They say “live in the moment.” They say “be positive.” And they say “be present.” Are you staying positive? How are YOU showing up?
Staying present is more than the mantra “be here now.” This fabulous phrase, popularized by Ram Dass, is everywhere in popular culture … but that doesn’t mean people are using it correctly. True, we can’t claim to have a corner on any phrase, life philosophy, or spiritual approach. But we can tell you that in our experience, being present and being positive are not the same thing.
First, though, a disclaimer: We would never want to convey the idea that people should avoid or look down upon negative emotions. All feelings are a part of life’s journey. They provide critical guideposts to help us navigate our inner and outer environment.
However, just like those base-jumpers in the flying suits… (Google them!) we go where we look. Focus on the negative, and the present can become a very unpleasant place indeed.
Consider the following situations:
- You suffer a romantic disappointment;
- Your boss yells at you with the door open, and for the rest of the week your team members eye you with pity;
- One of your children has chosen a path you don’t agree with or that breaks your heart;
- You aren’t happy with your body;
The list goes on and on, of course. In situations such as these, many people have an immediate fight or flight reaction. Too often, they flee to the past, when things were cozier or better, and the adverse event wasn’t happening. Or they take refuge in the future, where perhaps life is rosier. Maybe they even fantasize about seeking revenge. Hey, we’re all human. But you see the problem: You’re not here now.
If you do stay in the present, your thoughts might turn toward the dismal and self-flagellating. You may utter phrases such as “I wasn’t worth loving anyway,” “I hate my boss and I’ll never enjoy work” or “I knew I should have been a better parent. It probably all goes back to that time I failed to…”
Take a Moment for Introspection…But Just the Positive Kind
Introspection is, without doubt, one of the handiest tools in your interpersonal (and intra-personal) kit. However, it can be damaging if you don’t take the right approach, which is to look for the good in each situation.
You can start by re-framing. Even with a broken heart, it’s possible to see that if someone dumps you, then they weren’t right for you. If your boss yells at you, they’re making themselves look bad. No one is responsible for your child’s actions but your child, no matter how much you might suffer from their decisions. And your body is what it is for now. If you want to alter it, you must face it with positivity, hope and a willingness to change your actions as well as your mindset.
Your elders were right: Each situation is a learning experience. You can choose to stay with that experience long enough to glean the good from it. Or, you can repeat the lesson another time.
When that feels like too much for you, and staying present becomes too heavy a burden, your spiritual community can help. If you want to learn to stay present, even in the midst of hurt and heartache, our community at The Journey Training is here for you. It’s time to become who you’re meant to be.
Some of you will see this title and think, “Why would you want to do that?” Others may find it pretty easy to understand. When you struggle with a food addiction, it’s never easy. Who knew that a croissant could bring awareness and freedom, thanks to the tools I received at The Journey Training and a friend who I met there?
My friends and I were having a magical breakfast at The Leaky Cauldron in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My meal came with a croissant. I can normally say no to croissants, as there are breads that are much more satisfying and calorie-worthy to me. I told myself I didn’t need it. I offered it to my friends at the table who were not gluten-free. They both politely declined. I even offered it again, and then I just left it on my plate.
I finished breakfast first, and a little voice whispered in my ear: “They’re still eating and you’re done. Just eat it.” I gave in and regretted it.
A little later I was talking to my friend. We are so transparent with each other. The Journey Training enabled us to do that – to go deep and feel safe. She said, “I know you offered it. I was surprised when you ate it, but didn’t want to say anything and hurt your feelings.”
A huge light bulb came on. I struggle with food addiction and I have shed a lot of tears over the years when people have made comments about what I’m eating. I have an inner monologue that says, “They think I’m fat. They think I’m eating way too much. I’m a pig.” I’ve learned to recognize these negative lies. We call them tapes, the stories we make up in our heads. My friend knows this about me and didn’t want me to make up any stories.
I thought about it and had a huge revelation! It wasn’t about WHAT she says, but WHEN to say it. I could see the difference now! I shared with her that if we are eating and I’m clearly trying not to eat something, she can suggest I not eat it or help me get rid of it. That way, she’s helping me do what I’ve already decided beforehand that I want to do. However, if I’m enjoying my food or already eating it, she can just let me eat it. That was a huge awareness for me because I can now communicate this need for support to others.
Two powerful tools from the training were at play here.
- I distinguished between the truth and self-limiting beliefs. It was true I didn’t need to eat the croissant. It was true that my friend could see that. It isn’t true when I make up stories that people think I’m a fat or that they are controlling my food because they suggest I don’t eat something or that I don’t want it from their perspective. They are simply trying to help me.
- I communicated what I needed from my friend. In The Journey Training, we learn to ask the question, “How can I love and support you?” This allows the person to share how they need love so that it will be received as love and not misunderstood or received as something else. You can also tell others what you need from them instead of waiting for them to ask you the question.
What’s your croissant? What do you want sometimes, but need to avoid most of the time?
Do you have beliefs you tell yourself that aren’t true? Do you wish you had someone to hold you accountable when and where you need accountability?
Do you feel like you need better skills in communicating love?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, The Journey Training is for you!
Sign up today!
“Mind the gap” is a warning phrase issued to rail passengers in the United Kingdom (and elsewhere) to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform. There were many factors as to why this phrase was selected but among them was the need to communicate a concise message quickly and effectively.
The technology we have available to us today allows us to communicate very quickly! We carry our phones with us everywhere we go and we text, post comments, email, or call each other whenever we want. I do love that capability!
Yet I fear this same technology is actually helping to make us more ineffective. The technology itself is not to blame. We are choosing to interact face-to-face less often. We’re even choosing to talk to each other less often while using our phones to type our messages instead. Our electronic messages are becoming shorter and shorter. Their meaning becoming less and less clear.
Important pieces of what we are truly trying to convey are falling into the gap. Because of this we are misunderstood, we become frustrated with ourselves and others, and we begin to make up stories in our head to try to fill in the gaps of what we think is missing.
We may even take things a step further by not communicating at all with those closest to us. We take advantage of our closest relationships as if they should be able to read our minds and know what we are thinking or what we want. We get upset when they don’t guess correctly and we begin to make up stories in our head about how little they must care about us.
Does any of this sound familiar?
It’s as if we are beginning to forget how to sit still, look at someone, and talk to one another. Is it time to stop looking at our electronic screens for a second and “mind the gap”?
In The Journey Training, we talk about the importance of being present with other people. It’s not that hard! We simply need to sit down with someone, look at them, and talk. Use simple questions or statements like: How can I help you today? What do you need from me? How can I love and support you? You’ll be amazed at the answers you’ll receive if you’ll only ask the questions.
Life is about relationships and we should constantly strive to create a win-win situation whenever we can. Remembering that we can choose to slow down a bit, sit down and talk, will do just that. Choose to stop allowing things to fall into the gap!
Have you ever noticed how a baby who has learned to sit up sits up so straight? I can remember noticing even as a kid how straight some women sat. To me, it made them even more beautiful.
I wish good posture came naturally for me, but because of a prenatal stroke it’s much harder for me. The most commonly used definition of posture is “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting”. Participating in band, through high school and college, taught me to be disciplined with it. When in a concert ensemble and playing an instrument, you are expected to sit up straight and on the edge of the chair. This helps your breathing and playing. When marching, I had to work not only at standing up straight, but also with proper horn angle, while moving AND playing! Talk about discipline! Over time, I found myself doing these things naturally.
Many years after marching band, I found another cardio exercise I love – the elliptical! It’s much more suited for my body than running! I can remember noticing one time how balanced I’d become on it! I was standing up straight, not holding on, dancing away! My posture was great and my whole attitude had changed!
This reminds me of a tool I gained in The Journey Training. It’s called Ground and Center. When I carry myself in a grounded and centered posture, I feel tall, centered, and ready.
That brings me to another definition of posture: “a particular way of dealing with something: an approach or attitude”. This posture helps us react to life. Trials and tribulations happen. The better the posture, the better we approach or react to them, and the better outcome we will have.
Are you critical of yourself in pictures? One of the worst pictures I perceive of myself is a picture from college, at my heaviest weight, pretty much leaning against the guy behind me. As I began losing weight, not only did I start to appreciate my posture physically in pictures, my attitude had also changed. My confidence skyrocketed and it showed!
I was remembering this recently as I looked at myself in the mirror. I’ve dealt with plenty of shame regarding my weight and how I look. Carrying the shame burdened my posture. The Journey Training taught me to change my perspective. Rather than holding onto the shame, I let it go, I chose to look in the mirror, stand up straight, shoulders back, and see the real me. There, now you look better, Alison!
Posture equals attitude. Change your attitude and you’ll change your outcome!
It was my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I was awakened and rattled by weird dreams, then I felt anxious all day. This was compounded by issues that come up when I have had non-stop family time without alone time, due to helping them move into their new home. Add to that a mental battle with body image, and you have a Triple Trifecta of Terror. I was nearly crying or beginning to cry most of the day. Have you ever had days like that? I just needed that day to be over, and began looking forward to a day by myself the next day.
The next day! Left on my own with a free day, I probably would have done a lot of little things. I would’ve enjoyed having the TV to myself because it was just hooked up. I would’ve had it on in the background, done some chores, looked at Facebook, and made some phone calls. I probably would’ve exercised and gone down to the lake. All fine things to do – right? Fine, but not what I needed.
Before my family left me for my personal day, my Mom said she felt led by the Holy Spirit to encourage me to take a day away from TV, Facebook, and my phone and make it a silent retreat. A day for just me and Jesus. She interrupted my plans, but I knew in my heart she was right.
In The Journey Training, participants and the team each pick a word or phrase they want to claim, or get out of the training weekend. To get what you want, you have to know what you want. As I started my day, I too claimed a word for my day. It was TRUTH. With everything I did, from reading and praying, to just listening and looking at the lake, even resting, I did it with the purpose of obtaining truth. I knew what I wanted, I went after it, and I got it! All because The Lord used my Mom to interrupt my plans.
We are faced with interruptions all the time. As much as I like Facebook for the positive interaction, it can also be a bombardment of negativity. As much as TV in moderation is ok, it can also be a constant noise. As wonderful as it is to catch up with friends, sometimes I need to turn my attention solely to my friend, Jesus.
Thankfully, my Mom just sat across from me and interrupted me verbally. Jesus had to knock Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) off his donkey to interrupt him (Acts 9).
Do you feel weighed down by spiraling anxiety, fear, shame, or other junk? Do you need something to knock you off your donkey or just interrupt your To-Do List with something positive for you? The Journey Training is all about that! No, they won’t knock you off your donkey, but they will help you claim what you truly want and deserve!