Finding balance in life feels like being a professional juggler

Finding balance in life feels like being a professional juggler

Today I was reminded (again) that my life lacks balance.

Not sure if that’s surprising coming from a therapist that helps people with this exact issue daily, or if it’s expected because, hey, I’m human too. 

It’s something that I long for and strive for on a daily basis. My eye opening moment today came from a reflection exercise I was completing for my business coach. She asked that I spend some time writing down what my ideal day would be like.

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Is your mindset helping your life? ... or hindering it?

An interesting thing happened to me while I was out on a walk.

I used to run long distance, but due to various injuries and a surgery over the past two years, I’ve been limited in the types of exercise I can participate in.

But the other weekend I decided to go for a 3-4 mile walk. It was a beautiful day outside, cool and sunny.

About half way through, the walk gets hilly and a bit more challenging. I’m out of breath. Muscles starting to feel tired. Pretty exhausted in general. Questioning what the hell I’m doing outside when I have a perfectly good couch and Netflix at home. My mind was talking me out of continuing. Pointing out that I can bypass the hills and cut the walk short. That’s when my internal dialogue got real nasty: “You’re so out of shape, how could you let yourself get this way?” (and this is just a mild example).

It spiraled down pretty quick; it caught me off guard.

Here it was a beautiful day outside, and at the first experience of physical discomfort my mind resorted to put-downs. It has been a while since I’ve actively and consistently worked out, so it was tough to get out there. It’s also difficult knowing your body can’t do what it was once capable of. 

However, there was no reason for the negativity popping up in my brain.

So I did what any therapist would do (well at least the ones that try to practice what they preach) and started working on shifting my mindset.

I started giving myself credit for what I was doing. “Good job on getting out here today. You’re a trooper for continuing when you want to quit. You’re going to feel good tonight, better than if you just watched Netflix.” And I started smiling (at first by force, then because I started paying attention to the beauty around me). And I finished the walk. I even went a little farther than I planned.

Shifting your mindset is all about perspective.

You get to choose the perspective that will benefit you.

In my walk today I had two options: criticize myself for struggling or praise myself for trying.

Considering the two options, I shifted and choose that option that was going to feel good, help me succeed, and motivate me to try harder.

I can’t think of anything that putting myself down would have accomplished. Honestly, if I would have indulged in the criticism I would have taken the short cut and ended the walk early.  Then I would have felt regret and shame at not finishing the walk I had set out for.

Can you think of any time that harshly criticizing yourself has served a purpose?

I talk a lot of choosing joy. And I realize that sometimes it can come across as trivializing.

Choosing to shift your mindset doesn’t change your reality.  My reality was that I was exhausted and struggling on a fairly easy walk. This would stay the same no matter what option I chose to focus on.

What did change was my attitude, my perspective, my mindset.

When I suggest to people to choose joy I don’t mean it to be trivializing. There are some realities that will continue to exist, including depression, anxiety, trauma, or ending relationships.

But what shifting your mindset can do is for just one moment, one minute, you can shift inside of you. You can feel a sense of control, no matter how fleeting, over your thoughts and mood.

It’s really all about perspective. 

If you have two options, why not choose the one that will be helpful to you and bring something good to your life?

Be bold,

Adriana

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento area therapist specializing in helping people lead authentic lives.  Adriana’s most passionate about supporting individuals exploring their gender and sexuality, and advocating for the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway ‪50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call ‪(916) 547-3997 or email adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com.

 

Three Myths and the Powerful Realities about Mindfulness

Anyone who’s visited my website, or worked with me in person, knows I talk about mindfulness… a lot.

I practice mindfulness regularly; and because it’s a tool I use in my personal life (and have first-hand experienced the positive benefits) it naturally comes out in my professional life.

Often, people seek me out because this is a foundation of my clinical practice.  Other times, when I start to discuss the benefits of mindfulness with a new client I’m met with blank stares or am told (while they are laughing) “um, no, I’m not trying that hippie shit.”

I agree, mindfulness can sound like hippie shit when you first learn about it! 

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. And I wouldn’t be teaching it if I didn’t repeatedly see the benefits both in people around me and in my own life.

So here are a few myths I’ve heard about mindfulness and the realities that I’ve seen in my work.

 

Myth: “Mindfulness is about removing all thoughts from my brain”

The reality is: eliminating all thoughts from our mind is impossible.  Our mind thinks thoughts, pretty constantly.  That’s its job. What mindfulness can help you (and your mind) do is to recognize, acknowledge, and move on from the thoughts that do pop-up. Mindfulness serves as a way to healthily disengage from thoughts.

 

Myth: “Mindfulness will make me happy and relaxed”

The reality is: mindfulness isn’t always an enjoyable experience. Sometimes bringing awareness and attention to our experiences highlights challenges we are having, leading us to have some not-so-pleasant feelings.

Mindfulness isn’t about feeling one way or another; it’s about experiencing the moment for what it is and accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

Myth: “Mindfulness takes hours each day sitting silently to be effective”

The reality is: there are actually hundreds of ways to be mindful. Yes, some people do go to silent retreats and spend dedicated periods in meditation each day.  However, that’s not for everyone! Mindfulness is about being present in each moment.

Instead of spending 30 minutes sitting in lotus posture each morning, you can practice mindfulness for 30 seconds at a time, 60 times a day. It’s the consistent quality of participation that is more important than length or what you do.  Mindfulness can be practiced during every-day activities, at work or home, while eating, driving, playing with your kids, exercising, truly any activity you’re doing.

 

So, how do I get more mindful in my life?

With the stormy and gloomy weather we have had lately, one way I’ve been practicing mindfulness in my everyday life is by coloring. I find it a relaxing break where I can pause my responsibilities, let thoughts that arise drift away while I focus on what color to use next, it’s a fairly short commitment to color one page, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish. 

In case you haven’t had the chance to color yourself, here are two coloring pages to get you started. One illustrating 'Share Love Freely', and one that has a blank space for you to write in your Intention for 2017

Interested in learning more about mindfulness or expanding your practice?  One of my favorite mindfulness activities is checking in and exploring your senses. You can find the 'how-to' directions in these articles about how to balance responsibilities with doing nothing and around connecting with nature

I’d love to hear what your favorite mindfulness technique is.  Share with me in the comments or send me an email at adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com.

Adriana

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento area therapist specializing in helping people lead authentic lives.  Adriana’s most passionate about supporting individuals exploring their gender and sexuality, and advocating for the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway ‪50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call ‪(916) 547-3997 or email adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com.