Tag Archives: Self-Help Memoir

Self-Help Success Story: “Glennon Doyle’s ‘Love Warrior’ Helped Me Learn to Feel”

Just before he turned five, my son wrote a story. And it was the saddest thing ever. As he finished it and I was scribbling it down, all I could think was, “Oh, my goodness. What is this kid picking up from me?” Here is that story:

“The first thing that happens is there’s alive vacuums and they bang and crush until they’re dead in heaven and then they knew to be not alive vacuums that are really alive vacuums. The end. (They just pretend that they’re not alive by closing their eyes and popping their arms in them.)”

“Oh, and put the title on it,” he reminded me.

“Okay. What’s the title?”

“Alive Vacuums Hurt.”

Wow, I thought. Alive vacuums hurt. Am I alive? Or am I pretending not to hurt, too?

During childhood, I was definitely alive. I cried all the time. These days, though, not so much. It’s a rare thing for me to cry even a little. I wish I wasn’t like this, but I am.

Which is probably why I loved the book Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle so much: it gave me an outlet for emotion. It’s about blogger Doyle’s marital difficulties as well as how she overcame addiction. But Doyle doesn’t just tell her story. She emotes it. She gives us the raw, even gory, details, scene by painful scene, till your own personal sadness surfaces to keep hers company.

I felt a lot of things while reading Doyle’s book. But mostly I felt inspired to feel more.

I don’t want to be an alive vacuum pretending to be a dead vacuum. I don’t want to be afraid of my feelings.

Here are a few passages from the book that were especially helpful to me:

  • “My mom’s voice quivers as she and my dad ask the usual questions: Why do you keep doing this to us? Why do you keep lying? Do you even love us? I sit on the couch and I try to receive their questions, but I’m a catcher without a mitt. My face is neutral, but the part of my heart that’s not spoiled is aching. I do love them. I love them and I love my sister and I love my friends. I think I love my people more than normal people love their people. My love is so overwhelming and terrifying and uncomfortable and complicated that I need to hide from it. Life and love simply ask too much of me. Everything hurts. I don’t know how people can just let it all hurt so much. I am just not up for all this hurting.”
  • “I sit and stare at my hands and I remember a story I saw on the news about a woman who had a stroke and lost all her language overnight. When she woke up, her mind functioned perfectly, but she couldn’t speak. So she just lay there and tried to use her eyes to communicate her terror about being trapped inside herself. Her family couldn’t translate what her eyes were saying. They thought she was brain-dead. It’s like that for me, too. I’m in here. I am good on the inside. I have things to say. I need help getting out. I do love you. My secret is that I’m good in here. I am not heart-dead. This is a secret that no one knows but me.”
  • “We begin to understand that to coparent is to one day look up and notice that you are on a roller coaster with another human being. You are in the same car, strapped down side by side and you can never, ever get off. There will never be another moment in your lives when your hearts don’t rise and fall together, when your minds don’t race and panic together, when your stomachs don’t churn in tandem, when you stop seeing huge hills emerge in the distance and simultaneously grab the side of the car and hold on tight. No one except for the one strapped down beside you will ever understand the particular thrills and terrors of your ride.”
  • “As we walk out into the sun, Craig says, ‘Is it going to be okay? He’s going to be okay, right?’ I look at him and understand that when your coaster partner gets scared you must quickly hide your own fear. You can’t panic at the same time. You must take turns. I grab Craig’s arm, hold tight, and say, ‘Yes. Absolutely. It’s all going to be okay. He is going to be amazing. This is just part of our ride.’”
  • “I tell them that I’m finally proud of who I am. I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, ‘For the same reason I laugh so often—because I’m paying attention.’ I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide. If we choose to be perfect and admired, we must send our representatives out to live our lives. If we choose to be real and loved, we must send out our true, tender selves.”
  • “I’d been angry and ashamed because my marriage was so far from perfect. But perfect just means: works exactly the way it is designed to work. If marriage is an institution designed to nurture the growth of two people—then, in our own broken way, our marriage is perfect.”

So, I Admit It: My Kids Are Not Geniuses.

Would a future particle physicist do any of these things?

  • Step directly in every single dirt pile I ever sweep up.
  • Bonk his head on the bathtub faucet twice in the same bath.
  • About three mornings per week, and several evenings, too, suddenly forget how to put on his shoes.
  • Sit on the couch with a bare bottom after pooping and before my checking his wiping job.
  • Scream in the baby’s ear while she’s napping.
  • Jump on my back and yell “piggy back ride!” without warning me beforehand.
  • Headbutt my closed fist.
  • Entirely forget how to say, “Can I have a turn, please?” instead of screaming for a toy. Every single time.
  • Bump my arm when I’m almost done with my drawing.
  • Fight over a pair of scissors.

And yet, I still hold out hope that my kids may become geniuses. That’s just what moms do, I guess.

Law of Attraction Success Story: “My Top Five Law of Attraction Techniques,” Part Two

Contributor: Ralph Dorr, author of the recently published book Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind.

As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.

Here’s how I discovered the final three of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.. (You can read about the others right here.)

Technique 3: Act As If You’ve Already Done It

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford

This was tough for me to overcome because it was a confidence issue with me. I knew the advice, keep your back straight, walk tall, don’t let people get the better of you but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Or so I thought. It can be clumsy or awkward at first but I promise it will make you smile from ear to ear once you try it. When I was feeling lost just a few years ago I gave it a shot. I thought to myself, “If I were a successful author, how would I behave?” So I changed. Instead of being slumped in my chair when writing, I got up, stretched myself out, took some deep breaths, and resumed writing, only this time tried to look confident. And you know what? It worked! I managed to brainstorm numerous ideas for my books and even got started on the one I recently published.

Take a moment and picture a successful person in your mind. What is their body language like? Are they smiling? What actions and activities are they doing? Now, ask the same questions again, only picture someone who is depressed or unsatisfied with their life. I bet you’ll start to see a difference.

That’s the trick! Having a fulfilling life really just boils down to how you act. Recent studies confirmed this by determining that “. . . the way you walk and move your body and posture affects your mood.” For instance, if you’re not happy with the amount of money you have in the bank nothing is stopping you from acting like you’re already at the goal you wish you were at. Walk with confidence, smile more, live better and the Universe will notice. Go ahead, act it out!

Technique 4: Love What You Do

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

Most of us have experienced going with the crowd rather than paving our own path. Early in my journey I was taking tests online all day trying to figure out my personality, passions and strengths. It wasn’t until I pushed my laptop to the side and starting spending some quality time with myself that I realized what I truly love, which is writing. It can be tough to sit down and have a mental “talk” with yourself. It took me hours to figure out what my heart has been trying to tell me all along. But guess what? When I figured out what my soul wanted me to pursue, I got an instant energy rush which touched every inch of my being. I had found my passion. No other feeling can relate to how spectacular it felt. Since it was my true passion I love every second I spend doing it and my life has become so much better since I found it.

This right here is where success and happiness are intertwined. Have you ever noticed that people who have it all (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc.) never stop working? They have enough money and success to last multiple lifetimes but many people like that work harder than when they were young. Here’s the secret: they love what they do!

I love writing, improving myself, and connecting with others so I make it my mission each day to do at least one of those three things. If you love taking photos, take them every day, share them with who you can, and enjoy the process. There has never been a better time to cash in on your passion. Or if you don’t want any financial success from it, do it because it makes your soul feel good and alive!

I spoke about this in my book Power Mindset Mastery, as follows:

“If you do not discover yourself, and know exactly what you want from life, you have no idea what you are living for.

“A step to self-discovery is identifying your needs. Most people are clueless of what they want. To identify your needs, you first need to take a step back and think thoroughly. Then, when you are in a relaxed state of mind, meditate and focus on your thoughts. Ask yourself questions like what makes you happy, what makes you sad and so on. Along with the question of what, also ask why it makes you feel certain emotions. Seek a deep and strong reason behind it, not a common or general answer.

“When you have identified what makes you happy and sad, you can focus on the things that make you happy and stay away from moments that make you sad.”

Technique 5: Accept Who You Are

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain

This can be tough for many of us because often times we shove our true thoughts or feelings to the side for quite some time. I was in a nasty habit of doing that for most my life. I would keep my mouth shut when I had something to say. Or I would keep myself from saying how I really felt when I was given the chance to speak. At first I thought I was doing good by not upsetting anyone and that I was attracting good people in my life because of it. However, I was battling myself on the inside to stop wearing so many different masks. The people I was attracting into my life didn’t share my vision or passion which made it tough to be around them. Much like the other techniques, I decided one morning that I would start to speak my mind and be honest with myself. I started slow but eventually got to the point where I was speaking my mind and telling the truth every time I opened my mouth. It was an incredibly freeing feeling and one that still hits me to this day. The result? I began attracting wonderful people into my life who shared my passion for writing and helping. It is a completely different feeling when you are surrounded by people who genuinely know you and care for that part of you that you tried so hard to push away.

As we age, our ambitions tend to fade. Do you still love doing the activities you were doing as a child? If you so happen to write a book, what subject would you write on? Questions like these can help bring perspective to where you are at in your life and what you value.

You’ll always have people tell you what you are doing Is wrong, weird, or too different. Caring about what others think of you is a HUGE distraction. What does it keep you from? Yourself.

Deep inside you know yourself. We all do. Some of us just need an extra nudge to get it out. For me, I always tried to hide the fact that I love the self-help genre from my friends and family. I remember I was terrified to get caught listening to Tony Robbins on my computer as a kid so I would close the tab when my parents walked by. I was scared of what they would think. Unfortunately the only person that was affecting was myself because I was stopping myself from exploring what my soul was telling me to do.

When I became open about how much I appreciate things like the law of attraction or meditation I was met with questions and laughter from the people that were close to me. However, I also gained respect from them because we naturally respect those who are brave enough to let go and be true to themselves, it is freeing. Be honest with who you are. Identify the areas in your life that you feel you aren’t being true to yourself in and make a change.

That wraps up my explanation of the five law of attraction techniques that changed my life. It felt great writing these out. If they help even just one person then it will have been worth sharing.

As a final note, don’t overthink it. When it comes to living the life of your dreams or attracting success into your life, focus on finding yourself first. Practice self-love and gratitude and your journey will align more and more with where the universe wants you.

Ralph Dorr

P.S. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns. I love talking to anyone I can meet! It would make my year if you could check out my book, Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind and leave an honest review.

Law of Attraction Success Story: “My Top Five Law of Attraction Techniques,” Part One

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

Contributor: Ralph Dorr, author of the recently published book Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with the Power of Your Mind.

As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.

Here’s how I discovered the first two of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.

Technique 1: Be Thankful

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” – Frank A. Clark

For the longest time I was going through life without being thankful for all that I had. I thought the world was somehow conspiring against me to bring me pain and suffering so I felt no need to thank it. That all changed back in May of 2015 when I found a YouTube channel called Infinite Waters. Here was a man who was telling me all that I could be grateful for. Everyday something beautiful would happen to me and I never gave the Universe even a “thanks” in return. I had a wonderful house, a family who loved me, and nature to appreciate but I never gave any of it attention or gratitude; I only focused on the negative. I felt ashamed and I needed to change. I decided that I would never leave my room in the morning without recounting all that I am grateful for. It began empowering me. When you open your heart and start being grateful, amazing feelings start to flow in. My life changed forever when I started doing that. Instead of only seeing the bad in the world, I saw everything that was good and all that could become good with some changes.

The simple act of recounting all the blessings you’ve been given in your life feels powerful. It can give you purpose to achieve more and pay it back. Don’t just take my word for it, though; Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson and countless others practice gratitude every day.

The best time I’ve found to practice gratitude is right when I wake up and right before I go to bed. Try writing in a gratitude journal or simply run through three things you’re grateful for in your head. For example, when I wake up I tell myself, “I am so thankful for the amazing family I’ve been blessed with, the comfort my room provides me, and the access to food I am able to enjoy every day.” It always gives me some much needed perspective on how much I truly have. Although we all have our problems, everyone has been blessed with so much that often times we forget to turn around and tell the Universe, “Thank you.”

Technique 2: Build a Dream Board

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein

When I first heard about constructing a dream board, my first thought was, “What? I suck at arts and crafts.” Due to that limiting belief I shrugged it off and didn’t consider trying to build one for almost a year. Well, one cloudy morning back in 2016 I was thinking to myself, “What am I attracting into my life and what am I focusing on?” I had found my problem. I had no clue what I was focusing on and my life was becoming chaotic because of that. I remembered hearing about building a dream board and how it can help keep you on a focused path towards your dreams. I spent a few sleepless nights building my very own dream board, filling every possible space with an image or word that directed me towards where I wanted to go. Now, I look at it every day on my bedroom door and beautiful thoughts of my dreams rush into my head. It’s an exhilarating feeling and one that I would recommend to everyone!

This is one of my favorite techniques and has helped me change my life in so many ways. A dream board is something physical that showcases your desires in life, like a poster or even a sheet of paper (the bigger the better). It usually has images and words posted on it that align with your goals and vision. It can be a cutout picture of a new car or house from a magazine. Non-material items also work just as well; if one of your goals is to reduce stress, for example, then think about what that would look like. Would you be relaxing on a beach? Going for a bike ride? Think hard and visualize how that picture looks in your mind and put it on your dream board.

The dream board doesn’t have to just be limited to images. Write out how your dreams feel to you. For instance, one of my dreams (which I have not yet achieved) was to write a book. I wrote it out as if I was already living it, saying something like, “I spent all day replying to people’s emails about how much my book meant to them and I loved every second.”

I am hoping you are seeing a pattern by now. When you continue to write out positive phrases or look at images your focus will shift towards that instead of negative distractions. That is the core of this belief and if you are able to do it then you’ll be well on your way to success!

Remember to keep your dream board in a place where you will see it every day. I am a big fan of putting it in spots I can’t avoid like the refrigerator, my bed stand, or even my bedroom door. Add looking at your dream board to your daily morning ritual and think about it often.

Three more techniques to come.

Ralph Dorr

P.S. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns. I love talking to anyone I can meet! It would make my year if you could check out my book, Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind and leave an honest review.

Everything That Happens When You Walk: A Commuter’s Memoir

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Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

When I was single, I didn’t have a car. I walked everywhere, and loved it. Now I’m a suburban mom, and I’m doing the same thing.

It’s a bit different this time around.

Follow my serial, Everything That Happens When You Walk: A Commuter’s Memoir by email.

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This serial is scheduled to begin soon. When it does, all new posts will be listed here.

The Mathematics of Coats

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This is my first winter with three children, and here is what I’ve learned about the mathematics of coats.

To find the total square footage of your home that you will need to devote solely to winter wear, use the following equation.

  • For each child in the family, add two lightweight jackets or sweatshirts, one point five heavy coats, one snowsuit, one rain suit, plus gloves, boots and hats.
  • For each adult in the family, add five to ten lightweight jackets or sweatshirts, one fancy coat, one rain jacket, one heavy coat, plus gloves, boots and hats.
  • For each adult bicyclist, motorcyclist, skier, scuba diver or other athletic type, add one pair of specialty pants and one point five specialty coat per sport. Because the volume of each of these items is almost double the average volume of other items, multiply this number by two.

Thus, if your family has five members (as mine does), you will need approximately eight thousand items of winter wear in your collective wardrobe.

After determining the total number of items, measure the square footage needed per item. This will vary depending on how much space between items you require to access them. Now multiply this number by your number of items.

If you did the math right, you will likely come up with a figure that will make it necessary to buy a second home. Or at least a Pod.

Seriously, though. Our coats take up two entire closets right now. And my kids are still tiny.

Summer, please come back soon.

(I’m off to buy a Pod.)

***

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Ten Things I Love About Men

Best Nonfiction Book - Rich Dad Poor Dad

1. Men don’t freak out over criticism. The other week, my babysitter quit. She said our parenting style was too “laid back.” (She was being nice, of course. She could’ve said my kids are brats.) After I read the email, I consulted with two friends at length, seeking ways to validate my choices and to work through my embarrassment. My husband, on the other hand? He read the email, made a single statement (which I won’t repeat here), then placed it all in a file and red-stamped it. Case closed.

2. Men are willing to take a backseat. My husband’s greatest joy in life is his mostly happy, mostly loving family. The role he chooses to play in keeping it that way is to support my parenting decisions as well as my self-care. He helps in any way he can, and doesn’t micromanage. Most of all, he realizes that the one who makes the plans is the one who gets to decide how to carry them out. (For more on gender differences in family decision making, see Tara Parker Pope’s discussion of household management in For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed.)

3. Men deeply appreciate real women’s bodies. Men love fat women, thin women, tall women, short women, beautiful women, plain women, dressed-up women, casual women, Barbie women, Martha Stewart women, soft women, angular women, curvy women and everything in between. Their tastes are much more wide-ranging and forgiving than the women they love often realize. (For evidence, see A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships by Ogi Ogas.)

4. Men are Zen. I once saw a video recording of a spiritual conference in which the audience was mostly made up of women. During the question and answer session, one of them asked the speaker if women are more spiritually evolved than men are; after all, they’re the ones who come to these events the most. The teacher responded that there may have been good reason that more men weren’t there. “Maybe they don’t need to read as many books and go to as many conferences, since they’re already practicing these principles without realizing it.”

I, for one, think she was right. If Zen is define as living in the moment, appreciating the little things and not obsessing over the bad, men as a whole are way more Zen than women are.

5. Men are great conversationalists. I love girl talk. Mom talk, especially. But I also can’t live without a weekly debate regarding philosophy, news and/or politics. And for that, my dad, husband and other male friends are my go-tos. With them, it’s not personal. I can be as opinionated as I want to be. Friendly debates really feel … friendly. (I have had a few girlfriends who don’t mind the inevitable disagreements that come up, but not many.)

6. Men are honest. I like the emotional support I get from my girlfriends, but every once in a while, if I’m full of shit, it’s better just to be told straight up. One of the greatest compliments I’ve even received–maybe the very greatest–came from my husband, who said, “You have the best personality of anyone I know.” If this had come from a girlfriend, I would’ve deeply appreciated their kindness. But since it came from a person who as far as I know has never, ever lied to me–even a so-called ‘white lie’–I will treasure it forever. (I’d give you a few great examples of his brutal honesty, but that probably isn’t necessary. Just trust me.)

7. Men communicate clearly. Here’s a typical scenario: my husband and I in our living room, cleaning up after our dinner guests. “Did you catch that comment?” I say. “The one about the laundry?”

Blank stare.

“Maris was hinting that Niles didn’t appreciate her. You didn’t see it? Oh, I love you, Hon. You’re so great.”

When I tell my husband, “I’m stressed out. I need a break,” he gets it. When I say, “Will you do the laundry?”, he says yes or no. However, when I say, “I hate everything right now,” he has no idea what that means, or what to do. This is a major advantage in our relationship. David teaches me how to be direct. (I’m not all the way there yet, though. Only been with him for eight years. These things take time.)

8. Men appreciate the beauty of silence. When I was in high school, my dad opened a window into male psychology for me–a small one, but it let in a surprising amount of light. He said, “The person you can sit with, and say nothing, but still understand each other–that’s the person you want to marry.”

But I love talking, I thought. I want to marry a great conversationalist. Later, though, I understood what he meant. Men love talking sometimes, too. But what they truly need is respectful, peaceful, loving, companionable … quiet.

Like I said: a window.

9. Men are sexy. Enough said.

10. Men are smart. Obviously, women are every bit as talented and intelligent as men are. But it’s been a while since I’ve heard someone say, “Men have done so much good in the world, haven’t they?” A similar comment about women comes my way every three hours or so. So let’s all take a moment to acknowledge the many achievements of male-kind, even if you don’t appreciate every single one of them. (Personally, I’m not a huge fan of cars. But the birth control pill and sidewalks? Two thumbs up.)

BONUS #1: Men are funny first, serious as needed. My husband plays with my children differently. And his discipline style is often more lighthearted than mine. A common caution of his is, “It seems like you need tickles. Do you need tickles?” It’s beautiful. Humor is one of the most helpful conflict management strategies I know.

BONUS #2: Finally, when people use the term “white men” or just “men” in a negative context, men don’t usually complain. Often, they even welcome it. Some even consider themselves feminists. They like us women that much.

Much, much love to the men in my life who have debated with me for hours, told me the unvarnished truth, and shown me how neurotic I (occasionally) am.

P.S. Happy birthday to my amazing older son, who turns five very soon. Could not be prouder.

P.P.S. Kudos to Philadelphia for celebrating International Men’s Day today.

http://www.internationalmensday.com/

What Would a Buddhist Monk Do?

buddhist monk

This guy definitely knows what to do.

So, it occurred to me today that I have no idea what Jesus would do. Ever. This may be due to a lack of information or just my inability to synthesize the available information. However, after reading just a couple of books on monks of various times, places and faith persuasions (The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda both leap to mind), I have a decent feel for what they would do in most sticky situations. (Hint: It usually involves a wan smile and a non-committal retort such as “Is that so?”)

And so, I’m going to have my own bumper sticker made. It’s going to say “What Would a Buddhist Monk Do?”

WWBMD, y’all.

Self-Help Success Story: “Cognitive Therapy Is As Good as They Say It Is”

I was pregnant. I was exhausted. I was potty training two kids. So it would’ve been easy to chalk it up to stress. But when earlier this year I discovered how negative my thinking had become, I didn’t dismiss it. I became genuinely concerned.

I made the discovery when one difficult evening, for the first time in ages, I picked up a pen and journaled my true feelings. Not my affirmations. Not my goals. Not my prayers. Just my ugliest, most despicable feelings.

In the end, I had four handwritten pages covered solidly back and front with nothing but the crazy in my brain. When I showed my husband, he said, “Wow. That’s a lot of bad thoughts.”

“Yes, it is,” I replied.

A few hours later, I was sitting in my office, scanning my memory for a solution. At one point I idly glanced over a bookshelf I don’t usually pay attention to, and there it was: The Feeling Good Handbook.

Reluctantly, I took it from the shelf.

A book my doctor had recommended a year or so prior, the Handbook didn’t hold much interest for me at the time. I remembered flipping through its many detailed descriptions of medications and skimming some of its seemingly pat advice. This time when I opened it, though, I found something else.

I found a different book entirely.

The Feeling Good Handbook is written by psychiatrist David Burns, and it’s about a well-known, widely used form of psychotherapy called (unfortunately, I think) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT for short). The book is far too long—full of flowery ideas and applications. What is comes down to, however, is this: negative thoughts are not the truth. They’re a perspective, and often pretty screwy one—one with only a bit of basis in reality, if any at all. The best way to work through them—to eradicate them, and in doing so, eradicate depression—is to write them down, then write down their opposite: the more objective (and yes, more optimistic) view of the matter.

I know, I know. Big damn deal, right? Isn’t this just positive thinking with a fancy name? But sometimes, that’s what it takes. Sometimes the fancy name or the scientific research backing a technique gives you the faith you need to give it a go. And then there was the timing thing; at this reading, I was more willing than before to try something new.

Later that day, I wrote out my negative thoughts again, but this time I countered them with more positive interpretations of the situations. To my great surprise, after doing so, I felt better. Much better. Even … well, good. I felt the way I normally feel after a brisk four-mile jog or walk—and the feeling stayed with me for much longer.

A week later, after journaling two or three more times, my acute depression still hadn’t returned. And that’s when I really knew I was on to something.

We spiritual people can all say all day long that we’re want to learn to accept everything, even pain. The truth is, though, that often, we don’t have to. We can work through it instead. Change what you can change, and accept the rest. And, of course, learn the difference.

Here are some of the results I recorded in my journal during my first week of CBT:

  • One of my least favorite things in the world is the sound of a child whining. But at one point as I was waiting out yet another of these patience-trying incidents, I started saying to myself, “This is the good stuff.” I did a mini version of CBT, and it worked; I felt calmer. Later, I had a conversation with that same child after he complained (ironically) about his brother’s loud voice. “In life, there are things that we like, things that we don’t like and have to wait through, and things we don’t like but get to figure out a solution for, and all three are good in different ways. Life is a fun challenge. The hard stuff is the good stuff.”
  • When a friend called to describe at length a difficult problem that I felt she’d brought upon herself, I got angry. Not on the phone (I was merely impatient), but after hanging up. A rush of anxiety came over me as I thought about her unfortunate situation, but instead of ignoring it, I thought it through. I identified the stressful thought that the whole thing was her fault, which helped me see how ridiculous it was, and later I noticed thoughts of love for her coming to me spontaneously.
  • Finally, I did CBT on a long-held misbelief of mine, namely that I’m not productive enough. Then that night when my husband took the kids out for four hours, I binged on stand-up comedy specials. The next day when I woke up I thought, I want to write today. And that’s what I did off and on all day, in spite of the usual challenges. The rest had helped.

“I envision stacks and stacks of papers listing all my negative thoughts,” I wrote the following week. “These stacks will be the dumpster—no, the landfill—for all of the crap inside my head. It’ll be great.”

CBT isn’t easy. It’s tedious and time-consuming. But it’s a fun challenge, too. One of the best compliments you can give any self-improvement technique is that it’s as good as they say it is. I believe that compliment applies here.

Self-Help Success Story: “Sometimes, I Just Let Myself Hate Everything”

Every once in a while, I want to set fire to my brain. I want to light a match, and get a bucket of kerosene, and just go to town on it. The desire usually comes when my brain is on fire already, and it’s getting out of control. I figure that if I hasten the job, the whole thing will be over more quickly, and afterwards I can cool it off and start rebuilding.

Yeah, that’s the answer. More fire.

Allow me to explain.

A few months back, I was going through a rough time. So, I decided to try something a little different. I was sick of practicing acceptance, saying “love, love, love” and meditating all the time. I needed, instead, to vent.

The situation: bad behavior boot camp.

Have you ever tried this? Well, don’t. Or do. I don’t know yet. Results unclear. Regardless, it’s when you take your two whiny children and make them stay at home all day and fight with each other. Then you take every single one of those fights as a “learning opportunity,” complete with one-on-one conflict resolution coaching, the patience of a goddess and, of course, appropriate consequences.

You can guess how well this went. The good news? It inspired a new spiritual practice. I call it my “I hate this” meditation and that pretty much sums it up.

So maybe I’m the only person in the world to find this as helpful as I do. But on the off-chance that my experience can be replicated, here is a brief description of what I’ve been up to.

One of my favorite spiritual books is Loving What Arises, about, well, loving everything as a spiritual practice. Matt Kahn is the author. He’s a channel, though he doesn’t use that term, preferring the word “empath.” Basically, he holds lectures on the topics of love and spirituality, mostly love, and how to bring everything in our experience back to that.

So one day in the midst of this bad-behavior stuff, while attempting to do what Kahn suggests, I realized something: I didn’t want to love this. It felt fake. So, I tried something else instead. And it worked. So I tried it every day that week.

It still worked.

Here is the technique: You get alone, in a quiet spot, and start by saying the phrase “I hate.” Then you just let it rip.

I hate my outfit. I hate my hair. I hate the gym. I hate that person. I hate the morning.

You go on and on like this, getting it out, letting it go. Then you take a deep breath, and meditate a while.

This sucks so much, I think. But damn, am I growing. You know, as a person.

And then I call it a day.

Then what?

Then, about half the time, I get this feeling of gratitude. Something like, Wow. I’m okay. I’m doing it. I’m getting through it. How much awesomer am I going to be at life (in this case, parenting) after I get through this?

I feel truly grateful for my crap.

And then there’s something else that happens, also about half the time: A bit of positive thinking accidentally creeps in. It’s weird, really: there I am, trying my damndest to be negative, and my ego part—the part of all of us that makes reverse psychology so effective—starts arguing with my silly list. “I hate the gym,” I’ll say in all sincerity. And everything I appreciate about the gym—the childcare, the alone time, the dress code—will come to mind. Then I list the next thing—say, giving up dessert—and Reverse Me will do it again. “You don’t care about that. You love the food you eat. And you look really good, too.”

Then I argue that point a bit.

Ah, that ego. Always arguing. Mostly, it’s best to just ignore it. But every once in a while, we can outwit it instead.

Reverse psychology. It works.

So, in sum: I’m saying “I hate” over and over—and calling it a wellness practice. Take that, lame, phony life rules.

Admittedly, my results with this technique are pretty mixed so far. Sometimes it helps a lot, but about half of the time it offers little to no real relief. It’s one of those things: you have to sort of search your soul a bit, ask yourself if you just need a few moments to vent. If the answer is yes, the practice could help. It gets everything out there—a brain dump. Then you can pick through the garbage for what you want to keep. The rest goes and doesn’t seem to come back. At least not right away.

Admitting, truly admitting, what I hate—no rose colors involved—is something I’ve deprived myself of in the past. Allowing myself to admit I hate what is, that I don’t effing want to be spiritual right now—it feels like eating ice cream for the first time after years without sugar.

I love that honesty can work for depression, at least sometimes. I don’t want to have to be positive all the time. What a drag.

Law of Attraction Success Story: "I Met Tony Robbins"

This super cute gal, Jennifer Casolary, is the creator of a law of attraction app called Subliminal Vision Boards. Genius, right? Currently, it’s available for IOS and Android. If you’re a skeptic, try it anyway. Prove it doesn’t work, or make your dreams come true. Win-win. 

Here’s a true law of attraction success story about an experience Casolary brought into her own life.

All my life I’ve wanted to really make an impact on the world. I’ve learned that in order to do this, it’s best to trust my gut, let my heart lead the way and be open to signs. I’ve always felt guided and I trust the path in front of me, which has made me a powerful manifestor. My dad used to say, “How do you do it, Jenn?” I’ve had unhappy jobs and unfulfilling and unhealthy relationships like we all do but I learned that it’s okay to want more, and it’s okay to act on that desire.

In that frame of mind, I went to hear motivational speaker Tony Robbins. I sat in an aisle seat in hopes that I could somehow give him one of my Subliminal Vision Boards App business cards, and within the first two minutes of the show, he stood right in front of me. I kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, he’s right in front of me. How do I do this?” Then, even though there were bodyguards around him, I held my hand out to him with the card in it.

At first, since he was speaking over me, he couldn’t see it. So I raised my arm slightly, and suddenly he looked down and said, “Oh, you want me to have this?”

Speechless, I shook my head yes. Then, into his mic going out to over 4,000 listeners, he read the card.

“Subliminal Vision Boards App.”

He made a spooky-like finger gesture, and everyone laughed. He kept looking at me, so I said, “It’s cutting edge. It will change your life.”

“Okay, I will take a look at it,” he said. Then he put it in his pocket and carried on with his show.

What a magical moment this was for me.

This is just one of the manifestations I’ve experienced while using this app.

The next morning I went to meet one of the powerful and inspirational speakers at the same conference, Jason Tyne, to learn about his new streaming app called New Tycoon and his book, 52 Words. I showed him the app and he said, “Oh, you’re the girl who gave Tony the business card. All the other speakers backstage were in awe that he took it from you because he never takes anything from anyone.”

You know, it isn’t just the experience of connecting with Tony Robbins that I loved. It was realizing that I have a lot more courage and capacity to change people’s lives than I was aware of before.

And that is a beautiful feeling.

Jennifer

Subliminal Vision Boards features include:

  • Advanced Subliminal technology 
  • Unlimited Subliminal Vision Boards 
  • Healing Sound Feature
  • Brainstorming Goal Action Planner 

Get the app here.

On being a mom

Best Nonfiction Book: Child

Something different for you today: a poem I wrote during my first year of being a mom.

We Expect

We expect our children to share everything they own. But do we share everything we own?

We expect our children to enjoy sleeping alone. But do we enjoy sleeping alone?

We expect our children to realize they’ll be okay immediately after falling down. But do we realize we’ll be okay immediately after we fall down?

We expect our children to let other people decide what they will wear, what they will eat and where they will go. We expect them to always eat their vegetables and to go to school for eight hours a day. We expect them to sit still, play quietly, contain their excitement and never, ever show they’re mad. But are these things always such a good idea?

We parents don’t always go to bed on time. We don’t always manage our money wisely. We often argue, or even refuse to work out our disagreements at all.

We don’t always keep our rooms clean, stick with our first decision or get ready on time. We don’t always do the math right.

We don’t always follow the rules.

We expect our children to behave like adults while so often, we behave like them. Maybe, then, we should expect a little less of our children—and a great deal more of ourselves.

Self-Help Success Story: “I Tried Matt Kahn’s ‘Loving What Arises’ Technique for Depression”

Last fall, I was going through a rough time. Like, really rough. I wasn’t taking walks. I wasn’t eating healthy. I wasn’t hanging out with friends–even writing. The problem? I was pregnant.

And every day, all day long, I was nauseated.

It’s the worst thing, that nausea. I’ve had it four times for over three months straight, and it never gets any more enjoyable. It’s unfortunate, too, for my kids and husband, who want another little one someday. (I think they forgot how bad the bathroom smelled, and how infrequently I cleaned it.)

All right, enough pity. (Thanks, though. It was nice.) The point is, when you’re sick everything sucks. So you can imagine how badly I’d have to want to do something while in this condition in order to actually get dressed, get in the car, go somewhere and do it.

Yeah. Pretty bad indeed.

Well, I did that. I did that for Matt Kahn. And it involved a 40-minute car ride. There was an IV in my arm, and I puked on the street by my friend’s car, and I hated every second, but I went.

To say I’m a fan of Kahn is an understatement. I once offered to ghost write a book of his. (His office person rejected the idea. No hard feelings! Emoticons!) He’s a Seattle local, which gets him a few points, but mostly he just has a great take on spirituality. It’s jovial. It’s fun. It’s super insightful. And it’s just non-friggin-uptight. He’s not a comedy genius or anything–he’s just relatable. Honestly, a pretty normal dude–yet awesome.

And then there’s his message. His message is the thing. It’s unique. It’s a blend. There’s nothing copycat about it. He talks about karma, about the law of attraction, but in a totally different way. A real treatment of his message is far beyond the scope of this piece, but do check out at least one of his super popular YouTube videos. It’s required.

With that, we come to Kahn’s spiritual practice, and my assessment of how well it works for depression–and for just getting more inner peace and stuff in general.

So let’s get to it.

Matt Kahn is a spiritual teacher with second-sight abilities. In his book, Whatever Arises, Love That, which he seems to claim was channeled (though possibly not word-for-word?), he shares how one day a spirit entity or entities revealed to him his greatest teaching (so far) in the form of the four words that are the title of his book:

“Whatever arises, love that.”

Taking the directive literally, he began repeating, “I love you” to whatever got his attention—a flock of birds, a construction worker using a jackhammer. What followed was an awakening, as he calls it, that caused sounds of gunshots in his head and a sense of his Self “oozing out of my ears like warm liquid light.” Sounds like something I want to experience. Maybe.

And that’s it. That’s the practice. So simple. So of course, I had to try it. Here’s what I found.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yes, but only to a point unless used with great commitment. Just saying a few “I love yous” every day won’t get you out of a bad slump. Though it wouldn’t hurt, either.

Have you tried it? For how long?

I tried the technique for about one month during that pregnancy I was describing. Not the first trimester, of course–spiritual practice? what’s that?–but later when things weren’t so … entirely crappy. I was convinced I’d stick with it for at least a year straight as one of my main practices. However, it was not to be. Soon afterwards, I discovered Byron Katie’s The Work, and loving what arises has been relegated to the Definitely Will Do That Again, Hopefully Soon list in my OneNotes.

What were your results?

My results were great. Thing is, as hirpy-chirpy ridiculous as the technique sounds, in practice it’s very profound. When things are swimming along, feeling good to you, it’s just an extra “thank you” to the Universe, but when things get un-fun, the technique really gets interesting. It’s not about pretending to have feelings of appreciation and love for what you actually hate. For me, anyway, it’s about reminding myself that this–even this–is fine. Not great. Not cool. Not awesome. Not de-lish.

But fine. Really, really fine.

My kids both pooped on the floor? On the same day? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

I’m feeling depressed but too lazy to go take a walk? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

My body is forty pounds heavier, and my ears hurt from the sound of whining? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

Because, here’s the deal, you: You’re what I get when I ask to become a better person. You, Poop. You, Depression. You, Fat. You’re my gifts, my teachers, my best friends.

Even you, Whining. All of you.

So, I love you. For teaching me how to train my kids to clean up after themselves. For bringing me back to spiritual practice after a few days’ absence. For reminding me how lucky I am to have a healthy body. For teaching me patience. For making me stronger.

I love you.

Here are a couple of amazing quotes from the book.

Note that it was really, really hard to choose; there were tons of great ones.

  • “No matter what seems to trigger you, each reaction represents the releasing of cellular debris collected from lifetimes of experiences.”
  • “Throughout this process, it is important to remember that a sensation only feels like a barrier for as long as you refuse to feel it. As it is invited to be felt, a willingness to experience each moment as an opportunity to heal clears out layers of cellular memory to make room for the emergence of heart-centered consciousness.”
  • “Instead of using this practice as a cosmic fire extinguisher to merely resolve the flames of personal despair, I invite you to treasure your heart on a regular basis, until the world you are viewing reflects back the light that your love reveals.”
  • “While moments of transcendence are incredible to behold, the true benchmark of spiritual maturity is how often your words and actions are aligned with love.”

Would I Rather?

Today I’m asking myself the following questions:

1. Would I rather have clean carpets but constant carpet maintenance and a strict no-shoes, no dirty feet policy … or would I rather have stains on my carpet and a lot less hassle? (Or is there another solution, like dark brown carpet?)

2. Would I rather have a clean house with constant maintenance … or would I rather have a messy house but be able to let my kids do arts and crafts inside; let kids get head-to-toe dirty outside then track it in; not have to nag about chores all day; get less annoyed by kids being kids; let kids learn how to prepare their own food; let kids learn how to feed themselves; and not to mention spend a lot less time cleaning. (Or is there another solution, like teaching kids to do chores and exchanging chores for privileges?)

3. Would I rather have a nicely manicured lawn that I have to maintain weekly … or would I rather garden and rake when it brings me pleasure and exercise, and have lots of pine cones, leaves and dead grass in my yard, all of which are pretty in their own way? (Or is there another solution, like moss and clover instead of grass?)

4. Would I rather keep all bugs out of my house at all times but have to constantly nag the kids to shut the door … or would I rather leave the door open all day in the summer without a screen so that the kids are encouraged to go outside more often throughout the day? (Or is there another solution, like a screen with a magnetic closure that automatically closes behind you?)

5. Would I rather save time on cooking by going to a restaurant, then spend time driving, parking, ordering, waiting, paying, and driving … or would I rather spend the effort to throw together something at home, then linger after dinner at the table with the family?

6. Would I rather spend $30 extra for a restaurant meal … or spend $20 for an extra hour of housekeeping or nanny time?

7. Would I rather spend $1,000 on French doors for my patio … or use that money to buy 50 hours of household or nanny help?

8. Would I rather spend $3-5,000 on a family vacation to Mexico for a week … or $1,000 on a nice staycation for a week that includes long evenings with kids at the babysitter’s?

9. Would I rather buy and store a gas-powered lawnmower … or would I rather use a small push mower that I rarely need to sharpen and never have to buy gas for, and is much quieter and more pleasant to use and gives me some exercise?

10. Would I rather have a large variety of appliances that make various tasks easier and faster … or would I rather have a smaller kitchen with less cluttered cabinets and save time and hassle finding what I need?

11. Would I rather have a large, expensive house with high heating, cleaning and repair costs … or a house in a prime location with just enough room for the family to live closely and with less stuff?

12. Would I rather have three kids and spend more quality time with each … or would I rather have four kids and bring another life into our family and the world?

13. Would I rather make sure my kids go to several sports, clubs, or classes each week … or would I rather let my kids figure out how to overcome boredom on their own at home?

14. Would I rather clean up the food my kids spill under the table and move on to the next thing more quickly … or would I rather teach them how to clean up after themselves by taking away their food and waiting for them to clean it up before their next meal?

15. Would I rather drive my kids to the library … or would I rather walk them there?

16. Would I rather let my kids have three hours of screen time per day … or would I rather sit with them in the living room while they play and I read a book, not allowing them to interrupt me unnecessarily?

17. Would I rather buy a new fire truck for my child … or give him a box of recycled materials and help him make one?

18. Would I rather pick up all of the toys one by one when I need to clean the floor … or sweep them all into the corner with a push broom?

19. Would I rather spend an hour a week driving to and from a playdate that I don’t particularly enjoy … or would I rather find an activity for my kids that is within walking distance?

20. Would I rather pack the kids up in the car and take them to the park every day … or would I rather sit in the backyard for an hour to encourage them to join me?

21. Would I rather commit to doing a favor that doesn’t feel good to me … or would I rather take the opportunity to practice saying no?

22. Would I rather buy the new furniture that we supposedly need … or would I rather let the kids continue to destroy the old stuff and wait to get new stuff when they’re older?

23. Would I rather leave my cell phone in the bedroom till evening and miss a few messages … or would I rather be tempted to check my messages or to-do list several times per hour during family no-screen time?

24. Would I rather prepare all my kids’ food every day and prevent messes and wasted food … or would I rather teach them how to open the fridge, get a cup, pour the milk and put it away, then help them clean up the mess later?

25. Would I rather continue to change poopy diapers every day … or deal with potty misses a few times a week?

26. Would I rather help my kids resolve their every argument … or would I rather help them only when they ask me to and they are choosing to use their words?

27. Would I rather keep the family on a strict bedtime schedule and hectic morning routine in order to get them to school … or would I rather homeschool them and keep the schedule we choose?

28. Would I rather make my young kids do homework every night at the expense of family and free time … or would I rather let their grades slip a bit and let them play more?

29. Would I rather keep everything in my garage that I may need someday … or would I rather risk having to rebuy an item–either a new one or a just as good or better used one off Craigslist–in a few years?

30. Would I rather stand underneath my children on the monkey bars every time … or would I rather relax on the bench and let them fall once in a while?

These are just some of the ways I have rethought my cultural upbringing in the years since having children. Just an off-the-top list; I’m probably missing some big ones. The important thing isn’t how I answer these questions, of course. The  important thing is that I ask them.

Self-Help Success Story: “Ten Seconds? I Can Do That”

Recently I read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. In it he talked about one of his early memories of another yogi who couldn’t stand working anymore, so he quit and just meditated all day long from then on.

Damn, I thought when I read that. I still love working.

I have a long way to go.

Turns out I’m not a yogi yet. And let’s face it: I probably never will be. In spite of many past efforts–most of them enjoyable, even–sitting meditation just isn’t my thing. Working is. Doing is. Moving my body, getting stuff done. I know it’s not what spiritual people are supposed to say, but … I think I was meant to be a doer.

I think it’s my calling to be non-Zen.

And when I look hard enough, I find a little bit of encouragement for this seeming flaw. In Anita Moorjani’s Dying To Be Me, she makes an impassioned plea for people to find God in doing things they love–mundane things, sensual things, unusual things. Whatever makes you happy. And in several of Eckhart Tolle’s audio recordings he discusses this idea, too, saying that it’s actually better to live life and bring stillness to the living of it rather than becoming a monk somewhere. Life gives us plenty of opportunities to grow, he says. No need to seek a special kind of pain by sitting uncomfortably on an ashram floor. Unless you really want to, that is.

Finally, in In The Presence of A Great Mystery, another audio recording of Tolle’s, he makes another interesting statement. During the question and answer session a man asked him how to not fall asleep during meditation. First, Tolle answered that this is normal, that he’s seen many a monk sleeping during their 4 a.m. meditation session. But then he adds that what’s important in forming a meditation practice isn’t how long you stay in the state of no-mind, but how often you return. In other words, it’s better to hold short meditation “sessions” all throughout your day. “Even ten seconds is enough,” Tolle says.

Ten seconds, I thought. I can do that.

And so, that is what I am doing these days, and it seems to be working really well. My technique is this: I focus on the “inner energy” of my body, as Eckhart Tolle says to do. Then I repeat a positive mantra that feels good to me. As someone who has struggled with negative thinking patterns for a long time, I believe that this act is rewiring my brain to be more positive. In any case, as I meditate I feel calmer and happier by far, and I truly look forward to doing it whenever possible.

Sitting meditation is awesome, but it’s not for everyone–not for all times and seasons of life, at least. Working meditation, moving meditation–these are what I’m enjoying most these days, and what’s helping me the most, too.

Self-Help Success Story: “I Altered My Subconscious Beliefs Using CBT”

The story of my depression starts way back in time, back to some of my first childhood memories. Since then I’ve made a great deal of progress–more than I once thought possible. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have it.

Daily, there’s a routine: Get some exercise, some alone time. Take time to read and write and be with friends. Meditate as much as possible all throughout the day, and never, ever forget to be grateful.

Sleep well, and a lot. Eat healthy. Take medication. Stay busy. Get outside if you can. Take vitamin D, a multivitamin, a cold shower. Then get some more exercise, and meditate again.

Most of the time, this works. It’s work, but it works. So I continue on, and make slow progress. But recently I discovered a technique that is speeding up my results: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Here’s the Wikipedia definition of CBT:

• “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychosocial intervention that is the most widely used evidence-based practice for treating mental disorders.”

And here are quotes from several articles about CBT:

• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression … Cognitive restructuring refers to the process in CBT of identifying and changing inaccurate negative thoughts that contribute to the development of depression. This is done collaboratively between the patient and therapist, often in the form of a dialogue. For instance, a college student may have failed a math quiz and responded by saying, “That just proves I’m stupid.” … The “I’m stupid” response is an example of an automatic thought … The idea in CBT is to learn to recognize those negative thoughts and find a healthier way to view the situation. http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-depression#1

• Dozens of randomized con­trolled trials (RCT) and other studies support CBT’s efficacy in treating major depressive disorder (MDD). http://www.mdedge.com/currentpsychiatry/article/82695/anxiety-disorders/using-cbt-effectively-treating-depression-and

• A success­ful response to CBT in the acute phase may have a protective effect against depression recurrences. A 2013 meta-analysis that totaled 506 individuals with depressive disorders found a trend toward signifi­cantly lower relapse rates when CBT was discontinued after acute therapy, com­pared with antidepressant therapy that continued beyond the acute phase. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933381/

• The researchers found that patients with higher levels of connectivity between four brain regions involved in mood regulation were likely to achieve remission with CBT but have a poor response to medication, whereas those with weaker connectivity were more likely to remit using medication and not respond to CBT. http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/research-briefing/brain-scans-could-match-patients-to-best-depression-treatment/20202624.article

Here a few particularly difficult thoughts CBT has helped me overcome. Keep in mind that these are just some of the beliefs, not all, that have altered over the past few months using these processes.

  1. My kids require too much attention. After doing CBT, this thought became: My kids require just the right amount of attention for them. And I require a lot of attention, too! Also, much of the day I’m doing other things–cooking, cleaning, hanging out with friends–things I’d do whether or not the kid were present.
  2. I am sick of breastfeeding. This changed to: I am not sick of breastfeeding. It’s good for the kids. It’s nice downtime for me–I often get to read at the same time. Plus, it helped me lose my extra baby weight.
  3. I am exhausted. This thought became: I’m not exhausted. I am not depleted of energy. There is a great deal of energy in my body for everything my body needs to do. I am thankful that my body notices when it’s time to sleep, and lets me know.

It’s an interesting process, this thought-altering work. Sometimes I can feel the change in my perspective right away. Other times, though, I only notice the change later, when the situation comes up again.

Every time I do it, part of me doubts it will work. Most of the time I’m surprised.

Self-Help Success Story: “Therapy Helped Me Go Deeper”

Early last year,  I took a break from self-improvement for a while. I stopped trying to meditate. I stopped exercising.

I was just sick of it all.

Wellness practices are wonderful, when they’re wonderful. Other times they just feel like one more obligation. And then I got pregnant, and was sick for three months, and my only unnecessary activity was watching TV reruns. I took care of my family. I ate and slept. But I didn’t do a whole lot else.

Needless to say, this convergence of events brought on a depression relapse. Then November came. My first trimester sickness was over, and I was ready to take up my self-improvement efforts again. So I did something I’d never done before.

I started seeing a therapist.

When I called to make the appointment, the woman asked if I was suicidal. At first I didn’t answer; I just started crying. “No,” I told her. “I don’t want to kill myself. I just don’t really want to live.”

Apparently, that’s what three months without exercise or prayer will do to me.

My first appointment was in December, and I left it feeling quite hopeful. Julie told me that depression may be a temperament, a chemical imbalance, something that’s considered permanent. But many therapists believe that it’s not that simple, that there are other factors, too.

“So long-term relief is possible?” I asked. “Is that what you’re telling me?”

“It is possible,” she said. “A better question, though, is: Is it possible for you?”

She couldn’t tell me for sure if she’d be able to help me feel significantly better for a significant amount of time. “What I can say is that the things we’ll talk about have helped a huge number of other people in your place.”

“So what’s the plan?” I asked. “In a nutshell, what’s the strategy? Do you have some techniques in mind?” Partly, I was curious. Partly, I needed hope. And partly, I was doing a mental calculation, a cost-benefit analysis. With two kids at home, even insurance-covered therapy is a luxury.

Julie laid it out: We’d delve deep into my emotions. We’d analyze incidents that brought up feelings I’d rather not have. In doing so, I’d learn how to face them rather than stuffing them down. I’d also learn to be vulnerable.

“Studies consistently show that the happiest people are those that don’t push down their emotions,” she told me. “Letting yourself feel is the first step.”

And immediately upon hearing this, I knew she was right.

Here’s the thing: Her plan wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before. Nothing new or revolutionary. But for some reason, until that day, I’d never followed the advice. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid to feel bad. I just didn’t think it’d work. In the past, every time I’d decided to look at my pain, it just seemed to grow bigger.

So, I ignored them—at least as much as I possibly could. And then I tried to fix them, find a solution. But feelings, said Julie, don’t need to be fixed. They just needed to be felt.

A bell rang. A Buddhist bell. An Eckhart Tolle/New Age spirituality bell. All that “just notice the thoughts–don’t judge them” stuff kicked in, and I thought, Maybe the Universe is telling me something. So, soon after reading the books by Brene Brown that Julie recommended, I decided to delve into spiritual books again. I bought Matt Kahn’s Whatever Arises, Love That. And I read Pema Chodron for the first time. These books were all about accepting where you’re at–even when you’re in a bad-feeling place.

I was ready to be well again.

Over the next few months, I resumed my meditation practice, along with my exercise routine. I went to therapy a few more times, too, and that helped more than I thought it would. I can’t say for sure which of these activities was the most significant part of my recovery, though I suspect it was the walking. But the spiritual practice I started with during that sensitive time helped a lot, too, and I still do it now sometimes.

I called it my “I hate this” meditation, and I came up with it one day at the gym.

I’d come there to exercise, of course, as well as do some writing, but I was feeling exhausted and just … bad. So instead of doing either, I sat on a comfortable chair and decided to rest for a moment.

I know what I’ll do, I thought after criss-crossing my legs and taking a few deep breaths. I’ll practice this vulnerability thing. I will think about my emotions. Feel them fully. Stop fighting my negative inner dialogue, and judging it.

I will let my bad feelings run free.

And so, that’s what I did. And not half-heartedly. If I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right. I started a mental checklist of everything—every little thing—that I was hating in that moment. Anything that came up, I put it on the list.

The list got very long, very quickly.

I hated the gym. I hated cleaning the bathroom. I hated getting my kids ready in the morning. I hated the weather, and the way my pregnant belly felt.

I even hated my own pants.

Then something happened. Something I didn’t expect. The depression began to lift. The thoughts lost a bit of their power, their ability to produce fear. You might even say that by letting them run free, they ran away.

After all, I was facing them, and they weren’t that bad. They were just thoughts, you know? Most of them were unreasonable, many untrue. Some of them were even sort of silly. Suddenly I understood what some people call “the space between”–there was space between myself and my thoughts, like a cushion.

Half an hour into this negativity meditation, I moved past the initial lift and into an actual high. Or, not a high exactly—the depression was still there. But alongside it, coexisting with it, was some peace.

Breakthrough.

For the next two months, I continued my “I hate this” meditation until I didn’t seem to need it anymore. Soon after that, I discovered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and that took me another step forward–but that’s another story.

"The Power of Acceptance: One Year of Mindfulness and Meditation" is FREE today on Amazon

The Power of Acceptance: One Year of Mindfulness and Meditation is free on Amazon.com today.

This is a book I am proud of. Here, a review I just got an hour or so ago (from a stranger, in case you were curious) on Smashwords:

“Although this is one woman’s journey to understand mediation’s place in her own life, you’ll swear she is describing you. Honest, sometimes raw, and always down to earth, throughout the entire book I felt as if Mollie Player was the one friend who would truly understand: the struggle, the wonderment, the confusion, and the joy of finally touching the subtle but profound shift in approach to…everything. As well as the frustration of inconsistently sustaining it. The Power of Acceptance is itself a practical mediation. Honestly, if you even paused at the title, let alone read this far, this book is definitely for you. Pull up a cozy mug, curl deeper under that blanket, and join Mollie in an applicable, spiritual conversation that helps you level up your life: we don’t need to seek through meditation — we already are. Meditation practice is what allows us to accept this, and the magic starts happening from there.”

Get The Power of Acceptance: One Year of Mindfulness and Meditation (The Mystical Memoir Series Book 2) for free now.

Much love,
Mollie

Self-Help Success Story: “Joe Vitale’s ‘Zero Limits’ Method Is Great. But There Are, In Fact, Limits”

There’s a fun spirituality book called Zero Limits by one of the speakers featured in the movie The Secret. It’s by law of attraction writer (and super nice guy–he once called my friend to tell her he liked her book) Joe Vitale. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

The book is autobiographical–more a memoir than a traditional self-help. I love a good memoir, and it’s an entertaining read. But even better, it’s practical; it gives an in-depth explanation of a New Age/New Thought-type process for altering your state of mind and your beliefs (and maybe your reality, too). I’ll get into that in a second, but first, a brief assessment for those of you who already know the book.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yes. As a technique to deal with depression, Zero Limits can be awesome. I’ve tried it with some decent results. But be warned: the process is very similar to just saying mantras, and personally I’m not convinced these mantras are particularly special.

Have you tried it? For how long?

Yes. Not for long, though. Just a few days.

What were your results?

The first time I read Zero Limits, I was super excited. I wrote about this already, in You’re Getting Closer. That first night, I said the phrase over and over, and as I did so, my mood lifted and my head cleared. I entered into the state of meditation and stayed there.

The next day, however, the effect lessened considerably, even though I continued the practice. I decided that my belief in the technique, rather than the technique itself, had been responsible for my results. Since then, I’ve used the method just a few times, and never with the same commitment.

Personally–and this is just my opinion–I’d be more inclined to use the Zero Limits method on a specific situation or physical need, rather than as a way to heal depression. When I repeat a mantra in order to break out of a bad mood, I often end up more frustrated than when I started.

Is this spiritual practice enjoyable, though? Is it easy?

Yes and yes.

How does it work? What do you do, exactly?

Though there are other aspects to the technique, the main activity is repeating four lovely statements as often as possible–continuously?–throughout the day. They are:

  1. I’m sorry.
  2. Please forgive me.
  3. Thank you.
  4. I love you.

I won’t go into the philosophy behind the choice of statements here; for that, you can read the book. (And I recommend that you do.) The basic idea is that the statements have a cleansing power and can help you resolve any undesirable situation–like depression. By using them and visualizing a cleansing action (such as an eraser erasing a chalkboard), you rid the program from your mind that created it or brought it into your experience.

What’s the up-side?

Like I said, it is enjoyable. And it’s easy. And if you stick with it, you’ll likely see results. I happen to prefer other practices, that’s all.

What’s the down-side?

The book claims that the method is a version of an old Hawaiian healing tradition called Ho’pononpono. However, it’s significantly different from that tradition–a spinoff created by a kahuna named Morna. I’m sure Morna is or was inspired and wonderful. But I would’ve preferred she give her method a different name from the original.

The legend of the book and part of what makes it so popular is that Hew Len, the co-author of the book and of the method, emptied a mental ward of patients by using this method–nothing else.

What’s the bottom line here?

My super scientific, soon-to-be-patented depression effectiveness rating for the Zero Limits method: 5 on a scale of 1-10.

Where can I find out more?

You can read my book summaries and takeaways here:

Best Spirituality Book for Depression: Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More by Joe Vitale and Hew Len

Best Spirituality Book for Depression: At Zero by Joe Vitale

Or you can find the book and info about Joe Vitale and co-author Hew Len here:

Zero Limits on Amazon

Joe Vitale’s Official Website

Hoʻoponopono and Hew Len on Wikipedia

Hew Len’s Official Website

Joe Vitale’s law of attraction success story: “I am rich

Self-Help Success Story: “I Tried Mindfulness for Depression”

So, I have a confession to make: I’ve always hated the idea of mindfulness. Here I am, all spiritual and New Agey and stuff, and I’ve never even initiated a conversation about it. Ridiculous, right? Here’s my excuse.

Until very recently, I knew nothing about this spiritual practice. It was just a vague term, and not an especially pleasing one at that. Whereas for some, the idea of mindfulness inspires a sort of beatific glow, for me, it was just another entry on the never-ending to do list of life. Just learning more about it seemed exhausting. Then I actually did learn more–and abruptly changed my perspective.

Right now, as research for this site, I’m reading Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zin for the first time. Now a modern classic, this gives one of the more detailed, systematic (even medical) approaches to mindfulness meditation. It’s based on the successful hospital classes led by Kabat-Zin many years ago, with more recent additions in the revised version I’m reading. I’m also reading several books by Thich Nhat Hanh right now, and listening to an Eckhart Tolle audiobook. I didn’t think of Tolle as a mindfulness meditation teacher, but I’m seeing now that he is (though he might not appreciate the label).

Previously, I viewed mindfulness as a sort of bland, unoriginal approach to spirituality. I mean, it’s just so popular, right? Even non-spiritual people are doing it. After doing the above reading, though, I changed my mind.

Mindfulness, it turns out, isn’t what I thought it was.

I thought mindfulness was: Enjoying life.

Mindfulness is: Being aware of and accepting whatever thoughts come, whether or not they’re thoughts of enjoyment and appreciation.

I thought mindfulness was: Thinking pleasant thoughts about the ordinary things you see around you as you go throughout your day.

Mindfulness is: Feeling your “inner body,” as Tolle calls it–bringing your attention to the energy within you throughout the day.

I thought mindfulness was: Eating more slowly. Listening more carefully.

Mindfulness is: Being who you are. Doing what comes naturally to you when you’re acting from your highest self.

I thought mindfulness was: Not future-thinking. Not past-thinking.

Mindfulness is: Using your mind in the ways that it serves you. That includes some future- and past-thinking.

I thought mindfulness was: Being in a state of deep acceptance of what is.

Mindfulness is: Being in the state of meditation. Even when you’re not totally able to accept what is.

I thought mindfulness was: A politically correct alternative to more advanced ways of meditating.

Mindfulness is: As advanced as I ever need to be.

In other words: Before, mindfulness seemed to me both overly simplistic as well as impossible to achieve. Now, it seems to be exactly what I already do every day: meditating, appreciating, loving. Rinse, repeat.

I still don’t love the word mindfulness for some reason. At this point, the
guilt-producing mental associations still sully it. But I do like mindfulness itself.

Here, a self-interview about using this practice for depression.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yes. For sure. Probably for everyone.

Have you tried it? For how long?

Possibly the main takeaway I got from my recent reading is that I’ve actually been practicing mindfulness meditation for at least four years now. I don’t do many long sitting meditations these days, but my main spiritual practice is to enter into a state of meditation–just a behind-the-scenes sort of sensing of the Divine–in the morning and to hold that place throughout the day. I certainly don’t always succeed in this (read You’re Getting Closer to see what I mean). But when I fail, I return. It’s my most consistent spiritual habit, and as it turns out, it’s nothing special–just what everyone is talking about: mindfulness.

What were your results when using mindfulness for depression?

At times, total transformation of my mood, immediately. Other times, frustration due to just not feeling it.

Is it easy?

For me, yes and no. It does take work, especially for the first several years of practice. It’s a tough habit to create and keep.

How long does the effect last? Does it keep working or does the effect taper off after a few weeks or months?

The mood effect does not taper off at all for me if I practice consistently throughout the day, week or month. And after a break–even a long one–I can pick up right where I left off.

How does it work? What do you do, exactly?

The answer to this question is different for everyone; there are so very many ways to be mindful.

For some, mindfulness is simply noticing what is and thinking thoughts of appreciation. For others, it is noticing unhelpful thoughts and letting them pass, turning their attention to their present surroundings instead. Right now, for me, my main mindfulness practice is to say a mantra many times throughout the day, as follows: I am sensing my inner body. I’m doing what feels deeply right. This reminds me to come back to myself, then check in with my intuition when making any kind of decision. It works wonderfully for me.

I also say, Thank you, God, and There is time for that, too. (This last because of my Type A accomplishment obsession.) And since I’m not so great at just thinking about trees or children’s smiles or whatever, I think thoughts of appreciation about these things. In other words, instead of saying to myself, Here are the trees. They are green and beautiful, I might say something like, I so appreciate these trees. I am so lucky to live here.

Does that make sense? For me, this subtle difference is huge.

Is this practice scientifically backed?

Yes. There are many books on the benefits of meditation in general, but mindfulness meditation is particularly well-researched. It is used outside spiritual circles–in hospitals, therapy practices and much more.

What’s the downside?

None that I can think of, except that it may take years and years of practice for it to feel natural and easy. At least, it did for me. And I definitely still struggle.