Overcoming Over-thinking

Have you ever thought about something TOO much?166262764_8

Have you ever not been able to sleep because thoughts keep running through your head?

While thinking through things is really helpful and important (some people could even do more of that!), sometimes we can detour our lives and get off track by thinking or analyzing too much. This over-thinking can turn into a negative direction and create a state of doubt, stress, anxiety or worry (or even cognitively convince oneself of a hypothetical situation that doesn’t even exist).  Have you ever encountered a difficulty with someone, thinking that their intent was negative and found out later that you were very wrong about that?  You discovered later that they did not have a negative intention at all?

From the perspective of Quantum Physics, simply put, thoughts are things. Thoughts have an effect on us, the world, and matter. When we allow ourselves to go down a path of negatively over-thinking something, we are having more of an effect, many times, than we realize.

Our minds work through association (association with past experiences) or perceptual connections, so given free rein, the mind can divert us from being in the moment with what is really needed. We are so much more than our thoughts. We are deeper than thought. We all have a core of strength, wisdom, joy, and, yes, love that is much truer than thought. And ideally, thought can be influenced by and arise out of that inner core of what we really are.

In many traditions throughout the ages, the area of the heart is associated with this part of us that is more than our minds, more than thought, even more than matter (or the physical aspects of life).  For thousands of years, it has been associated with the seat of the soul, with universal love, with wisdom.

Here is an activity to try:89796678_8

  • Sit quietly and focus on your breath (just pay attention to breathing in and exhaling).
  • Quiet yourself and focus on the area of your heart.
  • Visualize a beautiful white light with sparkles of gold in that area.
  • Allow the light to expand into your whole body (including your head), filling your cells with that light, like a honeycomb lighting up.
  • Let yourself feel the love coming from your heart or soul, that inner core of wisdom.
  • Send this light of love from your heart to bathe the difficulty or person with that light. Send positive thoughts for that situation or person.

You may find that this easy and simple activity not only helps bring you back to a more balanced place, it also helps with your perspective in a situation.  You might even find that things improve and the truer aspects “come to light.”  This is also a good activity (in addition to other obvious ways) when observing a situation or area of the world that needs help—pouring into that country or situation the love from your heart.

When you see yourself in a place of over-thinking, it helps to bring yourself back to the heart, to infuse the problem with love.  To some people using the word “love” sounds fluffy, and to that I say that love is a powerful force in this world–more powerful than fear, hate, and separation.  It is what we truly are. It is the hope for the world. What would this world look like if more and more people brought themselves to a place of love instead of fear?

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World .

© Copyright 2013, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photos: Getty Images

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Creating Boxes in Life by Saying “No”

I recently wrote an article, ”Saying “Yes” into Overwhelm,” because I and many Imageother people I’ve met have a patterned tendency to take things on. It is an understandable tendency for those who want to be of help, service or make a positive difference. The point of the article was not to not say “yes,” but to consider first if one can fit this one more thing into an already busy life or if it will tip the balance into overwhelm.

Having said all that, let’s explore the flip side of the coin. Even though I’m one of those people who has a patterned tendency to say “yes,” there are areas of my life where I might have a tendency to have a knee-jerk “no” at the ready.

Can you think of areas of life where that might be the case for you?  Maybe it’s something that you should not agree to, because it would be a healthy choice to say, “no.”  But, there may also be areas or instances, as have been in my life, where to say “no” would limit  positive life experience or opportunities.  Usually these areas have to do with a fear of some kind.

While I enjoy speaking in front of large audiences (I had to get over that fear many years ago, but that’s another story), I’m somewhat of an introvert.  During my personal time (preferring my “cave” to large social situations), that knee-jerk “no” might be in regard to a party or large social gathering.  Saying “no” may limit my opportunity just to be out in the world connecting with others in a positive way. Being in this world is about relationships of all kinds, and communication is the key to all those many types of relationships. I was limiting myself. I was keeping myself in a bit of a box during my non-working time.

Perhaps you have a fear of over-committing your time, and your knee-jerk “no” might be there for just about any request.  Again, it may limit positive opportunities and experiences and back you into a box.

The bottom line in the knee-jerk “no” response is usually fear-based, and fears limit us in our lives. When considering a response, before automatically falling into the patterned tendency to say “no,” here are a few things you can ask yourself or do that may help:

  1. Is automatically tending to say “no” a pattern for me in situations like this? Is there a fear that might be preventing me from saying, “yes?”
  2. If I say “yes,” what will it involve (time, energy, expertise)?  Asking this question of the person or group that is making the request is important to make the decision in awareness.
  3. What are the benefits of saying, “yes?”
  4. Look at the various areas of life to see if you can fit it in.
  5. Sleep on it (unless it’s an urgent situation) before giving your answer.
  6. If still uncertain, talk with a trusted partner or friend who is supportive in your personal growth.

The important thing is to know yourself (and be aware of areas where there might be a fear) and make decisions in conscious awareness.  Of course, this is a process, and with each “yes,” step-by-step, you can overcome a fear and open up doorways for positive opportunities, growth, confidence and, even, miracles.

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more informationwww.maryclaireoneal.com

© Copyright, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photo credit: Getty Images

Saying “Yes” into Overwhelm

Balance Series, Part 190336474_8

Every day offers new opportunities for activity, along with the challenges of keeping on track with priorities. Accomplishing things step-by-step is helpful in bringing ourselves back into a state of balance.

Have you ever said “yes” too many times and gotten yourself into a place of overwhelm? I have. I realized what was behind the “yes” was my desire to serve and to help (which is a good thing), but sometimes ego can be in there, too.

Has anyone ever said to you something like, “We’re looking for someone with your gifts and talents,” or “We need someone who has your insight to guide this.”  Saying “yes” to something and knowing that it will be of service to others is a very good thing.  Saying “yes” to something, knowing that you are already over-committed, but it will give you the opportunity to shine, is another. There’s nothing wrong with “shining” in the world. It can be a good thing. But it can be a part of the motivation in making choices that will send you into overwhelm or cause other priorities or commitments to be compromised, derailing your purpose in life and creating difficulty–not 83598834_8only for yourself but others. Also, when in overwhelm there is usually not time for the things that can help you stay balanced and healthy (like exercise, sufficient rest, and social and creative time). You cannot give the energy needed for things if you get seriously depleted or become ill.

I don’t write about anything that I haven’t experienced myself, and I can tell you, the overwhelm from saying “yes” too much kept me in a place of chaos for several months. It had nothing to do with the people or the organizations I said “yes” to. They would have kindly understood if I had said “no.” It had to do with me and my choices.

Lesson learned.

So, if you have a patterned tendency to “yes” yourself into overwhelm, here are a few things that can help:

1. Stay in the moment with life choices, using discernment before giving an answer. In other words, don’t fall back on a past pattern of taking things on or automatically saying, “yes.” The answer probably doesn’t have to be given right away.

2. Ask yourself, “Is this going to prevent me from honoring other commitments?”

3. Ask, “Will I still be able to take care of myself (health and happiness), if I do this?

4. Ask, “Is being considered indispensable or wanting to shine one of the main reasons for saying “yes?”

5. Take a break. If conflicted or in doubt, take some quiet time to just ask for guidance. Deeper or higher levels of ourselves probably already know the answer.

6. Talk to significant others or those in our lives the decision will impact.

After having honestly considered all these things, and you think that saying”yes” is still the best choice, you’ll have entered into the decision and commitment consciously.  Then there is more room to truly and happily give of yourself and serve.

Mary Claire O’Neal is the author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World, and is a communication consultant, coach and speaker.

© Copyright, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photo credit: Getty Images

The Value of Trust and Three Ways to Build It

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Nurture trust with others.

Today I’ve been thinking about how important trust is. It is something that is vital to nurture in all good relationships, including professional ones. Trust is not automatically given by most people; it must be earned. Being consistent in building that trust with others goes a long way in creating strong, enduring relationships of all kinds.

What are ways to build trust?

Always following through on what you agree to or say you will do is one of the most important. And if it looks like you cannot honor an agreement, renegotiate as soon as possible with the person it concerns. Neglecting to do these things is one of the biggest reasons why trust is lost.

Another way to build trust is to consistently think the best of those in your relationships, whether they be friends, co-workers/colleagues, partners/spouses, or family members. People value relationships where they can feel that kind of security in knowing that they will be given the benefit of the doubt, and that the positive will be the first conclusion.

Apologies, sincere and soon, are also very important in keeping trust with others. We all make mistakes, but communicating a heart-felt apology (when the mistake effects another) as soon as possible will help in damage control of trust.

Nurture trust with others. It’s a precious thing. Once it’s damaged, sometimes it cannot be healed. If it can be renewed, it takes time to rebuild, just as it took time to create trust in the first place.

© Copyright 2013, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photo credit: Getty Images

The time is now . . . to be the change!

Check out the new video for Becoming What You Want to See in the World just posted!  

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Fitting Balance into Life

Having balance in one’s life and work is not about spending equal measures of time for all the areas of your life. That’s never been a possibility for most people. For those of us who have to work, there will probably always be more time spent in earning a living than in the other areas of life. Creating balance is about finding ways to fit quality time in–not equal time– for the various parts of our lives. It’s even about being in a place of balance while at work.

Getty Images

In the U.S., it’s easy to become consumed by working so many hours per week that we are too tired to spend quality time with loved ones or quality time for ourselves–reading for pleasure, taking a walk, or going to a movie. In the past, I have been one of those people and have learned some needlessly hard lessons in either getting sick or multi-tasking myself into overwhelm.  I love to work because I love my work. But I also love and need to play and relax.

When was the last time you played cards, a board game, worked a puzzle or danced? When was the last time you laughed till you cried? When was the last time you took a whole day off to just do the things that refresh your mind, body or spirit (or all of the above)? When was the last time you looked back on your week and saw with wonder what an amazing, joyful week it was?

I don’t think there are many people who on their deathbeds say to themselves or others, “Gosh, I wish I could have worked one more day.” Instead, many people wish they had expressed more love to others, laughed and smiled more, or enriched more moments with the awareness of joy.

Life is short. It’s true. Look to create joy and balance in the fleeting moments of each day.

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, speaker and certified life-change coach. For more informationwww.maryclaireoneal.com

© Copyright, Mary Claire O’Neal

Create Balance During the Holidays

 

Experience balance during the holidays

Living in balance can be a challenge in our day-to-day lives, but during the holidays, balance is needed in order to truly experience the spirit of the season all the way through the New Year.

What helps in consistently creating balance? The answer is pretty simple but the living of it requires focus and attention.  Here is the “how”—drum roll, please:  Being in the present moment.  But what does that mean, really?

Being in the present moment doesn’t mean that you don’t plan or don’t look at the effects potential actions might bring. In fact, being in the present moment requires both of those things. It also means that you look at what is right in front of you and take it step by step to make your way to your goals.  When a stressful or urgent situation comes up, look at what is right there in sight—what opportunities are there for you to see in that moment. Being in that present moment will allow you to take action that recreates balance baby step by baby step.

For instance, say, you have a big “to do” list, and you are waiting in a long line during your holiday shopping. Instead of taking yourself out of the moment and worrying about all that you have to get done (getting more and more stressed and frustrated), take yourself back in the moment and remind yourself that balance is right there, now. You may find that you are can then enjoy a couple of children in line laughing and being playful (reminding you of the joy of the holidays). Or you might find that the elderly woman in front of you needs assistance and you are able to help her. You might notice that something you have been looking for is in a display right next to you in the checkout line (and you can check one more item off your “to do” list instead of driving across town.)  Funny, sometimes, how being in the moment can work out, and it does bring more balance to our perceptions and experiences when we see that each moment has those opportunities.

Sometimes being in the moment may bring you to the realization that you are dreading yet another year of hectic shopping, wrapping, traffic, and long lines. Maybe you decide instead to negotiate with family and friends to simplify and just do gift cards. Or even negotiate giving to each person’s favorite charity for the holidays instead of giving stuff. You may come up with the idea to negotiate drawing names so that everyone just buys one gift, and everyone receives one gift.

This is the time of year to be at our best–a time to LIVE the spirit of the holiday season in love, goodwill, peace and joy. Be fully here, balanced and able to see the wonderful opportunities in this moment.

Gratitude All Year

November is the month of Thanksgiving, and I find myself wanting to consciously and regularly take time out from my schedule, even if it’s just a few moments, to consider what I have to be grateful for. All of our lives contain a constant stream of moments, people, experiences and things that are gifts in our lives, but it’s too easy sometimes with busy schedules to let them slip by without acknowledging them. And, it’s way too easy to only remember the things that didn’t work out (or didn’t work out the way we wanted) in our daily experience. I’ve occasionally traveled down that road in the past, and the gratitude that comes from looking at what was working in my life has pulled me out of those times of not being in the flow.

The truth of it is, there are many more things that do work and are gifts in our lives than not, but it is so easy to settle into a pattern of looking at what is not working instead of what is. I have a friend who was born without eyes and has a disease that prevents him from ever being able to walk.  He has a beautiful gift of music and has been able to play the piano since he was an infant.  He lives everyday of his life with gratitude in his heart and on his lips. He is a happy person, even though he has to work very hard with the challenges he faces every moment of his life. He says of his disabilities, “Big deal. I have so much to be thankful for. “

Happiness is a choice. Always has been. Always will be.

I’ve found that gratitude is one of the most powerful states of mind and heart that creates happiness—consistent happiness. It’s pretty easy to be thankful and grateful for the big events and things, but it’s the little moment-to-moment experiences that make up a life of happiness and gratitude. Jotting down in my journal regularly at least six experiences, people, or things to be grateful for makes that joy more concrete, more real, and gives my mind a positive focus of what I want more of in my life.  I can look at my journal when I’m finished with my entries and realize that it was a very good day and life.

Expressing thankfulness and gratitude to others for something they’ve done (or just for being who they are) not only is a gift to the giver but a gift to those on the receiving end.  Obviously, this is not a big epiphany or even something new, but why don’t we do it more often?  I work with clients who already know this simple, yet profound, truth, and they want to make the flow of that kind of communication and gratitude real in their workplaces and homes, because they know the power of gratitude and happiness.

It’s really nice that we have a day every year in November to remind us of all this, but shouldn’t the spirit of Thanksgiving permeate all days?

Gratitude can be a feast for our hearts and souls everyday of our lives.

A Free, Easy Way to Bring More Balance into Busy Lives

When asked, most people say that taking a walk out in nature is a very effective way to bring more balance and health into a busy life. Time outside, away from activity and technology, can bring more clarity of mind when you are stressed or facing situations beyond your control. Taking a walk in the sunlight, feeling the breeze, and enjoying the beauty around you is very refreshing for the mind and spirit with the added benefit of healthy exercise for the body.

Find a place to walk that is accessible and easy to get to from your home or place of work.  A city park with pathways or a local arboretum can be convenient but still offer the balancing, healing effects of green space: trees, grass, plants and animals.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while taking a break outside to gain more balance and health:

1. Give yourself enough time so you don’t have to hurry. A 40 minute walk is really enough time to refresh the mind and get some good exercise. Brown bagging your lunch at a picnic table before your walk can even give you enough time on your lunch hour. If you have the luxury of more time, that’s even better!

2. Try to take your walk in silence. Instead of listening to music with earphones (which can draw your attention away from the experience around you), try to focus on the sights and sounds in the environment–the plants and flowers, the wind in the trees, birds chirping, or the rushing of water in a stream or fountain. This will help to keep you in the present moment.

3. Have an intent for your walk. Examples of intents can be:  “To bring more balance into my life” or “To give my mind and body a break for pure enjoyment and health.” Having a clear intent can help you get the greatest benefit from your walk.

© Copyright Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World:  The Art of Joyful Living. www.maryclaireoneal.com


The Speed of Life

This article by Mary Claire O’Neal was chosen as one of the Intent.com articles of the week, 8/7/09.

M. K. Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” One of the things Gandhi may be referring to is slowing down enough to listen.  Really listen.  “Slow down to listen to what?” you may ask. My answer would be many voices and yet one voice: That still, small voice within, or the same situation that presents itself over and over, or doors opening or closing, or what a child is saying with his behavior.

Slowing down to the speed of life can mean slowing down enough to pull myself out of autopilot—out of a routine, out of behaviors and ways of thinking that no longer work for me, out of reactions that can create separation instead of unity.

Slowing down to the speed of life can mean waking up, being fully alive right now, knowing that in every moment resides that choice to be awake.  I have found that what I need to know is within me and also spoken through life all around me, if I’m paying attention. Life is filled with miracles and magic, but unless I am listening and watching, even the miracles will be missed.

Something I’ve found refreshing is to just sit quietly for a few minutes, away from the seduction of technology (stripped of my computer or phone) and listen to the silence or just to my heart beating. Contemplative walks can be a wonderful time for me to get creative ideas. Being out in nature is a way that many people find the silence and peace to listen.

Slowing down can also mean waking up to the wonder of life again. Listening to my heart when it says, “Take a break, play, be silly!”  But it’s so easy to say, “ I don’t have the time.” And it’s so easy to see another day fly by without that joy. Having stuff coming at us all the time is a common way not to listen. Daily routines can become ruts that can distract us from the promptings of our hearts or the still, small voice within.

When slowing down, one can more clearly see things that need attention in life.  It might be that a relationship or friendship needs some quality time. What might need attention is the physical part of me—needing more exercise or healthy eating.  I might be reminded of a letter or phone call that’s been put off for later or a creative project that needs my attention.

When people have regrets at the end of their lives, it’s usually not that they would have liked to have worked one more day (even if their work was a joy for them). It’s usually, “I wish I had said, ‘I love you’ more” or  “I wish I had been kinder, more compassionate.” When one really listens, promptings can become fulfilling action instead of regrets.

© Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal has been a nationally known communication consultant for over 15 years, speaker, certified coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information: www.maryclaireoneal.com