Are you stuck on repeat, repeat…

Daily routines don’t vary so much from day to day unless something unpredictable happens such as a sick child or an unexpected event. My daily routine is generally the same each day beginning with motherly duties followed by study, mixed in with the all too often visits on social media sites like face book (especially when studying a statistics unit ).

Once the afternoon progresses I am back to my motherly duties with some more studying and of course blogging! Today as I am writing this blog happens to be a Friday and every Friday for me feels a little like the movie ‘Ground Hog Day’. All too often I find myself repeating the phrase “WHAT it’s Friday again, it always feels like a Friday”. It feels like I had not lived through any other day of the week as it seems Fridays turn up faster than my kids can run when I ask them to wash the dishes.

Humans are often talked about as ‘creatures of habit’. Our habits tend to become quite predictable. We often like to sit in the same seats, order the same meals, buy the same style of clothes and visit the same places for family outings (alternating them of course). When I think about it I tend to play it safe and I have never been known for much of a risk taker. Even my shoes and handbags are quite similar!

When we go out for ice cream I find myself always choosing the one scoop of ‘dark chocolate’ on a waffle cone. To order anything else (in my mind) has the potential to ruin my ice cream experience as I just cannot seem to get away from dark chocolate nor can I bear the thought of choosing another flavour and walking away disappointed. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you are drinking that really good cup of coffee and for some reason or another you don’t get to finish it. You’re left feeling incomplete for the lack of experiencing that last mouthful.

There is no wrong in having a daily routine or enjoying that dark chocolate waffle cone (except for the calories) and it surely would not hurt to occasionally spice up life a little by adding some variety. However, what about those repeat mode settings in our lives that can leave us feeling lost and emotionally broken?

The topic of being stuck in repeat mode could keep me talking for days as I have experienced myself going around in circles for years in particular areas of my life. The truth is that I was so stuck in those patterns that I just couldn’t see them for what they were and the damage they were causing.

One particular pattern for me was very harmful and hurtful, not to mention a huge time waster.   The quest to find ‘that perfect other’, which would fulfil my every desire and meet all of my needs, had me living in a pattern of boy chasing. I was convinced that once I met ‘that someone’ I would not feel lonely ever again and until I found that person I was going to be living empty and unfulfilled.

In hindsight of course it was so untrue! No person on this planet can fulfil your every desire and meet ALL of your needs. Despite that I was convinced that having ‘a boy in my life’ was going to fix up everything. So my life revolved around boys!  This pattern of boy chasing was very repetitive, it took up too much of my time and more importantly messed with my emotions on a regular basis.

Some patterns can be obvious and others rather subtle. The boy chasing was more likely obvious to the people in my life at the time, yet I don’t think I wanted to recognise it as a problem.  To admit it as a problem meant that I would need to stop chasing boys and live single until the right one came along. There was no way I was going to allow myself to feel lonely so the repetitive cycle continued until I met the man that was going to change my life forever.

Some of the more subtle types of patterns for me were emotional.  One particular emotional pattern would put me into depression often for weeks at a time. As soon as life got too difficult and out of control (in other words it was out of my control) I would sort of panic and then go into a really dark place. It was as if someone just came along and hit a switch inside me and then off I went spiralling downhill. I would find it impossible to do life when that happened. Jumping into bed and pulling the covers over me felt comforting in some crazy way. It may have been somewhat stuffy and dark under there yet the darkness in my mind and emotions was so unbearable that hiding away from the world was safer and seemed like the only solution.

We often grow up with certain repeat mode settings or another way of putting it an automatic default setting.  Turning off that repeat mode may take some time and for me it started with recognising it first. It was such a revelation when I noticed how connected my circumstances and the responses to those circumstances were.

Somewhere along my journey I had accepted a default setting that triggered depression every time life was out of control. Of course when terrible things happen one can understand that to feel depressed is normal. For me it was not always a traumatic event it was just that something was out of my control. I’d always wanted life to go right and when it didn’t I just couldn’t handle it. It was the same when people close to me made decisions that were not the best, I would react and respond in panic followed with depression. I needed to get to a place in which circumstances were no longer ruling my emotions.

Not so many years ago I had one of those lightning bolt moments and realised that I did not have the ability to control people’s decisions. People were going to do what they wanted regardless, so once I realised this as a problem I settled it once and for all and decided that I was no longer going to carry unnecessary burdens that were not mine. Instead of  holding onto everyone’s choices I began recognising that the choices people make are not in my control therefore ‘it was best just to let go’ and focus  on my own decisions and choices.

A lot of my healing happened when I was intentional about finding an answer, that rather than ignoring the obvious I decided to face the issues one step at a time. Not everyone can do this on their own of course so I would recommend seeing a professional if that is the case.

It is so freeing when you can find your way off the merry go round. We all have life experiences and some affect us more than others. Those repeat mode settings can keep you going in circles preventing you from living life freely. It is not easy to take a risk and become vulnerable yet the benefits are long term.

It is all too easy to become familiar with unhealthy responses and keep putting up with them; it is very rewarding to discover better responses that do not leave you emotionally empty. No one likes listening to the same song over and over for too long, after a while it just gets really old.

 It might be time to change the music.

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Back to Basics

The fast changing modern day we live in presents us with the reality that the basics or foundations of so many areas of life are being lost and forgotten amongst an endless sea of new ideas and processes. I doubt that there is any stone unturned or untouched by what seems to be a desire for something more exciting and fulfilling. It seems as though areas of life that we once held onto with such value and conviction are being de-valued and buried.  What was once common understanding and conviction that humanity held about life has turned into a kaleidoscope of change with no true certainty of what it is people believe in. Almost as if the bottom of everything has fallen off somewhere and the foundations are no longer available for people to stand on. While the foundations are still there they have turned into ancient ruins. The trouble is this world needs foundations to stand on, something secure and true.

People everywhere young and old have the possibility of being led astray by the many voices and ideas that are whispered or shouted with such distraction. Is the foundation of what is being whispered or shouted for good or for bad? I would say have a look at the results; are the results of what we are seeing around the world or more importantly in families good or bad?

While I am a church person and have faith in God and his word (the bible) which to me is the foundation of everything, in this blog I am merely pointed out the facts of what is happening without getting religious or political. For the sake of having no arguments about each other’s beliefs how about we just look at the basics or the foundations of life itself to see that something valuable has been lost and it needs to be desperately found again.

Why do these foundations need to be desperately found and unearthed so to speak?  For the sake of; families, marriages, individuals, the future, just BASICALLY for the sake of life itself here on earth.

Could it be that people are getting bored with the old? Are all of our basic five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound OVERLY stimulated to such an extent that to settle for the basics is unbearably plain-FUL and tasteless?

Let me present you with the simplest understanding of foundations such as the idea of COLOUR. We all know that without the base colours we would not have any of the more exciting ones!

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Here we have a picture of just six primary colours that are the basis of a variety of other colours we are privileged to enjoy. Imagine if these primary colours were said to be boring and irrelevant, no longer needed. Too average and nothing appealing to the eye or satisfying to the soul. These primary colours are necessary, foundational for all of the other colours to exist. Would anyone dare say that “Hey, we have seen enough of these boring, plain colours, what purpose or contribution do these have to our lives anyway. Let’s just do away with them already; we can do better than this”.  Of course that would be ridiculous we can’t have the other colours without these base ones.

Is it possible that the basics of relationships, families, and health have BASICALLY been undermined in some way or another?  It does not take an Einstein to figure that out.

SAD yet true, the basic building blocks of relationships as just one area have been assaulted violently. We see this with the lack of face to face communication. Texting and social media seem to be the modern way of catching up with friends and family. Please here me out! I love social media as my family and many of my friends happen to live in different states to where I am, so this form of communication allows me to stay in touch and that is fantastic! The downside to this type of communication is that we have to be deliberate in making time to be face to face with people. It is all too easy to rely on this convenient method of exchange as it saves time and is accessible 24/7.

As great as it is we have perhaps lost our ability to connect on a heart to heart level. As humans we need that desperately. As we scroll through our news feeds we see the best of everyone’s lives. Has this made us unable to open up to others about the difficulties we may be having. After all everyone else’s life looks like a fairy tale on Facebook so how can we feel comfortable about our own life and be willing to let down our guards to say “hey, I’m struggling”.

Are people willing to hear that others are struggling? Do people really care anymore about others? Are we only accepting of those that appear to have fantastic lives!

The true reality is that behind every face book profile there is a family or an individual who may be going through an enormous battle yet no one knows about it. I don’t mean that it should be advertised on face book but does anyone really know what is going on in other people’s lives.

The basics of human understanding and kindness need to desperately come back. Without connection with others we are doing life by ourselves. People only see the good times we might be having however everyone is blind to the hard times in the homes surrounding you and me.

There are too many examples of the foundations and basics of life that I could talk about that it would need to be continued in another blog.

While I know that it is impossible for me to change the entire world my hope is that these blogs I write and this one in particular have an influence (in a good way) to remind people of the true values of life and to perhaps get them thinking about what is really important.

If you are inspired by these blogs and feel like making a difference in the world share them on social media so that they go further and perhaps reach more people. Not because I want to be famous, just simply because I have such a passion for people and for what is truly valuable. I write these blogs with conviction from my heart hoping to make a difference in someone’s life, somewhere. ..

Most of all remember the basics of life such as forgiveness, communication, love, kindness, generosity, genuine care and concern for the wellbeing of others.

The world can become a better place if we all just do our part!

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Fickle feelings

To live by feelings alone would be like a diet consisting of ONLY chocolate. Don’t get me wrong I love good feelings as much as I love my chocolate, however to rely on both would be unhealthy and not realistic.

When I was younger I lived on feelings like a car that needs petrol to keep running. If there were no good feelings my day would come to a halt.

If I didn’t feel like it I didn’t go to school or work! If I had an argument with someone and didn’t feel like apologising, then I wouldn’t. If I didn’t feel like getting out of bed then I stayed there till after midday. If something felt too hard I just quit. I chased my feelings around each day like an obsessed fan chasing their idol.

Then there were the times I made BAD decisions based on my feelings. If a boy gave me just a little attention my hormonal feelings convinced me he was my knight in shining armour! My feelings often led me astray as my brain was uninvited from the decision making process. These decisions often in turn brought about unnecessary heart break and pain, which was always a surprise to me as I was so convinced that my feelings were correct.

FEELING GOOD gives humans a certain buzz. I love the days when I wake up and everything just feels great.  My circumstances may not have changed by the morning yet my feelings are upbeat and positive, like having an extra spring in my step.  On those types of days I can buzz around getting housework done in no time. I feel organised and happy as I decide that today is the day that I will tackle those unfinished tasks or odd jobs that have been waiting for several months for some attention.  It is amazing how much we get done when we feel like it.

I love the days when I feel that I will do great after I finally complete the psychology course. On those days I picture myself receiving the certificate in hand and anticipate where the future will take me after that. I love the days when I am excited about blogging! I imagine all the lives that have the potential of being touched and encouraged. I love the days when I feel hopeful that little ole’ me could have a book published one day, which has the potential to impact the everyday person and make a difference in the world.

BUT……. The reality is the day after a buzzing day I may wake up not feeling so great. I may find that my feelings are perhaps tired, low, negative, angry, hurt, sad, confused, worried, overwhelmed, irritated etc. They are the days when someone usually asks, “did you get out of the wrong side of bed today?. On those flat days everything that I loved about the psychology course, blogging and book writing may feel over the top and impossible. My feelings may take me on a stomach dropping roller coaster ride for the day as I consider the possibility that perhaps I won’t be able to accomplish my dreams.

Feelings do have their place in our lives yet they can be so very unreliable. If we consider feelings in the context of intuition then we should pay attention. Intuition is a sense of knowing about something or someone that one can’t really put their finger on, it isn’t visible naturally however there can be a sense or feeling to be careful in a situation or to not go to a certain place as something simply doesn’t feel right.

In our very hurried world we would do better to not rush off with every fickle feeling we have but to use our brains in the decision making process. Everything worth value does not come to you by feelings alone, it takes work and effort.

There are occasions we may need to put our feelings aside and consider for a moment what the right decision should be. In our response to someone for instance, we could consider the other persons feelings for a change.

Will our actions be detrimental to that person?

If there is anything that I have learnt in life so far it is that even when I do not feel like it, IF I choose more wisely and put another person before myself in a decision then I will be rewarded with happier feelings.  I may have had very low feelings in a given day and I have chosen despite my feelings to help someone and found that all of a sudden my low turns into a high!

The older I get the less time I have to wait for the right feelings before I make the right decision. In my younger days feelings dictated all too much of my life and I really did waste a lot of precious time.

The environment we live in today often sends us a message to do whatever FEELS GOOD. Feeling good is always appealing and we are allowed to feel good there is no law against that. However if feeling good is all that we are led with we may get ourselves in trouble or alternately our lives may not move forward as we are waiting for that feeling.

Everything in balance and moderation is the best way to go. Consider all of your options before you are led by your feelings and outweigh the consequences that could follow. It may save you a tonne of heartache and pain.

Feelings are fickle and they shift and change all too quickly so be a person that looks at the overall picture before jumping in too deep just on feelings alone.

Don’t let your feelings dictate your day to day life or your future, keep going in the area that you are passionate about despite your feelings. You may be inspired one day and not so much the next however keep going.

Enjoy the days when you are feeling great but don’t put your life on hold when your feelings are negative after all the good feelings will come back again.

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A prisoner in your own skin

When I was younger I remember watching a show called PRISONER. It was an Australian soap opera based around women inmates and their lives in prison. In Canada the same show was called CAGED WOMEN. In referencing this t.v soap opera I am not so much blogging about the story lines within the show, but rather drawing your attention to ‘prison life’, or more aptly put ‘caged women’.

There were many years that I felt as though I was living as a ‘caged woman’. Locked up within myself and unable to escape.

While I have never actually visited a prison I have seen enough on t.v and the movies to know that the environment is cold, isolating, frightening, harsh, restrictive and controlled (for obvious reasons) and volatile. I would assume that prisoners could perhaps feel claustrophobic, regretful; hate, mistrusting or perhaps feel nothing at all. Prisoners are kept in cells which are highly protected and monitored. Locked up behind bars! Prison is set up to keep criminals away from society. They are serving time for crimes committed. There are inmates that are serving time for the rest of their lives. Crime is just that, a crime! These prisoners have made choices and done crime which has resulted in them being judged before a court and sentenced to jail.

As a very ordinary young girl I had not committed any crimes however I lived as though I was locked up in a prison. There were areas of my heart that were locked up behind bars. While there were days that I dreamed about being free from this internal prison I just did not know how that was possible. For years it looked as though it was going to be a life sentence.

It isn’t a crime to struggle with low self-esteem, however there are a lot of similarities being a prisoner in your own skin to that of being an actual ‘prisoner’. There are days that feel very isolating and lonely. The environment of your heart and mind is filled with negativity and self-hatred. Thoughts overwhelm you such as; why am I so ugly, so shy, so unwanted, so rejected, so misunderstood, so hopeless, so helpless and on and on and on….. It is an ugly place…..A painful place…..

When you glance over at other people’s lives and then glance back at your own you believe the lie that they are all better than you and you are NOTHING.

As a prisoner in your own skin there is no need of a security guard to keep you locked up, you are the one that keeps yourself in there. In particular situations it is safer to stay locked up. You don’t want any visitors or interactions with anyone. Even though you are not a criminal you feel that no one is going to like you so why bother trying to make any friends as past experience has shown only rejection to be true, how could it be anything else?

It never crossed my mind as a young person that if I didn’t like myself then I was going to project that to others. It was a constant battle where one part of me wanted to be accepted and to have lots of friends and the other part of me would behave as though people would reject me so I unknowingly would set the scene for rejection before it had a chance to happen.  This obviously did not work in my favour it was too complex for me to understand so the cycle continued.

When you are broken on the inside the outside is broken too! It just works hand in hand. Without repairing the brokenness on the inside the outside will reflect what the inside is feeling.

Low self- esteem or hating one- self is almost like being put into solitary confinement. There is not much space to move around. You are confined as a person restricted inside your own heart. The only voices you are hearing are that of your own which are not very positive. While you may have the freedom to do as others do such as going to work and living life, on the inside you are not free to enjoy the experience.

You are not the criminal, low self-esteem  ‘the robber’  has entered in at some stage and  tricked you into believing that you are never going to be good enough or wanted in this lifetime.

The true criminal here is ‘low self- esteem’. My experience with this criminal is that when I allowed unforgiveness and hurts to stay in my heart I unknowlingly gave permission or entry for low self-esteem to be in charge of the keys to my freedom.

After I discovered that all I needed to do was let go of old hurts then I was able to take back those keys and unlock myself from this prison that had kept me confined and bound.

Although I had been released from this prison inside my own skin it has taken several years to truly understand what it is to be free to live as myself. Every step forward has given me more courage to live the freedom that was intended for me. It is not an overnight process. If you can imagine that someone who has been confined for such a long time is not going to just venture out and let loose once they are set free from a cage. There is a process to walk through and a mind and heart that need renewing.

We are not created to live as prisoners in our own skins. It does not need to be a life sentence; I thought it was my lot in life. Not the case! Once you realise the truth there is no turning back. There is no way I would ever want to go back and be held hostage by low-self -esteem.

My prayer and hope is that readers who identify this as their life right now would be brave and willing to let go of whatever it is that has hurt you and take back those keys of freedom for your own life!

 

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