So I’m a work in progress…

The more I work on my identity, the better I am at my roles.

There are things I do well, things I do poorly and things I just do. Generally the things I do well are things I spend time working on, although there are some things we all do well without trying much. Oftentimes the things I do poorly are things I’m not really into or want to get better at. I like playing tennis, but I’m the girl on the court hitting the ball like a softball and knocking it out of the fence. This makes my partner (Big Daddy) rather frustrated. If I really wanted to get better at tennis, I could. I could practice and watch videos and spend time on the court.

I found this quote by Francis Chan the other day, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Let that soak in. What are you trying to succeed at? What are you putting your time and effort into? What’s worth it to you to spend time on the court for?

imageI’m a wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, therapist…see where I’m going with this? I have a number of roles. You do, too. My roles aren’t my identity. All of my roles could change. My identity is who I am at my core, independent of my roles. The more I work on my identity, the better I am at my roles. I love validation from my family that I’m good at my roles. Validation from my friends that I’m a good friend. Validation from my bosses and co-workers and clients that I’m a good therapist. We all enjoy external validation from others.

For me, what really matters is about my identity. Here’s what I want to succeed at: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control. The Bible calls these the “fruits of the spirit”. These are the things I want to succeed at. These are choices I make every day, over and over, because it’s the kind of person I want to be (identity). I spend time on the court working on these attributes because it’s what matters to me, ┬ánot for external validation. When I see myself succeeding in these areas the internal validation affirms my identity and who I am independent of my roles.

I’m not perfect at any of this. Some days I completely miss the mark in some areas. imageBut, I’ve learned not to beat myself up about it. I just tell myself “I’m a work in progress.” and keep aiming in the direction I want to go. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” What matters to you? What do you want to spend time on the court for?

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules

 

So I’m freaking out…

Superman left for boot camp January 17. I’ve heard from him a couple of times while he was in reception, but I know from last year when Bear went to boot camp, that now I won’t hear from him again until I get a letter. Every day I check the mail, telling myself not to expect anything, but in my mommy heart I can’t help it. I hope there is a letter. At times my mind gets the best of me and I find myself imagining all kinds of not so pleasant scenarios that my army boy might be finding himself in. If I let my emotions take control, I could get pretty worked up. If I take control of my emotions, I control the fear and anxiety and it doesn’t have any power.

“But Jules, I can’t control my fear, it takes over and I can’t do anything about it!” I hear ya. I’ve felt that way. I’ve been in that same state of fear and anxiety. I’ve had anxiety attacks. I get it. Then I learned that I can control it! So can you! ┬áSound ridiculous? Read on…

solutionAnxiety is a state of fear. Fear is an emotion. Our emotions are controlled by a couple of things. 1. Our thoughts and words. Let’s say every time you get in your car you get anxious. First identify what you are afraid of and what your thoughts are. Then exchange those fearful/negative thoughts for empowering/positive thoughts. Write your new thoughts on post it notes and put them on the dash of the car. “I’m capable.” “I’m a safe driver.” “I can do this.” Every time you have a fearful thought, replace it by reading/speaking/thinking an empowering thought. The cool thing is you don’t even have to believe it! You are simply creating a new neuropathway in your brain, and eventually the empowering thought will become your default.

2. Our body. What is the first sign in your body that you are getting anxious? Maybe your heart or breathing speeds up. Maybe you clench your jaw. Maybe your hands get tingly. Whatever it is notice it. As soon as you feel the first sign, try a grounding technique using your senses. Find something to see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Rub your jeans with your hands, focus on a something you can see, what can you hear, taste something strong like peppermint or cinnamon gum, hold an ice cube, smell some lotion or oil. Using your senses will help bring you into the present moment and calm your body. Take a few deep breaths and use your empowering thoughts.

There are a couple of other good tools I will give you for anxiety attacks. 1. Ask yourself anxiety“What’s the worst that will happen?” Often the worst that our emotional brain has us thinking, isn’t so bad once we say it out loud. Once we hear it spoken we realize that we can deal with it. 2. Use 1-100 thinking. Ask yourself “1-100 how likely is my fear to actually happen today?” Often our logical brain helps us realize that it’s not too likely, and it can help decrease your fear and let it go. If it is likely to happen, make a plan and take control of what you can control.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying it doesn’t take hard work and practice. I’m just saying that it’s possible. I’d love to talk to you more about controlling your anxiety. Contact me for an appointment in the Kansas City area.

Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,

Jules