Category Archives: Inner Renovations

Collection of Articles focused on learning to love who we are now while also developing mindsets and skills to bring forth greater versions of ourselves.

Work Through Your Elephants

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Do you ever start projects and don’t finish them? There was such excitement in the beginning. The ideas were flowing and you felt that once you had all the pieces you needed, this would be your best project yet. But then something happens. Anything, really. And whatever it is, now feels like a barrier to being able to follow through on your plans. And so we have another unfinished project.

Let’s discuss Ways to Follow Through without Overwhelming Yourself

1. DO A SELF-INVENTORY. Before even starting the project, do an inventory of the strengths you already have that can be used in your plan. Then think about what skills you need and what it’s going to take to develop it.

2. PACE YOURSELF. Don’t go full throttle just yet. Imagine the man running a 5K and he sprints the first mile, powering ahead and taking an impressive lead. Before he has a chance to be too proud of himself, he realizes he still has 2.1 miles to go and he’s already winded. You know what happens next – he’s no longer in the lead as one by one the runners who paced themselves started pulling in front of him. Not only did he come nowhere close to winning, he had exhausted himself so much in the beginning stages that he didn’t even finish the race. Disqualified by his own exhaustion. Moral of the story: don’t be that guy.

3. RESPECT THE VISION BOARD. Not your thing? Make it your thing. Go old school with it and clip what appeals to you out of magazines, brochures, and any other material that can help you create a collage of your best life. Get your scissors, glue, and markers ready 3rd Grade Art Class style. (Glitter optional).

4. TALK LESS, DO MORE. I talk to my clients about an interesting habit some people have to talk, brainstorm, philosophize, theorize, and conceptualists. Basically do everything accept for take real action. It makes them feel like they’re working on things when in reality they’ve just been thinking about working on things. The Visioning stage should be just that, a stage. Not a place where you get stuck in your mind for years instead of moving into action phase.

5. BREAK THE ELEPHANT. Someone (I don’t remember who but they must have been wise) once asked me: What’s the best way to eat an elephant? To which I gave my thoughtful answer of: I don’t know, how. Unknown Wise Person replied: One bite at a time. I liked it. I liked it so much I started sharing that with my clients. Like it so much I’m writing about it. Break the big tasks into bite-size pieces. As great of a multi-tasker I’m sure you are, take a mindful approach and focus on one thing at a time. And speaking of breaks – have some.

6. TAKE BREAKS. Not the eternal breaks where you step away from your project for awhile only to never return to it again. But legitimate breaks where you stop for a moment even before you get tired. You can take a pro-active approach to self-care. Go ahead and decide when and how long you’ll put things down to let yourself regroup and refresh, then back to it.

I think the main key to completing projects is to keep working on them until they’re done. That’s right, there’s no mind-blowing formula to it, and you probably don’t need a weekend retreat to have that revelation. What you do need is stick-with-it-ness, self-motivation, and portion control as you work through your elephants.

~Chanel

5 Ways to Outsmart Anger

Everyone has their limits. The sweetest of us can be crossed. The question is, how do you handle it when you feel overwhelmed with anger? From this heated emotional state, anything can happen. From saying something you can’t take back, to having to restrain yourself from getting physical – if we let it get the best of us, Anger can sign checks that our sane self can’t cash. Maybe try this instead:

1) VALIDATE. Acknowledge your emotions, and validate yourself. You have a right to feel however you feel (that doesn’t mean you have the right to do whatever you want to do). As simplistic as it may seem, sometimes just acknowledging your feelings is a way of tending to yourself and re-centering. Say within yourself, “I’m angry, I’m human, and that’s ok.” Just because you feel the anger doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Sit with your emotion until it subsides. It too shall pass.

2) SHIFT. Core Beliefs are connected to Thoughts are connected to Feelings are connected to Behaviors. So if you want to change the way you feel, you can work on thinking of things that are life-giving to you. What makes you happy? What are you grateful for? What things have you accomplished that you’re proud of? Think on those things to shift the way you feel. To go the extra mile, see if you can connect with the core belief that was violated. We only get angry when someone crosses a boundary that violates what we believe. Gaining insight into that can help you shift your attention onto working with that core belief rather than rolling around in your anger.

3) REMEMBER. Don’t forget that holding onto anger towards someone is like drinking poison yourself and then expecting them to die. The one who is harmed by your anger is you. Remember you love yourself too much to ruin your own day with anger. You’ve got a life to enjoy and don’t want to miss positive moments that are happening right in front of you because your mind is somewhere else pondering on negativity.

4) BREATHE. It’s amazing what a deep breath can do. You may not be able to instantly stop the thoughts in your mind, but you sure can make strong suggestions to it by slowing down your breathing. Your deep breathing sends a message to your body that you are starting to relax. Your heart rate slows down, you get more oxygen to your brain to think more clearly, and you literally start getting a hold of yourself. Focus on your breathing and away from the anger. Say within yourself, “In this moment, I am safe, I’m aware, and I’m okay.” And keep right on breathing your way back to balance.

5) LET IT GO. Do it for yourself. You can only carry so much. The weight of anger is more than you need to bear. Explore forgiveness. See if you can view the experience from an angle that helps you release it. Maybe you decide to use this as an opportunity to practice grace – the act of giving favor and making exception for someone that may not necessarily deserve it. Or maybe you decide to let your Exhale represent letting go of negativity. Every time you breathe out, you let go of feelings you don’t need anymore.

Yes, there is righteous anger. Things that rightfully get a rise out of you and help you stand up for justice. But then there are other times when the anger is just not worth holding onto because it’s doing more damage than good. When you find yourself in that state try any one of these suggestions. If one isn’t effective in your situation, try another. Maybe you decide to move through them all. The very attempt and desire to engage in positive behaviors to improve your feelings can lead you out of a negative emotion and into a more peaceful place where you keep your power.

Wishing You Peace & Personal Power,

Chanel C. Bowen, LPC, LCAS, CSI, DCC

Start from where you are.

You have everything you need to accomplish everything you want. For too long we’ve lead ourselves to believe that tomorrow will bring more favorable conditions for our undertakings. The truth is, the opportunities are here now. The fruit is ripe for the picking now. The wisdom and experiences you have gained over the years can be applied now. Let’s not mislead ourselves into believing that we have to be on the next level to get to the next level. Start from where you are using what you’ve got.

Not to be dramatic, but tomorrow may never come. If there is any small step that can be taken, do that today. No need to overwhelm yourself with all that needs to be done. Just focus on what’s within your means to accomplish now. Little by little you will see things moving forward. You will feel yourself growing organically. Moving in this way keeps you from taking on more than you need to at one time. This allows you to take care of yourself while stretching yourself.

Don’t let fear and lies creep into your mind and cause you to put off what you can do today. The lies are: I’m not ready enough. I don’t have enough resources/support/money. Speak back to that: I am so ready, tried and true, I’ve overcome so much and learned so much that I feel prepared to take on the next tasks. And expect the best. The fears may be: What if I am not enough? What will others say if I fail? Do I have what it takes to see things through to the end? Speak back to those fears. Affirm: I am enough. The only way that I can fail is if I stop trying; and I never stop trying. Yes, I have what it takes to see this all the way through.

Identify your long-term goals. Then figure out what small steps can be taken in the meantime. When you finish one step, move on to the next and watch yourself build a natural momentum. Getting better along the way. Allowing yourself to be challenged, to grow, know yourself, and own your power. Your personal power and creativity, belief in yourself and in a power greater than you, ARE what you need to succeed. It is already yours. Start from where you are with what you’ve got.

Expect Great Things!

Chanel


broken forgiveness.

forgiveness

I struggle with forgiveness.

It’s easy to talk about letting go and letting God.

But doing so is one of my greatest challenges.

Giving up control is an almost impossible feat for a control freak.

Letting go is a tall order when I am used to holding on to everything for dear life.

Loving with a broken heart, trusting through broken faith,

smiling through pain is difficult for even the most well put together of us.

Some of us have mastered the art of falling apart

and putting ourselves back together again before anyone notices.

Put back together so well that you have to get up close and personal to notice the cracks –

this being the reason for my distance.

It comes easy for some; saying the right thing, feeling the right way,

even knowing what’s right in the first place.

Often times, I can’t tell.

I express what’s in my heart, say what’s on my mind,

and have too many feelings at one time to know what is right.

Often, I am wrong.

People struggle to forgive me.

They talk about letting go and letting God.

But doing so is one their greatest challenges.

 

Surprise, You’re Human

Nobody is perfect.  This isn’t news.  Yet, when we make mistakes, we hold ourselves to the most ridiculous standards of perfection.  As if you’re never supposed to feel awkward, or have an embarrassing moment, or mess up really really badly sometimes.  If people could hear the way you talk to yourself in your head, I bet they would say “WHOA! Take it easy – that’s kind of abusive.”  The inner-dialogue of some individuals is nothing short of verbally and emotionally abusive. Self-abusive.  It’s easy to spot when someone else is doing it, but is it as noticeable when you’re doing it to yourself?

Learn to stay friends with yourself even when you make a mistake.  There are so many people in your life that already do a great job at making you feel like a jerk.  They don’t need your help.  Why join the opposing team (the naysayers, haters, and negative-nancys) who love seeing you down?  Somebody has to stay in your corner, and who better than you!?  You know yourself better than anyone.  You know what you’ve been through.  You don’t take your experiences out of context because you know the WHOLE story from front to end.  That in and of itself is enough to garner your own respect because through it all YOU ARE STILL STANDING!  Maybe a little dusty from a few rolls in the dirt but STANDING NO LESS!

Make sure your inner-dialogue sounds something like the way you’d talk to a child you love.  You’d want that little kid to know that we all make mistakes sometimes and that things can go better the next time.  It would break your heart to see them give up and check out from embarrassment.  Wouldn’t you step in and let them know they are more than this slip-up?  Encourage yourself in the same way.  Tell yourself to brush your shoulders off and get back to being amazing.

Give yourself permission to be human.  Practice telling yourself “I’m okay.”  Cool little snippets like, “This too shall pass” work wonders when you’re having to “Push through” difficult moments.  Take yourself seriously enough, but not too seriously.  I mean, how boring would it be if we didn’t have something silly to look back on and laugh at sometimes?  Be willing to be silly, to look silly, and to shake your head at it and be on your way.

We’re so good at putting pressure on ourselves.  How good are we at taking some off?  Maybe as a mini-practice we could go through the rest of this week noticing our little faux-pas (which are kind of inevitable), and instead of getting in a tizzy about it, we remind ourselves of how awesome it is to be human.

Get Up to Get Over the Blahs

run to improve mood

I’m no cardio freak.  But there is something about going for a run (especially when I’m experiencing a depressed mood) that lifts my spirits.  I’ve decided that it’s the deep breathing and focus that comes along with it.  It’s therapeutic.  Aside from it now being evidenced-based that exercise and physical activity reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, I’d noticed early in life that I just feel better when I get up and get going.

Life is a beautiful place to be, but sometimes circumstances can be overwhelming, responsibilities can be intense, and people can be demanding.  I won’t even get into the pressure we put on OURSELVES – that’s a whole other story.  Even the toughest of minds and strongest of spirits go through periods that involve:

  • FATIGUE AND BLAHNESS
  • LOSS OF MOTIVATION
  • LACK OF CONFIDENCE
  • DECREASED INTEREST
  • JADEDNESS AND CYNICISM
  • AIMLESSNESS
  • [enter miscellaneous frustrating experience here]

It really is a challenge getting back on track once we find ourselves in that sort of space. But the show must go on, and find our way we must.  In my opinion, there is no better pick-me-up than to get more oxygen to the brain, get the blood flowing, get a boost of adrenaline and endorphins, and other fantastic features of getting a good workout on.  Yes, health and wellness, physical fitness, optimum body weight and all that.  But this is about feeling better.

Regardless of how much weight we lose (or don’t lose), or how many trophies we win (or not), it just feels good to get going.  Before we know it, we remember that we are blessed to be able to move our bodies.  And if there are parts of your body that don’t move so well, do what you can.  The goal is to overcome a momentary slump and working through inertia by working ourselves out.  It works our confidence out.  It works our go-get-it-ness out.  It works our mind, body and spirit out.

Dancing in the living room, going for a walk in the neighborhood, actually using that gym membership we pay for, running around with the kids, are all great ways to get ourselves into a better mood by getting up and going.

Reclaiming Your Proverbial Sunshine

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Storms happen.  One moment you’re sailing on peaceful waters, then all of a sudden the sky turns gray and it seems like you’re being swallowed whole by crashing waves, with nary a life raft.  And yet, you’re expected to keep smiling, keep the faith, and know that the sun will shine tomorrow.  That’s all nice and dandy, and sure looks good in encouraging “thinking of you” cards, but in real life it is the most difficult thing to keep a smile on your face when your main goal is to simply keep your head above water.  But somehow, you must.

If you ever have the same contemplation as the sage Grandmaster Flash, and find yourself wondering how you keep from going under, it is helpful to identify the specific things in your life that keep you afloat.  We can restore hope within ourselves by reconnecting with people, values, memories, and goals that propel us to keep going.  To beat being pulled under, and find your way back to the surface of safe waters, try these hope-restoring methods.

  • THINK OF THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE THE MOST AND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS FOR YOU TO REMAIN A PART OF THEIR LIVES. This is an instant answer to that devious voice in our head that asks, “why bother?”  Practicing this method arms you with clear answers for why you should bother – because your children need you, because your mother would be lost without you, because your friends depend on you, because there are people who you love and want to protect.
  • REMEMBER WHAT YOU ARE MADE OF. You’ve made it this far, and I’m sure you’ve done more than just cry your way through life.  There have been challenges that you’ve overcome that are far tougher than what you’re facing now.  And when you thought you couldn’t take anymore challenges in the past, you did it – you survived.  You’re made of good stuff. Remind yourself of that.
  • CONJURE UP POSITIVE MEMORIES. Some things just made us really happy.  There are memories stored in our minds that pop up every once in a while and bring a smile to our faces.  Did you know that you can intentionally recall those same memories to shift your current mood?  If you feel like you’re being overtaken by the waves of life, at any moment you can intentionally connect with a positive memory and immerse yourself in the scene with all of your senses and your mind will actually believe it is there. Every once in a while, it’s okay to transport yourself to a better place until you actually feel better.
  • DREAM UP LOFTY GOALS. Do you know what you want in life?  Can you experience passion for what you want to do?  When you feel like you’re drowning in the deep blue, it can help to think on what you personally want to accomplish, giving yourself no limits, and not worrying about whether or not they’re realistic dreams at the moment. Just ‘go there,’ allowing yourself to have the wildest, most imaginative goals to let your brain get busy exercising some creative thought.

It may rain, but your life doesn’t have to be flooded with unwanted emotions.  By remembering that major storms only last a season, you will be able to keep yourself afloat through self-encouragement, connecting with the power that lives in you, and practicing methods that allow you to kick your way back to the top of the waters to again witness that proverbial sunshine.

~ CCB

Love, Closer Than It Seems

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It is possible to be looking so hard for something that you actually look right past it, right through it, and don’t recognize when it is right in front of you.  This happens sometimes in the world of dating and when seeking a partner.  You may have criteria that your “ideal” partner is supposed to meet; when sometimes there is a person that has been a part of your life before, a “friend” that you feel is best to remain in that zone, or someone in your environment who you simply do not consider a potential mate.  It is possible that the most unlikely person is the one that deserves a chance.

                I’m not saying that this is always the case.  But I’m sure you can recall times in your own life when you didn’t give much attention to someone at the time, then wondered later if you should have put more effort into exploring the relationship.  At the moment, it was easy to overlook the possibility of a relationship – but looking back, you can more clearly see there were missed opportunities.  Luckily, as we experience such things, we gain wisdom.  We can be inspired to be aware of opportunities that are around us now that deserve more attention.  This does not simply apply to dating and relationships, but several situations that we breeze by without giving more energy to it – never knowing what things could have become.

                It is important to know your own core values, have clear boundaries, and know that you deserve the best – however, you don’t want to have a checklist of requirements so stringent that only a fantasy character from a comic book could meet them.  God brings people into our lives that are somehow who we need and not always exactly what we think we want.  By keeping your heart and mind open enough to explore the meaning of the connection, and allowing it to evolve without short-circuiting it with preconceived notions and unrealistic expectations, you may find that your most suitable match is closer than you think.

 

Engaging the 5 Senses to Overcome Eyewitness Overload

photo credit: mikedaledesign
photo credit: mikedaledesign

More is going on in the world than our brains can process in a sensible manner.  Opinions fill our minds, comparisons, contrasts, attempts to decipher the truth and other mental phenomena that have us dealing with fatigue just from a segment of the non-stop 24-hour sensationalized news.  And we won’t even get into the accompanying emotions – if they can even be called that anymore.  At this point, the emotions we are experiencing have become so consistent in their state that they can probably now be classified as full on conditions.  An extended state of worry is no longer just worry, but has progressed into being considered anxiety.  And prolonged anxiety eventually leads to those dreaded panic attacks. I’ll stop referring to it now because the very thought of those emotions sometimes evokes them and we have been triggered enough.

ENOUGH.  This is the keyword. The thought around which we build our next course of action.  ENOUGH.  It is time to create safer spaces within ourselves and to improve our own mental environments.  You have had ENOUGH accounts of negativity in the world – far and near – and have a general idea of what is going on around you and that is ENOUGH.  What deserves more of your attention at this time, is how are feeling?  How is your family feeling?  If you all are experiencing the stress and emotional fatigue that I suspect (because I myself have had to check in to make sure that I too am okay), then it is probably time to discover ways to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE your precious energy.

                In this article, we will engage the 5 senses as a way of reconnecting with ourselves and bringing our attention away from the storms around us to connect with the peace and quiet that lives within us.  Using our senses as little guideposts to draw our attention gently back in is an easy mindfulness exercise that you can use right smack dab in the middle of anything and anywhere.  Choose whichever is easiest for you to accomplish at the time, or involve all of them in the same moment of You-Time that you create for yourself.

  • SIGHT: Find something beautiful to look at.  Nature is always a shoe in, but if that’s not possible at the moment – make sure you’re carrying a visually engaging photo, book, postcard or something that positively sparks your imagination or draws you into a serene scene
  • SOUND: Earbuds can be your bestfriend sometimes. With so many apps and mp3s of guided meditations or relaxing sounds, you can transport yourself into a calming space by closing your eyes and drifting into sonic bliss.
  • TOUCH: You know how good it feels when you put a warm blanket fresh out the dryer over you.  Or how good it feels to rub against something soft because touch is kind of a big deal.  Snuggle with a favorite blanket, wear a cozy sweater, get a little stuffed animal to rub – your brain will appreciate being to change the channel to a comforting sensation (even if someone does wonder why you’re rubbing a little furry keychain – don’t worry about that, it’s for your mental health!)
  • SMELL: Scents are powerful. So maybe you’re not ready to go full aroma-therapy yet, you can still find an oil, perfume, incense – or even a box of dryer sheets – that you decide to smell to shift your attention onto something pleasant. Our brains respond powerfully to smell, and if you inhale a scent while engaging in self-soothing thoughts, “I am relaxed, I am blessed today, these are the things I am grateful for,” while inhaling, eventually you’ll associate that scent with your peaceful moments.
  • TASTE: Ok so, we’re usually pretty good at this one. Especially us stress eaters.  So practicing this in a healthy way improves our responses to stress and emotional overwhelm in 2 ways.  To bring your attention to the present moment and give yourself something that you enjoy, feel free to taste the goodness of life.  Is that ice cream?  Is that a flavor of gum that you chew while having self-encouraging thoughts?  Is that a cup of tea that you sip as you read the promises of God?  Treat yourself when you need to, in a healthy way.

Remembering that the goal is to RESTORE, BALANCE, and CONSERVE our precious energy, we engage in these practices in a mindful way so that the effects we experience are positive, life-giving, and healthful.  Don’t overdo anything.  Do just enough to draw your attention back in to what is important, what deserves love, and what is the most meaningful in this moment.

~ CCB