I recently led a discussion over the book Siddhartha with a small group of people. I was nervous about doing this, as I've always been a participant in events and never a leader. A few days before the event, I woke up feeling the first pangs of nervous energy creeping into my body. I could feel them pulsing through me, ready to build bigger, to turn into anxiety, and then full blown panic.
As I sat with this feeling, I first felt its familiarity. Any sort of public speaking, of any size, has always caused me great amounts of anguish. I have become so accustomed to associating this kind of experience with anxiety that I have never even questioned if I could change it. I just see it as a part of my identity. A core building block in the essence of who I am.
But the longer I sat with it, the more I realized it's not a fixed part of who I am. It's just a familiar part. There's a common thing with us humans where we like to hold onto the familiar, even when we know it's not in our best interest.
It can be even harder to challenge these things when they feel like they're a part of our identity. When we isolate a part of ourselves as unhealthy or in need of change, our gut reaction might be to feel as if we're rejecting a part of ourselves. Rejection always feels painful, and so rather than look at this part and say, "I think you have to go," we hold onto it tighter. This comes from a misguided sense of self-love, from the part of our self that wants to protect us from pain.
It's as if letting this one part go will pull a thread that will unravel our entire sense of self.
And maybe it will. Maybe that's what all the fear is about. It's the fear that if we let these things go that define us that we'll somehow cease to exist.
In a way, this fear is not completely irrational. If we let go of our core, defining attributes then in a way we will cease to exist. We will no longer exist as the person we were. The old self will die and a new self will be reborn in its place.
As the book group gathering grew closer, I felt myself pressed up against this dilemma. If I didn't let go of Nervous Melissa she was going to lead the meeting, and I would experience all the things that make public speaking feel dreadful. If I did let go, I would create a new reality for myself. One that was foreign and unfamiliar, but full of potential and new possibility.
On the morning I woke up full of nerves, I began to feel into my thoughts. I remembered that my thoughts create my reality, and I was thinking thoughts that created these nervous feelings. It surprised me how unconscious I was of my own nervous thinking.
I then reminded myself of what I know of anxiety - it doesn't begin in the body, it begins in the brain. Unless I am thinking things that make me anxious, I will not be anxious.
I have tried changing these nervous thoughts before. I approached them in every way, from gentle and loving to aggressive and hostile. I've told them I love them. I've told them I hate them. I've reassured them. I've breathed into them and visualized white light in them. I did everything I could to get them to stop wreaking havoc on my nervous system.
The only thing I hadn't tried was refusing to acknowledge them. Knowing I could never change them, I went with the only other option: create new thoughts. I had to think new things and let those take over until the old thoughts died off on their own.
I began focusing in on this, breathing into my desire to create a new reality. I began asking myself what it was I wanted to create, and then repeated that over and over. I repeated it until my conviction grew and the thoughts began to flow on their own.
I choose to create feelings of confidence. I choose to see myself as capable and worth listening to. I choose to believe in myself. I choose to see I have good ideas. I choose to see myself as a leader. I choose to be self-assured. I choose to be relaxed and in the flow.
I choose to create a new reality for myself.
Throughout the day, I kept shifting my focus to this new reality. I reminded myself that as I focused on these thoughts, new pathways of neurons were being laid in my brain. I was creating a new automatic flow for my thoughts. I also reminded myself that the less I fed the old thoughts, the sooner the old pathways would dissolve.
By the end of the day, I was feeling like a new person. I felt I'd finally broken myself of the habit of fighting with my own thoughts. I felt the lightness of not spiraling down in old, exhausting patterns.
Over the next few days, I continued to do this. I also used my visualization for empowered speaking, which really helped me to take this in and become one with it. By the time the book meeting arrived, I felt confident and ready. It ended up being a great time, and I'm now looking forward to the next one.
Whatever reality you're living now, you can always create a new one.
Sometimes it's as simple as deciding to do it. I wish you much love as you go forward. And remember, change is hard. Be kind to yourself and give yourself space to change in your own way, and in your own time.
Affirmations can be a powerful tool in helping to reshape our self-talk. When we program ourselves to default to positive I am statements rather than critical ones, we are more resilient, happier, and energized.
However, when we are not in the right space for them, affirmations will not serve us. If we repeat a statement such as "I am worthy," and our own inner beliefs directly contradict this, it can make us feel worse. We might feel as if we will never feel worthy, or that we're a failure because we can't align with the positive affirmation.
It's important to listen to yourself and to gauge whether the affirmations are making you feel better or not. Using affirmations when you're not ready is like trying to lift heavy weights before you've built up muscle. When we take the time to build a solid foundation, we prepare ourselves for true and lasting change.
In order to be in a space to get the most out of affirmations, you'll want to first clear out the directly contradicting beliefs within yourself. You can do this using meditation, visualization, counseling, or coaching.
When you feel ready to listen, this episode will help you to strengthen your self-confidence and self-worth. It's all about I Am's that will get you believing in yourself and your value. I hope you enjoy! To learn more about Raise Your Vibration in 5 Minutes and to subscribe go here.
When I was introduced to meditation, I was awed and humbled by how much it changed my life. I was so profoundly impacted by it that, for many years, I considered it the most important thing I could do for my mind and my life.
However, as time went on and I began to understand more about how my brain works, I began opening up to something else - visualization. As I learned more about it, I could see how it was a powerful companion to a meditation practice. These two things compliment and enhance each other so well that I now see visualization as the yang to meditation's yin.
Meditation, as a yin force, is gentle and passive. It allows us to let go, to clear, and to open up to our true selves. Visualization, as a yang force, is active. It's creative. It's the energy we use to build our visions in all the space we cleared during meditation.
We are creatures of habit. This is due to the fact that the more we think and experience something, the more neurons cluster together to reinforce this particular thing. This, essentially, is how habits are formed. Neurons continually coming together is how we save energy. Our brain creates shortcuts, and so when it sees something familiar, it follows the familiar neuron cluster and responds in the same way.
When we break habits, we must literally change our brain's physical makeup. Which is why it can feel so hard to change. Your brain, in all its energy saving efficiency, keeps trying to follow familiar thought patterns, which are just neurons that formed together over time. Depending on how long you've been thinking something determines how deep these rivers of thought go.
A lifelong pattern that's never been questioned can be changed - but it's going to take effort. And this is where visualization becomes a powerful tool and ally.
Trying to change habits in the moment is like swimming upstream in the Nile. Eventually, you're going to get tired and think to hell with it and let go. And then you repeat the thing you swore you'd never do again. You fall back on old habits. Maybe you get really angry at yourself, feeling like you've failed and you're a loser.
If this is you, it's okay. This science, which is known as the neuroplasticity of the brain, is so new it's still in its infancy. Very few of us are taught how our brain actually works. Which can make it feel like we're weak and worthless for not being able to change.
The truth is, I got interested in this because I kept having anxiety, which was making me want to FREAK OUT over nothing. In the grocery store line - freaking out. Waiting for a yoga class to start - freaking out! Asking the librarian for a book - SUPER FREAKING OUT. And why? Librarians are the nicest people and I love them so much.
I couldn't understand why I was so nervous ALL THE TIME. But then I began to understand that my nervousness was building on itself. I began to anticipate myself having anxiety, which made me want to PANIC because I could go Chernobyl at any second. I could be buying bell peppers and have a FULL MELTDOWN and then what!?!?!?
I felt like I had no control over myself or my reactions.
Making it all worse was I kept trying to fix it in the moment. When I was freaking out, I tried calming myself using all the tricks and tools I'd learned. Anxiety would hit and I would breathe and count and do all the stuff I was told to do. But nothing worked and it only made me feel like a failure. It also scared me because I began to believe nothing would ever help.
But then I was introduced to visualization. It was through this that I saw the error of my ways. Rather than trying to change habits in the moment, which Oh my God, no, no, just no, not possible, I began changing them before I ever left the house.
I began laying a new foundation, an alternate belief system for my brain to try on.
The more I visualized myself calm and secure, the better I began to feel. And the better I felt, the more I trusted these new feelings. The more I trusted them, the more I switched from DROP THE BELL PEPPERS AND RUN to, it's okay, breathe, I'm safe I'm safe I'm safe.
Visualization, essentially, created a new story in my brain. And because my brain likes shortcuts and is energy efficient, my brain began following this new story. And then it began to tell it on its own.
Meditation continually helps me to release anxiety that's built up during the day. Meditation is still a powerful tool I use all the time. It's just that I'm now pairing it with visualization, which allows me to replace those anxiety-creating beliefs with empowered and confident ones. Visualization, like meditation, is a practice. It takes time to become familiar with it and to see the benefits of it. But once you do, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.