Excerpt from Un-Leashed: Practical Steps to Get Your Life Unstuck, ]

Sometimes it’s just so hard to be in relationship with other people. They can be so irritating and annoying. They chew loudly. They leave their dishes in the sink without rinsing them off. They even put the toilet paper on the roll the wrong way! Geez. They can show up at the most inconvenient times and cause you to lose focus on what you were doing. The kids stay out late and send your mind swirling into a tizzy of worry. Then some jerk cuts you off in traffic, causing you to fly into a rage.

There are circumstances that create so much stress that they cause you to lash out at your kids. The economy threatens to force you to lose it all. It’s certainly understandable that you feel scared or stuck or angry. Sometimes the pressure can just drive you to drink…or overeat…or have an affair…right? Sometimes it seems that the pressures of life threaten to make you crazy.

Certainly you’ve felt this way at one time or another. I know I have. I have found myself getting irritated, worried, angry, annoyed, disgusted. I have often thought, “Beam me up, Scotty,” looking for an escape from the pressures of the moment. I have even mistakenly thought that it was someone else’s fault that I was irritated or annoyed. Some people blame others for why they are angry or why they drink. Do you?

The truth is that we are deluding ourselves if we believe that. The truth is that we are our own worst enemy. As long as we are dependent on someone else to change who they are or what they do in order for us to be happy, we are chained to that person and his or her annoying patterns. If we are waiting for someone else to apologize in order for us to be released from our hurt or anger, we are chained to them for the rest of our lives. If we can’t quit drinking or smoking or overeating until the world becomes a less stressful place, we are in for a long, bumpy ride that will kill us in the end. Will there be some sort of satisfaction we feel at the end of our lives as we lay dying from a heart attack or cancer, blaming our kids or our spouse or the economy?

What if we were the masters of our own fate? What if we were free? What if we had this beautiful set of wings that we didn’t even know existed, that have been bound up by blame and deflection of responsibility?

What if we were no longer held captive by anger or hate or unforgiveness? What if we had the power to be set free from the chains that have kept us bound: little irritations, the judgments we make, the divisions that we have created? What if we could just detach from the drama and live our lives from a place of love and joy and peace? What if we could stop marinating in the slimy pool of negative emotions and limited beliefs? What if we could love ourselves enough and believe in ourselves enough that other people’s opinions no longer left a scar? What if we discovered those wings? What if they could be released with a thought?

What would that look like? How would that feel?

It would look a lot like an Un-Leashed Life. And it would feel more amazing than you can even imagine.

Would you like to know how to get there? I have learned to live it and I am willing to share with you what I’ve learned. Come on. Let’s learn to soar through this beautiful life together. Abundance and freedom are calling your name.

Chapter 1

Where Am I Stuck?

Mindfulness: The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something; a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

This bears repeating because there are very key concepts here.

Mindfulness: The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something; a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

The key elements that I want you to pay attention to here are:

  1. The state of being conscious or aware, because most people are not generally practicing that state of being.
  2. The next major concept is to calmly accept one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. The reason I want you to be aware of this is that most people resist or deny unwanted feelings, thoughts, or bodily sensations and think they have no control over any of this. If you are one of those people, my hope is that that will change before the end of Part One.

We are not stuffing or denying our feelings or thoughts. We are not pushing them down. We are not getting rid of “bad’ feelings or thoughts. As a matter of fact, we are not judging them at all as good or bad. We are just acknowledging and accepting them for what they are. We are noticing them; we are validating them; and if we choose, we can then change them. You cannot change something that you don’t know exists.

Some people think that living a life of mindfulness and meditation means that you push down and deny your negative feelings and try to come off like some kind of a saint. If this is what you are looking for, you won’t find it here. Here we will learn to notice, to recognize, to acknowledge, and to respond to what is going on in this exact moment in a thoughtful, wise way. The way you feel, the way you are in relationships, where you are stuck, and why. And most importantly, how to change what you want to change and move in the direction you want to move.

Some of our primary troubles come because we refuse to acknowledge that something is even an issue. Our marriages fall apart because we refuse to address uncomfortable feelings. We suffer ill health because deep down underneath, we are harboring resentment that has become toxic to our bodies and manifests as physical disease. Very often healing comes when we begin to really be aware. When we let the uncomfortable stuff come to the surface, we can see it and then we can clean it up.

So let’s bring the things that are keeping us stuck to the surface.

What is it you are struggling with?

  • Is it uncontrollable anger that squeaks out when you least expect it? But you make it OK because “they deserved it” or “the guy’s a jerk”?
  • Is it a vague sense that something is wrong in a relationship but you don’t mention it because you are afraid to make it worse? So day after day the relationship continues, becoming stagnant, boring, less intimate?
  • Do you keep telling yourself that perhaps you should stop drinking because every time you do, you either don’t feel well, you get injured, you get DUIs, or you get in a fight? But you tell yourself it’s really OK because you should be able to control it; everybody else drinks and seems fine; maybe it’s just your imagination?
  • Are your clothes getting tighter and tighter and you keep condemning yourself for being so fat and over and over again you start a new diet or a new exercise plan; but then for some reason it only lasts a few weeks and you find yourself binging on something you’ve been denying yourself?
  • Do you feel stuck in a dead-end job? Or one where you are jerked to and fro emotionally by a boss that you strongly suspect is a sociopath?
  • Are your finances always coming up short? Your best intentions still can’t seem to make them stretch and you get further and further in debt?
  • Is there a fear that you just find debilitating? Flying in an airplane? Speaking in public? Going out of the house?
  • Maybe you struggle with a feeling that you are ashamed of, but it’s always there: jealousy, insecurity, self-consciousness.
  • Or a way of relating to the world that just feels unhealthy and scary to you like anxiety or depression.
  • Maybe you have a secret behavior that no one really knows about but it makes you feel awful or dirty or guilty. Porn addictions, gambling, shop lifting, or kleptomania?

Each of these situations comes from beliefs that you have that are not working for you. Keep in mind that this book offers some powerful tips and suggestions about how to change your thought patterns and behavior patterns, and it will clearly give you a place to start…a way of creating new thoughts and behaviors. And you can experience amazing results by just making a few changes.

However, if you make those changes and you still find you need individual help directly addressing your particular issues, please contact a therapist near to you to help you with your specific challenges.

But for right now I want you to take a minute…just one minute to identify and jot down the specific areas in which you feel stuck.

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OK…Now that you have identified WHERE you are stuck, let’s talk a little bit about what is keeping you stuck.

One little thing that might surprise you is that you are never upset for the reason you think you are. Sure, you might be thinking, well of course I’m upset because my spouse is being unreasonable. Or your boss is being a jerk. Or maybe you’re upset because the traffic is bad.

Maybe you even feel that you overeat because it’s the only comfort you have in life; maybe you’ve had an abusive childhood. Maybe you’re depressed because you’ve endured a debilitating loss or have a terminal disease. Maybe you’re anxious because you have a teacher who is impossible to please, or maybe you’ve just been that way your whole life and it’s “just the way you are.”

Maybe you drink because you came from an alcoholic family. Maybe you’re stressed because you just don’t have enough money. Perhaps you are depressed because you are single…OR maybe because you are in a bad marriage. Maybe you feel stuck because everybody else gets promoted ahead of you and you’ve been there longer.

Maybe people are rude to you. Maybe your schedule is too busy. Maybe your spouse is having an affair.

All those things seem like pretty good reasons to be upset or anxious or depressed…and they might be true.

BUT, they are not the real reason. Your spouse is not your problem. Your kids are not your problem. Neither is your boss, your pastor, or ISIS, or the Congress or God.

These things, as such, are things that you see as being outside of yourself. Outside your control. And very often that’s why we think that they are the problem. However, if something outside of you has to change in order for you to eat healthy, or exercise, or feel happy with yourself, or stop being angry…if you have to retire or get a new job before you feel self-actualized, then chances are you will never feel fulfilled or happy or content in any circumstance.

But I am here to tell you that you can be happy today. Right now. The chains that seem to bind you can be broken as you sit there. Your journey to freedom and fulfillment has absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything else. It has everything to do with you and with the way you view yourself, the world, and your very existence.

One woman that came to my counseling center said, “I was stuck on pause. Frozen in time. All forward motion in my life had ceased.” Now that’s stuck! Here’s her story.

“I had been attacked and left for dead by my ex-husband of 20+ years. I had been in and out of therapy with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder, insomnia, and nightmares. I got through my days with Ativan, afraid to go to sleep and dream. My life was a 1,000-piece puzzle swirling around a wind tunnel, refusing to come together and make me whole again.

Then I found Marianne.

…I knew right away she was going to help me. I felt safe and encouraged to uncover everything to put the pieces together. I was able to remember a period in my childhood that was blank and disturbing. We put the puzzle together. My childhood started to make sense.

I found answers.

I found ground zero where it all began and took my life back.

I have been able to deal with any anxiety now without medication.

Sleep is returning. I have a new normal that I like very much.

I’m not frightened by the things that have happened to me anymore. We put the puzzle together and I feel a peace I haven’t felt in a long time. Healing my physical wounds has been very straightforward. A logical predetermined order. Healing my heart and soul and the very essence of who I am has been a long journey. I never gave up and I eventually found Marianne. It’s the first time I viewed therapy as having a beginning, middle, and end. I was able to say I’m done. I’m ready to take my new normal for a spin. With Marianne’s help I feel like I’m finally the real me.”

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