Thursday, August 27, 2009

getting rid of old (icky) beliefs in three easy steps!

Step 1: Identify the old (icky) belief
Step 2: Pick a new (non-icky) one to take its place
Step 3: Give it a whirl

The end.

Ok, ok, I'm oversimplifying, but only sort of.

Step 1: Identifying the old (icky) belief

How do you know when something you believe isn't serving you anymore? Here are a couple of ideas:

-- Listen to what your body has to say about it. Do you get a sinking feeling when you think that thought? Do your shoulders climb up to your ears? Would you rather just crawl back into bed forever? Or maybe you want to punch someone? All of these are good indicators that a belief isn't serving you. Even just a deadness or a flatness in response to a belief or thought can highlight an outdated (e.g. icky) belief.

-- Ask trusted friends or family members. (But only the ones you're ok with being right.)

-- Explore and define your belief. If you're thinking "I'm not meeting men because I have high standards," define each word carefully. What do you mean by "meeting" and "men" and "high standards"? Write out full definitions of what these words mean to you -- without consulting the dictionary. (Unless you wrote it.)

-- Gather evidence about your belief and its opposite. If your belief is "Taking time for myself is bad," look in your life and see where that is true and where that is false. (Again, be sure to explore and define your belief first.)

Step 2: Picking a new (non-icky) belief to take its place

This one seems harder than it is. Since beliefs are about how you interpret a situation, you're in charge of them. Yes, of course, you learned something was "true" when you were a kid -- and it may, in fact, have been true -- and you think it's still true now, but the odds are that if you learned ick as a kid, you don't need ick as an adult.

Think of beliefs as sweaters. Would you wear the sweater you wore to kindergarten on a date today? It just wouldn't fit. (And, man, would it hurt the eyes.)

Ways to generate non-icky ideas:

-- The easiest way is to flip around the old (icky) one you've been schlepping around your whole life. If you're "no good," pick "I'm good!" If you're "lazy" pick "I'm active." (Note, however, while this may be the easiest one to generate, it may be the hardest one to try on.)

-- Ask yourself what other ways you could see this belief? What other words could you use, or other ways you could define those words?

-- What belief might your best friend/mentor/parent/lover encourage you to have?

-- What belief have you always wanted to have?

-- What do your role models believe? (Or, what do you think your role models believe?)

Step 3: Give it a whirl

What's beautiful about this step is that no matter what new (non-icky) belief you pick, it stands a really good chance of being better than the old (icky) one you've been using all along, so you CAN'T GO WRONG!

Just sayin'.

Try on your new belief (like a sweater). See how it feels in your body. When you feel the old belief creeping back in, take a deep breath, and switch your mind back over to the new one.

A good way to really give this a whirl is to assign yourself a task that brings up the old belief. For example, if your old belief is "no woman would want to date me" then sign up for an online dating service. Every time you look at that site, you have an opportunity to try on the new belief. And when the new belief falters, look to see if there are additional old (icky) beliefs underneath that one.

And then repeat the process.

I promise you, you're worth it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

tiny beans

I got this string of text messages from an amazing man* the other day:

"You know, it's only 18 miles from O'Hare to Union Station... and I have my running gear... for a fraction of a second it passed my mind..."

"additional sidenote, I know 18 miles seems huge to regular folk which is why it's so cool and heartwarming to know it really IS small beans for me."

and then

"I hope you can recognize those parts of your life where you can have pride in your own tiny beans."

And (after recovering from my swoon, because, seriously, how cute is this guy?**) I actually thought about it for a while. What spectacular things do I do that I take for granted as just "something I do"? What skills/hobbies/habits/knowledge do I possess that make me better for just being me?

And, more importantly, when do I take the time to celebrate them?

Celebrating ourselves is something very few of us are taught to do. Rather, we are taught that it's "bragging," it's "a sin," it's "rude," it's "unprofessional," etc., etc., etc. In my book, however, celebrating your own successes can be very motivating and inspirational for the people around you. When you take pride in yourself, you light up a room. When you accept the compliment someone takes the time to give you, you're acknowledging that person's effort at connecting with you.

So the next time you do that special thing you do, take a moment to really celebrate yourself. You never know... someone else may also like your tiny beans!

*ok, ok, I'm biased. This "amazing man" happens to be my boyfriend.

** see above

Thursday, August 20, 2009

cheese alert!

I try as hard as a human being can to stay away from things that are sappy, schmaltzy, gooey, corny, saccharine, or otherwise cloying.

And yet...

I also periodically need the pick-me-up,-dust-me-off,-and-try-it-all-again perspective (smothered in a barely tolerable layer of gouda) provided here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Feeling Lost?

My friend Avery sent me a link to an article, and I think that the author, Brad Bollenbach, is really onto something. He talks about personal growth never being as linear a road as we might hope. "It’s full of potholes and ditches, the occasional tree planted right in the middle, and some stretches where there is no road at all, and there’s no map telling you where to turn." (Not to mention the times it's filled with traffic, shut down for a parade, or just randomly has Mick Jagger dancing in it.)

The major point of his article is about taking a Bottom-up approach (rather than a Top-down one). He says, "Bottom-up development focusses on building the framework you need for living a life of purpose. It’s all about installing good habits that are independent of any specific goal. It’s an action plan you can start on this afternoon or this evening, that allows you to do incredibly productive and useful things, even if you’re still unsure about the big picture."

I really like his style and ideas.

Check out the rest of his article here: Feeling Lost?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

words of wisdom

I love Anne Lamott, and in her book, Bird by Bird, she dispenses a great deal of wisdom about writing... that happens to correspond directly with life. I find the following quote extremely useful on those days when I'm mad at myself for not doing/being/thinking what I want:

"I am learning slowly to bring my crazy pinball-machine mind back to this place of friendly detachment towards myself, so I can look out at the world and see all those other things with respect. Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper. So I keep trying gently to bring my mind back to what is really there to be seen, maybe to be seen and noted with a kind of reverence. Because if I don’t learn to do this, I think I’ll keep getting things wrong."

-- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

take a deep breath...

I'm not very good at being quiet or sitting still. I like to move, to talk, to fidget, to twitch, and to generally think myself into all sorts of things. But I'm finding that just plopping down, breathing deeply, and taking some time Not Thinking is doing me a world a good.

It was hard to start at first, just sitting there quietly, so I downloaded a series of guided meditations from meditation oasis. What's great about them is that they're short (between 8 and 20 minutes) and easy to listen to. Not too cheesy, not too demanding, just lots of space To Be.

Which, if I'm honest, I really need.