Category Archives: Inner Renovations Project

Regain Control of Your Attention

Let’s be honest.  Within the past few years our attention has been pulled in so many different directions that sometimes we don’t know which way is up.  Our senses have been overwhelmed, nervous systems have been overstimulated, and minds have been overthinking.  If you can relate to that, you know it is time to gather and ground yourself to make sure you don’t crumble under the weight of circumstances that have been beyond your control.  

Focus on what you can control.  

  • You can control where you DIRECT YOUR ATTENTION
  • You can control how long to SUSTAIN YOUR ATTENTION
  • and you can control when to SHIFT YOUR ATTENTION

Recognize this executive brain function as a super power you possess that can help you restore balance, replenish your energy, and achieve your goals.

Focus on what you CAN control: Directing, Sustaining, and Shifting your attention.

DIRECTING YOUR ATTENTION.  `Many things demand our attention, but that doesn’t mean we have to respond to every bell that rings and voice that whistles.  In fact, you don’t even have to give your attention to every thought or emotion that arises.  You can be aware of it, yet decide your attention is best directed elsewhere – maybe on what you are doing in the moment, or perhaps on more productive thoughts.  You choose.  Realistically, you recognize there is only so much you can do at a time anyway.  Yet, you ponder, pontificate, and contemplate on many things simultaneously and one after the other, leaving you feeling like you’ve just been in a triathlon with no trophy at the end.  You’ve jumped enough hurdles, swam enough miles, and biked enough hills to have now earned the right to choose what you direct your attention to next.  Blood, sweat, and tears, you have at least earned the right to prioritize.  The Inner Renovations Body Scan Meditation gives you practice directing your attention at will.

SUSTAINING YOUR ATTENTION.  You may have noticed the increased number of adults impacted by ADHD.  A condition previously attributed mostly with younger generations is increasingly impacting the adult population who find themselves trying to navigate issues of attention-deficit while also having to manage responsibilities, stay gainfully employed, continue education, be well in relationships, and all things adulting.  We can speculate it’s related to our brains being conditioned to consume stories in our feeds for only seconds before it’s on to the next. We can theorize it is the result of a society wired to seek the most recent trends which change with every screen refresh. Perhaps the capitalistic roots are taking their toll and we don’t know how to stay mindful and present when we are incessantly seeking bigger, better, and best just to feel good enough. Whatever the theory, many people have trouble sustaining attention on even those thing they deem important and recognize can contribute to their health, happiness, and wholeness.  Have you ever asked yourself the question, “if I know this will help me, why can’t I just follow through with it?” The Inner Renovations Body Scan Meditation can help you develop skills to sustain your attention as needed.

SHIFTING YOUR ATTENTION.  If you’ve ever stayed in a situation long enough to regret it, then you understand the value of shifting your attention away from things in a timely manner.  Shifting your attention is a power move that allows you to honor your time and energy in preparation to redirect onto those things you’ve identified are most important to you in the moment.  It is different from when the mind is feeling squirrely and jumping at every acorn that falls from a tree blowing in the wind.  This executive function involves making a conscious decision that you have given something enough of your time, energy, and attention and that it is time to make a shift.

You’d be surprised how much more effectively and efficiently you are able to navigate larger issues by controlling more subtle aspects of your personal experience such as your attention and your breathing.

It is true there are many things in life that are beyond your personal control.  That makes it even more important that you embrace controlling the things you can.  You can’t control other people, world events, nature, or the unknown.  But you can control your breathing and attention.  You’d be surprised how much more effectively and efficiently you are able to navigate larger issues by controlling more subtle aspects of your personal experience such as your attention and your breathing.  The Inner Renovations Body Scan Meditation is great practice for Directing, Sustaining, and Shifting Your Attention.  Practice daily to gather the tools and develop the skills for your inside job.

Unique and Not Alone

The nights get long and the days take more strength to get through than it sometimes feels like you have. You wonder how things got to this point and if they will ever get better again. No one knows what is on your mind. If they did, they might worry. And the last thing you want is for someone to have more worries than you notice they’re already dealing with. So you keep it to yourself – maybe hoping, maybe praying that something will shift in your life and you get to experience it fully, freely, and happily either again or for the first time.

You are not alone.

The nights may feel lonely. And you may feel isolated in the day, whether in a crowd or by yourself. You remember how to smile, so you do it when you can. You know what love is, so you try to send it out in hopes that it comes back to you tenfold. You have a glimmer of hope, so you read and listen and try to chat about life-giving things that get you to the next moment.

Your experiences are as unique as your fingerprint; and you are not alone in your moment of trying to make it to the next. Your fingerprint is yours alone, but the hands of others who can relate to you on similar levels have their own unique fingerprints too. Different and similar at the same time. Unique and able to relate at the same time. That is who you are journeying with, in those crowds when you think you’re alone. There are others, who just like you, don’t want to be a bother and don’t want to cause worry.

I am reminding you, don’t worry. You are not alone. It is not a bother to find out you are human, having a heavy experience and making your way to restoration, salvation, and light.

Connect with a Peaceful Moment in Time

Think about a time in your life where everything was okay. You looked around and the sky seemed a little brighter, the air felt cleaner, and for that moment you were just grateful to be alive. When you connect to that memory, try to think of everything that made the moment special. Engage all of your senses to remember the way it looked, smelled, felt and sounded. Say to yourself “I am okay in this moment. Peace and joy are within me.

The purpose of the exercise is to connect with a resource that you already have stored in the archives of your mind. You retrieve the pleasant memory of a time that you experienced Personal Peace & Joy, and work with it in a way that refreshes its clarity and is more accessible to you when you need it most.

When might you need to consciously connect to that vision of a peaceful and joyful moment? When you are feeling it’s opposite: overwhelmed, anxious, sad, stressed, or any other unwanted inner experience. You can practice changing the channel in your mind by turning your attention to your selected moment in time.

Remember how your Peaceful and Joyful moment

Looks

Smells

Sounds

Feels

and Tastes

if you can involve all 5 senses!

You have more ability to regulate your emotions than you may be aware of right now. It takes some practice to observe how you are feeling then apply skills you learn to shift things in a more positive direction. Be sure to practice Connect with a Peaceful Moment when things feel okay for you, so that you are already familiar with calling up that vision during more challenging times.

You are Worth Your Love Today

The world has a way of making us question our worth sometimes. From images portrayed in the media, to things people may have said to you early in life, and ways you’ve been treated – all of those things can have an impact on the way you feel about and view yourself.

You have grown in many ways, have more experiences, and can tap into the wisdom you’ve gained over the years to determine who and what you are for yourself. You don’t have to have it all figured out or have the key just yet to your ultimate purpose. Start with the basics – with what it is possible for you to know for sure at this very moment.

YOU ARE WORTH IT.

Worth what?

YOUR OWN LOVE.

Know that for sure. Don’t worry about what others have done with the love you tried to give them, or whether they are giving it to you right now. Just connect with the fact that

YOU ARE WORTH YOUR OWN LOVE.

Knowing that truth will sustain you through complicated times as you may be navigating now. You are not alone and are capable of giving and receiving the love you deserve. It comes from you, to you.

Affirm:

“I AM WORTH MY LOVE TODAY.”

Affirm that everyday.

Form a New Relationship with your Mind and Body

You may have noticed change in many areas of your life. Living on planet Earth over the past year or two may have shifted your perceptions and beliefs in one way or another. It can be helpful to explore the validity of certain deeply held beliefs to determine if they still fit who you are and want to be. This means determining if your current way of living actually reflects your values and what’s important to you at this stage in life.

Questions may include:

  • Who am I and what is my place in the world?
  • What makes me feel happy, healthy and whole?
  • How do I identify and accomplish my goals?
  • …and more…

This self-exploration can include more in-depth questions about what needs to be modified so you can experience more harmony within yourself and with others.

Discovery of such answers takes time and patience. Sometimes with helpful guides and sometimes in the quietude of your meditations. It is what personal discovery, honest self-examination, and spiritual quests are made of. But there is an easy first step.

Make the decision to form a new relationship with your mind and body.

This very act, though seemingly small, means you are acknowledging an important key in your self-discovery and wellness journey. You are empowered in knowing “I am not my mind (my thoughts, cognitions, emotions, etc.), and I am not my body (the vehicle in which I experience this life).”

This acknowledgement puts you in position to form a more accurate relationship with both. You can now observe the workings of the mind and live in awareness of the body’s movements through time and space.

You are the awareness, the observer of the experience.

If, at times, you feel overwhelmed by what is happening in your mind or struggle with perceptions of your body, it can be helpful to:

INHALE your attention back into yourself. Noticing the way the breath feels coming into the tip of your nose.

EXHALE slowly while imagining tension melting away from your muscles.

INHALE: “I am in loving relationship with my mind and body.”

EXHALE: “I am not my mind, I am not my body.”

Repeat this round of paced breathing while affirming those helpful reminders to yourself.

It is true you are not mind or body; you HAVE a mind and a body. So, in relation to mind and body, who are you? Have a great day, you beautiful Spirit.

S.T.O.P. for a Moment of Mindfulness

It doesn’t always happen easily – having a moment of peace. There are often so many things to take care of at once that it’s difficult to consider where on the calendar to schedule self-care, let alone a sacred moment to really rejuvenate, regroup and reconnect.

This is why it may be necessary to intentionally S.T.O.P. so that you can create mindfulness moments within the day. You can use this skill to bring heart, mind, and spirit together and to interrupt overwhelming mental processes.

Practice the following skill called S.T.O.P., to build mindfulness moments into your day:

When you notice that you have started moving quickly, heart rate has increased, and your mind is over processing information and stimuli, say to yourself in a gentle way: “STOP.” This will remind you of the helpful acronym to bring yourself back to a more mindful way of moving through the day.

(S) Stop

(T) Take a breath

(O) Observe

(P) Proceed

Stop. Using gentle inner dialogue, encourage yourself to stop for a moment. It’s worth it. You are worth it. It won’t take long, so give yourself permission to bring a temporary pause to the overthinking, over-analyzing and emotional overwhelm by suggesting to yourself that you S.T.O.P. at this time.

Take a breath. Draw your attention back into yourself with your inhale. Exhale and imagine tension leaving your body. Take as many breaths as you want as you start to feel more centered and grounded in your moment. Allow more oxygen to your brain as you reconnect with yourself through your breathing.

Observe. Notice what is happening in your mind and body. Just observe, without judgment – without qualifying anything as good or bad. Just allow yourself to notice your experience.

Proceed. Move forward from this point with your best course of action. With more balance and clarity, proceed in a way that helps you feel well. You remain in the driver’s seat of your experience, no longer driven by your thoughts and emotions.

Proceed from this moment to the next, more centered and grounded.

Photo by Kelvin Valerio

You Are Forgiven

There can sometimes be no one harder on you than yourself. Mistakes have been made. The memories of our foibles and faux pas can flash through our minds creating moments of epic cringe. It’s time to let those go. I’m not suggesting you simply stop having the memories; when they resurface is often outside of our control. We can, however, control how we respond when it happens.

If you reflect on a mistake you made, a misunderstanding, or even some offense committed against you – what emotions are associated with that memory?

SHAME? ANGER? REGRET? DISAPPOINTMENT? ALL OF THE ABOVE?

After noticing the emotions that arise when you reflect on those situations, you can try to reduce their impact by focusing less on them and shifting your attention onto forgiveness.

You can forgive yourself. You can forgive someone else. You can forgive the situation as a whole.

It is not saying that you agree, condone, or like the situation. It is acknowledging what occurred in the past and making the conscious decision to release its hold on your mind and spirit. In time, distressing thoughts and feelings decrease with the practice of forgiveness. It could be instant; it could be slowly and surely. What is most important is that the load be lighter in your heart and mind so that you experience love and life the way God intended. That is why you are already forgiven.

AFFIRM. RINSE. REPEAT:

I AM FORGIVEN. I FORGIVE YOU. I FORGIVE ME.

Skill-Building Worksheets

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Use these worksheets to support the work that you are doing in session. By practicing your skills and completing exercises between sessions, you increase the likelihood of healthier thinking and behaviors coming more naturally.


Goals of Exercise:

  1. Identify negative, distorted cognitions that mediate intense negative emotions.
  2. Learn new ways to think that are more adaptive.
  3. Replace negative thoughts with more positive, realistic interpretations of situations.
  4. Replace dichotomous thinking with the ability to tolerate ambiguity and complexity in people and issues.

Goals of Exercise:

  1. Develop an awareness of the irrational nature of the fear and anxiety.
  2. Examine the probability of the negative expectation occurring and its consequences.
  3. Identify distorted self-talk that mediates the anxiety response.
  4. Recognize that the feared outcome will not terminate the ability to function.
  5. Resolve the core conflict that is the source of the anxiety.

Goals of Exercise:

  1. Identify successful coping strategies used in the past.
  2. View yourself as a capable, resourceful person who has been successful at overcoming fear.
  3. Apply successful coping strategies from the past to current anxieties.
  4. Enhance ability to effectively cope with the full variety of life’s anxieties.

Goals of Exercise:

  1. Develop and implement a daily ritual that interrupts the current pattern of compulsions.
  2. Reduce interference from or time involved with obsessions and compulsions.
  3. Function daily at a consistent level with minimal interference from obsessions and compulsions.

Goals of Exercise:

  1. Identify and develop specific strategies to resolve the fear.
  2. Implement a specific strategy on a consistent basis to minimize the impact of the fear.
  3. Increase confidence and effectiveness in coping with the fear.
  4. Reduce fear of the specific stimulus object or situation that previously provoked phobic anxiety.

Goals of Exercise:

  1. Verbalize an understanding of the relationship between distorted thinking and negative emotions.
  2. Learn key concepts regarding types of distorted thinking.
  3. Apply key concepts regarding distorted thinking to own experience.
  4. Identify and replace cognitive self-talk that is engaged in to support depression.

FOR USE BY CLIENTS OF INNER RENOVATIONS COUNSELING, PLLC.
ADULT PSYCHOTHERAPY HOMEWORK BY JONGSMA CORRESPONDS WITH APPROPRIATE DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT PLAN. THIS INFO IS NOT MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE. DISCUSS YOUR SYMPTOMS WITH A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL.

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FOR USE BY CLIENTS OF INNER RENOVATIONS COUNSELING, PLLC.
ADULT PSYCHOTHERAPY HOMEWORK BY JONGSMA CORRESPONDS WITH APPROPRIATE DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT PLAN. THIS INFO IS NOT MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE. DISCUSS YOUR SYMPTOMS WITH A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL.

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Free From the Blame Game

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BLAME is an interesting tool that works two ways.  It is the proverbial double-edged sword.

On one end it can be pointed towards others to shift responsibility away from yourself.

The other end can be turned on yourself to take responsibility for things that aren’t your fault.

I suppose that’s why its closely related to one of the “Unhelpful Thinking Styles” in CBT called PersonalizationAn event happens that you view as your fault or another person’s fault when really it was no one’s. The reality is that someone does not always have to be at fault.  There does not always have to be someone to blame. 

Do you need to release yourself or anyone else from blame and shame about things that have passed and cannot be changed?  Is it time to forgive the past and accept the present?

Repeat this thought every once in awhile to start releasing yourself and others from blame and shame that is causing you pain:

“I FORGIVE YOU. I FORGIVE ME.”

Happy, Healthy and Whole

You deserve to feel happy, healthy, and whole.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

If you already know this, it’s wonderful that you already embrace the truth. If your mind challenged the statement, it may be that you have been through things in life that make it hard to believe; or maybe you question whether you actually deserve it.

Today, let’s practice acceptance of that truth. Let go of doubt. Allow yourself to know that happiness, health, and wholeness is indeed a reality you can experience. Affirm it, until you experience it.

AFFIRMATION: “I Am Happy, Healthy and Whole.”