It’s nothing like anything ever before

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When I learned we had to stay home and distance ourselves, the news wasn’t alarming. I’m an artist and writer, and I’m used to being alone.

That was then. I knew I could meet friends for lunch, go to the gym, go shopping, and anything else I wanted to do after working. Now, there’s nothing to do besides work, cleaning, cooking or finding something to entertain me after work.

That would have been fine for a little while, but hard when we don’t know how long this isolation will last. Nothing is certain now. There’s nothing to look forward to.

My two granddaughters were to graduate in May, one from high school, the other from college. I’d been flippant when I heard they wouldn’t get to celebrate with their friends. When I wrote that I’d watched them get their diplomas in my imagination and told them how proud I was, I thought it was a cute way to approach their loss.

Today, I read two articles about grief. The first was about all the students who won’t be able to have a graduation ceremony. It described how hard it was for these students to lose all they’ve been looking forward to these last four years.

These youngsters had been looking forward to all the festivities and honors for over four years. Now that was being taken away from them, my initial response to my grandchildren in my estimation turned out to have been disrespectful.

I’d become one of those women who has lost touch with compassion. I know women like that. Their entire world revolves around themselves.

That’s not who I want to be.

The second article about grief was about all of us. A group who met shared their feelings about living with the pandemic. One woman said she felt grief. They asked an expert, David Kessler, to find out how to manage their feelings.

Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. His new book adds another stage to the process, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.

Kessler says, “Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. Losing normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

What can individuals do to manage all this grief?

Kessler advises us to start with work on the different stages of grief. The stages aren’t going to be linear. He says, “There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.”

And he states “Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance. I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn how to work virtually.”

There’s anticipatory grief, which is really anxiety. Anxiety is fear and conjures up worst-case scenarios. That’s when you must make yourself think about the best-case scenarios.

“We all get a little sick and the world continues. Not everyone I love dies. Maybe no one does because we’re all taking the right steps. Neither scenario should be ignored, but neither should dominate either.”

Kessler suggests:

  1. To calm yourself, you want to come into the present. You can name five things in the room. Breathe. Realize that in the present moment, nothing you’ve anticipated has happened. In this moment, you’re okay.
  2. You can also think about letting go of what you can’t control. What your neighbor is doing is out of your control. What is in your control is staying six feet away from them and washing your hands.
  3. It’s a good time to stock up on compassion. Be patient. If someone is usually adaptable but is now contrary, think about who they usually are and not who they seem to be in this moment.
  4. This is a temporary state. It helps to say it.

Finally, Kessler adds; “I’ve been honored that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s family has given me permission to add a sixth stage to grief: Meaning. I had talked to Elisabeth quite a bit about what came after acceptance. I did not want to stop at acceptance when I experienced some personal grief. I wanted meaning in those darkest hours. And I do believe we find light in those times. Even now people realize they can connect through technology. They are not as remote as they thought. They realize they can use their phones for long conversations. They’re appreciating walks. I believe we will continue to find meaning now and when this is over.”

It’s helped me to find meaning to this pandemic. One way I’ve found meaning is that when  distancing myself from others, instead of being stoic in my aloneness, I am finding balance in my life between being sequestered and in touch with my humanness. I feel better about myself and find that I’m more accepting.

This pandemic might hold some significant meanings for you, too. Challenges are the beginnings of change and growth.

You can read the entire article, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” at: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief?

How to Eliminate Irritating Negative Thoughts.

 

 The way to eliminate negative thoughts is to change them to positive thoughts. Sure, but how do we?

I’m sure you’ve heard of the inspirational best-seller-of-all-time, The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale. It was first published in 1953.

Besides the colossal success of Peale’s book, successful Happiness Courses are being taught at Harvard, Yale and other institutions. There have been many other books written about happiness, even Happiness songs. And achieving happiness has been the subject of many movies.

So why aren’t more Americans getting any happier? Only one in three Americans say they’re very happy, according to a recent Harris Poll.

I think this is why. I contend that our thoughts determine our feelings, and most of those thoughts are fearful, worrisome, or they’re scary.

Hardly conducive to a sunny disposition.

These negative feelings play havoc with our ability to see options. They impede feeling happy. They cloud our mind so we don’t perform in the most focused way.

The thoughts seem to come out of nowhere. They can come from an incident in the past. Sometimes they come after we begin something new, doubting our capabilities of succeeding. Or we may have a habitual thought come up repeatedly in the present.

All the feelings born of negative thoughts, if not questioned, become buried again until something else triggers them. Questioning the thought is the first step in preventing unwanted thoughts to crop up.

All the suffering that goes on inside our minds is not reality, says Byron Katie. It’s just a story we torture ourselves with.

To question a thought, you can use Byron Katie’s technique. Ask yourself;

Is it true?

If it still seems likely, ask yourself, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?”

How do I react – what happens – when I believe that thought?

Who would I be without the thought?

There’s a lot more you can learn about the questioning. Check out her website for more information: http://thework.com 

The common denominator of most thoughts that pop up is that they’re negative thoughts.

When we don’t question whether the thought is true, we may end up anxious, overwhelmed with doubt and uncertainty. We feel stressed.

Sometimes we feel like a victim, unable to see any other option but live with what we wish wasn’t happening.

Our thoughts and feelings have a huge impact on our body. This is because of the mind-body connection. Most of the time we act because of habit, without thinking, and let our negative emotions rule us. This can cause distress.

It’s hard to remain happy when we’re not feeling the higher vibrations of love, joy, and gratitude, and hope.

The way to remain happy is by developing the skill of having these positive emotions most of the time. Positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind. Thinking about remaining positive each time you feel negative emotions like sadness, fear, doubt, and guilt helps build new skills and resources that provide value in many areas of your life.

How can we build positive thinking in our lives?

In my last post, I described how to get over negative feelings. Anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love will work. Taking a walk, calling someone I love or cooking a favorite food to eat do the trick for me.

There are the three ways James Clear at JamesClear.com has found to increase positive thinking:

  1. Meditation – Recent research by Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions than those who do not. Some positive aspects I have experienced are stronger self-confidence, reduced stress, tension, and states of deep relaxation. I have a general feeling of wellbeing. It has lowered my blood pressure readings, and I’m able to concentrate and focus better than before.

I know some of you may be thinking, “No, not meditation again.” I used to feel that way. But with all wonderful new ways to meditate now, and with a little research, I’m confident you’ll find one you love and can’t wait to start your day.

2. Writing – James Clear, in his blog, The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work, tells about a study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality that the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses than the group who wrote about a control topic.

I’ve been writing in a journal for eight years and writing posts on my blog for three years. I loved my journal from the start because writing my thoughts helped me discover ways to solve problems. The more positive outcomes I experienced, the more I became addicted to feeling positive. I began to look forward to each new positive experience I could write about.

Another way to feel more positive is to use your journal every day to write what you’re grateful for. Gratitude provides a cumulative effect of positivity.

3. Play is another way to feel positive. Schedule time each day or at least weekly to do something that makes you feel happy. You might hike up a mountain or pursue some adventure. Maybe it’s spending time with a certain person or finding a hobby you love.

When we are ready to make positive changes in our lives, we attract whatever we need to help us.” Louise Hay

Facing a new challenge can feel daunting at first but if you persevere, you’ll find it getting easier. Each time a new experience affirms you’ve progressed, trust me, you will be happier.

Bonus; Esther Hicks, inspired by Abraham, generously provides videos of her answers to questions from people in her many workshops in over 50 cities in the United States. The videos are uplifting and filled with positive vibes. I used to watch these as I was learning to think positively. I still do from time to time.

Check out the videos at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Abraham-Hicks-Daily

http://www.thesecret-lawofattraction.net/abraham-hicks-youtube

Or go to her main website for more information at:

https://www.abraham-hicks.com/

For more on how your thoughts affect you, go to:

https://dorettab.com/warning-your-thoughts-are-your-worst-enemy/

Who Am I? Change is Easier With an Honest Answer.

 

Let’s suppose you want to change your life. You might want to change your job, your routine, or some bothersome habits, but you don’t know where to start. So you ask yourself, “Who am I?” “Who would I prefer to be?” “What do I really want to do?”

Change is frightening and the temptation to resist it is powerful. However, the rewards of change – the opportunity to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we see ourselves – is worth the effort.

Change is a process. It takes effort on your part. And the fear of losing what you have depended on for your identity or the fear of failing can feel very intense.

Things do not change; we change.

Henry David Thoreau

We can only change our circumstances from the inside out. As Wayne Dyer says,

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I was watching the movie, “Starry Night”, on Amazon recently. Although the movie is a fantasy of Vincent Van Gogh coming back to vindicate the wrongs done him in his life, toward the end of the movie, there are several true excerpts from letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo.

One of them shines a brilliant light on Van Gogh’s beliefs about himself and his art.  He says,

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then—even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.”

When Van Gogh was alive, his work wasn’t appreciated. But that doesn’t mean his work didn’t have tremendous value.

To live mindfully, according to Thích Nhất Hạnh in his book, The Art of Power, ”the most important thing is to have confidence in your work, to make sure that your work embodies your best in terms of understanding and compassion.”

Van Gogh’s art contains insight, understanding, and compassion, all the attributes of a masterpiece. Van Gogh tells Theo in the letter he sent to him that he wants to make sure that his work embodies all the beauty that he is not personally thought to be.

So, what does this story have anything to do with why your sense of self is important?

Despite the suffering of his soul, unable to attain success through his work, Van Gogh was able to let go while painting to find a deep well of satisfaction and a sense of merit. He couldn’t have painted the beauty in his work without having let go of his sense of self. When he painted he was able to let go and “get in the flow” of painting. 

Then why was only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime?

John Kehoe, pioneer in the field of Mind Power, says your subconscious mind is a second, hidden mind that exists within you. It’s a reflection of what you believe you deserve. The subconscious acts upon the predominating thoughts that reside within your conscious mind.

You know more about your conscious mind. It’s the mind that exists to take care of and protect us. It’s our thinking mind. But the thoughts flitting through our mind can be, and often are, full of fear.

Fear generates judgments, blame and, ultimately, beliefs based on fears we’ve harbored for many years. Experts say these fears are mostly generated from birth to age seven. Perhaps these beliefs served us well when we were younger, but they have now become the negativity that is preventing us from all we want in our lives.

The subconscious attracts circumstances and situations that match the images in your mind. When we pay attention to the concepts conjured by our past negative thoughts the way Van Gogh did with his evaluation of his worthiness, the subconscious delivers what it believes to be the truth, but not what we really want.

By believing himself to be the “lowest of the low”, Van Gogh was telling his subconscious that he wasn’t worthy. Since the subconscious delivers us a match to our predominating thoughts, attracting success would have been hard for him, if not impossible.

When we’re closing ourselves off from the Universe’s abundance and unlimitedness, we can only receive that which we believe we deserve.

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.

Willie Nelson

This brings us back to the beginning of this blog. When we know that we’re the reason we’re not receiving what we want, that it isn’t fate or anything else outside of us, we can begin the process of discovering the thoughts, fears, and beliefs that prevent us from receiving what we want.

You may be able to do this for yourself. Many have. But if you’re like me, you’ll need motivation. Here are some inspirational quotes you might need to get over even your hardest obstacles.

  • “Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.” — Unknown
  • “Don’t make a change too complicated, just begin.” — Unknown
  • “Small changes eventually add up to huge results.” — Unknown
  • “Action is the key to all success.” — Pablo Picasso
  • “Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one.” — Unknown
  • “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

I’m in the process of changing who I am for the umpteenth time. It doesn’t get easier-there seem to be new blocks every time I strive to have more for my life – but it does get more rewarding each time I change. That’s because I’ve found that digging deeper and admitting the truth goes a long way to manifest all that I want to be and have.

For more on “Who Am I?”, go to this link, https://dorettab.com/answering-big-questions-life/