Celebrate the uniqueness of you

You are a unique combination of experiences, perspectives, values, talents and strengths. Of all the people in the world, there is not one person exactly like you. You are a rare and valuable gem. Flaws, faults, failures and all. You are still special. Just the fact that you are still standing, still trying, still fighting for your dreams and goals, still finding joy in big things and small, still seeking out things to strive for and laugh about…in spite of everything. That’s your evidence. Remember that when tapes of old stories play in your head and consume you with worry that you should give up because of every real and imagined thing you think is wrong with you and your life. You are worth fighting for, no matter what has happened in your past. No matter what comes your way remember that there is nothing common about you. You are special and you are equal to any challenge. It matters not what anybody else around you has accomplished. You are uniquely you. You may have to stop, rest, get help and regroup to get through but you are equal to the challenge and get through is what you will do. And so it is.

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Daring as self care

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps. David Lloyd George quoted in Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You – A Journal.

In other words…go ahead and leap for your dreams. Go for your goals. Throw off the burden of unrealized potential, it is too heavy to carry indefinitely.

Use the power of your breath to ease anxiety

When there’s an anxiety-producing event looming – an important presentation, dental surgery, a first date – you can start to calm your nerves the day before with this exercise. Close your eyes and gently bring your lips together. Inhale through your nose. As you exhale (also through your nose), make a humming sound: “Mmmmmm.” Let this hum last as long as it is comfortable. Then inhale and repeat. Don’t try to control it too much. Just breathe in and hum out. If you try to extend the hum longer than is natural, you might tighten up. Play with the tone until you find the place where your “mmmmmm” flows out in a comfortable, lowish pitch, audible but quiet enough that no one except, say, the person right next to you on the bus would hear it. The humming breath has a way of loosening your jaw, mouth, lips, and tongue – areas that tend to tense up when you’re nervous. Once you’ve found your hum, repeat it whenever you start to feel anxious – whether you’re standing, sitting, or walking. Let it be easy and fun. Over the course of the day, the soothing effect will build, helping you become more and more relaxed for the big event.

Exercise by Cyndi Lee, founder of OM Yoga. Taken from Real Simple Magazine, September 2015

Meditation for challenging times

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Disappointment is a normal part of every person’s life…including mine. When I am facing a problem I can take care of myself by remembering that I am not being punished. Even good people have bad times sometimes. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I am equal to the challenge.

I have the wisdom, the energy  and the strength to get through this. I know that I will be okay even though I may not know yet exactly how this situation will be resolved. I trust myself to look for and find each next best step.

I have within me the drive and determination to change what I can, and the courage to accept what I can’t. I stay focused on where I am going, reminding myself often that life is always changing. Where I am right now is not permanent.

Even though things are not as I want them to be, I am okay. I will not give up on myself, my life or my goals. All is well. And so it is. Have a good day.

“You can go your own way”

Women are making some strides politically and in the corporate world, but what about socially? Not so much.

There remains an underlying vein of discomfort – even guilt – as we break away from long loathed limits. “Having it all” comes up often, but that isn’t the real issue. The real issue is having the freedom from cultural pressure to identify and choose what we want. Then to actually go for whatever that is without apology.

The dreams our great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and even mothers, dreamt are becoming real. We have more choices about what we can do, but not as many real choices about how we can be. There is still a great deal of tension related to identity, gender socialization and life choices.

For example, do we choose from the multiple roles available to us (employee, mother, leader, wife, partner, etc.) or does the cultural current simply carry us along until we settle into these roles. How do they fit together and how do we reconcile the sometimes conflicting responsibilities of each? How do we find (and use) our voices when our subconscious minds still believe on some level that women should be accommodating and made of the requisite sugar, spice and everything nice?

The next frontier we conquer must be social and cultural norms. Our job as women with more choices is to actually embrace and exercise them without regard for the cultural limits that keep us in conflict with ourselves. You know the limits. They show up in our willingness to speak up for everyone except ourselves; torment us whether we work in or outside the home, encourage us to stay in unhappy relationships, and fill us with doubt about our life choices.

The fear of cultural backlash can make it difficult for women to be honest about who they are and what they want. We worry about being perceived as a “ball buster” or a bad mom. We worry about how it will look if we are single, without children or divorced. We worry about fitting in and about not upsetting the status quo. We’ve had a lifetime of worrying about the right way to be a woman. That will not earn us a second life. We will still get only one.

Just Breathe

Each time you wash your hands today, pause for a moment. Slow down and breathe deeply, allowing your belly to fully expand as you inhale. Exhale slowly and sigh out loud as the breath moves out of your body. Remember to sigh. Sighing can help you regulate disrupted breathing patterns and lead to feelings of calm.

Breathe deeply throughout the day and remind yourself that you are okay.

While you are taking a breath break why not also take a break from trying to manage what others think of you or how they feel about you?

She who trims herself to suit everyone will soon whittle herself away. – Anonymous

Leap for your dreams

Take the leap. You have already failed in a thousand big and small ways – you did not die. You learned, you adjusted, you kept growing forward. Why not risk failure for something that really matters to you? Go ahead and launch your business, get sober, write a book, ask a question, sign up for the race, step out, take that class, say yes to whatever your dream is. Go big, and if you fail it will be in the knowledge that you took a glorious leap toward the deep longing you have felt. It is okay to let yourself be pulled forward by that longing. Allow it to fill you, it might even quiet some of your fears.

Know that you will be okay no matter what happens. You may even be better as you decide to answer your urge and nurture courage instead of discontent. So decide to take the leap. You will not die if you stumble or even if you fall (embarrassment or whatever else you might feel will not kill you). Besides, if you don’t succeed you can rework your plan and try again as many times as you need to. You are worth the effort and the risk.

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?

Be still

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself. – Hermann Hesse

You deserve to be happy. You are good. You are enough. Breathe deeply and remind yourself of this often.

Who Do You Think You Are?!

Maybe the question looms large each time you try to step outside your box. Or maybe it is yet unspoken. Lodged deeply in your subconscious mind and blocking any bold ideas before they form into actions. No matter where the question is, for many of us it is there. Finally answering it may be just the encouragement you need to free yourself from the burden of unrealized potential. So…who do you think you are?

Write it now, loud and proud. Claim your gifts as well as your flaws (know what you are working with and what you want to work around). Not sure what to write? Ask someone you trust who knows you well enough (and is emotionally healthy enough) to give you some useful feedback. Embrace the promise within the part of you not bound by doubt, fear, criticism or the voice of the ever vigilant and critical inner commentator. Maybe she does make you feel safer, but she also keeps you away from what is possible.