And when was the last time anxiety caused you bodily harm or death?  Just sayin’

If thoughts create our emotions, which stimulate our actions that create our results, where in this cycle can we manage our anxiety?  The level of thought.  Circumstances can trigger our thoughts, but in and of themselves the only thing that gives circumstances power is our thoughts about them.  If you examine any circumstance, it is neither positive nor negative until our thoughts get involved to qualify it. 

In the case of anxiety, I’m usually thinking about circumstances that have never, and realistically will never happen.  Even at my worst circumstances, I have never been homeless, hungry and alone.  But, that’s what I worry about.  Its what I fear will happen.  It is the thought of this that causes anxiety.   So what?  None of this helps you when your brain has whipped you into a fight or flight frenzy.  If you’re there, or next time you get there, take a moment of pause.  Experience the emotions that are stewing in your body.  Emotions create physical sensations.  Scan your body for the first thing you feel.  Is it in your head, belly, chest?  Now exhale.  Count 3 more exhales.  Begin to describe the sensation in your mind.  Is it vibrating?  Hot? Empty? Tight? Give the sensation a quality.  Describe it in your mind as fully as you can then move on to the next sensation and do the same.  Now consider this.  Does that sensation have any power to harm you?  It is just a physical reaction.  Even in the midst of it, it is just a vibration in the body.

 Kind of takes the wind out of your sails doesn’t it?  I’m going to stop there for today because I think that’s enough, but I will be posting part 2 very shortly.  To summarize: anxiety is a feeling in the body.  It can be described and located as a sensation.  Doing this can help you come back from the edge of the sensation of anxiety.  I’m going to do a second post on how to lay the groundwork for gaining some control over anxious thoughts when not in the thick of it.  So, stay tuned.  

Love always,

Carmen

Old News

Something came up today that has shaken me up.  And, not in a good way.  I would love to just ignore the situation, but, being an adult, I have to deal with it.  It is a conflict situation involving money, and I feel that the amount is unfair, and the request is ballsy. Basically, it is one of the usual suspects for pulling me into a scarcity mindset.  So, the question is, how do I deal with it without going into a thought spiral, dragging the energy of it into the future, and getting way off course in the big picture? 

Identifying this (our reactions) as a part of a pattern, is a good first step.  I hate to use the word trigger, but if it is terminology that resonates with you, feel free to think of it that way.  Situations that pull us down the rabbit hole before we have a chance to think about our reaction can have a lot of influence in our life, especially if we are operating on default mode.  Going with the flow of this type of situation is not a great approach because it often reinforces thought patterns, reactions and triggers emotional responses that are part of subconscious programming.  Identifying this is happening and taking steps to get control of the situation are critical.  And, it is never too late to recognize what is happening.  Just because you are mid reaction, doesn’t mean you can’t press the pause button and decide how you want  to react, rather than your impulsive reaction.

 The good news is, we can change this.  We can reprogram ourselves.  And we certainly don’t need to go with every situation into drama, stress, conflict and pain.  Mind the gap between stimulus and response.  Use the gap to get control of your emotions.  Decide how you can respond with integrity and love.  Put it into action.  Reflect after the situation is no longer urgent.  During your reflection, take the time to feel the emotions that you need to in order to resolve the situation.  If you feel hurt, sad, angry, abandoned, taken advantage of, or any of many things, take the time to feel what you need to.  Give it space to express itself however it needs to.  Maybe you need to celebrate the wins if you were able to speak your truth and act with integrity.  Then, find your way back through a meditation, take a walk, exercise, act mindfully, or do another exercise to clear the energy around it. 

Things that may have served or protected us in the past, but are not taking us where we want to go in the future may be your subconscious’s way of protecting you, so don’t feel bad if these things come up.  We all have them.  We have to power to decide if, or how far down the rabbit hole we go.  The trick is figuring out you’re reacting in a loop, and putting the breaks on.  Make a gap so you can react how you want to, rather than how you are programmed to.  If you have time, I like to meditate before responding to conflict.  5 minutes can be a game changer.  If I can, I do a whole yoga class.  It really helps open the gap between stimulus and response.  It also helps me to identify how I can act with integrity, rather than just lashing out.  I usually find the words or actions are clear once I take some mental space from it.  It also gives you practice in taking your thoughts away from the situation.  (It practices keeping control, so that when you have to deal with in real time, you are less likely to fly off the handle, and if you do, you have practiced getting back to a controlled place.) 

I realize this is so much easier to say than to do.  But, like all things, practice helps to strengthen the neural pathways in the brain that control your reactions.  So even if you are able to interrupt the process of anger, thought spirals, fear, whatever it has stirred up that you don’t want to create more of, it is a win.  Awareness is so powerful.  Maybe you aren’t able to take control this time, but you identify that it is one of these loops.  Next time, you have a plan, and can react differently then.  Keep on practicing, keep on strengthening.  You can do it.  I can do it.  We can make the world a better place if we can all set an intention to lead with our hearts.  To be kind with others AND ourselves.  

Love Always,

Carmen

Energetic Investments

I have one question for you.  What are you invested in? Now for the follow up questions:  What do you spend your time, energy and money on?  Did you choose this, or are you operating on default mode? 

You can be honest.  There’s no one else around to challenge you about it.  Sometimes, I’m more invested in Netflix and emotional eating than learning and relationships.  (I know!  Even I have moments of rest and stasis, and might I say, weakness?)  I say this tongue in cheek, because everyone needs ways to unwind, relax and check out.  But if a majority of your time is spent in these pursuits, where is your growth?  Are you happy with the opportunities and situations that this investment is creating? 

A good litmus test for your life is your emotions.  If you are content, happy, healthy, prosperous, and connected to people around you, then it is a pretty good indication that your energetic investments are in the right place.  If you are not content, what are you putting your energy into that is creating this environment? 

Not sure?  Meditate and set the intention to reveal where you need to focus your energy in order to get the results you want.  Put on a timer for 5 minutes.  Say to yourself “My intention is to reveal the opportunities I need to put my energy into to get x result.”  Then breathe.  Inhale, exhale repeat.  When thoughts come into your mind, gently remind yourself to return to each inhale, each exhale.  Feel the sensations in your body for 5 minutes.  Take control of your thoughts and direct them to the breath for 5 minutes.  Practice the skill of identifying when your thoughts are taking you away, (it doesn’t matter whether these thoughts are “good” or “bad” just exercise the muscle of controlling your thoughts. 5 minutes is all I’m asking.  Then when the timer goes off, revisit your intention and write out whatever comes to mind.  This is called a mind dump.  I like to start it with meditation because you strengthen your ability to direct your thoughts before you do your free flowing exercise.  It helps to bring some focus to the exercise, but is also part of an alignment practice.  Centering you, getting you in the right head space for the activity.

I’m a super jittery person.  Sitting still is torture for me, and the same concept for my mental process is also true.  Stillness in my thoughts? Why would I ever want that?  So, obviously, meditation is a great fit for me.  Yeah right, I’m not fooling anyone here.  Meditation is the single most rewarding, and frustrating thing I do.   The reason I make it frustrating for myself is I have expectations about what it should look like.  I feel like I should be able to do 5 minutes with ease.  No stray thoughts, no monkey mind to distract me.  Just me and my breath and peace and calm and WTF is that all about?  I don’t know, but I’ll let you know if I ever experience this chimera. 

My meditation practice looks more like dead lifting 400lbs as I laboriously return my attention to the breath.  Like, 40 000 reps in 5 minutes.  They don’t call it a practice for nothing, and it looks different for everyone.  Sometimes it is easier to settle into a practice.  Sometimes I can only do 3 minutes, sometimes I can sit for 20-30.  For me, it is often much easier to meditate with movement (yoga.)  But the whole point is that every part of your meditation practice is valuable.  Every minute you spend in meditation is one that you spend strengthening the muscle of commanding your thoughts.  And that muscle does get stronger.  If you have a particularly busy mind, meditation is such a good tool because you get the best workout!  Now go out there and save the world my friend. 

Love Always,

Carmen

My Precious

What do you think your biggest mental shortcoming is?  What patterns of thoughts and beliefs do you hold that sometimes help you, but most of the time harm you?  If someone challenged you on it, what would be a touchy subject? Is there something you feel like Gollem in his cave, stroking the golden ring,  snapping at anyone who comes close?  What is your “My Precious?”  I know what you’re thinking:  Gawd… stop with the twenty questions.  This is something I don’t want to shine a light on OK?  This is my emotional skeleton in the closet, and that door should stay tightly shut, thank you very much.  Besides, its part of who I am.  So, there. 

So, let me break the ice and tell you what mine is.  For me, it is being right.  I pride myself on being smart, clever and creative and… right.  But when someone points out that I’m wrong, the fangs come out.  I cast around, looking for ways that I’m at least partially right, trying to save face, because I was all in on my belief.  So, when I listened to a talk by one of my absolute heroes, Wayne Dyer, where the message was that if “faced with the choice to be right, or be kind.  You pick kind.”    I was like…. But why can’t I have both? 

So, here’s the thing.  I have spent a lifetime justifying my belief that I am right.  I think we all do this to some degree, and I don’t think that I’m the only one who feels like it is a personal affront when they are wrong.  I have invested in the belief that if I’m wrong, something is wrong with me.  That if someone else is right, I have to prove that I’m more right than they are in order to be a smart, clever, creative person.  In short, my self-worth is tied to being right. 

I think at some point, buried deep in my subconscious, I had an experience where it was important for me to develop this as part of a survival mechanism.  Maybe it was a time when I lost face because I was wrong, maybe it was about not being in a position with enough power to influence someone to do something my way, maybe it was something else from my formative years.  Whatever it was, it became part of my personality, part of my identity. 

But can you see what a dangerous position it puts me in?  If I feel less than if I’m wrong, can you imagine what this does to my relationships?  If I can’t let it go without a buzz of energy that searches for a place, if only in my mind where I’m right, imagine what I’m creating in my life.  Let me tell you, I’m not someone you want to get lost with, especially if I’m the one who got us lost in the first place. 

Think of all the time and energy I could save if only I could just admit that I’m wrong, and get on with fixing things.  I think one of the biggest problems is that I feel out of control when I’m wrong.  Or even when I know that I’m right, but in a situation where I have to let someone else be right, because it is the kind thing to do.  Being out of control like this is energetically like being a rock in a stream.  The water flowing all around, pushing against the rock, causing friction, stirring up mud, but no movement.  The energy bounces off and keeps on flowing, faster than you can grasp at.  Now, imagine trying to create great things from this place.  If you rise above and float on top of the water (in my analogy, this means choosing to let it go and be kind) look at all the resources that you have available.  You can catch things as they float by, you are above the muck of the bottom of the stream, and you are moving with the current, making progress.  But you know the stupid thing about this?  When I’m feeling like the rock, I want to stay stuck.  Because it means I’m right. 

Thankfully, I have been aware of my tendency for the need to be right for quite some time.  I work on my thoughts around being wrong, and identify when I’m reacting out of habit, If I feel that certain sensation, notice the self talk that justifies my position, when I start to gather steam on a topic like this, it is a big red flag that I need to Check. Myself.  And this is hard for me, because I have to admit that my reaction is wrong.  That it is taking me to places I don’t want to go.  That I have control over this part of my existence, and I not only can, but NEED to take control over it.  It helps me create from a better place, not one of being stuck and desperate, but one of fluidity, creativity and resourcefulness. 

This is one of my many flaws, but probably the king pin for me.  If I get this one thing under control, my life flows.  I am able to create awesome things, not just grasp at them desperately, longingly, unsuccessfully.  So here’s the big question:  What are the rocks in the stream for you?  Are you doubling down on your investment in them, or can you let it go, and get on with the good stuff life has in store for you?

Love Always,

Carmen