Let’s face it. For many, life is a constant uphill climb.
With a bad ankle.
It’s never just one thing, right? Yes, you may be going through one specific event or situation but there’s always layers that make the struggle un-real. Everyone has these layers. They are like the base model of life. They come standard. These layers create anxiety, panic, struggle, and suffering.
The first layer comes from the anxiety of our daily grind. It doesn’t matter if we’re punching a clock or building an empire, our days are consumed with endless todos and sh*t we need to get done. There’s not enough time in the day. Since the moment we wake up, we are scrambling to catch up. Throw kids into the mix and there is no room for mistakes. Or feelings. Days blur into months and months into years as we do everything we can just to keep our head above water. Add to this the fact that most of us don’t even like what we do. We do it for security. We are hamsters on a spinning wheel going nowhere. Until we have a breakdown, emotionally or physically. We sit deflated with our little bellies hanging out, wonder where we’re going and if it’s all worth it.
Next layer, our relationships. First, our intimate one. It takes work, a sh*t ton. You know this. If we’re not growing together, we’re growing apart. And since you’re only fifty percent of your relationship, it doesn’t matter if you’re perfect, which no one is, you’re only half the equation. This means you don’t have full control.
There is a disconnect. Drift. The sex has become stale. And you become thirsty for something else because you guys are just roommates now. You feel trapped. And maybe you want to work on it but your partner doesn’t. Or vice versa.
If you’re not in a relationship, you’re wondering if you’ll ever be in one. We’ve been programmed to believe that happy means you need to find your “one” and you haven’t yet so you’re not happy. Or don’t allow yourself to be. The anxiety then stems from the search. And with all the noise and false advertising these days, dating can feel like needles in your eyes.
Second, the relationship with our friends and family. Our lopsided friendships and the sticky we have with our family members that sucks us under like a riptide. We appreciate our friends and family. They matter. But they also drain us. Most have them haven’t changed since high school. But we’re still friends with them because we feel history ties us together forever.
Third, the fear-based relationships we have at work with our boss and co-workers. They keep us on eggshells and constantly in fight or flight. They make work an emotional war zone. Okay you get it. Enough about relationships.
Next layer, uncertainty. Not having answers. Not knowing when or if things will get better or ever change. When we will finally find freedom? True love? Live debt free with the ability to shop at Whole Foods every day? Not knowing if we will ever have the life we dream of. Add to this the ticking clock and the pressure we live with to be at a certain place at a certain age. And no matter how much we try to smash it our internal clock, we can only hit snooze.
Next layer, all the things that happen in life that come out of nowhere that we have no control over. The surprise events we weren’t expecting. They usually come when things are already bad and compound our anxiety. Illness. Car accidents. Losing your job. The fire that took your house. Finding out your partner has been cheating on you for most of your relationship. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be so negative but this is life. It’s real. It happens. We get hit by cars and eaten by tigers (literally). This has happened many times. Okay, maybe a mountain lion but I live near hills and I’ve heard it many times. It just is.
Alright, we’re getting near the bottom. Bare with me. The next layer, and probably our thickest one, is our personal demons and toxic thoughts. Our addictions. Our unhealthy patterns. Our feelings about our self, our body, and our worth. All the sh*t that’s happened in the past that we still carry and can’t let go of. The constant daily fight we have with ourselves. Our inner fight is like a giant anchor that keeps us stuck and not going anywhere. And for most of us, it’s been tied to our ankle for most of our lives. And it doesn’t matter if our circumstances change, this layer always keeps us down.
Like a Tres Leche cake, all these layers make our lives heavy and dense. It’s no wonder we feel like we can’t breathe. No wonder why we go to our vices, sugar, alcohol, buying sh*t, meaningless sex, whatever makes us numb, forget, and escape. This creates more layers and disconnection with ourselves, as we sink deeper and deeper. Feeling more and more hopeless and invisible.
Okay. Deep breath. So how do we change this? How do we make it stop? How do we cut through the layers? How do we cut that anchor off our ankles and get some traction in our life?
Now that I’ve depressed the sh*t out of you, let’s inject some hope. Give you a solid vine to pull you out of your quicksand.
There are three doors you can enter through to start the process of living a life that doesn’t suck balls.
Simply put, life is a manifestation of the flow of our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
So for example, if you have negative thoughts all day, you’re going to produce negative feelings which will lead to negative behavior. This creates a loop. Lays tracks. This is why people say everything starts with your thoughts. This is also why people meditate, see a cognitive behavior therapist, and practice mindfulness, to break the patterns and create distance from negative thoughts and thinking.
Note: When I say “negative thoughts”, I’m also talking about how we think as well. Also, our thoughts are way more complicated than just “negative”. I’m just using that word to simplify.
Now the thing is most of us default to negative thinking. This is our natural knee jerk. This is because we’ve all been through some sh*t, starting from an early age. We all have trauma in our lives. No child enters adulthood unscarred. Our parents may not have been the best. Many of us have been abused, cheated on, bullied. There is something called high school that has f*cked with our self-esteem. We have all internalized our experience in some way or another that have created limited and false beliefs about our worth and ability. We all live with firm shoulds that puts pressure and disconnects us with ourselves. Our lenses have been distorted. There has been a thick blanket of negative thoughts and thinking that has sunk into our subconscious over the years. And whether you are aware of it or not, our subconscious is the engine that drives us.
Just a quick reminder of how powerful your subconscious is. Have you been lost in your thoughts while you’re driving and don’t even remember how you got from work to home, a 45 min drive? Your subconscious was driving. As it is pumping your heart and doing everything to keep you literally alive right now. It’s always working. Morning. Night. Sleeping or awake. It’s also always absorbing and taking in all your thoughts as truth and orders to execute.
Also a quick note about our feelings. If our thoughts are the little rider on the elephant, our feelings is the elephant and it’s going to go where it feels like. This is why we make irrational decisions based on how we feel even when we know it’s logically not a good choice. Examples including getting back together with a toxic ex, eat three more donuts then we need to, and drive in front of someone who cut you off and slam your breaks. You get the point.
Anyway, our feelings drive our thoughts and vice versa. They feed into each other and generate our behavior.
So here’s the internal engine that creating our external life.
Negative thoughts and unhealthy thinking patterns → produce negative feelings → unhealthy and unproductive behavior → sets us up for poor and same experiences that cement old beliefs about ourselves and the world into our subconscious.
There are three doors you can enter to break this pattern. To throw a wrench into this machine that has been sinking your happiness and potential and contributing to those layers I mentioned above.
Door #1. Thoughts.
Door #2. Feelings.
Door #3. Behavior.
Changing your thoughts can change how you feel which will change what you do. Or changing how you feel can change your thoughts which will change your behavior. Or changing your behavior will give you a new experience that changes how you feel and shift your thinking.
But which door is the right door? It’s like you’re on a TV game show and can’t decide which door to pick. The good news is you’re not on a TV game show. You don’t have to just pick one door. I say blow through all three.
Like fitness, just doing cardio won’t be as effective as doing cardio, strength training, and endurance. Right?
So how do we do this?
You must thread all three it into your life or it won’t be sustainable.
Turn it into a lifestyle.
I believe the most effective way to change your life is through life design. And by life design, I mean design your life in a way that these become daily practices.
Remember, everything is practice. Like Yoga. You don’t change your life by doing something once. It’s through repetition. Think of it as a craft. 10,000 hours just to start getting good at it. This is why it has to be a lifestyle. Not just a weekend seminar or a retreat in Bali.
The first practice is to be aware of your thoughts and the feelings they produce. Think of it this way. Each thought has a chemical charge. Either negative or positive. As you’re going throughout your day, notice your thoughts. Notice which ones are negative. Chances are, most of them. And it’s not just you. It’s most of us because no one teaches us how to change our thoughts. We learn things like Algebra instead. Challenge them. Look for evidence to see if they are true. Most likely they are distortions. Notice the feelings they produce. Worry and dread? Notice how that feels in your body. Now connect the dots and notice the pattern of how your thoughts make you feel. Try to change your thoughts. Insert new ones. Notice what happens when you think something different. Notice the feeling in your body.
Remember, you are rewiring yourself. You are undoing years and years of knee jerk programming. This is going to take time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to change your thoughts and thinking patterns over the weekend. It’s not going to happen. As you won’t get summer abs by taking two Pilates classes.
The second practice is to be aware of your state. Notice your body and when you are dipping into lower frequencies. Notice when you are expanding and when are you constricting. High frequencies expand you. Low frequencies constrict you. The highest is love. The lowest is shame. Fear low. Gratitude and joy high. You know these. Ask yourself what’s happening when your state changes? Who’s around you? What are you doing? What are you thinking about?
The practice is to do what you can to elevate your state. Maybe you do something physical like go on a hike. Go for a motorcycle ride. Do a workout. Or maybe you just need to journal and get your thoughts out. Or process with your therapist. Or take yourself out to lunch. It doesn’t matter how you change your state. Just make sure you do it as a daily practice. Notice the dip and try to bring it back up. There’s an ebb and flow to this. Don’t fight the dip, just practice on being able to come up from it.
Be aware of what you’re feeding your subconscious. Thoughts, visions, images. What you believe you can and can not do. What you believe you can and can not have. What you’re playing in your mind over and over again. But also the constant feed of videos, images, and words you consume on your phone / screens day in and day out. What feeds are you following? What pictures and messages are your pounding into your subconscious every single day? If you don’t make an effort to choose what you see and consume, you will be playing the same default images over and over and over.
So how do these practices change the amount of emails I have to open and the sh*tty job I’m in? How do these practices change the fact that I’m not in love with my husband anymore? How do these practices change the unexpected events that happen in my life that I have no control over? How do these practices pull me out of my current situation or help me with my credit card debt?
It’s never the things that make our life suck. It’s the way we look at the things. And what we choose to do about them. The things will always keep coming. Whether we’re talking about sh*tty jobs or troubled relationships, it doesn’t matter. That’s all part of life. The layers will stack. That will never change. But if we change, by changing our thoughts and what we think about, by changing how we think and feel, by giving ourselves new lenses, perspectives, and experiences, our situations can change. Even if they don’t, they do. Because we do. And we can slowly cut our layers and have less anxiety. By having less anxiety, we maneuver at a higher state.
Live at this higher frequency state long enough and things do start to change. You start to attract different people and opportunities. It doesn’t mean things just fall on your lap. And it does take hard work and daily rituals to build anything. But paths open up. You start to reposition yourself. This creates new experiences. And there’s nothing more convincing than a new experience, no matter how small or big. And these new experiences ultimately form new beliefs, about yourself, others, love, relationships, and the world.
These new beliefs drop down into your subconscious and now your subconscious starts to work for you instead of keeping you on that hamster wheel.
This post was originally published here and is republished with permission from the author.
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