A New Chapter

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After completing my second Happiness Project, I spent some time listening to Mel Robbins. Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker, who recently started her own talk show. When I found her, she was being interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts. A lot of what she says resonates with me and put some things about my life into perspective.

When I thought about what I wanted my life to look like two or three years ahead as she suggests, I saw the following:

Pursue a job that had meaning and purpose

Surround myself with positive, uplifting friends

Be active without pain

Be free of money worries

Become an activist

Substantially increase my reading

Become mindful and optimistic

These were BIG picture goals. If I’ve learned nothing else it’s that ACTION is key to every single change you want to make in your life. Period. The end. You can put up slogans and quotes all day but there is NO MEANING behind them without the work. I see the difference. I would read quotes like “be yourself”. And think “that’s nice, yes, be yourself”. But now it screams at me! Be authentic! Fill your life with what makes you happy! When you are actually feeling the affects of taking action, something like “be yourself” becomes extremely powerful and a huge motivator. These were my new eyes looking at the world.

Mel also talks about using our problems to not take responsibility. Whoa. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I could just hear all the “I can’t’s” coming out of my mouth over the years. She suggests naming the old chapter in your life and then naming your new chapter in your life. So, I decided my old chapter would be called “Fearful, Self-Centered Mona” and my new chapter would be called “Giving, Loving, Brave Mona”. That pretty much sums it up nicely! And a really CLEAR way to see how I was behaving and how I wanted to live going forward.

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I had decided to live in a “growth mindset” from now on. I had a past full of bad experiences that brought me to where I was and in a lot of ways I’m thankful for all the trauma I’d been through recently, because if I hadn’t gone through this I would not have tackled all these other areas in my life. Even if I had resolved my pain issue, I still would have been eating all the wrong foods, drinking, living stressed out, throwing money away, etc. My “why” was abundantly clear. I would have continued with things happening to me, instead of taking control. Mel explains that our mindset is fixed in childhood. I’ve already talked about some of the issues of my childhood and the remnants left on me, but here she wakes me up to the fact that I could be repeating negative self talk all the way back to childhood. Looking back on how much I survived, it’s possible there’s a little post traumatic stress disorder there. I never thought about these episodes carrying over to my adult life, but they certainly do. How many adults are part of the walking wounded? Without any resolution? A lot of us is my guess.

If you want to learn more about Mel Robbins you can find her at http://melrobbins.com. Do you have a name for an old chapter of your life? How about your new chapter? Share them below! And thanks for being here!

Change Your Brain!

Day 3

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The more I learn about neuroplasticity the more excited I get. I’m so fascinated by the fact that we can literary change the pathways of our brain by changing our behavior. We are learning now that our brains are NOT hardwired and incapable of change. The exact opposite is true. Changing the neural pathways in our brain is key to successful change and growth in ourselves. According to Healthtransformer.com “Neural pathways, comprised of neurons connected by dendrites, are created in the brain based on our habits and behaviors. As patients participate in new activities, they are training their brains to create new neural pathways. The pathways get stronger with repetition until the behavior is the new normal.” New normal! That’s what I was shooting for in all the work I was doing on myself. To create a new normal and I knew retraining my brain was necessary to heal and get back to a normal life. To read more about neuroplasticity click here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/taraswart/2018/03/27/the-4-underlying-principles-to-changing-your-brain/#2a72e8e45a71

Day 3’s speaker was Geneen Roth. I highly recommend checking her out if you have not heard of her. You can find her here. http://geneenroth.com Geneen explains that “The neural pathways in our brains were established as early as childhood. The feeling of “I don’t matter” as a child, takes you into adulthood.” Wow. Now, I’m not blaming anyone here, however, I think we ALL have things about our childhood we would like to change. For the most part I had a normal childhood, but there were a few dark chapters and I’m positive those episodes have stuck with me and were never resolved with counseling of any kind. There were some traumatic events between the ages of 14-23 that never were addressed in any way. We all just pushed forward and wanted to (understandably) want to move on and leave all that behind. Sometimes the result was good, but in the end I had all of these things that happen to me that were never addressed properly. That catches up with you. For me it was in the form of panic attacks, excess partying, being reckless, and in my late teens some very risky behavior that put me in situations that I can’t even believe happened when looking back on it. I’ve cheated death and jail more times than I care to admit. (Those stories could be a whole other book!) Eventually, I got my act together, got married and established a wonderful life. But all of that “stuff” was still there. You cannot live through trauma and not have it effect you at some point. I’m not saying this is the root of ALL my issues, because according to my mother, I was an anxious kid. But, I do know that it most likely made an imprint of my nervous system that came out as triggers later on in life.

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Geneen says that of course, we can’t change our parents or our childhood. So, what can be done? Well, we know for a fact now and the science tells us, that mediation changes our brains. In addition to that Geneen says to practice the following to create new patterns:

  1. Come into your body.
    This is just being aware of your body. Have you ever done a mindful body scan mediation? I actually think it is the best type of meditation if you are dealing with stress or anxiety in any way.
  2. Turn toward what seems challenging. Don’t push it away, go deeper. Don’t be frightened of the feelings.
    My mantra! Feel the fear and do it anyway!! This just keeps coming up over and over again, everywhere. It’s SO POWERFUL.
  3. Disengage from blaming in the head. Don’t judge.
    Stop the blame game.
  4. What’s not wrong?
    Oh my goodness THIS was a game changer for me!! I already had a gratitude practice, but to actually sit down and ask this question before writing in my journal was huge! What’s not wrong REALLY makes you focus on exactly what you are grateful for! Try it!

This week I suggest trying some of the strategies above in your life. Whether it’s a mindful body scan meditation, a gratitude practice, feeling the fear and doing it anyway or practicing stopping the blame game in your own head, I’d love to hear about it! Thanks for being here!