Changing Our Thoughts From Fearful to Self-loving.

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Being able to work through fearful thoughts and return to a self-loving state is a beautiful thing. All of us that are capable of rational and sane thought has the ability to find this natural state of self-love.

Being an individual that has lived a life of addiction, recovery has made it necessary to learn this process. Here is my list of practical self-loving tips to help me let go and stay in my love, even when times feel rough.

1. Remind Ourselves that Our Thoughts and Emotions are not necessarily Reality.

This can be a difficult thing to grasp (especially when emotions are on high alert). It is also a freeing reality once this is grasped. When emotions are running high it can be easy to feel like the thoughts that feel out of control ARE reality. Getting ourselves to realize that these are just thoughts from hurting emotions can take a lot of the fear away.

It seems to me that fear, whether it is fear of a real or imagined event, is simply our bodies way of trying to get us to protect itself. This is all well and good when there is an actual threat. But it is not so necessary when there is no immediate danger.

When we are protecting ourselves from imaginary threats, there is only one person we are protecting ourselves against. That person is ourselves. Sure there is self-love involved with protecting ourselves from real threats. But being stuck in fear distorts our connection with reality. And being disconnected from reality takes its mental and emotional toll. Our way back into reality is to find our way back into a self-loving state.

please_do_not_feed_the_fears.jpg

2. Sincerely Tell the Thought “I love you.”

I find it a little strange how effective it can be to tell my thoughts that I love them. Saying I love you, to anything, can help us put my guards down. It is no different when we say this to our thoughts, no matter how unsafe they seem to be making us feel.

Saying I love you to the thought helps to see through it so that we can get some healing for the fear-filled energy that is trying to be felt. Of course, simply telling a heavily fearful thought I love you will not pacify it enough to make everything feel okay. We will need to sincerely tell the though I love you, and back that up by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to its energies.

If there are deeply held fear fueling the thought, we may need to take our sincerity deep enough to bring about tears.

3. Just Breathe and don’t actively think at all.

When feeling overwhelmed at times, even saying I love you to thoughts can start a cascade of thinking that may be tough to handle. In these times dropping our thinking as much as possible until our minds have a chance to clear is probably best.

Putting our attention on mindful breathing, and feeling the sensations in our bodies can bring deep relaxation. And relaxation in these times is likely what we need. As our minds relax, our bodies can relax, thus creating a calm, maybe even serene state to our entire beings.

Initially, it may not be easy to surrender our thoughts and impulses the moment. But if we stick with it, the calm will come.

4. Talk to Someone that is Trusted.

Even if you are a take care of your own emotions as much as possible person like myself, trusting others is still a necessity for coping with fearful thinking. Sometimes our go-to self-soothing methods won’t take us to our impulses to a place of healing. In this case, having trusted individuals we can chat with is indispensable.

We can use the trusted people in our lives to help us calm down. As well as for working through our fear, relating with our pain, and reminding us that we are loved. There is a healing energy that is offered up when we become vulnerable with people that deeply care for us. Trying to do this life thing all alone is a silly thing. Loving ourselves, our thoughts and our emotions is much easier when we let people love us.

Allowing others to help us is one of the most self-loving things we can do for ourselves.

5. Take a Small Step in Taking Care of an Errand.

Getting behind on the priorities we have is a big cause of emotional turmoil. Sometimes the list of things that need attention seems so daunting. It can be easy to get stuck in feeling like it all needs to be done right now. And equally as easy to get too hard on ourselves because we are falling behind.

A great start to remedy this is to start a small to-do list. Simple enough right? The list doesn’t have to be complicated, simply list a few things that aren’t getting done, and commit to doing them.

Fear is a sign-post that will let us know that we need to get our butts in gear. It shows us that the proper preparations are not being made to have the type of life that we desire to live. Taking care of something that needs our attention may very well take the fear away.

Staying on top of our priorities is a highly self-loving thing to do.

Closing Thoughts.

Fear to Self-Loving

These are the habits I have developed to stay grounded in my love. Developing them so that I can be my best possible self. It helps keep me in my right mind and helps me in touch with my emotions.

Integrating these tips into our lives even when light fear is present, or when there isn’t fear at all makes it easier to practice when times are tough.

My hope is that this list can help you find self-loving results similar to the those that I have received in my life.

 

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Welcome! 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. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.

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Importance of Breathing Well in Staying on Track!

Good morning “My Life Experiment followers and newbies! You may or may not know that over the last five days I have been partaking an experiment I have dubbed “The Gratitude Intention.” I have been having some great realizations and have been putting together a list of tips on how to maintain a successful gratitude building routine, which I will write about in greater detail in the experiments conclusion article. One aspect in particular is what I want to touch on more deeply this morning!

There has been a constant aspect that has played one of the most important roles in keeping me able to be in a state of gratitude. That is my staying on top of breathing! It might seem a little obvious to some for me to say that breathing is important, but I believe it can be overlooked far too often.

I believe that because of the situations I put my body in for years while experimenting in dangerous ways, that my body tends to easily go into Fight or Flight mode when I am not paying attention to my surroundings. My understanding is that when in Fight or Flight, the body begins to shut down or slow down certain bodily functions so that it is better prepared for the danger it senses. That is whether the threat is real or imagined! So if a thought comes through my head about some “insulting” thing someone said earlier, my brain might take that as a threat to myself in the moment and begin to tense up to get ready to fight or get the hell out of here.

just breathe

There is no staying grateful when stuck in Fight or Flight mode. And it seems the only way to slide myself back into gratitude is to do some breathing to get relaxed. Then I can remind myself that I am safe by thinking about all the things there are to be grateful for. In my constantly changing world and the rough life I lived before recovery, my brain can sense all sorts of threats that have nothing to do with reality! Thankfully I have learned a technique to keep myself on track! None of this is possible if I fail to remind myself to breathe.

Right track

I am truly grateful for this routine and how much the refining of it has taught me about staying in reality and staying grateful. My routine yesterday went very well, all of the different aspects of it were accomplished, but were not necessarily accomplished in there “correct” order. With that I am entirely okay. I spent much of my day paying attention to my breathing and saying I love you to the things that popped in my mind that I appreciate!

I am already on day five and that is pretty awesome! I am excited to go into my day today thinking about how important breathing is to my gratitude routine and basically everything I do. Hopefully I have sparked a it’s importance in your head as well! Well on to my day of living life and building gratitude. I wish you the best and most grateful day you can imagine! I will be back tomorrow to touch on what I notice today, so stay tuned!

 

 

Bibliography:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/fight-flight-or-breathing-right-the-choice-is-yours/

 

“The Gratitude Intention”, Going Strong on Day four!

Good morning folks! Welcome to the fourth day of my gratitude invoking experiment. For those that have been following my journey, welcome back! For those that just found “My Life Experiment” today, I am happy you stopped in! To get up to speed on what this experiment consists of please check out “Stay Woke with the Gratitude Intention.” There are also days one through three to read up on to get the full picture of what has happened during “The Gratitude Intention” so far!

Alright, time to get into how day four went down. In a lot of ways the day four was very similar to the past days I have written about. Though I find it important to write about it and read about it, even though they may look similar there are a lot of little details that are different. I find it important to notice these little details, because sometimes just the slightest detail can bring to light an aspect of the process that is of great importance.

I woke up pretty early on this chilly North Dakota Saturday, but i also had a recovery meeting to attend early this morning. I didn’t get a chance to write my gratitude list of ten things, I got 4 done in kind of a rushed way and I was cool with that. I can have a tendency to follow my routines a little too strictly and be too hard on myself when i don’t follow them “to the T”. But thankfully I have learned that it really doesn’t solve anything to beat myself up over “missing the mark.”. It’s like the dieter that eats a meal that they shouldn’t have (been there). What is best, to badger myself with guilt, or just move on and set my sights on getting back on track? I prefer the second option by a landslide!

stay flexible

My afternoon was geared toward appreciating the things around me. When I was driving around I turned off the music and was very mindful about how great my life is. I was breathing deeply, I was easily letting go of any stress inducing thoughts that arose. Moments like this are truly awesome, no fear, just freedom. I didn’t really find it necessary to stop fully and meditate on the things I was grateful for, since I was already feeling plenty of gratitude. But I did anyway, because that is what I set out to do in the experiment. I realize that even though I am only writing about this experiment short term (I think its temporarily anyway), that if the gratitude routine is beneficial, then I will be continuing it indefinitely. And if I am going to continue it then i better “weld” these steps into my brain so they become habitual!

My night at work went about the same way. Although my focus was more on taking care of the needs of my client than focusing on gratitude. Although when my client went to sleep I did take the opportunity to finish writing up the gratitude list I couldn’t finish earlier. It felt great to finish writing that, it led the way for some emotion to arise, and that is most definitely something I appreciate. Then I went home after work, cleaned out the litter boxes, chatted with my wife for bit, then went to bed. I was able to have a couple of minutes to meditate on the beauty of the day, but before I knew it I was waking up to the alarm.

Once again, thank you for checking out “My Life Experiment!” I appreciate all of you and my hope is for you to have a wonderful day that is full of awareness for the things to be grateful for. We are now over halfway through “The Gratitude Intention,” so my mind is busy thinking of the next experiment to begin. I don’t know what this experiment is yet but I do know it is going to offer me the opportunity to create important changes in my life. If you are interested in what my next life experiment will be please follow “My Life Experiment” and stay in touch!

 

Things to remember:

  • Everyday is different, and routines need flexibility.
  • Its never too late to get back on track.
  • I am trying to create a long-term habit here.

 

 

 

“The Gratitude Intention” Day Three!

day 3

Welcome! First off, for any new readers to get up to speed, please check out “Stay Woke with the Gratitude Intention.” Then if you would like to read day one and day two you can get a sense for what results I have had so far as a result of this process. If you have read all of them so far then thank you very much for being so supportive of  “My Life Experiment!”

Yesterday was my best morning yet! I woke up at 7 a.m., got my coffee, fed the cats, wrote my daily to do list and got busy on my gratitude list. I kept in mind what I remembered from Day two (make sure to put emotion into writing what I am grateful for), and I finally made it to writing ten things to be grateful for and WHY, unlike my first two days! Thankfully I had a particularly easy time thinking of things to be grateful for, and invoking the feeling of gratitude from them.

Throughout the day I began developing a busy mind, I felt excited, but also a bit edgy. I was pretty stuck to my phone, watching stocks, watching my blog stuff, getting work texts. I wasn’t really watching to see if I was breathing well though, I also wasn’t looking around for things to be grateful for as much as I was the other two days. When it became time to close my eyes and meditate it was actually difficult. I believe it was around 4 p.m. before I got myself in a place where I could meditate well enough to say I accomplished my goal. But I am happy with how the session turned out!

As the day went on I stayed in a halfway good mood and halfway anxious mood. I would describe the state I was in as highly motivated with out the mindfulness needed to keep myself from creating stress from thoughts that don’t need to create stress. Later on in the day I did finally catch up to the knowledge that I needed to slow my phone roll down, and just breathe. I also did a little writing about my baby girl that will be showing up in a couple months, and that had a calming effect as well!

HALT

Then I finally made it home, after my wife and I retrieved the cat food I forgot in the shopping cart in the parking lot at Target! We ate some late night pizza (I was very hungry). I checked my computer for any last minute things and then off to bed I was. Before I knew it I was zonked out sleeping! I forgot to remind myself of my bedtime meditation and so it never became a thing (I was very tired). Thinking the day over I guess the acronym H.A.L.T (see below) comes into play. I was hungry and I was tired, but I made it through the day well with all things considered!

Thank you so much for checking out “My Life Experiment”, tomorrow I will post day four for you and I am determined to pump as much gratitude into my life as I can possibly stomach today. This should make for an interesting read tomorrow! I wish you all the time in to world to cultivate your own gratitude in this day! But remember, just because it isn’t always easy to do, It always seems to be worth the effort.

 

Things to Remember

-I am not always going to find it easy to be grateful, and that is okay.

-Motivation is great, but it is much more neurotic and stressful without mindfulness.

-The acronym H.A.L.T (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) this is an acronym that means whenever I am in too much of any of these feeling states, I should be very careful of what I think, do, or say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to Day #2 of “The Gratitude Intention”!

DayTwo

Well everybody, we woke up again today and that is pretty darn good thing. I even woke up with a little energy to get into my gratitude routine! Thanks for checking out My Life Experiment to see what happened on Day two of “The Gratitude Intention.” For those that haven’t seen this blog before and want to be up-to-date on what is going on here then check out “Stay Woke with the Gratitude Intention.”

So yesterday I woke up even earlier than I did the day before at like 7:30 am! Hey, I didn’t have to be awake for another couple of hours so this is a big thing for me! Then I got my coffee going, got the cats fed, got my to-do list done and moved on to my gratitude list. Yesterday I only made it to five things to be grateful for and WHY, today I didn’t quite get to ten, but I did get to eight! I guess ten is going to have to be something I work towards.

Writing the gratitude list felt great once again! I spent a four-year period writing these gratitude lists every day, which I stopped doing about two years ago. Sometimes when I was writing the lists it felt very robotic, and I didn’t get much gratitude out of them some days. It seemed like I kept rushing to do what I needed to do out of necessity, and didn’t “stop to smell the roses” enough. As I get back into this routine I realize that at least part of my mission needs to be about making sure that I am putting some emotion into them, it seems to be the only way I get the FEELING of gratitude out of the writing process! I can sometimes seem like a Stoic and unemotional dude to others, but my history of immobilizing anxiety says there is much more there than meets the eye. The list is a good outlet for the energy.

In the afternoon I did manage to set aside the time to get my 10 minutes of gratitude meditation in! I didn’t lay down for it or anything like that. What I did was simply turn off the radio in the car as I waited for a client to get out of school so that I could take him home. I think it is so important to realize that all it takes to meditate is a little time (which can be very little), some quiet, and the willingness to turn down the go-go-go mindset that is so easy to spend an entire day in. In the last post on day one of the experiment I mentioned that I did not MAKE the time to meditate, but simply spent many different moments to make sure I was breathing well. It felt like a new little accomplishment to get that meditation in, though I did make sure to use what I learned the day before, and tried to do some mindful breathing as much as possible!

It was so nice to remember throughout the day that I am currently in an experiment to see how a routine with the Intention for Gratitude effects my life. Reminding myself that I will be telling a bunch of people about this process kept me paying much more attention to what I was thinking than normal (in a good way). This kept me alerted to times when my thinking began to get me stressed out. Then I just took a couple of breathes, relaxing on the out-breaths, and I pretty easily got back on track.

Fast-forwarding to the end of the night, I did my little ten-minute meditation while laying down in bed. My mind was racing a little bit about some current responsibilities, but I was able to slow it down with breathing and putting focus on the good in my day. Before I knew it, I was sleeping, I assume I made the ten minutes but never the less I went to sleep in a good place!

Of course tomorrow i will be waking up bright and early to get into the routine, and to fill you all in on how today went! If you want to know more, stay tuned. I deeply appreciate the attention you have given “My Life Experiment” and if you have any suggestions or any other type of comments please write them below. Also feel free to share this blog with anyone you know. Thank you for your support!

 

New Things Revealed:

  • I realized that it is highly important to put some energy into my gratitude list to actually FEEL gratitude from writing them.
  • I got a new reminder of how easy it really is to find a time to meditate, even during the middle of a weekday.
  • I seen how simply knowing that I would be telling people about my day, kept me on track to keep myself grateful.

First Day of “The Gratitude Intention”!

Day one

Good morning everyone! So, if you read my last post you may remember that I set the Intention to cultivate gratitude to see if it helps me stay more alert and connected to my life. I decided that for every day of the experiment, I would also make sure to add a blog post the day after (hopefully first thing in the morning), to update any things I am noticing about the process.
Yesterday I spent my first day writing my morning to-do list and gratitude list, and taking time outs for gratitude meditation. I ended up waking a little earlier than normal to write my daily lists, I was somewhat groggy, but brewed up the coffee, fed the cats, and got down to “brass tax”. Generally, I would like to sleep in for as long as I can in the morning, because it feels great! Maybe the other reason is like my wife says, “because we will be parents soon and we won’t be sleeping much anymore!”
While I was writing the lists, I had a familiar feeling but a very good one. First of all let me show you an example of the first gratitude I wrote. “I am truly grateful that I get to wake up in this beautiful new home of ours every morning! I adore living here. As I walk around to our different rooms and see what Casey and I now own, I feel a ton of gratitude. It is such a gift to live here”. Suffice it to say after writing five of these (note that I set out to do 10), I was feeling comfortable and ready to start my day.
You may have noticed that I didn’t end up writing as many things to be grateful for as I set out to do. I am alright with this because even writing just five of them worked very well for me. I also didn’t find the time to take my ten to fifteen minutes to meditate in the afternoon. Although I did find little moments throughout the afternoon to take a few deep breaths, relax, and think about what there is too appreciate! That worked great, but I will be getting to the routine as planned, tomorrow. Though by going off track from the routine I was reminded how powerful taking a couple of good breaths is for getting myself back to the moment!

At the end of my night I got back into the experiment as planned. I laid down, closed my eyes, did some relaxed breathing, and for roughly 15 minutes I allowed the things I appreciated about the day to flow through my mind. It was a great way to end my night. When something came to my mind that felt like it added more pressure to the moment (such as scheduling issues, money issues, etc..), I reminded myself that I would get back to taking care of that issue tomorrow. I ended my day grateful, then dozed off and slept like a baby!

So day one was a positive experience, I seem to be honing my routine still, which is good. Today I am off on the right track and I will tell you more about it tomorrow! Thanks for checking out “My Life Experiment” once again or for the first time! Now here is a recap of some of the benefits I noticed from this process yesterday!

Benefits

-I woke up early just to get my lists done.

-I found myself naturally coming to use my breathing to keep me in the moment.

-I found myself thinking of more ways to be grateful for throughout the day.

-I was generally in a pretty good mood.

-I slept great!

 

Stay Woke with “The Gratitude Intention!”

Hello again folks, thanks for stopping in! So, after completing the last experiment, something has been on my mind. Over the last couple day’s I have been thinking about how the decision and commitment to find more qualities to appreciate, seemed to frame my mind to see more qualities to appreciate. It also gave me a little boost of energy, put me in a better mood, and made life a little more interesting to live. There is something very cool about that!

For me, it seems that I can spend a little too much time not paying close enough attention to what I am doing. It is too damn easy for me to get locked into my daily or even weekly routine and then basically go into autopilot with what is coming up next.  Autopilot works alright for keeping things maintained for a while. But before long I find myself very bored, even stressed out, and probably a little more moody.

Thankfully over the last several months my wife and I have made quite a few decisions that have created more way more challenges to deal with. They are beautiful challenges, but they are challenging nonetheless! I had a job change. We just moved into a new house with a nice new mortgage to pay, and we have our first baby coming in just a couple months!  With these new changes there really isn’t much room for me to be day dreaming and going into autopilot mode.

I am happy to say that I am making the firm decision to use these opportunities to wake myself up to a better, more mindful way of living. The stakes are getting higher now, and there is no way I am slipping back into my comfort zone!

Stay Woke

Now, back to framing my mind with my decisions, or I think I would rather call it “Setting Intention.” Over the next week I am “Setting the Intention” that I will pay better attention to my daily affairs. I will be more awake and aware of the options around me, the gifts they are, and the gifts that will come from them. In order to do this I am going to piggy back on “The Compliment Experiment” and work on staying in a state of gratitude in order to keep myself focused on the goodies that may be coming throughout my day.

For the next week I intend to take at least 3 opportunities throughout my day to cultivate gratitude.

  1. In the morning, before I do anything else (aside from getting myself some coffee, and the cats some food) I will write a short To-do List to help get me focused on what is coming up in my day. Then I will write 5 things I am grateful for and WHY I am grateful for them. This routine is similar to a process I used for roughly 4 years that brought great benefits into my life, I welcome it back with open arms.
  2. In the afternoon I will take a brief break to close my eyes and meditate for 10 minutes to do a little run through about the things there were to appreciate throughout my morning. Then I will say a heart felt thank you for all the good things there are to come.
  3. Before I go to bed I will give another 10 to 15 minutes to give some thought to the things I have appreciated throughout the day. Then I will say a heart felt thank you for all of the good things that will be showing up tomorrow.

Like I said I will be partaking in this experiment for the next week. For the next week I will write short updates on any cool things I am noticing about the process. Also, I may post some articles about  about routines I that currently bring positive results into my life that once started as experiments, but now are just what I do. Thank you for checking out “My Life Experiment”. If you feel like participating in this experiment with me, feel free! If you do participate, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments section. One week from today  I will post the “Gratitude Intention” on Wednesday January 10th!