Bringing Your Body Into Balance

My 100+ pound weight loss is what grabs people's attention. However, my weight loss was merely a side effect of finally taking my health and happiness into my own hands and finding that perfect balance. Body, mind, spirit. It all matters.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Day 22 of 133: Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

When I've been in the throes of a toxic relationship, I've thought almost nothing of hanging on just a few more weeks. And I've often done it for absurd reasons. Maybe we had a fun outing planned or I wasn't ready to let go of the physical stuff quite yet. Whatever the reason, I could very easily justify "what's a few more weeks?" 

So when the idea occurred to me yesterday to extend my "man fast", it concerned me that I needed so much time and thought to mull it over. After all, "what's a few more weeks?" And that's exactly why I'm extending it.

The reason for this extension, in addition to the fact that I simply need more time, is that I am signing up to do a 5k obstacle race and mud run on March 18th (which would be the arrival point of my new countdown!) For some people, signing up for such an event is just a fun challenge. For me, it's much more.

By nature, I have always been a fearful person. I'm afraid of getting hurt and of being embarrassed. I have always tended to avoid any activities that could cause either and most definitely those that can cause both! 

However, a few years ago when I embarked on this new journey of self-discovery, I really started pushing the envelope. Exercise was the equivalent of what this mud run has turned into (as well as a skydiving trip I am seriously contemplating). Exercise used to be very fear inducing for me. There are even times now, when I walk into my Crossfit style gym, I look at the workout of the day and feel that little hint of fear bubble up inside of me. But I push through and grow every single time.

So, I've learned that facing my fears equals growth. Right now I'm facing a lot of them. In addition to the aforementioned, the fear of being "alone" is one I'm facing down every single day and it progressively has less and less control over my thoughts. There is something actually very liberating about facing life every day without a man around to tell me my value. I find that in myself now.

I recently had a male friend, who I used to be extremely interested in but he did not reciprocate my feelings at the time, tell me that this "new me" I was becoming made me extremely attractive. Likewise, other men, a type of men who never seemed to express interest in me in the past, have started popping up and challenging my resolve. Do I struggle when this happens? Yes. But not how you might think. I struggle to remain focused on my own self-worth instead of the false sense of self-worth they could temporarily provide. Other than that, I have no desire to pursue anything with any man right now. No matter how amazing. This is MY time and it's been a long time coming.

My last "almost relationship" was a couple months ago with a man who was so completely not my type. He was cute enough, cool enough and very funny but I consistently had to overlook all the many indications that he was not "the one". But still I struggled to let him go because THAT is how much I felt I needed a man in my life.

But the final straw that broke me of this toxic addiction to men was when my ex came back into my life a couple months ago. This was an ex who repeatedly hurt and betrayed me in various ways, eventually walking out of my life for another woman. I had, at least, grown enough where I had no desire to be in a relationship with him again. However, I hadn't grown so much that I didn't need his validation. 

Honestly, I can't say the subsequent time I spent with him was completely in vain. Maybe I would've healed eventually on my own. But I felt like I had hit a wall in my growth because I felt so unbelievably rejected and undesirable as a result of the way he had left me. 

Now he was back and telling me everything I needed to hear to feel once again validated. It was every bit of validation that a woman could ask for....yet it wasn't.

When he first came back around, it almost seemed that he was testing the waters of possibly getting back into a relationship. I was wholly uninterested in this and I told him so. I told him I could not see us ever being back together again. At the time, he seemed affected by it. Then suddenly he did not. He said he would be happy just being my friend forever. That bothered me. A lot. It bothered me that he seemed okay to never have me again....even though I didn't want him!

However, we both kept discussing how we were two broken people who kept going from one broken relationship to the next. We promised each other that we were going to be single for a long while in order to work on ourselves and learn to be alone. We were going to be friends and offer each other support in this. I felt good and excited about my own resolution....but somehow his still bothered me. I needed him to chase me like he used to. When I would bring it up, he would point out how he might have broken up with me once but that I had broken up with him four times before that and that he wasn't going to chase pain and rejection again. Intellectually, I understood this. I could look back to that first night he came back around and remember the look on his face when he said, "wow, you're different. More confident." Intellectually, I really did understand. I knew I had outgrown him. And I knew he probably knew it too. He knew I wouldn't tolerate so many things that I had in the past....but somehow I was still bothered that he didn't chase me....

This actually ate away at me and started to tear me down again, despite the overall ego boost that he had given me. I finally recognized this destructive pattern within myself and that is when my 100 day resolution began. My resolution of Brahmacharya: the conservation of ones vital energy  in order to direct one's attention toward divine pursuits and self-knowledge. I wanted to finally find that validation and self-acceptance that I so desperately needed.

At the time, my ex and I were attempting some convoluted version of a friendship. I told him I needed a little time before I actually saw him again so that I could really focus on myself and my new goals. Within less than two days, I told him I, instead, needed zero communication with him for a while to truly focus on them. His last words to me were "I completely understand, I will always be there for you. I'm not going anywhere."

About 48 hours later, he mysteriously had me blocked via text and social media. 

I could probably guess the reason why but focusing my vital energy on all that is exactly opposite of what I'm trying to accomplish here. And, interestingly enough, I find the "why" suddenly is of no consequence to me. I feel like in that moment of realization that he had walked away in this new fashion, that part of my mind and heart that had been reserved for him emptied out. I've had quite a few people comment since that I seem so different and "over it". And I am. It went from being a chapter I was stuck on and reading over and over again to a chapter I had no interest in whatsoever. 

As I look back, I realize that him coming back into my life was the biggest blessing he could've ever given me. He helped me break through that wall I had hit. I was so stuck in that feeling of rejection and pain he had caused me that I just couldn't seem to move forward. I was seeking validation from unworthy men as a band-aid. And, again, maybe I would've eventually worked through it all on my own. But he came along and accelerated that whole process for me. Then he gave me the biggest gift of all.

He left. 

He left no stone unturned when he burned that final bridge we had: potential friendship. And, in doing so, he somehow broke that connection in my mind. There were no more unanswered questions. It was finally over in my heart. I kept waiting for it to resurface but it truly seems to finally be gone and I can breath deeper because of it. But there is still much work to do because life won't always be this neat and tidy. Someone could grossly reject me again and not come back and validate me. I need to be okay no matter what. 

So, back to me. As this is what this post is actually about! 

Instead of spending so much time obsessing about who may or may not like me, I find myself fantasizing about the new car I'm about the get, imagining myself free falling out of an airplane, running through muddy obstacles with one of my very best friends, the personal training sessions I bought as a Christmas present to myself, a three day backpacking trip I'm going to take with another friend and so often smiling to myself when I realize the unbelievably amazing little man my son is growing into. I am finally FINALLY fully engaged in my own life! And, yes, someday I will know great love. I will be a whole and healthy person and I will attract the same but, for now, I can't even think about all that. 

With every passing day, I find that I am more comfortable in my own skin. Without a man standing in front of me whose actions and facial expressions I can analyze and obsess over to determine if I am worthy enough in his eyes from moment to moment, I turn inward. And I find that I am enough. I am more than enough. I am amazing! And I'm becoming more amazing every day. I can honestly say that I am finally someone who I would that's what I'm doing. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Damage Control

The mentality of most of my clients, and probably most Americans at large, is that tomorrow is a day to throw down. People everywhere will be eating themselves into a stupor in a few short hours. And I totally get it! Thanksgiving has turned into a festive day of never-ending feasting and I've definitely viewed it as such myself in the past.

However, let me ask you, how do you feel after a day of eating like this? Even an afternoon. Are you glad you did it? That's what's ironic about our resolutions to just "enjoy the day." It often ends with us feeling absolutely horrible. Our bellies hurt and we are too tired to think. People like to blame it on the tryptophan in turkey but, I assure you, people who eat ham in lieu of turkey can often be found snoozing on the couch later that afternoon too. 

The problem is, our bodies can only handle so much food at a time. We shovel in massive amounts of various types of food (eating a variety of foods at one time regardless of the quantity can, alone, be very taxing on our system) and then we sit or lay down and allow that traffic jam of food to accumulate like a rock in our bellies. We go to bed that night often feeling anything but festive. 

So I want to challenge everyone to start approaching Thanksgiving the way I have the past few years. Changing my view of what Thanksgiving is has completely changed my holiday experience. 

First, did you know that each and every bite of food you put in your mouth you taste a little less than the bite before? It's the law of diminishing returns. So, instead of piling your plate high with gobs of everything, start with a small selection of your very favorite foods, including dessert. Keep in mind this law of diminishing returns and remember that each bite you take will deliver less flavor and pleasure than the bite before. Savor each and every bite knowing it is literally the best bite you're going to have from there on out. 

This does a couple of things. First, it takes a certain amount of time, that is different for each person and can average anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, for the stomach to start sending the brain messages that it is starting to feel full. By eating slowly you are sending less food down to create that full feeling.

Also, when we chew our food well, not only do we increase feelings of satiety (mouth pleasure is an important and often overlooked part of satiety) but we are also producing digestive enzymes in our mouth in addition to breaking the food down into smaller pieces, both of which are going to help us more easily digest our food, avoiding gas and other digestive discomforts.

I have found since I started being mindful of this that I enjoy my food much more than trying to see how much I can shovel in before I start getting full. Keep in mind that, in addition to not enjoying the food as much, once those gobs of mashed potatoes and bread hit our stomach, there's no turning back. You'll start out with a slightly full feeling but over time it turns into a horrible PACKED feeling! 

So, in addition to slowing down and savoring my food (and, therefore, eating less of it), here are other shifts in my mindset I have made regarding Thanksgiving:

  • It's no longer a "food" holiday. Yes, it's a time for tasty eats but my new focus is on my family and friends gathering together to enjoy each others company. At the end of the day, it's become a tradition for my son and I to put up the Christmas decorations. 
  • I never sit down after eating my Thanksgiving feast! Instead of being the selfish, overgrown child after the meal, I help in the kitchen until everything is clean. Not only do the women folk who assumed this chore a long time ago appreciate this but it also creates necessary movement which aids in the digestive process. 
  • I try to get people to go on a walk with me. After everything is clean, I try to rally some of the lazy, overstuffed troops to take a walk. This is another nice, non-eating tradition that can be created for Thanksgiving. In addition to creating closeness and helping everyone digest their rocks, it is such a beautiful time of year to get out and see the brilliant colors of fall that will soon turn to gray.

But before any of this, I do something so crazy that I don't even know myself at times. First thing that day....

  • I exercise.

I know I probably lost about 7/8 of my readers just now. But here's what exercising on major holidays (yes, I also exercise on Christmas) can do...

  • It reminds you of your goals. "Energy flows where attention goes." Working out on Thanksgiving morning sends the very clear message to your subconscious "I even value my health and my goals today, on Thanksgiving."
  • It does the obvious of offsetting some of the extra calories you're consuming. Although don't get carried away with this mentality, you often burn way less calories than you believe. However, if you work out hard, it depletes your glycogen stores which means less of those simple carbs will be converted to fat.
  • It makes you enjoy your entire day more. There's something about starting ANY day with a workout that makes your eyes a little brighter and your step a little peppier. You will be more focused and positive the entire day and, thus, more able to enjoy the non-food elements of the holiday....the non-food elements being those other people sitting around all that food.

Thanksgiving used to always end with me feeling sick and depressed. It was the epitome of irony when I would look forward to it so much. Now I know I really can look forward it and I'll go to bed that night feeling fit, satisfied and happy. My day will be active, full of laughter and precious moments with the people I love most in the world and moderate amounts of tasty treats that I don't usually indulge in. And I will have savored every single moment and bite of the day. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Day 15 of 100

This time two weeks ago I was at the beach with a girlfriend. I sat that morning and watched the sunrise as I thought about the resolution I had made for myself the night before. 

100 days of me. 

It wasn't just about the dating that was distracting and exhausting me. It was about the constant little chatter in the back of my mind that said, "you're not good enough."

That's what I've realized in this 1/2 month. That's where all my problems have stemmed from. That little voice lying to me. Telling me that the answers were outside of me. Specifically in another person. 

I've recently started rereading the book The Four Agreements and it's amazing how differently I process it compared to when I read it the first time in my mid-20s. I was so unaware of things then compared to now. I guess it's because I've now lived in this brain of mine almost twice as long.

The first of the four agreements is to "be impeccable with your word."

On the surface, this could be taken at a very superficial level such as "be mindful of the words you speak to another." And, yes, that is part of it but by far not the most important part. Because we are generally much more mindful of that anyway. Most importantly it's the words we tell ourselves. The stories we write. Often ugly, convoluted stories. This frequently goes hand in hand with the second agreement which is "don't take it personally." 

I am honestly the world's worst at this. I will create a story in my head of why someone did or said what they did and how that proves that I am an unworthy person. 

And that will become my new story.

A man rejects me? It's not because he prefers blondes over brunettes or because he's not over his ex. It's because I have flabby arms and said that kind of stupid thing on our date. 

I write these horrible, horrible stories and then I walk around believing them. The more I actually step back and analyze just how absurd this is, the more I realize that I've been living this crazy lie all this time.

I look in the mirror each day and see a different version of myself based on who said or didn't say I was attractive or valuable the day before. 

All that has changed in the last 2 weeks. And that's why this isn't about the men. This is about me finally writing my own story based on what I think of myself instead of what I think the world around me thinks of me!

Friday after my workout I stood and chatted with a couple of people who were about to start theirs. We were laughing and cutting up and I felt totally "included" and "worthy" of their friendship. As I walked to my car feeling good, I thought, "I feel like I'm making friends here." Automatically I was aware on an acutely conscious level of "the voice." It said, "but you know you're not like them and if they got to know you they wouldn't like you anymore." 

We literally had an argument right there in the parking lot. I said, "Why not? I'm in as good of shape as at least half of them, I have my own business, a pretty decent little home, I'm funny and smart and a responsible adult."

And you will never believe what that asshole voice said then....

I had just walked up to my car to get in and as I put my key into the door to unlock it the voice said, "Yeah, but you don't have automatic locks and there's faded spots on the roof of your car. They haven't seen your car yet. That's what will make them reject you. You should get a new car or just stop trying to be friends with them."

I know! I was as shocked as you are right now. And the saddest thing about it is that I've been believing that voice for a lot of years. It's a voice that gained a lot of control around the age of eight when I entered my third grade year a little chubby and kids started calling me fat. It gained even more control in middle school when the boy I had a crush on sat beside me on the bus, grabbed my thigh and shook it and called it a "hamhock." The voice became a scream after years of tiny insults and rejections that my fragile, developing brain allowed to define me.

So any time a man would come along who showed me some acceptance, it would sooth the voice a little by arguing with it. Any time I would recognize that maybe said man wasn't treating me too well, the voice would say, "Well, what do you expect? You're lucky anyone wants you." 

I'm literally crying as I type these words. I wish I could hug my younger self and tell her how sorry I am. I've allowed that voice to abuse her. Anything anyone has ever said to me has never ever been as hurtful or brutal as the things I've said to myself. The little girl in me needed healing, not more abuse. 

So now I'm healing her. I challenge the voice probably 100 times daily. Finally, after 39 years of living in some crazy, made up, self-destructive story, I am creating a beautiful, peaceful story for little Tammi to live in. And 100 days isn't nearly enough but it's where I'm starting. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Day 11 of 100: Being Kind to Myself

I've spent so much of my life dwelling on what other people think of me to define who I am. Someone thinks I'm a bad person? That shit will keep me up ALL NIGHT LONG. Someone thinks I'm lovely? I will cozy down in my sheets that night and fall asleep thinking about how amazing I am.

So what happens when I deliberately stop seeking that validation and go deep within myself?

Self love happens.

I had a hunch but I wasn't sure that would be the case.

However, the alternative had become too much to bear. 

  • Desperately find a man who wanted me and I actually wanted in return.
  • Feed off of his validation and attention.
  • Get insecure and depressed when he failed to give that validation.
  • Feel completely worthless and unlovable when he left.
  • Lather.
  • Rinse.
  • Repeat.
How unbelievably toxic and exhausting! So the discomfort of just being "alone" suddenly didn't feel so uncomfortable anymore. And that's what I've done. That's not to say I haven't tripped up along the way and sought out the attention of a man. However, for the most part, I've trudged along on my own for a long while now. And the last 11 days have been more notably focused on just that. 

The funny thing is, just as Pema states above, the more I turn inward and accept myself for no other reason than I am my best companion, the more my heart opens to the love around me. Friendships are deeper, my bond with my son is stronger, I remember to appreciate these precious moments I have with my parents and other loved ones. My heart is opening so big. And without the desperate need to have a man to validate me, I don't find myself allowing toxic people in my life to fill some "need" that it turns out I could fill myself the entire time. It also sends the subconscious message to myself of "you deserve better." Which leads to questions of what messages I was sending to myself before when I wasn't living from an authentic place and allowed unworthy people and thoughts into my life.

I've also realized that this unreasonable fear I had of being alone was just that, unreasonable. We live in a world with billions of people. Each person can serve a lovely purpose and meet a perfect need in my life. Not having a romantic partner does not translate to being alone. It's like I knew that but I didn't really KNOW that until now.

Love is love. And it turns out in order to truly love others, you have to love yourself first. That's the path I'm finally walking. And I really am enough.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Day 9 of 100

I have tried to not spend too much of the last nine days beating myself up over the realization that so much time and energy has been wasted on men in my life. I am in awe of how focused I am without this distraction. More than that, I feel no pull toward it. Something has finally shifted inside of me. I am enough. 

I wake up in the morning with so much more peace in my heart. This is not to say that unpleasant or hurtful thoughts don't flutter in and out but they no longer control me. I spend the first 30 minutes of my day with no electronics. Instead, I meditate, journal, read a passage from the Tao and a chapter from "Wanderlust". It's my own little "church" really and it prepares my mind and soul for the rest of the day.

I've been nurturing my friendships more and they are, in turn, blossoming like never before. I also see many of my friends with similar goals. Some inspired by me, others serendipitously resolving to do the same before they even knew my own resolve. 

My son and I have bonded on an entirely new level I didn't think was possible. And the other night he decided on his own (he's eight) that he wanted to get his own life organized. An OCD mother couldn't be more proud. So we went to Lowe's Hardware and got him some organizational systems and have been hard at work. His room looks so peaceful and organized now and he's inspired to keep it that way. He looked around recently and commented, "I like the way my room looks, it makes me like to play in here more." My hope is that this will follow him the rest of his life. And it's all because I finally came into focus. 

Of course, men are oozing out of the woodwork! Go figure. I guess that's Murphy's Law at work. However, I feel ZERO desire to explore any of these. If I feel a man can truly be a friend, that is where he is cautiously placed. However, I've had a couple men aggressively try to overstep these boundaries I've placed around myself and they aren't welcome into my life. I am perfectly content to pass over possible opportunities to continue to work on myself and my life. I am exhausted from the carousel ride. I refuse to get on again. Healthy attracts healthy. And unhealthy attracts unhealthy. I've proven that time and time again in my own life. I'm weary of unhealthy men. I finally see them so clearly. 

I'm in the middle of planning a trip that I'm super excited about. A solo trip to another state. This is really big for me! I feel a little scared which is excellent for my growth! 

When I think about the end of this 100 days, I do not think about all the potential mates waiting for me. More and more I think "well....maybe 200 days would be even better."

Friday, November 11, 2016

100 Days

I'm doing a fast. A detox of sorts.

It's my way to compulsively set goals and time limits on myself. I am sometimes neurotic about it but, at the same time, it's how I've made so much of the change I have. Six days ago I set one of the biggest goals for myself I ever men for 100 days. 

It's almost embarrassing to look back and realize how obsessed I've been with finding a mate for basically 25 years. Even during my 12 year marriage I obviously wasn't looking for a mate but I was settling for one. That means I've allowed my desire to be a part of a relationship to control a quarter of a century of my life!

So my pledge to myself almost a week ago was to follow the Yama (which is one of the eight limbs of yoga) called "Brahmacharya". Brahmacharya is often narrowly viewed as celibacy in a purely sexual sense. However, it is much more than that. I like the definition from my "Wanderlust" book most. 

"...the conservation of vital energy in order to direct one's attention toward divine pursuits and self-knowledge."

So that's most definitely what I've been doing. When I find my thoughts (my "energy") turning toward a man or any other low energy thought that doesn't serve me, I deliberately re-focus my energy onto and into myself and list my personal goals in my head. They are as follows:

  • To be content with being alone.
  • To nurture my relationship with my son and broaden his world.
  • To focus on being the fittest I've ever been in my life (not just physically but psychologically).
  • To continue to build my career.
  • To get completely organized in every area of my life (this one is just for fun).
I'm only six days in but I feel so inspired and fully immersed in what I'm doing. Yesterday as I sat in my morning meditation I decided to do something a little different. I spoke to God, the universe...not sure what to call Him/it/them as I still struggle every day to make my peace with exactly how I identify that unseen energy in my life that I'm positive does exist in some capacity. 

I said something to the effect of this:

"I open myself completely to my life's path."

I imagined my heart opening as I asked God for guidance. It wasn't even a "show me the way" type of prayer, it was more of a "I release control, and will blindly walk in whichever direction you point me."

Everything felt the same after that until later that afternoon when a friendship of mine abruptly ended with no explanation. I felt confused and bewildered....for about an hour. Then I slowly remembered my heart opening meditation just that morning! I sat and contemplated the entire situation in an almost state of awe. This friendship had grown toxic. It consumed a significant portion of my energy just because my thoughts would keep drifting to it each day, struggling with how to handle it. Suddenly, hours after my prayer, that barrier from change was removed completely from my life. 

It didn't feel good. Growth seldom does. However, it suddenly felt completely necessary. I didn't have the strength to remove it from my life like I should have but, that's okay, it was removed for me.

As I talked things out with my remaining group of friends that evening, I was able to truly embrace, on an entirely new level, how peaceful, uplifting and "right" they all felt. I became acutely aware of the unique and precious purpose each one serves in my life and value them more than I ever did before. I felt perfectly aligned with my vision for my life and my values.

I want to be a vessel of change. I want to live out my life's purpose and, when I leave this earth, I want to have made it slightly better than when I arrived. If it takes pain, rejection and loss to accomplish that, my heart is still open. My heart is completely open to wherever my path takes me next and I am more convinced than ever that it is taking me somewhere special.

I woke up this morning about 3:00 am unable to fall back asleep. I stared wide-eyed at the dark ceiling. Around 3:30 am I decided to just get up. I knew I was beyond falling back asleep and the thought of laying there until my alarm went off at 5:00 am felt wasteful. So instead I got up, made my coffee, meditated and journaled for an hour. I use my private journal a lot more these days as I continue to face and conquer my ego and, as a result, my need to be heard softens. 

This morning I feel peace. And I feel resolve! My goals have never been so clear. I feel compelled to chase after them passionately. We can choose to allow hurtful, sad things to define us, even break us. Or we can choose to see everything as a blessing, a learning experience, a bend in our road that takes us closer to where we need to be. I choose the latter. Always.

I've used this quote so many times but it is so completely fitting in my life right now, especially in light of the passing of Leonard Cohen...

"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Untethering My Soul

I am absolutely positively obsessed with the book The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. I've listened to it twice and decided that I want to also read the hard copy. Being basically the slowest reader in the history of mankind, that's a pretty huge thing for me. But that's how huge this book is my friends!

I'm gonna break this book down to probably TOO simplistic of an analogy but this is how I view it...

When we are born, our consciousness starts out all clean and fresh. Let's view this consciousness as a filter of sorts. A filter through which we send every experience, every thought, every image...everything! Most things pass seamlessly through this filter without a hitch. I view these things as "neutral". They don't really affect us or cause any emotional response. However, not all thoughts/images/experiences are neutral and some get stuck in our filter. I've come to think of them as "dirty". Here's an example of the difference, and a version of an example used in the book:

Neutral: Driving down the road, you see a blue car at a stop light. The guy inside kinda looks like your boyfriend. You notice it but then the light turns green and you drive away, notice a cool looking tree, and forget all about the guy who kinda looked like your boyfriend.

Dirty: Driving down the road, you see a blue car at a stop light. The guy inside IS your boyfriend and he's kissing another girl. BAM! Everything else around goes blurry. You have an emotional AND physical reaction to it. You can't think of anything else, possibly for days/weeks/months. Years later you are driving down the road and pull up beside a blue car at a stop light and see two people kissing inside. Maybe the car isn't even blue or maybe the people aren't kissing. But it's still enough to trigger that memory that is STILL stuck in your filter and you once again have an emotional and very possibly even a physical response to it. 

Over a lifetime, our filters get dirty. This causes a couple different things to happen. First, these negative experiences actually become part of the filter and shape the way we perceive the world. In the example above, they turn something neutral (like blue cars) into triggers that can affect all our future relationships. Second, the dirtier our filters get, the harder it is to send new experiences through them.

This is absolutely profound for me. For the past few years I've felt like I'm almost numb to happy experiences. Not that I can't experience them but they haven't had the same bright, happy zest they used to have. I've almost dismissed this as part of getting older and having almost a "been there, done that," attitude about it all, thinking "of course I'm not going to be as carefree and happy as I was when I was younger, I'm wiser and more experienced." However, now I'm starting to view it much differently! And this concept just feels true to me. It truly feels like everything I'm experiencing is being sent through a dirty, clogged filter.

In addition to this, I most definitely have experiences that have become part of my filter. I have a perfect example of this from my own life:

A few years ago a guy I was dating started a class at a local college. We had been dating for about a month at the time and he was very interested in me. After his first day of class he suddenly became very different toward me and extremely slow to respond to texts. I found out over time that he had met someone else in that class. All these years later I'm still a little unsure of the exact details of what transpired but to simplify things, he basically cheated on me with her.

A few years later I was dating a guy who went to a cookout at a friend's house. I actually encouraged him to do this and this was something new for him and very much out of his comfort zone as he was "relationship guy" who always preferred to do things with me instead of making friends and growing his world. He was very slow to respond to my texts that day and I had the thought (I'm sure because of my past experience) of "what if he's met someone?" However, I was able to recognize this as based on a fear from my previous experience and dismissed it....Less than one week later he broke up with me for the girl he met at that cookout.

What once would have been a totally neutral experience (a guy I'm seeing having a new experience) has turned into quite the dirty experience. In addition to my concern over anyone I'm seeing going anywhere new, I am also highly sensitive to even the slightest perceived shift in his level attention toward me. Where most people would base their belief in a person's interest on all their experiences with that person leading up to that day, I know it's possible for a man to proclaim his undying love to you one day and disappear out of your life the very next.

So, now, as I find myself interested in one specific guy instead of casually dating many (which felt MUCH safer!), I am struggling with these issues rising to the surface. When he recently started a new job I wondered if that first evening he might suddenly change his attention toward me. His interest from yesterday means nothing today if he doesn't seem as chatty.

Luckily, this book made me perceive all these feelings as a perfect opportunity to clean my filter a little. In the past I would have tried to "silver lining" the experience. I would have probably made a list of all the reasons it would be a good thing if he decided not to date me anymore. I've since learned that this is the psyche's way of trying to resist the fear and emotions and instead we build "walls of thought" around these feelings to "protect" us. Problem is, these walls are built inside of us. That means we are sealing these negative feelings and experiences inside of us!

So, instead, I opened my heart. This is such a new age, vague concept, I know. Basically I allowed myself to truly feel my anxiety. I didn't try to justify why it would be okay if it happened. I didn't pretend like it wouldn't hurt my feelings. I also didn't resort to my "get him before he gets me" attitude that I seem to have adopted since my last painful breakup. I just felt it. And then I envisioned my heart as opening up and allowing the pain to move out of me and the light to move into me. Not just the pain of this thought because it wasn't really even painful, just uncomfortable. But, rather, the pain of the other experiences. It hurt to really think about them. My subconscious attempted to recoil but I worked through it. And I felt it move out of me. 

I'm cleaning my filter one painful memory at a time. Rejection is a big fear of mine so I've fought it pretty hard for a long time. Because of that, I've taught my psyche that this is my "job". I've given my mind the impossible job of attempting to avoid ever feeling rejection. And, in the process, I've built a wall around myself and numbed myself from so many amazing experiences. 

Slowly, as I clean my filter, it feels like I really am starting to feel things on a more heightened level. That unfortunately includes sadness and discomfort but, on the flip side, the world is looking more vibrant again. Happiness has a sharper, more beautiful edge to it. And I'm just getting started....