the ‘what if’ game

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i have this belief that within all of us is untapped potential.

 

and because i am a characteristically anxious person, i find that i’m constantly playing the what if game.  and if you know this game, you know that the background conversation playing in your mind goes something like “what if they don’t like me? what if i’m not good enough?  what if i don’t get the job?  what if i don’t pass the test?  what if i never get married? what if it doesn’t work out? what if the worst case scenario happens? what if i’m not a good enough parent.friend.person.employee.student.writer.artist? what if i fail?”

if you know yourself or are in the process of getting to know yourself, you might find the what if game comes from a place of insecurity or a belief that we are not enough… and if it doesn’t consciously start from that place it often takes us there. and for me, this kind of thinking is always about working against myself.  i don’t always realize it, but somehow insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, and anxiety start surfacing. when i engage myself in this way, i encourage negative thoughts, energy, emotions, and worry by creating worst case-scenarios, catastrophizing events, and imagining all the ways in which something will fall apart.  and usually my what if games lead to believing that the challenges ahead of me are more difficult than my ability to master them- that the challenge surpasses my capabilities. we sell ourselves short in this incessant stream of thinking and believing that we are less capable than we truly are.

 

i’m trying to play a different what if game with myself; one that encourages thinking about possibilities rather than limitations. one that fosters imagination, breaks down walls, and involves expanding ourselves to be more than we have ever considered. this what if game is about believing in ourselves, it’s about coming from a place where we are enough. this game is about knowing that we can do the work and that we can get to that place within ourselves and in the world that we never thought we’d see. this reverse kind of thinking acknowledges that we have the ability to grow, to develop, and to improve. its about creativity, experimenting, and playfulness.  it’s about imagining all of the possibilities. and knowing that they are out there for us to grasp.

 

and so here’s mine:

  • what if i devoted this year to working on my goals in a way i have not done before?
  • what if i woke up every morning and set an intention for the day?
  • what if i stayed focused on each intention and worked diligently on my goals until i accomplished them all?
  • what if i was consistent in my efforts?
  • what if i slowed down and stopped frequently to breathe?
  • what if i acknowledged that i have enough time?
  • what if i stopped listening to negative self-talk?
  • what if i softened into my efforts?
  • what if i tried harder each time that i failed?
  • what if i gave myself permission to fail?
  • what if i each action and behavior was chosen from love?
  • what if i spent less time on my cell phone and more time investing in my relationships? in myself? in my community?
  • what if i wrote every day?
  • what if i expanded my mind every day?
  • what if i took risks?  what if i got uncomfortable?
  • what if i started today? right now?
  •      what if i was limitless?

 

do you feel the difference?

when we open ourselves up to the possibilities we begin to pave the pathway for our goals to unfold.  train your mind to look within yourself in a new way, and train your inner voice to build you up to your capabilities instead of breaking you apart through your insecurities.

 

i have this belief that it is our responsibility and gift to use ourselves up.  to grow into our weaknesses and to give to the world the talents that are within each of us that only we as individuals have.  i have this belief that we are all incredible.  that if we sat down and took the time to look within ourselves, to get to know ourselves, and committed to the process of achieving our heart’s purpose, that we would astound ourselves and one another in what we could accomplish.

 

i have this belief that the world would become even more beautiful.

 

 

 

the three c’s.

we have a lot of choices.

the collection of words we string together to use for self-expression, the inflection of our voice, the focus of our thoughts, and the depth of each breath. we determine the amount of energy we invest in our goals, the perspectives we take, the direction in which we lead our lives, and the topic of conversations we speak about.  we get to decide the kind of responses we have to other people’s words, behaviors, and life situations. and we choose what we allow to make us angry, how we let it influence our day, and how to let it go.

what i know is that sometimes we forget that in each individual moment we can choose. and without awareness of these choices, it becomes easy to respond out of habit or initial reaction instead of in a way that promotes inner peace, contentment, and happiness.  and so a seemingly isolated incident of frustration can lead to a day of irritability, a week of anger, and a month of gloom. and after collecting these thoughts and holding on to these lingering emotions, you might start to feel like you are out of sync with yourself, discouraged with the way things are going, or overcast with negativity.

i’ve learned that if you want a different outcome you must make a different choice.  this is important because our individual choices result in a collection of events; they directly impact the flow of our day and shape our thoughts, moods, and the relationship we have with our life.  our outward perspectives toward life are the result of our inner experiences and so it’s important to remember that the way we feel isn’t always the truest reality; often times, our experience is impacted by the thoughts in our mind, shaped by the emotions in our heart, and altered by the kinds of days we’ve been having. our days are colored by the thoughts and emotions we choose to entertain in our minds and hearts.


in the last few weeks, i’ve been doing a lot of grumbling.  i complain about too much sleep, too little sleep, too dirty of a house, having too much to do and not enough time.  i’ve been finding fault with strangers at the store, drivers on the road, and in the people i appreciate.  i’ve been argumentative with other people’s perspectives, contributions, opinions, and beliefs, and annoyed with the resulting disagreements and negative emotions that often accompany it.  as a result, i haven’t felt like myself.  i’ve felt anxious, dissatisfied, frustrated, disappointed, annoyed, lonely, or upset.  not only do i not like to do these things, i also don’t like to feel these ways either. so of course, i started to think.   and before long, three c’s came to mind- condemnation, complaints, and criticism – and slowly i started to remember all of the ways in which i have the choice to separate myself from them. and so here i am, drinking hot tea in an adorable coffee shop, deciding to make a different choice.

here’s what i know:

criticism– when your attention is focused on a person’s misgivings, shortcomings, and flaws, you fail to appreciate the light they have to offer, the laughter a person brings, or the happiness they bring to you.  i know that constant attention to all that is wrong leaves us feeling ungrateful, unappreciative, and discontent.  criticism naturally makes us focus on the flaws in a situation and the more we identify our frustrations the more identified we become with them.  and so the more we complain, the more complaints we have.  soon, you might notice that all you can see are errors, flaws, and mistakes in any given situation.  as a result, all that you feel is dissatisfaction, anger, and annoyance. and while there is a time and place for contstructive criticism, it’s not for every place, every stranger, and every moment. i’d rather be an enjoyer of life than a constant critic of it and in this effort, i’m attempting to replace fault seeking and negative judgement with appreciation.  i’ll compliment more. i’ll search for the good.

condemnation– when we condemn another persons’s beliefs, opinions, actions, or life choices, we limit our ability to take on another person’s perspective. we lose empathy, tolerance, and openness.  i believe that condemning others- especially large groups of people- encourages feelings of superiority and further divides us from one another.  and when you condemn another person’s actions it becomes easy to disrepect and disapprove of the individual as a whole. condemnation is about judgement– a belief that your way of seeing and understanding the world is more accurate than another’s– and it’s about shutting doors.  and with a shift in focus, what i know is that i hope to use my life to open doors.  for other people, for opportunities, and for a greater understanding of the diversity and richness that exists among each human being.

complaints–  we complain about the food we eat, the vacations we take and the clothes we wear.   we complain about weather, work, and our morning commute.  about our sleep, the television we watch, and the co-workers, family, friends, or spouses we surround ourselves by.  and what i know is that complaints are hardly ever a positive reaction to the situation we are in.  we have become so used to expressing our dissatisfaction with a circumstance that we have forgotten how to express excitement, gratitude, and appreciation for what is. too often and too easily, complaining has become our natural response and makes it difficult to find beauty and satisfaction with where we are.  and the problem with constant complaint is that it fosters negativity, does not alter the situation, and results in unhappiness. i’ve began to practice recognizing that both people and things are imperfect and i’m trying to find value in learning how to appreciate these shortcomings. i’m choosing not to open conversations with a complaint or go to bed with words of dissatisfaction on my heart.

what i know is that these three words- criticism, condemnation, and complaint- are focused on the self.  they bring unhappiness and leave us cycling in negativity- all of which serve little purpose in our lives. you have the choice. you pick your words and choose your focus.  i challenge you to ask yourself what relationship do you have with the current moment? how do you choose to interact with your life?   what thoughts are you forming?  what words are you speaking? and what emotions do you have lingering in your heart?

what choices are you making?

and what will you do different this time?

because i’m not who i used to be.

a conversation i had with a friend nearly nine years ago came to mind the other night.  we were sitting on the couch the summer after i’d returned from my freshman year of college talking about whether or not we thought we had changed.  i recall myself trying to identify all the ways in which i hadn’t; all the ways in which i’d stayed the same.  i, perhaps defensively, assured myself and my friends that i was the exact person i was as when i left.

it’s silly to think of it now, but of course i had changed.  i had spent time with new people, lived in a shared room with someone i didn’t know, and gained a small sense of a larger worldwide perspective. i had tried new foods, used public transportation, and failed my first exam. i had traveled to two new states and observed more diversity than my hometown had to offer at that time. i knew it then and i know it now, i had changed.

interestingly,  i recently felt a similar tinge of pain after hearing someone say, ‘you’ve changed,’ and, ‘i remember when you used to be more sensitive.’ i’ve spent some time thinking about where that small knot that formed in my stomach came from as well as that tiny sting of guilt.  somewhere along the way, i learned to equate change with badness; with the idea that if i was different from who i am now, i would somehow be less than i used to be.  perhaps these associations come in knowing that discomfort, uncertainty, and challenges often accompany change or that it can often be difficult and unwanted.  but the truth is, i am less sensitive and my feelings do get hurt less often; not because my heart has hardened, but because my sense of self has strengthened.  i’ve gained confidence and an understanding that people’s actions and words are more often a reflection of themselves than they are of me.

and so in the last few days i’ve purposefully changed.  with some thought, i’ve realized that who i am now is not the same person that i was a minute ago or a few days ago. and who i am now is not the person that i’ll always want to be.  what i know is that from moment to moment, we can change parts of who we are.  like our attitude, behaviors, and goals. we can change the way we speak to and about others and the ways we respond to trying situations.  we can change our thoughts, the direction we are heading, and our dreams.  what i am learning is the only thing that keeps us from becoming someone new are the thoughts in our minds that tell us we must remain the same.  i believe  it’s worth being reminded that we often become so attached to  the role we’ve assigned ourselves we forget we are fluid and ever-changing.  and who we might be in this moment is only a fraction of the possibilities of the person we may become.

 

 

today, i am a person who hopes that i change.  a person who hopes that i am different than who i was yesterday; because yesterday i was impatient and quick to complain.  today, i will be a human becoming that is more understanding, in less of a hurry, and focused on the good. today there are parts of myself that i hope to change, parts that i hold on dearly to, and parts that i hope to continue to grown into 

 

 

and so this week, i hope you lose your sense of self and start anew.  i hope in the middle of a conversation or in the middle of a word, you change.  that you respond differently than the way you used to.  i hope you try to listen more or speak up when you feel uncomfortable.  i hope you start to transform yourself by observing your thoughts and the contant noise in your mind and by challenging yourself to slow down, focus on the present moment, and be more forgiving of the past. i hope you start to work out, continue your recovery, or begin that book.  and all of these words are not intended to say that change is simple or easy to endure, nor do they mean to suggest that making a permanent change will not be difficult; they are here to remind you that it is possible:  that you have changed, can change, and are changing. and while you are regularly transforming, i hope you practice being more loving to the person you are and the people you are surrounded by. through constant self-reflection and regular development, you can decide in this very moment who you will be and give yourself permission to let go of who you once were.

 

 

 

 

i hope you’re always in the process of finding yourself.

 

 

 

the year of doing.

 

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it sounds silly, but i didn’t realize how much i was anticipating 2015 until it came. throughout the day, i kept finding myself committing to doing things differently this year, promising myself to not get weighed down with the unnecessary.  and what i know is that i am looking forward to a year of movement; of intentional change, and of consciously challenging myself to improve. i’m ready for this breath of fresh air.  2014 was different from the last few years in that i didn’t experience as much as growth as i had anticipated.  while i experienced a number of major life changes- like purchasing and remodeling a first home, beginning to fund my retirement, the loss of two grandparents,  committing my life to another person, passing my licensure exam, and developing as a professional-, i also recognize that i didn’t commit as much time and energy into my own personal development as i would have liked.  fortunately, i believe that shortcomings always present an opportunity to grow and so from this lack of change i have been able to learn.

 

last year.

in 2014 i learned about the amount of time i am consumed by stress and worry.  pick a topic and i can assure you i’ve spent a portion of the day catastrophizing it. i spent 2014 with a lot of worries- mostly unnecessary and unfounded- but i worried all of the same.  about passing my exam,  the logistics of days and events, about day-to-day stressors, interpersonal relationships, finances, why the dishes weren’t done, and about long-term plans.  i worried about about the amount of time i spent worrying.  i studied perhaps excessively, and spent a lot of time rushing from one task to the next.  in hindsight, the constant rushing kept me stagnant. part of the truth is that i’ve always been an anxious person and the rest of the truth is that i didn’t allow myself to slow down long enough to realize the impact it was having on my overall sense of wellbeing.

i experienced and witnessed heartache in 2014. the loss of sweet babies we didn’t get to know and grandparents who brought a lot of love into this world. i saw friends grieve the loss of parents, relationships, and goals.  i felt friendships change. i saw people from all walks of life struggle and hurt.  and i observed how hard life can be on some people.  2014 was also beautiful. i saw chichen itza,  swam in two oceans, visited three new states, and went on the most amazing adventures.  studying resulted in me passing my exam. i paid off all of my student loans completely by myself. and the time and energy put into remodeling the house resulted in a home that i feel comforted by.  i had the enjoyment of making memories with family and friends and i experienced so much laughter. i spent my days at a job i whole heartedly love, living out a life mission i am passionate about.  i witnessed people change and become more of themselves.  in fact, i even saw people blossom.  i fell even more in love with the greatest person i know.

 

and mostly in 2014, i learned that you take the bad with the good.  i’ve learned that beautiful strength, grace, and personal change can grow from loss.  from watching others, i’ve learned that breaking points are also starting points. i learned that you have to nurture relationships in order to watch them grow and that no amount of success can replace time spent with the people you love. i have an increasing sense of understanding that your worth is not dependent upon your accomplishments or work. and 2014 taught me that when the timing is right, everything will be perfect.  and until then, you have today.  you have right now.  and that is enough.

 

 

this year.

i believe that you don’t have to wait for a new year to resolve to changing your life, i’ve always believed in starting now.  but i welcomed that midnight kiss and with open arms i greeted the newness, the fresh promises, and the opportunity to reflect on how i will do this year differently than the last.  i developed a list of goals that addresses most areas of my life- mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual, and vocational- and i have committed myself to working towards them and accomplishing them all. but what it comes down to is wanting to cultivate wellness. and so this year i will be intentional about holistic living- on attempting to focus equal attention to all aspects of my life. i want to live fully, deeply, and widely. and to do so, i know that i must experience new things and see new places. i will practice living without incessant worry and breathing without always doing.  i will manage my time so that i may use it well.  i will develop relationships with friends and family through presence; by showing up, putting my phone down, and listening. i will write hand-written letters and make phone calls more regularly.  i will find something to celebrate in each and every day and i will practice gratitude. i will spend less time on social media and more time being social.  i won’t allow myself to get so busy that i skip out on enjoying a warm cooked meal or hot cup of tea.  i’ll care more about my being rather than my doing.

 

 

today.

if you know me at all, you know that i always want to be changing.  from one moment to the next, i want to be developing myself into that person i hope to be. i say it too much, but we only have this one moment to act in and on.  so rather than thinking about what you hope to accomplish in a year, focus on what you can do today to work towards that goal. one week from now, two days from now, eight months from now, find that eagerness to change within you. foster your internal strength, self-will, and dedication to see this year’s resolution through. and remember, to accomplish everything we hoped to this year, we have to remain focused.  this year doesn’t have to be another year of setting goals with no follow through or empty promises that you are not committed to keeping. this year can be different. and the outcome will be so rewarding.

 

if 2014 wasn’t your year, then let it go.  2015 is the year of no longer holding onto those things that don’t serve you.  today can be your day.  i know that when your world feels like it is spinning out of control, it becomes easy to lose sight of the fact that we have  the ability to choose which direction we take.  we lose ourselves in the unnecessary- the worries, stressors, unhelpful people, and daily conflicts.  and we can start to drown when we attempt to fill empty holes with material possessions, drama, and negative energy and action. slow down this year. get to know yourself, and listen to your inner voice. focus on the good and all that you want to bring into your life and make peace with the rest. i’ll always believe that we bring out the best in others when we are working on bringing out the best in ourselves.

let’s do that this year.

 

 

 

what i know is that the only way the future will deliver its promise of brightness is if we create it.

you must start that fire and be the one to fan those flames.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 will be the year of doing.  

and while i am committed to change, i’ll slow down this year so that i can enjoy it.

doubt it .

it’s amazing how quickly doubt can settle in. it’s like a question mark at the end of a statement, an uncertainty about what you thought you once knew. a tilt of the head or the raise of an eyebrow. it’s a whisper that makes you wonder if you really knew after all. and it can be a series of dominos that start to fall down if you let it.

while i’ve never really had a low self-esteem, i continue to observe situations in which my self-confidence begins to waver. in my ability to complete tasks, accomplish goals, and make decisions. i can feel when it starts to come and i can see what happens when i start to start to listen- when i start to believe it. the stumbling over words, the second guessing, and insecurities. the questions i start to ask of myself; can i pass this test? can i accomplish this goal? am i capable of more? is this good enough? what if i fail?

and i see the self doubt help me to fall. it opens up the door for excuses to slip in, it welcomes discomfort and feelings of uneasiness. it’s that little whisper that tries to tell you that you’ll never make it, so that you give up before you ever do. and part of self-doubt comes from a comparison of yourself to others, of feeling like you don’t measure up to another person’s strengths. self-doubt convinces you that you won’t get to where the other person has already gotten. and maybe it’s that little voice that tells you that what you do, who you are, or what you’re working towards is not enough. and when you start comparing yourself to other people you might start to notice that you begin putting them down, that you begin basing your accomplishments off of other people’s lack of success.  comparing yourself to others seems to  imply that someone is going to be better and someone is going to be worse.  but really, we are just different.  that’s all. 

 

 

and so what do you do when you feel like you are not enough? that you cannot succeed? that someone is better.stronger.smarter.nicer. more talented. capable. than yourself?

 

 

you persevere.

 

and in persevering, you acquire the right perspective.  you change your thinking from the “i’ll never get there” to an “i’m on my way.”  and through this perspective shift, you remember what you do have, what you are capable  of, and where you are going.   part of this perspective is about remembering that you have enough.  you do enough.  and that you are enough.  perspective is about a willingness to see the situation from a different point of view; it’s about changing your attitude and strengthening your resolve.  i’ve also learned that perspective is about gratitude, about feeling grateful for your individual abilities and experiences and for honoring how other people got to where they are at. and perspective is a reminder that there are other ways to look at the situation.  other feelings to feel, other beliefs to believe. other movements to make.

and when you hear that self-doubt;  perseverance is about trying to understand where it is coming from and what is it saying. and to persevere, you plan.   you develop a plan to overcome it.  and while you may have great intentions to persevere, it may be hard to do so when you haven’t considered how you will.  write down the steps.  list out your personal challenges.  address the ways you will get over road blocks, detours, and bumps in the road. and if your self-doubt is telling tell you that you’ll never reach your physical goals, you write out your health plan.  you list out all of the assignments to complete before you graduate from college. you record all of the bills left to pay before you are debt free.  you plan, and you plan, and you plan.  and then you pursue with consistent dedication. and to persevere, you must decide to work harder than your self-doubt is telling you not to.  

 

in times of self-doubt and in times of perseverance, you surround yourself with people who believe in you and who believe in themselves.  surround yourself with people who challenge you to grow, who push you to succeed, and who hope that you’ll get there.  you’ve probably heard that you become similar to the five people you spend the most time with–  spend time with people that you want to be like.  spend time people that believe in your plans.  spend time with people who’ve chosen to persevere despite their own personal insecurities, challenges, and set backs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

self doubt?

 

doubt it.