Ying or yang? Finding balance through your inner dialogue.

Picture Courtesy myepiclove.files.wordpress.com

I found a poem about balance that I wrote many years ago.  It is a great lead into the topic of finding balance and appreciation in all aspects of life.

sometimes the sun shines on my life, it makes my whole world glow. 
i love to feel the warmth on my skin, on my soul.
other days the rain pours on my heart and overflows into areas that are saturated.
every part of life needs this balance.
without sunshine, my flowers will not grow.
without rain, my garden would dry out and die.
i am grateful for both the good and the bad. 
those opposite forces bring balance, contentment, appreciation.
~Melissa Cooper

 It may be hard sometimes to find anything positive when unfortunate events occur, but this way of thinking Continue reading

Advertisements

Creating a Vision for your Future

One of my favorite exercises in the substance abuse IOP group therapy sessions was Life Mapping. My supervisor used to remind our clients that the work we were doing was great work for all people, including folks with addictions. It was just plain old, good therapy! This exercise helps clients create a clear picture for what they want in their lives. It grew out of some work one of my previous supervisors had done with a Covey leadership development class.

So, how does it work? First, you identify your core values. Examples may include family, career, spirituality, integrity, health, education and sobriety. Then you identify how your current behaviors go against those values. How are the choices and decisions I make dishonoring my core values? For example, if family is your value, perhaps your current behavior is isolating you from your family or causing arguments. Or for career, perhaps your lack of follow through or completion of deadlines is inhibiting your career growth.  Here is a worksheet to get you started:  VALUES WORKSHEET

Next, you identify what outcomes you would like to see for each value. What do you want in your life? For family, perhaps it is a closer relationship with loved ones, for spirituality maybe it means a closer relationship with God, and for health perhaps your outcome would be feeling well, reducing risk factors or unhealthy behaviors.

Next, you identify the tasks associated with each outcome. These would be the specific behaviors or actions that are critical to accomplishing your outcomes and staying true to your core values. Examples of tasks for health may be: eat 5 small meals a day, count my calories, exercise 3 days per week for 30 minutes, practice meditation 5 minutes each day. For family, some examples might include: eat dinner together every night at 6pm, spend time as a family outside the home 2 times per month for at least 2 hours doing an activity in which we are engaged with each other (not going to a movie), implement a date night on Fridays with my spouse. For career, tasks may include: get to work 5 minutes early each day, ask for additional training, meet with my supervisor to develop a development plan.  I created this worksheet:  LIFE MAPPING WORKSHEET to assist you in Creating your Vision.

The next phase is consolidating your Life Map into a Vision Statement. This one can take some time, and I recommend doing a talk-through-walk-through first. Pretend I am an old friend and have not seen you for a year, and I see you at the supermarket and say, “Hey there! I haven’t seen you in such a long time. How are you? Tell me what’s new in your life?” Using the information you gathered about what outcomes you want for your life from your Life Map, speak as though you are currently living the life you have envisioned in your diagram. Use the tasks and outcomes to describe the changes that have occurred in your life. An example may be something like this:

Gosh, Missy, so much has happened! Life is great! I feel calm and peaceful, my family relationships are loving and connected and we spend time together having fun and learning. My body is strong and ready for each new day that comes. My career has moved to a new level where I feel proud and motivated each day. My relationship with God grows each day through prayer and meditation.

As I blogged about before, creating clarity is the beginning of the process of change. Iyanla Vanzant said in a speech she gave on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, “Your eyes adjust to the amount of deficiency present.” Think about that.

Read it again….Your eyes….adjust….to the amount of deficiency present.

So you get used to deciphering life through fuzzy eyes, you adapt and compensate, and inevitably miss things. If our vision for our lives is unclear, or we cannot even see an outcome that we would like or need, than we begin to believe that the possibility of our hopes and dreams are unachievable. The deficiency may be the story we tell ourselves, the doubts we allow others to speak into us, or the insecurities that stifle us. Sometimes we let others talk us into or out of what we truly want and sometimes we do not need any help setting ourselves back. We may even begin to believe that the dreams we have are unrealistic. How will you nurture and foster your dreams to create a vision for your future?

“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?” ~ Henry Ford

Fear…a dirty four letter word!

A few blogs ago we talked a bit about finding love that lasts and how that dirty four letter word – fear – impacts love, decisions, motivation and life in general, so I thought I would share a recent fear of my own. Continue reading

Outcome accomplished, and a new journey begins!

Last week I wrote about finding that path to extraordinary and how my journey began when I decided to change my mind to become lighter and more agile.  The specific goal?  To run a  half-marathon!  On Sunday, I did it!  We fared the cold weather and the misty rain, the hills we had not trained for, and incredibly 3 hours later we were crossing the finish line.  My hubby was my wingman, and even though his pace is much faster than mine, he stayed with me till the finish line.  That support cannot be overlooked.  When we are doing something that requires a change of thinking, it is important to surround yourself with people who are on your side, supportive and believe in you!

During the process, I felt great, happy, and for a moment overwhelmingly proud of myself.  I reflected on who I used to be, and how great it feels to make positive changes for a healthy lifestyle.  Sure there were moments when I had pain in my body, or I was really cold from the weather change and rain, but not once did I ever consider giving up.  That was not an option.  We trained for the half, we put in the work, and we were ready.  Now I wasn’t sure if i would ever do another, but then when I finished and crossed that finish line, that all changed.  If I could do 13.1 in 3 hours with bad weather and hills I had not trained for, then I could blast that time under better conditions!  So, next half-marathon scheduled for March!  The things we can accomplish when we put away the thoughts that sabotage our excellence!

Amazing, Remarkable Life

My posts have been few as of late, however, I am ready to get back to writing!  I have been on a whirlwind!  The past 8 months have been amazing, remarkable, incredible, astounding!  I am so happy, and feel super blessed!  So, what happened?  What is going on?  I graduated in December, my husband received a job promotion that brought us to Washington DC. I was able to transfer. Two months later a counseling job opened, I applied and in April started work as a counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It is interesting how change can scare you, elate you, stun you, overwhelm and excite you while throwing you into a new reality you could not have imagined in your most creative dream.   It has been quite a change, and all have been good.  Of course we miss our friends and family, but we are enjoying this new adventure. Continue reading

Change…clear, specific and appealing!

The concept of change has many aspects and directions to it. The instrumental part? Starting! The key concept in change? Clarity.

Sure, we have had those moments when we have thought about change, maybe we even started planning. Perhaps made an appointment, did some research, and maybe we even kicked in and did a few repetitions on this thing we were changing. The trouble? Keeping up with it, making it stick. See, change is tough, or isn’t that what we tell ourselves? Well….it feels tough at first. It’s new; its uncomfortable; it’s an awakening, and our mind and body don’t really want to change. They are used to doing what we do; they are used to the same old stuff. This brings about fear, and the realization that either I am going to have to actually utilize effort to make progress, or wow….what if this change doesn’t work? What if I put effort into something and in the end, it doesn’t pan out? See…that is the crux of it. “What if in the long run, it doesn’t pan out?” This fear paralyzes us from progress, because we would rather stay where we are, where we know what to expect instead of doing something different. Why put work and effort in and then end up disappointed because we cannot change anyways? That is why we not only have to change what we do when we want to acquire a new behavior; we have to think differently. I see this frequently in work with clients with addictions, but the cool thing about changing the way you think, is it is helpful for anyone. Continue reading