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Category Archives: Spirituality

Creating Change In Your Life Isn’t Always About “Doing”

The other day I was working with a client who was very frustrated because she felt like she wasn’t making a lot of progress in her life.

“There’s all these things that I know I need to do for myself,” she said, “but I just can’t ever get myself to do it.”

What followed were more self-critical statements and an eventual pause with a look of being completely lost along with the question, “What should I do?”

I paused, took a breath, and sat for a moment trying to find the exact right words for this response.

“Why do you have to do anything?” I said.  She looked at me a little perplexed.

“We live in a society where we’re hardwired to always be ‘doing’ something,” I continued, “but when it comes to something like this I don’t think the healing comes from doing more.  Rather, it’s about being open.”

When we’re stuck in this place where we know we need some kind of growth and healing, we can have a tendency to focus on what we can “do” to “fix” it. 

But the reality is that there is no simple step-by-step to do list to help you “fix” your problem.  There is no “one size fits all” for everyone all the time.

We’re all unique, so we all have our own individual journey and life path.  We just need to be sure to remember this and keep this in mind in order to allow our own unique healing and soul growth to occur.

So what do I mean exactly when I say that we “need to be open”?  Well, being open means being open to…

Guidance. 

Guidance — from spirit, God, the universe, a higher power, or whatever term you want to use — that will lead us to the right people with the right method at the right time that will be able to help you with your own unique situation.

Our felt experience.

To be open to our own emotions and feelings.  When we are sad, upset, or are still holding on to emotional distress from past situation, we have a tendency to repress or dissociate from our experience.  It may be too difficult to feel, so we unconsciously seek alternatives to avoid feeling.  This can cause us to feel depressed, anxious, etc.

So in order to heal and grow its important to be open to slowly and gradually reconnect to our own feelings.  It’s important to allow ourselves to cry, be angry, or whatever.  Being open to our felt experience allows us to reconnect consciously with our own natural flow of emotions and feelings.

The un-doing of our old habits.

We may not be consciously aware of what old habits and ways of being in the world are no longer serving us, but by being open to the un-doing of our habits makes change possible. 

Ultimately, it’s about allowing yourself to be open to change — in whatever way that comes for you — and trusting that what emerges is meant to come up. 

It’s not about trying to control or manipulate the process in some way with your mind (as our ego tends to).  Instead, its about surrendering our desires to control and allowing the process to unfold naturally for us.

OpenToChange

Click to Tweet: Lasting change comes from surrendering our desires to control and allowing the process to unfold naturally. via @jenilyn8705

There are two tools that could really assist you in being open, which include…

Prayer

Prayer or setting an intention at the start of you day is a very simple way to help you live with an “open to change” mindset.  The prayer can be something really simple like, “Spirit, of the highest truth and compassion, I release all of my concerns about _______ to you.  I am open to your guidance and intervention.  Please guide me in this process.  Thank you.”

In any prayer or intention that you want to make, I encourage you to create the wording for yourself because then it will be much more impactful.

Meditation

In meditation, we minimize the power of our ego or fear-based mind and connect to our true selves, which is pure love. 

If you already have some meditations that you really enjoy, then I encourage you to do that.  If not, then I am currently giving away for free my “Healing Blocks to Love” meditation from my new album Ignite Love from Within: Meditations for Creating Relationships and a Life Filled with Love. 

In this meditation, I guide you to identify at least one fear-based thought that is blocking you from love (which, in relation to the topic we’ve been discussing here, could simply be a thought like “I need to control my healing process”).  Then, I guide you through a visualization to release it.  If you’re ready to start creating relationships and a life of love, then click here to grab you copy as my gift to you.

Take action now!

Get out a sheet of paper write out a prayer or intention to state at the start of your day to  help you live with an “open to change” mindset.  Then share it in the comments below!

Need Guidance? Ask the Universe for a Sign

Earlier this year I was caught up in the midst of apartment hunting. 

Though looking for a new place to live can certainly be exciting, trying to find a place to rent in the San Francisco Bay Area is hardly an enjoyable process.

For a good month or so, I was apartment hunting as if it were my full-time job.  Waking up each morning to call and e-mail places listed on Craigslist, followed my aggressively visiting open houses in order to send in applications to any good apartments with the right price ASAP.

It was a lot of work and very exhausting.  After putting in some applications that fell through and visiting some apartments that were definitely not a place I’d want to live, I found myself getting really discouraged.  I wondered if I’ll ever find a place to live that is “just right”.  I wondered if I should give up and stick with my current not-so-great living situation.

Around that same time, I watched a mentor of mine give a local talk.  In that talk she spoke about her process of house hunting and the challenges she went through.  In her own period of discouragement, she asked a friend for guidance. 

Her friend told her to ask the universe for a sign.  To ask for something to emerge in her life to help show her and guide her in her process of house hunting.  In her case, she chose for that sign to be an owl.

And so in the process of house hunting, she looked for owls and, ultimately, seeing owls helped guide her to the right place to purchase.

Hearing this, I sat down and contemplated what my sign could be.  After meditating on it for a bit, I chose the dove.

So, starting that very day I found myself looking around for doves at every apartment I looked at.  If there were no doves to be seen, I found myself up and ready to head out the door to look someplace else.

After several days of seeing no doves, I went to see one apartment with my boyfriend.  As we walked around the apartment complex waiting for the lady at the front desk to get back from lunch, my boyfriend said, “Oh hey look at those doves!” 

I turned my head and sure enough there was a dove in a tree nearby.  My boyfriend had no idea about the whole dove thing — he probably would’ve thought I was nuts at the time — but, irregardless, knowing that there were some doves around made me a little more optimistic about this whole apartment hunting thing.

Despite seeing doves at this particular apartment complex, the landlord never showed up for our scheduled appointment.  I was very disappointed due to the good deal it would have been, but the landlord’s lack of organization gave enough of a bad vibe to put that apartment on my definite “no” list. 

So the hunt continued…

A week or so later as I was visiting apartments I felt like I was getting towards the end of my hunt.  I had put forth so much energy in searching that I wasn’t sure if I had much more energy to keep looking.  But, that day I continued to search in hopes that something will stick.

So I drove up to the apartment complex and went into the office to discuss the apartments available.  We went up and checked out an apartment and as we were walking back someone said, “Hey look — there’s a dove!” 

I turned my head to look but, unfortunately, I didn’t see it.  It had already flown away.

That’s the funny thing about signs — even though we’ve asked for them, we don’t always see them.  Signs from the universe don’t just come through our own individual sight, but it also comes through others.  They can come through based on what other people saw or a statement that someone said.

Though we can ask for signs for guidance, signs aren’t always as clear as we’d like them to be.  Sometimes we see that dove or owl in a place that we are not meant to be.  Or the place that we are meant to be at don’t have any doves or owls in them.

When we ask the universe for a sign, the guidance that comes through with it isn’t as plain as: sign = “yes” and no sign = “no”.  It’s more complicated than that.

To receive clear universal guidance, there has to be an element of faith.  We have to be willing to trust that we are supported and that we are being guided.  We have to be willing to let go of any fear that is hindering us from seeing our opportunities clearly.

To release fear and to be open to the possibilities is to be open to love. 

By being open to love, we give ourselves the ability to receive clear guidance internally.  We are then able to get an intuitive sense of what feels like the right direction to take and what isn’t.

ClearGuidance

Click to Tweet: When we release our fear and open up to a mindset of love, we give ourselves the ability to receive clear guidance. via @jenilyn8705

If we are willing to release our fear then we are able to receive clear intuitive guidance in a way that it doesn’t matter if the dove shows up or not.  We’re able to simply trust and know which is the right choice.

So if you’re in need of guidance, ask for a sign, set the intention to release your fears and then trust that you will be guided.  Then all you have to do is go through the motions.  Take action and have faith that it will work out.

As for me… I saw no other doves until the day I drove up with my car filled up with my plants and a U-Haul on the way.  I sat in the office to get apartment keys and go over signing the lease. 

As I sat in the office, I looked over to the deck of my new apartment.  There were two doves sitting on the deck railing.  I smiled… realizing they were there all along — I just had to open my eyes to see them.

How to Deal When Your Partner Isn’t as Spiritual As You

I have a confession to make.

Somewhere around 4 to 5 months into my most recent relationship I seriously considered breaking it off.  The whole dynamic of me being the “spiritual one” and him not being spiritual — well, at all — just wasn’t quite working for me.  How could we make it work when we couldn’t see eye to eye?

So I wanted to breakup.  End it.  Be done with it.

This decision of potentially ending this relationship made me quite distressed so I started discussing it with various coaches and counselors.

“Well, that really depends…”

“Yeah, I think you’re ready for this relationship to end… “

“It sounds like you’re stuck in this place and you’re ready for a change…”

… I would hear them say.

Though this advice resonated with me on some level, it still didn’t feel quite “right” to me.  So I decided to do nothing and continued on with the relationship, despite continuing to feel troubled by this whole “I’m spiritual and he’s not” thing.

Then one day I was listening to a mentor of mine giving a talk about relationships and someone had told her, “I’m so frustrated.  My boyfriend isn’t nearly as spiritual as me”.  With those words I perked up and leaned in closer, giving this exchange my full attention.  “How do I deal when my boyfriend isn’t as spiritual as me?” she asked.

My mentor looked at her with her piercing brown eyes and said…

“You gotta worry about your own side of the street, honey”.

“You’re only in control of yourself”, she continued, “and he is on his own spiritual path.  All you can do is to do the spiritual work yourself, be the light and he will gradually come to his own understanding in his own way and on his own time”. 

I was immediately skeptical.  How on earth is that going to work?, I thought to myself.  This guy wants to get into religious and spiritual debates with me.  He isn’t out to understand and accept — he’s only out to “win” his point. 

But despite these thoughts, there was a sense, a voice deep down in the core of my being that said, “Just do it and you’ll see”. 

And so I did just that. 

I stopped worry about him and started working on myself.  I started meditating daily.  I began reading more spiritual texts.  I started to really implement the work into my life.

I never once preached my beliefs  to him or share with him anything that he didn’t already express some interest or curiosity in.  And if he wanted to debate religion and spirituality I simply set a boundary stating that I didn’t want to talk about it.

I just focused on myself and did my own thing.

And over time, something amazing happened…

We started meditating together.

We started going to yoga classes together.

He started asking me about some of the books I was reading.

Somehow, miraculously, he became more open and accepting.

And you know what else?

Gradually the arguments became fewer and fewer.  And we became closer and closer.

Our love deepened and we somehow became more comfortable with each other and more in love than we were before.

Our relationship progressed to a whole new level.  A level that neither one of us have ever experienced with another person before.

All because I decided to completely focus on working on myself and not him.

So how did I do it and how can you do it if you’re in this situation as well?  Here’s a few tips:

1.  Recognize that the whole “I’m right and you’re wrong” mentality is nothing but your ego. 

So when you catch yourself getting into that frame of thinking, just recognize it and let it go.

2.  Set boundaries.

If you see your partner getting into the whole “you’re right I’m wrong” mentality, then set a boundary with them.  Say something like, “Honey I love you, but because I love you I don’t think we should be talking about this right now” and walk away or go in the other room. 

3.  Be the light. 

Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.  Do the spiritual work that you need to do for yourself and, over time, maybe your partner will start to wonder, Hey!  What is she doing for herself?  Cause it seems to work.  I better check this out. 

BeTheChangeYouWant

Click to Tweet: “Be the change you want to see in the world” ~ Gandhi via @jenilyn8705

And if they don’t, so what?  It doesn’t matter because all that matters at the end of the day is that you are being a channel for your own inner transformation — and that makes all the difference.

In the comments below, share with me one thing that you are going to commit to doing on a regular basis so that you can be “the change you wish to see”.

Choosing Happiness Doesn’t Mean You Should Settle

This past week I posted on my Instagram and Facebook the quote, “Happiness is a Choice”.

While I obviously agree with the idea that happiness is a choice, the post got me thinking about it a bit deeper and thinking about how others may interpret its meaning.

Yes, happiness is something we choose to do. We can get a new job, live in a new location, get new friends, and find a new partner but if we continue to stay in this state of mind of pessimism or negativity with beliefs like “I’m the victim” or “I’m not worthy” then, clearly, we’re not going to be very happy.

If we don’t make a conscious choice to be happy then we’re going to keep ourselves locked up in this cycle of self-defeating thoughts. So even if something really good and amazing does come into our lives then, chances are, it’s not going to last very long cause we’ll either A. Mess it up our relationship with our super awesome new boyfriend or B. Never really appreciate them by realizing how good they truly are for us.

It’s our own inner shifts that really determine the level of satisfaction and happiness that we experience in our external world.

But — let me be clear — just because happiness is an internal choice that we have to make, it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to settle.

Just because happiness is a choice, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we all need to settle for our less-than fulfilling job. Just because happiness is a choice, it doesn’t mean that we need to settle with our romantic partner that we don’t quite fully “gel” with for whatever reason. Just because happiness is a choice, it doesn’t mean that we should never pursue our inner desire to travel the world.

Just because happiness is a choice, it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to settle for living a life that others expect us to live rather than how we, deep down in our core, truly want to live.

Yes, happiness is a choice but that doesn’t mean that we also need to repress our own inner truth in the process of doing so. Listen to that inner voice that is guiding and leading you to great things.

ListenToInnerVoice

Click to Tweet: Listen to that inner voice that is guiding and leading you to great things. via @jenilyn8705

Honor that inner guide fully and completely — but don’t expect that the action of breaking up with your boyfriend, quitting your job, or moving to another country is going to be the one thing that is going to completely transform your life. ‘Cause if you think it is, you’re going to be really disappointed.

… trust me. I know.

I did it 4 years ago when I decided that I was going to move half-way around the world to South Korea to teach English for a year. I was feeling very unfulfilled, out of place and as if I had lost myself somewhere along this path of becoming an adult.

I figured, well, maybe if I move out of the country and decide to just do “my own thing” that will be all I need to do to solve my problems.

“Ha!” the Universe said, “Oh silly, naive girl, you have so much more to learn…”

Oh boy was I wrong.

So very wrong.

The joke was on me.

I thought I was stressed, unfulfilled, and had relationship problems when I left the US, but within the first 4 months I started to experience even more stress, unfulfillment and relationship problems.

I found myself in the most challenging and emotionally damaging romantic relationship of my life.

It wasn’t until after that relationship ended that I gradually started to do the inner work. It was then that I really started to focus less on others and begin to really look at myself. It was then that I started to make self-care a priority.

It took me a while to fully realize that it’s the inner shifts that need to happen before I can really experience the outer shifts. But had I never gone. Had I never taken the leap of faith to hop on a plane an fly half way around the world by myself, would I have experienced the same inner shifts?

It’s very unlikely.

I never would’ve ran into the right people that would have guided me to the right books that would’ve never instilled in me the right ideas to cause such changes. And for that —regardless of how painful those relationships may have been — I am forever grateful.

After all, the lotus can’t bloom if there isn’t any mud.

Happiness is a choice that we have to make, but that doesn’t mean we need to settle. Trust the guidance of your intuition. Trust that sense you may feel to get out of that relationship, to move, or to quit that job. Of course, think ahead and plan effectively and rationally, but listen to it and trust it. Trust it even if everyone in your life doubts you or thinks it’s a bad idea because it is your choice and your inner truth — not theirs.

If we follow our inner guidance in faith and act with a willingness to learn, grow and experience change, a transformation will occur. The journey is hardly easy, but, at the end of the day, it’ll be nothing short of miraculous.

Reflections from My Weekend in NYC with Gabrielle Bernstein

Last weekend I went to New York City for the very first time to attend Gabrielle Bernstein’s second Spirit Junkie Masterclass Level 1.

I heard of Gabby’s masterclass when she first started it last year, but I told myself “Eh not this year” because I had already done Marie Forleo’s B-School that year and I just didn’t have the money to go.

When this new year started, I hadn’t even thought of it until I went to one of Gabby’s talks this past February in San Francisco. It was during that talk that she casually mentioned her masterclass in response to someone’s question. When I heard it, I felt a strong pull to sign up this year. Something in my heart, some little voice kept coming up and saying “go”.

I didn’t know how I’d get there at the time, but I knew I had to go so I just trusted and figured “if it’s meant to happen, some things will fall into place so that it can happen”.

Lesson #1: When you’re truly following your inner guidance and in-line with where you are truly meant to be, then things will fall into place naturally.

We don’t have to push it or try to force it to happen. It flows easily and effortlessly.

So there are a few things that happened…

For starters, around the time of that talk I was hired for as a counselor at a job where I could get hours as part of earning my masters degree in counseling psychology. And — unlike most people who are trying to get their hours in prior to graduation — I managed to get hired for a paid position. So more income? Check!

The next month I started doing the work to file my taxes. After adding in all of my income, deductions, etc. etc. etc. it turned out that I somehow managed to get a pretty darn good tax refund (probably the best I’ve had in my life… ever). So a decent sized check with more money that didn’t involve me doing any extra work? Check!

Then, to top it all off, in those next few months I had an increase in the amount of coaching clients. Woo hoo! Check!

So, because I managed to somehow get this extra amount of money that I wasn’t necessarily planning on I then flew from coast to coast to New York City (for the very first time) to attend Gabby’s Spirit Junkie Masterclass.

Overall, the class was nothing short of, simply, remarkable and there are not very many words that I can use to fully describe it. In fact, everyone that has asked me so far how the masterclass was, I have such a hard time trying to explain it. Words really just don’t do it any justice… honestly.

Anyway — at the masterclass, I was able to meet many different people (mostly women, with a few guys) from all around the world.

After the Saturday I was so excited about being in NYC that I decided I was going to go all about the city and explore and see as much as I possibly could.

After Sunday (our last day), on the other hand, I actually found myself overcome by this feeling of sadness. Though I visited with several ladies at the class and even afterwards at the hotel, I was overcome by this feeling of being alone and supported.

Lesson #2: Just because you think you may have healed something fully because the issue no longer exists in our current life, it doesn’t mean that it is completely 100% healed.

The wound may still be lingering deep within our psyche, where it may be unconscious to us most of the time.

I didn’t realize it as it was happening but in hindsight I realized that these emotions were perfectly correlated to a few dreams I had in the past few months. In the last few months I had some dreams come up where I was younger and back in school and feeling very left out and unsupported by classmates.

I wasn’t sure why this was coming up or what it meant at the time, but my sudden feeling of sadness and feeling unsupported after the class made me realize that these emotions came from that unconscious part of myself. It seemed that these wounds, that were buried deep into the unconscious of my psyche and only came up in my dreams occasionally, had now completely surfaced in my conscious mind.

And boy did they hit hard.

So what did I do? Well, I did the best thing and, really, only thing I could do…

I felt them. Fully and completely.

Lesson #3: In order to heal it, you have to really let yourself feel it.

As Gabby’s coach, Rha Goddess who gave a keynote at the masterclass says, “Feeling a feeling for 90 second can transform it”. So I let myself really feel it. After all, I didn’t cry during the masterclass at all, which was a little odd cause it seemed that everybody cried at some point or another. So I gave myself the time and space at this time to really feel it.

After I gave myself to really feel and process those feelings alone in my hotel room, it seemed that something cracked open. I started writing in this new notebook that I brought. In the process of writing, it appeared that something completely new was coming out on the page.

What emerged on the page was new, unique, and… the true message of all my work at its very core. My inner guide that I was not fully connected with completely emerged on that page. And it gave me all I needed to know about where to focus in my teaching, coaching, and writing.

I felt energized, aligned and oh-so-excited to start sharing this message with others.

Which leads me to my last and final lesson…

Lesson #4: When you are able to recognize your fear as only fear and you let yourself really feel that fear, your true self begins to shine.

TrueSelfShine

Click to Tweet: When you are able to recognize your fear as only fear & you let yourself feel that fear, your true self begins to shine. via @jenilyn8705

Let yourself really feel it, my friends — and I mean really feel it. Recognize the fear, feel it, and then allow your true self to emerge… it’s waiting.

Much love,

Jennifer

5 Steps To Forgiveness

Forgiveness.  It is one of those things that can sound so challenging and difficult to do, yet not doing it can be detrimental our growth and overall well-being.  When we don’t forgive and hold on to bitter resentments, we can find ourselves feeling stressed, miserable, angry, or sad for years after an event happened.

Maybe it’s that ex boyfriend who seemed to always take more from you then give.  Or maybe it’s that friend who rarely told the truth.  Or — maybe — the person you’re struggling to forgive is yourself — for doing something that hurt someone else.

Regardless of who it is that we need to forgive, the act of forgiving is equally beneficial.  When we forgive, we free ourselves and others from the binds of pain and hurt and open ourselves to true healing and love.  Through the power of forgiveness, we open ourselves to the a new way of being, which allows us to attract and create more loving relationships in our lives.

Here are the 5 steps to forgiveness:

#1 – Identify why you have been struggling to forgive.

Have you been making yourself the victim?  Have you been putting the other person up on a pedestal?  Have you been putting yourself down?  Have you been putting yourself up on a pedestal?  Have you been feeling guilty for the things that had happened in a past relationship?  Have you been blaming the other person?

#2 – Be willing to forgive.

Though we often see forgiveness as a challenging task to do, the reality is that, really, the most important thing that we need to do is to be willing to forgive.  When there is a willingness for a change to occur then it is much more likely to happen.  If we are holding on to our past hurts and unwilling to forgive for whatever reason, then we will continue to find ourselves stuck in a place of suffering.

#3 – Release it.

Once you have identified why you struggle to forgive and have a willingness to forgive, the only thing you have to do is to simply let it go — just like that popular song from “Frozen”.  Release it to the universe.

#4 – Trust that healing will occur.

Once we release it, we may find ourselves going into a bit of a panic in our minds.  We may start having thoughts of “What if this doesn’t work?” “How is this going to work?” or “But I don’t feel any different!”  These are merely fear-based thoughts created from our ego, which is the cause of our struggle to experience happiness, joy and love to begin with.  So trust and have faith that a shift will happen.

#5 – Be open for healing.

Once we are in a place of trusting that a shift in our perception will happen, we must be open to receive.  What I mean by this is to be an observer.  Pay close attention to the things that come up for you in your day to day life.  Make note of the people you see, the things that people say, the songs you hear on the radio, the ideas that pop up in your mind, how you feel emotionally throughout your day and so on.  By being an observer of ourselves and our own experience, we are able to be aware when healing does occur.

So if you are in place where you need to forgive someone or yourself, go through these steps.  These guidelines are not meant to be a “do it one time only and everything changes”.  Rather, it’s something that we may need to do every day or a couple times a day for several days or a week or so before we can begin to notice ourselves feeling lighter, happier, and more free.

Be committed to this process of forgiveness. It is by being committed that we will be able to truly forgive and create relationships and a life filled with love.

CommitToForgiveness

Click to Tweet: Being committed to practicing forgiveness is key to creating relationships and a life filled with love. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

In the comments below, we’re going to do Step #1.  So, share why you have been struggling to forgive either someone or yourself.

Finding Blessings When Everything Comes Crashing Down

About mid-way through the year last year, I felt like my life was suddenly crashing down.

It started off with being notified that I needed to find a new place to live after I had just moved 3 months prior.  This followed with bad news about a chronic health issue that I had been dealing with.  In addition, when it came around to be “that time of the month” my PMS was at the absolute worst that it had ever been in my entire life.  All I wanted to do was lay around curled up in a ball for an entire week.  This all then concluded with a notice that I had been let go by my part-time job.

Needless to say, I panicked.  I freaked out. I was overwhelmed with anger that all these things had to be happening to me all at once. I had a complete emotional and mental breakdown.

I felt like my body was breaking down.  I felt like my entire being was breaking down.  The only thing I could do — or even have the physical energy to do — was to cry.

… and that’s what I did.  I cried.  I cried a freaking lot.  And I did something else too — I stopped trying.

I stopped looking on craigslist for apartments and jobs.  I stopped debating on what actions to take.  I stopped pushing myself to do all these things in hopes to find a solution to all my problems.

Instead, I just did what I could.  I let go and decided to go with the flow.  I stopped trying and pushing myself and decided to surrender and take care of myself.

StopPushingLetGo

Click to Tweet: When your stressed cause everything is falling apart, stop pushing yourself to “figure it out” and just let go. via @jenilyn8705

It was then that I allowed myself to really relax and enjoy all of the incredible blessings that I had experienced around that same time, such as:

… having an astounding result to a TinyBuddha article of mine that I never would have expected!

… making new friends who are also life coaches or entrepreneurs.

… celebrating my amazing boyfriend’s birthday.

… moving forward in my relationship by both of us exchanging our first “I love yous” 🙂

… finding out that my parents were coming to visit me the next month.

… a childhood friend finally having her baby.

… having the time (and living in an area) where I had the opportunity attend group meetings for extra support.

… and so much more!

Often times when we find ourselves in a period of our lives where everything seems to have been uprooted and we have everything but security, we find ourselves all stressed out and caught up with feelings of anxiety and anger over what happened to us.  We find ourselves so caught up in these emotions that we completely overlook all the wonderful little blessings that are going on around us at the same exact time.  We can find ourselves so incredibly focused on all the “bad” that is happening that we cut ourselves off from seeing the “good”.

So what should we do during these moments of high-stress when it feels like everything in our lives is crashing down?

Breathe.

Often times when we are super stressed out, we completely forget about the most essential thing that keeps us alive and healthy: Breathe.  So stop and take a moment to take some deep breaths.  Take a very deep inhale and allow your exhale to be longer than your inhale.

This technique of breathing where we do a longer exhale than our inhale is a great technique to help calm down the body and help us relax.  I have personally used it on the nights where I’m having trouble sleeping to help me dose off peacefully and it has worked wonders.

Take time for yourself.

When we’re super stressed because all of our plans seem to not be working out, we tend to get so focused on fixing all of our problems and life challenges that we have forgotten the most essential aspect for our growth and progress: Our own personal well-being.

So give yourself a 1 or 2 hour break to simply do “nothing”.  For for a walk.  Take a warm bath.  Read a book simply for the joy of it.  Cry… cry a lot.  Eat and really savor a nutritious meal.  Watch reruns of your favorite TV comedy.  Focus on you and what you truly need for the health and well-being of your own mind, body, and spirit.

Reflect on your blessings.

Moments before you go to bed, get out a journal and make a list of all of the blessings in your life.  Is it a blessing that you have a certain amount of money in your checking account?  Is it a blessing that you have a friend or partner to support you during this difficult time?  Is it a blessing that you have made new friends recently?

Write down a list of all the blessings that come to you.  After you finish writing them down, go through each one and say out loud to yourself, “I am grateful for _______” in order to really acknowledge to yourself and to the universe that you are thankful for all these current blessings in your life.

Take action now!

What are some of the blessings in your life?  Share them in the comments below!

Why We Struggle to Be Happy

I started therapy a little over a month ago.

I started going again for a few reasons:

1.  I was feeling kind of extra stressed over a few aspects in my life and I felt it’d be good to have a “sounding board”

2.  I found myself in a period where I’m wanting to look a little bit deeper at my own stuff.

3.  I’m required to have an X amount of therapy hours for my graduate program — PLUS this therapist that I found happens to be licensed, which means = I can earn hours towards my own MFT licensure.

Up until this past week, most of our sessions had been pretty “introductory” in nature.  You know, the classic story of “this is what my upbringing was like, this is my history, this is where I currently am in my life, etc. etc.” that can feel oh-so too often repeated if you’ve gone to therapy more than once or twice in your life.

Fortunately, this week happened to be the first session where some real therapy could actually start taking place.  And I was excited cause, frankly, I had felt like it was talking way too long to really get things going.

There was one problem though… I had nothing to talk about!  In the previous weeks I always came in stressed about something — something with work, something with school, something with roommates, something about my health, something about my relationship, and so on.  But this week everything was perfectly fine.  It was as if all problems either melted away or, there were problems, but I was generally apathetic or emotionally unaffected by it.

So what did I talk about?  Well, I did what do best at in therapy — I ramble.  I began talking about any random thing that had been going through in the past week.

As I rambled about whatever, my therapist would interject occasionally with a comment like, “So it looks like everything is going really great right now!” that was then followed up with comments like “That is so exciting!” and “That’s wonderful!”

You would think that with the way I was talking about everything I was excited, satisfied, and, well… happy.  But I wasn’t and, instead, whenever she made a comment like that I typically responded with something like, “Well yeah… except for this cough that I have.”

When the session was over and I was driving home I thought to myself, “Isn’t that funny?  She’s telling me how everything I’m saying looks wonderful and great and here I am trying to find things to be stressed about.”  It was something that I was completely unaware of!

And you know what?  We all do this!  Whenever life is actually “going right” we can find ourselves caught up in still trying to find and focus on the things that are “wrong”.

The reasons for this I see as kind of two-fold.

In one way, the reason that we find ourselves focusing on all the things that are “wrong” is because we are stuck in our habit of focusing on what is wrong.  If we are constantly focused on what isn’t good and what needs to change, then we train our brains to focus on the bad rather than to notice and enjoy what is good.

In another regard, we can also be struggling to truly accept what is good.  Our ego has us so caught-up in all of the problems and struggles that life presents to us that it is hard for us to truly see and enjoy the good.  It’s hard for us to really be positive because it’s almost like our ego has us “addicted” to the negative.

Regardless of the exact reasoning, it’s possible to get ourselves out of this focus on the negative and to really start being positive with just some conscious effort.  Here are some tips:

#1 Reflect every day by asking yourself the questions of…

How is everything in my life right now?  What is good?  What is “not-so-great”?  Am I really enjoying and being happy for the things that are good?

#2 Strive to find the good even in the “bad”.

Are you frustrated about your finances cause you’re barely making ends meet?  Then rather than get even more frustrated when a bill comes in, be joyful for it!  Are you frustrated that it’s snowing heavily outside so it takes even longer to drive home?  Be happy that you are in a place that has all 4 seasons!

#3 Be more positive!

Give the lady with a cute necklace standing in line behind you a compliment.  Smile at the people at the Post Office and ask them how there day is (despite the line being a bit too long).  Take the time to look at the sunrise or sunset and find the beauty in it.  Find the joy in the little things — and allow your inner joy to shine.

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Click to Tweet: Find the joy in the little things — and allow your inner joy to shine! via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

In the comments below, list at least 3 positive things that are happening in your life right now!

Feeling Depressed? 5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

Depression.  Though we likely won’t admit it, it is one of those things that most of us have dealt with at some point in our lives at either a mild or high severity.  For some of us it has only lasted for a few months.  For others, it has been a struggle for years.

Regardless how long we have struggled with depression, it can still feel like a long, difficult and hopeless journey.

Though proper treatment can vary a lot depending on each individual’s unique situation, there are some general things that we can all try to help our depression.  Here are 5 things to consider doing:

Exercise!

A while back someone told me that whenever she went to her doctor with a problem her doctor always asked, “Are you exercising?”  If she responded, “No” then he told her to exercise for the next 30 days and if there weren’t any changes then come back.

Based on personal experience, I have often found this to be true.  The second I have gotten myself into a solid exercise routine I have always, eventually, felt better.

Part of the reason for this is because when we are depressed, our life force energy is low and being repressed.  In yoga, this is referred to as our “prana”.  In Chinese medicine and marital arts, it is called “chi”.  And so, if we do exercises like yoga, tai chi, aikido, or whatever we prefer, then we are giving ourselves the opportunity for our own inner life force energy to rise back up to a normal and healthy state once again.

Start doing things that energize you.

Though it may be difficult to find things that you find exciting and energizing when you’re depressed, doing these kind of activities will help bring you back up.  If you’ve loved dancing in the past, then start taking dance classes.  If you loved singing, then sing again.  If traveling energizes you, then find a way to take a trip somewhere.

Though I haven’t necessarily read any sources to validate this, I personally believe from my own experience that doing things that really light up our soul also helps to raise our life force energy.  It gives us the opportunity to really get connected with that zest and love for life that is buried deep within us.

Get enough sleep.

Often if we are depressed, anxious, or stressed out one of the biggest culprits is a lack of sleep.  Generally, we all want to be shooting for 8 hours of sleep per night — regardless of age.  If we are sleeping less or more than that then we tend to be increasing our chances of having some kind of problem.

So one of the things that I like to do to help wind down from the day is to turn off all electronics at the very least 1 hour before bedtime (preferably 2).  I also avoid any talking on the phone.

Reading or writing before bed can help a lot to wind down.  You may also want to consider doing some kind of meditation or breathing exercise.  One of my personal favorites to wind down is to take deep inhale while counting to 5 and then exhale while counting to 8.

Another favorite of mine is to focus on which nostril is being the dominant nostril on my inbreathes and then switching the dominant nostril.  So for example, if I notice my right nostril is the more dominant one, I then draw my focus on the left nostril and try to consciously (without touching it) allow it to be the more dominant nostril.

Feed your body well.

When we are eating foods that are lacking the nutrients that our body truly needs then we can very easily become depressed.  So ask yourself, “What am I eating?  How often do I eat fruits and vegetables?  How often do I eat leafy greens?  How many processed foods do I eat in a day or week?”

Consider cutting back (or completely eliminating) processed foods.  Instead, shoot for eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Be mindful and aware of your sugar intake.  Also, try to drink more water.  About a half gallon a day of water should do the trick.

Connect with others.

One of the reasons that many of us get depressed is by simply spending too much time alone.  We are social creatures, so connecting to other human beings is important to our overall health.

So go out with a friend or a few friends, depending on your preference.  Join a Meetup groups in your area that focuses on a hobby or interest of yours.  Join a book club.

You may also want to consider finding a therapist to support you on your journey.  Depression is tough and everyone deserves emotional support when struggling, so don’t be afraid to reach out and find help.  Many therapists will work on a sliding scale if requested and if one isn’t able to take you, then they will have others to direct you to.  If you don’t think that personal therapy is right for you for whatever reason, then different organizations do offer group therapy at a fraction of the cost.

FeelingDepressedQuestions

Take action now!

If you’ve been feeling kind of “down in the dumps” lately, then reflect on the list above.  Are any of these things something that you haven’t been doing for yourself lately?  How can you start integrating that into your life more?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

3 Things to Remember When You Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life

It has arrived: You’ve, once again, reached a point in your life where you are not sure what to do with your life.  Maybe you’ve recently gone through a divorce or breakup. Maybe you’ve recently been let go by your employer or you quit your job.  Maybe school has recently ended or your time studying abroad is coming to a close.

Regardless of what has recently ended, the stress and pressure of needing to figure out what you’re supposed to do next can feel about the same.  Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re not sure what to do with your life:

Nobody has it all figured out — ever.

Here’s a hidden truth for you: Nobody has it all figured out ever — and if they say that they do have it all “figured out” then it’s likely that they are lying to you.

Yes, even that lady with a solid and stable career, with 2.5 kids, a dog, and a husband that makes good money.  Yes, even that friend of yours who recently got married and is moving to Hawaii.

The reality is that even though we may appear to have our lives pretty secure and “figured out” there are always unexpected things that come up along the way.  Someone losing a job or feels forced to quit for whatever reason.  Someone gets a serious illness or has an accident.

Something unexpected is always bound to happen at some point or another because that is the nature of living.  We simply just can’t avoid it.  So if you catch yourself thinking things like “Everyone else has it all figured out except me”, then know that it is totally a false belief.

There is no deadline to “figuring it all out”.

You don’t have to have your entire career planned out before you can get started.  You don’t have to know everything that you want in life in order to able to have your perfect partner for you.

Life is about exploring and discovering.  It’s about allowing ourselves to grow and become better by exploring and testing out new things.  Sometimes things stick, somethings don’t.

The problem is that, for many of us, we take life too seriously.  If something doesn’t work out the way we hoped we beat ourselves up, say we’re no good, throw in the towel, and never try out anything new again.  That is the huge mistake!

The reality is that life is all about practice.  If we make plans that don’t work out or commit to something that fails then so what?  It’s most certainly not the end of the world — it’s a gift!  It is the gift of learning what doesn’t work so we can figure out what will work.

So don’t beat yourself up about not having it all “figured out” right away.  Life is a journey, a process, really, as are any “plans”.

Enjoying the present is key.

The problem with “trying to figure out” our lives is that it causes us to be disengaged with the present moment.  So if there are good things happening in our lives or windows of opportunities opening up around us, we can’t see it cause we’re too busy being caught up in our little mode of “I need to figure out my life”.

So let go of the need to “push” yourself to figure it all out and allow yourself to simply enjoy life right here right now.  Allow yourself to simply be and enjoy the little things in life — a warm cup of coffee with a good book, a cool evening, the sound of birds chirping early in the morning, a dinner with a great friend.

When we just stop and smell the roses and allow ourselves to enjoy where we are we give ourselves the chance to fall into the natural flow of life.  Which, in turn, allows us to better see and know what decision we should make next.

FiguredOut

Look within…

Take a moment now to stop and look within.  How have you been stressing yourself out because you haven’t fully “figured out” your life?  What have you been stressing over?

Once you’ve identified what you’ve been frustrated about, ask yourself:  How can I “let go” this need to “figure it all out”?  What can I start doing daily to release this stress that I’ve been causing myself?

Share your insights in the comments below!