I was tired.
I was exhausted from the strain of reacting to things that didn’t deserve a reaction. I knew it was time to look at what I was doing, why I was reacting, and how I could change it.
We all have moments when we come face-to-face with choice. We’re given an opportunity to question the decisions we’re making, and for me, these points tend to show up in the midst of chaos.
I should say, after the chaos has subsided, and I have an opportunity to look at my actions, and decide if they’re in my highest good, sometimes the answer is, “No.” I then have to decide: will I continue to be driven by my past, letting my stories and traumas continue to haunt me, or am I willing to make a different choice?
If I continue down this path, reacting and getting caught up in the drama of the moment, I know that I am giving away my power. If I can stop myself, and put in the effort to make better decisions, and take a more empowered course of action, I will stand in my power.
Our reactions are so habitual and ingrained that it takes awareness and willingness to make changes, but it is possible.
Below are a few things I have found helpful in releasing me from my past. With them, I’m able to move through the situations that come up, and not let myself get pulled backward constantly.
Deep, conscious belly breathing helps to calm the nervous system and get oxygen to the brain, allowing us to think more clearly. This clarity helps us recognize things we wouldn’t otherwise see through the fog of our reactive emotions.
The University of Michigan says this about conscious breathing:
“Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.”
See the situation for what it is. A teachable moment, an opportunity for growth. Be willing to see where you’re reacting the same way you always have, and be open to changing it. This will allow you to make better, more empowered decisions.
This is so very important. Be willing to look within yourself. See your fears, insecurities, and whatever else is coming up. This is not about blame; stay out of the blame game. It’s about accountability, not judgment.
Helps us to do all of the above—breathe, get honest with ourselves, acknowledge our thoughts and feelings, and most importantly connect to divine guidance.
According to The Chopra Center:
“Meditation is one of the best tools we have to counter the brain’s negativity bias, release accumulated stress, foster positive experiences and intentions, and enjoy the peace of present moment awareness. A large body of research has established that having a regular meditation practice produces tangible benefits for mental and physical health, including:
>> Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
>> Lowered cholesterol levels
>> Reduced production of ‘stress hormones,’ including cortisol and adrenaline
>> More efficient oxygen use by the body
>> Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
>> Improved immune function
>> Decreased anxiety, depression, and insomnia”
5. Be willing to let go.
All change comes with difficult decisions. Do I hold onto this object, relationship, or this habitual pattern that’s not serving me? If I let go, what happens? We constantly question ourselves, and the situations that show up, which in turn causes us so much suffering. Letting go doesn’t mean we’re losing anything. Rather, it means we’re opening the door for something more authentic to come along.
6. Practice gratitude.
Being grateful for what we have now, in this moment, shifts our energy. It helps open us up to the abundance of the universe, and it gets us out of our reactive state. It reminds us that even when things seem hopeless, we still have something to be grateful for.
According to Psychology Today, the following are seven scientifically proven benefits of practicing gratitude:
“1. Opens the door to more relationships.
2. Improves physical health.
3. Improves psychological health.
4. Enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
5. Improves sleep.
6. Improves self-esteem.
7. Increases mental strength.”
7. Let love lead.
We are so completely led by fear that so often it leads us to chase monsters that don’t even exist. Love will always lead us back to the truth. It reminds us that all things will work out, and that we are going to be okay. It shows us that the monsters we’ve built up in our mind aren’t really there, and we’ve been worrying for nothing. Practicing gratitude, meditation, and letting go brings us into that place where love is able to guide us. When we learn to listen to our heart more than our head, we are better able to see the truth. Love is the true essence of all things, including us.
“The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.” ~ Andrew Bennett
8. Lighten up.
Learn not to take life so seriously. It’s not a race to the finish line, and all the things we get ourselves so worked up about always work themselves out, with almost no help from us. Life is meant to be joyful. Have some fun. You’re only here for a short while.
All of these tools have helped me tremendously. They’ve helped me see the ingrained sense of unworthiness that was at the root of all my reactions. They helped me acknowledge my fears and insecurities, and see myself through more loving eyes.
These tools have helped me to take my power back, and when I commit to using them daily, they keep me from reacting in the same ways, being driven by my past. They’ve empowered me to live fully and wholeheartedly. They’ve taught me to appreciate myself, trust life more, and live fully in the moment.