About uncertainty and striving for perfection.

How wonderful it is when we can finally find ourselves in a calm place! How often do this happen? Not as often as we wish. We are usually at war with ourselves, drowning our calm with meaningless comparisons, drowning our own feelings, and striving to keep reality as a (false) positive one by force.

Today I wanted to share some wise and true are words coming from my dear teacher and friend, Melinda Jacobs (see video). She talks about the ‘striving for perfection paradox’. It’s so important to know that things, just as they are in our lives (and the way we are right now too) are perfect. Calm can be found in uncertainty.

 

You can find Melinda at quantum-therapeutics.com

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Image by Richard Larssen

The Perks of being a middle-aged woman.

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“To live is to die to how we wanted it to be…” (Jack Kornfield)

Amongst the hormonal havoc and the avalanche of inevitable changes and life readjustments surrounding me these last couple of years, a kind of transfiguration has taken place, leading me towards embracing a whole new way of living. These are now the perks of my middle-age life and I love the idea of sharing them with you:

  • A deep understanding of my true nature.
  • Knowledge of who my true friends are.
  • No more worry about belonging and fitting in.
  • The ability to find joy through pain and allowing myself to feel both at the same time.
  • The choice to thoroughly live each moment.
  • The know-how of my feelings and emotions.
  • The love and true acceptance of myself.
  • True vulnerability.
  • A real sense of who I am. Not who I should be or who people expect me to be.
  • Knowledge in loss and the creation of many opportunities for growth through it.
  • Less urgency and more surrender.
  • A total disregard for anniversaries of any kind because every day is special.
  • True connection to a Higher Source (for me, God) not out of duty or need, but out of unconditional love.
  • Experience: accomplishment does not guarantee success, being busy is not the same as feeling alive, control is an illusion, and happiness is a choice.
  • The wisdom of knowing and accepting that the only thing certain is uncertainty.
  • The freedom to now get anything I missed in life while I was busy pushing, working and achieving.
  • A new deep sense of joy and a strong passion in my professional work.
  • A sense of reprioritizing so reading and nature doesn’t stay last in the list ever again.
  • A deep feeling of freedom from perfection.
  • Being able to accept each and everyone as they are without judgments.
  • Discovering that cats are better than dogs, especially Bengals!

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

My body during times of emotional distress.

I find myself currently reading two books. I’m very happy to be able to do this since it’s been a while since I had much time to sit, relax, and read. I also wish I had better memory to remember what I read afterwards. It is a fact I tend to forget a lot but there are always a few sentences which will stick and stay, and I’m grateful for it.

The first book is Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel. Reading this book has been a delight. I have not read a book that made me feel this way since I read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot a decade ago. Both books are completely different but give me the same (not easy to describe) pleasing, homely, human feeling. This one is simply about walking (through the US) meeting people and being human (it contains so much depth!). It is such a treat and very light to read.

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The second book I‘m reading is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. A book packed with science and powerful human stories, it’s been amazingly interesting to say the least.

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As of late, while reading both books, I have been going through some very stressful situations, so I decided to share how my body usually reacts during hard times. Believe me when I tell you that both books are related to my train of thought in curious ways.

I am imperfectly human and unashamed to describe how sometimes I go through rough patches. Some expect psychologists to be perfect, have perfect families and perfect knowledge or control over our emotions.  Such ideas are nonsense. The more experienced (in life) and humble about it the psychologist is, the more he/she is able to help people. Perfection helps no one.

The way my body reacts during times of stress is that every single time I experience overwhelming stress or a strong negative experience there is a direct effect on my weight. Yes, weight gain (even if I don’t eat) and stressful times seem to be inevitably linked for me. My digestive system is also invariably affected, migraines and muscular pain are the next step, lack of good sleep, and finally exhaustion are my most common symptoms during hard times (not that all of these happen all the time or in the order in which are mentioned). Always varying in intensity depending on the event, these symptoms are the very reason I got passionate about self-care and eating psychology in the first place. This is the way my body process emotional distress. Through time, I have learn to work on these reactions (and ask for help when necessary), to take care of myself better during difficult times in order to minimize the blow and the recovery time. There is always room for improvement and since life goes on, we never stop learning (or healing).

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I am a strong believer in sharing our experiences in order to help one another. I am also a strong believer in empathy. I believe that there are no bad events or experiences that last forever (unless we keep feeding them). Self-care is a priority, healing is always possible and that’s why I am really enjoying both books so much right now.

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

Challenge accepted!

As I’m writing this, my oldest daughter is saying goodbyes to her high school friends in our backyard. She is leaving for college next week.

Joy, grief, change, and time have all conspired to dramatically alter the inner landscape of my being.  What once was familiar and solid seemed foreign and out of balance for a while. It’s been quite a journey.

I dare describe change (for me) as something inevitable, desired and feared, refreshing, and uncomfortable at the same time: A challenge. In this case, there was only one thing left for me to say: “Challenge accepted!”

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When we spend our years taking care of everyone else, suddenly stopping and being there for ourselves may get really uncomfortable. You see, when we are busy enough and distracted enough, covering up emotions and feelings turns out to be a much easier task.

After being forced to deal with health issues, I have aimed for a slower/quieter life these past couple of years. Consequently, I have made time to mourn myself as I was and as I am no longer. Also, I have made time to mourn for what will never be again: My family’s dynamics have changed dramatically for good. In solitude, I chose to feel and confront, to desire and fear. Mourning is complicated and cannot be rushed, but it’s the only way forward.

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What threatened to be diminishment has, in the end, turned out to be growth: evolution. I chose this and worked hard on it (I’m still working hard on it). I’m grateful for the chance to live through this whole process, I had a chance to stop, look within and relearn that it is ok. In a way, it’s been a relief to let everything fall away; to let go of my usual beliefs, opinions and expectations in order to let the new, refreshing surprises unfold.

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It’s only the beginning and it’s been amazing, profound and (even though painful) it’s been thoroughly enjoyable. After all, it’s a fact that every life event prepares you for the next one, so I am now ready. Bring it on!

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

A not so simple opinion on forgiveness.

This was one of my first blog posts. I wanted to share it with you again. I would love to hear your opinion on forgiveness…

We all get hurt one way or the other. Such is life. It is the way we react that counts, or so I’ve heard. The truth is we need to forgive constantly in order to move on. In fact, we tend to forgive small things on a daily basis without even noticing. But when a major offense (or group of accumulated offenses) like abuse, serious lies, betrayal or any action resulting in a major loss comes crashing our way, the reaction is different. It may be immediate or it may take some time but we feel hurt, confused, vulnerable and  sadness, resentment and anger explodes within us.

 

 

 

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We have a problem now, besides the offensive act commited againts us I mean. We click into survival mode and find that pain and resentment are so uncomfortable that we try with all our might to put those feelings and emotions away, bury them and forget about them. This process may last hours, days, months or years. The subsequent effort in denying what we feel may create health consequences. Now, this may not be true for some people, but for some people it is. It happens that our heart knows, our soul knows and every cell in our body knows that we are in pain and that we are unable to forgive at the moment, and our whole being acts accordingly, even if our mind says otherwise.

Permanent unforgiveness causes chronic stress. Our feelings and emotions are alive and if buried, they will try to find a way out. This chronic stress response causes our body to release cortisol and excess insulin, to say the least, which results in short term or long term health issues that may include: low immune defense system, indigestion, weight gain, inability to loose weight, excess weight loss because of malnutrition or malnourishment, headaches and even depression.

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It is important to notice that forgiveness of a major offense will not take away the pain and resentment right away. Forgiveness is the switch that turns the power of healing on. Healing is a process, a slow one sometimes, which would be easier to undestand with an example of physical injury. Such may be the case of a person  riding a motorcycle when, suddenly, a newly licensed texting and driving teenager hits this person. They rush him/her to the ER and after a month in intensive care, this teen comes to see this person looking for forgiveness. This is a nice person, so compassion fills his/her heart and he/she forgives the kid. Did this person got out of the hospital the minute he/she forgave? Did the pain go away? Did the broken bones heal instantly? No. Healing will be a process of months, maybe a year or more. He/she will have scars, maybe for life and will need therapy, probably. But this person will go on and life will be good again someday because he/she is strong and just helped the recovery proccess by forgiving the kid for everything.

When a person is devastaded on the inside, the healing process may be slower than a physical one. It may take an hour, a day, a week, months even years but forgiveness always starts the healing process.

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Time doesn’t heal everything, it can make it worse actually, specially if we don’t forgive. So we have to choose either to forgive, let go and start healing or to resent, hold, bury and start affecting our health. So, forgiveness becomes a self care decision. We don’t forgive for the offender, we mainly forgive for our own self. Because we should love ourselves enough to care for our own well being. Because we live once and do not want to waste away life. Because we want to help our body, soul and heart to let go and relax in order to have a good working metabolism, better health and live in the best way possible.

It is so important to take our unresolved emotional and psychological issues into account when there is a physical health problem and viceversa. Forgiveness is key, it is within our reach and it is so worth it.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Images from the internet

Tips from a highly sensitive person (HSP) living within a highly sensitive family.

Featured image by Geoff Hunter at geoffhunterwildlifeart.wordpress.com

I dare describe being an HSP as having but one constant: its own inconsistency. Living in a household full of HSPs has been the adventure of a lifetime or better said a lifetime of adventure.

Together, through helping each other and learning from each other is how we have learned to thrive. Getting to know each other´s potential and limitations and respecting each other through them has been key in making of sensitivities an opportunity to become better people.

The highly sensitive person has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” (Elaine Aron, Ph.D.)

I would like to share some tips we find helpful as an HSP family:

-Accepting that we cannot handle our sensitivity while being very tired or hungry. Therefore we try to prevent this and if not possible, we understand a limit has been reached and either try to minimize the blow for the HSP in turn or respect their space.

-Accepting that sometimes people don’t understand what being an HSP is all about so our home and family are our safe haven.

-Avoiding (when possible) hostile environments (no matter what people say). Since this kind of situation drains our energy fast and it’s hard not to be affected by the negative energy around.

-Learning to let go easily. Knowing that what may look as “a bad temper outburst” is seldom personal. Instead, we try remembering that it’s probably the result from overstimulation.

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-Spending time in nature or exercising outside. We have learned never to underestimate the power of this one. In our family we know gyms are not for us.

-Having a personal private space. It doesn’t have to be a room. For example, one of our daughter’s private personal space is her bed, if she is there reading, working or even doing nothing she should not be bothered, we know she is recharging.

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-Kindness. Kindness against fears, against negative thoughts and against mistakes, knowing that as HSPs we tend to be harsh on ourselves.

-Practicing receiving. Simply because sometimes we are not good at receiving help or compliments.

-Going for the next best feeling. Some feelings and sensations are hard to overcome and trying to go from overwhelmed and negative to cheerful-positive is impossible; therefore, just taking one step at a time is better and completely ok.

-Learning to take responsibility. Knowing when a person or situation is too much simply because I am the sensitive one and knowing this (too) is completely ok.

-Doing our best. Which means softening the standards (we tend to be very hard on ourselves) and doing what we can at the moment: not what we “should” or what is expected, but what we can.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Some images from the internet.

 

Watching your thoughts during hard times.

It is completely understandable not loving what we are going through sometimes, but if we love ourselves during it, things actually become a lot more endurable. I have experimented with this idea many times and it always works wonders. The trick is to switch off the negative thoughts that flow through our head (at all times) as soon as they show up. Some of us seem programmed to automatically think the worst case scenarios and blame ourselves for them simultaneously, but loving ourselves during difficult situations really makes a difference, making it possible to go through life’s painful moments with peace of mind and heart.

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As everything around you collapses and nothing works according to plan, the only thing you can do is love yourself through the process. This releases a chain reaction: good thoughts -good feelings- good actions and, if you are lucky, good reactions. Just give it a try, write down every negative thought that crosses your mind during your day and how many of this thoughts provoke self-judgment or loathing of yourself in any way. Also, please check later how many of this thoughts became an actual reality. I can only say that  I’m grateful each and every time I can achieve this (not always) because even though I might end up my day feeling very tired, this makes the difference between a good day or a bad one.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Image from the internet

Are you a highly sensitive person?

“The highly sensitive person has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” (Elaine Aron, Ph.D.).  I would like to add that a HSP’s inner world is very rich.

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If you think you have this amazing trait please do not try to fix it, do not feel broken, do not feel like a victim. Honor your sensitivity and take into account that all events happening around you affect you more than they will affect everybody else; you might be more prone to emotional eating as a way of protection, more prone to overthinking and self-judgment, might have a hard time with change and letting go.

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I really recommend Dr. Elaine Aron’s book: The Highly Sensitive Person, How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You where you will find a fresh perspective on this trait and great techniques to take care of yourself.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the internet

Healing…

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“Healing is not a burden but a privilege we should be thankful for.”

I kept asking myself what else could I add to this phrase but couldn’t find anything… It  recently affected my perspective profoundly so I had to share.

 

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web