Ever notice the everyday tyranny of Not Enoughness? It goes something like this: “I’m not enough. You’re not enough. Life is not enough.” Such a mindset can inevitably lead us to feel hopelessly STUCK coupled with feelings of frustration, impatience, disappointment, sadness, and at times, even resignation.
In stuckness, we may be asking ourselves, “How in the hell did I get here?”, but more importantly, “What’s the way out and how much longer will it take?” Eager to find comfort again, we may be desperately searching for workable solutions or urgently seeking ways to change ourselves, change others, or change our situation. Perhaps, we fall back on old, unhealthy habits to cope or often catch ourselves venting to others over and over again, yet notice it does little to provide the lasting relief we need. Perhaps even, we’re ready to walk away because nothing seems to work. We’re still stuck and we’re still suffering.
From one humbled by the vexing habit of longing for “something more” and frequently feeling stuck, I can assure you there is another way. Below are five empowering steps to experiencing more freedom and flow in your life.
Let's face it. It's been a rough year for a lot of us. But for all the losses we've experienced, let's not forget what we've gained. Our minds tend to gravitate toward the most negative experiences. Our survival brains are always scanning for danger so that’s pretty normal. It takes an intentional effort to look at what’s going right. And the more we are looking for the good, the better we are able to see it. So take some time to catalogue the good in your life. It’s there if you look for it.
We can't know what 2017 will bring, but do you know who you will be? Will you be grateful? Will you be present? Will you be engaged in what matters most to you, and quick to drop what doesn't? Will you honor yourself and tend to your needs as though you would someone you loved dearly?
These aren’t resolutions. They’re simply you when you are living your values. We don't need to commit to a year of better habits or self-improvement because we can make a choice to live our values in this moment. In fact, that's the only time we can choose anything! And that’s good news because we can’t see the future. But we can see what is right in front of us, right now.
Written by Monti Pal, LPC
Halloween can be magical for many of us; it can be a fun time of year to us to dress up in costumes and try on a different identity. A time for us to wear a mask and be somebody or something else.
But have you ever thought about the masks that you wear in your everyday life?
Do you pretend to be somebody you aren't and then feel disconnected with yourself?
Do you hang on so strongly to pieces of your identity that you can't allow yourself to be somebody else or behave in a different manner?
What story do you tell yourself about who you are? Do you get lost in the thoughts, facts, feelings, judgments, and memories that you tell yourself?
From a mindfulness perspective, who you are and your identity isn't an issue. That's right---I just said that your identity isn't an issue!
In fact, the question, “who am I,” can actually create quite a bit of suffering for us.
At Austin Mindfulness Center, we use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help individuals identify and achieve the quality of life they want. However, ACT therapists go beyond goal setting used in traditional behavioral interventions, to a deeper investigation of present moment awareness and the values that motivate a person’s goal selection. Helping individuals identify and choose their values is a key component of ACT therapy. ACT affirms that each person has a unique vision for his or her life that is waiting to be discovered. Whether or not you engage in ACT therapy, this post offers some methods to help you identify, choose, and implement your values and goals to form the life you envision for yourself.
Rise and shine, campers!
That’s right, wood-chuck chuckers- it’s Groundhog Day… Wait, again?!
Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks!) where you feel stuck on a life-size hamster wheel- where one day flows into the next and nothing new or exciting is happening? Maybe you aren’t feeling engaged at work anymore… Maybe those New Year’s goals you set just haven’t been easy enough to get started on… Maybe, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, you’ve lost track of time and found yourself going through the motions day-in and day-out.
Whatever the wheel you might find yourself stuck on, there’s a good chance that someone else has been there too. It’s a part of being human.
So what do we do about it?
How many times have you been discouraged when you see how far you have to go in order to be where you want to be? Whether it’s getting out of debt, losing that last 15 pounds, or finding your soul mate, the end can seem painfully distant. We create anxiety and despair when we focus on the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
We place a premium on outcomes. These imagined future outcomes are preconceived solutions to what we see as problems in the present. If I were with someone special I wouldn’t be lonely anymore. If I can get through this graduate program, I can get a job that pays decent and then I’ll be happy. If I could just learn how to control my anger, I’d have a chance at getting my wife back.
If you get to Kerby Lane Café early enough on a Saturday morning, the time of day when you wait not necessarily for a table, but for an available high chair, you might get the chance to meet Dori Kelly, balloon artist and face painter. Dori saunters cheerfully from table to table sporting a fanciful balloon crown to showcase her handiwork. My two year old daughter Sofie requested a flower hat, which Dori swiftly fashioned with great flair. The pink flower protruded up from the back of the hat on a green stem and bounced playfully with every movement of her head.
Pancakes. Balloon hat. What more could a girl wish for?
When we arrived home we went into the backyard to blow bubbles and she proudly donned her new colorful headpiece. As she jumped around catching bubbles, the one-size-fits-all balloon hat eventually slipped off of her head and onto the grass. And then the inevitable happened.
Pop! Pop! Pop! . . . POP!
And it was gone.
Waiting in line at the grocery store 2 days before Christmas with the rest of Travis County, I had plenty of time to peruse the magazines at the check-out counter. A flood of headlines designed to inspire me to change my life, slim down, and create the life, body, career, and relationship of my dreams in 5 easy steps in 2014 washed over me. At the beginning of a new year, we all tend to feel empowered and energized to finally really lose weight, join a gym, cut down on drinking/smoking/staying up too late/insert unwanted habits here, actually go to the gym you just bought a membership to, take vitamins, buy organic produce, make and drink green smoothies from the produce, have more fun, not to mention be a better spouse, friend, daughter, and career-woman. I didn’t need O Magazine to tell me this is my “Year to Shine” to get pumped up about the possibilities of 2014, but it was a validating reminder of the new beginnings on which I could embark. Wipe 2013 clean and start anew.
As I pondered what it might mean for me to shine this year, it occurred to me to look beyond the new year’s resolutions and challenge myself to shift my life in a real way…that I wouldn’t give up on around March.
"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
It is officially fall, which is my most favorite season of all. That first breath of cool refreshing air is like magic. Eager to shed my summer skin, autumn calls me to a still and silent place. Spring and summer entice me to direct energy outward, to express, to engage socially, to be seen. By the time fall rolls around, I am content to sit back and observe a little more. I begin to look at myself a little more honestly and hopefully with a little more kindness.
Fall is a time for harvest. As I approach the second half of my life, I am no longer bothered by the frenzied struggles of my youth. Success has fallen under a new paradigm. The things I use to worry about, what I thought was so important, no longer weigh on me. I have kids now. My harvest is right here in front of me. It’s in the recognition of trust and safety in my newborn son’s eyes. It’s in my little girl’s laughter, in her wild dance. But in order to reap this harvest, I must be present. I cannot let the worries and stress of life steal this precious moment away because I can’t get it back. This is the fall of my life, and I am so grateful to just be.
Written by Jiovann Carrasco, LPC-S
At the Austin Mindfulness Center, we use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), in which values clarification is a key component. One of the main goals of ACT is to help clients live the life they want, which involves acting in a way that is consistent with their values. However, many people struggle with clarifying their values on their own, often mixing up values and goals.
There are many ways to define values, but the definition we will discuss here is one that is specific to the ACT approach.
· In technical terms, values are “desired global qualities of ongoing action.” What that means is that they are the ways (qualities) in which you want to (desired) interact with the world, other people, and yourself (global), and there is no end to this pursuit (ongoing), meaning, we can always turn in the direction of our values.
· Values are like a compass, guiding us in making decisions as well as acting effectively and intentionally. We may not always follow the direction they are pointing us in, so values are best held lightly.
· Values are freely chosen by you and do not need to be justified. Everyone decides what is important to them, so values will look different for every person. Your values may not be the same as others values. Sometimes we decide on our values based on our family’s values, and other times, our values look different than our family’s values.
· Values often change over time, depending on where we are in life. As values change, we want to step back and re-prioritize. What is most important to you RIGHT NOW, in this moment? Are you acting in accordance with your values in your life TODAY?
· Values are not the same as goals. Values are HOW you want to act or behave on an ongoing basis, qualities that are available at any moment, and what is important to you in the present moment. Goals are future-oriented, an end product, something you want to achieve. An example of a goal is wanting a college degree, whereas the value behind that goal may be a thirst for knowledge or learning new things.
· Examples of values may include: being loving and caring, being open and honest, maintaining health, openness to change, justice and equality, tradition, etc.
When you are living by your values, you may feel like your life has purpose or meaning. You may feel like you have a strong sense of who you are and that you are truly living the life you want to live. If you are not living by your values, you may feel a sense of discord, struggle with acting in your own best interest, avoid painful emotions, and become fused with judgmental thoughts.
One way to start exploring your values is to do a values card sort activity, which can be found here. It’s often helpful to do this activity alone at first and then also do this activity with your family. Which values are family values? Which values differ from your family’s values? Are you acting in accordance with your values? Were you surprised by anything during this activity? By exploring what is important to you, you can start to take action guided by those values and live the life you want.
Written by Jondell Lafont, LPC-Intern
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Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.