Honor Your Stress

Posted October 9th, 2008 by Heidi Straube
Categories: Inspiration

This may seem like a strange thing to suggest, but…are you truly honoring the amount of stress you have in your life?

Honoring, yes…Acknowledging, seeing, appreciating how much you're taking on.

It seems that in this time of change we're all constantly expecting ourselves to do more and more. Friends, clients, myself: We all wake up with lists in our minds, jump into valiantly trying to accomplish those tasks, and then at day's end evaluate ourselves as to how much we checked off.

Ok, that's not totally horrible. But here's what is distressing: No matter what happens in a day. whether we have new challenges come up, or other people not playing their part, we still expect ourselves to accomplish that list. No matter what happens, we're always supposed to stick to the plan. Unexpected challenges? We buck up, be good soldiers, keep on and on, keep on going.

And then we wonder why we're tired, discouraged, depressed, or just not feeling the joy of life. 

Is this how life should be lived?

The first week that I saw clients after Hurricane Ike hit Houston, I was struck by how many came in "apologizing" for not doing their homework. They were disappointed, discouraged, and feeling "less than" that they didn't accomplish things like send out a resume, do the research to further their dream, or practice their new meditation every day.

I had to laugh and I had to cry. How much can people take?

"You've just been through a major hurricane!" was my response. "You've been a little busy…."

How hard are we  on ourselves? If you're in Houston, did you expect that one week after experiencing fear, destruction, no electricity, water (and some of you were out far longer than that) that you should  jump back in immediately for "business as usual?" Are you still expecting yourself to now be happy, full of energy, and ready to tackle new projects, while you're still dealing with insurance companies, construction, and the physical and emotional effects of loss?

And hey, you who are outside of Houston: Are there no exceptions? Is there no down time in your mind when you can let yourself veer from "the list?"

We expect far too much of ourselves in this life full of surprises, changes, and unexpected challenges. We need to live life more in the flow, not march lockstep to some set of rules that don't always apply. To make it through life gracefully and with the least amount of stress, you need flexibility, the ability to change strategies when needed. You need to be able to flex with the "exceptions"…and often you have exceptions every day.

Make a list right now of all of the things that you're juggling, or have been dealing with in the last two weeks. Look at it clearly, and truly give yourself credit for all that you're doing. If your friend, spouse, or child were going through all of this, would you have compassion for them? Have compassion for yourself.

Then take one step today that helps you to relax, nurtures you, or makes you laugh.

Honor your stress; then try to drop it and step into the flow.

Life is good, and it's not all about lists.

Who Do You Hang Out With? How Do You Spend Your Time?

Posted January 29th, 2008 by Heidi Straube
Categories: Inspiration

It's hard to make changes in life. Whether you've decided to improve a relationship, change a career, or do something you've always wanted to do, you're up against many challenges. Committing to a new path involves breaking old habits, learning new ways of doing things, and having the tenacity and will to keep on trying, even when the change you want isn't happening as fast as you would like.

If you're finding yourself getting frustrated or discouraged about a change you've been working towards, ask yourself two crucial questions:

 1.      Who am I hanging out with?

2.       How do I choose to spend my time?

 You probably need to make some conscious changes in these two areas.

WHO AM I HANGING OUT WITH?

It's difficult to change a habit or go for something new if you have people around you who would prefer you to keep to the status quo, or don't understand the new direction you're taking.

You need to be able to feel and envision the new way your life is going to be. The more you can be in the energy, talk, and actuality of the new way of being, the easier it will be for you to remain excited about your intention and believe that it can happen. Therefore you want to make sure that the people you're spending time with can be a part of the new life energy.

If you're a lawyer, for example, but have decided that you want to find more time to seriously pursue your unused talent in the arts, don't expect yourself to be in "legal world" all day, and then miraculously be painting like a genius when you get home.

You'll want to start building in some time with like-minded people. Find others who are also interested or active in the arts.  Go to exhibits, join an arts group, or make new friends that are enthused about using their creative abilities too.

*** 

Perhaps it's an internal, spiritual change you're making. You'll stay on your path more easily if you spend time with others who make their spiritual or personal development a priority.  If the greater part of your day is filled with people who are interested in other things, you'll tend to be distracted by those other things too.

You don't have to drastically drop everyone you're associating with. Nor do you have to label those who don't share your goals as "bad"!  But do start having a greater awareness of who you're spending time with, and their ability to support you and your intention.

Do your friends take seriously your new goal, what you're trying to create, and who you're trying to be? Do you feel positive feelings from them when you talk about it? After being with others, has your energy increased, or do you feel drained?

 ***

It's not the responsibility of others to make changes for you. But you do need energetic, verbal, and tangible action support from the people around you as much as possible in this transition time.

If you feel that you're an alien among strangers, don't give up. It's time to go out and find new like-minded aliens. You deserve "your people."

 

HOW DO I CHOOSE TO SPEND MY TIME?

I focused on the need for supportive people first because I believe they're the greatest influence on your ability to make life changes. But even if you have as much support as humanly possible, you can't expect to magically make the change you want. You, yourself, must take tangible action.

Changing life habits  requires new input, either through learning about the new area you're entering, taking action steps towards creating the new reality, or providing the energetic and visual environment that will nurture and support that which you want to happen. And all of those things take time. How do you spend yours?

Think of the change you've started or are yearning to make. Have you changed your lifestyle to do it? You'll need to.

 ***

Suppose, for example, that you've decided you want to write more. You tell yourself you're going to do it every night after dinner. And each night after eating you continue to turn on the TV, telling yourself that you'll get to it after this show, when you've had more rest, or after your work slows down.

You probably already have every hour of your day informally committed to something. So something's going to have to change in order to create the space for your new lifestyle.

Stop and take a look at how you've been spending your time recently. There are always choice points, times in the day when you can choose to do what you always do or start doing the new thing that leads to what you want, and will really change your life.  Look at your habits, ways in which you spend time without even thinking about it. Did you really need to spend that half hour surfing the Internet? Or could you have used that time to sit down and meditate like you've been meaning to?

*** 

Recognizing that you're at a choice point doesn't always mean that you know exactly what to do. If you don't have a plan, just congratulate yourself on seeing that you need help in changing your pattern. And then go get that help! 

Seek counseling/coaching, get more information, or find other avenues of support. And then keep on recognizing the choice points, and deliberately changing your old pattern. Gradually, you'll start changing how you fill that time so it's in alignment with how you truly want to live.

*** 

Each week, day, week, or moment continually offers you choice points, times where you either can start to live in your new way of being, or put off that change for later. Which will you do?

Consciously choose to create your life. Don't expect it to miraculously change if you hang out in old consciousness, make no space for the new, and continue to live the way you've always lived.

 Ask yourself daily:

     *        Who am I hanging out with?

    *         How do I spend my time?

 
And bravely do what is necessary to make room for change.

Hot Tip: Getting Past Procrastination

Posted January 29th, 2008 by Heidi Straube
Categories: Inspiration

Have a project you want to do but can't get started? Set a timer for a short period of time, 15 minutes to an hour. Tell yourself you only have to do this new task for that period of time and then you can stop and go do something else (and mean it!). Watch what happens. Most times you'll get engaged and end up wanting to continue. Still resisting? Stop and meditate for 5-10 minutes. Try again. If  you still can't get into the flow, perhaps you don't want to do this new thing as much as you thought you did! Or come to me for coaching/counseling/meditation assistance.  We'll get to the bottom of it.Laughing

Counseling “at a distance”

Posted August 11th, 2007 by Heidi Straube
Categories: Individual Services

Just wanted to make sure…did you know that I do phone sessions for career, life direction, and relationship counseling? Don't let the fact that you don't live in Houston stop you from working with me…(yes, yes, a great excuse, right? "Well, I'd love to work with Heidi, but she lives in HOUSTON…) Well, I have many good recommendations from my long-distance clients that the coaching and counseling works well with them. I even can do Soul Whispers sessions by phone, or even while you're sleeping.

 So stop procrastinating and indulge in some help, inspiration, and old-fashioned support. If you need some testing to determine your life/career direction, I have them. Plus a lot of other tricks up my sleeve that you'll enjoy and that will expand and uplift your spirit. 

 Check my website for more information about all of my services.

 I'll look forward to your call (or e-mail, of course!)

h. 

Making Time for Retreat: The “Good Person” Syndrome

Posted August 11th, 2007 by Heidi Straube
Categories: Inspiration, Meditation Tips

Long ago and far away (I love that phrase, it has nothing to do with this article really Smile), I read an article in which a woman talked of a 10-day retreat. As she spoke of her days of being pampered, going within, and exploring what she really wanted to do in life, I became totally envious. Her experience felt so luxurious. Why? This woman was claiming her right to relax and to have a rich inner life. And it's something most of us find hard to do.

We know that it's good to take time for ourselves. We try to have inner lives. But unfortunately, we live in a society that basically expects us to go go go. So I'm not surprised that when I suggest to a stressed out, anxious client that they need to take a break, they quickly answer "I have no time," "I just can't leave work right now", or version 100 of "my family/husband/mother needs me".

But when will there be time? If we don't put our own self care, and the care of our souls as top priority, how can we expect to continually have energy for others?

In order to have a long-term base of energy, we need time to rest from the stressors of life, to nurture ourselves. We need to acknowledge that we aren't robots who can continue clicking away in the same routine, with the same amount of energy every day (high and intense, of course) for years on end.

We also need time to rejoice in the wonderful things that we've created; to be grateful for the the things we've done. Appreciating where we've been, and the gifts we have will form a wonderful base for knowing what the next steps can be in our lives.

While most of us wouldn't expect to start a new business without taking some time to define what it is that we intend to do, we often expect ourselves to live our lives with little time to explore our essence and the path we want to take.

If we're to live our Truth, become who we want to be, and create lives that truly benefit others,  we must have time to discover who we are. We need time to see what's keeping us from being our ultimate selves, what isn't working in our lives, and what to do next.  

A few years ago, I was very much in need of a retreat. I had been through a series of life changing events, and looking back, can see that I was obviously experiencing a major shift in my life. I couldn't acknowledge it though. Through crisis after crisis, I thought that if I just kept on working and persevering, toughing out the hard stuff, that this phase would soon be through.  I could then get back to my "normal" life. I didn't realize my "normal" life was over.

I look at that time and ask myself why I didn't stop to take a break. Finances, of course. Or so I told myself. How could I justify "taking time off" when I needed to bring in new clients, pay for home repairs, and replace my stolen car?

Of course these things were important. But there was something deeper at work, something else that was keeping me from taking time for myself, from stepping out and living a life of Truth.

It was called the "good person syndrome."  

In the "good person syndrome," the outer world takes priority. We make decisions based on what we've always been rewarded for being: "good." And being good usually involves living like everyone around us.  It leaves little permission for us to connect with our inner lives, find our true desires, and then test out what we really believe is our unique way to contribute to the world.

Do you have the "good person syndrome"? Check and see if the following (faulty) unconscious personal rules may be why you, too, find it hard to make time for retreat:  

1.         Your life goals should not be based on happiness. Concepts like life purpose and soul satisfaction are for wimps and new-agers. You have a "station" in life, and it's wasteful dreaming to strive for anything better. Having a job and being able to pay the bills is the most you could ask for. You should be grateful; expecting more from life is frivolous.

2.         Happiness comes from fulfilling your life's role. And you should stick to only one role. Don't have a lot of different interests, it's confusing and defines you as a flake. Oh, and by the way, don't think you can choose your role. Do what is "right": what your parents, friends, and neighbors approve of. (Breadwinner role is the ultimate.)

3.         You should always make everyone else happy first. You can do things for yourself only in the time left over (but of course, there's rarely time left over.)  Claiming the right to nurture yourself or question what you really want in life is selfish.

4.         Making a living and having money is the highest priority, regardless of whether it wears you out physically, or erases your spirit. Even if you're having an emotional break-down or heading for major illness, you must persevere.

Have you believed these things? Can you see how they would stop you? After years of being rewarded by living them (what a good person you are!) no wonder your people pleaser rebels when you think of taking time for yourself.

So how "good" are you? Is it time to be "bad" and take a break?

I think it's time to examine your need to be "good." Where does it serve you? When is it knee-jerk, and not really helping anyone? Are you protecting and conserving your energy so you can take care of those you love, or are you letting it leak (or gush) out leaving you weak and cranky?

It's time for personal reflection, nurturing, & self-discovery. Whether it's in the form of just 5 minutes' meditation, an interesting class, energy work, or a nurturing retreat, plan for your relaxation & rejuvenation.

Reflect on your reasons for putting this off. Give that programmed self a holiday. And begin to create a new way of being "good," releasing your unique spirit, talents, and the love you have inside.

 

Take a retreat…take time to be "bad." Can you find the time?

 

 

Dealing with Discouragement

Posted May 15th, 2007 by Heidi Straube
Categories: Inspiration

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I…
Oops! Wrong song :) Let me try again.

Woke up, it was a Tuesday morning and the first thing that I felt…was discouragement.

Yes, discouragement. That dragging, cynical, nothing's ever going to work state of mind, where you start wondering why you're even trying.

I can't say I was surprised. I felt it coming. The day before it seemed everything went wrong; then the night came complete with bad dreams. Not exactly the formula for glowing happiness. But not earthshaking either, and certainly not anything
to change your life for. Just enough to trigger that pesky discouragement.

I'm sure you've also woken up discouraged…and then what did you do? Probably you soldiered on: smiling when people asked how you were, trudging ahead with the expected, all the while feeling that you must be the only one who has voices in your head saying you're doomed, it's just a matter of time, the sky is falling NOW.

I want to offer a different route. Which begins by reminding you of this: You're not the only one who gets discouraged. Especially if you're trying to make changes in your life, discouragement seems to be just part of the process. 

You'll have good days, you'll have bad; you'll have confidence, you'll have doubts. Part of becoming who we are involves encountering new adventures. While we hope they're always peak experiences, our growth and discovery come from the downsides too.

There's nothing wrong with minimizing discourage- ment, though, or having some tricks to get out of that state of mind, yes? So, drawing from my own day of discouragement, I thought I'd share with you some helpful perspectives and tips for moving out of the "doom state" and bringing in those peak experiences again.

1.         Step One: Basic Truth: Discouragement is a state of mind.

 
Feeling discouraged doesn't equal reality. By that I mean that if you feel like the world is falling down around you, it isn't necessarily true. It's just what your mind is choosing to think about reality on this particular day.

Listen to your mind. What is it saying? Typical statements are "I'll never be able to get past this." "This relationship will never work." "I'll be stuck forever." Has your life really changed that differently from two days ago when you were feeling positive, anticipating that things would work out, and having a good day?

Probably not. You may just be tired, needing support, or had a small setback, and that is triggering your negative mind talk.

You don't' have to change that mind talk right now. Just be aware that that's all it is: talk. It's not reality, it's a bad habit that you're learning to change, and we're going to find ways to get past it.

2.         Step Two: Allow yourself to be discouraged.

Our natural tendency when we're feeling bad is to deny the feeling, or to try to make it go away immediately. I'm not telling you to have a full blown pity party, but it's important to acknowledge your feelings. You're human! You have ups and downs, good days and bad days, and you really shouldn't try to be a robot. If you have to cry, do it. If you want to slam some pans around, or yell in the shower, do it. Recognize your feeling, so you can truly move past it, not make it go away and have it pop up inconveniently later in the day.

3.         Step Three:    Lower your Expectations Temporarily.

I'm not a morning person. I can get up early if it's required, but have to admit that even when I'm going on vacation to a place I'm really excited about, I don't jump out of bed with excitement. I don't know about you, but somewhere along the childhood path I got the message that I was supposed to be like Doris Day, flinging open the windows with the birds chirping and the sun shining. I can do that at 10 am, but rarely early in the morning, even on a good day. So if you wake up discouraged, don't try to meet that bright and sunny expectation. Allow yourself to be quiet, a little tired, and ease into the day.

4.         Step Four:      Change Up Your Routine.

This one may sound silly to you, but it works. Deliberately do things throughout the day that are different from your usual actions. If it's a work day, drive a different route. Take your lunch at a different time, or go to someplace you haven't been before. Even if you eat your lunch at home, go sit someplace different, or take it outside.

Discouragement is usually accompanied by the thought "This is never going to end, this is never going to change." So change your day to show your mind that it's wrong, even if it's a small start.

5.         Step Five:      Get Active.

Have you ever seen a hyperactive discouraged person? I think not. The feeling of discouragement usually slows you down physically. You may feel like doing nothing.

It's your call. Sometimes what you need is rest, and that will pull you out of your slump. But if you've rested and you still feel bad, then take some action. Endorphins are real:  their release during exercise really does make you feel better! Take a walk, do some yoga, swim, run… get your energy going.

If you can do something that has a tangible result, do it. Wash your car, clean your house, go run the errands you've been putting off. If you're at work, do something that is pleasurable, short, and has a definite end. Sometimes merely getting into physical action, especially something you enjoy, will shift your discouragement without your having to change anything.

6.         Step Six: Change Your Self Talk

If you've done all of the above, and still feel discouraged, it's time to look at your self talk again. Be sure to add this step to your action solution. We don't want you washing the car and repeating the mantra "I'm a failure, life sucks, things will never change."

What we do want is for you to be washing the car saying, "This is just temporary, this is not my whole life, there are solutions." Hey, get radical, and add some more positive thoughts: "I'm a great person no matter what is happening. I have value.  I have the power to change things."

The point is to remember that anything your mind is saying is not reality, it's just talk. The future's just an idea, no one really knows what will happen. And who says it has to be the negative outcome? If you're going to believe that whatever you say to yourself is true, then at least add the positive potential for reality into the mix.

Try this: for every negative prediction you say to yourself, you must next say the opposite. And then try to let your body feel the positive just as intensely as you've been feeling the negative.

7.         Step Seven: Get Some Help and Support

Hmm, still discouraged. OK, consider some new ways to be supported.  It's time to stop doing it alone. What might help to move you away from this state you're in? Do you need counseling, someone to help you get out of your confusion and see your options more clearly? Do you need to talk to your boss and let them know what's not working? Is it time to sit down and get honest with your spouse about something that's really important to you?

There's usually more than one solution to a problem. When you feel discouraged, it's often because you keep on trying the same one solution, instead of changing things up. Go back to step four, and apply it to your specific problem: what haven't you tried yet that may need trying?

8.         Step Eight: Apply Your Spiritual Practice

I can't tell you how often I have to remind people (and myself!) to use the spiritual practice they're aligned with. Do you believe in prayer? Ask for help! Have you been learning to meditate? Sit down and do it! Use that practice.

I'll never forget the time I was in the middle of an intense day of self-doubt, and a friend looked straight at me and said, "How's your faith?" It was a great reminder to go back to my values and my own spiritual belief system for support. We are not our material world challenges, we are spirit. Don't forget it.

9.         Step Nine: Remember, Tomorrow is Another Day

I used to think that Scarlett's grand pronouncement in the movie Gone with the Wind was such a naive thing to say. But actually, as long as you don't use it continually to avoid a problem, it can be quite helpful.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to wait and see what tomorrow brings. Take one step today, have a good dinner, some time with friends, a good night's sleep, and often you will then have new energy to bring to your challenge the next day.

"Patience, grasshopper." Be thankful for what you have now, take one step at a time, and look ahead to your future good.   

Heidi Straube, M.Ed., LPC

Copyright 2007