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Taming The Voice In Your Head

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There is nothing wrong with you. Do you believe me? I bet the voice in your head is saying, maybe there’s nothing wrong with you, but there is definitely something that needs fixing in me!

Let’s talk about that voice in your head, it’s been called “ego” “inner critic” “shadow voice” “survival mechanism” even “obnoxious roommate living in your head.”

Whatever you choose to call it, it is a collection of thoughts, fears, negative beliefs and stories that you made up as a child. Yup, it’s like having a little kid living inside your head.

I keep a photo of myself as a little girl just to remind me that the voice in my head is just a scared little girl. In my case, a little kid with a potty mouth because it says things to me and about me that I would never say to another human being.

6 year old me

The inner critics job is to keep us safe and protected inside our comfort zone.

I remember, years ago, how scared I was when I was supposed to go to a party or gathering, it didn’t matter whether I knew the people there or not. Thinking about walking into a room full of people made me sweat, my heart would beat out of my chest and panic would set in, just by thinking about it.

This was definitely outside my comfort zone and something that was effecting my relationships and my career. I needed to do something about it because there were many times I could not bring myself to walk into a room full of people, without a glass of wine or two.

My shadow voice would shut me down and I would hide.

Even though we develop our ego or survival mechanism to help us cope and survive childhood, as adults we don’t really need it anymore.

And, just by thinking about what we want and the action we need to take to get there can be enough to trigger our ego or inner critic.

I knew that there was nothing to fear from going to that networking but that voice was running the show and shutting me down. Kinda hard to make progress with that going on.

And, that’s where we normally stop. We get stuck in the thoughts, the fear of stepping into the unknown.

The hard truth is, to keep growing and reach our goals, we must feel the fear and keep going.

So what do we do about that obnoxious roommate (or scared child) that lives in our head?

  1. Realize that that voice is not who you are. It’s just something you made up as a kid.
  2. Understand that the inner critic will likely speak first and speak loudest.
  3. When you notice your ego is triggered, do not react, as this will likely lead to all sorts of bad choices. Stop, take a breath and allow the thoughts to move through without sticking. Let them flow on down like a sparkling stream.
  4. Once you have space, you’re able to connect with your intuition (instinct, higher self) and then choose from there.
  5. Don’t try and push it down or get rid of it, it will only come back stronger. What we resist persists, as the late Debbie Ford said.
  6. Take away its power by NOT giving it what it wants, your attention. I recently had an email in my inbox with the subject, ‘Your ego is the enemy.’ Personally I don’t think we should give our ego that much power. What do we do with an enemy? We normally try and fight it. Stop fighting and go back to step 3.
  7. If you notice that you are stuck in a hole of negative thinking, check first on your well being. Are you tired, hungry, been working way too much? When our well being is off, we are ripe for being triggered.

The bad news is that your ego is not going away, it is yours to keep. The good news is that with practice you can learn to tame that obnoxious roommate living in your head.

With practice, and, there will always be ample opportunity to practice, you will begin to create a more joyful, calm and peaceful life. Life won’t be so heavy. It’s worked for me and for my clients so give it a try and let me know how it goes.

5 Simple Steps To Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Overwhelm

Are you stressed out, feeling swamped and anxious? These five simple steps will help bring more ease and calm into your life AND still get stuff done.

One of the things that my clients often struggle with is feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Either over the amount of things they have to get done or with all of the stress and anxiety in their life.

When you get stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or frustrated, what happens?
When your thoughts are running rampant, you’re confused and overwhelmed, how does it normally go for you, what’s your pattern?

For me, I’m going to shut down, burn out or go hide.

My best friend and I developed something that we have used for years and now I use it with my clients. (Pretend you see me touching the tip of my nose with my finger.) This means, do the next right thing in front of your nose.

I’ve boiled this down into 5 simple steps that you can use starting immediately, when you’re feeling stressed, frustrated, anxious or overwhelmed.

  1. The first is, STOP. When you notice that you’re feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed, just stop.
  2. Next, take a breath. Give space to those thoughts that are running rampant in your head right now. Breathe. Our current culture and societal pressure is to get stuff done and succeed. Stopping and taking a breath releases pressure and brings us out of our heads and into the present moment. Which leads us to step 3.
  3. Give your thoughts some space. As we disconnect from our head, we can drop into our heart, intuition, instinct, higher self, whatever you call that part of you that connects with your inner wisdom and guidance.
  4. The next step is to ask, “What is the next right thing to do?” You’re not looking out over the week or even the day, you’re looking at just NOW, what is the next right thing to do?
  5. Finally, do it. We can’t get anywhere if we don’t get into action. After you do that thing, check in, how are you feeling? If you feel the anxiety coming back, follow the steps again. There are days, I follow this even when I’m not feeling stressed because it keeps me moving and helps me get out ahead of the stress and anxiety.

It works really well when you have a partner because we are not always reliable to notice when we are caught up in our emotions. There have been days I’m talking with my friend, spiraling into a story of overwhelm not sure what to do. She simply touches the end of her nose and I’m immediately brought out of my head and into the present.

I have been able to get things done when I didn’t think I could. It’s worked for me and for my clients.

I have a video on this that you can share. (https://www.facebook.com/linda.heeler/videos/10218420561973393) Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Uncomfortably Numb

My Favorite Novocaine

My Favorite Novocaine

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to a client, “Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just want to be expressed…” I’ve wasted so much time numbing myself with food because I didn’t want to deal with certain thoughts and emotions. I use food to help me relax and even celebrate making it through the day. It’s as if it helps me take a deep breath and relax. Of course, I know better. When I am in my “I can eat anything I want whenever I want” mode, it isn’t long before I’m numbing my anger, shame, sadness, frustration, boredom, overwhelm etc… and packing on the LB’s. Then I use even more food to try and feel better. It’s a set up for disaster. The thing about numbing emotions is that we can’t pick and choose which ones to numb. When we numb one emotion, we numb them all. We numb our emotions with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping or today’s most popular numbing activity, being crazy-busy. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says, “…research taught me that there’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light… We can’t make a list of all of the “bad” emotions and say, “I’m going to numb these” and then make a list of the positive emotions and say, “I’m going to fully engage in these!” When I numb myself with food, alcohol or busyness, I feel like my world is painted gray. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t really enjoy what I’m eating because if everything I eat is special then nothing is special. Do you get what I mean? As soon I stopped using food to numb my feelings and dull my thoughts, I began to feel and hear everything that I didn’t want to deal with. It was uncomfortable but I survived. I started by not judging myself. I began meditating again so I could practice separating who I know myself to be from the thoughts in my head. Choosing to run away from my thoughts and feelings, comes at a cost. India Arie’s song, Break The Shell, talks about this. She says, “life’s gonna hurt but it’s meant to be felt…” because “we have a choice to live or truly be alive…” In order to truly be alive, I have to break the shell that I put up to keep the pain away. Lat Saturday night, we went to a dinner party and the food was amazing! I ate everything I wanted, even a bite of the homemade ooey-gooey, chocolatey, butter and sugar-filled Paula Deen brownies that our hostess made. I took a bite and savored it. Did I want more? Hell yes! But I knew that another bite was not going to taste as good as that first bite. I have a ways to go before I reach my goal but I’m learning that overcoming my issue with food and my weight (and any other issue) starts with looking at what’s going on inside of me, not judging it.  Then I can give myself permission to feel it all. What is your favorite way to numb yourself?  What is it you’re not allowing yourself to feel?

Keeping Up With Somebody

I recently heard an interview with Tim McGraw where he said something that made me angry. He said he always knew he wanted to be somebody.

Does that mean that there are people who aren’t somebody? What does that make them? Nobody?

Chances are we’ve all said or heard this saying and I’m sure Mr. McGraw didn’t set out to tick me off. But I was curious about what got me all riled up.

I notice that I feel the same way when I watch TV shows like the Real Housewives of Wherever and the Kardashians.

Why do we care so much about these people?

It seems to me we are a society obsessed with fame and trying to be somebody.

If fame can’t be achieved by getting on a reality show, then some people try getting on TV by leaking a sex tape, doing some idiotic stunt or, heaven forbid, an act of violence. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

We wonder why so many people in this country have mounting debt. We’re all just trying to keep up with the Kardashians.

As an adult with half a brain, I realize that these shows are anything but reality and are on the air because they make the networks money.

However, children and teens can fall victim to thinking they are a nobody because they cannot live the same lifestyle as the people they watch on TV.

As a volunteer with women in jail, the majority come from abuse and addiction. A lot of them don’t know how to live (or parent their children) because they were never parented.

Are these women somebody? According to Tim McGraw and I dare say our society, I would guess no. It’s too easy to dismiss and forget about those who are struggling to live; the homeless, the mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts.

What is missing from our society and culture that is creating this?

I believe it is because we have forgotten our inherent worthiness. What does that mean?

It means that just by our mere presence on this planet, we are somebody.

Worthiness is something that is born in each of us. It cannot be taken away but we can forget that it is our birthright.

We think that if we are famous and have adoring fans, then we will feel and, therefore be, worthy. Then we will be happy right?

But what if those fans never come? Or what if they come and then go away? This is a set up for disaster.

How many stars have turned to drugs or alcohol when they found themselves no longer relevant?

If we know our true worth, then it doesn’t matter how many followers we have on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even if we lose them all, we will know that we are still somebody.

How do you measure your self-worth? What can we do as parents and a society to help our children cultivate a healthy self-worth?

What do you need to do to be somebody in your own life?

Facebook Frustration

I am sick of Facebook. I can’t go on without getting frustrated and annoyed.

My annoyance is so bad at times that I won’t go on Facebook for weeks at a time. Then I feel like a schmuck because I find out my elderly aunt has been sick and I didn’t see my cousin’s post.

When it seems like someone else is MAKING me feel a certain way, I know I have to take a look at myself. I have a choice to be a victim or be responsible for my interpretation of the situation.

These are my interpretations that are making me crazy!

I feel like everyone on Facebook has life figured out. They have the perfect job, the perfect family and are taking the perfect vacations. Everything in their life is perfect!

I know for a fact that some of the people coming across as perfect are far from it. They are choosing to put on a mask of perfection for whatever reason. Pride, vanity, to avoid shame and embarrassment if they admitted the truth?

I also get sick of those who are constantly complaining about their boss, their job, their friend, their co-worker, whoever has done them wrong. This sort of post seems to get responses from those who want to get the scoop and pass on the gossip and those who want to console the one who’s been “wronged.”

Of course, this is all done keeping the perpetrator’s identity anonymous, but you know who you are. And so does everyone else. And if you can’t figure it out just message them and they’ll tell you. DRAMA!

Ok, now it’s time for me to be a grown up.

Have you heard the one where if we can’t be with something in another person then that’s a part of us we can’t be with? In other words, if I look on my side of the street, I will see where I am doing those very things that really irk the heck out of me.

Am I guilty of putting on the mask of perfection? It hurts to admit it but yes. Yup, nothing to see here, I’ve got it all handled. A big LOL here!

I post about my wonderful kids and husband and they are wonderful, and imperfect. My husband and I have been together for 30 years now and I would be lying if I said we had it all figured out. We are still working on how to communicate on a deeper level other than what happened at work, on the golf course or at the grocery store.

I love both my kids and there are times I say “really?” when my daughter shows up with yet another hair color or mumble “dumb ass” under my breath when my son recounts his antics with his buddies.

And what about the drama? Even though I have been trying hard not to complain to others, there are times that complaints are just bouncing around in my head.

Debbie Ford said, “what we resist, persists.” When I try not to verbally complain and push away any mental complaints it just makes them stronger.

Then when I go on Facebook and see someone complaining, the floodgates burst. I begin complaining about the complainers!

What do I do with all of this? On Facebook, I can and have unfriended people who are constantly complaining and seeming to want to pick fights.

But what do I do about me? I can’t unfriend myself.

First, I choose where I’m going to complain. I have a few select friends whom I can go to and say, “I just need to complain about this.” They let me be victim until I get it out. Then if they hear me complaining after that, they remind me to be responsible.

Second, there’s really nothing else to do but accept and be me. Accept my mistakes, my feelings, my foibles and my imperfection. Sounds easy right?

It would be easy if there was something I could do like run around the house 5 times and poof! Suddenly I am no longer bothered by complainers or people pretending to be perfect. No such luck.

But, as soon as I practice authenticity, I become more accepting and compassionate not only of myself but with everyone else around me. Think I’ll try that next time I’m on Facebook.