Happy Fall! Here’s how Mindfulness can Help

It’s that time of year. The lazy, hazy days of summer are over, and you are now becoming fully engaged in work or school.

Busy-ness can be productive; and it can also be exhausting and stifling. A lot of the difference lies in what’s happening between your ears.

Busy-ness is unproductive when repetitive thoughts take over, when you become hijacked by your emotions, and when you find yourself looking for ways to self-medicate your way through the stress in your life.

Contrary to what you might think, ‘doing’ more is not the answer; ‘being’ more is. And ‘being’ is exactly as it sounds…it’s about pausing, stopping, and just noticing where you are.

You’ve likely heard about mindfulness – if you’ve done any reading on well-being, stress management, or resilience in the past few years.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment. It is often credited with developing increased self-awareness, resilience and emotional intelligence. I am sure you can agree that all of these capabilities are important in your every day life at work and at home.

If you are skeptical about what mindfulness can do for you, that is a pretty common reaction to the invitation to give it a try. You might be thinking:

  • ‘I am not one of those people who can just sit still’, or
  • ‘Being quiet sounds really boring’, or
  • ‘I don’t have the time, patience or energy to meditate’.

Here are a few things to consider:

Mindfulness is not about sitting for hour upon hour, in full lotus, without shoes. Even just one minute attending to the present moment is mindfulness. Over time, you can learn to notice incoming thoughts, and gently bring yourself back to your breath, in the present moment.

Being quiet is definitely not boring! You will soon realize that there is a lot of noise (and some of it very interesting!!) occurring in your mind. As stated above, once you begin your practice, you will become very aware of the amount of traffic ‘up there’. I once read that if we could project our thoughts onto a billboard, we would be horrified…most of them are negative…and repetitive!

Finally, rather than taking (consuming) your time, patience and energy…mindfulness ADDS to your time, patience and energy! Your ruminating thoughts are exhausting! Practicing presence, even just a minute at a time, will help you be able to focus on what’s before you and to and feel more calm overall.

In addition to pausing, and focusing on your breath regularly, here are a few other mindfulness strategies you can start using today:

1) Before you enter a room for a one on one meeting, or enter a large staff event, or enter your home at the end of the day, pause and reflect on what you want to bring into the experience. Do you want to bring: Positivity? Vulnerability? Energy? Optimism? What is your outcome? How do you want to impact the people who will be there?

2) When unpleasant emotions arise, pause and  acknowledge them rather than ignoring them. Rather than allowing them to pull you down, choose self-compassion, and move toward what you want to achieve in that moment.

3) Notice your repetitive thoughts. Reflect on the thought, and then and reframe it (choose a more positive story), and choose your actions according to the reframed story. Remember, thoughts are not facts; they are just thoughts; so choose the thoughts that work FOR you rather than against you.

4) Be curious and ask questions. Even, of yourself! The more you learn about yourself, the better you’ll be able to assume control over your thoughts (and your experience of life in general). The more you learn about others, the better you are able to build the constructive connections you need to achieve your outcomes.

Check out these resources for more information on the benefits of a mindfulness practice:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today

https://bschool.pepperdine.edu/about/people/faculty/content/contemplating-mindfulness.pdf

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_mindful_managers_make_happier_employees

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-rock/the-neuroscience-of-mindf_b_2908665.html

Happy Fall! Happy Mindfulness! Happy Life!

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity! 

 

I was Sexually Assaulted at 12…and I am Not Sorry

1973; Wearing My New Red Body Suit

First, the disclaimer. This post is in NO WAY an expression of approval for what happened to me. That should never happen to any 12 year old. It should not happen to any person of any age.

Lynn Lake, Manitoba. 1973.

I am 12. It is a hot summer day in Northern Manitoba. School is out and the sun is shining. Life is good. A bunch of kids are getting together at a local boy’s home. His parents both work and the house is ‘free’.

We think we are cool. We are smoking cigarettes and giggling.

Then, a ‘friend’ (quotations will be obvious in a moment) calls me into one of the bedrooms.

I enter the doorway and am immediately enveloped by 6 boys, ages 14-18.

5 boys hold me down…face up, arms open to the side, legs hanging over the bed, while 1 boy (a man, technically) lays his body over me…pinning my legs.

I can still see his face. I can still smell his breath.

I am wearing a red body suit my mom had bought for me. I loved it. It had a long zipper – with peace sign pull … and was super soft and cuddly.

His eyes are mere inches from mine as he lay on top of me and I lay pinned to the bed. He begins to unzip the body suit. He has a wicked smile on his face.

I struggle. I try to move. I am immobile, incapable of making any movement with 6 boys holding me down.

He opens my top…he opens my bra…he ‘feels’ around … my developing breasts that had not been touched by anyone…and he makes lewd, strange faces as he does so…

I start crying.

One boy, finally, said ‘Stop’.

Moments later, they stop.

I run out of the room…collect myself … and make my way home.

I never told anyone about that experience. Not until I was 40 years old.

Why I am I ‘not sorry’, you ask?

I am not sorry because I have nothing to be sorry for. I did nothing wrong. I was a young girl who wanted to be cool and hang out with the cool people … and some of those cool people took advantage of me.

Just because I knew that my mother would not approve, just because I knew that smoking at 12 was bad, just because I had been raised to make better choices….I am not sorry this happened to me.

If something like this has happened to you… DON’T BE SORRY. You have nothing to be sorry for. I hope you do what I tried to do.

Use that experience as a learning experience. Use it as fuel to help other people who might also have been victimized. Use it, as I have, to fully appreciate the amazing people that will come into your life who would never, ever, do anything like that to you. Maybe you would never have noticed those people had you not experienced something so horrific.

So…I am not sorry. I wish it had not happened. I wish I had listened to my mom and not been somewhere I should not have been. I wish ‘my friend’ had been someone different than I thought she was.

But…it happened. And I am not sorry. I am going to use that experience to fuel my empathy and compassion for people I meet who wish they had decided something different at some point in time, who might be feeling some shame for something that happened TO them…

I am not sorry. And I hope you are not sorry too.

#notsorry #choosepositive #chooselife

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity! 

Feeling Anxious? Try this Four-Step Strategy to Move Forward

Away from Rumination; Toward Resourcefulness

Worry. It can keep you up at night. It can get in the way of your enjoyment of the day. It can prevent you from connecting with other people. It can make you sick.

Worry is often accompanied by the same thought, or thoughts, being cycled through your brain. Some people might call it ruminating. I like to call it ‘annoying’.

When you find that you are noticing the same occurring thought(s), or that you are behaving in ways that might indicate anxiety, such as nail-biting or pen-tapping; when you experience restlessness and an inability to relax…you might be worried about something… and this quick strategy might provide some relief.

Since, worries can ‘sneak up’ on you (until you develop a habit of ‘tuning in’ to your thoughts regularly), I invite you to begin with a short meditation.

Find a comfortable position, sitting or laying down. Close your eyes and begin to notice your breath. After a few moments of focusing on your breath, begin to observe your thoughts. I know I am making this sound easier than it might be for you…but I just bet that if you are in a state of worry, your thoughts might just be yelling at you, at this point.

Begin by identifying the worry.  Say it out loud or inside, or better yet write it down.

I worry _________________________________.

Then, try this simple strategy of asking and answering these questions (again, I recommend that you write this down on a piece of paper that you can access again later):

  1. What is the worst thing that could possibly happen? (Since your worry is likely anchored in thoughts about the worst possible scenario, and since your mind and body are responding as though the worst thing is actually happening, the first step is to identify that worst thing.)
  2. How likely is it that this terrible thing will, in fact, occur? (You can answer this in many ways … ‘Likely/Not Very Likely/Unlikely’ …. or ’50/50′,  … or ‘25%’, etc.) I bet you will immediately begin to feel a little bit better, as you realize that each ruminating thought is “awfulizing” (I just made that word up) a ‘reality’ that is perhaps very unlikely to happen (or at least not as likely as you are imaging).
  3. If it did happen (the terrible thing), what would you do? Who can you call on for support? (This question immediately moves you to action (moving ‘toward’ what you can do), and to remembering your resources. There are people in your life that you can reach out to for support…even if the most horrible thing you imagined actually happened.)
  4. What record of success do you have that will show you that you will be okay, no matter what comes your way? (This helps to remind you that you have handled difficult things in the past, you have overcome obstacles and you have accomplished goals. You have developed a magnificent repertoire of personal resources that will help you to move through this situation as well.)

Let’s look at an example that a colleague shared with me recently:

I worry that I will not have enough money to retire.

  1. What is the worst thing that could possibly happen? I will become homeless and be forced to live on the streets.
  2. How likely is it that this terrible thing will, in fact, occur? Not very likely, but it could happen.
  3. If it did happen, what would you do? Who can you call on for support? I would speak with my good friends about ideas they have to help me consider my options. I would be totally transparent with my children about my ability to continue to financially support them. I would meet with a financial planner and set a plan in place.
  4. What record of success do you have that will show you that you will be okay, no matter what comes your way? I have build two companies from the ground up, and sold them both at a profit. I have been financially strapped before, and found my way through that tough time. I have raised three amazing children who are educated and independent. I have dealt with the loss of both of my parents and many good friends; and through it all, I have remained optimistic and grateful.

Another friend shared how she used this strategy recently:

I worry about my good friend who has cancer.

  1. What is the worst thing that could possibly happen? He could die.
  2. How likely is it that this terrible thing will, in fact, occur? I do not know for sure, but it could happen. My understanding is that this type of cancer can be treated when caught early, as is the case with him.
  3. If it did happen, what would you do? Who can you call on for support? I would immediately reach out to our mutual friend. I would remind myself that my friend who passed away, did all that he could to be well, and that we did all we could to support him.
  4. What record of success do you have that will show you that you will be okay, no matter what comes your way? I have lost very important people in my life. I keep all of those people close to my heart, and in my thoughts as I live my life. With all of the tragedy I have suffered, I have not become bitter…but have, instead, become even more resilient…and, I think, more helpful to other people who are experiencing similar situations.

To make it easy to recall when I need it, I remember this strategy this way:

  1. Worst thing?
  2. How likely?
  3. What if?
  4. Record of success?

We wish you a future filled with more presence and less worry. Let us know how this strategy works for you.

Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!