Be in the Flow – Follow Your Path!

Posts tagged ‘comfort’

What is the Quality of Your Life?

What is the Quality of Your Life?

This is a message from a dream: In the dream my aging mother asked me, “What is the quality of your life?” I woke up pondering how to answer. How does one answer that?

There are of course the physical qualities of life: here in the Chicago area we are just recovering from a short but devastating windstorm. So I am grateful for the electricity that has just returned: running water, warm showers, toilets that flush, light, air conditioning, refrigerated foods, and a roof over my head that doesn’t have a tree sticking out of it.

Going beyond the personal comfort, there is the convenience of roads free from fallen power lines and trees as well as stop and go lights that restore a more orderly flow of traffic.

Next is being instantaneously connected to the outside world with the internet: email, social media, news and anything you want to know at your fingertips, movies and books to download 24 hours a day.

Oh —- how 2 days without all these conveniences can give you a new perspective on what we take for granted.

But I don’t think that was what my mother was asking about in the dream. There is a different quality of life she was asking about. She was asking, “Are you happy?”

I’m so Bored – Life is so Easy

Just because I could, I have been catching up on reading some Facebook posts. The variety is astounding. Students out of school for the summer lamenting that they are bored and can’t wait to get back to school. A guy in Austria won a lawsuit against his government that allows him to wear a colander on his head for his driver’s license photo – for religious reasons. The French government has outlawed burka face veils. Someone is looking for a new apartment. Another person is relieved that she is once again single. Someone is proposing that extremely obese children be taken away from their parents – for their protection.

We live in an age of unprecedented ease and instant entertainment. But the entertainment may only cover a deeper longing. We are discontent. The moment we are not busy we are bored. I believe that many people are missing healthy and happy connections with others: meaningful and rewarding interdependent relationships: people valuing people. People being there for one another, to encourage and uplift one another. People are lonely, yet many would rather be alone than be in hurtful relationships. Staying busy keeps us from really noticing.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Have you heard the idea that “where there is too much, there is something missing”? We have all the stuff, all the toys, yet deep down we may feel empty inside. What do advertisers really sell when they appear to be selling their latest product? They sell happiness: buy this and you will have friends, you will find love, you will be happy. If that is what we all want – to be happy – so much so that it is used to sell anything from pain relief to cars, then what is it that makes us happy? What makes us happy deep down inside? I believe it is relationships – the good ones. So how do we create those relationships?

1. Be respectful towards each other
2. Communicate: Listen
3. Communicate: Feel heard and understood
4. Spend quality time with each other
5. Create happy memories together
6. Develop a feeling of contentment with each other
7. Develop trust and interdependence – a well working team

I am blessed with a rich network of friends: some spanning over a decade of friendship, others more recent. We talk, we laugh, we cry, we make happy memories; we are content just being in each other’s company. We do simple things together: cooking, eating, going for a walk, going swimming or skating or kayaking, hanging out at the beach or pool, solving a computer problem or completing a sewing project, helping each other where a second pair of hands is needed. Most of all we are content in each other’s company. When issues arise, we talk about them calmly to resolve them. We learn from each other. We spend time doing things we each enjoy. We encourage, support, and uplift each other.

I encourage you to look at your life and the people in them: Who are the five people you spend the most time with? Are those relationships good for you? How can you make them better? Is there anyone who is not in the top five who you would like to spend more time with? Is there anyone in the top five who you would like to spend less time with? In which relationships do you feel happy, accepted and at ease?

Taking it Farther:

To have a friend – be a friend. Once you have identified the five people you most want to spend time with, look for ways to be together and reach out to them to see if that works for them as well. Find a balance with each person that works for both of you. Keep communication lines open so that issues are resolved as they come up and there is little opportunity for anger, resentment, blame or other destructive emotions to poison the relationship. In other words, just like in your home, take the garbage out on a regular basis.

Resources:

Book: “How to have that difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Visual and Tape: “The communication map” by David Steele http://www.relationshipcoachinginstitute.com/resources.htm – then go to “Other Products”

Online: http://www.Meetup.com to find a group of like-minded people or start your own group. Almost any topic you can imagine.

Contact me:

If you would like to know about what energy you bring to your relationships and how to bring more positive energy into your life, call me to schedule an Energy Assessment and coaching. Live the life you choose. Be happy. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it

The Origins of Comfort Eating and what to do about it.

Often our emotional state is reflected in our eating behaviors. It feels like there is an umbilical cord between how we feel and how we eat. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn to sever the umbilical cord between our emotions and what we put into our mouths.

Reaching for food when life is hard is something many of us are familiar with. We were trained to do that.

I see it all the time. A baby is cranky or just noisy (at the store, in a house of worship, at a family gathering, at the doctor’s office, …).  Next, the baby is offered something to put into its mouth: a pacifier or a bottle. An older child gets a piece of candy at the bank, the doctor’s office or for good behavior. The opposite is also true: the bribe or withholding trick: if you’re good you’ll get ice cream. Or “no dessert for you, you’ve been bad”. Is it any wonder that when we finally get control over our own food supply, we do what feels emotionally supportive, rather than what we know is healthy for us?

Here are some examples for how it can play out in our lives now.

1. A couple of years ago I reconnected with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. I know her to be health conscious and fit. As her husband was battling cancer, she gained a lot of weight. She said she was comfort eating. She couldn’t help it.

2. Some years ago I was shocked at my response when my life coach asked me what my definition of SUCCESS was. When I looked deeply inside me, the surprising answer I found was “being able to buy and eat any food I want”.  That was the beginning of a profound shift in my relationship with food.

Surprisingly, we don’t just run away from “bad” feelings. We run away from “good” feelings as well. Following is an example.

Story: Anxious about being excited

Recently while at the roller-skating rink I had the chance to observe a family waiting in line. It appeared to me that the mother of three young girls was very uncomfortable with her daughters being excited about going skating. She tried to squash any sign of happiness and excitement with threats like “if you don’t stand still, we’ll just go home” and “you’ll just have to sit in the car while we skate” and “you’re spoiling it for everybody”. Later I saw them again in the snack bar. It hadn’t stopped. “Sit still” and “NO! You can’t have a pretzel”, sounded more like a drill sergeant rebuking a new recruit than a rational conversation.

So, what are these three young girls learning about being excited and having fun? Probably the same thing their mother learned when she was young: “it’s not safe to be excited” and “things calm down when everybody is eating”.  So, don’t be surprised if you are stress eating when you are happy or excited.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

I don’t need to tell you the benefits of a healthy body. I don’t need to tell you about just having more willpower. I don’t need to tell you about one more diet to try, or one more trick to keep you from food you desperately want to eat. If you and food have an adversarial relationship – you have probably tried them all.

Are you ready to change all that? Ready to start to de-link your connection between emotions and food? Like any habit, even those you have had for a long time, reaching for comforting food can be replaced with other behavior.

Start with awareness: how and when do you self soothe with food?

  • Do you lose your appetite?
  • Do you eat for comfort?
  • Do you tend to go for sweet or salty comfort food?
  • Do you eat until you go numb or the discomfort from overeating is greater than the uncomfortable feelings you had before?
  • When your life feels out of control, do you engage in “control over food behavior” such as anorexia or bulimia?

Take a moment and reflect on today or yesterday while it is fresh in your mind. Did you eat something you wish you hadn’t? How were you feeling afterwards? Did you feel stuffed, disgusted, muted, satisfied, numbed, nauseous, calm? OK. What emotions were you feeling before you started to eat, emotions you were covering up that might have been too uncomfortable to feel? What were you running away from, and running to food to help divert you?

Keep a small notebook of situations and emotions that bring you running to food. Then pick one of them that you think you can shift into a new habit that doesn’t involve food. Don’t try to change chocolate cake to carrot sticks. Remember you still need to be comforted. What are things that are comforting to you? A warm bath? A friendly chat with a trusted friend? Sitting on a sunny bench at a nearby park? Some physical activity, like yoga? Listening to some soothing music? Make a list. Find one or more activities that you will substitute for one specific emotional pattern. Plan ahead what you will do the next time that trigger situation occurs. Congratulate yourself every time you succeed and be gentle with yourself if you slip into old patterns. Just recommit to do better next time. I recommend that you go easy on yourself. Focus on changing one pattern every 3 months.

Taking it Farther:

Start to notice why you respond to certain situations as you do. I’ve heard that 10% is what happens to you and 90% is how you respond to what happens. If a situation is not stressful to you, you won’t need comforting. But that is a topic for another article.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

Forgiveness – Freeing and Comforting

I’ve heard a lot about the importance of forgiveness. You probably have too. But what I heard this past week about a benefit of forgiveness, I had never heard before. And it might change – well – everything.

Story: The effect of forgiving your bullies

A friend shared with me his experience of breaking through and being able to forgive some bullies who had given him a very hard time in middle school. He said he found the experience of forgiving them freeing and comforting. I said I could understand the freeing part, but could he tell me more about how it was comforting to him.

To me his insight was nothing short of remarkable. He said that after being able to truly forgive the cruelties he had endured, he felt that life has opened up to him in a whole new way. If he could forgive that, something he thought he might never be able to forgive, then what else could he do that he thought he couldn’t do. — This one experience may make a huge difference on how he lives the rest of his life and what he believes is possible for him.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Think of every grudge and negativity you hold onto, every injury you haven’t been able to get over, every injustice you have endured, and situations that make you angry or exhausted – as pebbles in your backpack. And that backpack is on your back all the time. —- How fast can you run? How fast can you move forward? How agile are you? How well do you sleep at night? How quickly can you adjust to changes in your life’s direction – all while carrying that heavy backpack?

Isn’t it time to lighten your load – at least a little?

1. Free yourself from some of the pebbles in your backpack. There are probably some easy ones you can do on your own – starting now. Here is one suggestion on how to get started.

  • Choose a time and place where you can be uninterrupted and at peace: a beautiful setting in nature or a quiet nook in your home, or ….
  • If you like, add some pleasing and calming music.
  • Sit down with a pad of paper or just your thoughts. Imagine putting down the backpack next to you and opening it up.
  • Pick out a small pebble and examine it. Feel it and experience what old hurt it might represent. Writing may help this process.
  • Decide whether to hang onto it or to let it go.
  • If you decide that you are done with that old hurt, drop the pebble or throw it far away.
  • If you decide you are not done with it, that you might still need it to keep distance between you and the other person whom it involves, then put it back in your backpack. You can always take it out again later.
  • Look for other pebbles that you might be done with.
  • Rest and be grateful for your accomplishments. Every pebble you remove is one less you have to carry – for the rest of your life.
  • Each time you let go of a pebble, you strengthen your forgiveness muscle. It’ll allow you to do bigger pebbles and rocks over time. My friend had been working on his forgiveness muscle for a long time before he was able to let go and forgive those bullies, and he didn’t do it alone. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

2. Know that there is also another backpack of pebbles that you carry. It contains all the pebbles of the times when you have been hurtful to others. The process of acknowledging your wrongdoing and forgiving yourself is similar. In addition you may need to make amends, ask for forgiveness, and find a better way to interact with that person if they are still in your life. You may need to set boundaries. Whether or not the other person forgives you does not matter. All you can do is your part. They have to deal with their own backpacks.

3. Find comfort in your growth and your ability to do things – things, which you couldn’t do before. Know that each time you do something you couldn’t do before, it may carry over into other aspects of your life. Now other things may become easier as well. Think of it as training to lead the full life of your dreams.

Taking it Farther:

In my experience you will get to a point where the pebbles and rocks are just too big to handle without the expertise and tools of a trained person: a coach, a therapist, a counselor, an energy healer. I regularly work with people who help me empty my backpack. Whatever modalities you choose, find those that work for the problem you are trying to heal. Sometimes a combination works best. A hammer works best with a nail, a saw solves a different problem, but you cannot build a house with only one tool. – Now, forward this to your friends.

If you feel ready, share this tip with the people in your life with whom you are ready to throw away the pebbles between you.

Contact me:

Want help? I’m here for you. Tired of struggling? Get relief! Get coached to help you get unstuck and take your life to the next level – starting now! Ready to get started? Call Edith at 847.913.3900

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