Posts Tagged With: morning routines

Day 119: I woke up differently, this morning

Waking up, this morning, felt different.

Here’s what I noticed:

Even though I was having some anxiety-based dreams, right before I awoke (where I was trying to find my way through a huge concrete compound, with lots of elevators, accompanied by people whose motives and feelings towards me were ambiguous, at best) …

Even though I usually access worries or problem-solving as I am first waking up  …

This morning, I awoke towards peace.

And when my thoughts first turned towards this blog post (moments after awakening), the title that occurred to me was, “How to Move Towards Peace,”  because I wanted to share this feeling and my newly hatched “wisdom” about it.

But I’m not sure whether I have the wisdom, yet, to formulate a “How To.”

For now, I just want to express gratitude that my natural inclination, this morning, was to move toward peace, to find moments of it before and as I was reaching consciousness, and to know that I might encounter moments of that in others, today.

I don’t need to encounter it today, but I am open to seeing it.  In this moment, I feel open to seeing  everything else I encounter today.

Including my son, who just woke up.

Thanks for meeting me here, today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 55: There is NOTHING I have to do today (AND antidotes)

The title of this post is a thought I had, right after I woke up today.

There is NOTHING I have to do today.

And that’s a rare thought for me, these days, for lots of reasons.

For one thing, this year I have committed  to writing a blog post, every day. That commitment is something I chose, for myself, but it’s also a commitment I’ve made to you, dear reader.

But yesterday — for the first time in This Blogging Adventure — I wrote a complete post ahead of time, which I intended to post today.

While I’ve created several drafts of Possible Future Posts before, yesterday was the first time I packaged up a complete post, spell-checked it, tagged it, and had it ready and raring to go. And I liked the post when I wrote it, and I still like it. I’m intending to post it sometime soon (even though I’ve decided, at this point, not to post it today).

However, having that post written and all ready to go affected me this morning. I felt different when I woke up. Instead of being uneasy when I first woke up, I could have this unusual thought:

There is NOTHING I  have to do today.

Now, one might argue that premise  —  that there is NOTHING I have to do today — was faulty, even though I had a post all ready to go. That is, when I woke up,  I DID have something I needed to do today regarding my blog post — I needed to Click and Publish that pre-written post.

But the obligation of clicking and posting the blog post didn’t count as Something I Had To Do — it was too quick and easy.

So I was still able to stay with that thought after I woke up.  There is NOTHING I have to do today.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I will now  present yet another possible challenge to this Amazing Premise, that There is NOTHING I have to do today.

There are things I have to do today, to survive — like breathing.

But I’m choosing not to count those, either.

Okay, now  — because this will help me — I’m going to Go Mathematical On Your Ass.  That is, I am going to formulate an equation of Something I Have to do,  in order to further convince myself that there is NOTHING I have to do today.

(For those of you who don’t like — or assume you’re incompetent in — math, don’t worry.  I’ve already pretty much stated these points, although not in mathematical form. The Mathematical Portion of this Blog Post will  be over soon, and you can always skim through or skip this portion of the post)

(And for those of you who DO like math and/or know more about math than my 60-year-old brain is able to remember right now, don’t worry. The Mathematical Section of this Blog Post will be over soon, and you can always skim through or skip this portion of the post.)

The Mathematical Portion of this Blog Post

Something I Have To Do =  Something I’ve Committed To Do OR Something That is Due by the End of Today AND NOT Something That Takes Less Than 5 Seconds AND NOT Something I Do Automatically or Need to Do to Survive.

THE END 

Phew!  Now that THAT’s over with, I can present the evidence that There is NOTHING I have to do today, as follows:

It’s a weekend, so I don’t have to go into work.

My blog post for the day is written.

There is nothing else due by the end of today.

I’m not counting things that would take more than five seconds.

I’m not counting things, like breathing or eating, that I would do automatically or for survival.

Therefore, I have proven, to my satisfaction:

There is NOTHING I have to do today.

Ahhhhhhhh.

Here’s a 4-minute “peaceful interlude” I just found onYouTube to represent that “Ahhhhhhhhh” I just typed above:

 

That piece, from “Peer Gynt,” was the exact music I was hearing in my head, as I was imagining a peaceful interlude. And it only took me about 3 seconds  to find that video on YouTube.

Now, dear reader, at this point in this post (that I didn’t have to write, because There is NOTHING I have to do today), I have a question for you.

Did you watch the whole video?

Because I didn’t.

I could have. And that would have been great, I know.  I could have used it as a Mindfulness Exercise.

For those of you who might be interested in reading more about what I mean by “a Mindfulness Exercise,”  check out this italicized explanation:

When I say that I could have used the YouTube video as a Mindfulness Exercise, I mean that I could have focused on taking in — through my senses of sight and hearing — the experience of being present with that video, as much as possible. I could have used that video as a way to practice being in the moment, noticing that my mind might be wandering, letting go of judgment about that, and then gently redirecting my wandering thoughts back to focusing on  the video, again and again. (Here are some things I often tell people to prepare them right before we do a mindfulness exercise: (1) There is no right or wrong way to do this, (2) Your mind is going to wander, because that’s what our minds do, (3) This is not about focusing perfectly on something, (4) When other thoughts come in, notice them, let go of them without judgment, and gently refocus your attention, and (5) Mindfulness is not so much about the focusing, it’s about returning to the focusing, again and again.

I do a lot of mindfulness exercises, at work, with people. And I think practicing mindfulness is really helpful.

However, I didn’t want to do a mindfulness exercise for myself, while I was writing this post, using that YouTube video. And I didn’t have to (because There is NOTHING I have to do today).

Now I’d like to make another point about Things I Have to do, which is this.  Sometimes there are things that I have to do that I am glad to do.

For example, yesterday there were some things  I had to do, because it was my son’s birthday. For example, I had to pick up his cake.  Those tasks didn’t feel like obligations, at all, and I really enjoyed doing them — because they were about joy and celebration.

But there is nothing I HAVE to do today, even if it’s something I would enjoy doing.

Ahhhhhhh!

(Same piece, from Peer Gynt, different YouTube video.)

Hmmmm, but there ARE some SHOULDs that I COULD think of, for today.  (See here and here for more about SHOULDs.)

For example,  I SHOULD be doing tax stuff!  It’s already February 24th!!

(You know what?   I have to say I’m enjoying this evolution of my skills — my mastery —  in blogging. On Day 45,  I invited people to imagine that scary Bernard Herrmann music. Today,  I can just put it in the post!)

So, yes,  SHOULD Statements (particularly those regarding taxes) can be an automatic anxiety-trigger for me.

But I’m letting go of that anxiety, while I am writing this blog post.

And how am I doing that, dear reader?  Well, several ways, including the following:

(1) I clicked on one of the tranquil videos above, and I watched it and listened to it for a little while, and

(2) I gave myself credit for something I’ve learned and mastered at this point in my blogging (i.e., incorporating sounds into posts).

And both those things helped.

And — as often happens to me, while I’m writing a post — this post (which I did not HAVE to write today), has gone somewhere I didn’t expect.

It’s gone to the topic of Antidotes.

Antidotes are one of my names for Things That Help — tools for challenging Cognitive Distortions.

If you have read other posts in this blog, you may know that there are 13 Cognitive Distortions (as identified by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and which I have listed here).

During this Year of Living Non-Judgmentally, I have been working really hard to identify and share as many tools as I can that will help challenge the 13 Cognitive Distortions. I’ve been collecting antidotes, skills, ANYTHING  that will help in my quest to battle these Dread Distortions, which seem to plague me (and, as far as I can tell,  most members of the human race).

And, in today’s blog post, I have referred to and demonstrated some of these tools, including:

(1) Examining The Evidence,

(2) Mindfulness,

(3) Giving Yourself Credit (e.g., for developing mastery and for working hard),  and

(4) Repetitiveness (a.k.a as  The Broken Record Technique).

(Regarding #4, here’s a quiz question for you, if you’re playing along at home. How many times did the phrase “There Is NOTHING I have to do today” occur in this post?)

Okay, one more digression for this post before I put this puppy to bed.  (It’s self-reflexive digression, because it’s about digressions!)

( I wrote — and then cut out — a digression in this post about how digressive and long my posts are on weekends. This digression included a discussion of the skill of Pros and Cons, but  I cut it because of one of the Cons of a long, digressive post: By including so much information in one post, I run the risk of confusing and losing people.  So I cut it.)

Where was I before that digression?  Oh, yes.  I was trying to let you know about antidotes and other tools I HAVE written about in this blog, so far, including these in previous posts:

(1) Focusing on what you are doing, rather than on what you’re not doing,

(2) Losing the investment in the outcome, and

(3) Using personal medicine.

I’ve been working on compiling lists of tools, including a hand-out, called “Antidotes to Distortions,” which I’ve been using in individual and group therapy.

And, just as I eventually figured out how to post The 13 Cognitive Distortions  here, I will also post this List of Antidotes, so you, dear reader, can access them and read them at your convenience and pleasure.

But not today!

Because there’s NOTHING I have To Do Today.

Thanks for being here with me today, in a place where none of us HAD to be.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Day 24: Nature ups the ante (and lowers the temperature)

I just checked the temperature on my phone.

I couldn’t help but react audibly when I saw it.  I’m not sure whether I made a gasp or a moan or a strangulated whimper.  Whatever sound I made, it was in reaction to seeing this:

Oh, my.

Well, here’s one way to tell THIS story. Going out this morning  will be an interesting test of what it will be like for me — the day after I wrote in this blog about how extreme weather affects my sense of safety (and when I’m still not back to baseline, health-wise).

I think writing about the extreme cold and my sense of safety yesterday is already helping. Just writing or talking about something — sharing a story, especially a previously unexpressed one — can help quite a bit, I believe. (I guess it’s good I believe that, since that’s the backbone of what I do for a living.)

And it’s also helping this morning, to share my reactions in today’s post — especially that initial, primal THUMP of dismay I felt when I saw that tiny digit on my phone.

It’s a ONE, for heaven’s sake. ONE degree.

Here it is again, in all its small starkness:

(I keep thinking that some of you who are reading this, perhaps living closer to one of the Earthly Poles than I do and regularly experiencing colder temperatures, might be chuckling at my delicate whussy-ness right now, but Hey!  I think we can all bear more easily whatever we’re used to.)

So, as I was saying, it’s a ONE.  Just a smidge away from a zero.  Zero. Nothing.  (Fahrenheit, the crueler measurement of cold.)

So, yes, that scares me.  This is a situation where the  smallness of the number is bad. I’m not talking golf, blood pressure, or “bad” cholesterol,  where smaller numbers are reassuring. In this situation, numbers considerably smaller than normal are dangerous — like the realms of salaries, grades, and the heart rate of a child.

So it’s more dangerous out there, dear readers.   But as I said earlier in this post, writing about this, sharing this with you, feeling not-alone with this, is helpful, especially as I’m gearing myself up to go out and meet it.

And as I’m preparing myself right now, about to put on my layers of armor and venture into The Land of One Degree, I’m feeling …..

Like a hero, actually.

Really. (And I guess that showed up in my language, directly above.)

And rather than feeling beaten down — as I did when that fearsome  and shocking 1° popped up on my cell phone — I actually can feel a sense of excitement.

Really!

And here are some things I’m believing right now:

I can do it.

I will be okay.

Even better!

I will pass through this, triumphant.

I will beat this dastardly degree!

I mean, it’s only a puny little ONE, for heaven’s sake.

Ta-da!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 17: I think I wake up most mornings feeling uneasy

I think when I first wake up, I have some sense of unease, some measure of worry and anxiety.

I can’t say for sure how long that’s been going on, because I seem to have a bad memory for certain things, especially feeling states.  I see that “bad memory” in other people, too, when I ask them, “How long have you been feeling this way?”  I can see people struggle to give me a good, accurate answer, and I reassure them that I just need a rough estimate. A ballpark figure.  Has it been days?  Has it been months?  Has it been years?  And that they can tell me.

(Okay I have a writer’s problem now.  I floated my topic sentence, and now I want to write more about this issue of emotional memory. I have a proposal, dear reader.  Stay with me on this detour, for a moment, and then I will guide us back to that promised topic.)

So, I think I’m noticing a pretty common human phenomenon there: no matter what emotional state people are in, they tend to remember the times when they felt the same way. When somebody is depressed, they tend to remember those times. The depressed periods are highlighted, and memories of joy, hope,  love, and other  mismatching emotions  fade. This selective memory can work for other feelings, too.  That is, when you’re happier and more secure, the sad times can recede in memory, too.  It’s like looking at your life with a certain search filter on.

(I think this selective emotional memory also relates to why, all my life, I’ve lived in a place that gets friggin’ freezing every winter.  I don’t like the cold. At all. And every winter, I say to myself, “Why do I stay here?  I hate this!  I deserve better than to be in this kind of pain, for this long, every year!  Life is too short, dammit! I am definitely going to look into moving (south, west, to Hawaii, etc.)!”  And every year, the beautiful, warming spring comes, and I forget about it.)

So (heading back around towards original topic!),  I don’t know how long I’ve been feeling this way, but I seem to wake up most mornings — at least, these days — feeling uneasy.  I suspect that this Initial Waking State is common for me, and has been going on for much of my life

And I guess that makes sense.  Why shouldn’t I wake up, ready for the day, with a sense of what needs to be attended to?  Wouldn’t that be an effective coping strategy for effectiveness, and maybe even survival?  If I wake up in a state of Zen and calm, maybe I won’t be as prepared to solve the problems, meet potential threats, avert possible calamities.

Screw it, though. I think waking up in a state of calm would be quite nice, don’t you?  And I’m sure I have woken up that way on certain mornings, but just not that often.

I will say this, though. As hazy as my emotional memories might be, I know that there have been times when I’ve woken up with a considerably higher level of discomfort and anxiety — more “on alert.”  Compared to those times, I am waking up kind of Zen-ish, actually.

I think I can do better, though. Let’s see how I’m waking up in April.  And November.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 10: I’ve learned to leave the house before I feel ready

This is something I’ve been working on lately, and it’s helped a lot.

Mind you, I’m not leaving the house any earlier than I ever have.  And I’m still getting to the first targeted location of my day (e.g., work, my son’s school, a dental appointment, whatever)  almost right on the dot. (I could definitely write a blog entry about all the machinations and skills — conscious and unconscious — that go into that kind of pin-point timing.)

Of course, with that kind of razor-edge timing, sometimes I screw up.  Sometimes I’m late. And I hate to be late. So there have been many mornings where I’ve been in an oh-so-familiar turmoil of anxious thoughts —  when I’ve cut it too close and I’m on my way to a destination where I may be (or am definitely going to be) late.

Here’s a sample of what it can be like To Be Me when I’m running late:

Why didn’t I leave earlier? Why didn’t I set my alarm earlier?  Why did I get so caught up in (writing my blog, coming up with ideas for groups, reading my e-mail, whatever)?  Why did I take such a long shower?  Why didn’t I nag (anybody else involved in my leaving the house) more skillfully?  Why didn’t I watch the clock more closely?  

Also, I can easily and smoothly shift into another Gear of Despair, from freaking out about past stuff I can’t change to catastrophizing about the future, which is usually some variant of the following:

Everybody is going to hate me for being late.

And another gear in this lovely torture machine involves shaming myself, which would involve words to this effect:

When will I ever learn?  What’s the matter with me?

I’ve been working hard on letting go of thoughts like that. And one thing that’s been helping is the title topic of this blog.

I’m leaving the house before I feel ready.

And I’m going to characterize that as an act of bravery. It’s brave to leave the house before I feel ready, since the morning preparations always include an Appearance  Enhancement portion, which can easily expand to the limits of (and beyond) the available time.  Getting dressed is mandatory, but there’s a lot of optional decision-making about What To Wear and How Good  I Have to Look before I leave.  And I’ve got a history of having lots of judgmental thoughts during this process, including my particularly annoying tendency of projecting judgment about how I look and how I’m dressed onto people I may encounter during the day.

(I’m not going to write more about that now, because I don’t want to waste any more time doing that, EVER, even for the purposes of writing this blog.)

For the past month or so, as I’m getting ready every morning, I dismiss every judgmental or worried thought that comes up about whether I’m Put Together Enough. I don’t have time for them!  I even head off  worries about any unobserved present or potential Shaming Wardrobe Malfunctions (e.g., inside-out clothes, price tags still attached, unobserved rips) with some What-The-Hell thoughts:

The people I see today will just have to deal with how I look, no matter what!  And if they’re going to judge me on that only, screw them!

Boy, that was fun to write.

And the mornings have been much more fun (and a lot less stressful).

So now, dear reader, I’m going to post this blog before I feel ready, too.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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