Making “I love you” a meditation

I how often do you say “I love you”? How often do you say it to your partner, to your kids, to your parents? I love you can be one of those phrases that is uttered in a thoughtless moment as you rush out the door, or drop the kids off at school. It can be said in a moment of passion, but still said thoughtlessly, without intent.

Meditation is letting yourself be present, focused and intentional about what you are doing. It doesn’t have to be a 30 minute long session of intense breathing and focus, it can the little moments in the day. Meditation can be looking at the beautiful sunset in front of you, taking a breath and being present in with the sunset until traffic moves along. Meditation can be taking a breath and being present with the love you feel for the person you are with before saying the words.

There are words that have lost their meaning over time. I’m sorry is one of them. I’m sorry seems to have come to mean; “It sucks that you feel bad” as opposed to “I regret what I have done”.   What has “I love you” come to mean in your life? Is it the thing you say as you walk out the door or hang up the phone because you’re supposed to, but don’t really feel it? Or is it the way of maintaining a connection with someone you truly care about. If the words have lost their meaning, and you are just staying it to say it but don’t feel it anymore, then there is a bigger problem. If it is the way of maintaining the connection then make sure to be present with the connection.

Each time you say “I love you” take a breath. Find the place inside of you that truly loves that person and be present with it, even for just the space of that breath. Send the energy of that love and that connection through your words. This is more than reminding your loved on that you love them, it is reminding yourself that you love them, and being present with that love and that connection.

Imagine a household that does this with every I love you. You would know that every time you are told you are loved, it is meant deeply and truly. Even when things aren’t going well, they are words you can access to remember that you love them, and they love you. It takes the struggle out of the argument and hopefully brings it in to perspective. It allows you to take a step back for a moment, and instead of thinking “If you really loved me you would…” and be able to say “You really love me, and I don’t like what you are doing.”

Make each “I love you” a meditation, every day. Feel that connection every day. Remember you have true love, feel true love and true connection and be present with it every day. After a month, see what this does to your relationship, your intimacy and even your fights. Meditation is about being present with, and what a wonderful thing to be present with.

Willingness to change

We all have something in our life we would like to be different.   Be it our child, our sibling, our boss, our spouse, our weight etc we want it to change.  One of the most difficult things we have to realize is that for change to happen, be it internal or external, we are the ones that have to change first.  I often work with parents of difficult children. When I ask “What are you willing to do to make the situation different?” I hear a variation on the theme of “They need to”.     In one of my firsts posts I used one of my favorite quotes.  “If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got”.  If I want the world around me to change, I have to change too.

A treatment method I utilize in my practice is Solution Focused Brief Therapy.  The primary focus of this therapy is approaching the solution of the problem as though it were already solved.  How would you act, treat the person, do for  yourself, if the change you wanted already happened? What is one thing you could do that could bring you 1/2 a step closer to your goal of change.   The difficulty people have with this is they often find things that the OTHER person is able to do to make things better, and often have little concept of what THEY are able to do to effect change in the situation.  People often want the world around them to change, they want the end result without having to do their own work.

For any change to be permanent, our own behavior must change long term as well.  If I want to loose weight I CANNOT change my behavior short term only until the weight is lost and return to old habits without expecting to gain the weight back.  All parties in the relationship are required to change for the change to be maintained.  I cannot expect my child’s behavior to change while I treat him / her the same.

So, since my behavior and responses have to change no matter what, what would happen if I changed them first?  If I alter my behavior, the system around me will eventually shift to accommodate that change.  In the short term the system, no matter how much it wants that change, will work to maintain the status quo, but long term the system will move.

Say I want my brother to treat me with more respect.  Because he does not respect me I do not treat him with respect, and often display passive aggressive behavior toward him reinforcing his disrespectful behavior.  If I were to treat him with respect, especially when he isn’t actively disrespecting me (he can’t be disrespectful 24/7, there has to be a moment in time when he is pleasant), after he unconsciously works to maintain the comfortable status quo, he will eventually shift his behaviors.  If he DOES shift his behavior and I return to my previous attitudes and behaviors toward him he will not maintain his change.  If I don’t change my behaviors when he does show positive behavior toward me I don’t reinforce (training anyone?) his behavior and he won’t be encouraged to continue.

No matter what the problem the first question to ask is “What do I need to do differently to make this change happen”.  Willingness to alter my view, perception and behaviors in a situation will not only help my frustration in the situation (I at least know I am doing what I can), but will eventually help to affect change in my environment. It is always better than waiting around for things to change around me.

Tolerating pain to expand joy

Brother, stand the pain.
Escape the poison of your impulses.
The sky will bow to your beauty, if you do.
Learn to light the candle. Rise with the sun.
Turn away from the cave of your sleeping.
That way a thorn expands to a rose.”
Rumi, The Essential Rumi

 

Dr. David Snarch teaches one of the therapy approaches I use. He discusses the concept of tolerating distress for the sake of growth in his discussion of moving through relationships. If we take that concept a step further to our relationship with ourselves the concept still applies.

We have developed a culture where we work to avoid pain. We use drugs, shopping, food, sex and a multitude of other coping skills to avoid pain. Instead of working to manage the stress pain causes, we work to avoid the pain entirely. When we do this we run in to suffering. The true reality is that pain is necessary and it is going to come no matter what. So is pleasure and happiness. Pain tells us that something isn’t quite right with the world, and encourages us to be aware of our surroundings. Pain keeps us present with what is happening around us. It isn’t pleasant, but it does keep us grounded. They will move through cycles in our lives no matter what we do. The more we strive to avoid pain the more we cause difficulty for ourselves, and struggle when the painful experiences of life do happen.

Brother, stand the pain. I read this to say that we shouldn’t run from the inevitable. We can work to prepare to keep unnecessary pain from occurring; we save for retirement, we have seat-belts and airbags in our cars, we wear helmets when we cycle (well, we should anyway). We will never to able to avoid fighting in our relationships completely. We will never be able to avoid natural disasters and the havoc they wreak upon us. We will never be able to avoid the deaths of our pets, friends and loved ones. These things are painful, and should be. I want to lean in to the pain, and be present with it. I want to mourn the loss of my loved ones because it means that I had joy with them. I want to work to mitigate fights with my partner, but the fact that they are so painful means that I have someone that I truly care about and is important to me. Things that bring great joy in our life are going to be attached to pain, no matter what we do.

I have a rosebush in front of my house that in the spring and fall put out the biggest red-tipped white roses. When it is in bloom it is a sight to behold. And every time I move in to take care of it the thorns bite me. The plant brings me joy. I love being able to walk and drive past it and see the amazing roses it puts out. And at the same time it causes me pain, even as I try to care for it. Beauty and joy will always have thorns, as long as there aren’t more thorns than beauty then the pain is OK.

When I allow myself to be OK with pain I allow myself to expand myself to a greater cadre of experiences. I am able to see and feel an amazing spectrum of life. If I just work to avoid the pain I am going to miss the grand and amazing things that the world has to offer me, because joy is going to come with pain.

Pain is inevitable. It comes with joy; they are two sides of the same coin and will always be attached in some way. When the pain is greater than the joy then it is time to re-evaluate the situation and there is no doubt that staying in situations in which you are being abused or mistreated is not OK, even if there is a little bit of joy. This is about learning to tolerate distress for the sake of growth. When I am able to tolerate a little distress I am able to expand my world and see more of the beauty and feel more of the joy it has to offer. We have to let go of our fear of pain in order to do so. That is a tall order, and at the same time; big rewards require big risks.

Moving through ebb and flow

People that rely on the ocean and on rivers know the concept of ebb and flow very intimately. They understand not only the movement of the tides, but that the rains that supply the water to the rivers move through periods of ebbing and flowing. Right now many parts of the country have been in a relative ebb of water and many parts of the country are suffering a drought.

There are other areas of life that aren’t as obvious that also move through ebbs and flows. Our relationships are a perfect example. There are times when our relationships are flowing strongly. We feel connected to our partners or friends, and this connection feels very filling. During these times we think how strong our relationship is and we feel that all is right with the world.

The other side of this is the ebb. In the natural movement of things there will be times when our relationships don’t feel as connected. We snip at each other more, we don’t feel as in sync. During these times we can feel very lonely and isolated. There is often an automatic feeling of abandonment and fear of losing the person completely. This can lead us to doing rash things, either to prevent the perceived loss or to retaliate against the future betrayal that we fear is coming. These actions can take us from ebb, a natural occurrence, in to something larger.

Ebbs often come with distress. When we don’t get enough rain our crops suffer. When things aren’t going well at our job we fear losing the job. When things aren’t going well in our relationship we fear losing the relationship.   Being able to tolerate the distress that comes with the natural ebbs in your life will help you flow more smoothly in general.

The easiest way to tell the difference between ebb and a real problem is that ebbs don’t last. If you’ve left work for the last 9 months feeling drained, unfulfilled and frustrated this probably isn’t ebb. There is no flow to counterbalance it. If you spend the majority of time in your relationship walking on eggshells, arguing, snipping or hurt and it has been this way for a while then you probably aren’t in ebb. Again, there is no flow to counterbalance it. Ebb and flow are like the tides; they move back and forth with a semblance of balance with each other, and in general things should feel relatively good

The key to tolerating ebb is to stay grounded with yourself, your identity and your strengths. It is natural to start worrying that you are doing something wrong creating a problem. Always do a self-check to see if there is something you are doing or aren’t doing that could be causing difficulties. We personally go through ebb and flow as well, and on ebb days (bad days) we can sometimes act poorly to those we care about causing problems. If in general you are overall being healthy in your job or relationship, remember this. This means that you are probably in ebb. Stay centered with the fact that you are where you need to be in your thoughts and actions. Remind yourself that you are OK, that the relationship is overall OK, and that life is in general OK. Use this as a buoy to keep you afloat when anxiety and fear start to set in.

There are small changes to make during ebbs. Pay attention to your frustration level and make sure you are soothing when you want to snipe. Make sure you continue to do your work at your job, make sure you continue to be tender and loving to your partner, possibly even more so to remind yourself that this ebb is temporary. As stated above, many parts of the country are in ebb in relationship to water, and people are not changing their habits at all. This is creating additional distress for the environment. If we don’t give a little and be a little more tolerant during ebbs we can create increased distress and actual problems.

Learning to tolerate the ebbs in your life is about learning to sooth your heart when it is afraid. We like stability and ebbs don’t represent stability to us, especially for those that have been through trauma or betrayal before. In these cases we are hyper-alert to problems and ebbs are large red-flags to our systems. Being able to tolerate the mild distress of an ebb will help you trust more, and feel even more connected to your job or partner when times are good. Knowing that the ebbs are natural and the feelings of disconnectedness are temporary will help you feel more connected comfortable in your relationships because you know a flow is coming soon.

Knowing whom to trust

Knowing who to trust in this world is tricky. We always put on a good face when meeting new people for the first time, and being able to identify the people that a fantastic façade but with a less than healthy inside can be difficult, especially in the first couple of months of knowing someone. There are some simple tells though, and once you learn what they are you will have a better time of catching the crazies before they worm their way too far in to your life.

One of the first things you will see in another person is their sense of humor. We all have one (even though I bet you’ve met someone you think doesn’t), and looking at what people find funny is a good window in to their inner being. Finding cruelty and the pain of others funny is a sign of lacking empathy. Admittedly I’m the first person to chuckle at my friends when they get a booboo from doing something “hold my beer” worthy, I’m also the first one running to their side to make sure they aren’t actually injured. Laughing at the emotional or physical injury of others, especially through jokes that demean a gender or a group of people is a sign of a cruel streak that can add darkness to your life, and be a sign that they can eventually turn on you and start telling their “jokes” at your expense.

Another thing to look for is the other friendships that the person has. Think of who you want your friends to be. What does “healthy” mean to you? How I interpret it is a general idea of how their actions affect themselves and others. Healthy people take accountability for their actions and choices, and as such make good choices. The old adage “birds of a feather stick together” is very accurate. If their friends don’t have jobs, use drugs regularly, like strip clubs, make demeaning jokes or have a multitude of other unhealthy habits, you can bet your friend or partner does too. You can see what a person is like by keeping an eye on who they hang out with.  If they don’t have any friends at all, there is probably a reason for that as well.

Keep an eye on how they treat other people (and animals) in general. If you are reading this blog you probably have a generally healthy respect of life and believe everyone deserves respect. This includes wait-staff, ticket-takers, janitors, fast food employees, and all other people that work hard for a living but don’t have a 401K. How we treat people who are just trying to do their job is a good insight in to how we are going to treat those close to us when we get to know them better and are hurt, frustrated or stressed. How we treat animals, especially those that aren’t our own pets is a strong indicator in to how a person interacts with the world around them.  We tend to make excuses early on in friendships and relationships for how people treat those around them that aren’t friends. We shouldn’t. How people treat those that aren’t as “high” as they are on the world food chain is a good indication of how they will eventually treat you and how they think of others in general.

Listen to see how they accept feedback from others. If they are constantly complaining about how no one likes them at work and their boss is always on them, be aware that they may struggle to accept feedback when their behavior isn’t that great. If they are starting conversations with “This person is such a (insert derogatory name here)”, and consistently identify why everyone else is wrong while they are the perfect angel, they are probably getting feedback that they aren’t able to take constructively.  How they accept feedback will be important when you are frustrated with their behavior and you need to tell them something.  If they don’t take feedback well, you will find that you keep from talking about the important issues and eventually start feeling resentful.

Listen to them as they talk about past friendships and past relationships. If they talk about a multitude of friends that have betrayed them, abandoned them, are less than they are or that they just complain about, there is a high chance that you will become one of the multitudes that have abandoned or betrayed them. If they talk with a good deal of disrespect about past relationships, it means they are likely to struggle to feel strong bonds with others, to trust others, and that will include you. It does indicate that they have a history of actual betrayal somewhere in their past. While you can be understanding of how they have come to the point of struggling to form bonds does not mean you should willing accept them in to your heart. People that struggle to form close bonds tend to turn dangerous and hurtful to those others when they feel hurt. If you’ve let them in that means they will hurt you, even if they don’t mean to.

Pay attention to what their hobbies are, and how obsessed they are with them. Everything is OK in moderation. Clubbing, gambling, drinking, smoking, video games, even exercise and knitting (the knitting addicts are the worst) are great in small doses. When they become obsessions though, they can have a pathology about them that can interfere with relationships and friendships. It is one thing that they go out with the co-workers on Friday for happy-hour for a couple of hours. It is another if they go every night until 2 in the morning. It is one thing to play the lottery when you can win 250 million, it is another thing to spend $50 or more every week on tickets. The level of obsession is important, especially when something comes between their obsessions. Being able to be healthy in their passions shows health in other places.

Social Media has become a very clear window in to a person’s soul. Watch what they post on FaceBook, Twitter, and all other social media sites. If they post things that degrade people that aren’t in their religion or that don’t follow their political views, if they “troll” places and leave hate-filled comments because they are relatively anonymous behind their keyboard, you are seeing their true feelings and beliefs. You are seeing how they treat others they don’t agree with. What happens when they don’t agree with you?

We have all been betrayed by someone we have cared about. Some of those betrayals have been bigger and caused more damage and bigger wounds than others. Learning who to trust and understanding the traits that lead to healthy friendships and relationships will lessen the likelihood of the big betrayals. Whenever two people get together there are going to be the mini betrayals, they are unavoidable. The big ones though, the “She slept with someone else in our tent at a festival” kind, the “he lied took all my money”, or the “she started screaming at me irrationally when I left a beer on the counter and ended up hitting me so I had to call the cops” kind are less likely when you know what to look for.

Even when I’m angry I can still think!

A couple of years ago I attended a training on play therapy. The trainer had years of experience and had some excellent tools in his tool-box, including a couple of stamps that I jumped on. These stamps were:

Even when I’m angry, I can still think

It’s OK to be MAD it’s not OK to be BAD

My mouth can’t say everything my brain thinks

Good Face, Good Voice, Good Words

 

These seem simple things, simple ideas that we want out children to learn. I have found that teaching kids these concepts is actually relatively simple.

Kids can understand that when they’re mad they do things they get in trouble for and regret later. When they learn that they are in control of their anger; no one has a button that someone else can push and “make them angry” and no one has the reigns to their feelings then they start to be able to understand to following two stamps.   They start to understand that being mad isn’t wrong; we all get mad, but that what we do with it is what can be bad. When they add an understanding that they still have to take a breath and think even when they’re mad, anger management starts getting easier for them.

When they learn that their relationships are compromised when they are mad and say something hurtful or inappropriate they learn they have to think about what they are going to say or do before they do it. They learn pretty quickly that being mad isn’t a pass for horrible behavior and you don’t get to shut off your brain just because you’re mad.

Kids really get it when you remind them that usually the reason they get in trouble with adults and friends is because they didn’t follow the last stamp. They made mean faces, they had ugly words, or sarcastic words with an ugly voice. Kids learn quickly that when they have the good face, good voice and good words that they are actually more likely get their wants, wishes and would likes met, even when they are angry. When the combine all of them, especially when they are mad; remembering to think before they speak, they are still accountable for their actions, they have control of their face, voice and words, they get the concept of anger management pretty quickly.

Then we get to adults. Whether we learn a sense of entitlement, a sense that anger means an all out pass to be a jerk and other people are required to step lightly to keep us from getting angry, or we see that people around them get to use the “anger” defense again and again, we forget that we really are more in control of our anger than we think. We forget that we are always accountable for our actions, and high emotion does not give the right shove your words, your fist, foot or car in to someone.

It is OK to be angry. It is a natural human emotion that we all feel in many variations. There is irritated, frustrated, bitter, contrary, exasperated, flustered, aggravated, ticked, grumpy, fuming, mad, burning, angry, boiling, enraged, incensed, infuriated, ballistic, livid etc. Little to big, we all find a place where we are angry at some point. Like any emotion, it isn’t OK to lose yourself in the emotion so far that you are no longer in control of your actions.

We need to find a place where “you made me mad” is not an excuse. I have seen an adult reply to the “why did you (insert behavior here)?” question with “Because you made me mad!”. And? When did making someone mad give us the right to treat other people or their belongings with cruelty, disrespect or violence? When did we lose all accountability for our own emotions and our response to them?

These very simple lessons are something we need to start remembering as adults.

Even when I’m angry, I can still think

It’s OK to be MAD it’s not OK to be BAD

My mouth can’t say everything my brain thinks

Good Face, Good Voice, Good Words

 

I am in control of my own emotions. I don’t have an anger switch, or a happy button that someone else can push for me. My triggers are mine and no one is required to walk on eggshells to keep from hitting them. I need to be aware of my triggers so when someone unsuspectingly comes across them I don’t explode like a land mine and destroy everything in an emotional radius around me. When I can slow down and keep the above lessons in my head, even when I’m angry, I will have a good grasp on anger management. When I remember that I can’t control other’s emotions, and that while I should be sensitive and not intentionally jump on their triggers I can’t always control when I hit them, I probably won’t be as reactive if they aren’t in control of their anger as I would like them to be. Just always remember, Good Face, Good Voice, and Good Words and you’ll do great.

 

The Peter Pan in all of us

There’s no one with intelligence in this town except that man over there playing with the children, the one riding the stick horse. He has keen, fiery insight and vast dignity like the night sky, but he conceals it in the madness of child’s play.”
Rumi, The Essential Rumi

We spend so much time being adults. We’re grown-ups following the rules. Pay your bills, go to work, eat right. Our guard is up all the time. The moments in which we can let it down and forget we are grown-ups are all the more precious. If you find the people that you know that are the happiest they know this rule. They may not own a Fortune 500 company, but they also don’t have ulcers either. They may not have 2.5 million in the bank, but they have relationships and experiences that bring them joy.

I saw a “brotip” that if your child hands you a plastic phone and says it’s for you, you answer it, no matter how much of a Gangsta you think you are. This silliness lets us drop our grown-up guard and play for a moment. In that moment we hopefully remember that we are playful, fun-loving, caring creatures. We can take a lesson from our pets in this. My 15 year old cat will still chase a string when it is dangled in front of her, and overall she is one of the happiest creatures I know.

What are the metaphorical stings that are dangled in front of you that you are too “grown-up” to play with? We worry about what we would lose if we played with the sting, but we forget to think about what we would gain; a moment away from the seriousness of being “adult”. We all need a little bit of play-time and childlike abandon.

Accepting what is

Radical acceptance is letting go of judgment and completely and, even lovingly if possible, accepting a situation. We face situations of radical acceptance every day. We face it while driving in traffic accepting other drivers or the snarl of traffic in front of you that isn’t going to change no matter how you honk your horn or yell at your steering wheel. We face it when fixing our hair in the morning and struggling with that one lock never just does what it is supposed to (what we want it to). We face it when we look at that mole or freckle that we just hate.

Radical acceptance is being OK with what is. Those of you that have injuries or problems with knees or your back know how difficult of a struggle this is, especially when you used to be able to do certain things that you can’t now. We struggle to let go of what was and accept what is. We face it as we get older and see our bodies and faces change. We face it when we are injured and a scar is left that will stay with us.

Emotional injuries can leave lasting scars that we struggle with. We can feel as disfigured as if a physical trauma caused a visible scar, but a physical scar can be easier to accept. The scars left from emotional injuries are difficult to understand for the person scarred. They are even more difficult for those with them that don’t understand sometimes how the internal scars change things. This makes accepting the internal scars even more difficult.

We do so many things to avoid accepting life as it is. We try plastic surgery, we try denial, drugs and alcohol to hide. People in traffic try to run from lane to lane to move faster, people contort their hair to get it to lie the way they want (admittedly I’m one of them, I color and flat-iron my hair). They sometimes scream and yell trying to ignore what is.

One place where we just accept what is, is the weather. We bundle up when it is cold and wear loose flowing clothing in the summer. We don’t try to fight the weather, other than heating or cooling our immediate spaces around us. We do try to fight the realities about ourselves.

When I chose radical acceptance I chose to accept there are parts of my past that I don’t like, and remember that they only define me as far as I let them. When I chose radical acceptance I accept that I am getting older and my body doesn’t work the way it used it. I accept that I can’t do the things I used to the way I used to anymore. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to what was, something that was important to us. That is often the most difficult part. With the weather, it is something we have always known. We are ready for the heat of summers and the chill of winters and so we accept it. When life changes and turns what is in to what was and we fight it we suffer.

Accepting what is is not always easy, but it does make life less painful in the long run. It lets you quit fighting what you wish was and find what can be awesome now.

Hills and Bridges

I was listening to NPR the other day and I heard an interview that struck a chord. Unfortunately since I was driving I wasn’t able to write down the name of the person being interviewed, but his message held a lot of meaning.

He is a professional cyclist, and he was talking about the zen lesions he had learned while cycling. The first was: Climb the hill you are on. I have yet to meet a person that is confronted with only one problem at a time. We generally have several things thrown at us at any given moment. Between the different facets of our life we may have multiple problems in different life areas. We are only able to do one thing at a time though. When we try to focus on multiple things we become scattered and distracted. When we try to focus on multiple things at one time our body interprets this as an attack and responds with stress hormones, which make us gain weight, increase anxiety, decrease sex drive, and decrease focus even more.

I’ve discussed that meditation is about focus. It is about learning to be present with yourself and what you are doing. When moving through a problem we tend to not want to focus. We want to get done and get past. This means that sometimes the problem in front of us didn’t get what it needs because we are focused elsewhere.   The author uses the not so metaphorical metaphor of riding a bike up a hill. If you get lost at how far you have to go, in how many hills you have to climb before you’re finished you will get overwhelmed. It is easy to feel hopeless.

Think of all of the tasks you need to get done today. One of them, right now, is to finish reading this blog. Is there a part of you that is processing the rest of what you’re doing today? Does that affect your ability to take in the message you are reading? Will you read with part of your mind, note bits of it, and then move on, or will you read and be present with the concept of being present?

When you are in the middle of a large project, do you start to feel overwhelmed with the hugeness of the task? What does this do to your motivation, to your confidence? Your first big life-goal took 13 years of your life. Because it was broken down with small periods of break and distinctions between small steps it didn’t feel like it took that long. School was one of the first places we learned to have long-term goals while breaking it in to smaller, more digestible chunks. We learned there to focus on the semester in front of us, not the fact that as a freshman in high school you have 4 years to go. We focus on the hill we are on, the part of it we can see instead of the whole race.

We also learned to not compare one year to another, because each task is going to be different. It is easy to see in K-12, because there is physical and mental growth that allow for different tasks. Even though we stop physically growing at about 22-24, we never stop mentally growing and learning. Even if you took the same class again as an adult, or read a book you’ve read before, you will get something new out of it because you aren’t the same person you were before. One hill won’t be the same as the next, or the last. You may have climbed this particular metaphorical hill many times, but each time is different, even if just a tiny bit.

We can forget these lessons as we get older. We can become more impatient with ourselves and others, wanting life to come to us quicker and avoiding lessons, goals or tasks that seem painful, huge or will take a long time. We become more impatient with ourselves when we don’t finish tasks as quickly as we would like, and start focusing on what’s coming up next.

This leads us back to a simple rule. The author of the book discussed climbing the hill you are on, I prefer the quote; “Don’t cross bridges until you come to them”. Take care of the problem in front of you, and let go of the next one until it is in front of you.

Something to help us as we struggle with the problem we are in the middle of is the author’s next point; Each hill has another side, There will be a downhill. There will be a period of rest, release and calm. Be present in these moments. Yes, of course use them to gain momentum for the next moment, and at the same time let yourself be refreshed. Trust these moments of relaxation. Yes, they will end. Everything ends, just as the problem will end. Let yourself be OK with the in-betweens and the peace they can bring.

Overall, work to let yourself be OK with yourself and your life even in the middle of the problem. It is easy to forget. Those of you that do cycle know exactly what it means to get lost while in the middle of a difficult hill. You know what is to become frustrated and feel like it will never end, to judge yourself for getting tired and frustrated. Remember in those moments to see the joy and wonder of the fact that you keep moving when others may have given up. Remember to be present when you are in those moments of peace, not getting lost in the next struggle, losing the quiet moments.