Inner Renovations, Positive Mindset for Life

Reclaiming Your Proverbial Sunshine

troubled-waters

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

Inner Renovations, Positive Mindset for Life

Tough Times Make Us Tougher

tougher

The toughest days are the most meaningful.  They are tests of our strength.  On these days we get a front row seat to what we’re really made of.  Until we face trials, our ability is in theory, because no one really knows what they would do in a situation until they are in it.  So be thankful for the days that you get to really live, instead of just conceptually live.

Some of us run towards challenges.  Some run away from them.  The common denominator is that challenges always come.  It is best to face them, and consider the curve balls coming at you as an obstacle course – there to help you get more efficient at maneuvering difficult situations as you become more adept at rolling with the punches.  This shift in perspective of challenges helps you move from thinking the world is against you when things go wrong, to realizing that even what is seemingly negative can work in your favor.  Understanding this is understanding how “all things work together for good,” for those who know Love.  This perspective helps you to love your life in the good times and the not-so-good times, and to remain in a place of appreciation and gratitude for what is offered to you.

If you wonder how some people seem to withstand storms with smiles on their faces and hope in their heart, the mystery is here solved.  They live from a framework of “this too shall pass,” and “what doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.”  The fact is, it’s safe to say that all of the adversity that you’ve experienced in your life hasn’t killed you – and I bet you’re stronger for it, wiser because of it, and have experience that you can share with others because you’ve survived and grown from it.

So, welcome your obstacles.  See them as a gift.  Thank the difficult people in your life for being your greatest teachers.  Wink at your bad days as you tell yourself that what goes up must come down, so after being down you must be on your way back up.  Embrace the flow of life.  Tie up your shoes to give your ankles adequate support for those tough times that are handcrafted to make you tougher.

Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations

Re-Establish Yourself in Love

reestablished in love


Over the years, you may have noticed that many changes have occurred in the way that you see things, do things, and the way that you feel. This could be attributed to maturity, or the natural changes that occur with time. However, if we look carefully enough, we may see that some of the changes that have come about are of a more protective nature – defenses that have been created in order to keep from being hurt again.

Have you noticed that you’ve become less trusting? Or maybe a bit more standoffish? And what about your sense of security, been feeling more insecure lately? It is interesting because there was a notion when we were children that we would organically become stronger in those areas as adults. But fact of the matter is, due to the pain and disappointments we’ve endured, it is possible that we have become even lower functioning in certain areas. So what do you do when you find that’s the case?

After becoming emotionally distant, distrusting, guarded, jaded (and all of the other defensive responses that occur as a result of our heartbreaks, setbacks, and letdowns) it is important to take a few rejuvenating steps to get back on track and work towards positive mental health.


Be willing to admit the areas you’re struggling in.

                If you’re anything like me, you’ve done a great job at convincing yourself that, sure you have a few things to work on but you’re not doing that bad, right? It is one of the grandest tricks that we play on ourselves – ignoring what we need to be working on by making claims that we could be worse. This is true, we could always be worse, but that does not give us permission to downplay the areas that need improvement. We have to be willing to admit where we are falling short, notice the areas that give us the most trouble, and acknowledge that we could stand more development to be happier, healthier, mature individuals.

Ask for feedback, accept it graciously.

                It is not always obvious to us where we are the most vulnerable. In fact, if our defense mechanisms are doing their jobs effectively, then we may actually believe that we are doing just fine and it’s everyone else with the problem. So don’t be afraid to ask those that care about you, where they perceive you are the most vulnerable. Say, “What are my hotspots, what subjects do you tiptoe around when talking to me, what have you noticed sets me off?” Trust me, they will jump at the opportunity to tell you what they’ve been thinking but needed your permission to say. It is up to you to be prepared to receive the information in a healthy way.

Ask for help, build supports.

                Now that you’ve had some heart-to-hearts with yourself and others, you at least know a few things about yourself that have been holding you back. Maybe you’ve heard that you’ve started being difficult to talk to or make a connection with. Maybe you’re now aware that you’ve become paranoid about others’ intentions towards you. Perhaps you took an honest look at your need to be perceived as perfect and have decided that is a lie way too hard to live up to. Whatever it is that you’ve discovered, the next step is to ask for help with the matter. Go to God in prayer and ask for these character defects to be removed, and ask to be shown how you should go about making changes in those areas. Yes, we’re intellectuals with amazing resources and cool technology but let us not underestimate the power of prayer when we’re trying to make real change. Also, look for professional and self-help resources in the areas that you are working on so that you have an arsenal of material to feed your mind while you are on the journey overcoming those ways about yourself that you’ve decided just aren’t working anymore. Build good supports with friends and family. Just let them know what you’re targeting and give them permission to draw your attention to old patterns so that you have an accountability team with you along the way.

Step outside your comfort zone to get unstuck.

                If there was a way that we could change with very little effort, I’d be taking that way. There isn’t one. In fact, it is grueling work rewiring our brains that are used to following the same circuits for years and years. So the only way that we are going to create new patterns, more constructive roads towards success, is to take the uncomfortable way. You can’t work on your problem of being closed off until you’re willing to risk opening up to someone. You won’t be able to resolve that social awkwardness without putting yourself into more social situations. You aren’t going to be able to overcome the tendency to distrust others until you give someone else a chance. Steps like these are outside of our comfort zone, but until we are willing to get back in there and create new experiences, we are stuck in our pseudo-safe little boxes that have stunted our growth. To get unstuck requires courage and risk.

Re-establish yourself in love.

                What is your default setting? In various circumstances do you default to fear? Anger? Frustration? Complaining? Take some time for self-examination and determine what your default mode is. Then think about how it would feel if your most common inner experiences involved: love, peace, contentment, acceptance, appreciation, and other life-giving states like these. You can create that atmosphere in your life. By putting everything back into its proper perspective, where God is the center of it all; and having an accurate perspective of who God is (Love), you can re-establish yourself in something that transcends your shortcomings and the problems of this world.

Re-establish yourself in love, and operate from that space. No longer allowing ourselves to crystallize in our defenses, we remain open to the experiences that are brought into our lives and accept that all will work together for the good of those that love the Lord. We do not wallow in our past or allow the behaviors of others to influence our state of mind, but instead consistently affirm that we are borne of love, protected by, and here to share love.

We trade our fears for the greatest thing of all, Love. We keep our feet firmly rooted like trees planted by the water, continuously re-establishing ourselves in love until we are like those described in the Psalms – bearing fruit in our season, prospering in all we do.

~ CCB