“Self care is any action you purposefully take to improve your physical, emotional or spiritual well being. Too often, we do not make time for sufficient self care because we’re too busy taking care of others.”
Too often, way too often, we do not make time to take care of ourselves, because we are busy taking care of others. This is especially true for mothers. Brenda Ueland expresses this beautifully:
“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability) for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid — because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. […]”If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!’ you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”
It’s true, we as mothers tend to put our own needs last, well behind our children’s and our family’s. We are so busy taking care of others, that we tend to lose ourself, our deepest sense of self.
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We are experiencing a lot of pain out there at the moment. A lot of women that I hear from in workshops and via email are going through hard times right now. Children leaving home, friends and children suffering from addiction, dealing with divorce and all sorts of physical and emotional pain.
An article I wrote, Bouncing Back after Divorce was just published in Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s wonderful online resources. Although the topic is bouncing back after divorce, the content, I believe, can be useful in coping with a lot of life’s painful events.
The messages are about taking care of YOU, loving yourself through the pain. It’s not always easy to do, especially as women, we seem to have a hard time doing this. But we can move through the pain, shift does happen!
The coping strategies I talk about in the article are ones that I talk about a lot on this blog:
Re-wiring your brain and paying attention to what you think
We don’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to act and learn from these events. Shift really does happen.
I’d like to close with a TED talk about surviving divorce. But like everything else, the coping mechanisms described by Dr. David Sbarra, are applicable to most ‘What Now’ moments. One of his biggest suggestions is getting enough sleep – always really great suggestion!
I’d love to hear how shift is happening for you. I love learning from all of you.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
”If you enjoy the work of Julia Cameron or use Daily Pages as part of your creative morning rituals, then you will love Patti Clark’s book, This Way Up.”
I cannot imagine higher praise! I am incredibly grateful! For those of you not familiar with Julia Cameron, she wrote the transformational book, The Artist’s Way.
Someday I hope to be able to tell her what an amazingly positive influence she has been on my life. One day …
I’ll close with a brilliant vid with Cameron titled: It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. Wise words!
I’d love to hear what you thought of the video and if you’ve read The Artist’s Way, how it impacted you. I love learning from all of you. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
I recently published an article in Thrive: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Most of us know that is true, but how many of us actively practice replenishing ourselves? I just returned from a retreat for women, and in speaking to the women individually, what I discovered was that the biggest factor that they had to overcome to go on the retreat was the guilt! Guilt for taking the time for themselves and guilt using money exclusively on themselves.
We, especially women it seems, have difficulty taking time for ourselves and prioritizing self-care. It often takes an illness or an accident to persuade us to give ourselves the time and care we need.
In an article by Dr. Susan Biali in Psychology Today, Biali describes feeling incredibly unwell, but continuing to push herself. She had an epiphany, that although she had been teaching people about stress management and self-care for over a decade, she had not been practicing what she preached. She explained that when she finally took time out for herself, it felt like she had woken up after being asleep for a long time. But it’s only when you wake up that you notice you were sleeping
But when we are stressed out, self-care is often the first thing we let go of.
Why is that? Barbara Markway, Phd explains in a different article in Psychology Today a few reasons that that is the case.
Our brains go into fight-or-flight mode and our perspective narrows.
We’re so busy trying to solve problems that we’re stuck in “doing mode
We may not have a “go to” list of self-care activities.
So once we wake up, so to speak, how do we practice self-care, what can we put on our list of self-care activities. For those of us that can, a retreat is a lovely way to have time and space for self. But if that is not an option at the moment, here are a few suggestions:
Focus on the sensations around you — sights, smells, sounds — this helps you be present in the moment.
· Go for a walk and breathe in fresh air.
· Listen to running water.
· Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
Do something pleasurable for yourself.
· Get creative! Do some art, journal or play some music
· Take yourself out for a nice meal
Give yourself some spiritual space
· Practice gratitude — journal about things your are grateful for
· Light a candle and meditate
· Walk in nature
Connecting with others is an important part of self-care.
· Go on a lunch date with a good friend.
· Call a friend on the phone.
· Join a support group.
Caroline Myss asks us: “How do you define taking care of yourself?” Think about that and then as Myss suggest: Create a new self-care practice, starting today.
Remember what Audre Lorde says — self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation. Take care of yourself, start today, you are worth it!
To close I’d like to put an invitation out there to ignite a self-care revolution!
Gratitude has power! Melody Beattie explains that:
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
I have been keeping a gratitude journal for years. And on mornings when I am in a rush or just don’t feel like writing in my journal, I just say at least three things I am grateful for, usually out loud. I do one or the other, either write or speak, without fail, every morning.
So today, I want to say Thank You to you, my readers. There are over 6,000 or you reading my blog, and I am so grateful. Grateful for your time and energy. And grateful to those of you that take the time to comment, thank you.
And today I am also grateful to the readers of my book, This Way Up.Thank you for reading my book in whatever form you read it, whether on kindle or paperback. And a huge thank you to those of you who then took the time to review my book on Amazon. Book reviews are so important to an author and to getting the book and it’s message out there.
I appreciate the comments that women have made about the course and the love shared!
“One of the best courses on transformation and finding purpose that I have found in a long time. Patti eloquently shares in bite-sized chunks that really help consolidate the information. I am applying the exercises and I am already seeing a positive outlook in the way I’m facing challenges. Her approach is structured, but then you feel as if you’re being coached and guided by an old friend.” – Sally
And today I am so incredibly grateful to the people at International Excellence Book Awards! My book, This Way Up, was selected Self-Help Book of the Year! I am grateful beyond measure!
So as JFK so eloquently said, ‘the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.’ So today I will focus on living with an attitude of gratitude in everything that comes my way. And I will start by posting this, in gratitude to all of you.
I’ll close with one of my favourite clips by Oprah – Oprah’s Gratitude Journal.
I’d love to hear about what you are grateful for today. It always brightens my day to hear gratitude stories. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
Do you ever feel like your inner voice is not your best friend? Do you find that voice telling you that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong? My inner chatter is often telling me that I’m not doing ‘it’ right. It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is – doing a task, helping someone to do something, even just trying to meditate. I used to think that I was alone in this and that I was just flawed and hopeless. Then I started working with other women in workshops and discovered that almost all of us do this one way or another. It is painful to realize how many of us believe these negative voices in our heads. I wrote about this topic recently on Thrive Global.
Most of us received plenty of negative messages growing up, and usually those messages are blindly accepted and believed. These negative messages from our inner critic create new neural pathways which become embedded in our brains. This becomes negative inner chatter creating limiting beliefs which adversely impacts us in many ways.
A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes, and unfortunately, a lot of us have some very negative messages firmly rooted in our brains.
Once those neural pathways are deeply embedded, changing them is not an easy task.
Is there a way to overcome the negative stories that we once heard and now continue to tell ourselves? Is there a way to shift those pathways so that they are less destructive? Yes! There is a practice which you can start using right now, which will bring about changes in the neural pathways that keep you stuck. Using Creative Positive Reframing, you can take limiting beliefs and creatively transform them so they become supportive rather than destructive. You can reframe and create a new perspective on how you think by using these seven tools:
Pay attention — Pay attention to your thought process.
Action: A good way to pay attention to your thought process is to pay attention to how your body feels. You can tell if the thoughts are self-defeating and destructive if they negatively impact your body; for example, a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat, clenched jaw or tight shoulders.
Practice: Scan your body to check in, notice any tight spots or knots. Observe/pay attention to the thoughts that you are focusing on when you feel tight; think about why you want to change those thoughts; what is the negative impact on your life?
Get the negative out — Write out the negative.
Action: Nature abhors a vacuum. When you cannot get out of a negative thought spiral — write it out. Get rid of the negative to make room for the positive.
Practice: Get negative thoughts out of your head by emptying it out on paper. Think of it as an emotional enema! Write about all the negativity spiralling in your head. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow and let it all come out. And then tear the paper up.
Replace the negative with positive — Use positive statements and questions to replace the negative
Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations and questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral. However, sometimes when we use affirmations that do not feel real, our brain does not believe it, and this can embed the negative even more deeply. For example, if you are struggling to pay the rent and you say to yourself: ‘I am wealthy and have plenty of money for all of my needs’, perhaps your thoughts will rebel with: ‘Well, that’s not true’ — and then will go on to prove how wrong you are, throwing you further down the negative spiral.
Practice: Creative positive statements wherever possible; and try creating questions as well. Research shows that the use of questions instead of statements works effectively. Questions work with the brain’s natural inquisitive nature; pose a question and your brain will work to find an answer, creating more positive neural pathways automatically. So if when you say “I am wealthy” and your brain rebels; try asking for its help by saying something like “Money is coming to me easily and effortlessly. What do I need to do to increase my cash flow?”
Think about the ideal and be clear why you want it — Create an ideal scenario and know why it is important to you.
Action: In order to create new neural pathways and escape the negative spiral, it’s important to have a replacement to start thinking about. For example, if you are stuck in fear about money, and in a negative loop, start thinking about the flip side and create a picture of the ideal.
Practice: Describe your ideal financial situation, be as specific as possible. Have fun with this: let your imagination be your guide. You don’t need to write this out, just tell yourself the story. Picture yourself living with plenty of money. See yourself living the life of your dreams; actually feel how good it feels. And then focus on the why; why is it important? For example, allow yourself really examine why having more money would make a difference in your life. What is the deepest reason you want this to manifest? Keep going deeper and deeper into why you want to achieve this until you feel like you have hit the heart of it. You will know it when you have hit it, there will be an emotional charge linked to it. Allow yourself to feel the depth of that emotion.
Creative visualization — Picture the ideal and embed it in your brain
Action: Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ or visualizing something to attain that which you most want, or want to change. It involves using the mind to see that which you want to achieve; or using the mind to change the negative into positive. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative. The key to visualization is to create a mindset that you already have that which you are trying to attain, and to believe that you deserve the positive result.
Practice: Relax and take time to do this. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.
Stay positive in the process — Keep a positive attitude as you practice
Action: The field of Positive Psychology points out many benefits of staying positive and being happy. Happiness brings social rewards, helps people recover faster from illness, and have more resilience. Happy people feel like they are in control and are empowered and therefore usually feel more confidence, optimism, and a sense of well-being. These are all good reasons to try to remain in a positive mindset, but one of the main obstacles to positivity is that our brains are wired to look for and focus on threats. This mechanism was helpful back when we were hunters and gatherers, but now this mindset breeds pessimism and negativity because the mind tends to wander until it finds a threat. But there are many methods to overcome the brain’s negative bias.
Practice: The most straightforward method is to focus on love and compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. These positive mind-sets shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Even simply thinking about someone you love or something you are grateful for, can help you shift from a negative mindset to a positive one.
Be creative — Creativity helps us shift from the negative to the positive
Action: While you are focusing on shifting limiting beliefs into more positive and supportive beliefs, it is helpful to be creative in the process. An expression of creativity, in any form, can be helpful in shifting our mood and removing us from a negative spiral. Not only that, but repressed creativity can have the opposite effect, and can ultimately express itself in unhealthy ways, such as bad relationships, stress, neurotic or addictive behaviors. Perhaps the most common manifestation of repressed creativity in women is depression, which, of course, only increases the negative downward spiral.
Practice: There are so many ways we can get creative, and they all involve play: start journaling and play with words; get some oil pastels and play with color; go outside, garden, and play in the dirt; learn an instrument, dance, and play with music; cook and play with spices. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. The only important thing is to allow ourselves to connect with our own creativity.
The next time you find yourself falling into a negative spiral, use these seven tools to tackle those limiting beliefs, and transform them so that they are supportive rather than destructive.
I want to close with a wonderful video clip with Lisa Nichols and Marci Shimoff, appropriately entitled: ‘How to Stop Negative Self Talk.’
I’d love to hear about how you get your inner critic to shut up. We all need as much help as possible with that negative committee! And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
I think about that quote a lot lately, almost every time I watch the news in fact! ‘From the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.’ Watching the news and keeping up with current events, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. But it’s important to remember, we all have the creative potential to start changing the world.
But why are so many people so afraid of the idea of creativity? Perhaps it’s the idea that to be creative is to relinquish control.
Matisse famously says: Creativity takes courage.
And Joseph Chilton Pearce adds: To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
Picasso adds to that: The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.
To allow oneself to put aside that part of us that is in control, that is logical and rational is a scary thought. For those of us who have worked so hard to keep everything ordered and in control, the thought of relinquishing this control is scary. But I love the image created by Lady Gaga about letting go to access one’s creative spark:
When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condom-less sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.
A lot of research is also pointing to curiosity being an important key to unlocking creativity:
In order to spark new levels creativity as adults, we need to get back in touch with our childlike curiosity. We need to observe, explore, ask questions, and again venture into the unknown — Andrew Merle explains in a recent article in Huffington Post: Why Curiosity is the Key to Break Through Creativity.
Along with fear of losing control, a great many people believe that they aren’t creative, that they ‘don’t have a creative bone in their body.’ The sad truth is that many of us have been shamed out of even trying to access our creative spark. Some of us have even been taught out of our creativity. Sir Ken Robinson explains this beautifully in his popular TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?
The reality though is that we are ALL born creative, we all have that creative potential. Yes, some of us are more artistic than others or more talented in certain areas. But all of us are creative.
Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.
“Finding your calling — it’s not passive. When people have found their calling, they’ve made tough decisions and sacrifices in order to do the work they were meant to do. In other words, you don’t just “find” your calling — you have to fight for it. And it’s worth the fight. People who’ve found their calling have a fire about them,”
Isay has listened to thousands of people tell their story and describe fighting to find their purpose. He describes his amazing work with StoryCorps in this great TED Talk – Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear:
1. Your calling is at the intersection of a Venn diagram of three things: doing something you’re good at, feeling appreciated, and believing your work is making people’s lives better.
That diagram shows the ‘sweet spot’ – intersecting three things: Doing something you are good at; intersecting with the knowledge that you are making people’s lives better – service; and feeling appreciated for this work. This idea mirrors Albert Schweitzer’s quote:
“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
Your calling takes courage and doesn’t always pay well. But we know it when we are doing it. We get in the flow; we feel good about ourselves and our work; time flies; and although the pay check may not be great, we keep doing it because we know it is right for us.
So I think it’s quite fitting to close with this video entitled: How to Know Your Life’s Purpose in 5 Minutes! After all, at almost 60 many of us are running out of time!
I’d love to hear if you’ve found your life’s purpose and how you found it. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
Happy New Year! I think the general consensus is that 2016 was a rough year for most people, on so many levels. But in this post I don’t want to focus on politics or difficulties, but instead on cultivating gratitude. A new year is the perfect time to be cultivating gratitude and a renewed focus on what you appreciate. And 2017 is in particular a great place to start because from a numerological perspective, 2017 is a “one” year. (In short: 2+0+1+7 = 10 = 1+0 = 1.) Numerology looks at time in nine-year cycles, in which a “one” year begins a new nine-year cycle of creativity, learning and growth. It is a time of intentions and planning for the next phase. The intentions and foundations you build in 2017 can help shape the upcoming years. A “one” year is the perfect time to set intentions and goals for yourself. It’s an important year to take time for yourself and clarify the direction you want to travel. And a perfect time to focus on gratitude for what you have. My new years message talks about this and about the importance of silence in your routine. You can read more about that here in my newsletter. And if you want to read more about the science of silence, you can read about that in my article in Thrive.
Cultivating gratitude is so important as we enter 2017. Psychology Today defines the benefits of gratitude as:
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.
Another good reason to cultivate gratitude is:
“Your experience of life is not based on your life, but what you pay attention to.”
And when you pay attention to what you are grateful for, that becomes your experience. It becomes your experience that life is good and full and wonderful.
I have often quoted Melody Beattie here but it is so appropriate, I have to do it again.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Gratitude is independent of our objective life circumstances
Gratitude is a function of attention
Entitlement precludes gratitude
We often take for granted that which we receive on a regular basis
Gratitude can be cultivated through sincere self-reflection
Expressing gratitude, through words and deeds, enhances our experience of gratitude
Our deepest sense of gratitude comes through grace, with the awareness that we have not earned, nor do we deserve all that we’ve been given.
If you are looking for a way to focus on gratitude as 2017 unfolds, I suggest getting a ‘Gratitude Journal’ – and start by just writing down 3 things you are grateful for every morning before you even get out of bed. And if that feels too hard, then just think of 3 things you are grateful for before you get up. That’s a great start!
If you are feeling more ambitious, I can suggest a wonderful course on Daily Om! It’s a new course I have authored and it’s available here. The course is offered with the option of selecting how much you want to pay. No matter how much you pay, you’ll be getting the same course as everybody else. Daily Om believes that people are honest and will support the course with whatever they can afford. And if you are not 100% satisfied, they will refund your money. So what have you got to lose? It’s a great way to start the year.
I’ll close with a YouTube clip describing the course so you can get a better idea of what it is about.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you cultivate gratitude and it’s impact on you. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
The goal of resilience is to thrive, and we all want to thrive, right? Resilience has been defined as that quality that allows some people face adversity and come back even stronger than before. Unfortunately though, as writer Maria Konnikova points out, the word ‘resilience’ is often overused. It is too often used in ways that drain it of meaning. But resilience doesn’t have to be an empty or vague concept. In fact, decades of research have revealed a lot about how it works. This research shows that resilience is, ultimately, a set of skills that can be taught.
Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient: a positive attitude and optimism certainly help. Resilience is considered such an important trait that in February this year, The New Yorker Magazine did a piece about the secret formula for resilience – ‘How People Learn to Become Resilient.’
The good news is that resilience can be taught. In research at Columbia, the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown that teaching people to think of stimuli in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when the initial response is negative, or in a less emotional way when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—changes how they experience and react to the stimulus.
Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. Resilience is an important character strength in Positive Psychology. A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths and other positive capacities of psychological capital such as hope, optimism and self-efficacy. Being resilient is absolutely linked with personal happiness.
But it’s easy to lose touch with that sense of resilience after facing a difficult time, and instead we can struggle with feeling purposeless and directionless. It is very easy to fall into a sense of listlessness and ‘stuck-ness.’ This belief that nothing will change can become embedded in your brain, creating a negative neural pathway. A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes.
Once those neural pathways are deeply embedded, changing them is not an easy task. I’ve talked a lot about the process, Creative Positive Reframing (CPR) on this blog. But as we enter the holiday season, I thought it would be a good time to look at the 3 key actions involved in this process: Identify, Reframe, Embed:
Identify Negative Messages
Action: We all have them – limiting beliefs that have become embedded in our head. Negative thoughts such as, “I can’t do it!” Or “It’s too hard!” are self-sabotaging.
Practice: Interrupt it! Once you’ve identified those negative messages, shift your focus. Take a deep breath and interrupt your own train of thought . . . and get rid of it!
Reframe the negative with positive statements
Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations or questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral.
Practice: Affirm it! Create positive statements and questions. Affirmations often work, but sometimes questions work better. If your affirmation is, “I can do it. This is easy!” and your brain argues back “No you can’t It’s too hard!” then use a question instead. Something like: “What can I do today to move forward?” Or mix the two in this way: “I am moving forward easily and effortlessly. What can I do today to move forward?”
Embed it! Use Creative Visualization to picture the ideal and embed it in your brain
Action: This next step takes the previous step and solidifies it; it is a powerful process. Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ to attain that which you most want or want to change. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative by imaging all the things we DON’T want.
Practice: Visualize it! The key to visualization is to first see what you want, and then create a mindset that you already have it and you believe you deserve it. Relax and be sure you won’t be interrupted. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.
I’ll close by linking in the visualization from my book in which you can create your own sacred space to work from.
I hope you’ll take some time today to do this visualization. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this visualization, and how you manage to stay resilient. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.