The Root of Emotions and a Shoulder Workout

RootOfEmotions

“No one has direct power over your emotions except for you.”

I’ve been told this many, many times, but it’s not exactly comforting to me. What if someone is rude to me? What if I’m criticized? What if everything seems to be going wrong and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to control it?

These are all outside factors that have the power to affect us internally. But here’s the key: only if we left it. 

We have no power or control over what happens to us; what others say about us; the words that come out of another person’s mouth, with or without malicious intent. All we have control over is how we react to it. Ultimately, we’re responsible for our own emotions. No one has the power to make us feel sad, happy, guilty, worthless, inadequate, etc. Those emotions are rooted within.

Think of your emotions as a tree. The fruits of the tree are the emotions that you outwardly produce. These emotions stem from deep down in the root of the tree — your heart, your soul, your values. That’s why we’re more likely to talk bad about others if we feel bad about ourselves. Alternatively, we’re more likely to give others compliments and fill them with joy if we’re internally happy.

This is why it’s so important to spend time on self care — giving ourselves love and nurturing ourselves. We can’t take care of anyone else if we’re feeling down about ourselves.

Sometimes (actually most of the time) as I’m writing these posts, it’s like I’m speaking directly to myself. There have been a lot of things going on in my life lately that I’ve let steal my joy and happiness and who I am at the root of my being. I’m producing some rotten fruit because I’ve let outside factors affect the deep-seated roots I’ve worked so hard to build over time.

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with our lives, we need to focus on what’s right with our lives. Negate any negative emotion by replacing it with a positive:

“Joe said I don’t produce good work.” –> “I’m well able to create great work. I am talented in what I do.

“I look fat today.” –> “My self worth is not defined by my appearance. I’m going to focus on the way I love others, my passion and ways I can contribute to make others’ lives better.

“I’m spinning my wheels because I’m taking on too much.” –> “I’m blessed by all the opportunities in my life. Is there anything I can get rid of or spend less time doing so I can have more time to care for myself?

These are easy to say, but you actually have to believe these positive reinforcements in order for change to happen within. And the more you repeat these, the more you will start to believe them. It may take time, but eventually the truth will seep down into the roots of your soul and you’ll begin to produce healthy, beautiful fruit on your branches. 🙂

PHEW!!! That was a deep one.

Do you feel like a weight is lifted off your shoulders? Not for long ;-)… Physically, at least. Day 5 will leave your shoulders burning and looking sculpted in no time!

ShoulderWorkoutDay5

I hope you take some time for yourself today. In the end, you must love and take care of yourself in order to do the same for others.

Love you guys. MEAN IT!

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Let’s Chat a Latte: Body Image

You know those kind of friends that you can go without seeing for YEARS and it’s as if you never left each others side in the first place?

Let’s pretend that’s us. (Well, it is, right?) 🙂

Whenever I plan to catch up with an old friend, it’s probably over coffee. I’m a recent self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur. And by that I just mean I’ve expanded my horizons to trying different flavors of coffee. Hello, peppermint creme.

So, let’s say we’re chatting over a delicious latte, laughing at nonsense and just enjoying each others company. We’re right at home and enjoying conversation with freedom to be 100% ourselves.

Each week of this series will include a different topic for conversation, typically on a Monday. This week it’s body image! If you see a particular question that interests you, speak up — let’s chat a latte!

ChataLatte1. Why do we care so much about what we look like?

Trust me, if you’re anyone growing up in this society it’s hard NOT to be hard on yourself. But I always wonder this — imagine you’re laying on your death bed one month from now (awful thought, I know. Stick with me here.) Would it really matter what you look like? How hard your abs are? How shaped and sculpted your arms look? No. Our bodies are merely a vessel that we use during our time here on earth. Yes, we should honor them and treat them with the utmost respect, but that doesn’t mean obsessing about every little calorie we put in our mouths and it certainly doesn’t mean standing in the mirror and complaining about what we look like. Life is about so much more than how we look.

2. Why do I binge eat or eat for emotional reasons, and how does it affect me physically and emotionally?

Oh boy, this is definitely not something to be answered in a paragraph. You may read my previous posts about emotional eating here and here, and how I overcame it. I’ll admit to you now, though, it’s still a struggle. Sometimes I’m super exhausted after a long day, or I’m just feeling lonely or emotional, and rather than do productive things (all the things I know I should do in this situation — read, blog, journal, pray, reach out to a friend, take a walk, sip some tea, etc.), I still revert back to my old ways. It’s easier for me to feel physically uncomfortable with fullness than emotionally uncomfortable and face the fact that I’m lonely, vulnerable, stressed, or whatever it is I’m actually feeling that day. To say I’m completely free from emotional eating would be a lie, but I’m a work in progress and I strive to improve myself every day. The biggest difference now is that I don’t beat myself up if I eat “too much” by my standards. I no longer let the shame consume me, which is what makes emotional or binge eating so awful in the first place. We do it, then we feel so bad about ourselves for doing it, which leads to us doing it again — it’s a vicious cycle. No, I forgive myself. I rest in the Lord and know that I am wonderfully created and that it’s OK to feel exactly what I’m feeling. There is no shame in feeling lonely, stressed, exhausted, and in the long run it’s much healthier for me to emotionally cleanse myself by dealing with these issues head on rather than running to food for comfort.

3. How do I tone a certain body part?

My friends know I’m into health and fitness, so they always ask “how can I tone my stomach?,” or, “is the thigh gap a real thing?” First of all, you can tone your stomach through a strict diet. Yes, you can build muscle in your core, but you won’t be able to see it until you’re eating to fuel your body and your workouts in the healthy, non-overindulgent way. There are plenty of safe ways to slim down, which I will discuss in more detail in later posts. Secondly, yes the thigh gap is a real thing. How do you get one? Start by placing your feet together. Step out into a wide stance with your right foot. THERE — you have a thigh gap! (see question 1 about the death bed.)

4. Magazines show skinny models but there’s also a rise in the weightlifting competition trend across social media platforms — so what’s attractive? Skinny or strong?

This is totally subjective and varies from individual taste. Would you like to know my real answer to this question? Both are beautiful. Want to know what’s even more beautiful and what we should really be focusing on instead of our physique? What’s on the inside. Will people remember you for body, or will they remember what you did for them? They way you made them laugh. The way your eyes lit up when you talked about something you’re passionate about. THAT’S what they will remember. So yes, eat healthy. Work out. Trust me, I do a lot of both and I feel great because of it. But I also work a LOT on improving myself from the inside out, because the inside is where it all begins.

5. Do you fear wearing a bathing suit, or is it just me?

I don’t care how thin or toned I may look, I’m still uncomfortable in a bathing suit. First of all, a bikini is pretty much a bra and underwear. OH HEY. Secondly, I’m the first to stand in front of the mirror and criticize myself to wit’s end. Ummm, why? Chances are 99% of the women at that party/beach/pool you’re going to feel the exact same way you do and are more self conscious about the way they look than how you look.

Bikini Ready BodyLet’s own it. Work it. No matter what shape or size! It’s all about the confidence. Let’s start viewing ourselves as strong, beautiful women (or men!) and embracing our flaws.

6. I have cellulite… Am I the only woman (or man) in the world?

JOIN THE CLUB HONEY. You should see my butt when I squeeze it together.

7. I have stretch marks, too. Ew.

Remember that time we both got attacked by tigers and they left those dark scratches on our inner and outer thighs? Exactly. Victory wounds.

8. I feel best in modest clothing, but I feel out of place when I go out to bars and everyone else around me is dressed in little crop tops and skirts.

Me too, girl. Me too. I just wear whatever I feel like wearing. If that’s leggings and an over-sized sweater, so be it. I’m not trying to attract attention because of the way I look. In my opinion, that’s negative attention, especially in certain situations like bars downtown. No, thank you. I’d rather have someone approach me when I’m modestly dressed than when I’m scantily clad because there’s a better shot that they are approaching me with genuine intentions rather than what I can offer.

9. What if I don’t feel like wearing make up? Is that socially acceptable in public, or will people judge me?

If you ask anyone I work with, I always show up with no make up on. It usually makes it way onto my face about 1-2 hours into work because I just feel better with it on, but I realize that it’s not what defines me. I have friends who are scared to go to the grocery store (or even the gym!) without full hair and makeup done. They always say, “Well what if I meet the man of my dreams?!” and my reply is always, “If I meet the man of my dreams and he’s not interested in me without make up on, then I sure as hell don’t want him to be interested in me WITH makeup on.” You’re going to have to wake up next to each other for the rest of forever, so you might as well show your true self at some point. So yes, it is totally acceptable to not wear make up in public. If it makes you feel good, put some on. If you don’t feel like it, don’t. No pressure! No judgment (from people that matter, anyway).

10. Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?

Why yes, Lana. I will. How wise of you ;-).

When I planned to write this series, I expected to get a lot out of it, but I seriously feel like I just vented to a friend and feel even more rewarded just by typing all of this out! Hopefully you’ll join in on the conversation and do the same.

If we were getting coffee, what would you order?

Next week’s topic: nutrition! Let me know if there’s a question you’d bring up during our coffee date and I’ll include it.

Dwelling on Compliments vs. Criticism

Why is it that when someone says something negative to us, it tends to stick? We can hear 500 compliments, followed by one negative statement and that negative statement just hangs over our heads like a dark cloud for the rest of the day, week, month, or even year. I can recall negative things that were said about me years ago, but can I recall the positives?

Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to think like this. We’re wired to focus on the negatives, as if we can come up with a solution to fix the things that are “wrong” with us according to other people. Well, I have news for ya. The only opinion that matters is yours. Chances are when someone is speaking negatively about you (either to you or behind your back), it’s a reflection of what’s going on in their own lives. The things that people are the most insecure about are the SAME things they bash others for.

For example, I know that when I used to be super self conscious about my own body, I noticed the imperfections in others. I never really spoke about them, but the thoughts did arise in my mind. But it’s because I was dealing with my OWN issues about my body. Now that I have chosen to accept myself for who I am rather than what size I wear, I never even think about the way others look. Everyone has a story, everyone has a journey, and NONE of us have the right to judge. The old saying is true: you never know what someone else is going through.

So how can we hardwire our brains to think differently: to focus on the positive things instead of the negative?

It’s easy, it just requires effort and practice. Next time someone pays you a compliment, write it down. Remember it. Let it sink it. Next time someone says something negative about you, redirect your thoughts to something positive — something you’re looking forward to, a positive affirmation about your self worth, or another compliment that you’ve received in the past. It all starts with recognizing that we’re paying attention more to the negative. Once we realize we’re doing it, it’s much easier to correct.

Remember, ultimately it’s not about what anyone else says about you. It’s how you feel about yourself. You’re the ONLY person with power over your emotions. 

Instead of dwelling on criticism, let’s dwell on compliments. One of my favorite compliments I’ve ever received is from my dad:

photo

Sure, I appreciate comments about my looks, but it’s when someone compliments my heart that really touches me. I really do genuinely care for others and I’m always happy to be reassured that it comes across that way 🙂

What’s one of the best compliments you’ve ever received? Share the love below. Let’s spread the positive thoughts!

[Of Possible Interest]:

How to Accept Criticism with Grace and Appreciation via ZenHabits
Everyone Will Always Have an Opinion

Be Amazing

I have a question for you. I want you to be completely honest with me (well, yourself, but me too).
Do you wake up excited about each day?

Breakthrough![ Source ]

Come on, you mean you don’t wake up and scream,”I AM ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!”?

Well, if we’re taking this question literally, I can assure you I don’t. I’d be lying if I said I even cracked a smile first thing in the morning (maybe I need a dog or a boyfriend). Unless it’s Friday. In that case, I wake up instantly happy. 😉

Generally the smile comes after some coffee, a little prayer and a reminder of what I’m grateful forAfter I’m caffeinated I really do get excited about each day. Have you ever just sat down and thought about how amazing it is that you woke up this morning? It really is. You’re granted the opportunity to make amazing things happen every time you wake up.

Make an effort today to make AMAZING memories.

1000762_10152079790638266_822369746_n[After a bike ride with my uncle this summer in Cleveland.]

Have an AMAZING conversation.

Be AMAZING at work.

Complete one last AMAZING workout before the weekend.

Take a look in the mirror, love yourself and say, “I am AMAZING today.”

IMG_1512[ Source ]

Life’s too short to be average. And bloggers aren’t all that average, are we? 😉

{Of Possible Interest:}

How to Live a Mind-Blowingly Amazing Life via Forbes <– Umm, sign me up.
What Makes You Happy? <– Learning to be happy in your current situation. 
6 Questions to Ask Yourself to Get the Most Out of Life <– This is everything

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

fear

We’re all scared of something: public speaking, relationships, intimacy, trying something new, saying how we feel. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being afraid — it’s human nature. However, when we let fear prevent us from reaching our full potential, that’s where we have a problem.

Today, I encourage you to do one thing that scares you. Have you been avoiding a conversation with someone because you’re scared they won’t react the way you want them to? Scared to make a phone call that has the potential to change your career path and ultimately your life? Feel the fear and do it anyway. 

With and only in the presence of fear comes growth. We become stronger people when we force ourselves into situations that would normally make us uncomfortable. We often hype things up in our mind and make them seem worse than they really are, only coming out to say, “Wow, that wasn’t so bad after all!” Putting yourself out there makes all the difference in the world. Say what you feel. Take the risk. With risk comes opportunity.

Who knows if that opportunity could change your life.