Making changes

Before we can make changes, we typically have to be in the position of severe discomfort. We no longer feel that our bad habit is worth the price we pay. We are no longer happy with where we’re at and want it to change.

The biggest problem is deciding what changes you want to make. Sometimes, we don’t know where to start to make positive changes. We don’t know how to begin.

I would take a chunk of your problem and start there. If you take on too much, it might lead you to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, our problems are too big to take on all at once.

Maybe if you want less stress, you can learn how to meditate or do breathing exercises. Maybe if you snap at your children or loved ones, you can learn to become aware. Maybe if you drink, you can get into a program to help you stop. Sometimes working on your problems means you have to let other people help you. It may feel uncomfortable, but they’ve been there, or they have the skills to help you get out of that trap.

If you have too many problems and don’t know where to start, I suggest something small or moderate. Work your way to the “big stuff.” If the “big stuff” is dangerous, like drugs, it needs to be addressed before worrying about anything else. You can’t properly fix anything unless you are sober.

If you are brave and strong enough (trust me, you really do need to be strong), you can ask your loved ones what traits or habits that you do that are the hardest to be around. When they tell you, because you asked, you can’t yell or become defensive. You need to listen and take it in.

If some of you like to pray, then I’d suggest that. If you don’t like to pray, I suggest you simply give it voice somehow, like journaling or saying it out loud. “I want a different life. Where do I start?” Then, go from there, one step at a time, seeking out knowledge everywhere. You might even start to see answers showing up from different sources and presenting themselves with ease into your life.

These are just a few suggestions that I hope will get you started.

Are you aware?

When I started college ages ago, I took a class that taught behavioral awareness, which is basically how and why people do the things they do. It wasn’t a very detailed class but more of an overview. I learned that there were five levels of competency. Most people live their lives in the first level, which basically is that you don’t know, and you don’t know that you don’t know. You are unaware that there is another way of life, a life that you can make changes to and learn new skills creating a better life for yourself.

Consciously competent is the 4th level, and it’s when you learn and develop skills and determine appropriate behaviors and actions for success. It needs the added bonus of using this knowledge and skills to be most effective.

This information made me realize that I was living my life, plodding along, and knowing it wasn’t great, but I didn’t know that something could be done to change it. I knew that my life was stuck in misery. I didn’t have a good self-worth. I knew that I felt horrible. People made me feel horrible about myself. I didn’t like how I treated others either. This class showed me that there is hope. I can make changes, even baby steps, to creating a “normal” life. I can correct behaviors, see my value, and shift my life in a better direction.

The hardest part is learning to be consciously aware of your behaviors, actions, reactions, thoughts, and words. It’s taking a pause before you move forward. It’s assessing a situation before you knee-jerk react to something or someone.

In the previous post, I shared a breathing exercise. That exercise helps quiet the brain but it can also teach you how to become aware of your thoughts. If you can learn that skill, it can open you up to fixing “issues” that weigh you down and changing negative behaviors to positive ones. You can become aware. In the spiritual realm, this is basically presence.

The exercise I would suggest is start to become aware of what the voice in your head is saying when you do your breathing exercises. Are they negative? Are they mean?  Are they judgmental? Are they loving? Are they encouraging?

In a future post, I’ll explain what that voice is and why it’s saying the things it says.

Until then, I encourage you to continue the breathing exercises and start to become aware of what thoughts you have. It’s the beginning that could change your life!

Anxiety

I think a lot of people suffer from anxiety. To me, anxiety is a symptom of not knowing how to handle a situation and fearing the outcome of that situation. I also believe that if you have anxiety, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a little or a lot. PTSD is a severe form of anxiety. It can all be dealt with using the same techniques, which I’ll explain later in this post.

It is my belief that we were put into situations throughout our lives that were too big for us to handle without the proper skills. That’s what causes anxiety, PTSD, and other “disorders.”

Whose job is it to give us those skills?

Our parents. Before we blame them for letting us down, let’s just say that people in general do the best they can with what they know. It just so happens that most parents just don’t know how to handle every situation. If you are a parent, you know this to be true. We as adults are responsible. We can’t keep blaming our parents for everything that has happened to us.

The first step in helping you deal with anxiety is learning to breathe. In the spiritual realm, they call it meditation. For us everyday people, let’s start slow and call it Learning to Breathe.

The reason this is important is that when we are stressed, we breathe shallow. You will notice the difference once you try this technique. First, notice your shoulders. We carry a lot of stress there. Then, notice your back and neck. Now, I’ll teach you a simple breathing exercise that will help you:

Find a quiet place with no distractions. Honing this skill will help you in the middle of an anxiety spiral, but that’s for another post. Sit up straight in a comfortable spot with your legs folded up and crossed. When you inhale, you will breath through your nose slowly (4-6 seconds is recommended) while ballooning out your stomach. Pause (3 seconds is recommended). Then, exhale through your mouth slowly (6 seconds) while pulling your stomach in. Continue for 5 minutes, longer if you can. Start slow. It will help you succeed. And yes, 5 minutes will feel like an eternity at first.

The time recommendation is something to work toward. You might not be able to do it right away. The key is to focus on just your breathing and the process. When words and thoughts pop into your brain that are not about your breathing and the process, you need to flick them away and return your focus on your breathing. The purpose of that is to quiet the brain.  Don’t worry if you feel you can’t do it perfectly for 5 minutes or even 5 seconds. It takes time. Every moment that you are able to quiet the brain is a win, and that’s all that matters.

After doing a few minutes of this, check your shoulders, back, and neck. How do you feel? Does it feel like a tiny bit of weight has lifted?

I believe that this technique should be done at least once a day. It will help you in the next step of dealing with anxiety, which I’ll do in a later post.

Welcome

Most of us have been through a lot in our lives, some more than others. Some people develop anxiety or PTSD. Some deal with abuse, traumas, and shame. Others deal with guilt, fear, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Some deal with all of the above. I have dealt with all the above, except suicidal thoughts.

I learned how to deal with my traumas, abuse, and depression in my early twenties. Something still didn’t feel quite right. I didn’t feel at peace. I still carried around anxiety, fear, and shame. Then, my husband’s unit was activated and sent to Iraq. The year long deployment created a boiling point for my anxiety. The fear of him dying a horrific and painful death plagued my every thought. Thankfully, he returned unscathed and whole. What resulted for me was symptoms of PTSD. I believe I had it all along, but I just didn’t know about it. The only way I figured it out was the packet my husband was given about PTSD when he returned from Iraq. It listed possible symptoms, many of which I had.

Because I handled my traumas in the past, I was able to focus on just the symptoms of PTSD making it more manageable. I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on how to deal with traumas, anxiety, and PTSD. The techniques I’ve learned has helped me become a stronger mother, which prepared me to raise a child who has ADHD with Oppositional Defiance Disorder and anxiety.

I’m hoping with this blog I can help teach anyone dealing with these issues to heal and find peace too.