Tell yourself the truth

Decide now is the time to ask the question that has been fluttering around the boundaries of your subconscious mind. Let it fully form, and then face it with curiosity and courage. Maybe your question is about why you have stayed in a job or relationship long after it helped you connect with the best part of you. Maybe it is about why you won’t leap for your dream even though staying in place is increasingly stifling. Maybe you want to understand your eating, spending or drinking habits better so you can finally make choices that support your physical and emotional well-being. Whatever the question, decide to ask it now. Know that whatever answers an honest search  reveals you have, or will find, the strength you need to do what you must be done.

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Know your money motivation

What motivates you to save? What moves you to spend? Use these values to make and meet short and long-term financial goals….after all, sometimes it isn’t so much what you earn as it is how you spend it. Don’t believe me? Read this…

Oseola McCarty was an African-American woman born in Mississippi in 1908. She never earned a high wage during the decades she spent doing laundry. That’s what makes her gift so surprising. In 1995 just four years before her death, McCarty announced that she would fund a scholarship for financially disadvantaged students attending the University of Southern Mississippi.

The fund amount she gifted was $150,000.00. McCarty, an amazing saver with a 6th grade education, lived without any extravagance and few conveniences. She had no car, and for many years, no cable or even air conditioning. In total, she saved $280,000.00. In addition to the scholarship fund McCarty left money to her church and family.

McCarty started saving as an 8 year old. She put away money earned from ironing and eventually went to the bank and opened an account. Maybe we can’t all be as frugal but we can learn from Ms. McCarty that saving is less about how much we earn than it is about how we choose to spend. What was her secret? In an interview printed by the Philanthropy Roundtable, McCarty says she saved money, made deposits but no withdrawals. 

Think about it

How are the lessons you have learned about money mirrored in your present day money interactions? What do you believe about money? What role has money played in your life? In what ways would you like to change your relationship to, or habits with, money? 

Cultivate kindness

A research study involving fourth and fifth grade students in Vancouver, Canada found that cultivating kindness in kids helps them to be more accepting of others, more positive in their outlook and more popular among peers, too.

Is this important? Increasingly, yes. Mass murder, bullying and other acts of unkindness have become increasingly common. There isn’t one magic bullet solution, but cultivating empathy, kindness and compassion is almost certainly some part of the answer. Each of these is learned, just as violence is learned. We can choose.

Maybe the world isn’t a meaner place. It has been suggested that the 24-hour news cycle only makes us feel it is. But in spite of globalization one could argue that the world is at least a more isolated and disconnected place. Such isolation can make it tough for many to feel a sense of belonging and responsibility to the larger community.

Cultivating kindness in kids, and nurturing it in adults, builds connection and reduces isolation. We learn through this connection to imagine what it feels like to stand in someone else’s shoes, and to care. We learn that we all matter. We learn to feel compassion for ourselves and for others.

As we approach another New Year it seems the perfect time to reflect on the kind of people we want to be and the kind of world we want to live in. Many of us will resolve to reduce debt or our waist lines. Let us also consider cultivating kindness. Show concern before tragedy or heartbreak. Tell kids, and remind adults, that kindness counts.

So many painful tragedies. What if, in addition to mourning, people everywhere changed their attitudes and practiced compassion in every action? What if we changed our question from why to what can I do to be sure this doesn’t happen again?

Self-care tips

As promised, eight more self-care tips for protecting your emotional health:

  • Decide that there is no real value in always putting yourself last. In fact, it is important to sometimes put yourself first, even if you are a parent.
  • Know it is okay to expect happiness in your daily life. Look for small pleasures you can be grateful for and relish throughout each day.
  • Rest your mind. Spend time regularly in meditation, prayer or silence. Commit to this practice even if your life is very busy or doing so feels strange. You may even be surprised to find that you feel calmer, more productive and focused. Start simply by taking three or four deep breaths each time you visit the bathroom. Or you might set your alarm clock ten minutes earlier every morning to pray or meditate.
  • Avoid people, places, media and situations that leave you feeling bad or drained. Protecting your time and space is one of the most important ways to practice self-care.
  • Set up and honor personal boundaries. Yes, you can say “no” sometimes without bringing the world to an end.
  • Be deliberate. Do things that don’t contradict what you say is important to you.
  • Give yourself a break. The next time that voice in your head starts bad-mouthing you or putting you down, tell it to STOP. Choose an affirmation and repeat it for calm and comfort.
  • Keep a journal, sing, color, dance, create…

Take Action Challenge: How will you practice self-care?

Tomorrow…the next building block for protecting your emotional health – support.

 

 

 

 

Protecting your emotional health

We all understand the importance of protecting our physical health by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and adequate rest. What we don’t think about as much is the importance of protecting our emotional health. Taking care of our emotional health is important because our attitudes, how and what we think, play a big part in shaping our experiences, our worldview and even our accomplishments.

Just like the food pyramid is designed to help us make the best dietary choices for our physical health, the personal care pyramid helps us make the best choices for our emotional health. The building blocks of the pyramid are self-care, support and self-help.

About self-care

Much as the words suggest, self-care is about finding ways to gentle, loving, affirming, nurturing, supportive and encouraging of ourselves. There are many ways to practice self-care.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Check in with yourself throughout the day. What thoughts and feelings have been coming up most for you? Can you identify their source? Is there anything you need or are ready to do about your feelings? Pay attention to how you are feeling and what you are saying to yourself.
  • Take regular, deep breaths. Sometimes this is all it takes to calm and refocus yourself. It is okay to do this several times a day. Know what works for you and when you need a time out.
  • Make your emotional well-being a priority – you are important enough and no matter how busy you are, you have the time. Decide to make time for things that nurture and restore you.

Check back tomorrow for eight more self-care tips and later in the week for more about support and self-help.

 

 

Living Intentionally

And if only one more hour…? Those may not be the exact words, but that is the gist of a quote I came across several months ago. I cut the words into a small strip of paper that is now pinned to a bulletin board in my office.

We all know that death is inevitable. We hope the day is far away. But what if it isn’t?

Reading those words reminded me of how precious time is. Still, I squander time and take my relationships with self and others for granted. I refuse to abandon the superfluous, choosing instead to occupy myself with things, thoughts and activities that really don’t matter.

Perhaps it sounds cliché, but for those of us with seemingly endless days ahead it is very important to live in a way that, at least occasionally, considers the question – and if only one more hour…? It does not seem reasonable or prudent to take for granted the gift of health or time. Everyone does not get to enjoy these gifts.

Some of us are, inexplicably, given more time. It seems a shame to squander it when so many others wish desperately for another, day, year, or decade. Assuming you have it how will you make the most of it?

Living intentionally invites us to consider some of life’s larger questions. So, if only one more hour…? How you answer may uncover some clues that help you improve the quality of your time, your choices and your life.

Tenderly explore wounded places

With pen and paper close by take some quiet time to let a past resentment or hurt fully bloom in your consciousness. Notice how you feel – is your body tense, has your breathing become more rapid?

Now pay attention to what you are telling yourself about what happened. You might hear something like, these things always happen to me or what did I do to deserve that or why is life so unfair? Write down exactly what happened along with all of your questions and feelings. Is there someone you trust that is emotionally healthy enough to explore this with?

As you go over past hurts think about changing the question from why to now what. Asking why can keep you in a position of powerlessness because your focus stays on the person and the pain he or she caused. Asking why is not always useful because you may never be able to come up with a satisfactory answer. Asking now what can be a more helpful question because it puts you in the driver’s seat. Now what reminds you that you can decide where you go and what you do next.

Other questions…

How does it help me to hold onto painful feelings?

How would it help me to let them go? What would it take if I decide to let go?