Weekly Theme: Returning to the Present

Weekly Theme: Returning to the Present

Returning to the Self and the Present concept - tree roots

Sometimes you hear a pull to return
Like a fish out of water hears the waves
Or a falcon hears the wind
“Come back, come back”
And return to the life
You are meant to live
And remember
There is no shame
In uprooting yourself
From the garden
That shunts your bloom
To return to a garden
That nurtures your roots

– Rumi

 

Rooting Your Self in Your Goals

The theme for this week is “Return.” I can relate to the need to uproot myself from what is familiar to try something unknown. Fourteen years ago, I packed up my truck and took a solo journey from Northern Michigan to Long Beach, California. And because I felt safe and supported in my new home, I stayed and allowed my roots to continue to grow. I’ve felt like I’m returning to something forgotten by coming to work at the Barn this year. Although it’s been unfamiliar and unknown, I’m beginning to recognize where my roots can grow.

This has taken me time, lots of observation, making sure coping strategies are accessible, and connecting with a sense of safety. Every time I took a risk to seek out something better, grounding exercises have been helpful to remind me that I am rooted in my goals to support people who are seeking support. Laying down new roots in a place that is nurturing has helped me face the unknown.

 

Grounding Your Self in the Present

Some of us will have the desire to return to old patterns as the holiday and new year approaches. It’s enticing to come back to what is familiar even if it is hurtful or destructive. And returning to something forgotten is uncomfortable and uncertain. So where can we return to if the old calls to us and the new scares us? We can return to self, to the present, to breath, to our own sense of home. Maybe your new home is a quiet place where you can be yourself. Alternatively, it can be taking some time to enjoy new connections you’ve made. Noticing these places, breathing, and remembering your purpose might help your return to the unknown feel easier. And soon it can feel as natural as a fish in water, a bird in flight, or a tree in earth.

 

Tools for Your Journey

Whether you will be returning to familiar places or returning to something new, it’s helpful to have accessible tools to get you through. Here are 30 grounding exercises to quiet distressing thoughts and return to the present.

Weekly Theme: Family and Accountability

Weekly Theme: Family and Accountability

Family and Accountability

The Value of Family

Family – a word that can carry such pain and yearning yet also warmth and purpose. Barn Life practices the value of “family.” Our actions are guided by this value often. “Accept everyone!” is our beautiful marching tune. We want everyone who walks through the gates to be treated as if they deserve a place at our table. No one should be invisible. This is part of the Barn Life magic. Part of caring about someone is holding them accountable. Holding them to the notion that we see more for them than what’s in front of them right now, and that we believe they are capable and deserving of a better life and sense of being. We remind them of their goals for joining the Barn Life client family.

 

Listening with an Open Heart

We want them to get the most out of being here and being “a part of” because they are deserving of it. None of us act as islands at Barn Life. In a healthy family dynamic, we must channel humility and openness when considering one another’s feedback. We are an eclectic bunch of unique, intelligent, and strong individuals who need others just like everyone else. Families either turn toward and unite in chaos or they turn away or even against each other. Let us all strive to continue turning toward.

 

Meeting the Needs of Others – and Our Own

For most of us, there are many things we’d leave behind with our families or like to change about them. However, we must not allow that to dictate our narratives or roles in our chosen families. We now have a chance to meet the needs of others in a healthy way. Additionally, we are permitted the opportunity to get our own needs met – needs which we wish our families had dutifully provided us – for security, for belonging, for intimacy, and overall, for safety. We have choices now! We didn’t as children. Let the pain of what never was turn into a dull ache. You’ll feel it sometimes, but not all of the time. It no longer needs to dictate your life or your identity. You can get your own needs met and invite people into your life who are actually capable of meeting your needs.

 

Some Things to Think About

Ask for the hug from the warm father figure. Receive soothing words of encouragement from the mother figure. Let them ground you in calm security. Tell yourself you will be okay. Fearing and trying to predict and control are all old blankets that are unnecessary now. Thank the family member who was a responsible constant in your life. Express appreciation for those around you and allow yourself to be seen. You can and will create a new sense of family for yourself.

Weekly Theme: What is Self-Love?

Weekly Theme: What is Self-Love?

Self-Love

Self-Love is a Basic Human Necessity

What are basic human necessities? Some include food, water, air, and shelter. These things we quite literally cannot live without. What if we told you self-love was a basic human necessity? Shocking, right? What is shocking about it is that individuals have difficulty with holding self-love to the same standard or importance as food and air. Why is self-love so difficult to attain? It’s said that loving yourself comes with facing what you may hate the most about yourself. A person very close to me once said “every morning when you look in the mirror, ask yourself ‘who am I going to make happy today?’” The answer is you!

 

Kindness Towards Ourselves

It is difficult to make “you” happy because we believe it all comes down to negativity bias. Many of us have received the message that life comes with struggles and we don’t all deserve happiness. We could receive this message due to neglect or abuse, someone telling us, or just a negative belief we have about ourselves. Plato wrote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. So why not be kind to yourself? Who hasn’t dealt with betrayal, difficulties, or losses? Our belief is that Plato was not referring to others only. When he said everyone he was including yourself, too. Plato was on to something. He was highlighting that individuals growing up without enough acceptance or kindness would hold onto failures, mistakes, or shortcomings. Again, we ask the question why?

 

Finding Strength and Resiliency

Research says that our ancestors had an innate response and survival to avoid danger. Because of this, there was little value or survival in stopping to smell the roses. This all goes to say that we truly deserve happiness, through the lens of self-love. This is not an easy feat though because happiness is not entitled. We must create it. We can create it by finding fulfillment through finding the connection with our inner peace and happiness. Once we find that connection, we can then cultivate compassion towards ourselves. Someone may argue “but I take a bubble bath once a week and go for massages sometimes.” Although these things may help, the inner work of finding strength and resiliency is what is needed to have self-love.

 

How to Achieve Self-Love

Another key piece to this puzzle is feeling. In order to have self-love, one must feel the full range of emotions entitled to human beings. That’s a scary thought because that means the individual must face the music, feel the feelings and sit with their emotions. Is that okay? YES! That is taking the necessary steps towards self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-love. Last question, how do I achieve this? Look to the following scenarios and skills to support the journey of self-love.

  • Next time you feel sad, hurt, or embarrassed, try taking a few slow breathes and notice the feeling. Allow your body to have an emotion and just simply notice the feeling.
  • Seek out professional help.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. The only person you can be is yourself.
  • Don’t worry about others’ opinions. Remember that opinions are neither true nor false. They are someone’s thoughts and perceptions.
  • Forgive yourself when you make a mistake. You’re only human.
  • Don’t be afraid to let go of people that are not good for you.
  • Value comes from within. The way you look does not determine your value.
  • Process what you fear.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Take every opportunity life presents to you.
  • Put yourself first.
  • Do the things you enjoy.
  • See the beauty in the simple things.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Be patient with yourself.

We hope your takeaway from all of this is being motivated, empowered, and ready to start your self-love journey or continue on your path. Remember that you have survived this far and you will continue to thrive.

Weekly Theme: Forgiveness and Resentment

Weekly Theme: Forgiveness and Resentment

Forgiveness and Resentment

Letting Go of Resentments, Pain, and Anger

Forgiveness is not giving up nor is it admitting defeat. Forgiveness is about taking power back. Making a conscious decision to let go of resentments, pain, and anger. Some people are not ready to forgive and rightly so. What about victims of sexual assault and violence as well as people who have suffered physical, emotional abuse, and unearned shame? Is it not appropriate to feel rage or become victimized due to events that have happened directly or indirectly to us?

 

The Perils of Resentment

We can let suffering consume us. Suffering and resentments can control our whole worldview including our biases and attitude. When we look objectively at how our resentments have power over us, we can see how we engage in belittling ourselves. This can, in turn, increase our own self-loathing and even convince us we deserve it. Additionally, we act upon anger and allow it to dominate our actions and perceptions of the world.

 

Making a Personal Decision

Forgiveness can begin the process of emotionally disconnecting ourselves from the events and pain that we have used to define us. Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Nor is it about believing that what happened to create our resentments is acceptable. It is about making a personal decision that one does not want to be emotionally controlled by the events, memories, and perception of self that resentments manifest.

 

How Do We Forgive?

Some of us are ready to forgive. There are many ways to forgive and the least of all is giving the incomplete advice of “Just let this go.” Well, how? How do people “let go”? How do people forgive? For some it is a mere acknowledging that the incident(s) occurred, facing the emotions that arise, and stating forgiveness. Others need rituals or prayer to assist in maintaining the intention of forgiveness. Forgiveness can act like the tide of the ocean or the changing moon. Furthermore, our resentments can creep back in, even after we have made the conscious decision to forgive. In this case, one needs to repeat the action of forgiveness. Take a little more power back until the resentment has eventually been drained and the individual is free from that resentment.

 

Fostering Forgiveness

It is our job to help foster forgiveness. More importantly, to help our clients answer the question of how to forgive. It is also not our job to push someone to forgive when they are not ready as those individuals may still need to be further defined or come to a better understanding or acknowledge lessons to be learned from the experience before they become willing and ready to forgive. Even if that lesson is to realize how much damage and influence these resentments have had in our lives, and then we can pose the question “Are you ready to let this go?”

Weekly Theme: Inner Child Healing

Weekly Theme: Inner Child Healing

Inner Child Healing

A Guided Meditation

Get comfortable and let’s try this guided meditation together: Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, then blow out through your mouth. Do that four more times. Next, I want you to think of a time when you were younger and you felt like you needed someone. Think of where you were living at this time. I want you to picture this house you were living in. Stand outside of this house. Now, take a look around. For example, see the color of the house, notice the yard, the cars in the driveway. Additionally, listen to the sounds of the neighborhood. Finally, walk into your childhood house. Look around. Notice the pictures on the walls, touch the furniture, find your favorite knickknacks, smell all the smells. Walk around the house, trace the walls with your fingertips.

I want you to find your old bedroom. The door is closed. Behind that door is a younger you. A younger you who is having a hard time and needs someone. I want you to open the door to your bedroom and see your younger self. What does younger you need? Someone to hold you? To hug you? To tell you that everything is going to be alright? Do you need someone to make you feel protected? Safe? On the other hand, do you need to be seen? To be heard? To be told that you matter? Do you need someone to just acknowledge you and play with your toys with you? Or do you need someone to help you? Do you need to feel loved?

Spend some time with younger you, doing whatever it is you needed at that time in your life. Sit here for a few moments, holding space for your younger self to feel the things they so desperately crave to feel. After you have sat with younger you for some time, I would like for you to say “goodbye for now” to little you. Take one last look around your bedroom before you leave, closing the door behind you. Take a few last moments looking around your home, smelling the smells, and touching the walls. As you leave your childhood home and find yourself closing the front door, look around your neighborhood one last time. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, and let it out through your mouth. Come back to the present time.

 

Carl Jung and Inner Child Healing

Last week, during a group, we did this exact meditation with the clients. With Halloween being this past weekend, it was a perfect time to shine a light on those inner children. Candy, decorations, costumes, games, pumpkin carving. All things that tickle the kid in us! Carl Jung first proposed the idea of inner child healing after he examined his own childlike inner-feelings and emotions. When wounded, these inner children negatively influence who we are as adults, holding enormous power over our relationships and decisions. However, your inner child can also lend you strength. In fact, regaining youthful feelings of wonder, optimism, and simple joy in life can help with confidence and your well-being!

 

The Little You Inside

Your inner child is exactly what it sounds like. Specifically, little you inside of adult you. In other words, the you that comes out when you see a rainbow, go to a theme park, play a board game, etc. Everyone has an inner child. However, if your inner child is wounded, they may not feel safe enough to come out and play. Your inner child may feel damaged or forgotten about. “Inner children are the lens through which injured adults make their decisions.” The first step in healing your inner child is to acknowledge it is there (like any child) and that he or she is wounded. In fact, the harm done to your inner child directly correlates with the ways you feel unsafe in the world. For example, here are some signs that you have a wounded inner child.

  • A deep feeling that there is something wrong with you
  • Being a people-pleaser
  • Rebelling and feeling alive when in conflict with someone else
  • Being a hoarder
  • Not being able to let go of possessions and people
  • Experience anxiety with something new
  • Feeling guilty for setting boundaries
  • Driven to be a super-achiever
  • Being ridged and a perfectionist
  • Having problems starting and finishing tasks
  • Exhibit constant self-criticism
  • Feel ashamed at expressing emotions
  • Ashamed of your body
  • Having a deep distrust of anyone else
  • Avoiding conflict, no matter what the cost
  • A fear of abandonment

If you ignore it, your inner child can manifest in anxiety, depression, PTSD, emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, addiction, difficulty functioning, and isolation from others.

 

Allowing Ourselves to Heal

Our inner child wants to be happy, but we have to make it safe for them to do so. Try exploring new and old things in life that may excite and bring joy to little you. Additionally, allow yourself to explore these new or old passions with a childlike wonder and intentionally find ways to bring more laughter into your life. When we allow our inner child to come out and play, we allow ourselves to heal and be truly, genuinely happy from the inside out. So, whether you focus on the wounds or look for the glimmering sparkle of optimism and hope, let little you come out and play.

Weekly Theme: Crisis is Choice

Weekly Theme: Crisis is Choice

Crisis is Choice

The Turning Point Within

Have you ever been in a situation faced with an important challenge that felt insurmountable by your usual methods of coping and problem-solving? Into every life flows crisis. Every breath rides on the brink of upheaval. Every human beat of a heart holds within it a turning point, a crossroads. A time, when the “old way” or the “comfortable way” or even maybe the “only way” we know, is threatened. Threatened and challenged and possibly found to be unusable. What once was our key to our future has become a useless artifact of a past once perfectly fitted.

 

The Many Forms of Crisis

They can take so many forms: You catch your husband cheating on you!  Maybe you have a week to live! Or you got fired!  Or you ran out of money! What you thought was true is not. What you thought was not, is. These are cataclysmic crisis situations. At these crossroads, we must make a choice. Continue to use old ways and methods that are no longer working? Or, I shudder to speak it, change…our…ways. Ouch, no thanks. Most times I would rather blame outside forces who are conspiring against me than admit that I myself may need a course correction. The audacity of such a thought! Hubris will get you every damn time. To think that I myself may hold a key that is now rusted and no longer works? Despite my best attempts, it just won’t turn! These are sacred, life-altering times, these so-called incipient moments of crisis.

Wei and Ji

This week, we will crack open our moments of crisis. We will try to train ourselves to view these moments of collapse as opportunities to find new and encouraging paths we never saw before. We will use crisis to reveal new vistas and possibilities that never existed before. Most all know about the Chinese word for crisis and how some people say it means “danger” plus “opportunity”. Some disagree with this translation but I believe they are splitting hairs. Here are my 2 cents. Wei means “danger”. Ji means “a point of juncture”.

危 – wei

机 – ji

Danger is easy to grasp. It means something that is potentially harmful, risky, or not preferred.  Danger is mysterious and requires your full undivided attention if you wish to go unscathed.  A juncture is where two things join. The joining of things generally seems to be risky business. So much can go wrong…or go right. Any union can be challenging and fraught with difficulties. Try unifying anything and observe what happens. A juncture is a place where two different things come together. A seam. A moment of conception or connection. When two become one and that one is, at the same time, a product of what came before. Yet, at the same time, it is new and altogether itself!

 

A New Way of Thinking

What two things are coming together in the Chinese idea of crisis? That’s right, you and your new way of dealing with your life! You and a new way of thinking. A revised method of living. You loving your life again and in new ways never fathomed before. This is a crisis on a monumental level. Your old ways have admittedly failed. But not all of you has failed. Just certain ideas and behaviors have betrayed our true futures. Luckily, we can learn and apply new methods. It will be dangerous and difficult. However, if we “refuse to let a good crisis go to waste” as Winston Churchill quipped once, we will reap the inevitable boons. We may even learn, like an ancient master, to (dare I say?) welcome crisis. Welcoming crisis? Audacity! Yes. Believe this. Points of juncture are inherently dangerous. They are also inherently rewarding.

 

New Possibilities and New Terrains

Crisis is a blessing. It opens your mind up to new understandings and informs our body and soul about new possibilities and new terrains to explore. This week, let’s focus on ways of identifying crisis and ways to surmount crisis. What can we learn? Are we perpetuating maladaptive patterns? If so, what are they? What alternative patterns can we put forth and offer? How can we support someone who is in crisis? How can we contain personal crisis long enough for someone to feel safe enough to join in the fight toward a new understanding? What are other models of dealing with crisis?