Looking For Miracles

Today I will look for miracles.

If I look for miracles, I will find them.

I don’t expect to skip over all the hard stuff in life. But, I know my life is only as good as I expect it to be.

We experience what we focus on.

If we wake up each morning expecting life to feel like a struggle, then our lives will be a struggle. This should not surprise you.

But what if you wake up and look for a miracle today?  The miracle could be as extravagant as healing your disease or as simple as getting a convenient parking spot.  But it will happen. All you need to do is look in the right direction.

In a way, miracles are subject to momentum. They may start very, very small. But once you notice one, the more you will believe in possibilities. And the more you believe in possibilities, the more miracles you will see.

What are you focusing on today?

Miracles happen everyday. But if you don’t look for them, you will miss them.

Expect a miracle.

 

“Just because you have negative thoughts doesn’t mean you have to entertain them.”

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Time For A Thought Check

Do you sabotage yourself for no good reason?  Have you ever said, “Why do I do this to myself?” And then do the same destructive things over and over?  If so, you may have a belief or a script running in your mind that you are not even aware of.  Or you could be aware of it, but not know how to change it.  You may not even know that it is possible to change.

For many years I had scripts running in my head that I never actually verbalized, but I let them color my thoughts and emotions.  I can speak them now because I had to examine them before I could stop believing them.  They went something like this, “I am adopted, my mom gave me up, there must be something wrong with me.” Or “My adoptive dad is an alcoholic, my adoptive mom is verbally abusive, there must be something wrong with me.”  And of course, “I am fat, and I want to eat all the time, there must be something wrong with me.”

I had many more. But they were all used for the same purpose; to allow me to feel sorry for myself and to get others to feel sorry for me. This was the only way I knew to get the attention I needed and wanted.

For years, I was unaware these scripts ruled my thoughts and behaviors, they were so ingrained.  And even though someone told me about them and that I needed to change them, I didn’t get the message until I read the book ‘Feeling Good’ by Dr. David Burns. That was in the early 90’s.  It was my first taste of cognitive therapy and the beginning of the life I wanted to live.

Cognitive therapy was not a complete cure for all my problems, but it started me on the path of taking responsibility for my feelings. I learned that I created my own suffering with my thoughts.  It took many years to delete all the scripts.  But this was only because I had the idea that the process of psychological change was difficult, time consuming and painful.  And even though I went to therapists and programs, I didn’t do the homework.

When I finally made the commitment to become emotionally and physically healthy, it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  I realized I was worth making changes and it became natural to want to change for the better.  I got the courage to question my core beliefs and tell myself the truth about who I was.  And the truth is this -I am a good and worthy person and my value has nothing to do with what anyone thinks about me, what has happened in my past or even how I behave right now.

Knowing this truth allowed me to begin to make a few good decisions.  Making good decisions boosted my esteem and helped me make even better decisions.  This helped me rise up even more.  It’s like getting into an upward spiral.  The more you do the right thing, the more confident you get about who you are, and the more good things you do for yourself.  Then you start to reach out to help others and you almost forget what it feels like to be fearful, weak and full of self-pity.

There is always more than one way to accomplish what you want, but the best way is your way.  Read, listen and learn from others, but sift through all the information and find what works best for you.  You are worth it.

Suggested reading Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns (look for the latest edition) or Summary of Feeling Good by Fastreads

For list of cognitive distortions and ways to untwist your thinking, click here.

For a list of self defeating thoughts and counter thoughts, click here.

 

“We can put ourselves in an upward spiral with one belief. That belief is -Our value is inherent.  It does not depend on our size, shape, color, talent, intelligence, financial or emotional status or past experience.”

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Trying Too Hard?

Just before I entered fifth grade, my family moved to a new city.  It was summertime, no school was in session.  I was an only child and a little shy, so I didn’t make friends right away.  But my parents encouraged me to go out and play and find new friends.  I came back, day after day, having met no one and feeling dejected.  My mom asked me why I hadn’t met any kids and I lashed out with, “But I’m TRYing.”  She just said, “Maybe you’re trying too hard.”

My mom was right, I was trying too hard.  I have tried too hard my whole life.  I struggled with depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, bulimia, and bingeing.  All through those battles I would declare in exasperation, “But I’m TRYing!” Just like a dejected fifth grader.

Even with the knowledge that I made lots of mistakes, though, I don’t regret anything I experienced to get where I am today.  I’m just happy I am here now in this moment.  Of course all the good stuff happened when I stopped trying so hard.  And to stop trying so hard, I had to acquire a new mindset.

This mindset is based on the knowledge that I am valuable simply because I exist.  For me, as a Christian, the realization that God endows every human being with the same dignity, gave me the strength to begin to trust myself and understand my worth.  My genetics, my background, my character –none of these affect my value as a person.

From this foundation, I can simply build the life I want to live.  And by ‘simply’, I don’t mean easy, I mean uncomplicated -that I don’t need to force things to happen.  Knowing  I am worthy makes the process of doing the right thing natural.  I become responsible for my actions and add meaning to my life when I learn to respect myself.

This doesn’t mean I am perfect.  It means I am okay with being me and I accept myself. This, in turn, frees up space in my psyche that was previously used for self-bashing.  And with the extra room in my brain, I can concentrate on making the changes necessary to enhance my life.

Can I learn how to feel valuable when I feel like a failure and do the same stupid things over and over again?

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I believe wholeheartedly that we can learn just about anything.  So, yes, knowing your value can be learned.  Let me rephrase that –you can unlearn all the bad stuff that obscures your feelings of worthiness.  Everyone is born with self-esteem and a knowledge of their worth.  When we were babies, we were never too embarrassed to cry when hungry, and we learned to walk without giving a second thought to what our thighs looked like or wondering if anyone was talking about us behind our back.  So, the foundation is already there.  Just be honest with yourself about what it means to be a worthy person.

One thing which can be unlearned is believing what others have said about you or to you.  It’s easy to believe someone when they keep telling you how bad you are.  If you had a troubled childhood, it’s easy to believe that what happened to you defines you as a person.  But you don’t have to believe that these things define you.  You can create your own truth.  And your truth is more real than what anyone says about you or how anyone treated you in the past.

When I went through this process, I had to come to terms that my truth had nothing to do with my looks, talent, or accomplishments.  The world uses these things as indicators of value.  But don’t confuse these with your worth.  Your truth and value stands on its own, regardless of your looks, talent, successes or failures.

And if you think you don’t have any accomplishments or talents or beauty, that will change when you see yourself as a worthy human being.  Once I gained the knowledge of my value, I no longer felt like I didn’t ‘fit in’ and was able to stop trying so hard to do just that.  I made positive changes since there was no reason to keep myself down.  I was no longer second rate and began to accept the weird stuff in my life.  I now know that my dignity, as a human being, is no more or less than any other person on this earth.

This does not mean that everyone is the same.  We are each valuable in unique ways. That’s the beauty of knowing our worth. We can share our uniqueness without worrying about what everyone else thinks.  We can help make our lives, and the lives of others, better.  We can stop trying so hard.

Read more about overcoming binge eating:     Binge Free- The Beginning                                                                                                                   Binge Free- First Steps

“Even if I didn’t believe in God, I would have a good case for the significance of life.  We are all made from the same stuff as the universe. Who am I to think that I am any less than anyone else, or even the universe?” MD

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Stop Coping, Start Living

I used to think I had to cope with my problem behavior, whether it was overeating, drinking too much alcohol, or being depressed and anxious.  I went about my life, going to school, working, getting married, having kids, all with a coping strategy running in the back of my mind.  Sometimes the coping didn’t work, and the bad feelings and behaviors would come to the forefront. They would take out a few months of my life and I would have to regroup. But for the most part, my unwanted feelings and behaviors became something I learned to function with.

The problem with coping is that it never ceases.  By telling myself I had to manage my depression, anxiety and eating issues, I gave them more power than they should have had in my life.  Notice, I even called it my depression, my anxiety, my eating issues. When in fact, they weren’t ever mine, they were just symptoms of an erroneous thought process.  I considered myself flawed compared to others, like I had a burden to carry, so I resigned myself to living and performing with these issues.

This burden almost felt good, at times, like I deserved this depression or anxiety, bulimia, binge eating or whatever else I was dealing with.  So, year after year, I stayed in survival mode, saying things like,

“I’m hangin’ in there,” or “I’ll manage,” or “I’ll get by.”

To me, these were positive statements. They were proof that I would get through and live for another day.  But in reality, they were mistakes in my thinking.  As long as I had the notion that all I could do was ‘hang in there,’ I stayed in victim mode.  I saw my defects as something that happened upon me, maybe from the way I was raised or from my genetics or for whatever reason.  And as long as I was merely coping, I took no responsibility for my actions. I just tried to quell my behavior and fit into life the best I could.

So, how do you get out of coping mode and into living?

Once I decided to overcome my issues and not just cope with them, things began to change. The very first attribute I acquired was a sense of value. I had to know that I was a good person regardless of my behavior. This doesn’t mean I congratulated myself for bad conduct, it means I became aware of my value as a human being.  I realized that nothing I could do or not do determined my value as a person. A faith in God helped me, but even if you don’t believe in God, you can still believe in your inherent worth.  You are as human as anyone else on this earth. You weren’t born with depression, anxiety, or eating problems.  And if you had a traumatic past or believe you are genetically predisposed to these problems,  it still doesn’t mean they have to manifest in your life.

Understanding and accepting my value gave me a reason to be happier and change my behavior.  And it came in this order – being happy comes first.  Being happy is not as hard as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t natural either.  My perceived failures gave me something to focus on and talk about.  It was an easy way to get attention from others.  I went to therapists and clinics and even in-patient treatment programs.  I took medicines and talked to others who had these problems.  I made a lifestyle out of working on my ‘issues’.

When I started to believe in myself, I didn’t want to just cope anymore, I wanted to thrive. I decided it was okay to have bad feelings and that things did not have to be perfect.  The bad stuff didn’t go away immediately, but the power it had over me did.  On days when I woke up with that tight, anxious feeling in my chest, instead of worrying myself into a full blown panic attack, I would acknowledge the feeling and make no judgement about it.  Then I got up and went about my day.  After a couple hours, I would forget about it.

In the case of depression, I realized that when I felt the most despondent, I thought everyone hated me and I felt sorry for myself.  I performed a reality check on the thought, “Everyone hates me” and realized that even if not everyone liked me, it still was highly unlikely that everyone hated me.  So instead of trying to stop the depressing feeling, I acknowledged it, made no good or bad judgement about it and decided not to have a pity party.  I soon found myself doing interesting things and reaching out to others.

Binge eating behavior was the last big hurdle.  I had overcome the darkest aspects of my life, but couldn’t seem to shake the eating problem.  It was only when I stopped feeling guilty for eating and stopped trying to restrict food that the insatiable hunger went away and was replaced by natural hunger and satisfaction with normal meals.

When I condense my life changes down to one page, like this, I wonder why it took me so long to become the person I am now happy with.  It could be that it takes time, maturity and experience.  But if we all wise up and get happier as we get older, all old people should be ecstatic and not cranky and depressed, as some are.  But whether you are young or old, you can bring about positive changes in your life.  It starts with an understanding of your inherent value.  We are all worthy whether we know and believe it or not.  And this inherent value supersedes genetics, past events, character and behavior.  Once I realized this, I stopped coping and started living.

How to realize your value click here

How to start a binge free life click here

Featured photo from pixabay.

brake-clipart-13309573511112670181decorative-lines-2_large-hi“You don’t have to entertain every thought that comes into your head.” MD
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Loved Ones, Addiction, Happiness

God chose me to be the mother of the children I have.  They are not mine.  They are God’s children.  Just as I am God’s child.  He will take care of them as he has taken care of me.  They have everything they need to be everything they were meant to be in this world.  All that happens, unfolds in God’s time and through his mercy.  There will no one thing that defeats them or me. 

I don’t pretend to understand the divine connection, or why God does anything he does, or even if God ‘does’ anything in the sense we understand the word ‘doing’, but I respect it.  Just last week, I wrote an article about being happy regardless of your circumstances.  I was writing from a place of peace and contentment.  Everything in my life was humming along just fine.

And even though I’m not sure why, or even if, God would test me, I am writing this new article on happiness while one of my children is on a path of destruction.  This child of mine, now an adult, is missing, not physically, but mentally.  He is trying to hide feelings, but all his actions and words point to the futility he feels about life.  He is beaten down, given up.  He’s mired in self-degradation and pity.

He’s been bouncing between the sober world of striving to build a good life and the wasted world of alcohol, drugs and self-sabotage.  In both worlds, he is a good man, but he does not know this.  He thinks he must earn his value as a person, although I cannot really say what he is thinking.  I just know that whatever it is, it is self-destructive.

I recognize this because I have been through it.  I didn’t go as far with alcohol and drugs, but food and body issues were my pacifiers for many years.  Of course, this is no consolation for me because it can lead me to believe that in some way, this is my fault.  If only I had raised him differently, or if I had only taken him to church when he was little, or if only I had my shit together much sooner in life.  But it occurs to me that this type of thinking only puts me back on that same old path of self-pity.

If I blame myself for my children’s failures, that means I must take credit for their accomplishments, of which they all, including him, have many.  And this is just not the case.  All my children are great people in their own right, and even though I am proud of them, I take no credit or blame for what they do.  They live the lives they want to live, and if I passed any bad traits down, I was passing them from my own genetics and experiences, just as they were passed down to me.  And for as many bad characteristics and behaviors that were passed down, there were more good qualities, from both their dad and me.

So, what do you do when you see someone you love in self-wrecking mode?
I used to think I had to be the one to make everything better, to help.  But I know now that helping is just a nice word for enabling.  And I have done my share of enabling.  This is something an addict must work out on his own.  It may not work out the way I want it to, or in the time I want it to, but something in my soul tells me that, no matter what happens, life will work itself out for the best.  So, the answer to the question is, stay in faith.  Don’t get despondent. Keep your cool.

Being happy in this kind of situation does not mean I do not care or that I am shoving it all down and trying to just push through the pain.  Yes, I worry a little, and I have let that worry color my interactions.  And I could speculate about why events occur the way they do, but no matter how much I ruminate, I cannot change the past or read the mind of God to know the future.  So I don’t do this.  I make myself stronger by reading encouraging works, writing, and interacting with others.

My heart feels physically heavy, almost to the point of breaking, but I am still happy with my life and everything in it that I am privileged to be a part of.  My core of joy, though getting a work out right now, is based on a faith that God’s love envelopes me and my children, no matter what is going on.

You can be the happiest person you know. click here

featured image from Pixabay

 

“Your value is intrinsic.  It is not determined by what you do.  When you realize this, you can function fully.”

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