You made plans with a friend, got ready, and are closing the door to your apartment. You hear your phone vibrating and look over only to see a text from said friend with a lousy excuse and last minute cancellation. Your reaction? You’re pissed! You just hate it when people flake last minute.
Whether it’s the co-worker who you absolutely can’t stand, the ex boyfriend you still call toxic, or the sibling you don’t see eye-to-eye with, any situation or person that triggers you is ultimately an opportunity to transform.
What exactly do I mean by this?
Enter: mirroring. Mirroring is the concept that everything around you reflects back information about you. Anything (and everything) that triggers negative emotion is information and provides you with the opportunity to recognize a quality you lack or possess.
For example, you’re annoyed by your super competitive co-worker. Instead of pointing fingers and complaining, be objective and choose to look closely at what s/he is reflecting.
Are they bringing up your own competitive nature?
Or maybe they’re reminding you of your lack of motivation.
The reason this quality is annoying you is because on some level, it’s also yours. Mic drop moment, I know. If you continue to ignore it, it will continue to frustrate you because what you resist persists.
Owning up to it, which is usually the harder option, not only gives you the opportunity to process it but also gives you the chance to grow.
The truth is, if you don’t recognize it, it will continue to haunt you until you have faced it and it’s often that thing that triggers you the most in others, that you need to improve on.
Because that’s how issues work - the don’t go away until you deal with them! But subconsciously you know that already...
Think of the triggers you see in other people like looking in a mirror - every part of you will be illuminated and it is what you choose to do with the information that will allow you to see your beauty or your thorns.
So next time something happens and you’re tempted to get angry, offended, or hurt, — take a steback, take a deep breath and ask yourself: “What is being mirrored here? What is the lesson for me to learn?” — and I assure you, you will get an answer.
How to Continue to Work Through Your Triggers
1. Find your mirrors
Spend some time thinking about the emotions you feel on a regular basis. Answer the following questions:
- What person, place, or quality upsets me or stirs up negative emotions in me?
- What situations do I find most difficult to handle?
- What behavior do I judge?
Don't be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions and delve into the hard answers. This information will help you to begin to heal these patterns and create lasting change.
2. Be gentle with yourself
As you begin to notice these emotions, and recognize your mirrors, be kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself for possessing a certain quality, but keep showing up and you will begin to see changes.
3. Make space for the positive
Begin to notice the people, activities, and environments that bring you feelings of joy, fulfillment, or passion. If you learn what makes you feel happy and fulfilled and take the actions to get you into that state, you will get closer to becoming your best self.
I just returned from a 5-day silent retreat and everyone keeps asking me - so, what was it like? And how did you not speak for 5 whole days?
To be honest - it wasn’t so much the not talking part that bothered me, I actually quite enjoyed that, it was harder to purposely not distract myself. I chose not to look at my phone, read or write in my journal. My days were spent in total silence, without any screens, books or technology to distract me. I meditated while walking, while sitting, and ate slow mindful meals. Most importantly, I got quiet and learned how enjoyable it is to eliminate the noise we are distracted with daily.
By slowing down and taking time, it allowed me to realize some things and put some change in my daily habits into effect. Here are 3 ways I’ve changed since the experience and lessons you can take away, even if you don’t have the opportunity to try a silent retreat yourself.
1. Be kind to yourself
I am totally guilty of always wanting things to be harmonious, balanced and a-ok. The reality of life, however, is that we are going to experience the good with the bad. What was illuminated for me on retreat was that ‘the bad things in life’ (or dukka as referred to in Pali, the 2500 Buddhist language) are inevitable and we need to welcome them in the same way we welcome ‘the good’. You know that little voice inside of you that criticizes you and over thinks when something doesn’t go your way? I now recognize it not as a voice of truth, but simply another distraction. When soothing myself internally I now include words like ‘it’s okay my love’ rather than ‘you are bad or wrong’. So I know bad things will come, but my relationship to it has changed, and I’m much more patient and kind with myself.
2. To reconnect with yourself, you’ve got to disconnect from the noise of the outside world
Making the space to sit in total silence is a powerful experience. Without my phone, mindless scrolling, Netflix shows to catch up on, a slew of emails to tackle, and an endless to-do list, I was truly free. I had the time and space to get close to my thoughts, recognize them, and process them. I had SO much more awareness of the small details around me: the smells, textures, tastes, and sounds I would have normally missed had I had other outside distractions.
3. Choose your words mindfully, not just to fill space
Without the ability to communicate with my words, I noticed how so often we talk just to fill space without considering the powerful residue our words create. These days I’ve been considering how I feel after certain remarks, how others react, and how I can speak in a way that inspires and comes from my highest self. Being quiet and only speaking when I feel I have something important to say is a new practice I am implementing.
Our emotions are always giving us information. They help us to inform decisions and are constantly providing us with what we need to know in order to survive. Our emotions can also be unfounded or reactive or out of control - making us feel like somewhat of a crazy person. Am I right?!
From an early age in school and at home we are taught basic skills such as how to tie our shoes and brush our teeth, but we are often lacking in our understanding of emotional management and regulation strategies, which is a skill we will use each and every day.
In our busy, technology connected yet socially and emotionally disconnected hustle vibes society, emotions are often brushed aside, not addressed or ignored. We are often taught that we shouldn't show emotions like anger and sadness and to pretend everything is A-OK all the time. Especially with social media constantly showing us other people's highlight reel - we can get caught up in thinking everyone else seems to be happy all the time - so what's wrong with me?
The truth is we need to feel and honor all of our emotions. If they aren't addressed or felt, they can built up inside of us, and over time can pile on and on and on until we inevitably reach a breaking point.
This is where a mindful practice comes into play. It teaches us how to dance with our emotions; to see and feel them and let them go when necessary.
Give these strategies a try to help surf those emotions waves instead of getting knocked over when the wave breaks.
Tools for Managing Emotions
1. Emotional layering: Tuning inward and identifying exactly what you are feeling in a given moment will help you understand where it is coming from, and how to move forward with the resolution. Let's say you are feeling uneasy about something. Close your eyes and place your hands on your heart and ask yourself 'what am I feeling right now?' See what comes up. Then ask yourself, what's below that. Continue until you think you've finally gotten to the root of the emotion. Often emotions are layered on top of each other so getting to the root will bring wonderful awareness.
2. Respond vs. React: We have all had those moments when something triggers us and we fly off the handle, jumping straight into frustration and or anger. Practice instead the art of responding. Taking in all the information about the situation as it is happening, process and pause and THEN respond instead of relying on that knee jerk reaction that can often escalate the situation even further. Having a regular mindfulness practice can help with this, I have been using this free app for daily meditation which has been really helpful.
3. Sit with your emotions: When those tricker emotions come up for you, try your best not to dismiss them before you have had a chance to fully acknowledge, understand and feel the emotion to the fullest. This may look like actually letting yourself cry when you are sad instead of swallowing back the tears, or releasing that pent up anger in a run or boxing class so it's not wreaking havoc in your body. Fully embracing your joy in high vibe moments like singing in the shower or smiling wide are great too!
4. Let it go: If emotions are like waves, then they are always coming and going. Emotions aren't meant to stay with us permanently so sometimes we need to allow ourselves to let go of what no longer is serving us and bring back the ease of the ebbs and flows of the waves. As weird as it sounds, holding negativity or being angry is almost like eating candy... it's addictive and once we let ourselves indulge, sometimes we want to stay in that state. Releasing when necessary is another helpful tool to support you in managing your emotions as they present themselves so they don't build up to the point of explosion.
Last week we talked all about new beginnings and how to make the most out of a fresh start and learn how to embrace new situations. If you missed it, check it out here. This week we're taking it one step further and unpacking the sometimes dreaded word, CHANGE.
Change is something that we all seem to resist yet it is the only thing CONSTANT in our lives. The ability to change your situation, your luck, your relationship etc takes massive guts and is hard. Remember when we were young and change happened daily in the form of a new tooth, an inch of height or fresh hormones (ugh, I don't miss those!). We didn't resist it, we simply understood that it was the way of life and accepted it or welcomed it.
Growing up in Canada, I never liked the cold. My parents took me to Vermont to ski every weekend and although I became a great skiier, I did not like putting on a skisuit and spending the whole day freezing my a$$ off! The hot chocolate at the end of the day was always the part I looked forward to the most. So from an early age I decided I wanted to move and I set my sites on California.
This dream from its first inception to becoming a reality took over 10 years to manifest! The lesson here is that you can't put a timeline on the things you want to change, you just have to keep working at them and trust that they will happen.
Over the years I've learned to make friends with change and to actually like it, even when it's throwing me a curve ball I didn't expect or sending me a change that makes me uncomfortable or sad. I know that life is better with an influx of change and I'm a better person for learning to love it.
Want to feel the same? Embrace these tips and watch the changes unfold.
Tips for Change
1: Nothing changes if nothing changes: The biggest thing that is halting change in your life is as simple as not making the changes. If you want to learn a new skill but never take a class or try the activity - nothing will change. If you want to change your habit of pressing snooze every morning but never make any changes like going to bed earlier or putting your alarm clock in the next room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off then nothing will change. We have more power than we think over the changes we want in our life and it all starts with baby steps and consistency.
2. Seasons of change: We are just like nature, always changing from season to season, day to day. Nothing is ever really the same and yet there is a consistency and familiarity to the sun rising each morning and setting each night. Work with the seasons in your own life by first off acknowledging that they exist and observing yourself through the days, month, years and how you DO change over time. How your body becomes stronger from working out and eating right, how your goals change, your mood changes with the seasons etc. Learn to notice the rhythms of your body so you know when they are coming and can prepare for what they bring.
3. Backwards plan: Changes take planning and the big ones don't just happen by chance. It wasn't by chance that I ended up calling California home, it took focused planning and dedication and many years to make it happen. Backwards planning has always been a great tool for me to visualize the change and break it down into smaller actions so it doesn't feel overwhelming. Think about what you want to change and think about the steps you need to take in order to make it happen.
4. Celebrate change: Chances are you've experience BIG changes and SMALL changes in your life. It's SO important to take the time to celebrate each of those that you've experienced and created for yourself. It's ALSO great to know when it's time to stay put and enjoy what you have created. We can't always be in a state of BIG change and don't need to be. Reflect upon what season of change you are in right now and honor yourself for being exactly where you are supposed to be.
No matter how many years we have been out of school, the beginning of September always feels like a fresh start.
If you are working in the corporate space you are starting to think about Q4 targets and deadlines and how you want to end the year.
Maybe September looks like the start of a new job for you, or living in a new space. Maybe this new fresh start is coming in the form of an exciting travel adventure, a new project at work or an exciting new romance.
Whichever resonates with you - they all have in common the idea of setting an intention. They involve thinking about something that you want to create in the future and then deciding what action steps you should take right now in order to make that thought become a reality.
Since all of our thoughts carry energy, being mindful about the thoughts you think will help drive the actions you take and bring your dreams into reality.
Want to harness this exciting 'new' energy and kick start September and Q4 off right? Follow these steps to make it happen.
1. Make a plan: Take a look at the next 4 months in your calendar and start to visualize and write out your intentions for this final quarter of the year. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve by the end of September? November? 2019? Work backwards with your goals to create bit sized action steps that will support you reaching your goal.
2. Write it out/ vision board: It's SO important to actually write out your goals and take it one step further to create a visual representation of them so that we see them every day can be massively impactful. While you're doing this, journal also on WHY you want to achieve this new goal. Who can you enroll in your vision to help bring it to life? What purpose do you want it to serve?
3. Embrace the NEW: If you're diving head first into something new this month here are a few words of advice... stay curious and ask questions about your new job, new neighbourhood or new travel destination. Remember to embrace the here and now. It's easy to get caught up in things too far off in the distance when we are in new situations. The best way to mitigate that is to bring yourself back to the present moment and be where your feet are.
4. Trust yourself: Remember that where you are now is likely where you wanted to be 6 months ago. Trust that you intended for whatever is happening to happen and if you didn't, it is happening because there is a lesson to be learnt. Trust that whatever new things are coming your way are for a reason.
If you are looking for love, validation, anything really - you HAVE to find it in yourself first. You become a mirror for what you attract. Looking for love? You have to love yourself first so frickin much that you emit that feeling wherever you go. It will become a contagious energy and others won't help but notice!
The same goes for confidence, trust, or any other redeeming quality you are looking for. The rule applies to negative feelings too. If you have a lot of conflict, miscommunication, or distrust happening in your life right now you better be sure to look within yourself first to ask why this may be happening. Yes, the people around you do play a role, but you also must take accountability for your actions and take responsibility for the life you want to live.
When I was looking for love, and realized I wasn't finding what I wanted by repeating the same patterns, I decided to do something different. I decided to take radical responsibility for what was happening (or wasn't happening in my life). I realized that in all the places that I was looking for love and not having it work out, the one common denominator was ME.
What, now?! Yes you heard me. I wasn't getting the result I wanted so I decided to get out of my own way, because after all, the relationship you have with yourself is the longest one you'll have in this life time. So I hired a coach, did some deep personal growth work and decided to let go of conditioning that I had adopted that wasn't getting me what I wanted. It was NOT easy, but it was so worth it! I had to face my shortcomings and work through them so I could find the romantic love I was looking for. And guess what...I did! And I've never been happier in my relationship with my man and the relationship I have with myself. I became my own best friend and this tool along with these are a great starting point to giving yourself the big love that you deserve.
Tools for loving yourself
1. 50 things: Get out your journal and write 50 things that you love about yourself and be don't forget to be specific about WHY you love your long eyelashes, or that you're great at leading meetings or can cook or have an amazing laugh. My bet is that once you get rolling, you'll find 50 MORE things than you thought. Pump yourself up because YOU are incredible.
2. Write yourself a love letter: Everyone loves a hand written note so now is your chance to write yourself one! Get cozy and write from the heart. You can also do this exercise and write from the perspective of someone who loves you.. sister, mother, father, best friend... and write what you think they would write in a love letter to you. Chances are you already know what they would say and how awesome is it that it will come from within you first. Once the letter is written, keep it on hand to read on those down days when you need a little pick me up.
3. Say 'I Love You': Each day, and for most of us, several times a day when you are brushing your teeth, look at yourself in the mirror when you're doing this say I Love You to yourself. Bonus points if you can do it through the tooth paste ;) Silently in your head has the same affect too.
4: Become your own best friend: Best friend don't put each other down, they lift each other up. Become your own best friend by talking to yourself how you would your bestie, treating yourself to that mani/pedi or delicious baked good or new pair of shoes when called, and don't forget to spend quality time with yourself just like a would a friend.
When you look at your life and the world, what do you see? Do you see beauty in unexpected places? Or do you see chaos and dark clouds in broad daylight?
A few weeks ago we talked all about choice and having the power to hone your thoughts for the better. Today, we are practicing what we preach and taking the same idea of choice and seeing it through the lens of perception. If you missed the choice chat you can catch up here.
You consume a myriad of information all day long. It's up to you to choose how to perceive it. The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is in how you look at the situation. If you're on a road trip and you get lost along the way you can perceive it as a blessing because it led you down a beautiful road or to a cute town you wouldn't have discovered. It can also be seen as a waste of time and trigger frustration and negativity.
Or at work one day a client reaches out to reschedule a meeting you spent days preparing for. One perspective could be to indulge in frustration and be irritated that it rocked your carefully curated timeline OR choose to see it through a difference lens and understands it just wasn't meant to be that day and use that time to work on something else.
When we shift the lens of what we see things through, everything around us shifts as well.
Want to give it a try? Here's how.
*Disclaimer: If you are dealing with any sort of mental health issue, we understand that the above may not apply to you and completely respect your condition.
1. Wait: When a situation arises, instead of jumping to a reaction, analyze what is happening and wait to respond. When we respond from a calm mind and a relaxed body, it's often easier to see a different perspective than if we are riled up and stressed out.
2. Details or Big Picture: Have you ever been asked if you were watching a train pass in front of you, would you focus on the car in your sight line or would you see the whole train as it moves by? This can help determine if you're a detail oriented or big picture person. Once you figure out which one you are most of the time, challenge yourself to flip your natural way of being to explore another perspective. This will give you an opportunity to either widen or narrow your view.
3. Reframing: Thinking about how you want to feel after a presentation at work, during a stressful part of your day, or while weathering an unforeseen communication storm between friends or family... take a minute to think about how you want to feel and ask yourself what you need to think in order to feel that way. Right there you've reframed the situation and you can continue along the path of feeling the way you want to.
4. Make a change: Physically change what you're looking at! Maybe you need to see it from a different angle, maybe through a different pair of metaphorical glasses or in a different space all together. Taking a (short or long) trip is a great way of doing that. Changing things up will help you see a solution you wouldn't have otherwise seen - think of a Rubik's cube!
We are each gifted with an incredible superpower. Its something that is always with us no matter where we go and if honed, has the power to transform our life is we are willing to listen.
Our intuition is that gut response, that tug tug on our heart and the feeling when you just know. Our intuition comes before the fears, doubts and limiting thoughts... it is our soul trying to make contact and guide the way.
A few things I've learned about intuition along my journey is that once you see, you can't unsee, meaning when your intuition sends you an answer to a question it will go from a whisper to a scream if you if you don't take action on the message.
When I was younger, I always dreamed about living in LA. I loved the vibe, the warmth, the nature and the people. Flash forward to my adult life living in Toronto where everything in my life was going well but I still had a nagging feeling - "don't forget about your LA dream." It didn't make much sense to move. I had a ton of friends and family, a thriving business and owned my condo and was not American, but still I heard that voice. So I listened.
It took a lot of work to move past the fear and doubts I had about moving to another country, far from friends and family to run my business in a place where I had to rebuild my community from scratch. After taking the leap, it was like the little voice inside my head let out a great big ahhhhh and I am armed with the knowledge that when you listen to your intuition, anything is possible.
Our intuitive gifts are not just available to some, we all have the ability to access this power, however you must learn how to get quiet enough to listen. It can take time to develop the discernment between our fear and our intuition, and to know which internal voice to listen to because it isn't always the rational one.
What to lead with your intuition but aren't sure how to start? I've got you covered.
Harness your Superpower
1. Tune in: Our intuition is often the loudest when we get quiet. Build time into your schedule where you are truly in silence. Turn off your music, put your phone on airplane mode, remove yourself from the distractions of Netflix or even a book and just sit with yourself. The longer you sit the more your mind might drive you crazy, but once it settles, what's left behind is the soft quiet voice of your soul.
2. Write it out: Often our intuition comes out through automatic writing. I practice this by journaling out my thoughts first thing in the morning as a free flow of whatever comes through. If you're searching for an answer to a question or guidance on a decision, try this tip. Write out the specific question or situation you want guidance on as the last thing you do before you close your eyes and hit the pillow. When you wake up in the morning, before turning on your phone, brushing your teeth or even getting out of bed, grab your journal and write down whatever comes up. This is the voice of your intuition, before you have had the chance to fill your mind with the noise of the day. Chances are what you're seeking will come through on the page of your automatic writing.
3. Feel: We have 85 billion neurons in our minds, 100 million in the gut and 40, 000 in our hearts. We fall into the pattern of only listening to our minds when there are other centers in the body to inform us of answers. Feel into what the body has to say. An example is a feeling in your gut as a warning when something is off or an openness in your heart when something feels in alignment. When you go about your life, notice how things feel in your body as opposed to how you mightthinkabout then in your mind.
Last week we talked all about control and what we actuallyhave control over in our lives (instead of perceived control). If you missed it or want a refreshed read , you can check out the full post.
Today let's explore the flip side of control, the concept of surrender.
The most popular book on the subject is Michael Singer's The Surrender Experiment, which is his own personal story experimenting with practicing surrender. He decides to no longer let his personal fears and desires dictate his life and decides to surrender to what life had in store for him. This radical decision lead him to both challenges and successes, all the while on a journey of living life on his terms.
Surrendering into the flow of life is something I've worked hard on over my years of being an entrepreneur and despite what it seems, still continue to work on. Surrender is not something that came naturally to me, being a perfectionist with an A-type personality. I've had to learn where to soften into what is, to let go of the control that I thought that I had and to adapt to situations as they change.
It is NOT easy and will always be a practice but it is SO WORTH IT.
Here are some tips I've collected on the way and found super helpful.
Tips for Surrendering
1. Life is happening FOR us not TO us: This simple change in perspective has allowed me to surrender into nearly any situation that comes my way, knowing there is always a lesson and purpose even in the challenges. This has allowed me to be okay with the natural ebbs and flows of life.
2. Releasing timelines + expectations: SO much of our disappointment and desire for control come from preconceived notions, expectations and timelines we've set out for ourselves in an attempt to control outcomes. There is usually a bigger power at work on our behalf, so each day it's important to notice where you're projecting your expectations, holding onto a timeline and taking yourself out of the present moment. Experiment with letting that go focus on what is going well. See if anything changes.
3. Determine what you can and can't control: In any given situation there are things you CAN control and a lot that you can't. You can always control how you respond to situations, the thoughts that swirl in your mind and ultimately how you move through your day. That's it! You can't control what others are thinking, how they will behave or what external situations come your way, so by focusing on you and what you can control for yourself, you ultimately surrender the rest.
4. Make no plans: Full surrender might not work for you all the time especially because as humans we thrive on structure and boundaries. One way to bring surrender into your life slowly is to block off 1 afternoon, or evening a week where you make no plans and have no agenda. Dedicate this time solely to yourself and ask 'what do I want to do, and what does my body need', and see what comes up. Surrender to what you need or desire in that moment and play around with what happens. Maybe you find yourself somewhere you never expected or in a different situation than you're used to. The possibilities are endless!
Your own personal architect
Let's talk about control...
There is SO much in this life that is out of our hands and that we truly have zero control over, yet we drive ourselves crazy thinking we do.
Have you ever stopped to think about what you do have control over? The truth it's actually not much, except for what is happening in your own mind.
Focusing energy on controlling your thoughts helps you to understand yourself better and also helps get the desired results in your life.
There is so much evidence to support the power of positive thoughts. When you choose good thoughts, it literally raises your vibration. You attract more positivity and opportunity in your life, and they are literally healthier for your body, mind and soul than negative ones.
Negative thoughts are like junk food, they feel SO GOOD to indulge in and are often the path of least resistance but at the end of the day, week, month, year, they leave us feeling empty, with lower energy, and attracting more negativity which then perpetuates the downward cycle.
Neuroplasticity shows us that what we think, do and pay attention to, changes the structure and function of our brains. Meaning that what you focus on expands.
Think of your thoughts as the architects of your destiny. When you choose ones that are positive, they help build and create the destiny and life that you're dreaming of.
Are you ready to take more control over your life?
Here are four simple ways to keep your thoughts positive and on track to building out the life of your dreams.
1. Surround yourself with positive people: We are the sum of the closest people to us. Take stock of who you spend the most time with in your life. Is their attitude positive or negative? How do you feel energetically around the people you spend the most time with? Do they raise you up? It's important to spend time with positive and inspiring people, because guess what, positivity is contagious!
2. Intentions: Setting an intention at the beginning of every day is a great way to refocus on creating positivity and striving towards your goals. Take a few minutes each day to write out how you want to feel.
3. Practice Forgiveness: Humans aren't perfect, and no matter how hard you try to think positively all the time, that just isn't realistic. When a negative thought comes in, begin to practice forgiveness and self-love. Be aware of the thought, forgive yourself, then let it go and strive for choosing positively the next time. Progress over perfection always.
4. Do activities that make you feel happy!: This may seem like a no brainer but I'm telling you, we often FORGET to do things that make us smile! Toss on your favourite tune and sing and dance around your kitchen, get outside and move your body, LAUGH, watch a funny movie... whatever it is that raises the corners of your mouth, do it often to keep the vibes high and the living fun :)
Samara Zelniker is a yogi, wine drinker, pet lover and travel junkie.