Finding strength amidst uncertainty

Uncertainty; expected or unexpected, uncertainty always involves a fear of the unknown. Some types of uncertainty are welcomed such as starting a new job in the hopes of a more rewarding career or moving to a new city for a fresh start. The uncertainty in these situations is manageable since they’re predetermined and so there’s still some sense of control. But what about the moments when we’re presented with an unpleasant situation we were not anticipating? The instinct to panic overshadows any ability to trust and have faith that things will work out. Thoughts such as, “How am I going to get through this?” or, “I don’t think I can handle this” are way too loud for any self-assurance to be heard.

Certainty is a fundamental human need since it provides us with feelings of security and safety. We can relax and enjoy our lives when there are no feelings of instability bothering us. Nevertheless, uncertainties such as the sudden loss of a job, a health scare or a relationship falling apart will throw us out of our comfort zone and cloud any rationale. Change can be scary and unnerving especially when we feel as if we’re no longer the one in charge of our life. However we can always take charge of our actions and responses when faced with such situations. This doesn’t mean we won’t feel scared, instead we discipline ourselves to look past the fear and focus on a positive outcome.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Here are a few things to remember when faced with uncertainty which can help bring some peace of mind amidst the chaos:

Trust yourself – you’ve made it through every other hardship and hurdle you’ve faced before so you will make it through this too.

Tough times don’t last, tough people do – it might sound cliché but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You might not feel strong right now but you will be wiser and more equipped in the future.

Things do always work out – maybe they’ll work out the way you want them to or not but remind yourself of times when you’ve worried about an outcome and after it’s all been resolved you wonder why you ever worried so much in the first place.

Life goes on – there will come a time in the future where this uncertainty will be gone and you’ll feel secure again.

Growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone – as Tony Robbins says, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” in order to succeed in life.

Everything is clearer in hindsight – you will get the answers and clarity you seek once you’ve overcome this hurdle and you’ll see things from a newfound perspective.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs

It may be difficult to feel confident or see a clear path as to where you’re headed but periods of uncertainty are a normal part of life. When our world feels shaky we can perceive every circumstance as negative but they can often present us with a brighter future. If you’re willing to take risks, uncertainty can open up a new world of possibilities and opportunities for new beginnings which won’t happen when we cling to what we know. Periods of uncertainty can also bring our insecurities to light which provides the opportunity to work on how we can provide ourselves with feelings of safety and security which aren’t derived from external circumstances. Trust yourself and remember that in time, you will make it through and feel confident and certain again.

“Feeling lost, crazy and desperate belongs to a good life as much as optimism, certainty and reason.” – Alain de Botton

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Ümit Bulut

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Don’t feel guilty for feeling bad

“Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life”

“Choose happiness!

“Think happy, be happy”

Ah, the New Age mantras we find ourselves bombarded with which we’re encouraged to follow in order to lead a better life. We’re told that positive thinking is the antidote to all of our problems but has positive thinking become an addiction rather than a cure? Have these well-intentioned ideas which are meant to empower us actually become detrimental? I’m not condoning the power of positive thinking however the huge emphasis on it seems to have demonised negative thoughts and feelings to a point where we feel guilty for ever having them.

Messages which place such a high importance on only allowing yourself to have thoughts and feelings which are ‘positive’ neglects the fact that we cannot eradicate negative thoughts; they will occur, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Therefore the solution is not to force yourself into happiness but to take a look at why you think and feel the way you do before you can transcend to a better place emotionally.

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” – Gretchen Rubin

Since ‘positive thinking’ has become an obsession, whenever anything other than ‘positive’ arises within ourselves we judge and condemn those thoughts which as a result leads to feelings of guilt or self-blame. We perceive ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings as so ‘wrong’ that we either try to wrestle them or do everything we can to avoid them in an attempt to feel better.

We have been gifted with a vast array of feelings and emotions yet we’ve chosen to only love ourselves when we feel good. While emotional mastery is important in order to be a resilient individual and thrive in life, we’re all going to experience worry and fear at certain points in our life. Most of the time our fears are irrational but if we’re not giving ourselves the freedom to feel whatever comes up for us, how do we expect ourselves to transcend whatever is worrying us? Unless we look at those worries and realise how powerless they are, we’ll do whatever we can to avoid them and positive affirmations such as “think happy, be happy” will only cover up the issue.

“I don’t believe you should go to your garden and chant, ‘There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds,’ and think that that’s going to solve something. I’m a believer in find the weed and rip it out.” – Tony Robbins

While it’d be great if we could only accept positive thoughts and reject negative ones, if there’s a problem or you feel upset, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it. So what if we can’t always feel good or choose positivity? Keeping up appearances does more harm than good as we deny ourselves the time and freedom to simply be with whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind. Positivity is meant to be the antithesis of negativity however the extreme fixation on positivity with an intention to avoid negativity is counterproductive.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” ― Sigmund Freud

As mentioned previously, most of our negative thoughts and feelings are irrational. Our brains have evolved since the primitive days of our ancestors but we still carry survival instincts which will always be with us. Therefore instead of feeling guilty for having a bad thought or for even having a bad day, let it be. Don’t pressure yourself into feeling better because you feel guilty for feeling bad (who cares if you can’t “choose positivity” for a moment?!) Sit with the negativity for a bit, just don’t wallow for so long that you become identified with it or reactive. Once you’ve let the negativity express itself, you’ll often realise it’s simply a phantom which you can then let go of.

Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House” eloquently describes how the natural flow of every thought and emotion we posses is better off accepted rather than rejected:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond

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W A T A R I

Overthinking will not change your life

There are times in life where we feel that things aren’t how we’d like them to be or how they ‘should’ be. We then fall into the trap of overthinking in a feeble attempt to find the solutions to our problems yet as Einstein says,

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” – Albert Einsten

Overthinking will never provide the clarity we desire since that’s what got us feeling so crap in the first place! It’s a vicious circle as we start to observe our life, think about what we’re unhappy with, go down an endless pit of over-analysing the problems in the hopes to find a solution, realise we’re creating problems that we didn’t even notice before, start to overthink every aspect of life as if we need to fix it (when in fact life is never ‘broken’ or something that needs ‘fixing’), then we’ll notice we’re overthinking everything and so worry about that, and then stress ourselves out trying to stop overthinking and so on it goes.

“Too much thinking leads to paralysis by analysis.” – Robert Herjavec

In my own personal experience, overthinking tends to stem from feelings of ‘not good enough.’

“I’m not good enough.”

“My job isn’t good enough.”

“My house isn’t good enough.”

“My life isn’t good enough.”

While it’s normal and healthy to look at our external world and think about what we’d like to improve, there’s a difference between being in a state of flow and working towards that improvement and being in a state of displeasure and working hard to change everything. The former acknowledges that you have the power to improve your life but you’re not dependent on those external circumstances to feel good, therefore you’re not questioning your self worth. Whereas the latter projects feelings of resistance to what-is wherein everything is perceived as wrong, incomplete and a failure. These labels and judgements can then result in feelings of apathy, unworthiness, self blame or self doubt. Pitiful thoughts such as the following start to creep in,

“What am I doing with my life?”

“I’m such a failure because I’m not where I should be in life.”

“Maybe I’m just not good enough otherwise I’d have everything I want.”

Yes we all have goals we’re working towards, yes we each want to fulfill our potential as an individual, yes we want to live the best life possible however feeling sorry for yourself or putting so much pressure on yourself to obtain those achievements will not and does not work. Those thoughts and feeling only cause more grief and so solace seems even further away.

Our ego-mind believes that peace, self worth and fulfilment is elsewhere; it’s anywhere but here. Thoughts such as “I will feel good enough when I have that dream job” or “I will feel loved when I have the perfect relationship” are filled with insecurity and they’re fixated on outer events as if those events will give us salvation from the inner turmoil we feel. Not only do we become attached to the outer world but we start to base our identity on it as if having a lot to show for yourself makes you a better person. Yet it’s when we’re going with the flow of life and doing what makes us happy without overthinking that we have all of the energy and inspiration we want to naturally become the amazing person we’re striving way too hard to be.

“Detachment is the only vehicle available to take you from striving to arriving.” – Wayne Dyer

Detach yourself from your overthinking and from looking to your outer world to find the feelings of peace and worthiness you so truly want and which are already ever-present.

“But if I just accept my life as it is when I now see there are so many things I’m unhappy with, I need to think about them in order to make a change” is the next thought that may appear. There’s a false belief that by accepting and surrendering to the present moment and life circumstances we will not elicit any change, as if appreciating what-is will make us complacent, yet life is ever-changing. It is this resistance to the present moment which creates suffering and as a result makes us feel like we’re stuck in a rut.

I can look back on my life at moments where I could say my life wasn’t ‘perfect’ and I wasn’t where I wanted to be in certain areas yet I still got to where I needed to be and it wasn’t by overthinking; it was by enjoying my life as-is which in turn allowed room for grace and for events to effortlessly fall into place. My overthinking could not have come up with or strategised the ways I entered my desired career, the relationships that grew stronger or any events which have brought me true fulfilment and wonder.

“A Course in Miracles rightly points out that, whenever you are unhappy, there is the unconscious belief that the unhappiness “buys” you what you want. If “you” — the mind — did not believe that unhappiness works, why would you create it? The fact is, of course, that negativity does not work. Instead of attracting a desirable condition, it stops it from arising. Instead of dissolving an undesirable one, it keeps it in place. Its only “useful” function is that it strengthens the ego, and that is why the ego loves it.” – Eckhart Tolle

Our minds are wired for survival and so will naturally look for problems to solve and things to change but try not let yourself go down that dark road of overthinking. Remove yourself from those worrisome thoughts and take away their power by accepting that they’ll occur. Befriend those thoughts and your mind by giving them thanks for caring about you and your life so much! Then leave it at that and remind yourself as much as possible that you are already an amazing human being who doesn’t need to strive so hard to be happy or work so hard to prove yourself.

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Xavier Sotomayor

How stress will harm you and why worrying is useless

For the past week I had a toothache on the left side of my mouth and I was not getting a decent night’s sleep. I wondered if my wisdom teeth were perhaps surfacing again, however I knew that couldn’t be the case as they had fully surfaced about eight years ago. I then had a painful mouth ulcer since I’d been tensing my jaw at night and bit the side of my mouth. “Is the mouth ulcer the cause of the pain or the effect?” I asked myself. I then even considered that the issue may be tooth decay, even though I knew that my teeth are in pristine condition! I was adamant that there was something physically wrong yet I couldn’t figure it out and so to the Dentist’s I went.

I had a brief chat with my dentist and explained what I had been experiencing. I mentioned that I had been taking painkillers to take the edge off and that the pain wasn’t going. He checked my teeth and noticed right away that I hadn’t been sleeping properly since the lack of REM sleep left ridges on my tongue. After seeing that there was nothing wrong with my teeth, he even did an x-ray for extra precaution. Again, there was nothing wrong. I was then told that all of the pain I was feeling was due to stress.

I can never clearly identify when I’m stressed out until my body tells me, whether it be with a flu or tight jaw. We are taught to internalise our worries and so we neglect that they’re there by sugar-coating them or numbing them through external stimulants. While stress and worry are unpleasant emotions, they’re something we need for survival but they become destructive when we let them consume us and our health.

If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. – Kris Carr

On one hand I was relieved that there was nothing wrong with my teeth. I now knew what the issue was and I could deal with it myself. Yet on the other hand, I couldn’t believe that I had stressed myself out so much that it took me practically chewing off the side of mouth to realise that I was neglecting my emotional health. It’s in these moments that we must go within and check where we’re at in our mind and heart.

While I love helping my close ones out, I had been helping them with their finances and putting myself out there all to the detriment of myself. I was tight for money myself yet I helped my friends and family without seeing that in reality, I was then stressing about how I was going to manage my own finances. I was also overthinking about everything I needed to do before the end of the year and so the pressure of time constraint was adding to my worries. After I listened to my worries, I then focused on the solution and said,

“Who cares?! If something doesn’t work out as ‘planned’ or get resolved by a certain time, the world isn’t going to end!”

Now I’m not saying don’t help others, but take a look at yourself and think about whether you’re in a position to help or not. You may be at a point where you need to focus on filling yourself up first. Focusing on your needs doesn’t make you a bad person or selfish, remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup! Make sure you’re prioritising yourself otherwise you’ll run yourself into the ground. Don’t pressure yourself into anything you’re uncomfortable with. Let yourself have down-time, we don’t always have to have the energy for others and we don’t always have to be ‘doing’ something… many times we just need to be present.

Everything works out in the end and it’s when we feel peace and let go of all worry that the Universe can help us. It’s not our job to have everything figured out – it’s quite funny how we try to control everything and force the river when really we need to be happy and stress-free in order to receive what we want.

Since I’ve made the decision to fill myself up with positivity and self-care, I’ve been sleeping well again and the ‘toothache’ has gone. I’ve let go of all worry, and lo and behold everything seems to be falling into place in my life! We are told that the Universe has our back and that when we feel good, we are on the frequency of receiving everything good. Not only does it feel liberating to focus on myself and make my happiness a priority, I also feel empowered now that I’m putting my needs first as opposed to neglecting how I truly feel. I feel at one with my life again and there’s no pressure to ‘get everything done’ in order to stay on top of everything.

Key things to remember when you’re stressed or worried: 

Listen to yourself – What’s really going on in your head and heart? It’s OK to be worried about something but then ask yourself how you can remove that worrisome feeling and let it go.

Your body is your home – If you’re letting in destructive thoughts and feelings, numbing the pain won’t help and your body WILL make it very clear to you through pain or illness that you’re not 100% at ease.

Disease cannot live in a body that’s in a healthy emotional state. – Bob Proctor

Honour your needs – Have a healthy attitude towards your emotional wellbeing and care for yourself. You are an important being and a child of the Universe.

Time goes on – These issues you’re facing wont last forever, unless you let them consume you. Change is a constant in life, look back to other times where you were stressed and how those situations dissipated to now mean nothing.

If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today. E. Joseph Cossman

Finally, stress really is only a thought – This quote from Wayne Dyer sums it up perfectly,

The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking. – Wayne Dyer

There will always be problems we need to face but we have the power to alter our mindset and reactions. Today and every day, make the decision to let go of all worries and stress. Watch how the Universe helps you when you do and how much better life is!

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Imag credit:
Naomi August

Noting your blessings

Life always has and always will provide us with blessings and everything we want however it’s easy to get caught up in the ego’s insatiable desire for ‘more.’

Gratitude soothes feelings of discomfort and inadequacy which often arise when thinking about what the next thing to accomplish or acquire is. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious however our present blessings can often be overlooked in our pursuits.

Remind yourself that there was a time you were praying for everything that you now have. Take a moment to feel the appreciation of where you are now, all that you have achieved and are yet to achieve.

Image source: http://pin.it/nV2N6g3

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Focus only on what you want

“If you could just give you’re undivided attention to where you want to go and never mind where you’ve been and stop trying to explain to everyone why you’re standing where you’re standing, you would clean your vibration up so fast you would attune to the vibration of your desire so quickly and people watching you would be amazed. They would say, “Who anointed you king of the world? How is it that you just wave your hand and whatever you want happens? How is it that doors open for you, that seas part for you, that you barely get an idea about something and the Universe finds a way to help you manifest it? How is it that you were born with this golden spoon in your mouth? How is it that you are the most blessed person that we know?” the throngs will say to you. And you will say, “All I do is think about what I want and let that dominate my vibration. And I don’t pay too much attention to where I’ve been because it seems irrelevant. And I pay attention to the way I feel and when I don’t feel good I try to feel better by thinking thoughts that feel better. And I’ve just trained myself to follow the good feeling.”

Abraham Hicks – 8th May 2004