Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crossroads: It's Not Too Late!

"If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what, (where), you've always gotten."
~ Kenneth Blanchard

We can choose to go in another direction!

"It's never too late to be the person you were always meant to be."
~ Geroge Eliot

In my last post, I wrote about how we all face crossroads, proverbial 'forks in the road', at some point(s) in our lives. It is at these crossroad moments we are called upon to make decisions: stay the course, (probably remain the same, no change), or make adjustments and/or life altering changes to the direction of our lives. It is in these change of directions we often find the most positive results.

I am living proof of what George Eliot said; it is never too late to become the person you are meant to be. It was not to late for me to change directions, (as needed or desired), to continue becoming the person I believed I was meant to be and it is not too late for you either!

I have had several crossroad moments, some more obvious than others and some requiring that I make some sharp turns. One such example: having undergone many vocational tests during and just after high school, the combined results of the tests concluded that I was best suited for either a "helping profession" or becoming an accountant. I chose to become a nurse and had to take Chemistry. I was not good at it, it did not come naturally and I was not 'getting it' at all. I got a tutor, but to no avail.

One day, the professor called me into his office to discuss my 'progress'. At that meeting, he handed me a dime and told me to call my parents to tell them I was not going to going on to nursing school. Apparently, if you could not pass Chemistry, nursing, as a career path, was out. I left school after that and went into the business world. I did become a comptroller, which is like the company accountant, and made a good living.

I was okay with this decision for years. However, as time past, I found myself becoming increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied with my life. I felt and found myself telling popele, "I have plenty of food on the table, but my soul is hungry". It was then that I knew! I needed to make, another, change in my life. But how and in what way?

Even before I had a name for it, I utilized Positive Adaptation. I examined my thoughts and feelings and based on them, I knew I had to do something differently, if I wanted to become 'happier' within myslef and my life.

I believed then, as I still do now, I was meant to be more of a "professional helper". I continued to work while I also went back to school. I majored, as an undergraduate, in Psychology/Neuropsychology. Yes, I had to take Chemistry again, but this time I passed with flying colors!

I went on for my Masters in Counseling and am now a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, in private practice. It was not only doing well in the classes that helped 'change' me, it was all of the support from professors, fellow students, family, friends and my own counseling sessions, where I learned to believe in myself and my path.

Of course, (just as all of you), I have had hardships: breakups to deal with, life style changes, marriage, children and many other crossroad moments. All of these and other life events have required me to make some kind of adjustment or larger changes, in a continuing effort to become the best I can be.

Positive Adaptation has remained my guide; as reminding myself to 'think, feel and do' continues to help me on my journey.

My soul is no longer hungry, (except for more chances to learn and be even more joyful). Why? Because I believe I am doing all I can to become the person I was meant to be.

Please, share some of your crossroad moments. I always enjoy hearing how others, when faced with the signs, decided where and which direction to go in, on their own journey, to becoming who they were meant to be.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Crossroads - Part One

There are crossroads - proverbial 'fork in the road' moments in everyone's life.

At some point in life we are all faced with decisions of 'now what?'   Whether they be minor adjustments or potentially life altering changes in the direction of our life, the choices must be made.

The most obvious crossroad moments are usually easily recognizable. However, the more subtle life choices and the effect they have on our lives, may not be fully recognized until long after the moment of decision has passed. Unfortunately, most of us wait until we find ourselves unhappy and/or in enough pain to realize we may have not made the best choice for ourselves.

As children we tend to just act and think later.  Decisions appear to get increasingly more difficult with age and as adults, it is important to realize that the decisions we make now will shape our future in the years to come. We do not need to wait until the twilight of our lives to reflect back on the roads chosen or to grasp how they effected our lives. We can choose to look at them right now and change course, where needed.

While it may feel more comfortable to leave crucial life decisions in the hands of fate and faith, the path of least resistance is not always the wisest route. I choose to integrate freedom of choice, self empowerment and yes, fate and faith too, to handle matters of such importance. (I will share some stories of my own personal crossroads - forks in the road, as well as others, in my next post.)

There is not a lot of room for ambivalence, especially when you are unhappy and in pain. Yes, there are times for standing still as to best determine which direction to go. This is when we ought to utilize parts one and two of Positive Adaptation, (think and feel). There are also those times where forward movement is essential and some type of doing or action, (the third part of PA), is required.

As many others have said, "Pain is a great motivator for change". But I ask you, how much pain does it take? My response; not nearly as much as it used to!

We ought to begin to make those 'better' decisions today. We can choose to alter the course or direction of our lives, (those we have the power to), right now, this moment!

With practice, we will choose the paths that ultimately lead us to the positive change we seek in how we think, feel and do. This is the true essence of Positive Adaptation.

I am no longer afraid of the crossroads or forks in the road I will most certainly continue to encounter on the journey of my life. Today, I welcome them and view them as opportunities for more positive change and personal growth.

I wish the same for you.....


Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Unexamined Life

"An unexamined life is not worth living 
~ Socrates

My father often recited this quote of Socrates to me. I didn't really understand what this meant until much later in life. I now know my father also lived it. In part, this is how Positive Adaptation came to ‘be’ and how I choose to live my own life.

Socrates believed that the real purpose of human life was personal and spiritual growth. He believed we are unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature unless we take time to examine and reflect upon our lives. As I have shared in previous posts, (view archived posts), examining our lives leads to the identification of patterns; of thought, feeling and behavior.

How many times have we thought to ourselves we are just too busy with our lives to fully contemplate our own life patterns?

If we do not become aware of these patterns, much of our life may be spent unconsciously repeating what we would prefer not to repeat. Recognizing this fact, we can see that much of the pain and discontent in our lives is avoidable.

We must take the time and make the effort! We ought to stop, reflect and evaluate our life patterns to avoid repeating those that are unhealthy for us and have left us feeling unhappy or dissatisfied. If we do not, how will we ever change and truly enjoy life?

Examining ones’ thoughts and feelings are just the first two parts of Positive Adaptation. The third and equal part of PA involves ‘doing’. Action is required, as it is in the ‘doing’ that we ultimately make the real, sustainable change(s) we need and want to live more fulfilled lives!

To experiencing the change(s) you seek in your own life!Victoria

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Practice Embracing Your Emotions

Journaling and 'Saying It Out Loud'

Journaling and 'Saying it Out Loud' are the two first ways you might try to achieve embracing those emotions, which to date, you may have been minimizing or trying to ignore. (Read the previous post, if you have not already).

I find keeping a journal in which I write down my inner most feelings and them saying them out loud, very therapeutic.

Part One: Keeping a Journal
Writing in journal is a private way to be gut wrenchingly honest, introspective and examine the stuff that you're made of, without hurting yourself or anyone else!

Getting feelings out in this way, whatever they may be, offers you the ability to analyze them, now or later. In time, you will become aware of patterns, (see previous posts on this topic), and the core reason why you're feeling the way you are.

I try to keep something to write on with me at all times, (especially near my bed), as I never know when a thought or feeling is going to ‘pop up’. I find using sticky notes easiest as then I can place them or write them in my journal later.

This method allows me to feel my emotions, as they are. Over time, I am able to see and feel them as less negative or more positive in nature. I actually feel better the more I write and as I continue to review previous entries.

Eventually, your feelings will most likely change, (everything does). At the very least, they will become more manageable, hold less power over you and no longer dictate your actions.

Here are some the questions I ask myself when I am writing in my journal. ~ What am I feeling right now?
~ When did it start?
~ How am I feeling and what does it make me want to do?
~ What were the triggers for this emotion?
~ What images come to mind as I feel it?
~ When else have I felt this way? Is it familiar or something new?
~ What would I really like to say to a particular person, event or myself, right now?(You may find you have others that would help you as well)

Part Two: Get it Out: Say it Out Loud!
I actually say what I am feeling or would like to say, in front of a mirror, (while I know I am alone, of course). However, you can choose to use your pillow or any other way that you find works best for you. Even if you feel silly at first, give it a valiant effort. If one way does not work for you, try another. It really does get easier and you will become more comfortable doing it.

I swear by this method as it has saved me, on more than one occasion, from acting out in ways I would most likely have regretted.

Remember, Positive Adaptation is one part thinking, one part feeling, one part doing and requires all three.

I am always open to learning new ways to embrace my own feelings, so please, feel free to share your own experiences with me!

Good Luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Embrace Your Feelings!

"Problems do not arise from the fact of having feelings. 
Problems arise from what we do with them or 
from our attempts at avoiding them"
~ David Brazier, The Feeling Buddha

Embrace Your Feelings!

1. Our feelings are neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’, they have a range of intensity and we can experience more than one at time. (See previous post: Feelings: Part One)

2. Feelings are rarely emergencies that require immediate action.

3. Most importantly, they are yours! Embrace them with the knowledge that only you can choose to lessen or increase their intensity or accept them just as they are! (See diagram above)

Often times we do not want to feel what we are feeling. We try to ignore them, hoping they'll just go away or change, right? Wrong!

The truth is, yesterday, I had to face the fact and feelings that my fabulous, however short, ‘self care’, trip to Florida was ending. The time alone, I had been so looking forward to and excited about was now coming to an abrupt end.

I was feeling: disappointment, some sadness, a bit of anxiety about all I had to do when I got home. All of these feelings were mixed up with a healthy dose of gratitude and joyfulness for even having had the opportunity to get away and have such a wonderful time. I felt ‘wrong’ for feeing sad when I felt so fortunate to have been able to go. I relished the feeling of sunshine on my face and allowed that warmth to wash over me. This helped me put everything I was feeling in a better perspective.

Just like you, I experience mixed emotions! Practicing Positive Adaptation helps me and I believe, no matter what the feelings or situation, it can and will, help you too!

You may be asking; exactly how is Positive Adaptation helping me? The answer is I have chosen to embrace my feelings, all of them! They are all mine and they are real. I choose to embrace them, rather than ignore them, monitor how intense I allow, (the more negative ones), to become and adjust my behavior accordingly. I will continue to freely share the positive ones. I will use them to feel, think and be, a better person today! These are the choices I can and am making. Yes, it was a wonderful trip and I will savor the memories, while living in this moment!

Embracing our feelings requires facing, accepting and working through them. If we try to repress them, they usually find a way to come out anyway in another form, such as depression, anxiety, panic, (just to name but a few).

The most important point about dealing with emotions is that you cannot predict what you are going to feel at any particular time or in response to any certain event. One thing we can develop is control over the way we respond, rather than react, to all of our feelings.

Getting in touch with your feelings will help you control your behavioral reactions. Bottom line; embrace your feelings so they do not end up, (negatively), controlling you!

Feelings, themselves, are not the problem. It is when we try to ignore them that a problem may arise.

I suggest that practicing Positive Adaptation will assist with both, leading you to feel better about yourself and your life! I know this is what I desire for myself, as well as, all of you.

Until next time...