Productivity pressure and other mindset traps!

What is your biggest reason for putting off self-care?

Self-care being anything that balances out stress or hardship by allowing you to prioritize your health and well-being (physically, emotionally, energetically, spiritually, etc).

Is it not enough time?

In which case, can you be more specific? What is taking up your that time that is more productive than self care? Remember, self-care doesn’t need to happen all day every day. But if you feel overwhelmed, off balance, stressed or fatigued, you need to assess how much self-care (and what kinds of self care) is going to bring you back to equilibrium and health.

My mindset trap tends to be what I think of as Productivity Pressure. I had a habit of pushing aside self-care because I didn’t view it as productive. (I say “had” because I am actively focused on changing my perspective around this issue)

So here is where I needed to pause and ask myself a couple of questions…

1.       “What does productivity mean to me?”

2.       “Why is productivity more important to me then caring for my well-being?”

3.       “How can I shift my perspective to find balance between work and rest, productivity and self-care?”

Whatever your typical reason for not prioritizing your own health and happiness is, I invite you to question it. The answer may go a lot deeper than you might think.

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Momentary backstory: (It comes full circle, I promise!)

My older brother married the one true love of his life on Saturday and the whole weekend was EXTREMELY emotional for me. I was so happy for him and for his new wife and between Friday night and Saturday I cried a LOT of happy tears! Listening to the ceremony, the vows they made to each other, and the speeches and toasts about love that followed, really made me reflect on the love in my own life and how I am treating and respecting, and most of all receiving, that love.

What got to me most was the way they looked at each other. Each glance held excitement and pride, joy and relief, knowing and understanding, devotion and respect, and so many promises. I thought for a brief moment, I wish my husband looked at me like that and in the next moment, I knew… my husband DOES look at me like that, I just don’t let myself see it or bask in it in the same way that these beautiful newlyweds were basking in it.

As always, the question was “WHY?”.

The word that came to my mind first and stuck into my heart the most was PRIDE. I was not allowing myself to see the pride in my husband’s gaze because I wasn’t looking at myself with pride. That realization broke me open enough that I was able to study myself long and hard (and most of Sunday was devoted to me doing just that… and then going to bed at 7:30 to recover)

Somewhere inside, even after all the years of dedicated self-growth and healing work, I still believed that I hadn’t earned the right to be honored or to be looked at with pride. I still felt that I needed to work harder and longer, that I needed to earn more money or pile on more accomplishments; I needed to be MORE PRODUCTIVE to be proud of myself or to be deserving of anyone else’s pride.

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I put off self-care a lot of the time, because I pressured myself to be productive so that I could EARN LOVE from myself and others.

There is a difference between the things we KNOW to be true in our minds and the things that we FEEL to be true in our hearts and bodies.

I know on an intellectual level that I am a being made of love and that I am inherently deserving of love. Sometimes, I feel this truth in my body and when I do I feel wholly and fully myself, completely deserving of love and pride and respect. I know what this feels like and try to go back to that feeling and refocus myself into this truth as often as I can.

When I am putting this productivity pressure on myself to the extent that it is overwhelming my need for self-care, I know that older limiting thought patterns are taking over. Thought habits that are not based in love or in the highest truth of who I am.

I think that looking into WHY we put off our self-care, can give us a deeper look into what we believe about ourselves. When we take the time to ask questions and identify our limiting beliefs around self-care, we can work on shifting our perspective much more quickly, thereby saving ourselves from burnout, overwhelm and other forms of suffering.

Personally, I had to realize that, for me, the word “Productivity” was synonymous to “Earning Love” and that I when I am prioritizing the energy of “Productively Earning Love”, I am viewing my reality through the lens of the limiting belief that I am not inherently worthy of love. So, I need to shift that perspective and change my definition of productivity to something more healthy and balanced.

I am going to try defining Productivity as “actively sharing my love with others” and Self-Care as “Actively sharing love with myself”. Self-care is what allows me to be productive, because it allows me to fill my own cup so that I can share my gifts with others. This, to me, feels much more healthy and balanced.

Sometimes, it takes a wedding, or a big emotional upheaval or a time of being extremely off balance, to make us realize that something isn’t right and that something needs to change. When we get into the habit of questioning ourselves and the way we react to these times, we can shift our perspectives and step into the next day with much more balance and clarity and determination and pride.


I hope you take some self-care time to ask these big questions of yourself and get to know yourself at the subconscious level of limiting belief.

Productively sending my love to you!


Ana

Setting Goals With Self-Acceptance

Okay… hold on… WHY would I want to accept where I am while I’m trying to make new goals? Isn’t that counter-productive?


For some people today, modern goal setting can be a fairly stressful and dissatisfying process. It is very common to start off the new year by being either overly judgmental or overly optimistic when it comes to our current situation. When we cannot assess ourselves objectively, we tend to set goals based on what we “should” want, how we “should” feel and what we “should” be doing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. We derive these “shoulds” by comparing our lives the the lives of people that we believe are more successful at life or happier than we are.

Often if we do complete a goal, we get that burst of energy, a short high. However, by the time we have reached our goal, we have already set the bar higher, we have already set more goals that are bigger and even more difficult to achieve. As soon as we lose that short high, we are back where we started, unsatisfied with where we are and beating ourselves up for not having reached the new bar yet.



So how do we prevent this cycle of dissatisfaction?


Self-acceptance, Self- love, self-forgiveness. These are skills that we need to be constantly working on so that we can…

  1. Accurately assess our current situation,

  2. Set goals that actually serve us, &

  3. Stay on the path towards our goals and maintain balance and satisfaction during the journey.


So, HOW can we fully accept ourselves and still have ambition and drive to achieve our goals?


First of all, we need to talk about the difference between acceptance and complacency.

Self-acceptance and ambition / motivation are not mutually exclusive. It is totally possible to accept and love who you are, where you are, all your strengths and all your weaknesses AND still be excited and motivated to grow and create positive change.

When you look at a newborn, you love and appreciate that baby AND are excited for the change and growth yet to come. You don’t get frustrated with a newborn for being fragile or for not walking or talking yet.

I think the main difficulty we all have with this concept of self-acceptance, is that we view ourselves as inherently different instead of inherently similar. We think that acceptance, forgiveness and love work differently when we apply them to ourselves versus when we apply the concepts to others. But if we can shift our perception of the underlying concept, we realize that it works the same way.

If we begin from the foundational concept that human beings are more similar than dissimilar, then self-acceptance, love and forgiveness become a lot easier to put into practice. If you can accept someone else for who they are AND be excited to see who they will grow to become, you can feel this and apply this to yourself. If you can forgive someone else, knowing that you can only control yourself and the forgiveness acts to heal you and make you more aligned, than you can extend that same forgiveness to the parts of you that are not currently in alignment. If you can love someone else, you can absolutely learn to love yourself (and grow your ability to love others in the process)

We just need to do away with this false belief that we are somehow harder to love, forgive and accept. All the limitations and hardship that we perceive around this concept are self-created. So let’s talk about…

The role of self-acceptance in conscious goal setting.


1. Self-acceptance allows us objectively and accurately assess where were are in this moment:

When we develop acceptance for who we are in this moment, we can view ourselves objectively. We can look at ourselves with compassion for where we are right now and see clearly the areas of our lives that could be improved, without blowing certain areas out of proportion, or skimming over some areas that are maybe uncomfortable to assess.

2. Self-acceptance allow us to set goals that are challenging yet achievable:

When we fully accept ourselves, we are less likely to compare our goals with other people’s goals or get into a competitive mindset and begin scaling our goals to greater and greater heights that are no longer reasonable. It is much easier to set goals that fit us and are uniquely geared towards our needs and desires, when we are not concerned with conforming with “shoulds” that are based on what other people will think of us or with what other people are doing.

3. Self-acceptance allows us to stay on our path towards achieving our goals:

Self-acceptance does not mean that we don’t feel the full human emotional spectrum (in fact it allows us to feel more deeply and fully) BUT it does go a long way towards mitigating the negative effects of the emotions that can cause us to give up on our goals. Frustration, doubt, disappointment, overwhelm, anxiety and just stress in general can cause us to go into this state of “War” with ourselves, because we often feel the need to fight against these emotions and “force” ourselves to achieve our goals.

Accepting that we are all human and allowed to experience the full range of emotions, allows us to adapt to the more dynamic and distraction parts of life and then get back on track with our goals. When we give emotions the space and time to express themselves as they come up, without judging them or rushing to feel something different, we can begin to address the root causes of those feelings as they become apparent or just allow them to pass through us without resistance so that we can start the next day fresh and get back on track.

It is important to be able to look at the larger picture and accept that there may be days where we need to adapt. There may be days where we need to rest, or go do something fun, or focus on a different goal, or go help someone else. These times do not necessarily detract from us achieving our goals in the long run. 

By allowing ourselves the heart-space to feel the highs of joy and success AND the lows of pain and disappointment, we can embrace the full range of our humanity and stay in balance. If we can stay balanced, we are much more likely to stick with the goals that truly serve us. It is when we fight ourselves, resist ourselves and get stuck in guilt and shame and all the “should” that we end up not consciously creating the changes we want to make.

 


Feel free to watch the FB LIVE video below. I had a little bit of a hard time getting my words out in a concise way, but I think I hit all the points eventually =)

Love you all, as always,

Ana

A Letter from My Belly....

I have been thinking a lot about how I might be kinder and more aware of the needs of my physical body.I have a tendency to get caught up in masculine energy (still) and I know that my feminine energy is most intense when I can get fully into my body in a loving and appreciative way. This was an intention that I set for myself this morning.


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*** SHORT STORY***

So it is my husband’s Christmas break, he’s a high school teacher, and so he doesn’t have to get up early. I am feeling a little sick and so I gave myself a break and set the alarm for 7am instead of 5:45am. I get up, drink some tea and sit down to meditate, as usual. I was given very firm instructions to appreciate and take care of my body more and GO. BACK. TO. BED! Which led to a lovely and relaxing morning and meant I didn’t start working until around 11:30.

But this made me start asking “How can I be better about allowing my nurturing feminine energy to balance my masculine energy? How can I love and take care of my body better?

So a day of work goes by, studded with long breaks and then at 7:30pm, I went back into meditation to get some inspiration on what I need to do for the rest of the week. This turned into a full on information DOWNLOAD that was way too big for my conscious brain to even get all of it.

At the end of this crazy experience I went back to thinking about my theme for the day. I began asking myself more questions like….

What is my least favorite body part?
What would that body part say to me if given the chance?

Then Download number 2 happened and this is what it said...

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A letter from my Belly:

I see that you are trying
You look in the mirror, 5 seconds, 10 seconds
“I can work with this”, “It’s not beyond saving yet”
You have come a long way,
Then you glance away, can’t yet keep eye contact, 
Looking for reassurance from a part you that feels safe

You hide me in black, confines
Elastic band after elastic band
As if maybe you can squeeze me away
All the pinching, prodding, pulling down and away,
Like maybe if you pull hard enough I’ll stay
So you might see something flat and hard and perfect 
underneath

In my folds you store all your guilt
Every piece of birthday cake and every regret
Not trying hard enough, not fasting long enough 
Not measuring small enough to measure up 
To standards you found somewhere and decided were truth

I forgive you, I am there for you
I hold with such gentle care your future for you
And I soak up every shred of love you can muster
Hand on me gently at night before sleep
Hidden under over-sized shirts, under sheets and blankets and darkness

I am your center, your core
I create the balance that you take for granted
I am the goddess
I am the mother you came from,
I am the child who loved to be photographed
In me are the memories of generations past and to come
There is magic within me, yet to be tapped, recognized and celebrated.

I know this truth, when you do not

I can see that you are trying 
But for all the times you cannot love me
This is my message to you…

I love you anyway
I accept you anyway
I forgive you anyway

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Powerful shifts are possible when you ASK QUESTIONS and go into meditation consistently to listen for the answers!

What is your least favorite body part?

What would it say to you if it had the chance?

How would it move your body if it had the chance?

How can you love it, even just 2% more on a regular basis?


As for me…

I accept that I have room for growth. I accept that I am trying and I will continue to try and extend love to myself more and more.


Love you all!


Ana

If Knowledge is Power, Then Emotions are Superpowers!

This is something that I am super passionate about! I wanted to start by giving you a little background on my story and then the 5 concepts you need to know to turn your emotions into your superpower. If you would rather watch the video, scroll to the end!



Emotions were not always my superpower!

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In fact, they used to be more like my Kryptonite.

I spent many years of my life completely denying the emotional aspect of myself. From a young age, I grew up in a household where mental illness was prevalent and (no matter how loving and nurturing and awesome my upbringing was) I was acutely aware of how seriously debilitating depression, anxiety and PTSD can be. In my mind, I associated all intensely uncomfortable emotions with mental illness, and I was terrified by them. I was terrified of being emotionally overwhelmed and then diagnosed with a mental illness and I was terrified of being put on medication (even though I knew on a mental level that they could be truly helpful) and no longer in control. So instead of feeling my emotions, and accepting them, and learning from them, I stuffed them deep down and tried to throw away the key.

I immersed myself in my masculine energy and focused on developing and valuing my masculine traits. I put my head down and pushed my way through every obstacle. I tried to solve every problem by working harder and longer than anyone else. I avoided friendships with women and worked in male dominated industries (tree work, landscaping, etc).

The problem with pretending not to be emotional, and stuffing down all emotions, is that every once in a while (more like once or twice a month) I would have a full on emotional breakdown. A huge tidal wave of emotion would completely knock me flat and I would barely be able to do anything for days. I would sink into these deep depressions and this would simply reinforce the beliefs I held about emotions.

I believed that emotions were scary, that they were a weakness and an obstacle that needed to be overcome. I believed that if I gave my emotions any leeway, they would completely take control over me and every time I experienced this severe emotional overwhelm, I would “prove” these believes right. I was also terrified to seek help because I was afraid of that diagnosis, of medication and of my fear that something was really wrong with me, being proven true.

Then I found an outlet that allowed me to explore my femininity, aerial circus. I found a way to control my emotions to some extent by using my physical body to turn them into art. I was able to move my body in an emotional and feminine way and then I was able to perform and share that part of myself with other people. This did not “solve” my problems, by any means, but it did begin to relieve some of the pressure.

I started to slowly look at my emotions in a new light and today I have had a complete change of heart. Today, I view my emotions as my biggest superpower! My emotions are my most effective tool for uncovering my beliefs and knowing myself as the deepest levels.

This practice of using emotions as a tool for self growth and self-knowledge has improved my life in so many ways. It has allowed me…

  • to develop a self love practice that felt true and powerful for me

  • to feel like I can confidently solve problems and get to the bottom of what is causing my emotions as they occur

  • rescue my relationships by allowing me to be vulnerable and authentically communicate what is actually going inside of me in a way that others can understand.

  • to develop this amazing tribe of people who love and support ALL of who I am, emotions included!


So let’s get into the 5 “C’s” behind using emotions as superpowers!

  1. CONTROL:

 In order to gain control over our emotions, instead of letting them control us, we need to STOP denying our emotions and start embracing and accepting ourselves as emotional beings. Be open to the idea that emotions are actually here to help us, not harm us. We need to stop hiding our emotions away and shaming ourselves for having this natural, normal, amazing human quality.

Our emotions are our guidance system. Like the pain that comes from leaving our hand on a hot stove, uncomfortable emotions make us acutely and immediately aware when we are creating our reality using fear based beliefs. In the same way, extremely good feeling emotions let us know that we are on the right track and that our beliefs, in that moment, are in alignment with the higher truth of who we are. Our emotions are there to guide and teach us about our beliefs and give us that “warmer or colder” style feedback about the decisions we make (whether that be thoughts or behaviors).

When we decide to view our emotions as an asset and use them as a tool to get to know ourselves at the deepest level we step away from that victim mentality and take our power back.

2. COURAGE & CURIOSITY:

Emotions can be intense. It is easy to develop the fear that if we fully FEEL our emotions, that we will loose all control and sink so deeply into the hurt or sadness or rage or anxiety that we will never be happy again. That may read as a little melodramatic, but to some degree, if you are this far into this blog post, you know what I am talking about!

We are also afraid of taking responsibility for the beliefs that caused these uncomfortable emotions in the first place. We are afraid that something is actually really wrong with us because we have been trained to put so much emphasis on the power of beliefs, instead of the concept that beliefs are just thoughts we keep thinking and they can be changed.

It takes courage to face all this fear, to be willing to actually FEEL your emotions and sit in the discomfort, to acknowledge and accept the emotions as they come up, and to get curious and dig into your own depths to take responsibility for uncovering the beliefs that are causing those emotions. This process can take a little time, especially in the beginning and there is a lot of fessing up that needs to happen and a lot of responsibility that needs to be taken. But this is where your power lies, in your ability to take responsibility for your beliefs, but to believe in your own ability to change.

3. COMMUNICATION & COMMUNITY:

A large part of why we communicate is to collaborate on solving problems. However, it is impossible to communicate something effectively, or problem solve efficiently, if we do not fully understand what we are communicating about.

When we do not know WHY we are getting emotional we tend to just blame it on whatever triggered the emotion. We blame instead of taking responsibility. We blame our spouses, our friends, our work, our family member, the weather, the neighbor’s cat (you get the picture), and this means that we end up communicating about problems on a very superficial level and making the other party put up all their emotional defenses in the process. When we neglect to figure out the underlying cause of a problem or an emotional trigger, we are never able to come to permanent solutions because we are not addressing the underlying beliefs that caused the emotions in the first place.

As we develop our courage and curiosity and we become more efficient at uncovering the beliefs behind our emotions, we are able to communicate on a deeper, more vulnerable, more efficient and more authentic level. It is like two doctors discussing “who gave the illness to who”, instead of talking about what caused the illness in the first place and what to do about it!

4. COMPASSION:

The more we know ourselves, the more compassion we have for ourselves and others. As we build up evidence for the idea that we get to choose how we react to our emotions and we get to choose to identify (or not) with the beliefs behind those emotions, we begin to naturally veer towards being more compassionate with ourselves. We realize that it is okay that we feel uncomfortable emotions sometimes. In fact, it’s great, because it’s a new chance to learn about ourselves.

We also begin to have compassion for people who have not done this work and we can step back enough from them to have that compassion because we no longer blame them for our own emotional reactions. When others act out of ignorance and fear, we can empathize and we also know that there will be plenty of times STILL when we will fall back into those same patterns and that is okay. We are all on different parts of the same circular path.



5. CREATE CHANGE:

Training our emotional superpowers gives us a foundation for change. When we know WHO we are and What we believe, we can start to decide what we are going to do with that information!

We can ask ourselves the big questions at anytime, questions like…Who do we want to be, Why are we here, How do we want to feel, What do we want to believe, How do we want to show up in the world? But without a solid foundational understanding of where we are starting, we cannot effectively answer these big questions.

The big questions are great. They give us a compass, a general direction in which to travel, but it is the small, everyday decisions that make up the road-map. Our emotions tell us which way to turn at every crossroads. They are as equally crucial in small scale decision making as they are in answering life’s big questions and we need both to have a successful life-long road-trip!

In other words, using emotions to understand ourselves, is a super important part of creating the reality that we truly want to live!


Thanks for sticking with me through this post. I am still working on articulating my thoughts in a clear and concise manor on video, so I like to write them down in addition to posting the FB lives. But if you want the video version, feel free to click the link below.

Don’t Forget! I want to start a conversation around these topics, so PLEASE leave your comments and questions below and I will be happy to reply!


Love you all,


Ana


How To Walk Away, without leaving your past behind.

This is the time of year when we make a lot of promises and vows to ourselves that we do not (or cannot) keep. We have an entire lifetime of past mistakes made out of ignorance or when we simply forget the fullness of love that we truly are. We create suffering and pain for ourselves and then learn and grow and create new desires from that pain. We hold on to beliefs and old fears and emotions that no longer serve us, but how do we let go of the weight and walk away from our past suffering, without leaving behind the facets of ourselves that made us who we are today?

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We are many faceted beings and our “Self” has many parts. We are in a constant state of evolution, with new facets of ourselves constantly being created with every new desire and every lesson learned.  We harbor past selves, future selves, the parts of our current self that feel connected to love and the parts that feel separate and lonely.

When a part of us begins to believe that we are the creator of our own reality, it is easy for that facet to want to just break free and continue the journey towards enlightenment without all the other, heavy, shadowed parts of us. We want to create instant manifestation, we want instant change and we want nothing more than to cut away all the parts of us that are holding us back. We are told to just let go of our past, to put down the heavy weight and walk unencumbered into the sunrise.

Honestly, I am guilty of wanting instant change and faster growth, but lately this notion has felt bittersweet to me. The idea is appealing, and I feel like I “should” want to be free of my past, but at the same time it feels like a betrayal and I wonder if there is another way. A way that all of me, all the parts, all the facets could walk into the sunrise together as one whole being.

I know one thing for sure…

Whenever I discover a “should” in my life, there is always a new perspective nearby.

So right now, I am tuning in, listening and writing down what comes up, in an attempt to shift and clarify my perspective on letting go of the past, just a little bit. I want to fine tune this notion of letting go just enough that I can clear away the “should”.

I also know that to find a new perspective, I need to ask some new questions. So my questions are…

What if all the past versions of myself were all worthy of love?

This includes all the shadowed facets, all the “selves” that I feel ashamed of, afraid of, guilty and blameful about.  What if these past selves are just trapped in darkness and shackled by ignorance? What if there were a way to free all these facets and become one, bright, weightless whole?

This is where I believe that self-forgiveness comes in. I believe that…

“Self-forgiveness is a tool we can use to counteract the blame that arises within us when we begin to truly believe that reality does not happen to us, but rather that we are responsible for creating it.”

It is the tool that we can use to set our whole self free of the heavy weight of past mistakes and part beliefs and to prevent mistakes made in the future from adding to that weight as time passes by.

When a child makes a mistake in ignorance, is it right or just to hold that mistake against them forever? Of course not! What would harboring all that blame accomplish? Nothing, it would simply be a weight in our hearts, holding us back and limiting our growth.

All the heartbreak and pain and suffering I allowed myself to endure, all the people I hurt, all the mistakes I made, were made in ignorance or in forgetfulness or because my beliefs were based in fear and not in love.

There is no need to blame myself for the pain of my past and there is no need to blame other people (because no one can create MY reality). Blame, shame, hatred, and loneliness are all based in fear and are what create the darkness and weight of my past. Holding onto these perceptions of the past is what weighs me down and holds me back. Every facet of myself is equally worthy of love and light and I believe that this is equally true for you!

Forgiving ourselves for the reality that we created in the past and for the mistakes we will make in the future is how we release the weight without cutting away our past selves.

I want to think about loving and healing my past and bringing it with me as evidence of the lessons I have learned and as documentation of my journey towards becoming more myself.

There are many times, in meditation, where I have gone back and held my past selves as they screamed and cried, just giving them love and repeating to them softly “I love you, I accept you, I forgive you, you are not wrong!” and I may have to do that many more times before they are able to stand up off the floor and accept that love.

But I am willing to do that work, because I do not want to leave behind all the beautiful past versions of myself, I just want to set them free and give them love and forgive them. I also realized, that I can ask other people for forgiveness (and I have) and I can ask the universe, or god(dess) or source for forgiveness (and I have), but that does not change the fact that I still need to forgive myself before I can move on with the freedom I desire.

I hope that this perspective gave you something to think about or at least inspired you to revisit your self-love and self-forgiveness practice. I hope that, if you have never tried self-forgiveness, that you are able to find ways of practicing that work for you and feel right and powerful to you.

For me, when I feel an old weight from the past trying to limit my present, I sit with the feelings as they come up with acceptance and love and forgiveness. Then, when I have the time, I meditate and visualize the past version of myself that most represents that old weight that came up most recently and I have an interaction during which I extend my acceptance and forgiveness and ask for that in return. I have found this to be a very humbling exercise and it tends to make me realize the extent to which I have been harboring resentment towards myself as well as irrational levels of pain caused by old beliefs I didn’t know I had.

I am sure that there are many, many other ways to practice self-forgiveness and I would love to hear about your practices in the comments below.

 

Sending my love to you as always,

 

Ana

 

Negative self talk getting you down? Here's a quick tool.

Hi Loves,

Merry almost Christmas and Happy Holidays.

I had a serious case of negative self talk come up for me the other day and I used this tool to allow this negativity to pass so I could move on with my day.

Negative self talk was a plague that I lived with for most of my life and I used to manage it by shoving it all down and locking it up inside of me. I was depressed and constantly sick as well.

This time though, I listened to that negative self and replied to each statement with loving acceptance and forgiveness. It seriously felt like cool balm being placed on a burn. This is the power of self love and I wanted to share this tool with you.

I love you all,

ana