Tag Archive for: stress

seek happiness

Old Ideas About How to Seek Happiness

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“If there are things that are causing you to suffer, you have to know how to let go of them.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

As many of you know, I love the theme of letting go. Sometimes we hold on a little too tightly to expectations we have for ourselves or thoughts of what we “think” we need to be happy, fulfilled and successful. Old habits die hard and it can be difficult to let go of an idea that you have about yourself or your life that no longer rings true.

For example, I was doing a values assessment recently and the things I thought would come up, like creativity and curiosity, these really core ideals I connect my sense of identity to, didn’t. What surfaced were things I already have in my life, that not everybody has. Things like freedom, safety, and security.

And it reminded me that, while as a culture we are always striving for more, perhaps during this time of uncertainty, we should seek happiness from what we already have. To make time to be grateful for what is right in front of us in this moment. Things that many of us take for granted everyday, like freedom, safety and security can bring us so much peace if we allow them to.

So often we wait for happiness.

We tell ourselves that we’ll be happy when “x” happens. We’ll relax when we reach a certain goal, or breathe a sigh of relief as we accomplish a milestone in life, but the truth is, we have everything we need to be happy and at peace right here in this moment, if only for a moment.

So, repeat after me:

“I have everything I need.” 

In times of doubt, stress, you name it, this is a mantra that has brought me calmness, reassurance and gratitude.

I hope it does the same for you.

the art of living

The Art of Living

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“All the art of living lies in the fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” -Havelock Ellis

All relationships have a tension or delicate balance between aspects that we like and dislike or things that work well and are a challenge.

So too, do we tend to have multiple feelings or emotions of an event, say, the loss of a loved one. We are sad they are gone, yet relieved they are no longer suffering.

This plays into my “yes, and” philosophy of living life, that I gleamed from my days of improv comedy.

Yes, I love you, And sometimes I find you difficult to be around. 

When we limit ourselves to dichotomous thinking, we miss the Rainbow of Options. Getting stuck in black/white, right/wrong, good/bad thinking sets us and others up for failure rather than success.

If we choose “right” then others are “wrong.” When our “right” doesn’t work out, we feel like we have failed.

If instead we look at the whole rainbow of options we could choose, we are limitless.

95% of the options may be things you would never actually do, but at least they are there for you if you need them.

This Rainbow of Options gives you more flexibility rather than keeping you rigid and binary. Much of mental illness can be due to rigidity while mental well-being can lie in the ability for have flexibility of thinking.

Think: Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset!

worthy

We Are Worthy Of Surrender

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Let every Exhale
Remind you
You are worthy
Of Surrender.”
Morgan Harper Nichols

What a wonderfully deep and great reminder for letting go! On our Exhale we are letting go of our breath, surrendering and trusting that there will be an inhale to fill up our lungs with the next breath.

The word worthy caught my attention. Perhaps it caught yours too. The idea that we are worthy of surrender speaks to me as “you deserve to let shit go” and even have permission to let shit go.

I’ve been re-reading “Awakening the Buddah Within” by Lama Surya Das and have been reminded of the idea that we suffer (get anxious, angry, annoyed) due to our attachments, especially to ideals and expectations.

Dealing with Difficult People

I have noticed in my own life, when I allow people to be exactly who they are, letting go of who I think they “should” be, I’m not so irritated or frustrated by them. This allows me to be more at peace and less irritated or frustrated with that person because I’m not wasting my energy thinking the person might change or that I could even get them to change.

For years, a practice of mine is to embrace that I only have control over myself. I have no control over anyone else. What I can choose is how I want to show up with others when I experience them as difficult. I choose not to allow myself to react to their current difficult nature even while my heart is racing and I want to scream. I choose not to hand over my power to that person or allow their behavior to control me.

Instead, I imagine as if they just threw me a rope in an effort to play tug-of-war with me. I get to decide if I pick up that rope and play their game or not. My goal is to notice the rope and think, “well, there’s that,” then redirect my attention and the conversation in a different direction.

This has not been easy for me. I have been at this particular practice for 12+ years and still struggle at times. Perhaps you may give it a go?

progress

Choosing Progress Over Perfection

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

As a high achiever, entrepreneur, leader, and CEO, I know how hard I tend to push myself and how critical I can be of myself. Through my own therapy, self-care, mindfulness, and meditation, I’ve been successful at increasing positive self-talk and decreasing doubt, guilt, and criticism.

My Mantra?

Strive for Progress NOT Perfection!

Think about it…we will never reach perfection (especially in our own minds since we’re so hard on ourselves).

It’s just not possible. So why are we wasting our time and energy trying?

We are always in Progress…we are progressing through life.

Even if we hit 60 or 75 or 80% of what we *think* is “perfect” it is likely not “good enough.”

Want to feel *good enough*?

Let go of the idea of being perfect.

Let’s be honest (with ourselves AND others) instead. Besides, who’s judging us anyway? We are likely much harder on ourselves than anyone else is or would be!! This vicious cycle is exhausting!

Want more energy? Want to feel good enough? Give yourself permission to know there is no such thing as perfect. Give yourself permission to be kind and graceful with yourself. And then feel the weight lifted from your shoulders so you feel lighter and more energetic!

Remember, we are works in progress…

If you are noticing yourself reassessing your work, your relationships, or even your location, good for you! It means you are being mindful of what all your options are. While you may not truly entertain most of those options, the more choices you give yourself, the less stuck you’ll feel.

And if you are stuck, no problem!

Pushing and forcing works for us at many stages of our life, but there comes a point when we begin to reassess if we need to keep doing things the same way we’ve done them.

Perhaps it’s time to shake shit up a bit?

That’s what we’re here for!! Working with a therapist can offer you more clarity and focus for your path forward. And you’ll feel calmer, lighter, and more peaceful.

ground yourself

How to Physically Ground Yourself In the Present Moment

Anyone else DONE?! Over it? Fried? Frazzled?! We sure are! The holidays have come and are almost gone, leaving many of us reeling from too much “stuff,” too many “people,” and too many “things” to do. This is especially true if you are a Highly Sensitive Person or an Empath…

How can we best take care of ourselves when we’re in this space?

Perhaps getting grounded and centered in the present moment!

Here are a few physical activities we can do to direct our mind back to the here and now:

1. Savor a food or drink

While most of us rush through our meals to get back to a task or event, try to savor your next bite to eat. You can do this by taking small bites or sips. Pretend you are trying your food or beverage for the first time, letting yourself fully taste every flavor. Think about the temperature, texture, smell, and presentation of your food as well.

2. Take a short walk

What do you see? Focus on the texture, movement, and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue. How fast is that squirrel darting from the tree? Can you see your reflection in the puddle of water on the sidewalk? Are the trees bare or still full of leaves, do they move with the wind or simply stay still?

3. Hold a Piece of Ice

What does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?

4. Savor a Scent?

What are some of your favorite smells? Maybe you enjoy the wafts of a baked good rising in the oven, coffee brewing, onion or garlic cooking on the stove, laundry fresh from the dryer, or a candle. Whatever it is, inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply.  What are its qualities?

5. Listen to your surroundings

Take a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs barking? The hum of your computer, or the dryer running? If you hear people talking, what are they saying? Put on some music. Let the sounds wash over you and remind you where you are.

6. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method

You can rely on your 5 senses to bring you back to reality anytime you are starting to “spin out.” Counting backward from 5, use your senses to list the things you notice around you. 5 things you hear, four things you see, three things you can touch nearby, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, and remember which of them brings you joy. Then you can incorporate these little rituals into your day to help keep you centered.

why mindfulness

Why Mindfulness?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

Why Mindfulness? Why is it so important? This quote sums it up wonderfully:

Mindfulness is the Gateway to Peace.

So many of us feel chaotic and worried, pulled in many directions…feeling like a hamster on a hamster wheel, spinning and stuck, wasting away our energy without purpose or direction. I’ve been there. I know what that feels like. And then I was done with feeling that way. I wanted to feel grounded, centered, and at peace.

Peace felt weird at first. The first time I felt it I really didn’t know what it was.. it felt very odd, and different. Finally, it dawned on me and I said to myself, “So this is what it feels like to feel content.” I was used to mood swings… highs and lows. I was always irritable,  frustrated with myself or others and I felt constantly overwhelmed. My body went into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode daily.

Now, my body and mind are used to feeling grounded, centered, and at peace.

I practice practical mindfulness constantly throughout the day by noticing my 5 senses when doing tasks. This means I allow myself to become aware of what I’m doing, thinking, and feeling and check in with myself to see if there is a better option for me at that moment.

I stopped asking, “Why?”

I realized the “Why” is a bottomless pit. We don’t really need to know “why.” “Why” focuses on the past. I’m not going in that direction. I’m moving forward. Instead, I ask, “How?” “What?” Or “Where?”

As in: How do I want to feel differently? How can I get there? What do I need at this moment to best take care of myself? What do I want out of life and what is meaningful to me? Where do I want my life to go?

I also have a flexible morning and evening mindfulness meditation routine. Every day I focus on what I’m grateful for. I also visualize where I’m headed, what I am intending for my day, my year, my life. And I spend time wondering and listening. I’m not formal or rigid with my practice. Rigidity hurts me more than it helps. Instead, I am gentle, kind, and forgiving with myself and subsequently others. I am at peace. And that feels wonderful!

subconcious

What Story Are You Feeding Your Subconscious?

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

Did you know your subconscious believes whatever you tell it?

When we have a story that we tell ourselves that limits us or our abilities our subconscious believes that.

When we have a story that is hopeful and empowering, our subconscious believes that.

Often we take from the past, which has already been experienced and written, to write our story of the future. And, of course, we feel like imposters! We are making this all up as we go. None of us have ever lived this day, this way before.

What if instead, we IMAGINE the story we want, that hasn’t been lived or written yet. When we DREAM about it, over and over and over again, as if we have already lived it THEN our subconscious believes that!

Don’t like your current story? Start writing and imagining a new one. Skip the chapter you’re on and see what’s in the chapters ahead. Or better yet, perhaps put this book down and try out another book. See if you like that story better.

What story are you feeding your subconscious? Remember: What we feed, grows. 

fatal flaws

Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships with People who have Disorders of Personality & Character

I have noticed how frequently these days that folks are seeking help for people in their lives that they suspect are “narcissistic” or have a personality disorder.  The symptoms and behaviors that accompany these conditions can be debilitating to the families, friends, and even co-workers who interact with them on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that so many are reaching out for help in search of how to cope and heal these complex and painful intersections in their lives.

In my work with those seeking help and clarification with these experiences, I have often recommended an excellent book for those looking to shore up and expand the work they are doing in their individual/family sessions.  The book is entitled Fatal Flaws by Dr. Stuart Yudofsky.

Personal, accessible, and penetrating, Dr. Yudofsky’s work provides a comprehensive approach to navigating the complex world of personality disorders. Dr. Yudofsky weaves real-life experiences from his work in ways that will likely resonate with those who have had similar encounters in their own lives. The book also utilizes several scales to assist in determining whether or not a personality disorder exists.

Proper assessment is crucial in this area. I really encourage those who are struggling with someone they suspect may be “narcissistic” or to have a personality disorder to seek out a therapist to help them wade through the many variables that influence these conditions. Doing so can provide clarity and the establishment of strong boundaries that are crucial in restoring relationships and individual health.

rewire the brain

Rewire the Brain: A 4 Week Guided Meditation Course

Are you looking to experience more joy and peace in your day-to-day life? Are you seeking to be more present in your relationships? Do you ever want to “get out of your own head” and start living more for the moment?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the questions, then this 4 Week Guided Meditation Course is for you!

While utilizing affirmations and attempting to re-structure negative thoughts can be a great practice, sometimes we may feel that we need more to truly manifest what we want in our lives and get more space from negative and harmful thought patterns.
This course uses the power of meditation to help rewire our brain and create new neural pathways so that we can more readily access joy and peace and break out of patterns no longer serving us!

Meditation with others can also help you give and receive the energy from the collective if you’re feeling especially isolated during this time! This course may also be a great practice to help build resilience, peace, and strength before the holiday season is quickly upon us.

All 4 classes are $40 and each session lasts 45 minutes. These sessions will be virtual and held over Zoom Thursday, October 14th & 28th and Thursday, November 4th & 11th from 7-7:45 pm.

Class is structured such that there is an introduction to the mediation. Then I will facilitate a guided mediation for participants. Afterward, the group will process the mediation as a whole and share any insights, feelings, or experiences if they choose! This will also be an opportunity to add additional skills or use the accountability of the group environment to problem solve barriers to consistent mediation practice.

I will be utilizing practices from Eriksonian hypnosis, self-compassion, re-parenting the self, increasing resilience and nervous system regulation. Meditations will be focused on retraining our nervous system. This is to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that are a result of developmental trauma, or complex PTSD. This course is meant to help clients re-parent themselves. Participants will experience less emotional deregulation, and access positive, self-affirming, and self-compassionate thoughts more readily.

Click here to sign up!

 

 

optimism

Harnessing the Power of Our Mind Through Mindfulness

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

Mindfulness is a wonderful practice that research has shown to better our mental, emotional, and physical health. But there is new exciting data coming out that tells us mindfulness is a tool that can enhance our performance in athletics, our career, or anywhere we may need to perform at a certain level.

In order to perform at our highest level and reach our potential, we need to achieve a flow state of mind. This flow is proven to enhance performance in learning, athletics, creativity, and leading. A flow state of mind is a mental state where we are completely involved and focused on what we are doing. It’s a type of trance we can get in where barriers and ego fall away. Mindfulness can develop a healthy brain structure to keep us in the flow state of mind.

Our brains have a default mode network that is designed for survival. However, when we stay in this mode during our performance we are vulnerable to pressure, anxiety, and an inability to focus. Mindfulness can get us out of this mode and into a flow.

It is so important to develop resiliency and performance in high-pressure situations. Just like we can train and command the body to be strong and flexible for athletic performance we can train the mind to be calm and confident.

Through repetitions of practices and ways of thinking, the mind can harness optimism. Optimism explores protentional even in times when we may be stressed or anxious. Optimism is much more than thinking the best will happen, it’s a practice that opens doors and helps our minds find our ceiling.