Archives for posts with tag: good self-care begins with thinking

When I shop for a car, I consider the features that interest me most, and offer me the greatest value. When I shop for kitchen appliances, I check product reviews and closely examine how well the product has performed for other consumers, and consider available options that make one a greater value over another. When I shop for just about anything, actually, I put thought into which specific product, by which manufacturer, with which features, options, or possible later upgrades may be available. I find it remarkable that over a lifetime I have put so much less regard or consideration into how I treat myself, and what my thinking and actions bring to the world…honestly, my value to myself, and to my culture and my planet, has to be vastly more worthy of consideration and great care than a toaster, a home, or a car. Just saying.

It's a big world.

It’s a big world.

Today, in the same small bit of my day that I hold dear, and keep well-tended as ‘me time’, I am considering what I do each day to treat the world well. My thinking isn’t limited to the people, but also to this big ball of metallic rock hurtling through space to which we all cling; what simple things can I do in ways that treat my world just a little more gently, with a bit more awareness for the limited resources we all share, and with an eye on living more sustainably? I am taking time to take a step back from the mirror, to look out the windows of my soul to the horizon of infinite possibilities… Can I do more, better, in my existing experience? Is that also part of taking care of me? I am thinking about something grander in scale than recycling product waste, or composting, or using environmentally safe cleaning products, or purchasing goods with environmentally safe packaging. I am thinking beyond electric cars and solar homes. I am thinking beyond going paperless. I am considering the wellspring of those ideas, the source of the shift in consumer focus that put those things in the marketplace; I am considering my heart, my will, and my commitment. I am considering the content of my thinking, and how to make my intention more real, more clearly manifested in my experience by way of my choices – and my awareness.

It is difficult to experience what is outside my awareness.

It is difficult to experience what is outside my awareness.

This morning, I consider what it takes to hold something in my awareness, mindfully, and to use that awareness to reinforce good choices; ideally, my thinking is that being more aware may result in good decision-making as a consumer, decision-making less driven by advertising, and more chosen by experience, careful evaluation, and well-chosen values. Yes, I think even being a consumer in the world marketplace can potentially benefit greatly from being more mindful. That’s probably more obvious than it felt to me when I first began to consider it this morning. 🙂

Reflecting on life, and the world; what is 'enough'?

Reflecting on life, and the world; what is ‘enough’?

I am looking ahead to living in my studio, and considering what I really need to feel content, satisfied, comfortable and safe? What is ‘enough’? Do I need a 10 ft solid mahogany Queen Anne dining table with a lovely glossy finish, and 8 well-crafted matching chairs? That seems more than a little excessive for a woman who doesn’t prefer big dinner parties, or crowds…but it was something I yearned for when I was younger, and I considered it pinnacle of dining style, myself. That isn’t where I am in life, now. Feeling the distance between self-then and self-now so clearly is sometimes a little strange, but it can be measured in goods, and changes in aesthetic. I recently saw a dining table I found myself liking very much, that suits me now: small, a merry honest birch and a natural finish, ample for two, adequate for four, and…simply enough.  I found it a healthy reminder to maintain a beginner’s mind, even about who I am and what I enjoy; I am not the woman I was 30 years ago. Hell, I’m not the woman I was last year…or yesterday. 🙂

Today is a good day to consider who I am, and how my journey may have changed me. Today is a good day to consider my impact on the world, and how my choices can be of greater value. Today is a good day to deliver on my promises to myself, and to take my future in hand, and craft it more carefully with my will. Today is a good day to participate fully in my experience, and to enjoy the place I choose to hold in the world.

I’ve had so many lovely moments in life. Haven’t you, also? I find myself wondering occasionally how it is that the unpleasant ones so easily get the upper hand in my implicit memory, and biases over time. The ‘negative bias’ of our primate brains is kind of a big downer, isn’t it? The time taken to savor simple joys, sweet moments, pleasant happenstance, and all the bits and pieces of positive experience I enjoy day-to-day is very worthwhile; it helps shift my negative bias to a less negative place. Re-wiring, re-programming, and ‘correcting’ these sorts of things is arduous work, requiring considerable attention to details, and commitment to repetition and structured practices.  It’s the moments that follow all that practice that count so much; the result of the effort to practice my consciousness away from my negative bias isn’t always obvious… but sometimes it is obvious, indeed.

This morning I am enjoying a tasty latte, an unexpected treat made by my traveling partner’s loving hand first thing this morning, and I am considering future moments. I guess ‘daydreaming’ is another way to frame it up. I am contemplating experiences I know I enjoy, in the setting of simply enjoying my life, and letting that vision unfold a bit like a video. What does my life look like, without struggling, striving? With less background stress? With greater moment to moment acceptance, self-acceptance, and calm? If the details of my surroundings suit my taste, and meet my needs? If the colors, textures, and forms in my spaces were selected specifically to uplift, to nurture, and to evoke delight and wonder? To inspire me creatively and to foster creative work? What would my mornings be like? How would my days end? How would the trajectory of my experience change? Where would such a path take me?

Perspective is worth changing, and changing again.

Perspective is worth changing, and changing again.

If the only thing standing between you and the life you envision as most enjoyable for you is your own choices… do you change the choices you are making? Does the answer to that question change if the question is not about what you enjoy, but is more about what supports and nurtures your growth and emotional wellness, and meets your needs over time? It does for me; this troubles me because it implies that I place less value and priority on my own desires and satisfaction in life than I do on others, unwilling to make choices in my own favor unless it comes down to basic needs. It’s not a comfortable understanding of my decision-making, and feels out of alignment with my values, and it’s important to know this about myself; I can’t easily change what I don’t recognize as needing change.

I’m not mired in frustration or feeling heartbroken. It’s a lovely quiet morning. I am smiling and enjoying this time, engaged in this moment, enjoying something I love that meets many needs. This is simply a pleasant morning to contemplate developing a higher level of overall life satisfaction through better choices, more skillful quality of life decision-making about my own needs as an individual, and how best to do that without undercutting the needs and desires of the people who share the experience of life and love with me. A morning to consider consideration, and to contemplate balance, while I sip on my coffee.

I smile as I realize how far I have come that I am so comfortable even thinking about putting myself first in my own experience; it wasn’t so long ago that I would have found that quite difficult, even in thought, and closer to ‘impossible’ than ‘uncomfortable’.

Today is a good day to enjoy myself with a smile – exactly as I am. Today is a good day to enjoy each moment with a beginner’s mind, open to the possibilities, and accepting of change. Today is a good day for The Four Agreements. Today is a good day to change my world.

Pain sucks. A lot of people (me included) live with some measure of physical pain, moment-to-moment, day-to-day, or occasionally. It doesn’t matter at all how common pain is; it still sucks to experience it, generally. Pain is largely unavoidable, even when it is treatable, manageable, or resolvable. We feel pain, because we feel, and some stuff hurts.

Outrage is a different sort of feeling, although it generally falls into the set of ‘feelings beside pain that also suck’. Outrage is that peculiar mix of anger, despair, frustration, annoyance – and pain – that we experience when confronted with something that ‘just isn’t right at all’ and nothing seems to be getting done about it. More or less. (Your results may vary) Outrage is the stuff movements and causes are made of. Outrage sells newspapers, and advertising spots. Outrage gets us to show up and take a stand. Outrage is painful, and floods us with a cascade of negative emotions, as well as increasing our level of arousal – readying us to fight, to take action. Outrage is motivating… but it’s probably not really ‘healthy’ to linger in that state. I know, for me, outrage builds over time to slowly become fused with an ancient feeling of ‘learned helplessness’ that eventually develops into a sense of futility. Despair and frustration become dominant in that experience, as the urge to take action generates no positive outcome (generally); often we are being stoked into a sense of outrage for marketing purposes. There is no intent to drive change at all; we’re being used.

Outrage, delightfully enough, is not unavoidable. It’s totally avoidable. Outrage, generally, is optional. Quite optional. This is a new thought for me, or at least I think so right now.

Where is your outrage getting you these days? If it is solving problems, and moving you through your difficulties, and finding you in an improved place with your fellow human being – and finding them in an improved place, themselves, you are having some success with outrage. If your outrage changes one thing – any one thing – for the better, truly, then your outrage is effective. I’ve got nothing but gratitude for people who can endure outrage long enough to drive positive change. I’m even impressed.

Outrage generally just upsets me, resulting in agitation, frustration, arousal and leading to my PTSD symptoms flaring up, and my disinhibiting TBI definitely gets in the way of managing outrage appropriately. Over time, outrage takes me over, colors my experience, and renders the world a seeming palette of horrors, and despair without end. It’s unpleasant. It’s also totally avoidable.

I changed how I consume media, day-to-day, and in general it alleviates my experience of chronic outrage. There is plenty in the world to be outraged about, and certainly there’s enough for every human being to take a strong stand on an important issue and change the world…but…there’s actually so much potentially ‘wrong’ in the world, it could certainly ruin any one person’s day entirely to embrace all of it as a personal cause. I still care. I am learning not to allow myself to be dragged into chronic outrage. It’s not easy. I often catch myself getting pulled back into an issue through a link shared by a friend; it matters to me a great deal what matters to my friends and loved ones, and before I quite know how, I’m caught up in measles at Disneyland, or gun safety concerns, or police brutality, or any number of feminist issues that are of direct and immediate concern to me personally, as a woman. It happens fast.

Good self-care sometimes means putting down the device. Scrolling past the news article. Refraining from commenting. Taking a few deep breaths and letting it go. Why does it matter so much to manage chronic outrage? Emotional experience is tied to our physical experience pretty directly; emotions are chemical. Pain is physical – and emotional. Chronic outrage seems (in my own experience) to correlate to an experience of pain feeling more intense, less endurable, and less responsive to treatment. Hmmmm… give up chronic outrage and hurt less, or… don’t. Yeah. That’s an easy one.

Relax. Have a coffee. Think about something pleasant for a moment. Enjoy this moment, right here; it's the only one quite like it.

Relax. Have a coffee. Think about something pleasant for a moment. Enjoy this moment, right here; it’s the only one quite like it.

Today is a good day to be aware of media manipulation. Today is a good day to enjoy each positive moment with at least as much attention, passion, and engagement as I might bring to any cause or concern. Today is a good day to let small stuff go, and to choose my battles. Today is a good day to change the world.