Christ-Centered Cognitions, Inner Renovations

Nothing to Fear

Nothing to Fear

It is too much energy to be afraid.  Hiding from others, hiding from our problems, and hiding from ourselves is exhausting work.  When we think about it, what is so intimidating about facing reality?  The worst thing that can happen to us is that we expose our vulnerabilities; the best thing that can happen to us is that we expose our vulnerabilities.  Once we are past the ego and the perceived harm that will come to it if others know our truth or if we admit the truth to ourselves, then there is nothing left to be afraid of.  We come to a place of knowing that we have already stared down our fears and admitted our faults, which resulted in our strength – so why should we be afraid?

Those that are aware of the Presence of the All Powerful have even more confidence to boldly unfold into the greatest version of themselves without concern about past misgivings short-circuiting their future.  They know that what they have experienced, and even seeming mistakes that were made, were not really mistakes at all, but part of the Divine Plan.  What has happened is a part of what has made you who you are.  What you are created from, is who you are.  We are created from Love, because we are created by God.  God is Love.  It takes too much energy to be afraid. And anyway, there is nothing to fear. The light of love and truth shines boldly into the darkness and illuminates the closets and under the beds where our secrets lie, to reveal that what we feared were only ever illusions anyway.

~ CCB

Dialectical Thinking, Inner Renovations, Videos and Media

How To Not: Make Emotional Decisions

 


Decision-making seems like such a basic skill. However, we sometimes do not think things all the way through. The results can be catastrophic or at least cause a setback if we make decisions while we are emotional.  Our brains actually function differently when it is overwhelmed with negative emotions such as fear, frustration, anger, anxiety, etc.  At that time it does not operate at full capacity.  So it is important not to make major decisions that can alter the course of our lives when we are experiencing those feelings.

But how do we avoid taking certain actions when we’re emotional?  We know that is usually the time that we want to strike back, express ourselves, tell it like it is, or make some over-the-top outward display of action until others feel the intensity of what we are dealing with inside.  Then, after we come back to our senses, it’s common to have some regrets about what we did or said while we were heated.

Try these steps to keep your balance while dealing with emotional situations, so that you can make important decisions with a clear head and decrease the number of apologies you have to dish out.

  1. Pause to Self-Check and Tune Into How You Are Feeling. As soon as you notice that your heart is beating faster, your frustration levels are going up, you’re becoming increasingly agitated and uncomfortable with the situation – start self-checking.  Notice these things happening within your mind and body and decide to take healthy actions that take care of yourself.
  2. Use Deep Breathing to Draw Your Attention Back In. To slow yourself down, slow down your breathing. It’s likely that your mind was going a million miles a minute in its emotional state and taking long deep breaths puts you back in control while sending a message to your rapidly beating heart and overworking mind that it is time to start coming back to a calmer pace.  It may take a moment or two but just keep breathing deeply imagining every breath brings your awareness back to what’s important – taking care of yourself.
  3. Encourage Yourself with Soothing Self-Talk. Start coaching yourself the way you would someone else that you care about.  Let yourself know that everything is going to be okay and that this too shall pass.  Be supportive of yourself in that moment and remember that at the end of the day what’s important is that you approve of yourself and behaviors.  It is okay to disagree with others just like it is okay if they don’t agree with you.  Let go of as much as you can and encourage yourself with positive inner dialogue.
  4. Refocus and Remember What You’re All About. Remind yourself of your goals.  Do an inventory of whether the situation causing you stress is getting you closer to or further away from those goals. If you determine that it is a barrier to what you’re all about or what you’re trying to accomplish, be prepared to make sound decisions about overcoming or removing those stressors from your life.
  5. Take Time to Make the Decisions that are Right For You. If possible, allow yourself time to process your emotions and let things settle down a bit before you come to final conclusions about what you’ve experienced.  Things look different after we’ve stepped away from it for a while and you may be in a better position to make decisions that are best for you from a clear head.

If we allow our emotions to rule our behaviors, we spend a lot of time cleaning up messes we wish we’d never made.  Grounding yourself after an emotional run-in is important and can help you to make decisions that you can be confident in.  Self-awareness is key, and a willingness to use techniques to regain your balance can help you improve your decision-making skills and ultimately improve the quality of your life.

~ CCB

 

Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations, Videos and Media

Personal Peace is a Super Power


There are a lot of things that we are taught during the early years of our lives under the guise that they are important to know for our success as human beings. However, I can’t remember the last time an algebraic formula saved my life. I would have appreciated a class on “How to Maintain Peace in the Face of Challenge,” or a cognitive-behavioral based course titled “You are Not Your Thoughts” offered around the 4th grade. A ‘How-To Survive Life with Your Sanity’ style curriculum starting in kindergarten would probably have reduced the individual instances of mental health conditions and contributed to a more stable society as a whole. Yes, I know… reading, writing and arithmetic – but that could’ve been covered in the span of a year with the remainder of our youth education being focused on life skills, interpersonal effectiveness, dealing with emotion, loving ourselves, and having a healthy relationship with God. But, dreams.

In reality, it takes for us to get to a certain point in life where we notice our own dysfunctional patterns and decide to do something about it. One of the main commodities that we reach for is peace. Which really isn’t a “commodity” at all but when we don’t experience it, we do view it as a thing to attain. The truth is, it’s really a state that exists within us that’s been there the entire time. And on an even deeper level, we realize that peace is our essential nature – supporting the inferences that everything we need is already inside of us and the “Kingdom of God is within” per Jesus.

Prayer, meditation, and visualization are means of moving into a state of consciousness that puts us more in tune with our source of peace. Prayer allows us to speak to God. Meditation allows us to hear from God. And visualization is how we co-create our experience which is a blend of our free will and God’s will for us (as a sidenote, we ultimately want to get to a place where we use our free will to stay in the will of God).

Our journey will have many challenges. We may create unnecessary complexities. Life will continue to throw intense situations our way. There may be unexpected circumstances beyond our control. What we can control is our approach. By taking an approach of peace – peace of mind and spirit which comes from trusting that all things have a purpose and somehow come together in mysterious ways for the glory of God – we are able to survive with our sanity, and actually enjoy this gift of life we’ve been given.

~ CCB

 

Christ-Centered Cognitions, Inner Renovations

Heart Be Healed. From Pain to Empowered.

Growth from Broken Heart
photo credit:  aseb.org

You are stronger now and you can choose not to hurt anymore. Whatever it is that you’ve been through doesn’t have power over you as of now. Decide that this is the moment that you will embrace the freshness of the day, and allow your heart, spirit and mind to be healed by a Power Greater Than yourself. There are no guarantees that you will never feel pain again. But there is the promise that if you keep your trust and faith in God, that you will be brought through that pain and make it safely to the other side. Alongside you will be newfound strength, deeper understanding, and compassion for others who you notice going through similar trials. The victory is the Lord’s and you are a living testimony that nothing can stop His work in progress because you are still here. You are still trying and you believe in something. If this were not so, you would have stopped by now. But your heart is strong, and your spirit wills you to continue putting one foot in front of the other as you allow your steps to be ordered by the Lord. In whatever way you perceive your Higher Power, and however you draw strength from Its love is more important than what others tell you to believe. At the end of the day, as it was in the beginning, it’s about YOUR relationship with your Creator. And at the end of this life, as it was in the beginning, it is still about the same relationship. You don’t have to hurt anymore. Because the sensations that you are feeling have advanced into power that propels you forward while keeping you grounded all at the same time. These are blessings. You have lived to love another day. You are blessed.

~ CCB

Inner Renovations, Videos and Media

Be Yourself. No Permission Needed.


Think of the years that have been wasted attempting to modify who you are in hopes that you will be more acceptable to others. We don’t like to admit that we do this. In fact, if anyone asks us we’re prone to deny it and respond with some cliché statement like, “I don’t really care what anyone else thinks.” Yeah, we do. And it hurts us when we’re receiving messages from others, especially those we care about, that our ways are undesirable.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and there are those people that we don’t give a hot flip what they think – but overall, as humans we read the feedback in our environment and we’d prefer it be positive. That is normal. But we can also take it too far. We can take caring about what others say about who we are so far that we end up losing ourselves trying to be who they want us to be. We have to be careful of this, because sometimes we don’t even know it’s happening. You can get so involved in your career that you develop the personality that enables you to do your job well but could be out of alignment with who you truly are. Or you could be in a relationship with someone that you love dearly, and in trying to make them happy you inadvertently begin to compromise how you would usually express yourself. These situations can go on for a long time, but one day you decide that you are ready to reconnect and rediscover who you naturally are so that you can begin to live in your truth again.

Being your authentic self is easier said than done. First, as we accumulate experiences and get older, our views and perspectives change. We change so much over the years that it may be necessary to re-evaluate our goals and set new ones, and we may even have to discover who we are and what we want at the current stage in life. So being yourself, may require fresh self-examination to determine who you are now. You know who you were, what you’ve been through, and where you’ve come from – but who are you now? That’s not an easy answer for everyone, and we all deserve the opportunity to explore ourselves in whatever way necessary to discover our truth. This requires time and space.

You’ll need to give yourself permission to take whatever time is needed in your journey to self-discovery and self-realization. These things don’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s a lifetime journey so you may as well get comfortable. You’re going to need space, which also isn’t so easy to come by if you’ve got little people running around you all the time or a mountain of other responsibilities that cause you to be involved with others more than you’d like to be. Bottom line is that making time and creating space for yourself to engage in the self-discovery that it’s going to take to realize your authentic self is going to take major effort. You’ll have to schedule it and let nothing stand in your way when you decide to take that hour out of your day for your prayer, meditation, devotion, and visualization time. You’ll have to be just as adamant about contributing to your own development as you’ve been about helping people with theirs. If someone asked you to be there for them for an hour, you’d probably do it. So how about be there for yourself so you can take your work (of realizing and expressing your authentic self) to the next level.

~ CCB

Inner Renovations, Positive Mindset for Life

Do Yourself a Favor. Worry Less.

 

Full Serenity Prayer


We tend to think about the things we want to do. This makes sense, especially when you’re a goal-oriented visualization enthusiast who understands the importance of seeing it before you get there. However, we also have to consider the things we need to do less of. What is it for you?

  • Eat less?
  • Sleep less?
  • Argue less?
  • Work less?
  • Worry less!

We’d all be better off if we worried less. As a counselor working with many people struggling with addictions, the Serenity Prayer is weaved into the fabric of my daily life. And because every person has their own vice (some are just more intense than others), the prayer in its entirety is applicable to us all.

Many are familiar with the foundation of the prayer:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

In our quest to worry less, there is much that can be learned from these simple yet meaningful lines. Look at the situations in your life now. How many of them are beyond your control to change? If you could accept those things as areas that are outside of your jurisdiction to resolve, and surrender it to that which is greater than you, there would be a lot less to worry about. This assumes that you are connected to your spirit in a way that you at least acknowledge that you were created by something/Someone that loves and wants the best for you.

On the flipside of accepting the things we can’t change is finding the courage to change the things we can. Sometimes we don’t even notice when we are carrying stress from the things we feel we are leaving undone. We may have noticed area of ourselves and our lives that deserve more attention, situations that need to be made right, causes that deserve our energy – yet we are taking little to no actions in these areas. It doesn’t sit with us well. We allow our anxieties and insecurities keep us from taking actions that could change our own and others’ lives for the better. If we were able to find the courage to finally change those things that are within our power to do, there would be a lot less to worry about. We would feel like we are being true to ourselves, being useful, and making a difference in the world. This is fulfilling and brings us to a place of satisfaction and self-love, ultimately decreasing the time that we spend in stress and worry.

Finally, there may be confusion about the difference between those circumstances that we need to accept and the ones we need to be working on. This is no easy feat. When something has become more challenging than we feel we’re capable of handling, do we let it go or give it our all? Do we let nature take its course or do we acknowledge ourselves as a force of nature and continue to give our best efforts? The only way to solve such mystery is through discernment and wisdom. From where does this wisdom come? God. Once again we come to the importance of having a connection with something greater than ourselves so that we can afford ourselves the opportunity to lay down some of the stress that we’ve been carrying on our shoulders and our backs, causing us to feel worn, exhausted, and aged. We have options. It is not necessary for us to continue traveling through life carrying the burden of our own and others’ worlds, when we can worry less by practicing acceptance, discernment, and staying connected to our source to grow in wisdom.

~ CCB

Inner Renovations

On My Mind Now: A Formula for Personal Peace

workout
photo credit:  gethealthyu.com

Right now I am thinking about peace. But not the world peace type. More of the being able to remain peaceful even while doing things I don’t really want to do type. See, I just finished working out. I didn’t like it. Some people get all pumped up about hitting the gym and are genuinely excited about sticking to their amazing workout regime (like the woman in the photo) – but not me. I do it because I love myself, I love my body, I’m over thirty and I like cookies a lot.

The good news is, that I am able to center myself and get to an internal space where I can experience a sense of calm even while doing things I’m really not enjoying at the moment – like working out, or interacting with people I’d rather not, or cleaning up, and any other less than fabulous task that is required of me.

When I remind myself that God has a plan for me that I don’t yet know about, and that I want to be ready to step into my destiny when the time arrives, that motivates me to calmly press through challenges knowing that something greater is on the other side of it. That’s a formula for personal peace.

I no longer expect my circumstances to always be favorable. I do expect that my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will stay in alignment with my purpose so that I can travel with the peace that comes from knowing I’m still headed in the right direction.

~ CCB

Heart & Spiritual Wellness, Inner Renovations

Don’t Tell Me to BREATHE

Breathe

My life was so busy, that I was forgetting to breathe. I was doing more of a low-grade hyperventilation as my stress and anxiety were propelling my legs and flailing my arms in whatever direction it seemed would alleviate the moment’s tension. That’s not living. Unless you’re a chicken with her head cut off. And then, I guess that chicken isn’t really living either.

Something had to change. If I didn’t want to age 20 years in the next 20 minutes, then I would have to find a way to connect with the moment in a healthy and meaningful way. I would have to learn how to stop and feel the sun, experience the rain, accept the love, and truly live. I wanted to do more than just exist.

And so, I did the opposite of what it means to die. In death, there is the absence of breath – and so I invited in that which must be life. I started to BREATHE.


Are you too complex and sophisticated to accept an instruction that is so simple? BREATHE.

Does it seem too elementary to truly be an answer to the collegiate-level problems in your life? BREATHE.

Is it insulting to think that you have invested so much time, money, and energy into finding solutions and it is being suggested that said solution starts when you simply BREATHE?

I only ask because I thought myself to be too complex (and my issues too advanced) to trifle with such diminutive suggestions as “BREATHE.” It was insulting, and in fact nothing would get me more enraged than when I was already at the edge of panic (if not in full-blown) and someone dared make such a barbarous suggestion to me as BREATHE!


Fast forward to NOW. Find us in the moment. Here, in the present I have the deepest appreciation for the healing qualities of a DEEP BREATH. See, we’re not just talking about that shallow breathing that happens as we’re flying through our day, sometimes not even noticing that we’re holding our breath waiting for the next ball to drop. BREATHE is an invitation to engage in slower, deeper, more life giving, breathing. It is the entrance to clarity in the mind, to interrupt the run-on sentences in your mind that disguise themselves as meaningful thoughts – when really they’re just run-on sentences. To BREATHE, in a conscious and purposeful way is to become a part of the process to connect your heart, with your spirit, with your mind and to literally gather yourself – get yourself together, to start moving towards the hottest commodity of all… PEACE.

Isn’t that what we all want: PEACE? And what if someone told you that the first step towards experiencing peace starts with something so simple: BREATHE. Would you keep hyperventilating your way through life? Or perhaps you would seek to experience the essence of life in a more spirit-led way, allowing yourself to take in a certain healing elixir that can only enter your being as you slow down, become present in the moment, aware of the Great I Am Presence: as you BREATHE.

~ CCB

Inner Renovations, Therapeutic Yoga

Off The Mat Into The Fiery World

yoga elements

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is better to do something, anything – take some action, any action, rather than do nothing at all for too long. Yes, there are times when we need to listen to that inner voice and simply be still. But if we’re still all the time then we won’t get anything done. Let’s not allow our zen to highjack the work we must do to accomplish our destiny. It is so attractive to roll out the mat day after day, stretching and releasing the tension and just allowing ourselves to escape the drama of the day by sinking deeply into our space of personal peace and connection to All That Is. “Just leave me alone in my little world. Let me stay in my quietude in the private corners of my life – undisturbed by you.” But if that is ALL we do, we are quite literally defeating our own purpose.

What we learn on the mat, and in meditation we must take off the mat and into the world to put our wisdom to use. The peace that we’ve cultivated isn’t simply so that we can drift off into our private heavens while ignoring our reality, but to go out and be able to face the challenges of our reality while using our skill to work through the tension and return to harmony.

I only write things that I have to remind myself of. As a counselor, I do have the opportunity to share with others insights and skills developed, not only through clinical training, but also through the intuition and increased awareness that comes in meditation as you learn to listen to the voice within and experience the multiple ways that people communicate with each other – even when they’re not talking. I remind myself that all of our wisdom and understanding is only of use if we are contributing to the progress of our spirits and healing of hearts as a human family. I hope that you remind yourself of this too. To close the books sometimes and take what you’ve learned and teach someone. And to come out of your sanctuary and go into the streets to share what the Lord has been speaking to you. It is so attractive to stay comfortable in our personal spaces, experiencing the peace and balance that often comes with solitude, but the real test of our growth and balance is when we can maintain that state while interacting with our brothers and sisters in this fiery world.

~ CCB

Christ-Centered Cognitions, Inner Renovations

Important Components to Discovering Our Purpose and Self

Who Am I

Wouldn’t we like to be at a place in our development where no matter what happens around us we are able to maintain a state of peace and balance? This is a possibility for us, through knowing who we are, what we are capable of and devoting ourselves to a daily practice of prayer and meditation.

Prayer is necessary because it changes the conversations in our heads. We go from obsessing about our relationships with others, to nurturing our relationship with God to discover who we truly are as children of the Most High. Our prayer life helps us to strengthen the connection and dialogue with the One from whom our wisdom and direction comes. If we spend more time in commune with that which created us, knows us, and loves us, we are able to stay in a healthier frame of mind. Our sense of personal security and power is strong and the ability to overcome challenges also strengthens as we are in constant remembrance that what is in us is far greater than what is around us. Knowing yourself, is knowing your power, and knowing where that power comes from.

It has been said that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is opening ourselves to hear from God. In meditation, instead of doing something we allow ourselves to “undo.” We take a load off. We stop asking. We stop processing information for a moment. Stop analyzing, planning, scheming, chattering, remembering, and all of those other things our mind is in the habit of doing. Give yourself permission to let everything go for a moment (at least as much as you can), as you sit quietly and feel your natural flow for awhile. We allow ourselves to just be.

It has been said that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is opening ourselves to hear from God.

Be present in the moment, sensing our own heartbeat, becoming aware of what is happening in our minds as if we are watching a movie, unmoved and unphased by what may be coming up inside of us at that time. We give ourselves permission to be aware of any emotions and thoughts, but we do not follow them or continue to give energy to them at this time. Slowly but surely we begin to notice the noise in our heads quieting down and we start getting subtle nudges to relax, have faith, and experience a quiet confidence that we are getting closer to who we are truly created to be.

I write only what I have to remind myself of on a constant basis. It is so easy to get swept up in the responsibilities of the day, the bills to be paid, the people that get on our nerves, the deadlines, the hassle of everyday life. We have to see through all of the distractions and listen beyond all of the noise to reconnect with the truth of who we are and what we are here to do.

The only way to receive the message of what our purpose is and to discover who we truly are, is to ask (pray), and then listen (meditate) – becoming stronger in our prayer life and spiritual relationship, striving daily for peaceful inner confidence and atonement (At-One-ment). At one with God, ourselves, and others – finally understanding who we are, who we all are.

~ CCB