living with intention, Uncategorized

A Few Simple Steps Towards Living with Less Judgment…

It is part of the human condition to compare ourselves to others and make judgments. In fact, it is a part of the developmental process to become increasingly aware of others and think about how we measure up. Early on we learn who is the fastest runner, best at kick ball and in the highest reading group. These comparisons can be helpful and even motivational as they prompt us to try harder, which can be a very good thing. It is only when we continue to primarily rely on these judgments that we frequently run into trouble. We all can think about the many reasons this may not be a good idea but the one I want to focus on today relates to our thinking. It comes down to the simple fact that not every thought we have is accurate or helpful. We have many random, even goofy thoughts that require us to be aware of and filter them out. When we do not catch these moments and recognize them for what they are and are not, we often internalize them and they become part of our story.

Many times, when we accept messages and thoughts about ourselves, they are often negative. Comparing ourselves to others often makes us feel unhappy. In response to these negative self-messages, we tend to react by judging others more harshly, which makes us feel better. When we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have all had moments in which we compared ourselves to someone else and took comfort in knowing we were not as ‘bad’ as them. We want to feel good about ourselves and often times we seek it through observing others’ struggles. Obviously, wanting to feel good about ourselves is worthwhile however, learning to do it for ourselves takes awareness and effort. This mindset requires us to make a shift in how we think about ourselves and others.

Steps to building a more positive, less judgmental self:

  • A first step in building a stronger, more positive, less judgmental self takes a desire to do so and a willingness to make a few changes. The desire comes from within us and if this topic resonates with you, you are half way there.
  • The second step requires us to ‘catch’ moments when we find ourselves looking with judgment at ourselves or others. It can be a parent struggling to calm their child in the grocery store or we hear a neighbor making an unkind comment about another neighbor. When we catch these moments, we need to take a breath and choose to contemplate what might be going on in that person’s life. Practice choosing kindness and compassion in that moment versus focusing on the automatic negative thoughts. Work to let go of the judgmental thinking of the past and let your mind rest on the more positive thoughts about the situation.
  • The last step simply requires us to stop talking negatively about others. One of my first group rules when working with kiddos is that we do not speak about others when they are not in the room to defend themselves. This not only works well in group but it is a solid life rule. I also talk with kiddos about taking notice of friends who talk about others behind their backs. You can bet those same kids will talk about you behind your back one day. Choose your friends wisely and practice being a good friend to others.

Learning new habits and ways of thinking about ourselves and others takes practice. When we are able to do this more consistently, we feel more accepting and even happier. Be kind to yourself as changing automatic ways of thinking and reacting takes time. Start slowly and acknowledge your efforts to shift to becoming a more positive and self-aware person.  

living with intention, Uncategorized

Give, Take, Savor and Remember

20181119_131629This Thanksgiving I want to give with intention. For me that means I will take more time to listen and support others. Whether it is listening to my kiddos, parents or siblings, I will work to actively hear what is being shared as well as be generous with my love and support. Moving beyond the superficial check-ins with families takes energy. I will be ready which means I will have engaged in some good self-care during the days leading up to the holiday. I will prioritize the important tasks and let go of others so I will be more present in the moment.

I will take with abandon. Permission granted to take it all in including the sights, sounds and wonderful smells of Thanksgiving. I will savor the decorations made by children, embrace the colors of fall, and fill up with wonderful foods and sweet treats. I will take in hugs, kisses, children’s laughter and even some tired tears as the day turns to night.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy will be savored. I will be mindful of my food choices and delight in them. I will be kind to myself when I inevitably over eat. I will not apologize or allow any self-recrimination. If those thoughts pop into my head I will gently but firmly push them aside and reframe my thoughts to think about the positive moments of the day. I will not take this day for granted.

I will work to take snap shots of the best moments of my day and remember the sights, sounds and my feelings in that moment. My Thanksgiving will not be perfect. Life is messy and unpredictable even with great planning. But through the messiness of the day, I will seek the handful of joy giving moments. I will laugh easily and share in the good energy we create when we choose to do so. I will also allow myself time to recall the memories I created with those not with me this year.

While every year is different for a multitude of reasons and circumstances, I hope you are able to make your Thanksgiving what you choose it to be this year.

Living in the here and now, living with intention, parenting

Fresh Eyes

It is Friday and the Fourth of July is right around the corner. Most of us hope to enjoy time with family and friends. These upcoming days offer some wonderful opportunities to live in the here and now, even if only for a couple hours. Commit to looking at others with ‘fresh eyes’, including your kiddos. Put aside automatic beliefs and thoughts. Let anger, worries and fears go for now and appreciate the positive moments you have been given with each other. Give yourself permission to release negative thoughts and practice seeing others as if meeting for the first time. See the unique qualities of others. You will be amazed at what you see and feel. It is one of our challenges as humans to be in the moment and to put aside negative, non-productive thoughts. However, if we choose to commit to  moments, such as taking a walk or sharing a meal with ‘fresh eyes’, you will open yourself up to different ways of thinking and relating to others. You get to choose.

So, give it a try! We all want to feel lighter and experience more joy in the moment. This takes practice. The more times you practice this skill the easier it will become. Good luck catching some great moments.

living with intention, parenting

Parenting with Intention

Parenting with intention takes regular thought and practice. Increasing awareness, listening to our thoughts and emotions which drives our behavior choices takes effort. Without a will to listen to ourselves we simply become reactive when responding to our children.  It is empowering to choose something different and maybe even create something you intended. Starting with small moments is meaningful and can lead to much more.

All of us have varying intentions each day, however, none of us wake up and decide we want to have a mediocre day. Most of us wake up with some initial anxiety about what the day may bring but hopefully after indulging in a bit of anxious thinking, we switch the gear and move toward intentional thoughts such as, I want to spend more fun time with my child or I want to take a walk after dinner with my family.  These are all great intentions most would agree. So what derails us can be a variety of factors such as our jobs, fatigue, chronic pain, etc. This is the moment we get to choose differently despite everything else going on. Yes, some things are out of our control and too often we focus on what we cannot do for a variety of reasons. But what if today we decide to focus on what we can do? We actually choose to make something different happen such as eating dinner picnic style on the floor in the living room or in a tent fort. The art of choosing something different can be powerful even with small shifts. The benefits can include a positive change in mood, decreased tension and some great laughter built in the day.

I love the idea of creating a moment.  I choose to celebrate the positive moments in my life and build in more as that is my intention.