Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU
(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
I take my dogs for a routine short walk near my home. The dogs are familiar with the trail, as am, I.
The path we take is now bare to the dirt as it’s walked frequently. It’s what we know. Its comfortable and routine and well worked in and unless we decide to make a concerted effort not to walk this path anymore, the trail might take years to become covered with grass and plants.
What if the path all the sudden was crawling with ticks and poison ivy? Some might still chance walking the path because it is known and routine plus finding a new path would take some effort and unease with the unknown. Some might walk beside the old path with an avoidance while still paying attention to the old path and giving it energy. After all, it’s familiar territory they are used to. Still others might find a new, healthier path to walk that might take more effort and chance, but do so knowing that eventually with routine, this new healthier path will create a better way.
Our habitual thought patterns are much the same.
“Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.” - Marcus Aurelius.
There is a comfort level with what we have known. There is a routine habit of thinking and believing in certain thought processes that we have come to identify as our truth. We all have our own unique story and experiences. We have accumulated them since we were born and even taken on some thoughts and belief systems given along the way from our parents, family, friends, school, jobs and so on. We take on messages we have received, each of us with a different interpretation depending on previous encounters. And through our observations we create an inner dialogue. We are all guilty of listening to our negative inner voices, sending messages about who we are and our capabilities. We then project these voices into the world through both spoken and unspoken communication.
But does that mean that our accumulation of experiences, beliefs and thoughts is still the path we should take?
What if we learn to flip the script?
My friend from Denmark and I were talking recently about the “apologetic Canadian.” She finds it very interesting how frequently we drop the “I’m sorry” term. Polite intentions, but this term still carries a certain shame and guilt.
We discussed flipping the script to an equally polite “thank you” that carries a higher vibrational energy of gratitude. For example, changing “I am sorry for being late” to “Thank you for your patience.” So now, when I want to be “sorry,” I instead switch the wording and the energy to appreciation.
This sort of reframing can be done with most inner and outer scripts that we habitually participate in. Some of the most common belief systems that do not serve us are related to money, abundance, feelings of being good enough (physically, emotionally and intellectually) or any thoughts that communicate from a place of scarcity and fear or believing that we're not entitled or deserving.
Here are some tips to flip the script to a more positive and healthy option:
1. Identify. First just take some time to notice and identify your patterns. Mindfulness teaches us to bring as much awareness and acceptance to the present reality. Is your inner dialogue hard on yourself? Do you think from a place of lack, scarcity or fear? Notice your pattern of thoughts without any added judgement. Perhaps write them down for a few days.
2. Energy. Once you have identified any thoughts and beliefs that are not expanding you or making you better and/or happier, notice how they make you feel. For example, “I don’t have enough money,” “I don’t want anymore unhealthy relationships,” or “Sorry, I hate to bother you, but can I ask...?” These examples have an energy attached to them. One confirms our inner thoughts and beliefs about lack and scarcity, the next supports thoughts of negative encounters with others, and the third an inner belief of being a bother or not worthy enough. Of course, this might not be conscious but subconscious. Either way, these voices, no matter how subtle or infrequent, can be destructive to our health, happiness, and success.
3. Reframe. Once we notice our patterns and our usual paths taken, and we identify the feeling-energy the patterns carry, we can switch it up, flip the script and reframe. Taking the previous examples, reframing them might look like the following: “I have enough” or better yet, “I am grateful for all I have.” “I only engage in healthy relationships,” and “Thank you for your time, I have a question for you.” Try it. Say the first example and take a deep breath in and out and notice how it feels and then compare it to the reframed version and observe the difference.
4. Practice and patience. Just like creating a new walking path in the tall grasses of unexplored territory, it will take time for the ease of a well-used path to exist. Don’t judge yourself. Just start over... identify the pattern, notice the feeling, reframe it and congratulate yourself for doing this. The old beliefs or paths might still exist for some time. Be patient. Practice.
5. Be open. The ego can step in and defend the unhealthy thought pattern. “But I don’t have enough money, that’s the truth.” “I do attract really unhealthy...” or “I am too (old/young/whatever) to do that.” And so, it is. Whatever we believe is the truth! Be open to stepping into the unchartered lands. Be open to using new personal tools that will enhance your life. There is a safety and comfort zone with the old paths, much like staying in an unhappy relationship or job can be more convenient and complacent than leaving and stepping into the unknown. Be open.
The story we tell ourselves is the story we live. Our happiness and our holistic health depends on the quality of our thoughts. Take care with mindful observance of the script we continue to allow in our mind and say to the world. Make the script positive, potent and powerful.
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