Lessening Suffering By Being Teachable.

In the last 10 years that I have been in recovery from addiction, a certain principle has been immensely important to my success. That principle is remaining TEACHABLE.

My History with Being Teachable.

This guys history with being teachable before recovery is a horribly checkered one.

I don’t remember much of being really young. But as far as I can look back on my life I could see that my mind was generally closed to what people had to teach.

In school, I was a destructive class clown. At home, I was kind of an entitled little brat. Though now I do understand that I was doing the best I could with what I had. Though for some reason my brain was naturally obstinate, refusing most information that people need to get by in a law-abiding world.

This type of attitude toward letting people teach me only intensified. Though when I find out mind-altering chemicals would help me escape the jabbering of every ones teaching I fell in love. Finally, I didn’t seem to have to care. Also, many people that would have tried to teach me pretty much gave up trying as well. Heaven right?

What seemed to me like heaven was actually unknowingly signing me up for a rough damn ride through life.

By the time I was able to enter recovery and get my act together, I had made an incredible mess of my existence. Being closed off to the world teaching me how to live life only gained me increasing amounts of suffering.

Ledge Teachable

Why Be Teachable?

This is something you must answer for yourself. For me I allow myself to be teachable because I have made the decision to never cause myself the suffering I once felt. Who in their right minds desires to suffer?

That is also the point! When we excessively close ourselves off from the healthy thoughts of others, suffering generally increases.

There is something within all of us that strives to expand, grow and create. But we cannot use solely our own information to grow in the ways that are desired. We need the successes and the support of the thoughts and emotions of others to get where our bodies impulses instinctually desire to go.

I also need other people’s info because they see things I may not be seeing. And paraphrasing Buddha here, “suffering comes from being unaware of the causes of suffering.” Without other people’s info, I’m susceptible to walking into the causes of suffering ill-prepared and ready to get beat on.

The quality of life we most deeply desire requires allowing other people to teach us how to get it. That means showing us where to go as well as where not to go.

Being Teachable can go too Far.

To be teachable doesn’t mean that we are just be blown around by other people’s information. It doesn’t mean that we blindly accept ideas and run with them. But it does mean that if we feel the truth of some information, even if it goes against our beliefs, that it be taken sincerely.

Being teachable does require that we be open to having our minds changed. But not to the extent that we are left with a whole mess of ideas that we feel we are “supposed” to believe, instead of ones we feel to be true. Every human being needs to have a belief system to help the world make sense. So my motto is question everything, but not so often as to have the world make no sense at all. 

Of course, it doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to be taken advantage either. I generally believe that the vast majority of individuals in this world are good. But there are those who seek to take advantage of those that are not well-versed in certain areas of expertise.

So remain teachable but don’t allow yourself be taken advantage. It is all about balance. Such is life!

How to become more Teachable.

To be teachable means to be opened up to the information around us. It requires momentarily dropping our judgments about what is being taught, opening our minds and listening.

Being teachable means being active in our relationships. Whether the information comes from conversations with people we chat with, a book someone wrote or a YouTube video we watch. For me, the day just didn’t feel right if I didn’t pick up some valuable new information from whatever source it comes from.

Here is how I keep Myself more healthily teachable:

  • Make sure we are in a healthy emotional place.
  • Seek reputable sources to be taught from.
  • Remind myself that I am seeking to be taught before I will be presented with new information.
  • Drop my judgments about new information until after all the info has been presented.
  • Limit distractions like trying to multi-task with a cell phone or other things that keep our minds busy.
  • Make eye contact and actually listen.

A Life Opened up and Healed by Being Teachable.

At the beginning of the article, I described my life of being teachable. I did not know how to be taught by healthy sources and that led me down a dark path. My mental, emotional and physical Health were in shambles.

Since coming to recovery I have learned a great deal about this skill, and my life has opened up greatly as a result. All areas of my being have been healed in ways I never thought possible.

I know how to find healthy people and have developed a keen sense for when someone is selling me info that is garbage.

The suffering I experience today pales in comparison to what it once was. And you best believe the feelings of success and joy I experience today were something that couldn’t be fathomed 10 years ago.

teachable roads

Struggling with Being Teachable?

If you are struggling with being healthily teachable I am happy that you found this article.

My first tip would be to find some healthy people that you can trust. Whether that needs to be a Mental Health Professional, your grandmother, or just a trusted friend. Actually, the ideal would be talking to several people you trust!

Get all of their information and what they would advise. Then do what they say as long as the advice they give would not harm you or others.

It is quite painful to be living in a world that is shut down from the helpful thoughts of other people. A world in which we think we know it all and therefore don’t need others is tremendously stressful.

So give yourself a break and allow someone to teach you something new today. It is most certainly for the better!

Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.

To see our Terms and Conditions click here

 

 

Releasing from Perfectionism Mindset.

So I was at a recovery meeting the other day and an individual shared something that struck a heavy chord with me about Perfectionism.

What was shared sparked the realization that my brain tended to get stuck in a state of Perfectionism. Meaning, a state, that while I am in it, I am constantly judging reality based on an ideal in my own brain. That and when the ideal is not met, the world is not okay. At least the world from this perspective anyways!

But our perspectives have a way of blurring what is going on in the real world. They can also be blurring the fact that the world may be perfect just the way it is.

Wandering through life in a perfectionistic state like this can make life very painful. A life where hardly anything seems good enough does not lend itself to having healthy relationships. Since this Perfectionism doesn’t seem to just be pointed at ourselves, we hold others to our standards as well.

I don’t know about you but this State of mind and not being in the moment has also done immense damage to my mental and emotional health over the years. What is really a trip is that as I look back on my life, even recently, I seem to be on autopilot while acting out on it.

Waking up to perfectionism.

Perfectionism tends to live on autopilot. Meaning that when in it, we may not be aware that we are.

Sometimes if we step back and examine our lives we may find the evidence for perfectionism we have been missing.

Here are some of the clues that we may be stuck in Perfectionism:

  • Having the feeling that something accomplished just wasn’t good enough.
  • Not having a healthy sense of pride for productive skills.
  • Being overly critical of something not completed exactly right.
  • Being overly critical of something done well.
  • Having the feeling of being a failure even when things are going well.
  • Setting to high of standards for what other people are attempting.
  • Not offering up enough healthy praise for jobs done well by ourselves or others.

For the sake of this article we need not be so worried about the why this problem comes to be a problem. We cannot do much about the past except do well for our present.

If perfectionism is a problem, on a bad day there isn’t much of anything that will be perceived as good enough. This isn’t right, that isn’t right, they aren’t right, life isn’t right. In this case there is some ideal that we are connected to and absolutely everything is missing it’s mark. This can set off a cascade of disappointment, anger, or possibly self-pity.

The Stress of Needing Perfection.

Perfectionism Stress
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

There is an important place for being rigorous in getting things done well. I also believe that there is a place for pushing ourselves and other people to work hard to do well for what we collectively set out to do.

But after a certain point, the rigor and pushing for a certain outcome turns into a pushy and unhelpful cause of unneeded stress. Maybe it will get something helpful done, but is all that stress worth the trouble? That is a conclusion we all need to come to for ourselves.

We may push people to do what they don’t care about. As well as attach ourselves to ideas that we believe we are supposed to care about, but at our cores we don’t.

Not believing in what we are working for is stressful. And so is trying to push others to work hard for what they don’t believe in, at least when they won’t follow the plan and be obedient!

So what is the answer here, just sit back and not challenge ourselves or others to become more skilled? Absolutely not.

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Letting Go Perfectionism
Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash

Perfectionism is about control. There is something in a Perfectionistic brain that seems to like having things just so!

We have to find ways to let go of this control. That is,unless you are perfectly alright with beating yourself up! As well as harming relationships because they aren’t interested in following WHAT WE PERCEIVE to be the correct path.

I get it though, we desire what is best for the people that we care about, and yes this includes ourselves. It may hurt to let go, because we are invested in a way that may have once worked.

But the truth is that if we are willing to ease up on our Perfectionism, a better way will likely present itself.

There are a few questions we can ask ourselves to put the whole situation into a better perspective.

  • Am I working towards something that actually matters to me?
  • Do the people I am pushing actually want what I want?

These questions require honest self-reflection, to find out what we really desire. As well as some thoughtful conversations to find out what our relationships desire.

It takes some work, but ultimately could lead to using our and our relationships time and energy more effectively. This means more productivity and less resentment.

From Perfectionism to Realistic Perspective.

If after reflecting and communicating you find that you are pushing for what you desire and others are on board, then awesome. I recommend spending time giving ourselves and those in our sights more compliments than criticisms.

This can help us from being too harsh and inflexible, allowing me let go and trust the innate intelligence of the people we surround ourselves with. It can also help us stay in reality instead of locked into rigid ideals, which is a much more enjoyable state for everybody!

But, sometimes our relationships have no desire to buy into our visions anymore. It may be a hard pill to swallow. This takes grieving on our parts, so that we don’t get caught in a cycle of anger, self pity and resentment.

Here are some of my personal resources If you need some help to let go. Mind you that using them does not guarantee results for you, but have helped me immensely over the last decade in recovery from my own issues.

 Tips for Grieving Ideals and Getting Back into Proper Perspective

  1. Surrender our thoughts and come back to the moment.
  2. Work on getting over disappointment.
  3. Do some Therapeutic Writing.
  4. Work on developing healthy expectations.
  5. Get priorities in order

I hope this article may help you ease up on rigid ideals you may be forcing on yourself and others.

In the end our relationships with ourselves and others benefit by our pushing for ideals that we all truly find important!

Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.

To see our Terms and Conditions click here

 

 

 

 

How to Stop Wasting Time.

I’m realizing more clearly every day that possibly the biggest crime we commit is in wasting our precious time.

You do it, I do it, we all do it to some degree.

One Persons Wasting Might be Another’s Calling.

Don’t worry, I am not here to shove a bunch of causes down your throat that I feel is worth everyone’s time. Everybody is different so we all have to define what activities are a waste of time for ourselves.

I can see something as a complete waste of time, and another person will find a level of joy in it that I may never know.

Though I will say that if you find yourself lost in a blah world where hardly anything makes sense, then no doubt a lot of time is wasting away..

How can we tell if something is a waste of time or a calling? Well, there is a saying from the Philosopher Alan Watts that rings through my mind often.

“Do you dig it?”

If I am not digging it then I am probably in the wrong place, or the wrong headspace! And if the thing is dug, then we may be on the right track.

Life is too Short to be Waste Time.

Our time here in these bodies on this Earth is minuscule. We are basically here for a flash of a moment. To be off in our heads worrying and chasing down people, places, and things that will leave us feeling empty is just stupid.

Often times when I am chasing what I don’t dig, I get an empty feeling. And when I am feeling empty, I know things need to change. The feeling tells me I need to find some things that I legitimately dig!

Life is too short for too many things we don’t dig. I am so grateful that I have woken up to this realization.

Learning is not a Waste.

One of my greatest joys is learning about myself. I am grateful to be blessed with this desire.

Though throughout many years I was astray from this calling, and much time was wasted. But thankfully I was able to make it out of the painful world of active addiction, and back into the real world.

Now I can be full of anger and regret about wasted time, or I can learn from it. Lessons learned to ensure the past was not a waste!

But any lesson I have learned about the past that I continue to disregard, I am now wasting my damn time. And I am likely wasting the time of everybody around me.

Wasting the most Precious of Times.

Now I consider it a crime to waste my own time. Though I feel it would be an even greater crime to waste the time of those around me. Who really comes to mind when I say this is my 3-month-old daughter Ada!

In my wife’s post a couple weeks ago, she spoke of learning how to stay in the moment from our infant girl. This reminded me of how easy it can be to become completely distracted by the beautiful features of life. It reminded me how much I fail to stay focused on what is right in front of my face as well.

But today I am now fueled with a commitment to waste as little time as possible for myself and others. This also means a commitment to developing a better relationship with the moment, the only time that exists.

It’s Never too Late to Quit Wasting Time.

All that we have is right now, the present moment, and it is never too late to quit wasting it. Sometimes it may take jumping off a cliff moment, where some long-held relationships need to be left behind. Other times it is as simple as just focusing closer on the present moment and appreciating what is right in front of us.

That’s right, just because I feel like I am wasting my time doesn’t mean that I am in the wrong physical space. It could be that I am wishing for something that isn’t meant to be, or has not yet come to be.

It is amazing what some relaxed breathing and focusing on what I am grateful for can do for me. Just 15 minutes can take me from feeling completely lost to being planted firmly back into my calling and the present moment. There are all sorts of things to be digging in this present moment right here and right now! I invite you to slow down and feel how much they mean to you.

And as I said above, if you are just learning this lesson, latch onto it and quit wasting your time. It is a big lesson and one that may have to be learned over and over again. If you are anything like me, it may take multiple reminders a day..

Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.

To see our Terms and Conditions click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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Making the Commitment to Live Life.

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An incredible skill that I have learned in recovery is commitment.

If you have had some trouble making positive commitments in your life, then stick around and read this.

My Troubles With Commitment.

Throughout my life I had a terribly difficult time committing to much of anything. When I did commit to something, I looked good out of the gates. Over time though my commitment quickly descended into oblivion. Addiction had a grip on me for way too long. The only thing I really could commit myself to was numbing pain with chemicals. By the time I used for my last time, even my commitment to using disappeared, thank god…

Of course, I don’t really call the actions taken while in active addiction, my own personal commitment. I didn’t feel in charge of that process. I was more like a crazed squirrel, foraging to gather enough nuts to make sure it doesn’t starve during the winter. It was pure instinct. Pure instinct to protect me from the perceived danger of coming down. Insane or not, my brain was doing its best to protect me.

In fact, the way I ended up getting clean was because my family contacted Social Services, they worked out the process of terminating my rights to do anything but go to treatment for one year.

I was insane. They all knew it. Though it took some time to realize how crazy I actually was.

Help Commitment

Thankfully someone else made that commitment when I couldn’t do it for myself.

It wasn’t until I began waking up from my fog in treatment and at recovery meetings that I began making the decisions that would lay the groundwork for making positive commitments.

The Turnaround for Commitment In My Life.

During my time in treatment I realized that even though I was under state commitment, I needed to make this recovery and my life my own. So, when they said I needed to go to 2 recovery meetings a week, I decided to go to one pretty much every day. And when I had to earn points to go outside by doing homework, you better believe I was all over that.

I went above and beyond, to show MYSELF that this was mine. That this is my life and I am choosing to live. And that I am not being forced to.

This is the type of mentality that has helped me to have the last almost 10 years clean! As well as accomplishing many lifelong dreams like being happily married, becoming a father, graduating college and owning a home.

The level of commitment I have for life has grown immensely over the years. And the stakes have gotten remarkably higher. Even though the stakes are higher, the process of achieving goals stays the same.  Plus, I don’t get to relax just because I have achieved a lot in the last 10 years.

Commitment to Dream

Being All-in With Commitment.

My brain needs excitement. And to feel like I am living MY OWN life, I need to live above and beyond my current situation, while working hard in my current situation.

This is how a mind stays connected to building a great future reality, letting MYSELF know, my RELATIONSHIPS know, and even LIFE ITSELF know that I am ALL-IN. When we show that we are ALL-IN with our commitments, the amount of blessings come into my world is tremendous!

Life can be amazing, not so damn boring. This takes effort though and consistent reminders to keep moving.

If you are struggling with feeling like your living your own life today, you have some decisions to make. Right here and right now you can make the decision to make your life more of your own!

It’s not like anyone else can do this for us…

In our next article we will discuss living life on default. Which  is neglecting to make enough positive commitment with our lives. Living on default has horribly negative effects. I will talk about them, then lay out some important guidelines for staying off default mode and finding a life worth living.

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Much Love,
Travis H

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Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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Pushing positive energy through the negative.

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I am a strong believer in the law of attraction! I have also experienced how it works in my life.

When I put out positive energy I am met back with that same energy. Just the same as if I am putting out negative energy that is what I receive back. This has been a great thing for me to implement in my life and it ALWAYS works.

Lately even though I know it works, I have had an extremely difficult time putting out that positive energy, which is not something that you do just once at the beginning of the day. Rather, it is something that you continue to do throughout your entire day. That, or it simply will not be effective!

It has been very difficult to follow through on staying positive, as of late. I begin my day by thinking positively and feeling love for what’s to come, but when that first negative thought or feeling comes it can be easy to let it hijack my whole day.

One area that is hugely impacted is at work. I work at Costco, which I normally love, and I interact with people my entire shift.

I am sure everyone can relate to shopping and ending up with that crabby cashier which can put a damper on your whole experience! I never thought that I was the crabby cashier. Well, it turns out that I am more that person lately than I thought.

When one unreasonable customer begins pushing my buttons they no doubt are feeling my “stabby eyes”, as my husband calls them. If just one of these customers comes around I can have a drastic personality change! And it will make it more likely that others after them will feel my wrath.

I am generally an upbeat and friendly person who never minds striking up conversation with those who come through my line. I smile and laugh with others and love to help cheer people up. Currently I am none of those things which has got me a bit down.

It’s not that I don’t want to be grateful, because trust me I do. I think that with all the changes that have come with being pregnant and being off one of my medications, that it has become a lot harder to manifest the positivity that I once had. This only increases fear and anxiety in my life.

I find it important to see exactly how this is affecting my everyday life. Gaining perspective on this is what drives me to make changes. What I know is that this issue has stopped me from fully being myself, leaving me feeling irritated and angry.

I am done hindering myself from having a great day. I am also done preventing myself from seeing all the positive things that are going on around me!

Although I am not trying to do it intentionally, I am making things harder for those I am working with. Ultimately, I am making it hard for anyone who encounters the negative energy I am fostering. This includes my family, friends, and even my cats!

positive.jpg

In my last post I mentioned how I would focus on bringing more gratitude into my life. This is something that can help me to attract positive energy, and not keep my day hijacked by the negative in my own head! Here are a few ways I have been able to do this!

1. Stop and list things I am grateful for in my head- This acts like a timeout if you will. Doing this at work helps to turn my mood around, even if for a few minutes.

2. I have a symbol to help remind me to be grateful- I picked this up from “The Power by: Rhonda Byrne.” I picked something that I love. Every time I see a turtle I stop and really invoke feeling of gratitude and love in my life. I see it in jewelry,on t-shirts, kid’s toys, and more. “Affiliate Link Below”

3. I take a moment to breathe- This allows me to slow down and relax a little. When this happens, I can focus on feelings of gratitude, and get back to my friendlier personality.

4. Putting myself in others shoes- At work I have found it helpful to think about how coworkers might be affected by my energy. I know that when I work with someone who is constantly negative it can take a toll on my mood and sometimes I find myself feeling negative right along with them.

5. Thinking helpful thoughts- When I can get outside of my head and think of helping others, that can keep me from treating them badly. Thinking of helping others has helped me to stop the negative thoughts and start thinking positive thoughts. Then I am able to laugh with and not criticize, to smile at and not scowl, and to love and not hate.

Each of these things helps me to incorporate more positive energy into my day, which is something that I really need right now. Actively practicing this is what makes for a good day and I become someone that others want to be around.

Well that is all I have for now! Thanks for taking a moment of your day to read this! Feel free to share if you found this to be helpful.

Also, look over to the sidebar and sign up to My Life Experiment’s email list to receive our free Therapeutic Writing Guide, and to receive My Life Experiment blog directly to you email!

I hope you have a great day!

 

positive.jpg

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_blurb title=”My Life Experiment” image=”https://mylifeexperimentdotblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/9db50-3ca83-2-1.jpg&#8221; _builder_version=”3.0.106″ saved_tabs=”all” url_new_window=”off” use_icon=”off” icon_color=”#919191″ use_circle=”off” icon_placement=”top” animation=”top” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” global_module=”3875″]

Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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Relationships : About Contribution, Not Management.

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In this article are touching on the principle of contribution in relationships. This is a tremendously important aspect of keeping relationships healthy.

The writers of My Life Experiment are a married couple, myself and my wife Casey. We come from similar life paths, in that we have lived through the pain of addiction. And that we both found and have thrived in recovery from addiction. More often than not have been strongly supportive contributions to the fulfillment of each other’s ambitions. Through the duration of our relationship we have come to understand how important the principle of contribution is to relationship growth.

What is Healthy Relationship Contribution.

To contribute is to give. To give what? Well to enhance the healthy aspects of our relationships, we give what will benefit the growth of these healthy aspects. The contribution could be time, money, words of inspiration, honesty about hurt feelings, or anything else that is done in a spirit of goodwill for the relationship.

Contributing to the health of a relationship is about building the relationship up, rather than tearing it down. We can give a great deal of our anger to a close relationship of ours, this is also a contribution. But it is a contribution that will not lead to or enhance a long term healthy relationship.

 

Dock photo

What has worked so well in Casey and I’s relationship is that we have our own personalities, our own friends, and our own recoveries. I don’t feel the need to attempt to micromanage Casey’s life, and Casey has been able to do the same for me. Thank god!

We are able to have all of these things be separate, but still come together on enough things so that our relationship isn’t left to be too needy.

I don’t know about you, but I can get the feeling of suffocation quickly in any relationship. Without necessary space I am likely to freak out. I tend to be a bit of an introvert as I discussed a couple of posts back. That and I have had ample problems with other people’s expectations, and with those I perceive to be authority figures.

I remember one time when I was cleaning the fridge back at our old apartment. As I was cleaning, Casey walked by and said “Great job babe” or something similar. My immediate response was “you’re not my manager.” It was pretty funny to me, but I think it took Casey a little for bit for her to have the same sentiment for the comment.

Just so you know, I don’t believe my wife is my manager.

I have given ample thought to this situation and here is what I am concluding. Some unresolved stuff in me thought that she was trying to condition my behavior… So, I revolted!

I imagine this feeling is common place in relationships that require this amount of time to be spent together. Or maybe I am just justifying my behavior.

Despite occasional revolts from feelings of being controlled, thankfully Casey and I have worked well together! But it isn’t controlling each other that has helped our lives together grow so rapidly.

We certainly push each other, encourage each other, and compliment each other! We understand that in order to have a happy relationship, we need to change, grow, and find success in new territories.

Casey knows that my success is her success, and my clean fridge is her clean fridge. And most of the time, I stay reminded of the very same thing!

Team Players!

We understand that we are a team. We realize that the team needs the fridge to be cleaned, the litter boxes to be emptied, the dishes to be done, and so on and so forth with the never ending list of responsibilities there are to take care of.

Even though sometimes innocent comments about my cleaning performance can be viewed as attempts to condition my behavior, it doesn’t really matter because that is all part of the process.

To be in a healthy, intimate relationship, we must allow the other person to leave their mark on us. They need to know that their needs, are needs that not only they care about.

Now does it really matter that compliments may be a great way to make it more likely that someone will behave the way I would like them to? When it comes to having a healthy relationship, of course not!

Casey isn’t making me be in my marriage, nobody is making me show up to weekly baby appointments, and cleaning the litter box. Nobody is forcing Casey to make any contribution to My Life Experiment blog, or any of the thousand contributions she has made to my life.

We choose to be in this relationship. And we choose to make it a healthy one. Both individually and mutually making contributions to each other!

A big reason I have been able to keep my end of this relationship healthy is because I have kept my own mental and emotional health in check. This has come from me showing up for my personal recovery.

Another great tool I have is the Therapeutic Writing Guidelines we have developed. This writing process has made huge contribution after huge contribution to my recovery. If you would like to obtain a printable copy, go ahead and join My Life Experiment’s email list on the side bar! You will get a printable Therapeutic Writing Guide, as well as receive our new blog posts directly to your email.

Thank you very much for stopping in to My Life Experiment once again or for the first time. We appreciate you all for supporting this family endeavor!

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Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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The Pros and Cons of Being Naturally Not so Social.

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A couple of weeks ago on My Life Experiment I wrote about “Gaining Self-Acceptance for my Not So Social Nature.”

In this article I just want to lay out some of the pro’s and con’s to having a social style that doesn’t desire all that much social interaction.

I enjoy laying out the cons to things, since then I can build up the thing with the pros at the end!

Some Cons to Having a Not So Social Nature:

  1. Not seeking many opportunities to socialize- I know that socializing is very important for maintaining mental and emotional health. My style leads me to isolate pretty easily if I am not careful. And isolation is not good for my continued growth.
  2. When I want to Socialize, others may not want to- Sometimes I really do feel like socializing. The whole introverted thing is not an all or nothing proposition, I just happen to be more inclined to not want to socialize than to want to. So, since I am really good at hanging out with myself, I sometimes find it difficult to let people believe I actually want to hang out!
  3. Style Strengthens with use- I understand that what I do most often, is what I am learning most about doing more. I don’t learn how to socialize more until I actually socialize more often. To be more balanced with my social life, acting out on my nature too effectively does not help me learn a new way of living my life.
  4. People Might Follow me- People that may watch what I do in recovery sometimes see my style and think, “well if Travis doesn’t socialize then why should I.” This could lead someone that naturally has a more social engagement style to isolate themselves from the growth that comes from interacting with others. I help other addicts in recovery, and we tend to take things to extremes!
  5. Not selling myself enough- Lets face it, to be successful in life requires selling our personal brand (reputation)! In order to be selling, I need to put myself in front of buyers! That goes for this blog, my job, my recovery, and every other relationship. If I don’t sell people on my reality, they will naturally go up into their heads and make assumptions about me. And these assumptions may not benefit the kind of life I desire to live!

pros and cons

Some Pros to Having a Not So Social Nature:

  1. Recharge my own batteries- Many people need others to recharge their batteries. I do find some recharge from other people as well! But more often than not, I find that other peeps drain my batteries more than charge them up. So, when I need to recharge I can do some meditating, do some writing or just relax, and boom my batteries are all charged up!
  2. A Unique Life Perspective- I have spent much of my life sizing up the world. I sit back, and I watch, I study, I read. When I open my mouth, the thoughts are usually from a perspective that other people haven’t thought about! This has led me to come up with creative ways to solve problems that maybe other people are not thinking of.
  3. Development of Self Knowledge- To not be surrounded by people has helped me get to know myself in a way that I would have had a difficult time doing while being constantly surrounded by others. I realize that gaining self-knowledge does require some social engagement, but ample time reflecting by myself is paramount for me getting to know myself.
  4. Freedom from social expectations- Now that I have been gaining more acceptance of my social style I have been able to separate the expectations of others, from expectations I actually care to take responsibility for meeting. This frees me up to do more things that I care to do, instead of running around co-dependently taking on too many other peoples
  5. Time for Making my own Decisions- Something that I deeply need and enjoy is having peace and quiet for making big decisions. I feel that if I do not think through my decisions that I may end up acting irrationally. Thankfully I am quite alright being solely in my own company, so I can peacefully come up with my own part of the plan without the presence of other people. Then If I cannot figure out the plan, I can then communicate with others to figure out the rest.

I realize that my nature is naturally Not So Social but writing this Cons and Pros list has opened my eyes to some new insights!

The world that I live in, in order to find great success, does seem to favor those that are more extroverted and willing to socialize. So, for me to find the kind of success I desire, and desire for my family, does require me to crack open my not so social shell from time to time!

I realize that just because my nature tends to be naturally not so social, that does not mean that I cannot learn to be more social. But that it is quite alright for me to respect my limits and not expect myself to be something that I am not.

If there is one thing I hope that you get out of this article, I hope that you can see that it is perfectly fine to be yourself. This goes for if you have a not so social nature, as well as if you have in my opinion, too social of a nature.

I also hope that you take one more thing from this article. I hope that you see that whatever social type of nature you have, there are many bonuses to learn how to be more of your opposite. My Life Experiment is all about learning new ways to live. I cannot simply accept my not so social nature, and let it be that. I have my tendencies but there is always room for improvement.

I wish you well on your path of learning how to learning more about your social nature. And thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. Please like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Follow our Facebook page!
  4. Join our email list below, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.

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Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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Anxiety in a Joyous Time

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I have experienced great excitement in my life on several different occasions, but each of those events doesn’t even seem to come close to the level of excitement that I have for bringing my baby Ada into this world with my husband. Our lives are about to drastically change, and we are ready. Although there is also great anxiety!

At this point we are waiting in anticipation to lay eyes on our little girl for the first time. The house has been filling up with things for her and her room is finally finished. To see the bassinette in the bedroom, to sit in the new rocking chair, and to wash and fold her tiny cloths are all things that fuel this excitement.

I picture her sleeping, crying, smiling, crawling, and the laughter of each of us as we enjoy these moments. I even picture the messy house, sleepless nights, and the dirty diapers. We are ready! I love each of these thoughts as they come up and I feel an immense amount of gratitude. I even feel gratitude for the hard moments that are about to come as well because it is all part of the process.

But to go along with all this excitement there is plenty of worry and anxiety. When I first learned that I was pregnant I had to quickly wean off a certain medication that I was on. It helped me with depression and anxiety symptoms. This has been difficult for me at certain points throughout my pregnancy.

I work a customer service job and I have noticed a significant increase in anxiety when it comes to talking with people. When it comes to any type of confrontation I feel like I am ready to crawl out of my own skin. And now that we are down to the last few weeks everything physically and mentally seems so hard. One thought that helps is knowing that this will not last forever.

This is all completely uncharted territory for both my husband and I and new experiences can be scary. From time to time I wonder whether I will be a good enough mom or worry about the birthing process. It’s ok, even normal to feel some amount of anxiety for what’s coming.

Right now it is so important for me to take care of myself so that I can be in the best spot mentally when Ada is born!

This means that I need to continue the practice of feeling grateful, keep talking about these feelings of anxiety so that i am not harboring them all to myself, and continuing to maintain a healthy daily routine  no matter how uncomfortable I am emotionally.

When I am practicing gratitude in all my affairs I start to feel better. Thoughts like “I can’t do this, or I am not good enough,” turn into thoughts of loving myself and knowing that I can accomplish what I set out to do. Gratitude has the ability to turn my mood around.

This has been one area that I have been lacking in at work and I can see the impact that it has on how I am interacting with people. It makes for a long and hard day when I fail to focus on why I am grateful.

The reason that I find it so important to continue to talk about my feeling of anxiety is because it seems to lessen those feelings. I am able to listen to feedback from others and keep myself accountable to what is going on.

Maintaining a healthy daily routine will help keep balance in my life especially when everything feels so hectic. This will take stress off my shoulders and allow me to feel somewhat normal right now.

As long as I am focusing on these things I know that I will be ok. I WILL be in the best place I can be. In fact, I already am!

Thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. Please like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Follow our Facebook page!
  4. Join our email list below, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.

 

 

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Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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The Gifts of Self-Awareness and Finding Conscience.

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Today I have been thinking about some of the gifts that recovery has given me. Many of the things that recovery has blessed me with are more tangible things, things like being in a happy marriage, a very soon to be father, owning a nice house, and having a decent job.

But many of the gifts of recovery are what have actually made those more tangible gifts possible. Recovery has helped me develop sanity by finding a principled way of living. Helping me learn, Honesty, Open-Mindedness, Willingness, Patience, just to name a few. Without practicing these in my life, I don’t stand a chance at staying sane, and staying clean.

There was a thought I had today that spurred me writing on this topic. The thought was “what is the most important thing I have learned from recovery?”

Although it is difficult for me to pick a most important thing I have learned. The self-knowledge and self-awareness I have learned seem to be a clear stand outs for the most important!

Most of my life before recovery I spent bouncing off one experience to another without really any clarity of why I was doing it. If there was “clarity,” the logic came from a very foggy mind, and I could convince myself of some crazy stuff..

What is very interesting is that I didn’t happen to bounce from one healthy experience to the next healthy experience. No, it was quite the opposite!

The actions I took seemed to be led by two puzzle pieces:

1. The easiest action I could take.
2. The most exciting action I could take.

Now I realize I am staring at another question here. Was it easy to deal with the consequences of committing crimes, or to create so many more problems for myself and others? Hell no, it wasn’t but those were not things that I thought through before tearing off into the next, probably not so good decision!

Of course, I felt remorse and regret when I caused problems. And when I felt those things, I desired to change my behavior. Sometimes I would change them, for a little while. But eventually I would find myself sliding back into old behavior.

Sure, through my life I have caused a lot of problems, but to me there is one main problem. I had no clue who in the hell I was. I lacked self-knowledge and self-awareness!

To me, without self-knowledge there is no self-awareness. And without self-awareness, there is no maintaining the required actions to hold my best possible life together. There is also no keeping me from destroying my life with the tendencies I resort to on default.

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A huge piece of self-knowledge I didn’t have for many years, is that I am an addict. That there is something in my brain that, when triggered, begins a downward spiral of negative thinking and negative actions.

Getting control of this spiral, keeping myself out of it, and learning how to move myself in the other direction has been what recovery is all about.

So today I know that I am an addict, and I am aware of what I need to do to recover. I am more aware of what thoughts and actions, bring me closer to starting my downward spiral, even subtly.

I have also learned how to separate my feelings about myself from the negative behaviors I habitually engaged the world with! And the troublesome thoughts that lead me to feel like acting on those behaviors are mostly nipped in the bud, as soon as the arrive in my mind.

Over the years I have come to learn more about who I truly am. I know that if I am seeking excitement by something that is illegal or destructive, that there is a bigger issue. Up above I mentioned two puzzle pieces that guided my addict behavior.

Here are the puzzle pieces that primarily guide my actions today:

1. What is best for my family?
2. Does this fit positive direction I have?
3. Do I really want to behave like this?
4. Am I going to regret this behavior later?

I notice that the above puzzle pieces were not based on questions, but these ones are. That is because I have a good relationship with my conscience today. When I ask it questions I get answers back that are more in tune with who I am!

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For many years I didn’t have a good relationship with my conscience, I didn’t ask many questions about what was best for me. Like I said I seemed to just bounce from each experience to the next, basically lost. Unaware of the conscience I had, and the possibilities that existed on the other side of the insanity I lived within.

Gaining self-knowledge and self-awareness are beautiful things. I don’t necessarily like everything I am learning about myself, but at least my thoughts and behavior are not such a horrible waste of my time and energy! On the flip side of the bad, I am growing quickly into the kind of life I adore living.

Now, I don’t claim to have full knowledge and awareness of who I am today. I would be a damn fool to believe I had that. If My Life Experiment has taught me anything up to this point, it has taught me that there is much more to be discovered about life. There is also much more to be discovered about myself!

I wish you well on your path of learning how to communicate in healthier ways. And thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
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Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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Leadership with Healthy Expectations.

For as long as there have been leaders, the argument for how they have been made has probably been going on.

The argument goes like this. Are leaders born, or are they made.

Over the last 9 years I have come to terms that I am and probably always will be a leader.

Leaders inspire. Leaders push for movement towards shared goals. Leaders also make sure their expectations for what needs to be done are expressed to everyone involved with the relationship.

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In order to make expectations for relationships I am a leader for healthy, I can clearly see some things that need to be in place:

1. Relationship Development- When I have managed at my job, people have needed to do what was expected in order to receive a paycheck and receive good reports. But most of the areas I lead in do not have a monetary reward for meeting expectation. To get people on board with my expectations, I need to develop rapport with them. And I need to give them a damn good reason to want to build something with me. Just berating people with my expectations without a mutual and enjoyable relationship, means that these people will probably tell me where to go (and for good reason)!

2. Reasonable Expectation- What I mean by this is that I need to get a gauge for what people can perform. I believe that this requires me to study people’s behavior, also setting a high bar for initial performance. Setting the bar higher at first can give me a gauge for how much someone can do and cannot. If I set the bar too low I may never get to know what someone is capable of doing.

3. Effective Communication- I know that if expectations are to be healthy, they need to be communicated. People need to know what I need from them. If I don’t communicate the expectations, I am probably going to assume these people know what I want. Then I will be frustrated when these people are not meeting my expectations. Even though these people never even knew what I was expecting in the first place!

4. Consistent Evaluation- When individuals have accepted my expectations for their performance, for whatever reason, I need to let them know what I think about their performance. I need to show them my gratitude for meeting expectation, I need to show my dissatisfaction for performance not being met. I have also found that when I am expressing my frustration, I need to do it in a way that respects the individual.

5. Continued Support- To me it is not enough to simply express what the expectations are and to give reports on whether they have been met or not. I also need to let people know that I have their backs. People that I am in a leadership role with need to know that I am willing to do whatever it is that I expect from them. And if I am not skilled enough to do what needs to be done, I need to be willing to help find someone who can.

Now BELIEVE ME… Being able to write this list has come from struggle. I have pushed on people too hard without having a solid relationship in place and pissed them off too much. I have expected too little from people and watched them get bored. I have assumed too much, I have expressed too little. I have neglected to practice what I preach.

I don’t say this to guilt myself, I say this because this is My Life Experiment! It is only by experimenting with life, and examining the results of my actions thoroughly, that I have learned the skills I have.

In the article about Hustling to Maintain my Sanity I talked about all the things I need to do to maintain my sanity so that I don’t fall into my old way of life. Being a leader is just another one of these things I must do.

I have also found that when this leader does not lead, stress builds, and so do the tendencies toward depression and anxiety. But when this leader does lead, I find that a natural skill comes out that has positive effects for helping any relationship I am a part of, find consistent growth.

I know a lot of people may argue that leaders are simply born, they are not grown. I believe that line of thinking is pure rubbish. I believe that if individuals truly desire to learn the skills that are involved with being a successful leader, that they can do so!

Sure, I do believe that some people may be more geared toward being leaders than others. I also don’t know where this tendency came from for me. Was I born with it? Or was it something I developed when I was navigating a world as an insane man that could not stop using mind altering substances?

Whatever the case may be, this trait is a part of my personality now. And as much as I would like to remove the leadership trait at times, I cannot.

I don’t always appreciate that one of my first tendencies is to nudge people into new territory and place expectations on them. But I at least have been learning how to get the most out of the leadership quality, and have been honing how to have, communicate, and get positive growth out of the expectations I am developing for people today.

I wish you well on your path of learning how to lea with healthy expectations. And thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. Please like and leave a comment below.
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