Blogpost, self-reliance

Pack Your Bags (Or Don’t)

BaggageIn about a month and a half, I’ll be moving to Virginia.  It’s an exciting time!  Filled with all kinds of possibilities.  While we’re looking forward to that future, we must first deal with the daunting task of moving all (or most or some) of our stuff.  The process of packing is a necessary evil where you must decide what is going with you and what things just need to go!  Some people have trouble letting go of the things that they’ve accumulated over the years.  For better or worse, we get attached to things from the past and have trouble letting go.

The same holds true for the events from our past.  Some are vital and need to be packed in bubble wrap to make sure that they never get damaged.  While others should be sold at a garage sale or taken to the dump.  It’s difficult though.  Somehow the events of our lives feel like part of us and letting go of anything seems like a mild betrayal to who we really are.  Much like the physical moving, the weight of carrying the past into the future is a consideration to be made.

Since we are talking about emotional weight rather than the physical, the process for unloading or putting old memories into deep storage is different.  It is actually the process of making the memories that support the new future bigger/more important or re-purposing those unhelpful memories.  Talk about, envision and feel the stories from your past that you want to carry forward with more intensity and belief that it is who you are.  Let the less than helpful ones fade or flip them to support where you are going rather than where you’ve been.  That breakup or firing does not need to be a scar on your self-esteem.  It can be a rallying cry for better performance in the future.  Those “small” accomplishments that you overlook when you discuss what you’ve done can be made larger and more vivid.  It is simply a process of focusing on it in a different way.

So regardless of who you are or what portion of your life you are in.  You’re always packing for the future.  What are you going to bring with you?  Are you going to allow yourself to be weighed down by things that are probably insignificant to where you want to go?  Or are you going to be selective about the “baggage” that you carry with you?  It’s all your baggage but you don’t need to carry it all.

“It’s my industrial strength hairdryer.  AND I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT!!!”

Pete

 

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Blogpost, self-reliance

Bio-Chemical War on Yourself

cannonI just wept in front of a room of teenagers.  It wasn’t part of the lesson plan but every once in a while, you just have to go with it.  Whenever I talk about a particular former student, it is bound to happen.  It has almost gotten to the point where the waterworks start before I even tell the story.  That’s because I’ve let it happen.  The memory does not have to be painful.   It is a combination of factors that make it so and they’re all within my control.

It seems as though many of us have a very hands off relationship with emotions.  They are things that happen to us rather than our creation.  Emotions are the effect of some cause outside of ourselves and all we can do is point the finger at the guilty party.  As we become more tethered to technology it seems to be getting worse.  Rather than the local humans and situations that can impact how we feel, there is now a virtual world that can impact us day or night, instant by instant.  So we deflect, deny or deliberate on why we feel this way regularly.  But as is usually the case, the answer is all inside.

The chemicals coursing through our brains are there to make the feeling happen.  So in a sense, you are in bio-chemical warfare at all times.  Bringing out the big guns of oxytocin and serotonin to combat the overwhelming attack of cortisol.  It’s not the stuff that they make movies about but it is the reason that we watch movies.  Our brain and body are in a constant feedback loop with each other.  The secretion of these chemicals are what makes feelings happen but we have our hands on the release valves and need to pay attention to these things in order to influence them: physiology, focus and inner dialogue.

Physiology is the way that you use your body.  It includes movement, food, sleep and many other factors but movement is crucial.  Exercise, facial expressions, posture and any other movement that you can think of influence your feelings through your physiology.

Focus is the things that you pay attention to.  At any given moment, there are thousands or possibly millions of stimuli coming in through your senses.  We can only pay attention to a finite number.  So we either pay attention to the obvious things or we need to take control of our focus.

Inner dialogue is the things that we say to ourselves inside of our head.  For good or ill the consistent things that we say to ourselves affect how we feel.  Being mindful of habitual self-talk is extremely important.

These are the ways that we can turn the tide of the chemical warfare that we have going on inside.  It is by no means an easy fix.  Each of these component pieces takes diligence and practice but we are not by any means helpless.

You’re fighting for your life, literally!

Pete

 

Blogpost

I’m Broken (The Only Mechanic Is Me)

meaningMy first car was a 1977 Chevy Nova!  I inherited it from my great aunt and it was the perfect first car.  It had holes in the floor boards where you could actually see the road below you.  It had an 8 Track tape player in it that never really worked.  It was pale blue and covered with rust spots, as you can tell from the description, I loved it!  There were plenty of reasons to love it that had nothing to do with how looked or how it ran.  And now looking back on it, I understand even better that it was the perfect first car exactly because it was a piece of junk.  At no point did I ever have to worry about messing it up.  I learned how to change the oil, replace the bulbs and change tires on that car.  At no point did I think, “If I mess this up, I’m screwed!”

Fast forward to the present day and I don’t even change my own oil anymore.  Cars have become computers and more complicated, therefore the idea of doing my own maintenance while possible is much easier to outsource.  There are so many things like that today.  Complexity of many systems within our world have changed us from capable amateur mechanics to people in the waiting room in anticipation of someone else fixing our problem.

While this may be helpful or even necessary with many of our possessions, it seems to have become pervasive to the point of a cultural norm.  Day care, personal trainers, landscapers, etc. are all examples of outsourcing things that used to be done by the amateur ‘owner’.  While these services can be helpful and possibly ‘necessary’ in a modern context, there is one thing that we can never turn the complete management over to someone else: your mind.

The best therapist in the land can be employed for multiple hours each day and still, it is on the individual to get their hands dirty and do the work.  No one can change you without your conscious or unconscious consent.  Recognizing this fact, I am amazed at how many brain owners keep waiting for the world or their life to make them happy.  That is like expecting your neighborhood to take care of your lawn without ever communicating with them about it.  And even if you did make that request, I’m sure that you’d get some raised eyebrows or questions like “why is that my responsibility?”  So in this area, we need to realize that that amateur mechanic ethos is absolutely necessary.  Help is not only desirable in most cases, it is necessary but it is on each and every one of us to maintain, diagnose or even overhaul our mind at times.  With the amount of anxiety, depression and other mental concerns that seem to affect most of the population, it is time for all of us to recognize that we are all broken in at least a small way but we are also the mechanic.  Learning about yourself, your habits, fears, triggers and so many other components of your mindset is no longer an option.  Developing the tools to navigate this complex world is not only your job, it’s integral to your survival.  So remember, you’re broken (but so is everyone else) and you’re the mechanic.

Get your hands dirty!

Pete

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Accidentally Mummifying Yourself

KilimanjaroThe world is filled with things that cut.  Like walking through a patch of thorn bushes with exposed skin, injury is an almost certainty.  In the short term, bandaging the cuts is the right strategy.  In time, the wounds will heal.  If too many cuts pile up, the bandages become wrappings.  You become a mummy.  Movements constrained by the bandages on wounds that never healed.  Avoiding cuts completely is an impossibility but choosing a new path and learning how to wield a machete are both options.  Band aids are not a long term solution, they are a short term fix.  This concept is obvious when thinking about real wounds but with metaphorical wounds, this is a common strategy.

The key has always been preventative medicine/measures.  Solving old problems with solutions that minimize or eradicate the issue is the best way to get better problems.  That is an understanding that everyone needs to have: PROBLEMS AREN’T GOING AWAY!  The most that you can hope for is to have the best problems possible because you’ve solved the old and boring ones.  Why would you choose to flail around in that same old thorn bush when you can figure out how to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

I know that many of you out there are bleeding and it hurts.  My heart goes out to you and I hope that this message will help you move on.  Break free of the thorns and find the path to the mountain where you can see for miles.  It won’t be easy but it may be worth it!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

Uncategorized

Bock-rottom

bockrottomAbout a year ago, I was having a discussion with a friend and she said she had hit “bock-rottom”.  It was a moment of mental dyslexia.  I really liked the word but wasn’t sure what it should mean.  This morning on my run it became obvious what bock-rottom was.  Rock-bottom is the place lowest point that a person can hit.  “Hitting bock-rottom” is the act of hitting your lowest point, bouncing up and hitting the lowest point again.  It is so disorienting that it mixes up the letters.

Negative circumstances can be so discouraging that they thwart positive action.  Even worse is the discouragement of getting up from poor circumstances only to be knocked down again.  Look at that word again “discourage”.  Break it apart “dis-courage”.  The situation has taken away courage.  The thing is that courage is not created by circumstance, courage is created by people, INSIDE.  It is a choice to be courageous and one that can be made at any time.  Even in the worst of circumstances, courage is possible but are you really at bock-rottom?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re not at bock-rottom.  You’re most likely in the “pit of perception”.  You’ve made the hole that you’re in seem deeper inside your head.  Or you have a negative situation but you’re ignoring all of the positives that are working in your favor.  If you’re reading this, you have advantages that you’re probably ignoring because you’re focused on how bad it is.  You can read, you have internet access, you probably live in the US (but a shout out to my friends in India & Brazil), you have a mind that is searching for answers.  These are all advantages that can be used as weapons in the battle with your poor circumstances.  Complaining, whining and sulking are not going to help you.  Depression is not a strategy!  It’s an emotional state.  Just like a hole, you can climb out of it.

So take a moment to see where you are, since most of us are not truly at bock-rottom.  We’re in a bad spot that we need to get out of.  The fight is yours to make.  Is there any value in giving up?  Don’t surrender to circumstances.  Make your circumstances!  Here’s the theatrical version!

Make today a better day!

Pete