If not . . .

if-not-youSeveral times a month, I meet with groups of wonderful Wishful Thinking Women. At our Saturday gathering earlier this month, we were talking about procrastination, and one of the women shared a phrase, which her Dad had often said to her. She noted that it had inspired her many times to do kind and caring things for others and for herself.

I had heard the phrase before, and had used it as a personal rallying cry to right social ills or widespread wrongs, but I had never thought of applying it to myself!

If not you, who will treat you in just the way you need and desire? How can others know how to treat us, if we do not treat ourselves with kindness, grace, joy, peace and a sense of gratitude and abundance?

If not now, when? Start today to treat yourself the way you wish others would. Move forward with your plans to go back to school, find quiet time, begin a diet or take that trip.

What are you waiting for? If you need permission, Sylvia’s Dad would surely say it is okay. And, Sylvia is such a warm, caring woman, her Dad must have been a very wise man!

You can do it!

Queen for a day

Or a lifetime . . .

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Check out my “Courage Diet”

It is free and easy to use, and can move you in the direction of your dreams!

 “Like” Wishful Thinking Works on Facebook.

it’s always true . . .

Delayed gratification, a pleasurable approach?

I’ve updated this post, which I originally wrote  five years ago. It still rings true and was a great reminder for me when I read it this week. Hope it is for you, too.

One of the worst and the best things about being in Peace Corps, is you get to experience delayed gratification at a entirely new level. So many things you once took for granted are out of your reach, but not out of your mind. It’s easy to find yourself day dreaming about your favorite foods, TV shows, movies, stores, restaurants and hundreds of other things that were always there for you.

The good news is: pleasure is in the mind of the beholder. Doing without can be a great way to go within. And, oddly enough the wait for a specific treat, item or service can end-up being even more rewarding than the item or service being craved!

We’ve touched on delayed gratification before, remember the famous marshmallow test with kids? Well, just for fun, I’m suggesting you create mini-marshmallow tests of your own in January with a twist – you don’t get to pick the circumstances, you just get to respond to them. I call these sweet treats “Forced Delayed Gratification”.

The next time, you are dying for something or impatiently waiting – instead of focusing on your desire or discomfort, simply say to yourself:

“Oh, this is a Forced Delayed Gratification situation. Hmm, what are my options here?”

By asking a question, you pull yourself into the moment (within) and away from the situation. Your brain immediately jumps to your aide and begins releasing different hormones and chemicals, which may start connecting to new neurons: Broaden and Build vs Flight or Fight. One little question can flip a switch in your brain and start you on an entirely new neural pathway.

So, what happens after you question your options?

You realize you have lots more options! You can try a distraction technique and begin looking around to notice your surroundings. This will start you down another new mental path as you begin noticing the who, what when, where of the moment.

Or, you can spend a few minutes thinking about something special that happened to you in the past, or something special you are anticipating in the future. This option may sound  silly, but it is much more relaxing and mentally rewarding than feeling stressed, impatient or deprived, and it can actually begin building new positive neural pathways in your brain, which , overtime, can lead to all sorts of positive benefits.

The choice is yours, and here’s the clincher, the choice is always yours. You can flip the switch in your brain anytime. Just like a toddler, your brain can be redirected with a little creativity and gentle nudging.

Try some Forced Delayed Gratifications in the days ahead. With a bit of practice, you’ll be astounded how little you really need to be happy and content and how quickly you can move from one state of mind to another. And, remember the goal is not necessarily to do without, but to spend a few minutes going within. We’re delaying gratification not denying it!

( From 2006-20013, I served three times in the United States Peace Corps and practiced forced delayed gratification almost daily, which gave me plenty of time for positive reverie and new adventures! It was a true blessing in disguise and one I quickly learned to embrace. To read more a bit about my adventures, click here, here, and here!)

You can do it!

Tips for keeping your spirits bright

Ho! Ho! Ho!  For the past 5 years I have been sharing tips for making your holiday season as merry and bright as possible.

This year, I have complied a list of links to some of my favorite holiday survival posts just for you! Click away to revive your heart and soul and to create a richer, warmer holiday.snowflake-1823942_960_720

What do you want to hold in your heart this holiday season? How we think can affect our holiday much more than any of the gifts we give or receive.

Social Media Quick Holiday Pick-Me-Up  Easy ways to use social media to warm your heart.

A less stressed holiday season. Tune into what you really care about to create your best holiday season ever.

Christmas memories  Research shows reliving positive memories can be good for our hearts and minds. Don’t have any? No problem – I include tips on how to make that work for you, as well.

On the first day of Christmas . . .  Offers tips on how to survive a trip home and is based on the holiday musical classic!

Enjoy!  I will post a few more in the days ahead. Until then, happy holidays!

 

Unleash yourself from your personal whipping post

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In her Thanksgiving Facebook post author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love and others), wrote that she had “. . . lost the stamina for self-hatred. Dear Ones, my heart just isn’t in it any more. I just can’t commit to those deep, long, self-destructive shame spirals anymore — not like I used to. Even when I fail, and even when it’s all so painful, and even when I don’t rise to my best, I just can’t seem to tie myself to the whipping post anymore . . . “
I liked her message and these comments that followed:
Reader Question:
 “What and how did you get to the point of not whipping yourself? I am going through the worst whipping year of my life and I don’t want to do it anymore. I have tried serving others, breathing techniques, positive self talk and it isn’t working and is actually getting worse.
Gilbert’s Response:
Elizabeth Gilbert Pro tip: Pretend you are a lost dog that you adopted from a kill shelter. Treat yourself accordingly. And then treat everybody else the same way. :)
Another reader’s response:
Amateur tip: I have a small picture of myself when I was 4 on my kitchen table to remind me to be as nice to myself as I would be to her. She’s still in there and deserves to be loved. I still forget at times, but to try is enough right?
Give it a try this holiday season, let it be a gift you give yourself. Unleash yourself from your personal whipping post, and learn to treat yourself and others much more kindly and gently this holiday season and in the new year ahead. Experiment and find the method that works for you, and then work at it everyday, because you my darling are absolutely worth it!

When bad things have happened

If you have had a traumatic experience, or have avoided dealing with an upsetting topic or situation that has plagued or worried you for years, there is an effective fix that can get you on the road to recovery. It is called expressive writing and works like this:

  1. Commit 20 minutes a day – for 4 consecutive days
  2. Then in a quiet, private place, and write for 20 minutes a day for 4 consecutive days
    • Make it personal and private
    • Ignore grammar and misspellings
    • Be honest – are you happy ,sad, glad, mad or all of the above?
    • Be reflective not corrective (Don’t try to fix what is bothering you but rather write about what is bothering you.)
    • Only write about what you can handle thinking about – sometimes dealing with a fresh hurt or pain is too intense.
  3. Optional step: Write about same topic from the perspective of others involved . . . tricky but helpful, if you choose to do so.

notebook-731212__180Expressive writing is a concrete action, which is a much better way to deal with problems and challenges than ignoring them and ruminating about the dark situations and sides of our lives. For a video about emotional writing, and additional instructions and insights on how to do it, click here.

Research shows that emotional writing may leave you feeling sad immediately after you write (This is similar to how a sad movie might make you feel.), or you may cry while writing; both are normal and okay.  But, if writing  causes you major distress, simply stop and try again at another time when you feel more ready to explore your feelings.

Expressive writing will leave you feeling happier and healthier. Studies show the positive effects can impact immune functions and last for months and maybe even a lifetime, if you continue the writing as needed.

Pick up a pen and paper, find a cozy spot and write to change your life. It’s free, takes very little time, and may reward you with peace of mind and a much more positive perspective on life.

James W Pennebaker, Ph.D., and Professor at University of Texas at Austin is a leader in the research on this topic. Click here to visit his web page and learn more on the topic.

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