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overthinking

Free Time: Overthinking It?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

When thinking about Free Time and “being” rather than “doing,” I am reminded that I am not only a “do-er,” I am also a “thinker.” A pretty deep thinker at that. My mind can go to places that are seemingly quite unnecessary. I’ve learned over time that this is one of my greatest strengths and one of my greatest challenges.

Now don’t get me wrong, thinking is wonderful.

Over-thinking is what is the issue for me. It’s the thoughts that I can’t stop thinking. The what-ifs and the should-haves and the panic and fear that I’ve done or said the “wrong” thing. This was a prison I felt I was in for a very long time. The prison of anxiety kept me from fully and completely expressing myself in the fullest capacity possible.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that fearlessness is a theme for me. If you watched my Creative Mornings Louisville talk on Silencing Fear you know about my stint with improv comedy and how it brought me to tears.

What I realized about fear and anxiety was that it was a prison that I was putting and keeping myself in. What was the key that would unlock the door to the prison?

The phrase, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart,” was my key. I thought this was what a yoga instructor said in class once. When I asked her after class who wrote that saying, she responded, “That’s not what I read, but maybe that’s what you needed to hear.”

As I began trying new things like improv comedy in my “free time” I chose to place myself outside of my comfort zone. It wasn’t about succeeding at improv comedy. It was about doing something that scared the shit out of me and sticking with it. After 9 months of classes every week, it became less scary. I still didn’t enjoy it, the actual performing that is. What I did enjoy and was “in joy” with were the friendships I had made, following through with a challenge and commitment I made to myself. and proving to myself that I could “do hard things” (“Untamed” reference!).

So while you may choose to do an actual activity with your free time, perhaps something other than improv comedy, I wonder if you are also avoiding free time like I can find myself doing.

For those of us who have a tendency to run a bit anxious or are constant do-ers, sometimes it is the quiet of free time that scares us.

This week, I challenge you to embrace the solitude of your free time, to sit with yourself, and remember that, “Fearlessness resides in the softness of the heart.”

worry

Worry Too Much?

Anxiety, we all have it from time to time. Though rarely welcomed, it can be a healthy response to life’s challenges and is a natural human response. In fact, anxiety acts as our body’s alarm system, allowing us to anticipate when we are in danger or in harm’s way. But if left unchecked, anxiety can be an overwhelming, never-ending cycle of worry that keeps us from understanding important parts of ourselves.

If you experience anxiety, ask yourself this:

If your mind wasn’t full of these current ANXIOUS thoughts, what would you think about? Although not necessarily pleasant, anxiety can serve as a distraction from dealing with what really needs to be addressed at the core.

Here are some signs that worry might be problematic in your life:

  • Chronically on alert and thinking about potential future dangers or threats.

  • Consistently making negative predictions about the future.

  • Tend to overestimate the likelihood that something bad will happen.

  • Repeat worried thoughts over and over again in your head.​

How can I tell if my anxiety is normal?

Anxiety is problematic when it is constant and goes unresolved, interfering with your lifestyle and relationships. An anxiety disorder can keep a person from coping with life’s ups and downs and make a person feel anxious most of the time, sometimes without any identifiable cause.

If this sounds like your current experience with anxiety, perhaps it’s time to change your relationship with anxiety by altering your perspective on it.

You don’t have to go it alone. Seeking professional care for your anxiety can provide hope and clarity on how to best navigate it.

untamed

Untamed Joy

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Somewhere along my journey it happened.

Quietly, imperceptibly, almost without my having knowing it.

I relaxed.

Got comfortable with myself.

I began enjoying myself, accepting myself, accepting life.

Liking life.

I found joy.

Somewhere along your journey, it will happen to you…

Don’t worry about finding joy.

Because somewhere along your journey, joy will find you.”

-Melody Beattie “Journey to the Heart”

Are we there yet?

(I write this thinking of the laughing/crying emoji I’d love to post right after it!)

Have you arrived at this destination of joy? Is it an actual location, or rather a state of mind? Do we take residence in it or are we just here for a quick visit, perhaps a vacation from reality? Are these questions making you feel anxious or stressed, perhaps with the pressure of needing to accomplish this? Or perhaps you think and feel, “AMEN! Done!”

I am right here with you!

I’m riding the rollercoaster of life, just like you. I still wrestle with the “shoulds” that still reside in me from my family of origin and societal pressures. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. Frankly, I’m done with trying to be perfect. I don’t have the energy for that anymore. And yet it still creeps in, in moments of stress, illness, quiet, like a little leak of air through a window. Just enough to catch my attention.

I allow myself to give it a touch of attention. I notice a frank conversation happening inside my head starting, “Ok, I’m feeling pressure to do the ‘right’ thing here.” And I tell myself gently, yet firmly, “There is no ‘right’ thing here.” And I respond gratefully, “Oh right, thanks for that reminder, I needed that.”

Then I ask myself, “How long do I want to give this attention? How much energy do I have to give this?”

The second answer gets me and I say, “Zero.” I refocus my attention away from the pressure of perfection and follow up with, “What is it you really need and/or want (to do, think, feel) right now?” Sensing that the best thing for me in this moment is some quiet, some reflection, some “me time.” I know I have options because I’ve been here before and I know what helps. I could read, take a bath, make some tea, get a glass of water, reflect, write, go for a walk, watch Netflix. I think, “Wow! Those are a lot of options!” And I wait a moment to see which one feels like the best option in this moment. I know I can always change my mind and try something else.

One place I find Joy is in the quiet whispers of my heart asking to be cared for, nurtured, and nourished. I know that no one knows me as well as I know myself and that I can nourish and nurture myself in many wonderful ways. This feels freeing to me. I’m not relying on someone else to notice I need something and come to my rescue and give me what I’m needing. I rely on my own strength to go ahead and give it to myself.

Oftentimes mid-life is about reevaluation.

We look back on the last forty (or fifty!) years and assess if we want to continue doing life the same way for the next forty-plus years.

The first forty-plus years have offered us a wonderful foundation of life lessons full of newness and loss. These first forty years have primed us for this moment of reevaluation. We may not have known that we had a choice in how we did those first forty years. Now we are old enough and have been adulting long enough to know what works for us and what doesn’t work for us. We know who we are and what feels best to us. And we’re beginning to not be afraid to speak our truth.  This is exactly where you find Joy. In the speaking of your Truth. The freedom to own your wants and needs. The embracing of “Not giving a Shit” what people think of me. And it feels wonderful.

Our free book giveaway this month is Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It addresses this very theme of speaking one’s Truth and taking all the responsibility and ownership of what comes with that. It speaks for bravery and freedom. And reminds us, “We can do hard things!”

the subtle art of not giving a fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

The title of this book caught my attention recently while I was at the airport. Working with many people who have anxiety or feel stressed out I thought it could be an interesting read. I like things that make us question the status quo and may be a bit provocative. The subtitle drove home my decision to purchase it: “A counterintuitive approach to living a good life.” Even cooler!

I was curious about the author and what his credentials are so I looked on the back cover and discovered he was a well-followed blogger. Hmmm… Not your typical (potentially dry) self-help PhD? Not surprising with a title like this. My graduate studies had taught me to be leary about non-scientific based information, but I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I’m usually willing to let things speak for themself. As I read I realized Manson has no specific education or credential as a therapist or in the mental health field. What he does have is his own personal experiences, which he shares freely in the book (which is different than most PhD, self-help authors!). He’s likable and seemingly very open, which is a plus for me. Essentially what I found is a very direct and easy-to-understand and assimilate way to communicate mindfulness (without really talking about mindfulness!). Even cooler!

I have many clients who are not “readers” and I’m always on the lookout for books that may be interesting to the uninterested reader. This book fits the profile. I have recommended it to several people and they *loved* the title and were willing to give it a whirl upon my recommendation.

A few of the premises in the book that caught my attention:

  1. We can never really avoid being in pain and discomfort (he uses the word suffering), so choose what you want to be in discomfort about.
  2. Choose what you want to give a f*ck about rather than giving a f*ck about everything.
  3. Your emotions are there for a very good reason – to give you feedback, to get your attention. So PAY ATTENTION to them!
  4. Make sure you are aligning with your values and priorities. Are the people you surround yourself with people you strive to be like? Are the decisions you are making assisting you in being the best version of yourself?
  5. Failure is to be expected! Welcome it. Learn from it! Perfectionism can keep us from living in reality… I mean really, at what point is “perfection” achieved?! Or are you always telling yourself you’re STILL not good enough.
  6. It’s ok to say “No.” Again, choosing what you do and don’t want to participate in establishes appropriate boundaries.

I found it to be a very enjoyable, humorous, entertaining read, and am glad I read it.

Intrigued?! Give it a whirl for yourself!

 

setting the bar

Setting The Bar Too High

Our expectations for ourselves are often far higher than our expectations for others. Why couldn’t we see into the future about how that marriage would end? Why did we say the wrong thing in that interview? Why can’t we find the motivation to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G….the list goes on.
It’s like someone told us that we are supposed to get everything right the first time and that we are off the rails if our life map involves various stops and starts.
The more people I meet, the more convinced I am that this is all an illusion. The truth is we all crash down only to rise up again. And again. So my message to you is this: The next time you hear that self-critical voice in your head, pause. Notice it. Grab on to grace. Hold it against your chest. Breathe it in. Listen. Let go of the judgment. And give yourself some rest.
You don’t have enough information to do everything right the first time. Give yourself some grace.
trending

How Are You Trending?

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot of terms like: “peak performance,” “level up,” and “elevate yourself” as it relates to being our best self. However, our best self is something that we should take time to think of. Only once we have a good idea of what our best self looks like can develop a proper road map to achieving that. 

One tool that can be very effective in achieving our goals, can be to take an inventory of ourselves and assess mindfully how we are trending. We might think of trending as it relates to social media. However, here the term describes an assessment of ourselves.

In therapy or counseling, we often use scales to take a personal inventory.

For example, if you have been experiencing constant anxiety you may say that the anxiety is at an 8 out of 10; 10 being the worst. Your long-term goal may be to get anxiety down to a 2 or 3. However, that can’t happen unless you develop a plan and utilize anxiety-relieving tools. 

Understanding how you are trending allows you to set measurable goals where you are able to go from an 8 to a 6 and so forth. If you take that progression then you are trending in the correct direction.

Often individuals have great long-term goals. Which could be to feel more peace, to be happier, or to be less stressed. What often gets in the way of those goals is being unaware of the direction we are trending. After all, all of us carry busy schedules and have many things to do. When we are overwhelmed or highly stressed our brains go into survival mode instead of naturally assessing how we are trending. 

If you have a goal or an idea of what your best self is; are you trending away or toward that direction? If you are trending away, what might you do to help yourself begin to trend in the right direction? If you notice you are trending toward your goal what has been working? And as always be gentle with yourself in any direction you may be headed.

acupuncture

Best Pricks In Town, Acupuncture That Is…

 

Greetings! Megan here.

As a part of Women’s History Month, I’m highlighting some awesome women-owned/run businesses I really like and admire. Today I’d like to introduce you to Louisville Community Acupuncture. Owners, Margaret and Mike, have made it their mission to offer affordable acupuncture to all. They moved to Louisville from Austin, Texas about a year before I did. What’s funny is that we did not know each other in Austin. My Austin acupuncturist told me to check them out when I got to Louisville so I did, and now we are great friends. It’s been fun to support each other in our businesses and watch each other grow, both personally and professionally.

I started going to acupuncture years ago for seasonal and environmental allergies. It amazed me at how effective it was and how I didn’t have to rely on over-the-counter medication any longer. I quickly realized you can treat just about everything with acupuncture – even anxiety and depression. In fact, I refer many of my clients who would prefer not to take medication to acupuncture to see if it might assist them as well. I now go to acupuncture once a month for self-care and a “tune-up.” I leave feeling wonderfully relaxed and calm.

Community acupuncture is unique in that you are in a room with others while getting your treatment. This helps keep costs down. Everyone’s got their own lazy boy recliner and is distanced 6ft apart. LCA has refined some of this for COVID protocol but it’s still the affordable sliding scale rate of $25-$45 (pay what feels best to you!). If you go, be sure to tell them Megan Bartley from Louisville Mindfulness Center sent you!

Want to know more? Check them out online: https://www.louisvillecommunityacupuncture.com

louisville salt cave

Going Inside to Create Your Outside: Louisville Salt Cave

salt cave, salt, halotherapy, allergies, asthma, skin conditions

Hi Friends! Megan Bartley here.

This month is women’s history month and I’d like to highlight some other excellent female entrepreneurs that I have known and supported over the years.

This week I want to feature Nicole Bartlett at the Louisville Salt Cave. She and I have collaborated throughout the years and she’s always a joy to connect with. Nicole and the Louisville Salt Cave are always up to cool stuff. They have invited me, on numerous occasions, to lead guided meditations in the cave and be a featured speaker in their speakers series.

As you can see by Louisville Salt Cave’s photo, their mission to help you “Go Inside to Create Your Outside” is quite on-point with the overall philosophy of Louisville Mindfulness Center. What is going on with us internally, shows up for us externally. If your external world is feeling chaotic and uncomfortable, there may be some things to focus on internally and vise versa.

There are TONS of benefits of halotherapy, which is just one of the many benefits of being in the Salt Cave. Just as you might feel differently standing at the ocean breathing in the salt air, so too can you experience that same effect in the cave.  AND it offers relief for many physical ailments such as respiratory ailments, asthma, and allergies.

Nicole and her team have also been very mindful about the COVID restrictions and being 6-feet apart. Their Safety Protocol is front and center on their website. You can view it HERE. 

If you’ve never been to a salt cave or in particular, the Louisville Salt Cave, it is a unique experience and one that I’m glad I’ve been able to experience! Go check them out! They are a great women-owned business to support!

www.LouisvilleSaltCave.com

 

happiness

When are you willing to experience happiness?

Written by Bridgette Allen, MAMFT

We often set limitations for when we can be happy.

I’ll be happy when I:

*get a house
*am in a relationship
*get a new job
*move out
*have straight A’s
*gain/lose weight
*don’t feel stressed
*get invited
*get married
*achieve more
*have more
*know they’ve changed
*am certain
*work more/work less

How would life be different if we gave ourselves permission to be happy unexpectedly, for no reason at all? What if we noticed and embraced moments of happiness even in the most difficult of times?

Happiness is not and never will be a final destination. When we chase after happiness and allow it under self-inflicted limitations, like the list above, we are often greeted with unmet expectations. That’s because happiness is simply a state of mind to be enjoyed and not captured.

What limitations are you willing to release? When will you choose to be happy?

law of giving

The Law of Giving (and Receiving) = FLOW

Hi Friends! Megan Bartley here.

This year Louisville Mindfulness Center is giving away one book a month that has been influential to me in my life to better understand and love myself, my relationships, and in the work that I do as a therapist, mindfulness coach, speaker, and author.

January 2021 we are giving away, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra (scroll down to enter to win!)

Today I’m reflecting on the Law of Giving.

For those of us who are natural caregivers or maybe even people pleasers, we tend to give and give and give and give and give some more which can lead to us feeling depleted and perhaps frustrated when we feel no one is looking out for us and our well-being.

How I understand the Law of Giving is that there has to be a balance of Giving and Receiving. This creates a FLOW. Energy flowing out and energy flowing into our lives. If energy is only flowing out of us, then we will feel exhausted if we aren’t allowing others to care for us, or making time for us to care for ourselves. This is why we preach the necessity of “self-care” and “loving yourself.”

It’s the premise behind putting your oxygen mask on first and then assisting your dependents. If you are pouring all the water out of your pitcher into other people’s water glasses, and you don’t have a supply of water coming into your pitcher, then you will soon become dehydrated, emaciated, and feel “stuck” since there is no hydration to sustain you. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry or thirsty my moods get grumpy and negative and resentful that I’m giving everyone what they need, but not receiving what I need in return.

Creating this FLOW involves allowing others to give to you

To help you out, to bring you treats and gifts, to offer their compliments and for you to receive them gratefully and without guilt. I’m sure when you are offering your help to others you are being genuine and truly want others to take you up on your offer. How do you feel when people turn you down? Perhaps not trusted, not good enough, brushed off? When we say “no thanks” to others when they are offering help to us, we are perhaps sending these messages to them without even realizing it.

I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking you say “no thanks” to others because you don’t want to burden them with your stuff. So ask yourself this question, “When you offer your help and assistance to others, do you feel burdened by them?”

Perhaps you can challenge yourself to get the FLOW going by asking for help.

I know, I know, many of us have a hard time asking for help, but again, when someone asks you for help, I wonder if you sometimes feel special, or trusted, or honored that they thought you were the person they could rely on for help.

When we start to shift our mindset from worrying about burdening others to creating the wonderful flow of giving and receiving, we are choosing to allow others to think of us, to “have our backs,” and we are honoring others with trusting them to help us out.

The visual I like to think of is of the ocean waves coming up to shore on the beach. There is a constant motion of waves coming in to shore and going back out again. The movement doesn’t stop, EVER. There is a flow of water coming in and a flow of water going back out to sea. The ocean is in constant FLOW. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel this flow in your own life? Perhaps you already do in certain areas. And perhaps there are other areas where you might challenge yourself to be more in “FLOW” with life.

I’d love to hear your feedback and if this was helpful to you. If there are other topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know!