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.

 

Stressed out? 25 activities to change your mood right now.

Stressed out? 25 activities to change your mood right now.

Are the holidays starting to take a toll on you? 

You know what I’m talking about… challenging relatives with varying political beliefs, commitments you aren’t able to avoid, rushing from place to place, too many obligations and not enough time.

Let’s change that!

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How to Give Your Brain a Vacation

Does your brain need a break? A day off?

If you’ve ever felt like your brain is working overtime, it’s probably because it was!

Every day, hour, and even second, our brains process massive amounts of information.

In any given moment we are bombarded with sensory information: sights, sounds, smells. Even tastes and textures. We assess temperature and moods and environmental activity. We interpret non-verbal cues.

We assimilate on both a conscious and unconscious basis. We create meaning and understanding.

We interpret behaviors of others and make instant decisions about what we should do. If someone is rushing toward us we make rapid decisions to identify it’s a threat or a friend that hasn’t seen us in months. We assess safety and act accordingly.

We multitask at work and in our free time.

Does this sound familiar? You get home from work and plop on the couch, turn the television on, read news stories or look on Facebook on your tablet, snack on something delicious, and chat casually with your honey.  Your night flies by and you head to bed, just as exhausted as when you got home, even after five hours of ‘down-time’.

While your body may have been quiet, your mind wasn’t. Our brains get overworked taking in and processing all this stimulation, working non-stop from the moment we wake to the moment we fall asleep.

The result is we are fatigued, checked out and aren't able to fully participate in our life.

It’s challenging to schedule a vacation for your brain! How exactly do you turn off your brain if you’re accustomed to a go-go-go existence?

Slowing down and unplugging our minds from the stimulation is one way to give it a break. Check out a few ways you can implement this.

One thing at a time. This is where I give you permission to NOT multitask!

The times where multi-tasking are necessary are very few. In actuality, when we try to manage three things at the same time, we aren’t being more efficient, we are distracted and not giving our tasks our all. Often this results in us not really being aware of what we did or having little investment in the outcome.  Mark Morford sums it up best in his article “Hurry Up, Get More Done, and Die”.  This is worth the read!

Put down your phone. Connecting with others during a conversation has almost gone by the wayside. When I watch others in public, most have their devices out and frequently check emails, Facebook or texts instead of interacting with the person they are with. 

Commit to putting your phone on silent when you are with a friend, have dinner at a restaurant where you don’t check your phone once, create a basket in your home where everyone places their phones during family game/movie night. There are some powerful things that happen when you disconnect from electronics. For more ideas about ways to unplug check out this post.

Turn off the TV.  It’s a habit most Americans have, walk in the door and turn on the television. Rarely are you sitting down and only watching a television show or movie. Most of the time the television is background noise, just static behind multi-tasking.

For one day, try to turn off the television when is it is not your focused activity. That means that if you’re on your computer, talking on the phone, doing something else around the house, playing a game on your phone… turn off the TV.  See how your attention shifts and if it changes your connection with what activity you were engaged in. Then turn the TV back on when you want to make watching a show your prime focus.

Breathe. Spend a minute or two breathing and only breathing.

Most likely this will be a challenge. Your mind will push you to jump back to your lengthy list of must-do’s. When this happens, know that it’s OK and don’t worry about what ‘should’ be happening as you breathe.

The RAIN process can be helpful with helping you let your mind unwind.  RAIN stands for: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Non-Identification (or non-judgment). As you’re sitting there breathing, recognize the thoughts and feelings that are popping into your head. Allow whatever happens to happen. If you feel anxious with all the tasks you need to complete today, pay attention to how that anxiety feels in your body and let it be there and return to your breathing. If your mind starts running away with thoughts, recognize what your thoughts are, investigate what is prompting the thought, allow it space in your mind, and return to your breath.

I believe the non-judgment step is the most important part of this process. It’s easy to get hung up and judge yourself for having a busy, active mind. Criticizing yourself for having a restless mind isn’t doing you any good, it’s not helpful at all, so catch yourself when you’re judging yourself and let it go.

For a more detailed explanation of the RAIN process check out this article here, or follow along with this 10 minute meditation by Tara Brach.

With the over stimulation that our brains experience daily it can initially feel uncomfortable to start to cut out the white noise. When you decrease the outside sensory information your thoughts may seem busier, or louder, when there is nothing else to distract you from them.  That’s OK!  It takes practice to slow down the thoughts we have.  Remember non-judgment is your friend.

I’d love to hear where you are in your journey toward quieting your mind. Have you tried any of these techniques and want to share what has worked?  Send me a message here.  If you have any questions or are ready to dig in deeper to a mindfulness practice you can schedule your free telephone consultation here where we can discuss how I might be able to help.  I look forward to connecting with you.

Adriana

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and 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.