Posted on Leave a comment

How to Face Uncertainty: Why We Don’t Need to Press the Panic Button

“This time, we are holding onto the tension of not knowing, not willing to press the panic button. We are unlearning thousands of years of conditioning.” ~Sukhvinder Sircar

This morning I awoke feeling uncertain about the direction my life was taking. Was it what I wanted in all areas? Was I right to be living where I wanted to, in London, away from family? Was I doing the “right thing” restructuring my business, and was I doing the “right thing” going away for two months next year?

I’ve had a few days like this recently, and while I’d like to blame it on my external circumstances, I know differently. I’m simply feeling stuck in thought.

I learned this in what I perceive as “the hard way.”

Three years ago, I experienced trauma that left me feeling empty and abandoned. I got married. You wouldn’t think that this was a traumatic experience, but in the space of one month (and for no apparent reason whatsoever), my family told me that I was “no longer part of their family” and that I “deserved” to be abandoned by my dad when I was four, and my new mother-in-law to be told me that she had “never liked me but that she would try.” Also, I lost my best friend of ten years.

It’s safe to say that my wedding day was a blur and I felt broken. Instead of experiencing wedded bliss, I ended up questioning my relationship and traveling alone to try to “find myself.” Really, I was trying to escape my pain and run from the uncertainty I was feeling about life.

Fast forward three years, and I now know something different. When we are feeling uncertain or doubtful, trying to predict the future or trying to work out the past—whenever we are not in the moment—it is because we are actually caught up in our thinking.

Sure, we can blame many of our external circumstances for these feelings and choices—there are plenty of things that have occurred this week that I could say have “made me” feel uncertain. But since I’ve discovered the truth of who I really am, I now know that my uncertainty is, in fact, coming from me.

Ultimately, our thinking influences how we experience the external world, which means we have a choice in how our circumstances impact us. That being said, it is human nature, and completely normal, to get caught up in our feelings about external events at times. The point is that we don’t need to be scared of our human experience or try to think our way out of it; we just need to accept our feelings until they pass.

It’s an Inside-Out Reality

As I journeyed through life after what felt like a breakdown, I came across a profound understanding about the nature of our human experience, which totally transformed the way I saw and danced with life. I now call this my “Transformational Truth principles.”

These principles explain how our entire reality is thought-created, which means that everything we see in the world and everything we feel comes from our thinking

So, using my current experience as an example: I’ve been feeling uncertain about where I should live, whether I should travel for such a long time, and how I’m going to restructure my business and maintain my finances. I know that I am feeling anxious about these things solely because of my thoughts.

If I weren’t worried about uncertainty (if I didn’t have an “uncertainty bothers me” lens), then it wouldn’t upset me at all. If I focused on the potential of my business growth, the excitement of the travel journey, and the beautiful feeling of living where I want to be living in London, I’d be feeling that thinking instead.

So, external events that are happening can’t impact us, unless what we believe about them bothers us. It’s the same with anything. If someone criticizes us, it can’t impact us unless we believe it ourselves.

Say someone criticized my creative talents, for example; I would probably laugh because I see myself as creative. If, like with my wedding, they criticized my worthiness, my ability to be loved, or left me, I might sob into my pillow for days, because at times, like many of us, I doubt my self-worth and question if I’m lovable.

Just because people thought I was unlovable, that doesn’t mean I am. The only reason it impacted me was because I believed it myself. In this way the external only ever points us to what we think about ourselves, and not to the truth.

Our Thoughts Are Not the Truth

We get so caught up in believing our own stories that we often forget to step back and see that what we think is just thought. Thoughts aren’t always facts. What’s more, you might notice how our thinking fluctuates. We can think differently about the same thing in each different moment. That’s because our thoughts are transient, and fresh new thinking is available to us in each moment.

When you understand this, you might well wonder, “Well, what is the truth then?” The truth is underneath our thinking. Within all of us there is a wisdom—a clarity—that is innately accessible to us, if we just allow the space to listen to it.

We do this by simply seeing our thoughts as “just thought” floating around in our head. Noticing this allows our thoughts to drop away—without us doing anything.

Allowing Space and Flowing

Usually, instead, we are likely to have a whole host of thoughts around how to react when we feel anxious about uncertainty.

For me personally, I would usually want to force and control things in order to “fix” my lack of certainty over my relationship or whatever my uncertainty might be in the moment—living where I was living, traveling, or restructuring my business.

You might make lists of action plans, or work out worst-case scenarios, or analyze why it happened.

This has always been a temptation of mine, and I spent months on this after my wedding, trying to work out if I should be with my husband or not, whether life would forever be difficult if I had children, why my in-laws didn’t like me, and why my dad left.

But, again, in the same way I now understand that it is not the external that creates my feelings about uncertainty, I also understand that there is no need to force certainty, or even look for the “why.” Sometimes there isn’t one.

Certainty is an Illusion

It’s an illusion that there is any certainty in the first place. Life is always evolving and, as such, there is no safety net beyond the one we imagine. We do this all the time, but the only certainty in life is that there isn’t any!

Anything we predict is just our mind trying to “fix something,” which is futile. It can seem scary to think that we have no certainty, that we can’t fix things, but when we understand that there is actually nothing to fix—because nothing is broken—we can settle back into the flow of life.

I’m not saying it always feels easy, but I have experienced how my feelings about my wedding traumas settled down when I began to understand this.

We are Universally Guided and Already Whole

We only see that there is something to “fix” because this is, again, our construction of reality. We are unlearning thousands of years of conditioning of how we view the world: ideas that certainty exists, and that we need to fix ourselves if things don’t look how we think they should.

Sydney Banks, the original inspirer of my Transformational Truth principles, said:

“If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.”

Because, actually, there is nothing to fear. I believe we are always exactly where we need to be—because we are part of this amazingly miraculous universe, which is guided by some sort of powerful intelligence that no one really understands. In this way, we are already whole, always connected, and always safe. There is nothing to fix, because we are not broken.

Ultimately, the “answer” we are looking for is pointless. There is no “answer,” and we don’t need one. All we need to do is see how life really works and allow ourselves to accept where we are in each moment, knowing that it is a transient, thought-created experience of life.

We just need to flow, move with what happens, and sit in our feelings, knowing that they are thought-based, they can’t harm us, and they will soon pass.

In her poem “She Is a Frontier Woman,” Sukhvinder Sircar explains this well in saying that all we really need to do is hold on to the tension of not knowing and not press the panic button.

Allow the Creative Force of Life Flow

And so, this morning, as I woke feeling uncertain, I got out my yoga mat and journal. I stretched, I moved my body, I sat in the feelings I had, knowing that they would pass, even though they felt horrible.

I knew that they were not part of me, but simply my thinking, trying to convince me of something I believed that was fundamentally not the truth. I let go. I flowed. I accepted what I didn’t know. I didn’t press the panic button. Instead, I wrote this.

In the space where I could have (and would have previously) worried and attempted to solve things, the creative force of life—which is actually underneath all of our thoughts—simply flowed through me. In a much more beautiful way than it could have done had I indulged my imagined beliefs about the external.

When we sit back, creation gifts us with exactly what we need in each moment. We simply need to understand how this works and allow it.

About Nicole Barton

Nicole is a passionate Well-being Ambassador, adoring all things holistic and natural, with a particular passion for the innovative field of inspirational thought. Nicole shares her insights through Wellbeing Mentoring, helping people make sense of life and support themselves back to balance, from the inside-out. She loves the authenticity of helping people feel reconnected to life. Visit her at wellbeingwriter.co.uk.

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post How to Face Uncertainty: Why We Don’t Need to Press the Panic Button appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

Posted on Leave a comment

How Social Media Is Helping Me Cope with Grief

“Grief, no matter where it comes from, can only be resolved by connecting to other people.” ~Thomas Horn

We had just landed in Chicago. I had spent the last three hours on a flight from New Jersey sitting next to grown-ups who didn’t ask me fifty questions every two minutes, while my kids watched a movie with their dad, two rows behind.

I was looking forward to spending one whole week in Chicago, despite the freezing temps. This was my first real break in eight months, and boy, I had plans! Sleeping in, long baths, reading, and no laptop!

I switched my phone on as soon as we landed. There was a text from my sister in India that she’d sent a few hours ago. My mom had been in the hospital for two weeks now with a serious lung infection.

That morning her doctor had given us hope that she was getting better. This was good news, and I was relieved. I tried to call my mom and then my dad, but none of them answered.

I thought, I’ll try her again when we check in our hotel. I sent her a text, telling her the same along with a video of my two-and-a-half year old son running around the airport. These videos were her life.

We were in the back of a Black Sedan, on our way to the hotel, when my phone rang. It was my dad. He was crying. I couldn’t even understand what he was saying, but my heart was beating out of my chest.

The only thing I understood were these words, “She was put on a ventilator.”

I started crying, but I managed to say, “She will be fine, Papa. Don’t cry. Be strong!” I knew whatever “putting on a ventilator” meant, she would be fine! Goddammit, that was my mom! She was always fine. In reality, I had no idea what that meant.

The next few hours were a battle she fought alone for her life. She gave a good fight, but eventually, my sweet mama lost the battle. I didn’t just lose my mother. I also lost my best friend and my biggest cheerleader.

The next day, I carried myself and my heavy heart 8,000 miles away to India.

The last time I saw my mom was over two years ago. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I will never be able to see her beautiful smile again. I will never hear her sweet voice.

The next few weeks are a blur. The only thing I remember is seeing her lifeless body.

I remember her slightly parted lips as if she was about to call my name. Her black hair with greys peeking out, and her soft, supple skin. I kissed on her forehead and wished somehow she would wake up.

I held her hand and said goodbye to the person who brought me into this world.

After spending a few weeks back in India with my family, I came back home to New Jersey. With nothing but grief and tears to fill my day with, I returned to work.

A big part of my work involves staying active on social media. I had taken a brief hiatus, but now I was ready to be back. But how could I talk about anything else other than that one thing that consumed my brain?

I had built a small yet strong community on my social media platform. Yet, I hesitated. What if someone posted a nasty comment? What if someone told me, “Enough already, stop depressing us!”

I spent most of my days at my home, crying. My husband was at work, and my kids were in school. I started noticing that other than a few friends who I could literally count on my fingers, others had disappeared from my life.

My phone never rang.  My friends hardly texted me. When I ran into people, they were so awkward around me. Was it just my imagination?

Was it just a coincidence that my good friends had just vanished into thin air at that exact moment when I needed them the most?

It’s said that grief is like waves—sometimes it’s calm, and sometimes it’s like a tsunami. On days when it turned into tsunami, I felt like I was drowning and didn’t know if I would be able to come up for air. Ever.

Desperate for a human connection, I turned to my small but mighty crowd on social media.

On Instagram, I talked about my struggles and how I was coping with the loss of my mother. I wrote Facebook posts about my mom and how my kids were learning to calm me down when I broke into tears. In Facebook groups, I shared how my grief was affecting all areas of my life, including my work.

The response was phenomenal! People sent me flowers and handwritten cards. Some shared their experience of how they dealt with the loss of a loved one.

Some sent me long, beautiful personal messages and some just one sentence: “How can I help you?”

These were people I hardly knew, some I had never met. Yet together, they opened their hearts and gave me a platform to grieve.

Social media often gets a horrible rep, and I totally get it. There are some very nasty people out there. But for every one nasty person online, ten people are on social to be social.

They are looking for a human connection. Perhaps, when they see raw vulnerability, they extend their hand across their screens. When they read about someone who is going through the same pain as they are, they give their virtual shoulder to cry on.

Humans need emotional connection. Even more when we are grieving. And sometimes you can’t find it near you. Sometimes you aren’t comfortable talking about it to anyone you know. And sometimes, even if you have people around, you feel they just don’t get it.

Whatever it is, if you are struggling to talk to someone, know that social media can be a great resource. Use it; don’t shun it. Give it a try.

Join a Support Group

There are many great support groups online. A lot of closed Facebook groups dedicated to helping people who are grieving have stringent guidelines and zero tolerance policy. If you are new to social media or wary of sharing your personal stories online, start here.

Since all the members are going through the same pain, there is a very high level of support. I discovered people who had lost a loved one were the ones who could really understand what I was talking about. And sometimes, it’s so much easier to spill your emotions when no one is staring at you in the eye with uncomfortable silence.

Rule of 3:1

Give, give, give, and then make the ask. The rule of social media is the same as the rule of life. You give first, and then you ask.

Although I was received with an open heart from my community, I believe it was because I had built a relationship with them for six months. I had been there for them. I had provided value to their life or work many times before I made my ask.

Show Up as You Are

Don’t try to hide your emotions or pretend to be someone you aren’t. Tell your truth. Show up exactly the state you are in.

If you are new to social media or don’t use it for anything else other than remembering your friend’s birthday, then this will be hard. Start with a safe place first. Maybe it’s a closed online community of known people or five of your trusted online friends. You don’t need thousands, just a few people whom you build an emotional connection with.

We are very fortunate to live in a time when information and access are available to us at our fingertips. It’s up to us how we choose to use it.

My grief is nowhere close to being over. It shall never be. It has changed forms, and I believe it will continue to do so. But, knowing that I have a safe space where I can talk about it without being judged or ridiculed is helping me cope with my grief.

About Deepshikha Sairam

Deepshikha Sairam, founder of socialiquegroupe.com, helps solopreneurs build their tribe on Instagram. She believes in the importance of creating a community to strengthen customer loyalty and turn customers into fans. You can get her Free template of 40 Quotes that triggers emotional response and boosts engagement, here . To become a part of her community, follow her on Instagram.

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post How Social Media Is Helping Me Cope with Grief appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

Posted on Leave a comment

When Things Have to Change: How to Find the Willpower to Achieve Your Goals

“When it is obvious the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” ~Confucius

Do you want to know my biggest fear?

I’ve just come out of the closet, my parents have rejected me, and I am terrified, really, really terrified, because I’m completely alone, and the pain is unbearable.

But it’s not just the rejection that terrifies me—it’s also what happens after that.

With no one to turn to, I find comfort at the bottom of a bag of chips.

Three months and thirty pounds later I’ve yet to leave the confines of my bedroom. I’m wasting away, haunted by dead dreams, dirty dishes, and empty soda cans. The depression is unbearable. I feel like I’ll never be able to turn things around.

I look in the mirror and don’t recognize this person looking back at me. I’ve resigned myself to a life of sadness, solitude, and self-neglect. It feels as though everything is hopeless and I’ll never to amount to anything in life.

Feelings of depression, lack of confidence, and fear of failure drive me to seek comfort with Aunt Jamima instead of with a new diet plan. This vicious cycle of depression and binge eating leads me to a state of paralysis, and obesity. I’ve completely stopped taking care of myself. I feel like I may as well die because my life is over!

Yikes! Dramatic much?

The secret is, not only is this one of my biggest fears, this actually happened!

Spoiler Alert: Eventually, with therapy, I was able to break out of the depression and drop thirty pounds. Equally important, my parents have grown to love and accept my gayness! But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the five strategies that helped me crawl my way out of the hole and get back to a healthy place, physically and emotionally.

If you’re feeling discouraged and unmotivated to create positive change in your life, these five strategies may help you alleviate your emotional triggers, increase your willpower, and achieve your goals.

Strategy #1: Chunking

Many of us cannot complete the tasks we set out to do because we get overwhelmed thinking of all the work required, which leads to a state of paralysis. Overwhelm is one of my main emotional triggers, and chunking is a great way to alleviate this and follow through with my goals.

Chunking is when you take a large task and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. With chunking you will find you have increased confidence and willpower and are able to complete more tasks with less stress.

We basically have unlimited willpower (it’s true! See tip #3: Perception), but when presented with a momentous task the brain becomes overwhelmed and says, “ENOUGH! I’M DONE! BRING ME CHIPS!”

When my depression was at its height I had many days where I didn’t feel like going to the gym and hitting the weights. When I was in this negative emotional state, I found my mind focusing on the long, tiring workout I had planned ahead while feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up to my peers came creeping in. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

It’s called paralysis by analysis—when you’re overthinking something and you get stuck in a place of inaction. During times like this I feel things are hopeless. I plop my ass down on the couch and prepare for a good long Netflix binge, with a side of chips of course! Then comes the uncomfortable feeling of my potential being wasted and my waistline slipping further and further away.

To get over this state of inaction, I use chunking. I focus on the task at hand and think, “What is the next right move for me in this moment?”

I tell myself that I’ll go to the gym and I’ll do just a five-minute workout. If I want to exercise more after that, I have the option to do so. After the first five minutes is complete, I tell myself I’ll do five more minutes. And repeat.

Eventually the resistance to working out subsides, an hour goes by, and the workout is complete! I’m always in a better mood after I leave the gym, and the emotional triggers that were holding me back oftentimes seem insignificant once my workout is complete and I’ve gotten out of the house.

Strategy #2: Confidence

Confidence is the belief you have in yourself to achieve your goals. After coming out to my parents and feeling alone and abandoned, my confidence was basically non-existent. I needed to get my confidence back if I was going to be successful. Approaching a task with confidence will decrease the willpower required to complete said task, and feelings of self-doubt and insecurity will begin to melt away.

How is it possible to increase confidence, you ask? It’s not as hard as you might think! Start by changing the way you frame your goals.

When I wanted to lose thirty pounds, for example, I felt an extreme lack of confidence pursuing such an ambitious goal. Feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt became debilitating. I felt like I was permanently stuck in a place of inaction, never to achieve my goals.

The truth is, the way I was framing my goal was setting me up for failure.

I found success by chunking my goal down into something I felt was easy, manageable, and achievable. I shifted my focus from losing thirty pounds to losing just one pound. One pound is easy to lose, so I felt confident in my ability to achieve this small chunk of my ultimate goal.

I started paying attention to the small wins and milestones. I began tracking my progress with a fitness app on my phone. A Virginia Tech study found that having a visual representation of your progress provides motivation to reach your goals; the easier a goal is to see, the closer it seems.

Tracking your progress is another great way to increase confidence. It also decreases the amount of willpower required to stick to your routine and diet.

With my renewed confidence, a strategically planned diet, and training regime, I achieved my goal weight and lost thirty pounds! Once I truly believed in myself, I was able to accomplish something that I thought was impossible.

Strategy #3: Perception

Perception is everything when it comes to maintaining willpower. It will make or break your chances for success.

A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that if you believe you have unlimited willpower, you will in turn have more willpower than the average person.

This means that when you believe you have a finite supply of willpower, you’re right! When you believe you have an infinite supply of willpower, you’re right about that too!

You create your own reality. The beliefs you hold dictate the world around you. The limitations you put on yourself are the limitations that also hold you back. Create a new narrative for yourself, one in which you are empowered to achieve your goals, and you will transform limitations into strengths.

Remember back when my depression was at its height and I gained thirty pounds in three months? l had lost all respect for myself and my body. I stopped believing I could achieve my goals. Feelings of hopelessness took over. I was sinking deeper and deeper into an intense and painful depression.

Eventually, I began to realize how my perception was limiting my ability to lose weight. If I didn’t believe in myself, how could I expect to achieve anything? Through meditation, and with a lot of support from some amazing friends, I was able to shift my perception from hopeless to hopeful!

With this shift in perspective, and a newfound love for myself, I began to take care of my body properly. The weight began to melt off and I became the success story you see today.

Strategy #4: Identity

Identity shapes the way we view ourselves and what we believe we are capable of, and it dictates our response to emotional triggers.

Are you a smoker? Do you love to jog? Are you a fat, lazy slob who will never amount to anything? These are all examples of the identities we create that can hold us back or lead us to success.

We constantly use our identity to quickly recognize the things we are good at and things we suck at. Did you ever stop to think about how this identity is based out of past experiences—many of which do not even hold true today? These beliefs will hold you back from reaching your full potential if you let them.

When I gained thirty pounds I had allowed myself to take on the identity of victim, and as a result I became disempowered to change my situation. Eventually I learned to shift my identity from disempowered to empowered, by changing the stories I was telling myself.

No longer was I a victim of circumstance. I accepted full responsibility for my situation and let go of the victim identity. Once I chose to stop playing the victim, I directed my energy toward creating the life I’ve dreamed of.

By shifting my identity so that it was aligned with my life goals, I changed the narrative and opened the door for real change in my life. I also decreased the willpower required to achieve my goals and began my journey on the path to success.

So I know you’re thinking, “How the hell do I change my identity!?”

You can start by changing the stories you tell yourself. Flip the script!

I’m reminded of a time when I was trying to quit smoking (for the tenth time). When I had a bad craving I would tell myself things like “I’m not allowed to smoke.” The language I was using—“I’m not allowed”—is of someone who identifies as a smoker. By speaking that way I was creating a sense of deprivation and giving away my power to the identity of being a smoker.

I found that by changing the story from “I am not allowed to smoke” to “I do not smoke” I decreased feelings of deprivation. It also empowered me to create a new identity of someone who does not smoke.

With this new identity, I decreased the amount of willpower required to quit smoking. I became empowered to make the changes necessary to achieve my goal, and I was able to successfully stop smoking with a slight shift of identity. I felt so proud of myself for this one too!

Strategy #5: High-Level Thinking

We essentially have two types of thinking: high-level and low-level.

Low-level thoughts focus on how to complete a task, short-term goals, and execution of plans.

“How am I going to workout today?” is an example of a low level thought.

High-level thoughts focus on why you want to complete a task, and are charged with a sense of meaning and purpose. They help us to find that extra bit of willpower we need to carry us through tough times.

“Why do I want to workout today?” is an example of a high-level thought.

The high-level thought shown above focuses on the motivation behind the goal. It re-enforces the belief that working out is what’s best for me. Thinking in this way reduces the resistance to the task at hand and reduces the amount of willpower required to accomplish goals.

A study by Professor Fujita in 2006 concluded that people who often engage in higher-level thinking have a higher amount of willpower than those who regularly engage in lower-level thinking.

When I was in a full-blown depression I found low-level thoughts were much more common than high-level thoughts. With my focus on logistical things like the endless steps involved in getting in shape, I would feel overwhelm and sink deeper into depression. Just leaving the house to go workout became an arduous task.

Eventually, I changed my focus to why I was going to the gym and connected to my overall goals of being fit and healthy. With less focus on the mundane day-to-day tasks, a lot of the resistance to leaving the house subsided, and I was more frequently able to get my workouts in as planned.

With continued practice I’ve become more mindful of opportunities to choose between high-level and low-level thinking throughout the day. Just this morning I had an insatiable craving for cream in my coffee! I’m currently experimenting with intermittent fasting, and one of my rules is no cream till after 4:00pm.

The struggle got real. I was ready to give in and make that coffee creamy and delicious. I didn’t care how wrong it was because it felt so right!

Suddenly, as I was about to pour the cream, I started thinking at a higher level. I realized this cream would stop me from progressing toward my larger goal of being fit and healthy and inspiring others. After thinking at a higher level, the cream became much less tempting and I was able to put the cream down.

Thanks to higher-level thinking, I found the willpower I needed to not break my fast!

Conclusion

These five strategies—chunking, confidence, perception, identity, and high-level thinking—are all tools to add to your tool box to help you alleviate negative emotional triggers, increase willpower, and ensure you reach your goals.

These techniques have helped me through some very tough times, but they will help you with any goal in life that requires persistence and dedication. Implement these tools in your life today and see how much they help you!

Let me know how this works for you—leave a comment in the comments section below!

About Timothy James

Timothy is a Personal Trainer and Life Coach specializing in building habits to easily achieve weight loss goals. Click here to receive his FREE cheat sheet to increase your willpower and achieve your goals today! Follow him on Instagram here!

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post When Things Have to Change: How to Find the Willpower to Achieve Your Goals appeared first on Tiny Buddha.