** What fears or anxieties stop you from moving toward your greatest dreams and aspirations? Are you experiencing “political anxiety?”
** How can you make the shift to Optimism and Action?
** What would your boldest vision for the future look like? Can you find the courage to write it and use it as a roadmap?
Growing up, the word “Spring” was always followed by the word, “cleaning.” My mother took the cleaning part very seriously- like cleaning every slat of the venetian blinds, moving the furniture to insure that “dust mites” would not inhabit the house dust, and so on. My mother had left Oklahoma as a child in the 1930’s, moving with my grandmother’s family to escape the drought that led to the Oklahoma of that era being called “The Dustbowl.” They settled in a small agricultural town in the desert-lands of southern California before my mother, as a young woman, moved to San Diego.
Even though I have no reason to be daunted by any form of cleaning now, that early training led to a tendency, as Spring approached, to put-off almost everything that I might interpret as work- like this article, which I’d intended to write and post in early March.
I am now declaring a shift – from equating Spring with the drudgery of cleaning, to viewing Spring as an opportunity to create a more beautiful, expansive, and fulfilling life.
It’s easy to hold this view for my clients and my friends:
1) Diane, an energetic woman somewhere in her sixties, was planning ahead to relocate to the east coast to be with children and grandchildren in the next chapter of her life. Retirement was an option; money was not a particular problem. It was anxiety that was stalling her. She confessed that the anxiety was related to taking on the cleaning and organizing of her house. “I don’t know if I would technically be called a hoarder, but after 40 years in my big house I can’t imagine and feel over-whelmed every time I think of what it would take to get it ready to sell.”
I introduced Diane to a short meditation practice, Heart Breathing, as taught by the Heart Math Institute. Five minutes of breathing love into the heart and breathing out fear lowers heart rate and respiration right away, and taking the last minute to “breathe out love to all other beings” leads to a sense of deep calm. Diane was thrilled to start feeling less anxious so quickly. She was further relieved to know that when she felt ready, a professional organizer friend would be more than happy to guide her through the process of preparing for a move.
* While depression is thought to be a deep sadness about the past, anxiety typically represents a fear of the future. I’ve found that since the presidential election, many people are experiencing what we psychologists are calling, “political anxiety.”
2) Sandra, a young woman client who’s also a psychologist, came to me in a state of panic. While she is blond and “Anglo,” as we say in New Mexico, her physician husband is Mexican. “My children are brown- they look Mexican. I’m so afraid of how they might be treated now that Trump is president.” Sandra was reminded that her strengths- the positive attitude and the spirituality that helped her overcome challenges in her past was exactly what she needed to practice to overcome her fears now. She also recognized her need to get back to regular exercise as a stress- reliever.
3) Recently, I was asked to give a talk to one of the resistance groups, called, Indivisible. I spoke about Resilience- What it is and how to do it. One psychological definition of resilience is: “The capacity to cope with adversity and even catastrophe, and return to homeostasis afterward.” I stressed that the first coping mechanism is to feel your grief deeply, whether it’s the confusion of disbelief; the pain of anger, the crazy-making of obsession, or the anguish of depression. Take time to be with it, write about it, talk about it, think about it. As you honor and process your grief, you become able to practice the greatest attributes of resilience: Optimism and Self-Efficacy. Optimism means that you can hold a higher vision for the future. Self-Efficacy means that you believe in yourself- knowing that you can be an influence for good in every situation.
4) To accomplish this, use your SOAP daily:
S – Spirituality; Social participation; Service; Meditation/prayer; church; community, volunteering, mentoring
O – Optimism, Self-Efficacy, Confidence, Create a Power Pose; Make a long list of your strengths
A – Appreciation, Gratitude practices; Affirmations and Declarations of your Intentions
P – Purpose- Powerful Commitment to life work & to the Self-Care that is Required to Do the work, and to the over-riding value of Love!
5) To receive more guidance for your meditation practice, read the section in my book: From Crisis to Creativity: Creating a Life of Health & Joy At Any Age in Spite of Everything! (the 3rd edition)- starting on page 237:
“Relaxation – Trance – Meditation – Prayer”
Have a Wonder- filled, Happy Spring!