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4 Tips for Dealing With Fear

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. ~Unknown

From the minute I woke up yesterday, I was consumed by fear. The fear had no clear face, and I couldn’t tell what had sparked it or how it might be tamed from a blazing fire to a small flame.

It left me with a gnawing pit in my stomach, which I recognized as guilt and anxiety. Everything from that point forward felt off and out of place.

I couldn’t see that nothing in the present moment was wrong, only that the immediate future was unsure, and I had lost my firm grip on the control I believed I had.

So I attacked.

The Art of Detachment & Surrender

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. ~Buddhist Proverb

I wasn’t in the best of spirits when I walked into my local yoga studio for class on that blustery Monday evening. A slew of perceived problems, large and small, were spinning through my mind. I felt frustrated, helpless, and most of all, lost.

I wanted direction and guidance; I longed for the smallest bit of certainty that the decisions I’d had to make earlier would be the right ones. And when I considered relaxing and surrendering, I was unable to do either.

I was trying to run away from myself and my troubled mind, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Ironically enough, I’d published a post earlier that day about the fact that we all struggle with runaway minds and hearts. I’d written about the ways in which we are tempted to disconnect — to rebel against the love that surrounds us always.

The post emphasized compassion, forgiveness and celebration — all the things I wasn’t offering myself as I began my yoga practice.

10 Life Lessons Learned From Kids

Photo by Lauren Rosenbaum
Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson. ~Alan Cohen

Twirling in her pink tutu, slightly tattered and always a little dirty, my niece opens her arms wide, calling for all of us to get up and dance with her. She wants to hold hands while we jump, spin and leap around the room.

She shouts along to the music, reminding each of us that we should be joining in. “Papa sing! It’s your turn Papa!” Panting and out of breath, we try our hardest to match her undying energy.

After the music — she asks for Justin Bieber by name now — starts to fade, she drops our hands and holds out her arms again. “Ok everyone, it’s time for a group hug!”

We haven’t purposely partaken in a group hug for years now, but we oblige because her smile is contagious and her enthusiasm is impossible to tame.

4 Ways to Say What You Want

Photo by Eduardoizq
I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. ~Brene Brown

Do you ever fear that voicing your needs and desires —saying what you want — makes you selfish and will cause people to dislike you?

I used to be terrified of taking a stand for myself — saying “no” or “I don’t want to” or “I disagree.” I was so desperate to fit in and please others that I’d completely forgo my own wishes and innermost needs.

This denial of my truest self probably led to the anorexia I developed at the age of 10 — a disorder that I wouldn’t be able to shake off for 14 years.

Even when I got married, I did so despite my inner voice urging me to wait. Again, I listened to someone else’s wants at the expense of my own. So I said ‘I do,’ feeling slightly sick and knowing that I was walking down the wrong path.

A Lesson on Being Vulnerable

Photo by Hannes Caspar
We want to know that we matter. We want to know that we were heard and that what we had to say meant something. ~Oprah Winfrey

I knew I should say something but the thought of opening my mouth to speak terrified me. I sat suffering silently to myself.

The longer I waited for him to pay attention to me, the more agitated I became. Anger, indignity and feelings of rejection spread through my body, heating every inch of me from within.

How dare he ignore me after I had come all this way to spend time with him? Did he expect me to sit here alone all night? How could he possibly not know I was angry?

When I finally mustered up enough courage to share my feelings with him he laughed, told me I was “pouting” and that he didn’t have the energy to help me deal with my “stuff.”

How Losing My Job Cured My Depression

Photo by Eduardoizq
The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I thought I had it all.

I had a job that paid well and all the perks that went with it. I drove an expensive car and rented a spacious (but overpriced) apartment well-stocked with the latest modern conveniences.

I had a circle of equally high-flying, workaholic acquaintances, and we’d spend what little free time we had downing expensive drinks together in fashionable nightclubs and bars.

Fully occupied with my busy schedule, I never looked up long enough to realize that a cloud of discontent followed me everywhere I went. I also didn’t realize that chasing material excess was simply my subconscious attempt to outrun it.

But the economic crash of 2008 changed all that.

3 Ways to Stop Negative Thinking

Photo by Hannes Caspar
Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances. ~Wayne Dyer

I’ve spent the last week brooding over unexpected events that have transpired in my work and personal life, holing myself up in a darkened room contemplating all of the dire consequences said events will have on my present and future.

The same thoughts have been turning somersaults in my mind for hours on end, disrupting my sleep and pushing me to lash out when it’s entirely unnecessary and, sometimes, inappropriate.

In truth, I took situations that were completely neutral and transformed them in my mind to represent all kinds of gloom and doom. I’m beginning to see that jumping to conclusions is something I’m ridiculously good at — something I know needs to change.

The Art of Letting Go

Photo by Rosie Hardy
When the mind discovers that you are no longer afraid of its content, it will leave you alone.

There I was again — lying in bed paralyzed by emotion. Constant noise clamored for the attention of my awareness like an uninvited circus.

Calliope music screeched a cacophony of self-criticism as lions roared and circled below me, eagerly awaiting my plunge from the high wire after losing my delicate balance between safety and self-destruction.

What could I have done to deserve this?

I lay there, unable to move physically, but tortured by a violent mental fight that raged within me. My mind wrestled with intricate contortions in an attempt to keep its balance when what it really needed was stillness.

My consciousness kept trying to put out fire with fire, to silence thought with more thought. But these were only flames of a different color.

5 Steps to Design Your Life

Photo by Hannes Caspar
The soul cannot think without a picture. ~Aristotle

Lately, I have observed that many of us feel we are reacting to life versus creating it.

Perhaps some of us are stuck in a job we feel is not challenging or is not utilizing our potential.  Or, we are constantly feeling behind — the demands from errands, tasks and bills have us constantly playing catch up. Some of us struggle with finding a meaningful balance between our family and career.

Or, simply, we have become the victim; unconsciously, we have decided to be the effect of each day versus the cause.

Recently, as I was faced with a disconnect in varying interests, I realized I had to refocus, quickly, before I went astray.

I found by designing my life through a vision statement, it has been a tool for providing more direction: Instead of becoming reactionary to whatever arises in my day, I have regained the role of creating it.

How to Find Yourself & Love Life

Photo by Hannes Caspar
Happiness depends on ourselves. ~Aristotle

This is truly an excellent piece of advice. But it took me a great deal of patience, effort, and focus to finally internalize the implications of it. The art of seeking happiness begins by looking, because to love life depends on being able to enjoy being yourself.

The whole exciting process of deciding to be happy begins with the journey of rediscovery — understanding who you are. It seems so obvious: You can’t begin to be happy until you do the things that make you happy.

But do you know what makes you happy?

In this world of 7 billion people, each of us has our own unique path to happiness. But the seemingly simple concept of nurturing your individuality while traversing your own path in this world can be a challenge.

In fact, in most cases, when you sit down and reflect (a task that most of us tend to woefully neglect), you might be horrified to realize that you have become someone you wouldn’t have recognized in your younger years.

Many of us do.

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