Monday, July 31, 2017

My Life is Like a Fairy Tale

Wouldn't it be nice if your life was like a fairy tale?  After all, fairy tales all end happily......."and they lived happily ever after."  But when you think about it, all fairy tales also have something else in common.  They all have terrible things that happen to the main character.

*Snow White's mother died when she was little, and she was raised by a step-mom who hated her to the point of trying to have her killed.  That must have been a hostile environment to grow up in.

*Belle, in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, did not have a mother, and was raised by a father in relative poverty.  He and his daughter were not respected by their community, and had no support group except each other.  Belle was held hostage without hope of seeing her loving father again, and she didn't even get to say goodbye!

*Cinderella's mother also died when she was very young.  She was not loved by her step-mom, and when her father also died, leaving her an orphan, she was subjected to abuse and cruelty for the remainder of her growing up years.

*Rapunzel was kidnapped as a baby and raised by a woman who did not love her and only used her, keeping her isolated from society.

These do not sound like the kind of life experiences I would wish for!  Each character goes through very difficult things before their lives finally get better.  They each seem to stay cheerful and make the best of their difficult circumstances.  And do they really live happily ever after because their lives become perfect, or do they live happily ever after because they have a new perspective due to the hard things they have been through?  Maybe instead of becoming bitter about their past, they learned to see clearly and appreciate the good things they now had.  It never says their lives became perfect at the end of the story, only that they were happy.

I have not been through anything even close to these sweet fairy tale characters, but I have been through some extremely difficult times in my own story (which I will spare you from outlining here).  I am sure you have also been through some extremely difficult things in your life.  If we truly want to have our lives be like a fairy tale, let's do as Snow White, Belle, Cinderella , Rapunzel and others did - let's have a better perspective because of the things that we have been through, and see the good things that are all around us!

My life is like a fairy tale.  I live in a free country in the greatest age ever known to mankind.  I have beautiful shelter, plenty of food, clean water at my fingertips, and people who love me.  I am warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  I have access to good medical care.  I travel anywhere I like in a car that covers distance at speeds never heard of in past ages.  I can instantly talk to anyone in the world instead of waiting for weeks/months for letters to go back and forth.  I have access to learning just about anything I set my mind to.  People around me are basically good.  The beauty around me and above me is astounding when I stop to notice.

So you see, your life may really be like a fairy tale.  Even though you have been through hard times in your story, you get to choose your attitude through hard things, have hope for a better future, and make your own happy ending by seeing the sweetness in your life that is all around you.

Monday, July 17, 2017

What I Learned from the Eensie Weensie Spider

I am the person who mows the lawn in our family.  I love to mow the lawn.  It's so rewarding to see the before and after difference every time.  A few weeks ago I was mowing the lawn and I noticed occasional spider webs built right on top of the grass, something I had not really seen before.  I don't really like spiders so it was somewhat satisfying to mow over these spider webs and envision the spiders being sucked up into the lawn mower.  End of problem, or so I thought.  The next week when I got out the lawn mower and began mowing I noticed new spider webs right where the old ones had been.  Apparently I had not sucked up the spiders into the lawn mower after all.  Somehow those spiders had escaped my giant cutting and sucking machine.  The nursery rhyme I have known practically all my life popped in my head.

The eensie weensie spider climbed up the water spout,
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Up came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the eensie weensie spider climbed up the spout again.

As I mowed I began to contemplate what the words to that nursery rhyme actually mean.  I realized that the rain did not kill the spider (just as my lawn mower had not sucked it up) and though it had probably had a very unpleasant experience being washing out by the rain, (or run over by the lawn mower) the spider did not give up.  Once the sun came back out (or the lawn mower passed by) that spider climbed back up the water spout to remake its web (or started a new web in the grass).  

I don't know how many times the eensie weensie spider got washed out, but I have mowed over those spiders in my grass quite a few times now and they just keep surviving and rebuilding their little webs.

The lesson that occurred to me from all of this is one of not giving up, but of persevering through unpleasant and possibly even traumatic experiences to rebuild what we have lost, start over, and keep going.  Though I am not thrilled at learning a life lesson from a spider, I must admit that they present a good example of what to do when the going gets tough.  I have a feeling that from now on every time I see a spider web I will be reminded that I must never give up, and when the rain in life falls, or I feel run over by a lawn mower, I need to just climb back up and keep going.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Letting Go of the Past - Because Papers (Tool #3 of 3)

The past could be a short as 5 minutes ago, or it could be years ago.  The first tool I gave you was one you could use relatively quickly and get results.  The second tool was more of a "slow release" technique.  (BTW, if you missed it because of the American holiday, go back and read tool #2.  I have had amazing results with it.)  Tool #3 requires the most emotional work, but also yields deeper healing and understanding.  This tool is for those of you who are ready to get serious about letting go of your negative feelings.  It is called "Because Papers".  Here is how it works:

Pick an issue that is bothering you.  Write it down in as a statement with because at the end.
Here are a few examples:

"So-and-so makes me feel ________because......"
"I feel _______ because......"
"I am having a hard time forgiving so-and-so because.........."
"I can't do such-and-such because......."

It can be about anything that is bothering you and gnawing away at you inside.

After you decide on your topic and write down your statement, put your pen on the paper (or your fingers on the keyboard) and write whatever comes to your mind.  You are going to write any and everything that enters your mind without analyzing it.  Just write down everything that comes.  No filter.  You should be able to fill up at least a page by doing this emotional dump of pent-up feelings and emotions.  Do not stop until you are out of things to say.  Then close your notebook or put your paper away where it will not be found.  Do not read over it.  Do not cross things out and re-write them.  Close it up and put it away for 24 hours.

On day two get your paper out and read it.  As you do, you will get an idea about more to write about.  It might be a different perspective.  It might be additional feelings that were under the ones you had yesterday.  By the time you get to the end of reading your paper, you will have an idea of what to write about on day two's paper.  Begin it the same way with a because statement.

Write everything that comes to your mind.  It will be different from what you wrote yesterday.  Again, do not stop until you cannot think of anything else to write.  Do not read over it.  Do not cross things out and re-write them.  Close it up and put it away for another 24 hours.

On day three get your paper out and read what you wrote the day before.  Again, you will understand things more deeply as you read.  You may get an "aha" moment.  You may get a new perspective on what the real issue is.  Whatever it is, write that as the heading for your third paper, then write everything you can about that topic.

This method helps you get down to the root of your emotions, the root of the problem, the root of the pain that you have not been able to let go of before now.  Occasionally I have had to write a day or two longer, but usually three days is enough to figure it out and let it go.

Here is a personal example of mine:
At one point not so long ago, my husband and I were battling over food issues.  Of course I thought he was the one with the issues, and he thought it was me.  I decided to do because papers about it.

 My first topic was, "I don't want my husband to claim all the Sunday dinner left-overs for his lunch because......"  I wrote down everything I could think of.  Boy, it felt good to get it all out!  When I went back and read it the next day I had some realizations.  My new statement for day two was:  "I am selfish with food because......."  That was a brutally honest realization, ouch!  I wrote everything I could think of.  Some possible solutions actually came to me, as well as a desire to be a better example to the children, and meet my husbands needs with abundance.   By day three, my new topic became, "I have food issues because......"  I was able to get to the root as I wrote, realizing that I had a scarcity mentality with food stemming from some extremely tight financial times when there truly was not enough.  I had held on to that for a very long time, even though there was now plenty of food.   Once I realized what the root of the problem was, I was able to LET IT GO!  I found a new desire to live with an abundance mentality, to shower my husband and family with what they needed and wanted.  It was such a freeing experience!  I now feel completely differently, and it has helped the rest of my family as well.  As you heal, it will also help those around you.

I have heard a couple of people complain about "hating" to write.  Think about it this way: Anything worth having requires some unpleasant work.  Whether it is growing a family, restoring furniture, creating something, or whatever, it all requires some unpleasant work.  For example, if you love a beautiful yard you have to do the unpleasant work.  Digging, weeding, fertilizing.  The end results are so worth it.  The yield is a beautiful yard.  Anything worthwhile requires work, and some of it will be unpleasant.  Keep the goal in mind.  The unpleasant part of the work is WORTH THE RESULTS.

I am anxious for you to try this new tool and find healing for yourself!  This method is the most work, but also yields the deepest results.  Though I am not trained in psychology or counseling I have learned a few wonderful tools that help to heal.  I am simply passing on those tools from others that have helped me to make amazing and healthy changes in my life.  They work, and I know they work!  
I have been able to heal from bad feelings towards others, long-standing grudges, personal and money issues, weight-loss issues and fear issues.  I have had amazing results and so can you.  It's time to let go of the past!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Letting Go of the Past, (Tool #2 of 3)

Letting go of the past is never easy.  Some things are easier to let go of than others.  Today's tool is one that allows you to "slow release" negative feelings from the past.

You know how when you twist the lid of a soda pop bottle just a little ways it lets out a little of the pressure inside of the bottle?  If you open the lid quickly the pressure may allow the contents to overflow, but when the lid is twisted slowly, pausing to release the pressure every few seconds, you are able to release all of the pressure from the soda bottle without the contents spilling out.  Letting go of the past can be done in a similar manner.  Our negative emotions are built up over time, and when released slowly, we can do so without spilling our contents all over and making a mess.  Today's tool is called "Write and Destroy"*

To effectively use this tool, find a time each day that you can have 5-10 minutes of alone time.  I know, I know, finding alone time can be nearly impossible sometimes.  We are too busy, and have too many people around us.  However, if you want to heal you have to get a little creative!  I know you can do it!

Now, what to do with that 5-10 minutes: You will need paper and pen.  (Or you can type and print if that works better for you).  You are going to write about something that you are either frustrated, angry, disappointed, embarrassed,  or sad about.  Put your pen on the paper (or your fingers on the keys).  Write, "I feel frustrated (angry, disappointed, embarrassed or sad) because.......  "
Whatever comes to your mind, that is what you write.  Keep writing until things stop coming to you. The thoughts that come to mind might be about the recent or distant past.  Write whatever comes.    This will probably take about 5-10 minutes, though you are welcome to take longer if you want to.    Next, you read what you have written out loud.  This is how you get those negative emotions outside of the body.  You are releasing the pressure.  The emotions are being released literally into the air just like the carbon dioxide in the soda bottle is released into the air when the lid is turned.  Saying the words out loud literally helps release them from inside of you.

Now for the fun part!  You get to destroy the paper.  You watch as these written feelings are removed from existence.  This can be done in a variety of ways.  My personal favorite is burning the paper in a pie tin on my deck, but you can also tear up and flush your paper, shred it, put it down the garbage disposal, or any other method of destroying the paper that you can think of.  The important thing is to destroy it.  As the paper is being destroyed remind your brain that the negative on the paper is also being destroyed.  You are letting it go.  There is something symbolic and also quite literal about watching those words cease to exist that really and truly releases pressure from our beings.

The great thing about this tool is that it releases the pressure a little at a time.  It is not a big emotional experience.  It is a healing experience done in small doses of time and emotion.  You may not even feel any differently afterward, but done consistently over time, you will be able to look back and see a cumulative difference.

I have found it the easiest to write using the acronym FADES** and follow this pattern:

Monday: Frustration
Tuesday: Anger
Wednesday: Disappointment
Thursday: Embarrassment
Friday: Sadness
Saturday and Sunday just rest:)

On Monday you write, "I feel frustrated because....."  write whatever comes to mind.  Then read out loud and destroy.

On Tuesday you write, "I feel angry because......" write whatever comes to mind.  Then read out loud and destroy.

On Wednesday you write, "I feel disappointed because..............."   You get the picture.

Follow this pattern.  The five emotions make the acronym FADES, and it allows the negative emotions of the past to do just that - fade.

This tool used regularly over time allows you to release the negative pressure that is inside of you and let go of the painful feelings of the past.  It is a wonderful way to let go slowly.  Like I said, you will not feel any great change right off the bat, but as you continue this pattern over time you will be able to look back and see progress and healing.  You will notice that you feel more emotionally healthy  It is a wonderful tool!

*Term coined by Becky Edwards
**Acronym by Kirk Duncan