Life in a pandemic has taught us how very little control we have. For me, and perhaps many of you, feeling out of control can be very frustrating and induce a lot of stress. I have long heard that control is an illusion and truthfully the only thing we have control over is our reactions. I feel sometimes I don’t even have much control over my reactions. Being self aware and noticing how you are reacting and exploring where those reactions are coming from can be very helpful; but also very difficult to do in the heat of the moment.

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow

I catch myself getting all wrapped up into what seems like the problem. I get stuck spiraling into unhelpful thoughts about what I think the problem is. But when I breathe, and take a minute to look at why I am feeling the way I am feeling, often there is a different cause. I am not saying that there are not problems. There are, everywhere. So unless we understand what triggers us to respond to these issues in the way that we do, we will be forever whipped around, a prisoner to our emotional response. Emotions can be very helpful in motivating us, but they also can be detrimental when we find ourself in a situation where the outcome we desire is not achievable.

There are things that I know trigger an emotional response in me. I like to be in control, so when I feel out of control, this can cause a lot of stress for me. When COVID first started I had a job where I experienced change on a weekly basis, sometime more often. Those changes were predictable changes. Once the Pandemic started, I was experiencing unpredictable changes. It cause me a lot more stress. I am flexible person. I enjoy change. Being fluid and in the moment, is how I do my best work. So I was surprised in how the unpredictability of life really got to me.

Awareness is the first step. When we examine the thoughts we have around the “problem” we can better understand why we are shaken when presented with the problem. Having this understanding gets us closer to being at peace; despite the situation we find ourselves within. Once we can see what is bring up our emotions and that it is really more about us than the perceived problem; we can start to work on this aspect of us.

It is important to have some strategies to get past these emotions or as Captain Jack Sparrow says, “…[our] attitude about the problem”.

  • Breathe – take a deep breath, center yourself, and just feel the emotion.
  • Acknowledge – emotions are not good or bad, they just are. Acknowledge what you are feeling. Give yourself permission to feel it.
  • Be Present – be present in the moment. Notice what is around you. What do you hear, see, smell, feel, taste? Notice that in this moment you are safe and everything is okay.
  • Understand – attempt to understand what is causing you to feel so …whatever you are feeling. If you can name what is behind the emotion it can be helpful in gaining understanding. For example: I feel frustrated at a lack of control because I have a fear of failure.
  • Calming ritual – create yourself with a calming ritual. What this is may differ on where you are and this will be very individualized to each person. Some ideas are:
    • cup of herb tea
    • lighting a candle
    • carry a “worry stone” that you can hold or rub your thumb against
    • take a series of slow, deep breaths
    • recite a poem, prayer, or mantra (out loud or internally)
    • have a mint or piece of gum
    • take a walk outside
    • rub some lotion on your hands
  • Carry on mindfully – once you have gained awareness you can carry on with your day. You will have a better understanding of why you were so upset and have taken some action to become present and understand you cannot change the problem – only your reaction.
  • Take action if it still seems necessary – once you have done all of this, depending on what the perceived problem was, there still may need to be action taken on your part. Now that your mind is clearer and you are not as caught up in the emotional response, you can attempt to make a plan.
  • Repeat as necessary – depending on what is going on you may find yourself needing to use these strategies over and over again. It will get easier as you practice.

I love the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

courage to change the things I can, 

and wisdom to know the difference.

I think there is a lot of wisdom in this prayer. There are things we cannot change. Things we have no control over whatsoever. Then there are things we can change. Often that is us and how we deal with what we cannot change. Working on ourselves is some of the hardest work, but also the most beneficial work we can ever do. Knowing what things we can affect and what things we cannot affect will give us much more peace, rather than banging our heads against the wall trying to change the unchangeable.

I also believe in the benefit of planting seeds, but that is for another blog. Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find peace within the storm. May you find the calm pool of serenity within yourself.


I Opened My Eyes and Noticed… I am Changed

We all go through changes in our lives. Things that were a fit for us once are suddenly not an interest anymore. Other things that may have been off our radar are suddenly something we want to know more about. When you look back at your past do you see that you have changed and how?

I remember going through some especially big life events. When I came out on the other side I was changed. I remember thinking that if the me of my past, met the me I am now, that I would not recognize myself. I had a whole new set of interests. I was passionate about learning and wanting to learn all I could about this new world I had stumbled upon. I had a new set of friends. Some of my old friends fell away, because they did not understand the changes I was going through. These new people I met were on a similar path as me with similar interests. Even the way I looked at life had shifted. I saw things from a new perspective. My faith changed. Spirituality is still a huge part of who I am but I see it so much differently now.

It is an amazing thing to me to look back over that time of my life. I see how much growth was happening inside me. This was about 12 years ago. How time has slipped away so quickly. One day I was living my life, being me, and doing what I needed to do. The next day I opened my eyes and I was changed. Many things just fell into place, which had seemed random. These changes spurred on more new development. I do not believe in coincidences. I believed that things happened to push me forward. To help me grow and transform. To teach me to live my Dharma.

Do you feel a push or pull in a certain way? Maybe you should explore it. It may help you discover your true nature. It may help the you, That is deep down inside, to push up and out. It is likely your ‘inner knowing’ is guiding you to become the deeper true version of yourself. Do you feel the call? Will you one day soon, open your eyes and find that you are changed? Watch for the synchronicities in your life. When something shows up over and over again, pay attention. It may be showing up for a reason. You may find that it is something that, upon closer inspection, makes your soul sing.

Change can be frightening, but most of time we find ourselves in a better place. It may take time and be uncomfortable for a bit while going through it, but when you come out on the other side, you will be glad for it. You will feel more at home within yourself. Good luck with your changes. I am excited for you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your changes be fulling and help you be more you, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken at the Grand Canyon.

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