Welcome to Two for Tuesday! Every Tuesday, I’ll be sharing with you two tips to help you create a healthier and happier life!
Yes, we all have that power to create a life that is more suited to us! One that allows us to connect with our passion, which in turn helps to make us feel more fulfilled and connected to our true purpose.
Now it’s true that we have responsibilities to others and the bills won’t pay themselves, but outside of that there is this whole life we can begin to focus on and build up that will help to balance out all the blah, boring, stressful things that we have to face as responsible adults. We can’t ignore them, they’re real, very real! But there are tricks we can use to ease a lot of the suffering and stress we may feel on a daily basis.
We’re going to have seasons in our lives that are going to be challenging, and they’re going to push us to our limits (or what we perceive to be our limits) but if we face them head-on with the full knowledge that it’s going to be tough, but that it won’t last forever, then we can better handle what’s before us with more ease and grace.
Life will always be up and down. It will always be overflowing on one end and void on the other. But once we understand this, and stop wishing life were one way when it’s clearly going in the other direction, we can eliminate so much suffering on our part. And that is where the magic lay.
Two for Tuesday is my new initiative to help us navigate the world we live in with more presence and awareness so we can have more control over our emotions, habits, and begin creating more of the life we want to live.
Today we’re starting with the power of our thoughts and how we can begin controlling that seemingly endless flow of worry — the kind that finds you at 3 in the morning and won’t let you rest or relax, or get yourself back to sleep!
Lord that’s the worst! There you are happily comatose and then one little stir and you're up and off to the worry races. You know the thoughts that can pop up:
Are my kids ok? Did I just hear someone fall off the bed?
Why does my side hurt? I haven’t made my appt for my physical and it’s been well over a year, what if this pain is something serious, what am I gonna do?
Ugh, I have to meet with the plumber this morning, this house is falling apart, I can’t stand homeownership, it’s too much and last month the furnace cost us a small fortune to fix…
And the thoughts go on and on… and on! Until it’s 5 am and you finally make your way back back to sleep… only to be woken up by a child running into your bed because of a bad dream!
I’ve had countless nights when my thoughts won't turn off and I swear, I come up with some doosey scenarios that when I’m finally alert and can think back to all the things I was worrying about, I’m actually embarrassed…
This one night I was so freaked out, this was a couple of years ago when my boys were really little, and I was thinking about how the nanny, every day to get anywhere in our town first had to walk by this parking lot that was right next to our building. Now, this parking lot used to be an old garage, and it was turned into a parking lot for the town commuters who rode the train. It was more of a quick make-shift parking lot and you could access the lot at odd spots because there was no curb that prevented cars from rolling in and out wherever convenient for the driver. So with no marked entrance or exit, cars could drive into the street right from their spots.
Well this was nothing new to me, we had lived there for years already, but one night it popped into my head and I thought “What if they’re walking by not paying attention and a car pulls out and hits them… well holy lord my mind took off with that thought and I was up for hours worrying about it, if I could have I was going to call my nanny at 3 am and let her know this possible danger… and then my thoughts went to how I’m such an irresponsible mother, how come I didn’t think of this before, I’m so careless with my babies… oh it went on and on for hours one night. Eventually, I fell back asleep and when I woke up in the morning, I couldn’t believe how intense I let that worry get. I did end up telling my nanny to be careful, which she always was, and I never worried about it again. But my goodness, what was the point of letting it get to the point of me thinking I was a bad and careless mother! What a waste of a good night’s sleep!
So I know this happens to a lot of us, and if we’re not careful, it can be a nightly recurrence. I’m going to share with you two tips on how we can begin to control our responses to these thoughts so we’re not up for hours at night with a racing mind!
Here’s how we can let those thoughts go, and get back to sleep!
Tip #1 — You let them happen.
You roll around in those thoughts and let them happen. See them, feel them, let them know they’re real, and that they have a voice and you hear them loud and clear. This creates a sense of disconnection. Meaning you see them, and you see that they are not you, but separate.
This requires an understanding of what thoughts are. They are the things you choose to focus on. You choose. They don’t choose you, you choose them.
Yes, there are things that are really stressful and deserve your attention, but that doesn’t mean your mind gets to decide when, where, and for how long you focus on them. You are the boss when it comes to your thoughts which means you set the schedule.
When you find yourself obsessing over a thought, or your mind is like Tarzan and is swinging from one worry vine to another, I want you to do this.
Picture a river. A beautiful flowing river and you see these brightly colored leaves floating in the river, you can’t take your eyes off them, there are so many.
Then notice that you’re only looking at them, you are not them. You are standing on the side of the river, and these leaves float into your view, and then they keep moving. These brightly colored leaves are your thoughts… think of that.
They may come close to you, you can almost touch them, but then they keep moving until they are out of sight. They’re gone. And you're still there, but there is plenty of other beautiful things for you to look at. There is so much beauty around you in fact that you forget about those leave for the time being.
That’s being outside yourself and you have that power. Give the thought your attention, but then allow it to float away. Don’t go into the river, and try to grab at all of them and hold onto them. Calmly let them float on by and focus on all the other things that surround you.
I’ve done this and it gives me such a sense of power that I never knew I had. To not be controlled by my thoughts and feelings is such a sense of relief.
Tip #2 Baby-step your way to a solution
Because sometimes your lazy river can be more of a tidal wave, and stress is crushing down on your chest like the rock of Gibraltar, your mind won’t stop, it’s like the leaves are raining down on you!
I know this feeling, and what you need to baby-step your way to action.
The best thing to do in this spot is to decide on one little thing you can do to help ease the stress, and that is typically in the form of taking action, no matter how big or small. The important thing is that you begin to feel like you have some semblance of control.
It could mean that you’re going to call a friend and spill your heart out just so you can have someone listen to you. Or it could mean that you’re going to make the appointment you’ve been dreading, or it’s taking a walk which is the first step to you taking control over your health.
There is a lot of suffering we endure when we wish things could be different, but do nothing about it. Taking even the smallest step is progress, and it’s how you begin to work your way out of your storm. I’m not saying it’s easy, but neither is standing in the middle of a storm without an umbrella.
So next time you’re in a whirlwind of worry at 3 am, give yourself a fighting chance by coming up with one small thing you can do when you wake up that will help ease your worry and push that rock slightly off your chest.
AM Costanzo is a wellness coach, a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and loves to help people feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!