Lighten your load: Letting go

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. – Tao Te Ching

Letting go. It’s a hot topic among therapists, clients, friends, and family. Often times whether it’s on a subconscious or conscious level, there are emotions that we need to let go of in order to move forward and achieve the happiness that we all deserve.

Emotional baggage is a term used to describe the negative emotions that are carried around with us on a daily basis. Negative emotions are often gathered through the years and stuffed into our “mental suitcase” that we carry.

You can always tell a difference between a person that has a heavy “suitcase” with them versus someone who’s suitcase is light. I can always tell in the eyes and the face. When your emotional baggage is heavy, there is no longer a light in your eyes. Perhaps you’ve struggled with an addiction or mental health condition and it has taken over.

When a person becomes so accustomed to carrying around excess negativity, it becomes who you are. Negative emotions have an interesting way of wearing a person down and eventually taking over if you are not careful. People begin to identify with the negative emotions of anger, sadness, and or anxiety and it becomes the very thing that you put out into the world. 

I think back to a time when I was working at an inpatient acute stabilization hospital and a very angry woman came in. I’ll admit that her rage was so thick that even I had to check myself on my own fears of her. I can remember sitting with this woman, in an effort to just let her know that I was supportive and would not run away from her anger and consequently, feeling exhausted afterwards. Anger has a way of sucking the energy out of the room and out of the person who is experiencing it.

So there I sat. And listened with unconditional positive regard to the anger coming from this woman. She had had quite the injustices occur in her life—various events that were completely out of her control. Yet she had persevered and was still here today. I pointed this out just as we were ending our meeting for the day.

The next day, I noticed she seemed calmer. It was almost like the air had gone out of her sails and she was in a different place mentally. She began to talk and amazingly became tearful when she was able to recognize the strong impact of her anger on everyone around her. She made a statement that she had always been an angry person and recognized now that she used anger to keep people away despite feeling desperately lonely and unsupported. The aha! moment had occurred.

To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit. – Jack Kornfield

When we hide behind our negative emotions, there is a reason for doing so. Whether it is keeping other people at arm’s length, trying to appear larger than life, or to elicit sympathy from others—there is always a reason why we behave the way that we do.

The power is when you recognize how and why you use negative emotions and decide to make steps to change.

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. – Raymond Lindquist

Letting go can be scary. However, in order for changes to occur, there has to be a shift in identity and the way that you may be currently living your life. Take inventory of how you interact with others and how you feel about yourself.

If you could describe who you are with 5 words, what would they be?

What do you need to change about yourself in order to be happy and fulfilled?

You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever “the old” means for you. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Use affirmations to get on track with who you are and what emotions you want to put out to the world. Choose happiness because you are deserving of it. Everyone makes mistakes at one point or another but this does not mean that you have to internalize those negative emotions and allow them to take control.  

Live, learn, and move forward. The only person you can control is yourself. Try letting go of that excess emotional baggage that may be weighing you down. I give you permission 😉

 

Wishing you happiness and a “light suitcase” today and everyday,

 

Rachel Ann

 

 

The Juggling Act: 5 quick ways to create more balance in your life

Struggling with feeling even keel and centered? It may be time to realign priorities and regain balance

Imagine a day that you wake up feeling renewed, focused, and ready to face the day. There is a pep in your step and you’re motivated to continue working towards goals you have for the week.

You may have looming deadlines, bills that are due, and kids to take care of but you feel confident in your abilities to get everything done and not pull your hair out while doing so! Life can be very stressful, however, there are plenty of people out in the world that healthily take care of their business. The common denominator? Life balance.

Life balance is when a person does not go from one extreme to the other. You’re not over-working yourself or staying up half of the night watching television because you know that you have work at 8am, the kids have to get to school on time, etc. Instead, you’ve set a schedule that works for you and you stick to it.

Creating balance in life requires discipline and self-awareness. You have to be aware of how you feel, what is causing you to feel a certain way, and evaluate these pieces  because this will dictate how you structure your life balance.

If you’re struggling with creating balance in your life or just don’t know where to start—here are 5 tips that will help you out.

1. Evaluate everything that is taking up time in your life (i.e. career, family, business endeavors, extracurricular activities, etc.) and write it down.

Sometimes the only way that a person is able to see what is going on in their life, is to literally see what is going on. Try writing down everything that is occupying time in your life. Writing down your current project list(s) allows you to have a succinct visual on what is occupying your time, and from there, you can decide what needs to be or even can be nixed and what needs to stay.

Consider this: instead of trying to do it all, carefully evaluate the top 5 endeavors/projects/events you want to invest your time and energy into so that you can create quality, meaningful outcomes.

2. Eat right and get enough sleep.

Eating and sleeping are two of life’s most essential necessities for success and proper brain functioning, however, these are the things that often get neglected the most when stress enters the picture.

The food that you put into your body is your fuel. What we fill up on will either help us or hurt us. If you have trouble with eating healthily throughout the day, try meal prepping the night before (or during the weekend).

Pay attention to the meals that you’re eating and how they make you feel when you’re finished.

The other half of attending to your food, is getting the proper amount of sleep.

Make a concerted effort to get on a sleep schedule and stick to it. Our bodies are set to run like clocks and sometimes you have to set yours to a strict schedule. Without proper sleep, our thinking becomes slower,  we aren’t as alert, and certainly you will not be the best version of yourself when you’re running on empty.

3. Set aside time for yourself.

My happiest days at work are the days that I actually leave the office to take a lunch.

Taking a moment for yourself allows you to recharge.

In today’s world, we are being asked to do more with less time. Parents are working full time jobs and still struggling to pay the mortgage, college students are working 2-3 jobs and are still having to take out student loans. If you are in a situation where it seems impossible to take time for yourself-think outside of the box. You do not have to spend money in order to set aside time. Take a hot shower or bath, walk outside or have a seat on the front porch. Boil yourself a cup of tea and take 5 for you.

Create a moment in your day that is yours and yours alone.

4. Breathe.

When we start to feel overwhelmed, this is often a sign that our balance is off. Breath can be a very effective tool in relaxing and regaining balance.

I tell my clients that the best part about using your breathing is that it’s free and accessible anytime! Begin your day with 3-5 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Breath work is centering and allows for more clarity of thought.

Throughout the day, you can easily implement breath work when you start to feel like your emotions are getting the best of you. Center, calm yourself, and then assert yourself. If you assert yourself before you’re centered, you may end up saying something that is “off the cuff” or reactionary.

For some, breath work takes practice as our natural inclination as humans can be to take short choppy breaths. Once you begin to use your breath effectively, you’ll wonder why you never used it in the first place!

5. Set consistent and firm boundaries with others.

Setting boundaries is a must for creating life balance. Boundaries help to define what we as humans will or will not accept in our lives.

Setting boundaries can be difficult, however it’s a vital part of protecting yourself and your mental health. If you find that your mental health is declining, your stress level is increasing, and you’re feeling taken advantage of, then it’s a pretty good indication that you are not setting boundaries properly.

Learn how to articulate what you expect from people and what you are willing to do and not do.

Through explaining to someone what your boundaries are, it lessens confusion and can be very freeing. Always remember that you are in control of yourself. In order to regain balance, sometimes you have to say no.

Tying it all together…

Finding balance in life is a continual self-exploratory process. Just when you think that you have it all under control, something may happen to throw everything out of whack. Learn to realign and adjust. Balance in life may look differently to you than it does your partner or family member.

 

Make balance in your life a priority. Eat right, get your rest, learn to say no, and set time out for yourself and you will begin to reap the rewards of living a balanced life.

 

If you don’t take care of yourself—then who will?

 

Wishing you an empowered life full of balance today and everyday,

 

Rachel Ann

 

P.S. Take a look at these articles for even more information on improving that delicate work-life balance and more on creating balance in your personal life:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/louisefron/2014/08/28/creating-life-balance-to-achieve-success/#5c5d911bd189

http://www.businessalignmentstrategies.com/articles/creating-balance-in-your-personal-life-whats-in-your-personal-scorecard.php

https://www.parentguidenews.com/Articles/CreatingaBalancedLife