Can This Marriage Be Fixed?

With hands neatly folded in her lap and sitting with posture worthy of royalty, she quietly and blandly announced, “I just learned two weeks ago that my husband has been having an affair for the past seven months.”

Then she burst into tears.


As the story unfolded, I recognized it to be one of the more common threads in the lives of so many people, especially over the past year and a half. It seems the pandemic has made people more than physically ill. It’s made marriages sick as well. There is no one specific issue to be pointed to, but it does seem that all that time locked in a confined space has had a profound impact on relationships.
Once the discovery of an affair is made decisions follow in hot succession. Should she leave? Should he leave? Is this marriage worth saving? What happens next? And, while all these questions flood the mind, the sense that it would be wise to stand still for a minute and regroup can be lost.
Betrayal is a horrible thing and moving through it is anything but easy. To be able to step back and look at the situation without fire and smoke pouring forth from the nose and mouth takes strength and courage. Yet, if employed, that courage and strength can be the catalysts for change and healing.
The idea of forgiving and forgetting, often suggested in some circles, is of little use when applied to the pain of betrayal. Trust is broken and will likely never again be established in that situation. Yet does that mean it’s the end? In some cases, yes. In others, not necessarily. If we’re talking about a repeat offender, then the best move is to get out of the situation ASAP. If not, there is a possibility that things can be salvaged if both partners are in it for peace and healing.
Such was the case with my client. She took a step back and weighed the cost of leaving the marriage. She decided to cautiously stay with several stipulations. Initially, it was hard to draw the lines, create boundaries, ask for what she wanted and needed both for herself and her children. But as time went on, she became stronger and more independent. With this new-found strength and courage, the changes that were necessary to make things better became clearer and more defined. She found her voice and, although trembling at first, it grew in evenness and calmness.
Learning that marriage is not about subservience or “man lording it over woman”, recognizing she is not his property but rather his partner, understanding that her position is every bit as valid as his, set my client in a place of confidence and strength. It’s taking time, but things are changing as they are both growing into their individual places in this relationship. It hasn’t been easy, for sure, but they both believe the marriage is worth saving and they are both working to that end without losing their identities or taking on expectations that don’t serve them.
While this may not be the answer for every situation, and I’m sure it isn’t, it can be for some. The question is, Am I willing to do what it will take to fix this? Is it worth fixing?

If it is and if you are, then find the right guidance from a professional to walk you through it. It will take time, but it’s doable and rewarding in the end.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a doctor. I was fascinated with medicine and wanted to be able to truly help people heal. While I am not a medical doctor today, I am a coach/therapist and work with people to achieve wholeness and wellness in their lives.

However, I also wanted to be a teacher and, in fact, ended up teaching for several years – not only people, but animals as well. As a matter of fact, I’ve done a very great number of things over the course of my life. Often, when I tell people about some of the things I’ve done they usually say, “How many lifetimes have you lived?” That’s usually followed with, “You need to write a book.”

My philosophy (although I never would have called it that) has been something that goes like this: If I think I can do it, then I will give it a whirl. Let’s see what happens next.

I’ve pumped gas, been a hostess in a high-end club, sold retail (hardware, shoes, restaurant supplies, clothing, and some things I’ve likely forgotten), dressed windows, trained dogs and their owners, owned and operated my own businesses (fitness, freelance writing, coaching/therapy), taught business college, facilitated personal growth groups, had a radio program and a television program (my professional training is in radio and television), worked in political affairs and I’ve gone on to become a full-time coach and therapist. Oh, did I mention I’m married and have three children? They’re grown with children of their own now, but they weren’t during most of the above-mentioned positions.
Some would say I wasn’t grounded to have bounced around so much, but the truth is that I’ve been on the planet a long time and when you’re around for a while you get to do more things. Some of the things I did simultaneously. I owned a fitness facility and while running that, I was also teaching business college and facilitating personal growth programs all the while raising three kids. I did get pretty good at time management. A few of those jobs were part of my young adult and early 20’s era while others happened after I moved to Israel.
So, what’s the point of telling you all of this? Hopefully, to encourage you to step out into whatever realm you feel you can function in and take the risk – do it and see what happens. Of course, some things require education but it’s available if you are prepared to do what it takes.
I often hear that “there are just no jobs”. I rather think there are many jobs, it’s just that people don’t necessarily want to get the training or take the risk of moving into them. There’s a lot of work out there – it may not be exactly what you think you’re suited for – but the truth is that if you’re willing to put yourself out there, you’ll move along until you’re where you really want to be. Are you the potential restauranteur who will start off as a phenomenal waiter? Are you the graphic designer who has hidden her talent in the guise of teacher? You don’t have to be stuck in one arena for the rest of your life unless you choose to be. And, if you do, kudos! You’ve obviously found your niche.

Tell me – what did you want to be when you grew up? Are you living that dream now? Did you ever? And today, are you doing what you love and loving what you do or are you wishing and hoping for something better or different? Are you willing to do what it takes to get to where you want to be? Then, do the work and reap the results.

After The Storm

Today I spoke with a person with whom I had become friendly during the pandemic. We spent more than a year doing weekend things with a couple of other people and it was fun. Now the pandemic is more or less over and this person is at odds with themselves, wondering what happened to that wonderful friendship we all had.

I believe this situation is happening in many places to many people.

At the beginning of the pandemic, a group of us – only four people – decided to create a capsule into which we would only allow others whom we knew to be safe … i.e., not exposed to Covid. What resulted was a little group of four of us who met every Friday night and Saturday for more than a year. We ate together, played cards, backgammon, barbequed, drank wine and generally became a unit.
Every once in a while, others would join the group – but there was always a tension. The outsiders were suspect. There were times when we refused people entrance into our capsule because they were in places where they were potentially exposed to the virus.
Everyone was a bit paranoid during that period of time. We all clung tightly to the little bubbles of safety we’d created, and we protected them diligently. Then, things began to loosen up and life took on breath again. We all opened our doors to life and welcomed more than three or four people into our space.
However, what has been the biggest challenge in this whole adventure is that the person I spoke with today is feeling like they’ve lost their friends. We were all so close and suddenly, with the freedom of movement being restored, most of the group set sail for life as it used to be. Except this individual. They are grieving the loss of a nuclear group that gave them a sense of belonging and a sense of relationship that was lacking in their life.
I can’t help but wonder how many others are affected in the same manner.
The challenge now becomes how to reintegrate into life and even let go of the tight relationships formed during the tension of the pandemic.
There’s an adage that talks about people coming into and going out of our lives:
Some people come into your life for a season, and some come for a lifetime. Never mix seasonal people up with lifetime expectations.
The problem with mixing seasonal people up with lifetime expectations is that disappointment will follow. It’s important to recognize the difference and be willing to keep what is meant to be kept and release what isn’t. And that is often very difficult – especially when the season was intense and demanding. It felt safe to be with those people and we want to keep the feeling going. However, forcing it with expectations of what we might think it should be will only alienate the very ones we want to be close to.

What to do?

Hold relationships with open hands. When we clench our hands around relationships, we run the danger of squeezing the life out of them. If they’re meant to be lifetime, that will become clear. If it isn’t clear, allow it to flow with the natural course of events. Enjoy what was and savor the experience.

Ideas to relive boredom

Dealing with Boredom

Some Ways to Tackle the Reasons for Boredom
When we’re bored, we often are avoiding thoughts and issues that we can bury in day-to-day life. Given the uniqueness of our current situation, this can be an excellent time to sit quietly with your boredom and allow yourself to be aware of the thoughts or feelings that come up from deep inside. If nothing comes to you, it can be useful to simply review your life and your life circumstances slowly, turning your attention to each one and examine your reactions to each issue.

Some Ways to Tackle the Reasons for Boredom

When we’re bored, we often are avoiding thoughts and issues that we can bury in day-to-day life.  Given the uniqueness of our current situation, this can be an excellent time to sit quietly with your boredom and allow yourself to be aware of the thoughts or feelings that come up from deep inside.  If nothing comes to you, it can be useful to simply review your life and your life circumstances slowly, turning your attention to each one and examine your reactions to each issue.

Should you discover you have been avoiding something in particular, an experience or event, understand and respect that avoidance is simply the way you’ve been protecting yourself.  It’s important to honor this and know that there’s a reason you have disconnected – approach this feared or avoided issue with care.  Talking with a trusted friend or journaling is often helpful.

Face Your Fears and Gain Freedom

Although this may seem scary or overwhelming, by giving yourself the opportunity to experience and challenge yourself, you just may find yourself facing and overcoming your fears. Even if you feel overwhelmed, take a step back, regroup, and step forward again.

As you acknowledge, call out or label, and invite your experiences into the present, they become the information centers for your next step.  Feel lonely?  You’ll become aware of a desire to connect.  Feel afraid? You may notice you really desire what you fear.  Feel empty? Learn and explore what fills you up – even if it’s just a little.

Boredom Can Be A Part of Depression

For some people who are in depression boredom is a very real accompaniment.  Lacking the joy of life, sad and without interests, they’ve lost the ability to enjoy anything.  If you find yourself here, one of the best things you can do is to get moving, regardless whether you feel like it or not.  Going for a walk, exercising, connecting with a friend, plan for socializing (on media these days), doing things that used to make you feel happy, eating well and getting enough sleep are key components for dealing with this aspect of depression. Often, these types of actions can help people re-engage in life and make small positive steps that gain momentum until they are back on a happier life journey.

Be Kind to Yourself

As you take the journey inside and allow for your experiences, be sure to treat yourself tenderly and with kindness.  Afterall, you’re not punishing yourself in order to make yourself suffer.  And, if you are, then the issue is something very painful.  Be compassionate with yourself just as you would be with someone else.  Become your own best support and encouragement as you face them and, should you need help, be brave and seek professional guidance. At the end of the day, breaking out of boredom will feel like coming out of a dark night into the sunlight.

Advice from a psychologist:

Daniel Winston, who is a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialties of School and Clinical Psychology, provided the following recommendations to a group of mental health professionals to which I belong.  He has kindly allowed it to be shared freely.  So, freely I have received this, and freely I give … may I suggest you do likewise?

 

Mental Health Wellness Tips For Quarantine

  1. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.
  2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.
  3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.
  4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!
  5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!
  6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!
  7. Develop a self-care toolkit. This can look different for everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket. A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath. Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a self-regulation comfort box (often a shoe-box or bin they can decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-aid when overwhelmed.
  8. Spend extra time playing with children. Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.
  9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth. A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.
  10. Everyone find their own retreat space. Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.
  11. Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.
  12. Focus on safety and attachment. We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. We can get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children. Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.
  13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance. This idea is connected with #12. We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for excellence. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation.
  14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.
  15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information.
  16. Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control.
  17. Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it. In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.
  18. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.
  19. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.
  20. Find an expressive art and go for it. Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!
  21. Find lightness and humor in each day. There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.
  22. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time. There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis. Your children’s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.
  23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment. We have no road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.
  24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.
  25. Find the lesson. This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can affect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

Daniel Winston

Covid19

I’m Bored!

Being cooped up in the house indefinitely can present some serious challenges. Initially, it’s lots of fun but then, as the days wear on, boredom can take over. When you have little kids, you have to be on the ball and creative. Not so when you’re empty-nesters or your kids are older and aren’t really keen on spending lots of time with you. What can you do to use the time wisely and in a fulfilling way?

Boredom Doesn’t Equate to Laziness

So, what do you do when you’re bored?

Are you creative?  Do you find something to do that is fulfilling, or just filling – like feeding yourself on junk food or glutting on TV?

If you are feeling bored during these days when nobody is running around outside in wild abandon, chances are you may be feeling lost or incarcerated by your inability to find something to do that really interests you.  It’s easy to see how some people confuse boredom with laziness.  They look similar, but they are really quite different:  Laziness, when we draw pictures in our minds, has images of lounging around in pj’s or sweats with no desire to put forth energy into anything.  Boredom speaks more of feeling restless and the need to DO SOMETHING – but nothing seems to be compelling or motivating.  Kind of like going to the fridge and not finding anything to eat.  (As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what some people do – but we’ll talk about that later).  In any event, it’s a feeling of being STUCK.

How Do I Get Motivated?

This might surprise you but the reality is that you can break out.  Think – breaking out of prison.  How does one break out of prison?  How does your dog get out of your fenced yard?  Right – by tunneling down.

First of all, you have to give yourself permission to actually feel the boredom.  Maybe you already think you do … maybe even too much.  Maybe.  But really, you might do any number of things to get away from yourself (like surfing the net; watching TV; listening to music), and in those in-between moments of distraction you are overwhelmed with the feeling of boredom.

Doing these things indicates that you are not allowing yourself to feel bored.

Allowing yourself to actually feel bored is to simply say yes to the feeling and sit down with it, especially when you just want to run from it.  Let it in rather than running to find something to distract yourself with – return to that very uncomfortable feeling of being bored.  As you do this, you will have an opportunity to examine it closer and consider whether you are really unmotivated or is there something else going on that you haven’t taken the time to address or that you’re running from?

Boredom Serves a Purpose

Boredom is a coping mechanism many people use because being able to disconnect from the world is a great way to protect oneself from difficult situations or emotions.  Maybe you’re feeling uncomfortable, sad, hurt, angry, even scared.  It could be a bad situation.  I know many people right now who not only feel forced into staying locked into a situation with no escape, a situation they’ve been wanting to run away from for some time, but now they have no alternative.  In order to solve the problem, hide from the pain, or push it all away from the heart or mind, the answer that seems to work is:  UNPLUG.  That way nothing can penetrate and hurt.  This, by the way, is not a conscious decision.  It’s a protective mechanism.

In the next article we’ll talk about some ways to deal with boredom that might be surprising.

What Are Your Core Beliefs?

Instead of a Tips page this month, I thought we could take a look at our core beliefs – those thoughts and assumptions we hold about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Although they often go unrecognized, they have a profound effect upon our lives.

Common examples of core beliefs are as follows:

  • I am unattractive
  • Everyone else has a better position in life than me
  • The world is full of selfish people who only want for themselves
  • I’ll never matter

Our lives are dictated by such inner beliefs and, most often, these beliefs are not accurate. Thinking you’re unattractive will have a profound effect upon your self-confidence and esteem. If you believe everyone else is better positioned than you, you will likely feel small and insignificant. If the world only takes and never gives, then you’re reduced to cynicism and negativity and locked in a dark prism.
Core beliefs affect what you achieve and how you operate in the world as a whole. Negative self-beliefs will limit you and limit your effectiveness in your life and in your world.

Core Identity
The one thing that can be consistent for us in life is our core identity. This is a foundation that can set us free: this isn’t linked to any opinions, beliefs, theories, attitudes or behaviors. When we become grounded in the truth of who we are in life, we become free to be ourselves. The most meaningful vision we can have for our futures, which will motivate and inspire us to progress in life, is our vision of who we are going to become.

So, here’s your mission for the month:
Without referencing anything you’ve achieved or failed at, what you do for a living, what your roles are in life or what you have – define WHO you are.

Who are you? What are the core principles, values and elements that make you, you?

I’d love to hear from you on this topic.

If you want to make a comment about beliefs or how you’ve changed your beliefs to become more of who you really want to be, let me know via my Facebook Business Page at For the Health of It – Nurit Amichai Mind-Body Trainer

Changing Your Beliefs

One of the most effective and popular ways of changing beliefs is done through meditation and guided meditation. Reconstructing a situation in our minds with a favorable outcome then rehearsing it daily will eventually recreate the situation in a positive light.

Another way is to change what you believe through experience-taking.
I’d like to share a personal story here that illustrates this point.

I had a poor perception of myself for many years. Even though I appeared confident and self-assured, inside I was the opposite. I learned how to carry myself in order to present a good appearance, but my thought life and belief system were both in shambles.

When I was in my late forties, I decided to take a huge risk and enter a body building competition. When I made the decision, my body was far from competition material which meant I had a lot of work to do. But I made a commitment to myself to follow through, regardless the cost. Seven months later I stood on the stage of the Northern Regional Body Building Competition in British Columbia and placed second in my category. I was elated and speechless. It was the last thing I expected.

Yet that competition and the one following a month later, changed me forever. I no longer held the belief that I was too old, would never have the kind of body that was needed, couldn’t do it and myriad other beliefs. What those beliefs were replaced with was this:

I can do anything I determine I want to do provided I’m willing to put in the work.

What experience can you create that will impact your beliefs and turn your self-defeating beliefs into strengths that conquer?

Our beliefs are the underpinning of the way we do life.

be·lief

/bəˈlēf/

noun

plural noun: beliefs

  1.  an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    “his belief in the value of hard work”
  1.  trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
    “a belief in democratic politics”

Please take a minute to read the definition of the word “belief” and note that the onus is on the individual to determine the veracity of the definition.  There are some things that are true regardless of what I believe about them – and there are other things that are true for me because of what I believe, not necessarily because it’s factual. This, by the way, is also applicable to you.

What Do You Believe?
We’ll be taking a closer look at beliefs – what they are, how they become beliefs, and how to change beliefs that are either untrue for you or inhibiting your life somehow.

Does Everyone Believe That?
The first, and perhaps the most crucial, elements of culture are values and beliefs, beliefs being the tenets or convictions that people hold to be true. Although individuals in a society have their own specific beliefs, they also share collective values and beliefs that hold them together as a group.
Consequently, we have large groups of individuals who believe the same things, whether they be religious, cultural, intellectual, organizational, or otherwise. Within the specific group there are foundational beliefs upon which they build their culture, something that holds them true to their goals.
On an individual basis we do the same thing. We have beliefs that undergird our lives, “truths” we have held since the beginning of our memory. Some of this information is really truth, while some of it is perception, words we’ve heard spoken, or convictions we’ve embraced based on actions of others toward us.
Let’s take a look to see if and/or how they’ve been working for us.

What Are Beliefs, Anyway?
As I posted at the beginning of this newsletter, there’s a dictionary definition which does form the outline for most elaborated-upon interpretations of the word, belief. However, that’s not exactly what I want to get to here.
In very simple terms, beliefs are really only ideas that are transmitted by word or deed reinforced by being repeated over and over again until they become “true” in the life of the individual.
These reinforced ideas may be simply unhelpful. They are not unchangeable nor are they cast in stone.
All beliefs are limiting by nature because we’re all limited by our own experiences and perceptions.

Pavlov and Conditioned Response
We’ve all heard of Pavlov’s dogs and his theory of classical conditioning, which is a type of learning in which an existing involuntary reflex response is associated with a new stimulus. Through repetition, the dogs were conditioned to eat at the sound of a whistle. Eventually, because the dogs believed they would be fed when the whistle sounded, when it was blown the dogs began to salivate. They did so whether there was food or not. This is a conditioned response.
Some of our beliefs are simply conditioned responses to various stimuli presented to us in our growing up years.
For example, experimentation has proven that fear is learned. It is not intrinsic, that is, we’re not born with it. If we can learn, then we can unlearn.

And, You’re Point Is?
My point is that maybe some of what we hold as beliefs are really only either conditioned or operant responses. Operant Conditioning is the reinforcement of behaviors through either positive or negative consequences.
So, if I’m a six-year-old and I take a candy from the local store and get caught by the store owner, the way that event is handled will have a large impact upon what I believe about myself. If I’m told I’m bad, can’t be trusted, and a thief then I will likely take that under consideration, mull it over repeatedly, and begin to think of myself in those terms. Is it true? Am I bad? Am I not to be trusted? Am I a thief? Probably not at all. But the root of the belief is sown.

What About Limiting Beliefs?
When ideas are validated by experience, they become beliefs. Limiting beliefs are underpinned by experience and they are self-inflicted.

Here’s a list of ten limiting beliefs. See if you fall into any of them.

  1.  I’m too old to start over again
  2.  I’m not smart enough
  3.  I’m not skilled enough
  4.  I couldn’t handle failing
  5.  Money is the root of all evil
  6.  I’ve already tried that, it didn’t work
  7.  I can’t learn anything new
  8.  I don’t think I deserve it
  9.  I’m not good enough
  10.  I need more (fill in the blank) before I can (fill in the blank)

Now, think about this: A belief only serves us until it’s disproved. We have to prove a new belief before we will embrace it. That means that we have to be willing to examine our current beliefs and decide what’s working and what isn’t. Then, we get to create new beliefs based on challenging the old, getting rid of what doesn’t work and replacing it with what does work.
And, it takes some time, but it’s very doable.

plastic free

Tips for January 2020

Keeping with the theme of decluttering, here are some tips you can try that can lead to a more open and spacious life and environment:

  1. Environmentally, our landscape is cluttered with throw-away items that aren’t necessary for a happy life.  So, think beyond single-use plastic and avoid single-use wooden cutlery, paper straws or aluminum cans because they also have an impact on the environment. What to use instead?  The real things – things that are reusable.
  2. If you’re buying new clothes (or anything for the home, office, car), get rid of something you already have.  For instance, if you buy a new dress, give an older one away.
  3. Plan your meals.  What?  How is that decluttering?  Well, by planning your meals before going shopping, you’re less likely to stock up on things you already have in the house but they’re buried in the back of the fridge or cupboard.
  4. Shop with a list.  Avoid impulse buying and stocking up.  In Europe and Asia, people shop for what they need on a daily basis so everything is fresh and used immediately.  Not possible for you? That’s okay – just be sure to buy what you need instead of impulse buying or getting more than you need because it’s on sale.
  5. Get enough sleep.  Okay, how does that impact clutter?  Well, your bedroom should have only two functions: sleep and sex.  Take the rest of the stuff out of the room; magazines, computer, knitting and your evening snacks.  Those activities should be done outside of the bedroom.  Allow space for a good night’s sleep.
  6. Mental to-do lists, packed calendars, and tempting distractions make your schedule feel as chaotic as your closet. Don’t be afraid to cut out or set restrictions on activities that no longer add value to your life.
  7. Saying No to something is as good as saying Yes to yourself.  We can clutter our lives by committing to things (and others) and end up overcommitting and being not fully present to enjoy the moment because we’re mentally on to the other items.  Leave breathing room in your schedule.
Decluttered room

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

At day’s end, the only person who can make a decision as to which objects, tasks and routines are meaningful to you, and which are just clutter is YOU. The following tips might just inspire you toward a more productive and fluid mindset – and provide a lesson on decluttering.

The One-Touch Rule
According to Dr. Gerald Nestadt, director of the Johns Hopkins OCD clinic, making decisions immediately before clutter can root itself is important. “If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another again and again.” Try tossing junk mail as soon as you pick up your mail instead of taking everything to the kitchen table or your desk. Same goes for your inbox – clear it once a day. (btw, this really helped me. My old gmail account housed some 45,000 emails!! Thankfully, those days are gone.)

Be Proactive About Decluttering
If you don’t let clutter in, it won’t happen. Before you bring anything new into your space ask yourself: “Where will I store this?”; “How long will I have it?”; “How will I dispose of it?” and “Do I really need this?”
If you’re an impulsive buyer or shopaholic, try taking a month-long vacation from shopping. Instead of heading for the latest sale, take a walk or meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Turn your attention to what you already have and use great experiences as a reward rather than new things. If your inbox is cluttered, unsubscribe from emails that tempt you to buy more or what you don’t need.

Don’t Put It In A Box
The “out of sight, out of mind” saying doesn’t really aid in decluttering. Hiding clutter in containers isn’t the same as getting down and dirty with it. Actually, if you pull everything off the shelves or out of the closet, you get to see what you really have.
Chances are, you probably haven’t missed the things that have been packed away in boxes. If it hasn’t been used in the past year, be suspect and know you’ll probably survive quite well without it. Pass it on to someone who might really benefit and you get to have more space for something else.

Interrogate Your Clutter
That’s right. Talk to yourself. Rather than just asking if you like that object, ask instead why it needs to be in your space. Often we have a hard time saying goodbye to objects associated with old accomplishments, goals, identities, or relationships. The good news is that you can still have and cherish the memories without the things they’re attached to.

This has been a valuable tool for me. I have given myself permission to recognize when an object no longer adds value to my life. Things that I kept because they were gifts or I spent a good deal of money on came under the spotlight of interrogation and I found I had to be a little ruthless. However, the end result was an incredible feeling of freedom and recognition that letting go of the clutter is a real form of self-care. I’ve made space to grow, change, and welcome new experiences into my life.

I invite you to do the same.