Become aware of when you describe any life situation using the words “always” or “never”. Those words are like red flags, warning you that your thought process is constricted into a certain, narrow way of perceiving a situation, whether it’s your job, your relationship with your spouse, your beliefs about your talents, your ability to receive abundance, etc.
Examples: “I’m ALWAYS the person who cleans up the house, does the laundry, gets the bills paid, etc., etc. … I NEVER get enough help, recognition, money, time to do what I like, etc., etc., etc. My friend always seems to have more money, fun, etc. than I do.”
When we describe our world in absolutes, like always and never, we have created rigid boundaries in our own minds about what is possible for our life. If you truly desire to expand your life possibilities, you must first become aware of any negative thought/feeling pattern that results in a belief that your options are limited.
How do you become aware of such patterns? Anytime that you feel despair, depression, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, or any other constricting emotion that puts you in a “survival mode”, there is a good chance that a negative thought/feeling pattern is happening within you. The first thing to do is asses whether you are facing any immediate physical danger in the present moment.
If you are in true physical danger (such as a situation of domestic violence), you must take immediate action, by calling for emergency assistance (9-1-1).
If you are not in immediate physical danger, but instead are reliving a hurtful memory or anticipating a limited future, a different approach is needed to disrupt this constricted thought/feeling pattern and expand your life possibilities.
I once had a client who informed me that her husband confessed that he had an affair in the past. He stated that this affair had happened when they were both abusing drugs and alcohol. Since that time, they had both gone through rehab and were attending alcoholics anonymous. They had two young sons to raise. My client told me that since she heard the news about the affair, she couldn’t stand the sight of her husband. she stated that she felt a responsibility to stay with him and remain a family for her sons’ sake, but felt that she was in a “prison”.
When a client comes to me with a challenging life situation, it is my job to assist them in finding ways “through” these situations that result in personal growth, and the first step is to create mental “space” around the situation through self-hypnosis and mindfulness. This kind of “space” is non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of oneself and current life in the present moment. It involves bringing peaceful awareness into the present from within oneself, completely independent of others’ actions and behaviors.
A spouse cannot cause you to feel that you are in a “prison” – that perception belongs to the one who is feeling it. The more one practices self-hypnosis and mindfulness, the greater one’s awareness becomes of the infinite number of possibilities that exist in every single moment of your life, that you may choose for yourself, from taking a peaceful walk, to creating a new friendship, to reading an inspirational book, and so much more. Those acts, though they may seem small and insignificant compared to the difficult life situation you are facing, have a transformational quality that is profound and cumulative. This continued recognition that you have freedom to choose will give you the ability to make life-affirming decisions that will grow out of your current situation, transforming it into an opportunity for learning and healing.
When you allow yourself to be aware of all the choices that exist in life, it becomes easier to feel compassion for others. This doesn’t mean that you approve or accept infidelity, drug abuse, etc., but that you become aware that each person has their own life challenges, and you can free yourself from feeling victimized.
The book Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl is a description of how innocent people endured the concentration “death camps” of the Second World War, written from the viewpoint of a psychiatrist. Victor Frankl observed that those who were able to find some meaning in their existence, some appreciation for what was “left” of life, after everything was taken away – family, belongings, even the clothes on their backs – had a measure of emotional well-being that escaped the rest who descended into despair. He describes the pending death of a young women who, to the end, was focused on the beauty she saw in a tree that grew outside the camp. She affirmed her connection with nature and all that was alive and growing as her physical life ended.
So, take a moment. Become aware. Let go of the negative thought/feeling pattern. Use your senses to take in the abundant possibilities that surround you right now. Prepare to be amazed.
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