Tag: mental health

Find a Penny, Pick It Up

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“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” by Mark Twain

Have you ever had something great happen in your life that you could trace back to a trivial event, something so seemingly insignificant that you said “yes” or “why not” to? I call these events pennies. Just like real pennies, by itself, there’s not much value to it nor is its potential obvious. However, if invested properly, one penny can turn into hundreds of dollars, just like a small act of kindness, a business opportunity, or a personal activity can lead to great adventures. Joining meetup.com was a penny for me. Many great opportunities resulted from following up on the referral to that site, joining, then attending events sponsored by two groups. Another personal example is when CoSozo unexpectedly asked me to write an article on Reiki. I said yes to the opportunity, even though I had my doubts. One year later, you are reading my fifth published article, I was the featured author for the March 2014 edition, and I’ve discovered a passion I did not know existed within me.

Sometimes, we consciously take action in our lives in hopes of a positive outcome. For example, a stay-at-home mom decided to go back to school so she could re-enter the workforce in the same, ever-growing field she left 8 years ago. Even though the hope was there for a good job, she had doubts about her hire-ability, especially because of her unique scheduling needs. Immediately after graduation, she was approached and hired by a company that can accommodate her scheduling needs. The job is fun, challenging, and allows her to express her creativity on a schedule that fully supports her being a full-time mom.

The common denominators to the unforeseen opportunities and the projected ones are trust and faith. When we trust that the Universe has a plan for us, we can relax into every intentional decision we make and every unexpected turn life throws our way. Having faith that we are exactly where we are supposed to be and that everything happens for a reason overrides regret. The stronger our trust and faith is in our life’s path, the less regret and fear we will have. Regret keeps us in the past, worrying about events we cannot change. That time and energy is better spent on trusting the process, enjoying the present moment, having faith in our future and being grateful for the lessons and the blessings along the way.

Life is NOT “Supposed to be Fair.”
Know that there is no single way that life is “supposed” to be.
Demanding that life meet our expectations
is a sure fire recipe for a miserable existence.
Life is a game with no rules.
Life just happens to us regardless of our best intentions.
Our only path to happiness lies in being open
to receiving whatever life throws at us –
with Gratitude. Have NO Expectations of life.
–  by Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The more we trust the Universe, have faith in ourselves and the journey, and express gratitude for even the smallest of blessings, the more we become aware that every event and action, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, will open the door to many more blessings. Invest in yourself, pick up that penny, say yes to those opportunities, especially the ones that spark fear and doubt, for they will bring the most rewarding blessing. Say yes to the opportunities that seem too good for you. Pick up that penny, you will be pleasantly surprised by the pennies that follow. Nourish your investment with genuine gratitude and watch your pennies multiple. Not taking advantage of an opportunity of any magnitude because of fear, doubt and/or unworthiness, is equivalent to telling the Universe “No, I am not interested in improving my finances, my relationships, my personal growth or my life.” We all have a least one friend that is constantly complaining about poor health conditions, a lack of financial freedom, and unhealthy relationships but rejects every opportunity for improvement and has a hundred excuses why he/she cannot pursue his/her dreams, let alone improve his/her daily life style. Fear is paralyzing. All the excuses are ultimately based out of fear. To succeed and be happy in life, we must push through the fear or at least keep going despite it. The joy we seek is on the other side of that fear. Trusting and having faith in yourself will temper the fear. The more often you face your fears, the easier it becomes to reduce or overcome them. The less intense your fears, the more opportunities you are apt to take. The more positive outcomes you experience from saying yes to life, the more likely you are to say yes again. The more times you say yes, the more opportunities the Universe will offer you. So, the next time fear and doubt tries to stop you from saying YES to an opportunity of any capacity, gather up your trust, faith and gratitude, take a deep breath, say “yes” and push through the fear. Your future self will thank you!

–Beverly Bates

Originally published Aug 2014, updated Feb 2021

The Layers of Self: Techniques in Mind-Body Healing

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Even if you are not a handy-person or a mechanic, if you have a loose handle, you can easily fix it with a screwdriver. If you have a leaky pipe, you might be able to fix it with a wrench and some caulk. However, if your car stops working, it does not matter how many fancy tools you have in your garage, if you are not a mechanic, you are not going to be able to fix that car.

What’s the missing element? What’s the key to fixing anything? The knowledge in how to correctly use the tools you have is what produces the results you desire. The same holds true for healing our mind-body connection. We have a plethora of readily available tools, i.e. books, classes, workshops, mind-body techniques like acupuncture and massage, meditation, church services, counselors, and best friends, just to name a few. Knowing how to apply these tools is what helps us to achieve the level of healing that we all desire and deserve. We can attend all the healing classes and read all the self-help books in world, but without conscious application of the techniques, we are just collecting tools. How do we begin the task of consciously applying the techniques offered by all of these incredible tools? By choosing to look within!

Remember, healing comes from within and we are responsible for the direction of our lives.All the tools in the world cannot heal us if we are not willing to do the work. This article will help you become aware of how our thoughts are the catalyst for a healthy mind-body connection. It will give examples of how negative self-talk and a negative outlook on life can hinder our healing. By becoming aware of how we view ourselves and the world around us, then making simple yet powerful corrections, we can begin to live happier and healthier lives.

Regardless of the nature of an issue or its source, all issues have layers like an onion and each issue is a separate onion. The core of the issue is the most important part and usually the most challenging to get to and the most painful to relive. You MUST be ready and be brave enough to confront your issues—over and over again, peeling away at each of the layers. Here are some universal techniques that you can apply to heal the various layers within your own issues. This shift in thinking can and should be used throughout all stages of healing and in conjunction with the external tools.

In healing our mind-body connection, it is important to pay attention to the words that we speak and the thoughts we think, especially about ourselves. Do you belittle yourself, constantly tell yourself that you cannot do something, or tell yourself that you are not good enough? Do you say things to yourself or about yourself that you would never say to your kids or your best friend?  If a friend spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, would he or she still be your friend?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, even if it’s just occasionally, cancel-clear those self-limiting thoughts immediately, and without (further) judgment, replace the thoughts with positive, affirming, and loving thoughts. One of the keys to happiness and healing is self-love. Be aware of your thoughts and ask yourself “does this reflect self-love or self-loathing?”

For example, Jo believes she looks like she is having a seizure when she dances, even though she loves doing it. This self-criticism prevented her from going out dancing with her friends. One night her friends finally convinced her to go out and she received several compliments from strangers about her dancing style. Now every time she dances in public she becomes a little more confident. She is now aware that her unhealthy self-talk prevented her from having fun with friends, getting exercise, and meeting new people. She has replaced her old belief with “I am dancing because it feels good to me.”

Just as important as the words we speak about ourselves are the words we put out into the Universe. How many times have you started a sentence with “this is going to be hard,” “this is going to suck” or “I hate this”? Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, the Universe is designed to give us what we ask for and what we expect. If you expect a task to be difficult, aren’t you setting the stage for it to be that way? Unfortunately, yes. For example, Ann was taking the steps in finding a new home for the family dog that exhibited destructive behavior and was disobedient. Ann’s primary concern, however, was how her daughter was going to react to the news. Her unconscious yet verbal expectation was that the situation would be difficult and her daughter’s heart would be broken. Once she became aware of her words and the instructions she was giving the Universe, she cancel-cleared it and re-evaluated her way of thinking about the situation. The end result is that the dog remained in her home and everyone was happy. So let’s consciously expect the best out of ourselves, situations, other people, and life!

The power of our word also relates to the food we eat. Do you realize the negativity you put into your food if you say or think “this is going to make me fat” or “this isn’t good for me” then eat it anyway? You are putting out into the Universe what you expect to happen when that food enters your body. Give yourself permission to eat that double chocolate chunk cookie, but instead of cursing it and punishing yourself with “oh, this is so bad for me, I’m going to gain 10 pounds” say “I give myself permission to enjoy the sweetness of this cookie. I give myself permission to eat this simply for the pleasure of tasting it.”

Another powerful healing tool is to cancel-clear complaints. Complaining about things that we cannot change is pointless and a waste of our energy. Is complaining about how someone else is living his/her life improving yours?  No, it’s a distraction from your own life and healing. Is complaining about the weather going to change it? No, you are giving it power and priority by putting your attention on it and feeling like a victim to it, which distracts from your joy.

When we complain about our life, in essence we are telling the Universe that we do not appreciate what we have. When we are grateful for what we have, we become more aware of and open to the tremendous gifts we’ve already received and as a result, attracting more simply through the resonance of that energy of gratitude. For example, a responsible parent would not continue to buy gifts for an ungrateful child. So why would the Universe continue to bless us when we do not appreciate the gifts we have been given?

Complaining is also a direct reflection of desperation, discomfort, and/or impatience with a specific situation or with life in general. Desperation, discomfort and impatience usually occur when we are focused on the past, the future, or what we do not have. This thought pattern leads to stress, fear, and anxiety. 

There are so many reasons people complain and so many things we complain about. Become aware of your triggers and evaluate the reason for the discomfort. Do you need to speak your truth and say no to something expected of you but not important to you? Are you being stretched outside of your comfort zone and/or needing to face a fear? Or do you just need to relax and take care of your responsibilities with gratitude?

Relax into your life as if you are floating in a warm bath. Take life as it comes, one day at a time, one hour at a time. Live in and appreciate the present moment. Realize that complaining is stealing energy from your joy and preventing you from receiving the gift of being fully in your present moment.

One of the most powerful methods of healing is forgiveness, which encompasses a shift in self-talk, the elimination of complaints, and the elimination of identifying yourself as a victim to others, to circumstances, and even to yourself. Forgiveness frees us from the bonds of our thoughts, the past and the pain associated with both.

“Through forgiveness, we create new realities that allow us to experience greater love and freedom. Forgiveness sets the stage for a new act in our lives to begin. Holding on to judgments about experiences and people keeps us in limitation.” –Iyanla Vanzant.

Forgive for your own well-being. You have control over your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. So when we realize the power of our thoughts and consciously shift our thinking from self-limiting ones to self-empowering ones, the healing is escalated. Whatever stage of healing path you are on, remember to be gentle, kind, and loving with yourself. Practice forgiveness for yourself and for others. As you do this inner work, working your way through your issues, layer by layer, you’ll find that you are blossoming in your life and in your world much more fully and freely. As you practice more gratitude for the generous gifts that you have already in your life, more gifts become clear to you. You may even find gifts in the presence of your issues, which are there as invitations to discover deeper, richer parts of yourself.  As your awareness and gratitude increases, you’ll discover that the complaints will decrease. You will experience a tremendous sense of freedom and joy in your life as you watch your life change for the better. Enjoy the process of discovering and releasing your layers!

“No man is happy who does not think himself so.” –Publilius Syrus

By Beverly Bates

Originally published March 2014, updated Feb 2021

Slay Your Dragons, Face Your Fears

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We’ve all heard the fairy tales where the beautiful princess is locked away in a room that’s in the highest and farthest corner of huge castle that is protected by a fierce, fire-breathing dragon. If the knight wants to marry the princess, he must rescue her by first slaying the dragon. Well, I’d like to offer you a different, more life coaching interpretation of this story. Let’s say that, in this game of life, you are the knight in shining armor. That dream, desire, goal or wish that you want to accomplish or possess is the princess. The castle represents the steps you must take to achieve your desired goal, object or person. The dragon is your fear. It does not matter if your dragon is big or small, fire-breathing or just bites your ankles, you still must slay it to get that princess. If you are cleaver, you can trick the dragon into thinking the two of you are friends and use it to your advantage. We’ll call this action taming your dragon. Either way, what you want is on the other side of that dragon! What are you going to do about it? Let the dragon keep you from even trying to reach your goal? This option gives someone else the opportunity to be what you want to be, have what you want to have. I don’t know about you, but I would rather get slain by the dragon attempting to reach my goal, than to live forever knowing I was too afraid to even try. In most circumstances, once you finally step foot into the castle, you realize the big scary dragon is really a harmless gecko that is more afraid of you than you are of it. In other words, once you begin to actively pursue your dreams, you will realize things are not as scary as you originally thought. So what if you are brave enough to enter the castle only to be slain by that dragon? Since this is a fairy tale, you get another life to either continue attacking this dragon or celebrate the fact that you tried and move on to slay the dragon protecting the princess next door. Whichever option sounds more appealing to you, keep battling the dragons! The more dragons you slay, the easier each sequential battle gets.

Fear is paralyzing if you let it consume your life or let it influence your decisions. Not only do you miss out on the element of your desire, but you miss out on so many unknown opportunities along the way.  Opportunities that otherwise would not be available. Haven’t you ever done something despite being scared, then had an awesome experience, perhaps even something unexpected, result from that experience? I have. Recently, I had a dream of acting in play. When the opportunity to audition became available, I was overwhelmed with fear. I had two weeks to decide if I wanted to slay that dragon or walk away. I chose to slay the dragon and pursue my dream. After I made the decision, that intense feeling left me. On the day of the audition, I was only a little nervous. There’s a big difference between being nervous and having fear. I felt good about my audition and so proud of myself for doing it. As I’m leaving the building, I notice a sign on a billboard announcing that the same theater group is looking for writers to submit plays about Goddesses or women of influence. I CAN write about Goddesses and women of influence! By the end of that day, my play was completely written and I submitted the next day! Had I allowed my fear to paralyze or consume me, stopping me from attending that audition, I would have never known about this amazing writing opportunity.

One of the most controversial rap artists of our times wrote a song that relates to this article and speaks to anyone faced with a rare opportunity to do something different, amazing and life changing.

“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip? …
He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him.
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime…” —“Lose Yourself” by Eminem

As I mentioned earlier, there is a difference between fear and nervousness. There is also an outstanding difference between fear and danger. On certain occasions, these three emotions may feel similar in our bodies, causing similar sensations or physical responses, however, they are completely different. Nervousness is a form excitement. Your adrenaline is going, your heart rate increases and you may even have a little doubt about the situation, but not enough to hinder the activity. This is a common reaction to doing something new or challenging. Fear, as I just mentioned, is paralyzing, comes with a significant amount of self-doubt and may halt further activity until calmed or resolved. Fear is in our heads, it is imagined, it is not real! Danger, on the other hand, is real and threatens your safety. These 3 words are not synonyms. I would also like to mention a fourth scenario, where sometimes contentment is confused with fear. This is where non-judgment and acceptance of others becomes relevant. During a recent trip to Chicago, I had a conversation with a man who stated that I could make more money if I moved my massage therapy practice to the Windy City. My response to him is that I’m not a big city girl. He instantly labeled my preference as fear. My contentment, passion and love of the Lansing area, which includes the friendships I’ve made and the business I have created, is not fear based. Chicago is a great place to visit, but I don’t perceive it as home. On the flip side, I assumed a self-employed friend was experiencing fear when she was perfectly content having a part-time, low key business.

The lesson that I share with you is this: just because someone’s dream is different than yours, does not mean he/she has fear around that subject or object. However, someone with a genuine fear should be supported and encouraged along their path, without judgement. When that someone is you and you are faced with a decision, it is important to know yourself well enough to distinguish and discern between nervousness, fear, danger and “this is not right for me.” Honor your nervousness, respect and avoid the danger, celebrate your passions, let go of what does not suit you then face your fears and slay that dragon!

by Beverly Bates

originally published Sept 2014, updated Feb 2021

When Emotions get Physical: The Effect of our Thoughts on our Bodies

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“The cells in your body react to everything that your mind says. Negativity brings down your immune system.” Anonymous quotes like this are all over Facebook, we like them, but do we really understand how these negative thoughts affect our bodies? Every emotion, thought and belief, whether helpful or harmful, gets stored in our bodies. All harmful emotions, at their core, can be categorized as either criticism (also known as hatred), resentment (also known as anger), guilt, or fear. Each specific emotion has a matching body part, and each body part represents a unique and specific aspect of our life. For example, the right side of our bodies represents our masculine side or the giving side. If Joe has anger and resentment towards his father, there will be pain or dis-ease on the right side of his body. More specifically, if Joe feels overwhelmed caring for his ill and grumpy father, he will have physical pain on the right side of his neck and the right shoulder.

The longer the harmful emotion goes unresolved, the more severe the physical aliment. If we are aware of how our bodies feel at any given moment, we can sense when something is wrong immediately and can reverse or correct the culprit behavior or thought. Disease occurs when the issue is allowed to continue for many years. Since everyone is unique, the severity and amount of time it takes for an unhealthy thought to manifest into a disease will vary. An example of an unhealthy belief that is ongoing yet easily resolved is Kim’s story. As a child, Kim never felt like her parents paid enough attention to her. When she started going to school, she felt as if her teachers did not notice her. In her teenage years, she could not find a boyfriend. Kim’s ongoing feelings of rejection lead to chronic nosebleeds. Once she began to love herself and feel that the attention she was getting was enough, the nosebleeds subsided, as if they never happened. An example of how an unhealthy thought that goes unresolved can lead to a disease is Bethany’s story. As a young person she never embraced her femininity, she was adamant about not having children, she avoided bonding with children, she was constantly frustrated with her menstrual cycles and she subconsciously believed that her feminine qualities were a curse. In the young adult years, she experience troublesome periods. As time went on and those harmful beliefs continued, she developed several large uterine fibroids which worsened her periods. Once she began to embrace her inner-woman, feel more feminine, began to enjoy being a woman and began to truly experience the love a child, her fibroids began to shrink and her menstrual issues slowly eased up.

As mentioned previously, each body part represents a unique aspect of life. As in Kim’s case, she experienced nosebleeds since the nose represents self-recognition, which is what she lacked. In Bethany’s story, the uterus is the ultimate symbol of femininity and thus the most logical place for disease to manifest when a woman’s femininity is challenged. Oftentimes, old sayings hold relevance in the location of our issues. In the case of Joe’s shoulder pain, he was “carrying the weight of the world” with his caregiver role. His father was also grumpy, therefore his father was “a pain in the neck.” Some examples of obvious coordinating ailments and physical locations include the eyes representing the ability to see clearly, the ears representing emotional hearing, the blood representing joy flowing freely and the legs representing carrying us forward in life.1

Not all physical ailments or diseases that we endure are caused by emotional dysfunction. However, it is a common belief that we create ALL of the illnesses in our bodies and in our lives. Some conditions are lifestyle related, for example the quality of our food intake, the amount of exercise we get, our sexual habits and our use of drugs (illegal, over-the-counter, and prescription), alcohol and tobacco. We have a choice on the types of food and substances we put into our bodies, the amount of exercise we participate in and the type of sexual activity we participate in, therefore we create our own health status. Some diseases are karmic, meaning we did not completely resolve an issue in a past-life so it has manifested as a disease in this life. The healing of these issues happen simultaneously with the healing of our everyday thought patterns. The last cause of physical disease is accidents. According to Louise L. Hay, “Accidents are no accident.” We have the emotional distress that attracts accidents to us, such as anger, built-up frustration, rebellion against authority, guilt, and attention or sympathy seeking.2 We may also have a lesson to learn from the experience, that could include compassion for self and others, being content with our current situation or trusting life’s process. Our thoughts are powerful tools that can either hurt us or heal us. Being consciously aware of our self-talk and beliefs, striving for the most authentically positive and loving perception of our circumstances and always communicating from a place of love, joy and respect will bring us a life of peace and good health.

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words watch your words, they become your actions watch your actions, they become your habits watch your habits, they become your character watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” -Lao Tzu

1 Heal Your Body A- Z by Louise L Hay

2 You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

By Beverly Bates

Originally published Sept 2013, updated Feb 2021