Step 2 – gratitude

I’m sitting here contemplating two recent posts I read this morning. One was on the Graduate Blogs page posted by Rhoda titled, “I’m too old for this!” http://blogs.uco.edu/graduate

This blog talked about dealing with an uncomfortable situation and how Rhoda handled it. Rhoda ended her blog this way:

“I left the computer lab feeling hassled and confused. However, I learned three important lessons. Stay tuned as I reveal the three important lessons I learnt.”

Needless to say, I’m definitely hooked into finding out what Rhoda learned from her unpleasant encounter.

The other post was about a friend’s experience in rural Maryland while driving to work on back roads. She encountered a small herd of cows wandering the road on their way to ‘somewhere’ as she sat patiently waiting for them to exit the road in search of their destination. Her comment went something like this:

“As their long tongues and big eyes stared at me, I had a strange desire for a hamburger! Thank you, Mr. Cow, for your deliciousness!”

What do these two posts have in common? Gratitude.

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Step 1 – changing from negative to positive

Yesterday, I wrote about Seth Godin’s post on positive and negative thinking. Today, I’m working on how to change my beliefs from negative to positive ones even during a crisis.

The technique I’m using today comes from a tip one of the speakers on PBS’s Fall Festival gave during her talk to women on post-menopausal issues. The technique is to think of something that pulls your heartstrings and makes you just ooh and aah and want to nurture that thing.

Some of the things that make me do that are baby animals, human babies and children. Yours may be seeing a beautiful sunset, reading an inspirational quote or poem or listening to music.

Whatever it is that gives you that sense of wanting to nurture and protect the thing you are oohing and aahing over is what you hold in mind. Now, keep thinking about it until you feel the release in your chest or heart area. When you feel that release, just notice how good your body feels and take a moment to savor the feeling. Each time you feel the tension return, recall the image of that special nurtured object and go through the process of allowing yourself to mentally ooh and aah again and savor that feeling of well-being.

Practicing this first step of changing your mind-set from tense to alert but relaxed and safe will help to set the stage for dealing with the demons you will face in a later step. For now, just continue to practice this mental act of nurturing all day. Then, extend the practice to each day as you awaken or face another stressor. Practicing and recalling the release and sense of safety and well-being is what we are after. Recall the exercise as often as possible whenever you are feeling stressed as well as when you need a little ‘lift’.

Each time you experience this release around the heart area and the feeling that spreads throughout your body of well-being and security, you are releasing powerful healing hormones from your brain and endocrine system. Our goal is to make this a habit to replace the habit of focusing on stressors that cause you to release fight/flight hormones. Those hormones can be harmful when your body experiences them over and over day after day. The healing hormones are actually the janitors and mothers that come in and sweep away the debris left by the stress-related hormones. And everybody can use a good cleanup by a loving mom.

Next step, find your treasure…